I am now taking private clients. If you would like a Skype session, please contact me. I am experienced in working with clients in a professional setting, and I usually use a combination of Living Inquiries, Vortex Healing, and sometimes Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). I am certified in these and have a graduate degree in psychology. See testimonials from clients.
Welcome to Mystery of Existence.
These writings are a record of my own explorations, and will perhaps be of interest to you too.
Feel free to share your insights and comments, or ask questions.
June 2015 update: I am working on an eBook with a selection of posts from this blog. To help my selection, I have added a rating system. Feel free to rate. Thanks!
November 2015 update: I have the book idea(s) on the back burner for the time due to health and other life circumstances.
A true healer does not heal you; she simply reflects back to you your innate capacity to heal. She is a reflector, or a loving transparency.
A true teacher does not teach you; she does not see you as inherently separate from her, or less than her. She simply reflects back your own inner knowing, and reminds you of the vastness of your being. She is a mirror, a signpost.
And love is the space in which all of this is possible; love heals, and we learn best in a loving field, no threat of failure, no punishment.
– Jeff Foster
A friend of mine was visiting and had me pull a tarot card. It was Knight of Swords.
Here is what the description from that particular deck says:
A born leader, the king governs all the creatures in the foliage around him. The birds represent communication and watchfulness.
Meanings: A moral leader, analytical, ethical, knowledgeable, a strong communicator.
Someone else suggested that it may mean I am charging ahead without presence. Without first being silent and listen, and then move forward. And that fits too right now. (I got scared from being laid off work, and am considering lots of options without first being silent and listen.)
I just wanted to thank you for the great vortex healing sessions you have given me so far. I have experienced many different healing modalities in the past but nothing comes close to the vortex sessions with you. I found myself having big changes in one session that would normally take many sessions in any other healing work. I also thought your ability to tune in and fine tune so to speak what was going on for me was very helpful. Your natural ability as a healer is clear to me and I look forward to working with you again in the near future.
– Mike C.
I have two Vortex Clients who happen to be dogs, and they both seemed to do much better following the sessions. Here is what a friend of mine wrote me after the session with her dog, Blossom.
Blossom has made a miraculous recovery ! 3 legs but barking and running and chewing bones . I think it was you. Thank you thank you.
And the following day:
Whatever happened with blossom is a total Miracle !!!!
After listening to enough mindfulness advice, it’s easy to get into the idea that we “should” be able to be present with whatever comes up. Feel it. Rest with it. Inquire into it.
The reality is that sometimes the best we can do is ride it out, as best as we can.
And then, after a while as it lessens in intensity, we may be able to be present with it, inquire into it, and all the rest.
It’s a storm passing through, and it’s often helpful to remember that. And sometimes we don’t have the capacity to meet it as we would something less intense. And that’s OK.
It’s a reminder that we are human. It helps us see where we are at, which is the definition or real humility.
Meditation is what we are, not what we do.
The separate self is what we do, not what we are.
– Rupert Spira
If by meditation, we mean resting as presence, then yes, meditation is what we are. Meditation is what we are noticing itself, whether it’s presence noticing itself as presence, presence noticing itself as content of experience, love noticing itself as content of experience, emptiness noticing itself as that which allows and is all of that.
The separate self is what presence (or Big Mind) does. It’s the active expression of presence or Big Mind.
As I explore Vortex Healing (VH) more, I see how it can be woven into daily life.
When I do inquiry sessions for myself or others, there are times when VH naturally fits. For instance, to calm the mind and ground at the beginning of the session. As something comes up during the session, including body contractions (run VH on what comes up or the contraction). At the end of the session for integration and calmness.
When I walk, drive, rest, before falling asleep, or after waking up, it’s easy to do some VH on whatever issues are current for me or whatever the intelligence behind it sees as highest priority.
Whenever something comes up in daily life – emotions, deficiency stories etc. – I can take some time to use VH on it. I can ask to be shown what it is about, and also for healing.
There is a love polarity. One end is love itself. The other is what or whom I love, the object of love.
The first is what I am. It’s a facet of presence. The second is transient and will inevitably go away.
If my focus and attention is solely on the object of love, it will create suffering. And while that suffering is an expression of love, it’s also quite painful.
So why not bring attention to love itself? Why not notice it? Be present with it? Find myself as it? Notice it’s a facet of presence? Notice it’s divine love? (If we want to use that word.) Notice I am presence and love?
