Welcome to Mystery of Existence

This is a personal exploration into the mystery of existence. Feel free to share your insights and comments or ask questions. Enjoy 🙂

ACCEPTING CLIENTS

I take private clients. If you have questions about doing a session, or would like to schedule, please contact me. Most sessions are over Skype or Zoom.

Through my work with individual clients and groups in a professional setting, I have helped many with anxiety, depression, and compulsions, and also in clarifying or stabilizing spiritual openings or awakenings.

Own inquiry: Unlovable

 

Love is gonna be on your side

Just that feeling of love
That’s gonna be on your side

Firefly, Love is gonna be on your side

Life brought me to explore the feeling of being unlovable this morning and I did some simple inquiry into it as I did some other things. As I sat down to do record a more thorough inquiry here, and wrote the title of the page, I noticed the lyrics of the music I had on in the background. (Yes, I love cheesy disco music!)

Living Inquiry

When I feel into the unlovable identity, I see something dark and shriveled up in me (like a dry prune). I look at the image and notice the shape, texture, and color of the shriveled up prune.

I feel it in my chest. A pressure. Sinking in. And also in the solar plexus. My breath is shallow. I feel the sensations.

I notice it feels like I want to just shrivel up and die, and look at those words. I see the words in front of me. Is there a charge on those words? (Do they seem like me, the unlovable one?) Yes, the words seem connected to sensations in my face, chest, and solar plexus. I feel those sensations.

I notice sadness in me. I feel it mostly in sensations in the belly and feel those sensations. I stay with it for a while and feel the sensations as sensations.

I see a picture of darkness connected with the sadness. The picture is of darkness in my belly and it feels like it goes infinitely far. When I ask myself if that picture is the unlovable one, I notice the picture still has a charge (which makes it a “yes”), and that charge is the sensations in my belly. I feel those sensations.

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Working with dreams

 

I thought I would do a series of articles on how different approaches to healing and awakening work. So here is one on dreams.

In my experience, dreams are the mind digesting either what happened the day before (often more fragmented dreams) or an emotional issue (often more of an unfolding story and sometimes archetypal). I wonder if not this digesting happens most or all of the time, and it just happens to take the form of dreams while we sleep.

Everything in the dream is me. It’s all created by my mind and reflects parts of me and the dynamics between these parts.

The digesting inherent in dreams is likely helpful in itself, and I suspect I don’t even need to remember the dream for it to have some effect in terms of processing, healing, and gaining some insights from it.

And yet, I sometimes also explore the dream more actively, especially if it’s a strong or more archetypal dream.

Here are some of the approaches I find helpful:

Active imagination comes out of Jungian dream work, and here we go back into the dream (imagine ourselves back in it) and interact with the different elements of the dream. For instance, I can take an action and see what the response is, or I can engage in a dialogue with the different dream characters and get a sense of who they are and what they want (both on the surface and what would deeply satisfy them). There is no limit and it can yield a lot of helpful insights. Often, these insights are just at the edge of what we are conscious of, and active imagination can help make them more conscious. (I typically avoid formulaic dream interpretations since dreams seem more juicy, fluid, and sometimes individual than that.)

Active imagination is a form for parts (subpersonality) work, and if we are familiar with a form of parts work, we can use that one.(For me, Voice Dialog and the Big Mind process.)

And then there are the approaches I often write about here.

I can explore the dream through inquiry. For instance, I can do inquiry on any stressful beliefs I had in the dream or about it after waking up (The Work). I can also explore any identities the dream brought up in me, any fears, or any compulsions in the dream or after I woke up (Living Inquiries).

I can use heart-centered practices for anyone (or any thing) in the dream that seemed hurt or uncomfortable in any way. (Ho’o, tonglen, metta.)

I can use energy healing on any emotional issue brought up by the dream, or anything else the dream pointed to as needing resolution or healing. For instance, last year I had a dream about a lake being polluted, so I could intend healing for what that lake represents in me. (Vortex Healing.)

I can do some therapeutic trembling to release any tension from the dream. (TRE)

And I can use any other approach I know and find helpful.

The key is that I can explore dreams as I would anything in daily life, and I can also explore daily life as I would a dream(!). It’s the same mind creating our experience of both.

For instance, active imagination is traditionally used specifically for dreams, although it can be helpful to use it in other areas of life as well. We can use it for situations from past, present, or the imagined future, and it can help us see what these situations mean to us, how we relate to them and find other ways of understanding the situations and relating to them.

Why befriending life?

 

Why would we want to befriend life? Why would we want to befriend our experience, including the uncomfortable experiences? Why would we want to befriend different parts of ourselves?

The simple answer is that it’s more comfortable. Struggle is uncomfortable, and befriending is comfortable.

We may not see this at first. We may be trained – by our culture, parents, and friends – that struggle is the way to deal with our uncomfortable experiences. We try to avoid, fix, or get rid of it, and we do so both in immediacy (here and now) and in our life by seeking some situations and states and avoid other (which is generally a sane strategy).

We may accidentally befriend an uncomfortable experience and notice it’s actually not as scary as it seems and it comes with a lot of benefits. (Less struggle, more sense of wholeness and comfort.) This may open up something in us and we may find curiosity about befriending our experience. We may set out to explore it more intentionally, perhaps through mindfulness, natural rest, inquiry, heart-centered practices, yoga, tai chi, or something else.

We may also discover that struggle with our experience doesn’t really work. It doesn’t really go away. And we may be put in a situation where this is made very obvious to us, at least if we are open to seeing it.

Since we wish to avoid discomfort and seek comfort, the impulse to befriend is built into us. Of course, if and to what degree we notice and explore it varies. Sometimes, we are ready and drawn to it. Other times, we may not be. (And that’s OK.)

Another way to look at this is that in our own immediate experience, we and all of existence is one. What happens within each of our sense fields happens within and as consciousness, and in our immediate experience, we are all of it. We are all of existence as it appears to us.

So when we struggle with anything, we are struggling with ourselves. We pretend there is an absolute separation. And that’s uncomfortable.

If it appears that we are not this oneness, it’s because our mind is good at creating the appearance of a self and a world, and that we are this self and not the rest of the world. I assume this has an evolutionary function and has helped humanity to survive. It’s also an expression of the creativity of consciousness.

