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The Martyr Process

The martyr process is my own creation. Ken never did anything like it. I have found it powerful for convincing people to be gentle with themselves. It is a sixth pathway exercise: I accept myself completely here and now and consciously experience everything I feel, think, say and do, including my emotion-backed addictions as a necessary part of my growth into higher consciousness.

The group leader says a little spiel like this: People tend to abuse themselves as they were abused as children. They will be far more cruel to themselves internally than they would ever dare be to another person. They berate themselves unmercifully. The purpose of the martyr process is to expose this internal abuse to the light of day.

Let’s look at this from the point of view of cosmic consciousness. From that view we are all part of one great life. You are kind to some parts of it and exceedingly cruel to other parts, especially the part you call you. Yet from the point of view of cosmic consciousness, you have no special right to do that. You have no right to single out some part of the whole for merciless punishment. That piece you call you is not really yours to torment as you wish.

I am going to play a martyr and represent you. I want each of you participants to talk to me the same way you berate yourself internally when you are thinking about your number one addictive demand on yourself. Ham it up a little.

Then the martyr pantomimes any commands given to him, e. g. If the person says "What a pig you are!" the martyr dutifully mimes pigging out, oinking and pushing his nose up like a pig. The martyr acts terrified, despairing, exhausted or befuddled. The martyr wants to demonstrate how counter productive all this shouting and threatening is, just as if you tried your internal dialog to bully some other person.

Make sure the person speaking is positioned so they can see the martyr’s performance.

When Angela Wensley played the martyr rôle for us at the 2001 workshop I laughed so hard I could not breathe. I also resolved to stop deliberately discouraging myself.

When you are done, the group leader says something along the lines of: Just as child abuse needs to be exposed and stopped, so does adult abuse. Just because it is hidden and goes on privately inside your skull does not make it ok. You have seen how counter productive all this bullying is. Resolve now to treat yourself with the same respect you would treat others. From the point of view of cosmic consciousness there is no difference between yourself and others. Resolve now to be as gentle with yourself as you are with others.

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