This can be a very helpful and even enjoyable practice. I notice love for something or someone. And that’s a reminder to myself to notice love itself. Notice presence as love. Notice myself as presence and love. Rest as presence and love.
It’s not only helpful for me in aligning more with this reality. It also helps my relationships with whom or what triggers this love. There is less of a sense of neediness or (illusory) ownership, and more of a sense of appreciation, gratitude, and giving the object its freedom. Including its freedom to come and go. If I find myself as presence and love, the comings and goings of the objects of love are a little easier.
In a practical sense, this can be quite simple. (a) Love (or joy, contentment, gratitude) comes up, perhaps triggered by an external circumstance. (b) I notice it. (c) I am reminded to shift my noticing to the love (or joy, contentment, gratitude) itself, to how it feels in my body. I am present with these feelings and rest with them.
Sometimes, physical or emotion pain can feel overwhelming and as if it will never end. Here are two things I have found helpful in those situations.
Is it true? I can ask myself, it will never end, is it true? And then stay with it for a while to see what comes up. This opens the mind to the possibility that it may not be true. Everything is transient. Nothing lasts. It invites the mind to open to that reality.
A possible drawback to this is that the mind then tends to go to the future, expecting and waiting for relief, and that makes it difficult to find peace with what’s here. The struggle with it continues in a subtle way continuing the suffering.
I can also ask myself it’s overwhelming, is it true? And find that that too may not be entirely true.
Let it be true. Let it be true that it will never end. What happens if this is true? If there is nothing I can do about it? If my only choice is to find a way to live with it? How would I want to relate to it?
The second set of questions invites something in me to settle around it. The struggle settles. This is a more radical, and ultimately more freeing, approach.
I typically use one or the other of these approaches and spend time with it.
This sense of overwhelm can happen any time wounds or trauma are triggered in us. And it can also happen during a purging process following an opening or awakening, as it did for me.
The overwhelm is created by (a) sensations (b) lending imagination about a scary future or present (c) a sense of solidity and reality, which means it can be investigated further in inquiry.
I also used it as an oracle on occasion, and one thing I discovered relatively quickly was that it was indeed precise, and it was precise in reflecting my mindset at the time of throwing the coins. The hexagrams would reflect my mindset as I threw the coins, and what this mindset was likely to lead to.
So, yes, I Ching can be very accurate. Not necessarily accurate in predicting an external situation or the outcome of an external situation, but accurate in reflecting my own mindset as I ask the question and throw the coins.
The different approaches I use all fit together nicely for me. Detailing how would take a long time since the parallels and interactions are very rich, although here is the start of an outline.
Living Inquiries (LI). An exploration of how sensory experiences and imagination combine to create our reality and how we experience the world. Specifically, we look at how sensations and imagination (mental images, words) come together to create an experience of different selves (deficient and inflated), threats, and commands. Through noticing the elements and the presence it’s all happening within, there is a release of the “glue” holding them all together. Our relationship to it changes. The charge tends to soften and go out of it. We recognize it all as presence and what we already are.
There is a deep allowing of what’s here which helps us to recognize ourselves as presence and that which all happens within and as. (And also as the emptiness allowing all of that.) There is also an invitation for what creates suffering in us to soften and release, which supports us as who we are, as human beings who naturally wishes to reduce and be free of suffering. These two go hand in hand and are mutually supportive.
The Work (TW). Identify and investigate beliefs. Beliefs means to take certain stories (imaginations) as true and real. It’s what happens when there is identification with the viewpoint of certain stories. We take ourselves to be that viewpoint, at least to some extent. The outcome is similar to the outcome of the Living Inquiries.
Breema. Mindfulness in movement. Finding ourselves as the whole that body and psyche is part of, and the presence it’s all happening within and as. This is also a very nurturing practice.
Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). Releasing muscle tension through the natural trembling and releasing mechanism of the body. Allowing our body and the innate wisdom of the body – created through evolution and the experiences of all our ancestors – to be in the driver seat. This also naturally and progressively helps release layers of trauma.
Vortex Healing (VH). My most recent exploration. Inviting and allowing divine energy and intelligence to work on us as a healing and awakening path. The framework for VH is very much aligned with the other modalities.
HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER
LI and TW. I sometimes will use TW within an LI session if I notice the client is more comfortable with thought than presence or feeling. It’s a stepping stone for them, and can be very helpful.