Usually, the transition from apparent separation to a more conscious oneness is gradual and goes over time (with some glimpses, jumps, apparent setbacks, rough patches etc.). And that’s not a bad thing since we need some time to reorient and figure out how to live in the world from oneness. We need to take the best from our life as apparently separate and bring it with us while also let go of the less helpful aspects of it. We need to learn how to function well and effectively in the world while also operating from oneness.

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Purgatory

 

Another revisited topic:

Anything we imagine, including any maps we have about the world and anything described in religions, and especially the ones that feel juicy and capture our imagination, reflect something in ourselves.

And so also with purgatory, heaven, and hell.

For me, purgatory is what happens when I befriend the parts of me I have seen as an enemy, alien, a problem, or something to avoid, fix, or get rid of in some other way. I meet the unmet, feel the unfelt, examine the unexamined, find love for the unloved.

And that can be very painful. It’s a pain that leads to heaven.

Heaven can be seen as a pleasant and comfortable state. And a more real heaven is when we befriend our current experience.

Hell is what the mind creates when it believes hellish thoughts. It’s what we create for ourselves when we believe painful stories, and when our most cherished identifications are threatened by life and situations.

Of course, we can say a lot more about each of these. For instance, we can say that heaven is when we find ourselves as that which we already are, that which this experience happens within and as. Or it may be when we recognize all our experience, including the ones our personality doesn’t like, as consciousness, or the divine, or happening within and as the One. Or that it’s all of that when our human self is more healed and thus less in pain. Although right now, I like the befriending way of talking about it.

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A hole in us: filling it, seeing it’s not there, and living the opposite

 

Many of us experience that there is a hole in us. Something is lacking or missing. We are not quite enough. Not quite OK.

This is created by beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, and identifications. And it’s rooted in our culture, our family patterns, and our own journey through life.

We can approach this in a few different ways. Tracing the sense of lack back to a belief and identity, and seeing how it (most likely) was created early in life, can be helpful in itself. It helps us see it more as an object (a part of us) than a subject (what we are). Being honest about it with ourselves and others helps for the same reason, and it helps us see it’s a universal experience.

We can dialogue with these parts of us. Get to know them. Befriend them. Listen to what they want to say to us. Be a friend to them. Give them our kindness, wisdom, and love. (Parts work.)

We can give these parts of ourselves love through heart-centered practices such as ho’oponopno and tonglen. And we can do the same towards ourselves as a whole, and towards those who trigger these parts of us now and in the past.

We can seek out situations where we feel loved and cared for, by ourselves and others. We can seek out people and communities that genuinely love and care for us.

We can increase our overall sense of well being. For instance through mindful movement (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema etc.). Training a more stable attention (e.g. by bringing attention to the sensations of the breath). Find gratitude for our life, both what we like and perhaps what we don’t so much like (all-inclusive gratitude practices). This creates a different context that makes it easier for the not-enough parts of us to reorient and heal. (Although the healing may require one or more of the other approaches as well.)

We can identify and investigate the beliefs creating a sense of lack and not-OKness, including underlying and related beliefs. We can come to find what’s more true for us (and more peacefully true) than these stressful beliefs. (The Work.)

We can explore how our mind creates its own experience of these beliefs, identities, and stressful situations triggering them. We can see how they appear in each of our sense fields (sensations, thoughts, images, sounds, taste, smell etc.), and how the sense fields combine to make them seem solid and real to us. And through this investigation, the “glue” looses its strength and the sensations appears more as sensations without (stressful) meaning, and the thoughts appears more as thoughts without (stressful) substance and reality. (Living Inquiries.)

We can use energy work (often combined with some insights or simple inquiry) to release these beliefs, emotional issues, and identifications. (For me, Vortex Healing.)

We can even shift into what we are (that which these experiences happens within and as), and notice that it’s all what a thought may call consciousness. It’s all happening within and as what we are. Sometimes, we call it the divine or the One. (Big Mind process, headless experiments.)

So when we experience a hole in ourselves, we can fill it through befriending this part of ourselves and giving it care and love, and we can see through it and see it’s ultimately not real in the way it seemed to be. And we can also live in a way that helps us reorient and rewire and shows that these parts of us are not who we are. (Living turnarounds in The Work of Byron Katie.)

Finally, we must all find our own way through this. The examples I gave above are just examples based on what am familiar with and have found helpful. And finding our own way often includes finding someone who has gone through it themselves and can guide us through it.

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The science and art of spirituality

 

There is a science and art to almost anything, and so also spirituality.

We can say that the science is what we can write in a book, and the art is how we go about doing or living it. Or, in this case, how we live life itself. How life lives itself through and as us as a human being in the world.

What’s the science of spirituality? We can say it’s the maps of the terrain, where the terrain is all of existence, who and what we are, and the process of awakening and living from the awakening. It’s also the study of the effects of different practices, and perhaps what practices works best for whom when. These are all things we can write down, read, and learn about.

At another level, the science of spirituality is our own process of trying out different practices and pointers and see what happens. We can benefit from the guidance of others in this, although it’s something we ultimately have to do on our own.

And what’s the art of spirituality? It’s in how we apply and explore what comes out of the science of spirituality. It’s in how we use and explore pointers. It’s in how we follow our inner guidance. It’s in how we take the ingredients of our life and make a meal out of it. It’s in how we relate to the wounded parts of ourselves. It’s in how we live from whatever kindness and clarity is available to us. It’s in how we live our life. This is something we have to discover for ourselves although it helps to have a community of others with a shared intention.

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You don’t have to fix everything

 

This video from The Optimum Health Clinic is about chronic fatigue (CFS) and it’s something I very much relate to.

Since we don’t know exactly what causes CFS and we often need to take a comprehensive and integral approach to manage it and perhaps heal from it, it’s easy to think that we have to fix everything to recover.

I am just like the client in the video. I know it’s probably not true, but I still often feel and act as if it’s true. I keep working on emotional issues, nutrition, diet, herbal medicine, regulating my activity levels, mindfulness, prayer, heart-centered practices, energy healing, being honest with myself and following my guidance, and much more, in order to see if I can recover from the CFS. At one level, it’s a wise, comprehensive, and integral approach. At another, for me, it sometimes has an element of compulsiveness.

