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Blog Post

Antidote to Hovering Tumescence

Published July, 2024

Emotional Overwhelm

Hovering/dissipation is activated by confusion and a feeling of overwhelm. This fear of being overcome feels like being pinned down, while confusion feels like being lost. At an extreme level, we can feel melancholic or disoriented, almost dissociated. To deal with this confusion and overwhelm, dissipation can be driven to focus on feelings and implicit agreements. As a dissipated person, we might be overwhelmed by a relationship and focus on the feelings of intensity based on communications about those feelings. In addition, this fear and confusion activates an explorative instinct in us because exploration attempts to resolve confusion and overwhelm. So, for example, we may explore fear, feelings, and options. This exploration can increase the hovering or it can burn up the energy unskillfully.

Dismantling Hovering

The way to dismantle the hovering voice—the one that says we or anything else does not matter—is to meet it with wisdom and compassion. The normal way of working with that voice is to coddle it, to try to placate it. But it needs to be confronted. Coddling and placating do not work. The compassionate response is to remind ourselves of our knowing, not reinforce our manufactured not-knowing, which is simply an attempt to escape the weight of knowing.

Confronting Avoidance

Culture has trained us to avoid connecting to power. The solution is to actually make it as uncomfortable as possible to do this. We should be willing to give as much attention as we can to someone if they are willing to admit they do not know. But we should avoid being attentive to the dissociative, manufactured not-knowing, or the program of “I don’t/this doesn’t matter.” Those programs are deadly survival patterns.

Victimhood and Power

We feel a sense of victimhood when we are unable to meet or be with the various intensities of life. This is because we are out of the flow of life and, as a result, feel we are at the mercy of it. The way to get out of that is to actually use the power we have to get into flow, but we must take responsibility for the agency that is required.

Engagement and Risk

Engagement releases avoidance of tension into the dynamic tension of what is being asked of us. Here, strengthening and building an active willingness to take risks is necessary in order to break through hovering tumescence. If we overextend or underextend, we lose balance.

Acknowledging Knowledge

When hovering, we pretend we do not know or do not want someone else to tell us the truth; this way, we do not have to own the fact that we know. The way to work with ourselves when we are hovering is to sit with it until we recognize that we know—not to soothe or tell ourselves what to do, which would only place more of our power outside of ourselves. We need to remember that we do know. All that agitation we feel is manufactured to keep us out of a state of knowing.

Self-Inquiry

In the scarcity-based tumescent mind, we do not have enough gravity in our own attention to see that we know. When our mind presents us with unknowing, we can ask “Is that true?” And then sit with ourselves until we go through the uncomfortable place where we know what is true and what is not. That allows us to encounter in a felt sense what is true. In other words, we are brought back to our own knowing. Otherwise, the placating becomes a dangerous reinforcement of behavior that keeps dissociation in place.

Developing Knowing

The only antidote to this is the repeated experience of sitting in our consciousness until it settles into knowing. From there, we develop incontrovertible pathways of knowing that have deeper grooves than the conditioned pathways where we think we do not know. The practice is to gather evidence over and over until our belief in not-knowing exhausts itself.

Counteracting Punitive Pressure

Another voice found in hovering tumescence comes from punitive pressure, where we try to beat ourselves up. We counter this by reminding ourselves of our goodness or seek soothing experiences, but these are not the ways to meet the punitive voice. Instead, we must meet it with an equal pressure that does not have even a whiff of punishment. We must sit in our rightness. The punitive part of the mind manufactures evidence to the contrary of that rightness—ineptitude, “no, but” hopelessness, “can’t be fixed”-ness—in order to support an addiction to avoiding power.

Reducing Pleasure-Based Activities

Another antidote to hovering tumescence is to decrease pleasure-based activities. Pleasure-based activities distract consciousness. They are forms of self-soothing. We have to make the admission that nothing will soothe like the end of tumescence and to gain access to the self who knows that. Continuing to substitute with comforts continues the process of suffering and keeps us from accessing Eros. If we continue to use comfort as a substitute, life becomes other-focused. We will want to give someone else our power and have them tell us how to manage our lives.


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