TW and LI. Within a TW session, I may include LI elements of resting with sensations, images or words.
Breema. Breema helps us bring noticing and allowing into movement. It can also be deeply nurturing. It helps us experience ourselves as the whole that body and psyche are part of. And it helps us find ourselves as the presence all happens within and as.
TRE and LI. TRE helps release the tension and body contractions that together with imagination makes up anxiety, depression, compulsion and general struggle and suffering. It speeds up the LI process, and LI helps speed up the TRE process.
VH and LI. VH can help bring the client into a more calm and present state, ready to do the looking required in LI. It can also help reveal and release whatever issues the client is exploring, and can help release and reveal the issues related to body contractions. VH can be used at any point before, during, or after an LI session.
LI and VH. LI can help us examine and find more clarity around issues revealed and softened through VH. It can help us see how the mind creates a sense of reality in anxiety, depression, and compulsions, and also help us find ourselves as the presence it all happens within and as.
HOW HEALING AND AWAKENING WORK TOGETHER
Healing and awakening. Beliefs, identification, and wounding are all words for the same. All creates the appearance of us being a separate self. All of it creates a contraction within mind and body which makes it difficult for what we are to recognize itself. It makes it difficult for the presence that we are to rest in itself as presence and as presence as the content of experience. When there is identification, beliefs, and wounds, we will inevitably identify as these whenever they are triggered. So healing is an essential part of a more stable awakening. Presence recognizing itself in a more stable and consistent way as that which all happens within and as, and then emptiness recognizing itself as that which all of that happens within and as.
It’s quite common for an opening or awakening to be followed by a “loss” of this awakening. That comes from mind identifying with stories again. And most (or all?) of the time, it’s because a wound is triggered leading to identification with painful stories. As these heal, which is a somewhat endless process (!), it’s easier for the awakening to be more stable and to deepen.
Awakening and healing. An opening or awakening can be very helpful for healing. It gives the mind a new context for any experiences, and this can make it easier to explore beliefs and identifications, and heal from wounds. At the very least, it gives a reference which can serve as a guide in this healing and exploration.
Awakening also can and will “take the lid off” of our trauma and wounds. At some point, these come to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and rested with in presence. They come up to be recognized as presence itself, as love itself, as the divine. They come up so the divine (presence, love) can recognize itself as that too, as wounds and identification. And that’s where the deeper healing happens.
Mutual support. Healing as who we are, this human being, supports a more stable and deepening awakening. And awakening as what we are, that which all happens within and as, supports the healing of who we are. They go hand in hand.
In natural rest, we give it all over to presence.
Notice what’s here. Allow it to be as it is. Notice it’s already noticed. Notice it’s already allowed.
Notice the space it’s happening within. Notice the presence it’s happening within and as.
When we give it over to presence, we are really just noticing and acknowledging that our current experience – all of it – is already happening within and as presence.
Another way to say this is that we are giving everything over to God. In this case, God means the presence that’s already here, that’s everything we experience, and inherent in what we are.
A variation of this is more of a second person relationship to God. We give everything over to God through intention and prayer. I give everything over to you, God.
Emotions and their associated thoughts can be misleading in two ways.
(a) We think they are about the current situation.
We assume they reflect or are justified by or even created by the current situation. The reality is that almost always, these emotions and accompanying thoughts are old. They come from early in life. They may even be passed on through the generations. The current situation trigger these old patterns in us.
Emotions and their thoughts are often not about what they on the surface seem to be about. A friend or partner leaves me, I feel a sense of abandonment and that I am unlovable, and that’s not really about the current triggering situation. It’s about early childhood experiences, perhaps all the way back to infancy, where I felt like this and it was not resolved. (The only way to resolve these is to be present with and feel the sensations, and examine the imaginations connected with it.)
(b) We think they tell us the truth.
We think the emotions and the associated stories tell us the truth about whatever they seem to be about. And yet, that’s usually not the reality. They are from identifications, beliefs, wounds, and even trauma. They come from reactivity. At most, they have a very limited validity, as do a number of other stories (including their reversals). And even more so, the reality is that we don’t know.
Using the example above, I have stories about being abandoned and unlovable. On the surface, they may seem and feel true. But they are really just imaginations (mental images and words) associated with sensations in the body. When we identify these and feel the physical sensations and look at the images and words, the original experience doesn’t seem so real anymore. We recognize it as created by the mind through sensations associated with imagination.