It can be the same with healing from trauma since it’s often a set of emotional issues tied together, and we can always find additional related and underlying issues to address. We may have the idea that we need to fix everything before we are OK and can relax and enjoy life again.

And it can be that way with awakening as well, in whatever way we understand awakening. We keep going at it, perhaps from many different angles, and don’t feel we are OK or can relax until we “arrive” at some imagined place or state.

We may know – and perceive in immediacy – that all is the divine and perfect as is. We are also aware that there is room for improvement in terms of befriending our experience, clarity, healing, maturing, and living from our experience of all as the divine (Big Mind). And we may be genuinely drawn to keeping exploring all of this and deepening in it.

And for some of us on a spiritual path, it can feel a bit compulsive and we have the idea that we have to fix everything about ourselves before we are OK and can relax.

It’s very natural and understandable if we have some compulsion in our healing or awakening work. It’s even helpful. It creates an extra needed momentum and especially early on in the process.

And yet, at some point, it’s helpful to address the compulsion itself. Where does it come from? Is the voice in me driving the compulsion true?

Often, the compulsion is a reaction to believing that we are not OK and not enough as we are. We try to improve ourselves in order to get somewhere or get something we believe we don’t have. We may also have a belief that we need the compulsion in order to get anywhere and fear that we’ll stagnate without it.

None of that is really true, and as the compulsion relaxes, we may discover a few different things. We may find that it’s OK to take time to relax and enjoy our life as it is, and we may find we are more able to relax and enjoy it. We may also find that we are still moved to explore and invite in healing and awakening, and that there is a deeper calling or curiosity that’s not dependent on compulsion, a sense of lack, or (unquestioned, unbefriended) fear.

So the compulsion itself is not good or bad. It can be helpful in certain phases of our process. And it is driven by something in us that’s out of alignment with reality, so at some point, life invites us to notice and address it.

By doing that, we may find a deeper sense of contentment and OKness as we are. And that from here, we are more free to enjoy life and even to keep exploring and inviting in continued healing, maturing, and awakening. We lose the compulsion and we gain deeper contentment.

I should add that if our exploration was largely driven by compulsion and a sense of lack, we may let the exploration go after we resolve this sense of lack. We may be very happy to just enjoy and live our life without this element of exploration. And that’s more than OK too.

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Awakening = befriending life

 

What is awakening about? There are many ways to answer that question, and one way is to say it’s about befriending life.

Befriending life can be as simple (and difficult!) as befriending our experience as it is in immediacy. And especially the experiences that my human self doesn’t like and tend to recoil from. How is it to befriend it? What happens? What fears does it bring up in me? How does it feel to befriend it, or to make small steps towards befriending it?

We can also befriend parts of us (subpersonalities), for instance through dialogue. We listen to what it wants to tell us. Get to know it. Relate to it as a good friend, as much as we can. That, and other forms of inquiry, helps us befriend our experience.

Befriending life in this way is an aspect of awakening, and it can prepare the ground for awakening, but in itself it’s not really awakening.

Awakening is when what we are – that which all experience happens within and as – notices itself. It’s when the divine recognizes all – including that which our personality likes the least – as itself. This can happen all at once, but usually happens more gradually and in steps.

For instance, the divine may take itself to be a separate self while it intuitively senses what it is or experiences it in glimpses. And then it gradually recognizes that it is the divine recognizing itself as all there is. The “center of gravity” of what it takes itself to be shifts from a separate being and more into the wholeness of what it is. As part of this, it may also find itself as capacity for all there is. And it may keep on discovering and experiencing new aspects of itself.

We can say that this too is befriending life. It’s life befriending itself as all there is. It’s life noticing itself as life. It’s life shifting its identification from taking itself as a part of itself (this human self) and into itself as a whole, and as that which content of experience happens within and as.

There are also other sides to awakening. For instance, allowing our human self (psyche, subpersonalities) to heal and align within this “new” context of all as the divine. To live from what we are noticing itself, and explore and discover how to live from it. To mature within it. All of that is also life befriending itself.

So in all of these ways, we can say that awakening is life – or reality, or the divine, or the One – befriending itself.

See Why befriending life? for more on this topic, including why (perhaps) we life in a universe where this befriending isn’t the default for us.

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Hilma af Klint

 

Last fall, I went to see the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York.

I don’t know if she did receive her paintings or information about how to paint from the spirit world. But I do know that thinking that’s the case would have freed her up to paint outside of the expectations she and others had about how paintings should look.

Of course, she was still bound by some basic expectations of her time and culture, but she was also able to take several steps beyond. This is similar to the Big Mind process. We shift into Big Mind, see our own ideas and our culture’s ideas from that vaster perspective (in this process, Big Mind is a kind of perspective and also not), and are able to – to some extent – step outside it.

I imagine that Hilma af Klint, at the very least, may have shifted into some transpersonal voice (in the Big Mind terminology) when she painted her paintings. It would have given her the freedom to go a few steps beyond the expectations and confines of her culture.

The photos above are from my visit.

Allowing a situation to transform me

 

When faced with a challenging situation, my first impulse is often to change the situation. Most of the time, that’s what makes most sense and it’s generally a good way of going about it.

And yet, sometimes, I encounter a situation that doesn’t change, or that challenges me more deeply. What makes more sense then is to ask how I can allow the situation to transform me.

To help me reorient, I may pray for receptivity, clarity, and an open heart. I pray for clarification, maturing, and finding love for what is. I pray for being more consciously aligned with reality, truth, and love.

These are wishes and prayers for myself independent of any situation. And a challenging situation reminds me and may allow me to find more sincerity in the prayers.

In addition to these prayers, I can find more specific ways to allow the situation to transform me.

And for me, this often includes….

Being honest with myself and others in the situation. As Adya says, this honesty often takes the form of a confession. It can be a confession of deep fears in me, and thoughts and wishes I feel embarrassed or shy speaking out loud.

Inquiry where I allow the situation to help me see through my initial beliefs and find what’s true for me. I am willing to allow the situation to strip me of my old beliefs and identifications.

Heart-centered practices where I allow my old orientation (of complaining, blame, see myself as a victim) to make way for befriending the situation and what it brings up in me.

Energy healing where I invite in healing for emotional issues and identifications triggered by the situation.

And perhaps noticing all as what I am, for instance through the Big Mind process or headless experiments.

What’s the outcome of any transformation that may take place? We can’t know in advance, and it’s an ongoing process. At the same time, I have hinted at some in the list above.

We may find more honesty (and real kindness) in how we relate to ourselves and others. We may befriend the situation and what it brings up in us, and more. We may find what’s more true for us than our initial stressful beliefs. We may find healing for emotional issues triggered by the situation. We may mature as a human being. We may live with a little more kindness towards ourselves and others. We may find a little more capacity for allowing discomfort, and a little more resilience in life. We may notice what we are (that which any experience happens within and as) and perhaps become more familiar with it and even find that the center of what we take ourselves to be shifts more into it.

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Interpreting ordinary human experiences as part of awakening process

 

Seems that constantly being challenged is part of the awakening process

Someone commenting in a Facebook group

Yes, and it’s also how humans in general experience life. It’s universal. It’s part of life.

It’s tempting to interpret anything as being part of my awakening process. It makes it feel more significant and special. It gives it an extra spark.

And yet, so often, what happens in our life is just ordinarily human. We get sick as all do. We have challenges as we all do. We experience synchronicities, as all humans do now and then.

It’s helpful to be honest about this. What happens in our life is mostly ordinarily human. Even the awakening process and everything part of it is ordinary and universal. It happens to a lot and – most likely – eventually all beings, and the content of process itself is quite universal.

There is an upside to seeing anything happening in our life as part of an awakening process. It may help us make use of it in a more constructive way and see it in a more constructive context.

There is also a downside to it. If we see it in contrast to how most people live their life, we use a story to make our own life seem more special and different. In our mind, we may set us aside from others while we, in reality, are not so different. And we may do it avoid feeling and encountering certain feelings and thoughts in ourselves. That’s OK for a while, but at some point it’s easier and more helpful to meet and befriend it, and recognize that too – the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts – as local expressions of the divine. It’s all happening within the One.

As the awakening process matures and becomes more ordinary, it’s all recognized as the divine. And it’s all recognized as a miracle and ordinary.

It’s a miracle that anything exists at all, and all the amazing ways it exists. It’s ordinary in that it’s all the divine. And it’s ordinary in that all our experiences are ordinarily human, and ordinary parts of an awakening process.

The miracle gives it all a spark. The ordinariness allows us to relax trying to be different, special, and better or worse than others.

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Dream: Adya speaking gibberish

 

I am with Adyashanti and a small group of people. At some point, he sits down and asks me if I have a question. I explain my situation with the long-lasting illness (chronic fatigue) to him, and ask what the divine asks from me. He starts speaking gibberish.

The night before, I prayed for my situation with the chronic fatigue to transform me deeply, and for the divine as me locally support this process. I remember having the question of whether the divine (as the fullness of existence) asks something specific from me or if I (as the local divine) can decide, or if there is a middle ground and dialogue.

In the dream, as Adya starts answering my question, I am aware it’s a dream and that I – my mind – need to put words in his mouth. I am also aware that I don’t know the answer. That is perhaps why he starts sputtering and speaking gibberish as a faltering Westworld robot. If I think the divine has a specific request or plan for me, I don’t know and cannot know what it is. I cannot provide the answer.

The answer is more that it’s a dialogue between the divine as the wholeness of existence and the divine locally as me. We together find the answer. It’s a process. An ongoing discovery happening within the One.

At first, the dream seemed a little disappointing. After all, instead of answering my question, Adya sputtered nonsensical sounds. And now, I see that’s the perfect answer. In my dream, I have to provide his answer, and I cannot. If I think the divine “out there” asks something specific of me, I cannot know for certain what that is. The answer is more that it’s a process, a dialogue between the divine as all there is and the divine locally as me.

This is not new to me. But I see that when I recently prayed for my situation with the fatigue to profoundly transform me, I had in mind that the divine asks it of me and has something specific in mind for me. Almost as if it’s a test, and when I more fully allow the transformation, my health may eventually return. These were not very conscious assumptions, which is perhaps why my mind (the divine locally) produced this dream, allowing me to see more clearly these assumptions and that they are not so helpful.

It’s more helpful to see it as a dialogue and an ongoing process, and as happening within the One.

Caravan Palace: Miracle

 

Every day we live a miracle
Unpredictable
You don’t need an upgrade anymore
Can’t you see the leak?
Don’t worry I will teach you how to take the pill
To feel the thrill and touch it all!

Caravan Palace, Miracle

I was happy to see that one of my favorite bands has a new single out.

Every moment of every day is a miracle. That we are alive is a miracle. This Earth and universe is a miracle. That anything exists at all is a baffling and awe-inspiring miracle.

Recognizing this miracle doesn’t change (the rest of) what we experience, but it does change how we experience it. It changes the context of our experience.

And how do we take the pill? Here is the prescription from Caravan Palace.

I will teach you how to take the pill
To feel the thrill and touch it all!

(Act like a brother)
Every day is a miracle
(Help one another)
Connect back with the people
(Give it to your lover)
And all the people you miss
(Let’s come around)

(Act like a brother)
Don’t think you’re invisible
(Help one another)
Connect back with the people
(Give it to your lover)
And all the people you miss
(Let’s come around)

.

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Forms of prayer

 

What is prayer?

For me, it’s what happens when I have a prayerful orientation. When there is some receptivity and sincerity in me, a somewhat open heart, and an orientation towards all of existence as the divine.

This means any moment can be a prayer. And any activity can be a prayer.

Prayer can also happen through any form of meditation, any form of mindful movement, any form of heart-centered practice.

Prayer can also happen with words. I may pray for an external situation to shift. Or I may pray for receptivty, clarity, an open heart, and for a situation to deeply transform me.

In any case, it’s the divine locally (as us) having a prayerful attitude towards itself as the divine as the fullness of existence. It’s all happening within and as the One. It may even be a part of the process of the divine locally gradually waking up to itself as a local expression of the One.

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Prayer for receptivity, transformation, alignment

 

I find myself with a quite serious and lasting (at least so far) health condition (CFS), and although I sometimes do pray for assistance with my health and for my health situation to transform, there is another prayer that’s closer to my heart.

And that’s a prayer for receptivity, inner transformation, and alignment with truth, reality, and love.