When I say emotions and their associated thoughts, I mean thoughts that seem to give meaning to, elaborate on, and explain emotions. And also thoughts that trigger and create emotions.
I have been experimenting with Vortex Healing (VH) after doing the basics course, and one of the first things I noticed is the difference in experience between the giver and the receiver. As the giver, I tend to experience strong energies running through me and it can be quite intense. The receiver experience whatever quality of Vortex is channeled, which for instance can be deep peace and centering. It seems that unveiling peace can require a lot of energy!
Why do we sometimes resist what can help us?
I can find quite a few possible reasons:
We are not ready for it. We are not ready to try it, or to have the problem resolve.
We have been disappointed in the past and don’t want to be again, so we reject it altogether. (From a wound, identification, belief.)
We don’t want others to tell us what to do. It may feel patronizing, or as outside pressure. (If it does, it points to beliefs and wounds.)
We don’t trust the messenger or the remedy. (For good reasons, or because of a wound/identification.)
We want to give what we are already trying a go, and don’t want to mix too many things. (This is very valid, especially if what we are already doing is working or has a good chance of working.)
I am sure there are other possible reasons. I have experienced this in my own life. For instance, I knew that some used herbs to heal from chronic fatigue but I had a prejudice about it until a friend convinced me to seek a local herbalist. It was a turning point in getting back to health. (The prejudice was that herbs wouldn’t have much effect, and that it was mostly used by naive new agey people.)
I don’t usually use the word mindfulness. Mainly because I prefer the word noticing, and also because I often am more interested in other aspects of the exploration.
The way I understand mindfulness is noticing.
A noticing of content of experience, which can be differentiated into sensory experiences and imagination (mental representations of sensory experiences, words).
A noticing of how sensory experiences (and especially sensations) and imaginations come together to create experiences that seem real, solid, and substantial. A noticing how how this sense of reality dissolves when we do the forms of noticing described here.
A noticing of space outside and inside of this content of experience.
A noticing of all as awareness.
A noticing of the emptiness all of that happens within and as.
And so on.
There is another way of understanding mindfulness which I like. Mind-full = noticing the mind “full” of presence. The whole field of experience is already and always presence. (Or awareness, or awake space, or emptiness allowing all of this.) And as we notice this, the “center of gravity” can shift from being caught in content of experience to this “context” of all experience. We may even notice this presence as what we are. Content of experience is presence. (And there is an emptiness which all this happens within and as, which all also and more fundamentally is.)
Here are some simple ways of combining Vortex Healing (VH) and inquiry.
Use VH to settle the mind, center, nurture, find peace. This is a good starting point for inquiry.
Use VH on an issue and then follow up with inquiry. VH tends to break down the density of the issue, making inquiry easier.
Use VH on a body contraction to help dissolve it and bring the issues related to it to the surface. This can then be explored further with inquiry.
Any of these can be done during a session. I did an inquiry session today where I used VH to help settle the mind, and then on the particular issue and body contraction that came up during inquiry. There are often periods of resting with what comes up, and especially sensations and body contractions, and that’s where it’s relatively easy to bring in VH.
As I continue to explore Vortex Healing, I am sure I’ll find more ways the two go hand in hand.
I read an article about self-abandonment in relationships and it resonates with me.
Self-abandonment is behind a lot of our struggles in relationships and otherwise in life.
As the article points out, we can abandon ourselves in many areas of life. We can abandon ourselves financially. Relationally by depending on others to feel OK or loved. Healthwise by not taking care of our health. We can also abandon ourselves by abandoning our integrity when we don’t follow what’s right for us for the sake of acceptance, love, keeping our job or any other reason.
In the bigger picture, we can abandon who we are as a human being as described above. And we can – and often do – abandon what we are however we understand and label it. (Spirit, presence, that which the content of our experience – including our experience of who we are and the world – happens within and as.) Whenever we get caught in identifications/beliefs we abandon ourselves as what we are.
I know this from lessons in my own life. I was reasonably good at not abandoning myself in my twenties up until my marriage and moving to Wisconsin. At that point, I abandoned myself by going against my clear guidance and what I know was right for me (which was to stay where I was for longer and not go to Wisconsin). I abandoned my guidance and what I knew was right, and through this, I abandoned myself in many other ways. I abandoned myself in terms of education, work, financially, friends, meditation, art, my deep inner connection, and eventually health and more.