If my outer situation, in this case my health, doesn’t change, something in me needs to change. How I see it, relate to it, how I am in relation to it, needs to change. It’s an invitation for me to align myself consciously more closely with reality and love.

Astrology?

 

As part of my general education for myself, I studied astrology for a while in my teens. (As I studied anthroposophy, theosophy, and a lot of other things I knew I wouldn’t stick with long term. Even back then, I knew that the more traditional and straight-forward mystical streams within and outside of the main spiritual traditions were for me. Christian mystics, Taoism, Buddhism, Jung, Jes Bertelsen and so on.)

How did and do I see astrology?

First, the birth chart. The upside is that it can function as a projection object. I can find in myself what the chart describes in me. The downside is that it can leave a lot out, and I can overlook or downplay important elements. (Which is the case with anything that supposedly says something about who we are.)

If I wanted to create some sort of psychological profile for myself, certain personality tests (like the Big Five) seems more helpful to me. More importantly, the characteristics and qualities I see in the whole world are here in me. I see them out there because I know them from myself. The whole world is a mirror, and that’s more helpful to me. It’s juicy, alive, immediate. It’s something I can explore through any form of projection and shadow work, including inquiry.

Then, prognosis and influences at specific times of our life. The upside is that I may use certain time periods as an opportunity to focus on certain things in my life, to start projects, and so on. It may give me an extra nudge. The downside is that I may hope or think I know something about what will happen, and that I may follow what the astrology says more than what comes organically from my life, situations, and inner guidance. In the worst case, I may force myself into something that doesn’t feel quite right.

I prefer genuinely not knowing. Follow what organically comes out of my life and inner guidance. And do inquiry on my stressful beliefs about what may happen, what is happening, and what happened. That’s what makes pragmatic sense to me, feels juicy, alive, and rich, and gets to what I really want for myself.

And then there is the question of whether astrology works and is accurate or not. I don’t know. It would be a good topic for research (if it’s done well). In any case, I am – for one reason or another – not drawn to it and prefer other approaches.

I see that if I would be drawn to astrology, it would be to (think I) know something about myself, although I can more easily and effectively do that through working with projections. And it would be to (think I) know something about current and future influences on my life, and perhaps find a sense of safety in that knowing. Again, I prefer to follow my guidance and find a more genuine peace by investigating any stressful thoughts I have about anything.

I should mention that people approach and understand astrology in a multitude of ways. Many are aware of this and have found ways to use it that makes sense to them and perhaps even would make sense to me.

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When spiritual teachers say stupid things

 

I am against organ donations because organ transplants take resources away from other health services.

Paraphrased from Ric W. on FB

Ric is the main teacher of one of the modalities I find most helpful, and when he talks about healing or awakening, it usually makes complete sense to me. But when he posts about social issues, I often find I disagree. Sometimes, I even think his views seem a bit naive.

In this case, he posted this to an international Facebook group which makes it seem as if he is making a broad statement that applies to all countries and situations. In Norway, people get the health care they need even if some with organ transplants need a small portion of the health care resources available. Even in the US where he lives, it’s hard to see that it’s true. Insurance companies pay for the health services people need and have paid for through their insurance, whether it’s organ transplants or something else.

Also, he is using the “divide and conquer” argument where he sets two vital issues up against each other while we, as a society, can afford both. We spend a huge amount of money and resources on far less important things. (In the US, on a ridiculously large and bloated military budget.) It’s the argument politicians use when they want to set groups up against each other, for instance by saying “society spends resources on immigrants that retired people should have had”.

Of course, it is true that organ transplants increase the overall cost of healthcare in a society. But it’s negligible. It’s a cost most of us agree is worth it. And a lot of other and less vital things bring up the cost as well. In the US, privatization increases the overall cost dramatically. In most countries, doctors perform or prescribe costly treatments they know won’t work or are ineffective.

It is also true that, as he said, that in the big picture, life and death is not so important. But it is important to us as humans. And I want to live in a society that’s kind and honors life.

So what do we do when spiritual teachers or guides say stupid things?

First, is there something in it? Does he see something I don’t? In this case, I haven’t found it yet but I am open to it.

Then, I can be relieved. He is just a human being. He may have knee-jerk ideas about things. He may not think everything through. His social views may, at times, seem unnecessarily harsh. He is a human as we all are. He is not perfect. He has his own issues and limitations. It’s a gift that he shows me this.

Finally, it helps me see my own issues. Something in me got triggered when I saw what he wrote. I reacted to what he said, considered it for a while, and then – as part of the reactivity – decided that what he said seemed stupid, harsh, and uninformed. It was my way of dealing with the discomfort it brought up in me.

I can do inquiry (The Work) on the stressful thoughts it brought up in me. (He is stupid. He should be more responsible in what he says. He may influence others to not support organ transplants. His view is harsh, heartless, and uninformed. I don’t know if I can trust his views on anything now.)

I can do inquiry (Living Inquiries) to see how my mind creates the reactivity, and also see how it creates what it reacts against and when it was initially formed in my life. And, in the process, invite sensations and thoughts to separate so the charge may go out of these issues (beliefs, identifications, traumas) in me.

I can do Vortex Healing for what it brought up in me, even if I don’t know exactly what it was.

And much more.

So when spiritual teachers say stupid things, it can come with many benefits. I may find the grain of truth in it, or it may help me see something from a different perspective or a different context. It brings him down from the pedestal and among us humans, as I see him. And it helps me find my own emotional issues, triggered by what he said, so I get to explore and perhaps find resolution for these.

I want to add a few words about the “life and death is not important” view. In the big picture, it is true. It’s all the play of the divine. The different masks of the divine. And yet, one of the pitfalls of spirituality is to dismiss the human. We go into Big Mind, and find ourselves as Big Mind, and dismiss or value less the human views and perspectives. (If this happens, it’s often a way to try to protect ourselves of the pain inherent in our human existence. It doesn’t work, but it can give a sense of temporary relief.)

As I see it, a more mature view is to include both and embrace the human, including our valuing of life. To me, that’s one of the most beautiful things about humans. We value life. And few things are as beautiful as a society that values life. In this case, that values life enough to give people organ transplants when they need it and follow up so they can stay healthy as long as possible.

Finally, I should add that I know that Ric may say these things precisely to initiate a process in people just like it did me. It may be, unconsciously or consciously, a teaching tool. Outside of when he talks about healing and awakening, where he seems amazingly precise and insightful, he may allow himself to say controversial things in order to stir things up a little. I imagine I would be tempted to do the same if I was in his position.

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The benefits of a small interpretation of awakening

 

I have written about small (psychological) and big (spiritual) interpretations of awakening before. (See previous posts on this topic.)

Although I appreciate each, I am daily reminded of the benefits of the small interpretation. It makes awakening seem less mysterious, more attainable, and more free from the baggage of centuries of ideas about awakening from spiritual traditions and culture. It makes it seem more mundane and ordinary.

That’s why I tend to remind myself of the small interpretation in daily life. And at the same time appreciating the big interpretation, see it come alive in me in some situations – for instance when I am in nature and when I pray, and suspect and know that it is more accurate.

I wrote this post since one of my practices these days is to take whatever happens in me that’s uncomfortable (discomfort, reactivity) as a reminder to notice myself and it as (what a thought may label) consciousness. It’s pretty easy for me, although when reactivity comes up in me it does require a slight shift of attention. I also find it’s easier when I keep a small interpretation of awakening in the back of my mind because it then feels more mundane, ordinary, and simple. It really is mundane, ordinary, and simple (along with a lot of other things), and that’s a relief.

How I bring therapeutic trembling into daily life

 

I thought I would write a few words about how I bring therapeutic trembling (tremoring) into my daily life.

First, I should say that I learned Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) several years ago and am a certified practitioner. That means I have done the full sequence of TRE exercises many times, and still do now and then. What I am going to write about is not meant as a replacement for doing these exercises. Even after doing this for several years, I find that when I do the full set of exercises the sessions go deeper.

That said, I also find it very helpful to do a bit of spontaneous trembling at times through the day. I may sit in a chair and allow my upper body to shake and tremble. I may stand and allow my whole body to shake, tremble, and bounce. I sometimes lie down (on the floor or a bed) and tremble in the usual TRE floor position (sometimes also while watching a movie or listening to a podcast or audiobook).

When I do this, I intentionally start the trembling (I tense some muscles and intentionally tremble) and then allow my body to take over. It’s a bit like starting a motor. From there on, there is a mix of intentionally bringing the trembling to different areas of the body (again, through tensing certain muscles) and allowing the body to respond and take over. Relatively quickly, the two – intention and allowing the body to take over – become one.

I should also mention that I write about trembling (or tremoring) since that’s the usual TRE language. But what happens is often more than that. Our system releases tension and that can happen through spontaneous stretching (often first on one side and then symmetrically on the other), bouncing, laughing, crying, voice and more.

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Not knowing applies to all of us

 
Unknown creator

Precisely why we need instructors

Facebook friend commenting on this post

Yes, instructors who know this applies to them too

My reply

There are a few different ways of understanding not knowing.

In a conventional sense, we know more or less about something compared to someone else. That’s why we need instructors, as my FB friend said. Especially because we may not even be aware of what we don’t know about the knowledge out there.

The more we know, the more we tend to know that we don’t know, and the more we tend to know what we don’t know of the knowledge available in the world. (Conversely, the less we humans know about something, the more we sometimes tend to overestimate our knowledge. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect, which Trump illustrated when he famously said “who knew healthcare was so complicated.)

In a slightly bigger picture, we know that the sum total of human knowledge and understanding is infinitesimal compared to what’s out there to be discovered, experienced, and understood. There is always further to go. Our knowledge and understanding today will be outdated tomorrow, or next decade, century, or millenia.

Also, there will always be new contexts for our understanding. Contexts and worldviews that make as much or more sense that we or anyone are familiar with today.

In either case, we don’t know anything for certain. Nothing is the final word on anything.

And thoughts are not “it”. They are just pointers. Our thoughts, maps, and worldviews are questions about the world.

So we can understand the full pie chart as the totality of human knowledge and understanding today. In this context, we need instructors to help us fill in the picture.

We can also understand the pie chart as the fullness of existence, and what we know and know we don’t know is a tiny speck of what’s out there to be discovered, explored, and charted, and understood in whatever worldviews we have available to us.

In either case, whether we see the pie chart one way or the other, we cannot know anything for certain, and our thoughts about anything is not “it” – they are, at most, pointers.

This applies not only for conventional knowledge and understanding but also for what we explore in spirituality. It applies to any area of life.

Why is it important to have some clarity around this? It helps us hold our ideas, thoughts, views, and experiences lightly, as questions about the world. It helps us have some receptivity and see our life and learning as ongoing. It helps us see that what we, as humans, think we understand and know is a tiny speck compared with what’s out there for us to discover, explore, and learn about. It reminds us that the contexts we understand the world and ourselves in are also assumptions and questions about the world, and these contexts, these worldviews, can and will change, which in turn changes how we see anything else.

I’ll mention one more thing. This also applies to situations in our life we have stressful beliefs about. Here too, what we think we know is tiny compared to what there is to know about it in a conventional sense (which could dramatically change our perception of it), and what there is to know and understand about it in an even larger sense. Curiosity and conversations can help us fill in the picture and shift out of the initial stressful thoughts, and inquiry can help us do the same (see through stressful beliefs) even if we only explore the information available to us now.

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Dream: My father has lost his faculties

 

I speak with my father, but his words make no sense. He seems to have lost his faculties.

I have had concerns about my father for the last few weeks. He has had several serious infections and appeared far more fragile almost overnight. (His mind seems as sharp as ever.) That may be one of the seeds of this dream.

Another seed may be that I have done The Work (inquiry) on my father, and I have seen how he doesn’t speak up about certain dynamics between my mother and him. (He even asked me to not speak about it when I would bring it up as a kid.) These dynamics seem uncomfortable, persistent, and potentially not so difficult to clear up.

By avoiding this topic and talking about less vital topics (or not saying much at all), his words are, in a sense, gibberish.

I see the same in myself. If I don’t speak my truth in a relationship, I feel a bit lost, disoriented, and off track. I become as I experienced him in the dream. I lose my faculties, to some extent.

It’s not who you are

 

And remember, it’s not who you are.

When I worked at a clinic a little while back, one of my co-workers would say this to clients after they did the enneagram test. (We used the test so we wouldn’t overlook some possible core issues for the clients.) He would say it mostly to pique their curiosity, to counter their tendency to take the results as who they are, and also because it’s accurate.

When I find my enneagram types according to an online test, in what way is it who I am? The results do hint at how I cope with core issues from my childhood.

And in what way is it not who I am?

It’s not who I am because the test may give different results depending on when I do it and which situation(s) I have in mind when I answer the questions. So in a limited enneagram context, the results may not be who I (always) am.

It’s not who I am because I am a whole human being and the enneagram types only touch upon aspects of who I am and how I am in the world. (What it does address is partly how I typically cope with core wounds from childhood.)

I am not destined by what the test points to. Yes, I may have those dynamics in me and tend to use those coping mechanisms, but when I become aware of it, and when I find more healing for the core issues behind it, I can relate to these dynamics in me more consciously. I may find myself living differently.

Beyond the human, there is what I am. That which any experience, including what the enneagram types point to, happens within and as. In this context, I am also not limited to any enneagram type or any label at all.

And this goes for any personality test, any label, any role we have in society. It’s not who we are. It may or may not be accurate in a conventional sense. And as who (human self) and what (Big Mind) we are, we are far more, different, and not defined by it.

So what enneagram types am I? When I do the tests, my most prominent ones tend to be 9 and 1. Peacemaker and perfectionist. When I grew up, I was taught to avoid conflict (peacemaker) and that doing things well was safe (perfectionist). So by seeking peace and perfection, I can avoid conflict (which I am scared of) and also failing or being disapproved of (which I am also scared of). These types suggest that if I want to work on core emotional issues, I may do well to address conflict avoidance and fear of being unloved or disapproved of, and the early childhood situations where I learned this.

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What is the present?

 

I saw a couple of videos about what the present is. Is it what happens right this millisecond? Or these few seconds? Or even minutes?

When I look at my experience of time, I find an overlay of thoughts (images and words about what happens in time) on top of another overlay of thoughts (an image of a timeline), on top of what’s happening in the other sense fields.

For past and future, it’s a series of images and words on top of the timeline either stretching back in time or forward in time, with sensations lending it a sense of substance, solidity, and reality.

For the present, it’s images and words on top of the “present” part of the timeline (the middle), and if the present is what’s happening in my immediate surroundings, then these are on top of what’s happening in sight, sound, taste, smell, and sensations. And, again, sensations lend these thoughts about the present as sense of solidity, reality, and truth.

So it doesn’t really matter how “long” the present is. It’s created in thought, as is past and future. In a sense, it’s imagined. And at the same time, our ability to imagine the past, future, and present is vital for us functioning in the world. We need it to orient, learn from the past, imagine different futures, and relate to what’s happening here and now.

And it does help to recognize that this is what’s happening, as it’s happening. It helps us hold it all more lightly.

The Living Inquiries is what I have found most helpful for exploring this in detail. And when I have found it, in depth, one or more times, it’s easier to notice it as it happens, in daily life.

When people say “be present” or “stay in the present”, what do they mean? It may mean to stay with what’s happening here and now, and that’s often helpful. But really, it means to notice that my mind creates an idea of a timeline, and then places other thoughts on top of it to populate my past, future, and present. I notice how my mind creates its idea of time and what happens in time, and that it’s all happening in immediacy.

Even if I am absorbed into thoughts about past, future, or present, one little noticing is all that’s needed for me to see that it’s all happening in immediacy, here now. My attention can be absorbed into thoughts about past, future, and present, and I can notice that’s what’s happening. And that helps me hold it all with a lighter touch.

One thing I like about this approach is that it’s pragmatic. It’s relatively easy to notice, especially through some guided inquiry. And it fits the understanding of modern psychology (although it’s still in its infancy) and even common sense.

At the same time, my impression is that many people tend to see past, future, and (their ideas of the) present as real, solid, and true. There is a past, future, and present, as it seems to us, and it’s populated with, more or less, what we think it’s populated with. That’s an understandable assumption, and it’s one that can only survive as long as we don’t take a closer look.

I also find the idea of time travel interesting. As a story device or a thought experiment, it can be very entertaining and even illuminating. If we take it as anything more than that, it means we assume there is an actual, real and solid past and future as a “thing”, that it’s somehow stored somewhere, and that we can conceivably visit it. That’s an example of taking our mental timeline of past, future, and present, investing it with a sense of solidity (through associating it with sensations), and taking that sense of a solid and real timeline as actually true and real “out there” somewhere, as a place we can visit. Again, this impression can only survive for as long as we don’t take a closer look.

A common-sense approach to awakening

 

Here is what I see as a common-sense approach to awakening. One that may even work for people who have a relatively conventional wordview but also curiosity and an interest in what’s true in their immediate experience.

In our immediate experience, we are consciousness and any experience we have happens within and as this consciousness.

This is the case whether we notice it or not. (If we don’t notice it, we tend to take ourselves to be this human being that happens within our content of experience, but that’s only until we have investigated it.)

And this is the case independent of what wordview we tell ourselves we have, whether it’s a religious or spiritual one, or atheist, or materialistic, or whatever it may be.

When we notice this, we have a choice. Should I still keep it uninvestigated and take myself to primarily be this human self that happens within my experience, or do I want to investigate it and see what happens? Do I want to see for myself what I find, and what transformations it may bring?

Either choice is perfectly OK. The second option is – at least so far in our culture – mostly just for especially interested people. Those who have an inexplicable draw or calling to investigate it.

If we wish to explore it, we again have a choice. Do I want to follow a more traditional spiritual path and take it as a spiritual adventure, or do I wish to explore it more as a scientist without the extras (the spiritual add-ons)?

Again, either one is perfectly OK. And we can also combine both, as I have. Use insights, pointers, and practices from a range of spiritual traditions, and approaching it more as a scientist.

When we chose to explore it, it’s all about what we find in our own immediate experience, what’s true for us in our immediate experience. It’s typically a process of….

  • Noticing what we are. (Aka consciousness.)
  • Notice that any content of experience happens within and as what we are.
  • Inviting our “center of gravity” to shift (a) out of taking ourselves to primarily be something within content of experience and (b) into that which allows and is all of it. (This tends to happen in glimpses at first, and then gradually more stably over time.)
  • Inviting all our human parts to align with this new context. This typically involves healing of these parts of us and how we relate to them. (Healing, maturing, embodiment.)
  • Live from this new context. (Embodiment.)

All of this is a process. It’s an ongoing exploration, clarification, healing, maturing, and embodiment.

I won’t go into how we can do this since most of my articles are on aspects of that topic.

But I will say that there are two ways of seeing this process.

The essence is the same in either case: Notice what we already are, notice all experience happens within and as this, invite the center of gravity of what we take ourselves to be to shift into this, invite our human parts to realign with this new context, and bring it into daily life and explore how to live from it.

We can stay close to our experience and leave it at that. In immediacy, I am what all my experience happens within and as. I am capacity for it all. Since this is what I can call consciousness, it seems that all – the whole world, all beings, the universe – is consciousness. I can even call it love, or bliss, since that’s as true as the word consciousness. (A quiet love and bliss – through and as all of what we are – is a natural side-effect of noticing what we are.)

And yet, if I am honest I know it seems that way because of what I am. I am what we can call consciousness, so everything seems like consciousness to me. That’s about all I can say. And, of course, any ideas of an I in a world, and projections and anything else, happens within and as what I am.

If we are so inclined, we can take it one step further and say that all of existence IS consciousness (and love, bliss, Spirit, the divine). This is the more poetic approach and the approach of most traditional mystics. The benefit is that it has a rich tradition, and it does fit our immediate experience. The drawback may be that it can seem less attractive to many in the modern world.

Personally, I switch between these two since both have value and richness to them. The first is a little more honest. The second a bit more juicy.

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The man behind the image

 

I see that Tim Freke has a series of videos called The man behind the image. These are videos of a more personal and intimate nature and shows him more as a real human being. As you and me.

I really like that. He knows that as a public figure, author, and spiritual guide, he is prone to be seen as a two-dimensional figure, perhaps even as a guru or somehow perfect. So to counter that, he has a video series where chooses to be more raw, personal, and vulnerable.

It doesn’t prevent projections, of course. People will still project and invest some energy into their projections. That’s both natural and serves several functions. But it does take air out of the projection game. He makes himself less of a good projection object, and especially for people wanting to see him as perfect or special.

I imagine it helps him in at least two ways. It makes him more human to others, so they’ll treat him more as just a fellow human being. And it helps him deflate any tendency in himself to want to be seen as special or a guru.

It’s perhaps telling that Tim Freke, who is so personable and genuine in general, does this. And spiritual guides who like to see themselves as teachers and gurus and allow or even encourage their students to play that game, don’t. I personally prefer the first approach a lot more. It feels more appropriate to our culture and time. And yet, I know both approaches have benefits. Including that the guru game tends to lead to disappointment which helps the students to examine their projections and find what they saw and see in the guru in themselves.

Own inquiry: The Universe doesn’t love me

 

These are brief notes from a three+ hour juicy, rich, and powerful inquiry session.

The situation was Monday when I “crashed” (due to CFS) after shoveling snow in the morning, and also was disappointed because a humidifier I had bought didn’t work. As I did the work, I noticed the original situation was from when I was a baby so I included that as a second situation.

I realize these notes will mostly make sense for those who are familiar with The Work of Byron Katie. And inquiry is only juicy and rich if you do it yourself, ideally with an experienced and skilled facilitator. You can do it for free on the The Work Helpline with experienced facilitators.

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Summary of Main Insights / Living Turnarounds

There are a lot of notes here so I’ll summarize some of the main insights and guidelines I am bringing into daily life. These are turnarounds to the initial stressful thoughts that especially hit home and felt juicy to me, and that I am bringing into daily life as reminders and guidelines.

  • If the universe is neutral, I am the one who has to give me what I want – safety, love, support.
  • I am cruel and unloving. Any time I believe stressful thoughts, I am cruel and unloving to myself. I can stop the reactivity and the pain.
  • I need me to allow things to fall into place for me. To not hinder it, as I have done many times in life, because of my own scary thoughts about it.
  • The universe gives me what I want. I notice that often, it does eventually. And it gives me what I want deeper down, which is to be shown reality so I can align with it more consciously.
  • The universe shouldn’t love me – more than it already does. It’s already giving me a lot. Family, friends, partners, shelter, food, travels, the opportunity to explore myself and life, living in a wealthy country, delicious food, nourishing cups of herbal and spice teas, and much more.
  • The Universe shouldn’t give me what I feel I need. Because I don’t need it. It shows me I don’t need it. And it invites me to explore my beliefs about needing it, and – if it still seems like something I would like – any beliefs that may stop me from having it in my life.

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Until the mind is completely satisfied

 

When it comes to aligning the mind more consciously with reality, the mind won’t rest until it’s completely satisfied.

Why would we want to align the mind more consciously with reality? Aligning our mind more consciously with reality is the essence of emotional healing, and it’s the essence of befriending life (aka awakening). It’s what we are drawn to beneath all our surface desires, wants, and perceived needs.

What does it mean that the mind is not completely satisfied? As long as we are consciously out of alignment with reality, in one or more areas of life, or parts of our human psyche is out of alignment with reality, our mind will be dissatisfied. It will be restless, uneasy, caught up in perceived neediness, and more.

It will keep showing itself what’s left, what’s still unaligned.

It seems like an impossibly tall order to have our conscious view and the orientation of all parts of our human psychology aligned with reality. And, yes, it is. It’s a direction more than a goal. It’s a journey that’s endlessly fascinating (at least for me), challenging, and rewarding.

When I do The Work of Byron Katie, I notice this in miniature. If there is something important I haven’t discovered yet in the inquiry session, I feel it. My mind and body is still tense. There is unease. There is a sense of missing something. So I keep going until I find it, often with the help of an experienced, skilled, and patient facilitator.

How does our mind, in general, show itself what’s left? It does so any time anything is triggered in us, any time we are reactive, any time there is a sense of stress, unease, and discomfort.

Note: I noticed I wrote “my mind and body is” even though I know it’s grammatically incorrect. I decided to keep it. It’s accurate in that the mind and body are just labels of aspects of the same seamless system. It’s singular and not really plural. Of course, all of existence is singular in that sense.

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