Why did I abandon myself in these ways? I did it – as I suspect we all do – from being caught in fear, identifications, wounds, and shoulds. I was caught by unloved parts of myself. I was caught by unquestioned stories. I was caught by unfelt feelings. (Feelings I was trying to avoid.)
More specifically, I wanted to live up to my ideal of being a good spouse. (She went there for a graduate degree and I left mine and much of what was most important to me to support her.) I wanted to avoid judgment from family and others if I left the marriage or didn’t live in the same place as my spouse. I acted on fears of being alone or not finding anyone else. I acted from the pain of a recent previous missed relationship opportunity.
I also see how I have been repeating the initial abandonment trauma which may have happened in early infancy. (My parents were loving and good parents in many ways, but for a little child even situations that seem smaller to an adult can be quite traumatic.) I have abandoned myself the way I experienced being abandoned back then.
The remedy is being honest about it. Recognizing the consequences. Looking at what beliefs, identifications and fears I acted on. Meeting the fear I tried to escape. Finding love for the unloved. Question the unquestioned. Feel the unfelt.
Spiritual awakening is a remembering. It is not becoming something that we are not. It is not about transforming ourselves. It is not about changing ourselves. It is a remembering of what we are, as if we’d known it long ago and had simply forgotten.
At the moment of this remembering, if the remembering is authentic, it’s not viewed as a personal thing. There is really no such thing as a “personal” awakening, because “personal” would imply separation. “Personal” would imply that it is the “me” or the ego that awakens or becomes enlightened.
But in a true awakening, it is realized very clearly that even the awakening itself is not personal. It is universal Spirit or universal consciousness that wakes up to itself. Rather than the “me” waking up, what we are wakes up from the “me.” What we are wakes up from the seeker. What we are wakes up from the seeking.
– Adyashanti, The End of Your World
In a podcast interview, Jeannie Zandi talks about her dark night of the soul and how it involved a lasting experience of a “chard” in her heart. That’s the same for me. It comes and goes, but is here more often than not these days. I suspect it’s fear and it does seem preverbal and related to a primal life and death issue.
The reality is that we don’t have any control; the ego has no control over how reality unfolds and reveals itself. How is it the case that the ego doesn’t have control? Simply because ego is merely a thought in your mind. It’s an image. It’s a way your mind references itself, thinks about itself, and creates a sense of self in the first place. If your whole egoic self is merely a product of imagination, a mechanical result of thoughts linking themselves together, then it’s obvious that a thought doesn’t have any control. A thought is just something that occurs. It happens and then passes away.
– Adyashanti, Falling into Grace
Often, a current situation triggers an old wound.
For instance, we felt abandoned early in life. It felt life threatening. All encompassing. It made a deep impression. And the current situation triggers this old wound.
What we often do is to abandon the abandoned part of ourselves. We abandon the part of us that feels abandoned. We abandon the abandonment wound. We repeat the initial situation.
The remedy is to not abandon it. To be present with it. Patient. Kind towards it. As we would a scared child or animal. Presence, patience, and kindness heal. It makes this part of us feel held, supported, understood, met. It gives this part of us what it needs to relax, heal, and feel more comfortable.
There is more to say about abandonment. It helps if we can recognize it for what it is: Created by the mind. Inherently without substance. Made up by energies and imaginations. We can do this by looking at each element at a time, and take time to feel the sensations as physical sensations. That helps the mind see it for what it is and the power drains out of it.
You are a function of what the whole universe is doing, the same way that a wave is the function of what the whole ocean is doing.
– Alan Watts
One way to explore this is to take a very simple action, like brushing the teeth. Then trace the causes back in time and out in the world. By doing this, we find that there are infinite causes, stretching back to the beginning of time and the widest extent of existence. This tends to make the me or I very insignificant, or even erase it completely.
Love your enemies.
I keep rediscovering and relearning how healing this is.
What my mind makes into an “enemy” can be a person, a situation, a part of myself, an experience, or anything else. As soon as my mind makes anything into an enemy, there is struggle, a sense of separation, and suffering (even if just slight). It’s uncomfortable. It creates unease. It’s how suffering, wounds, and trauma are held in place.
When the mind finds love for it’s “enemies” there is a relaxation, a healing, a reconciliation, a sense of connection (or no separation at all), and receptivity.
So how can we do this? There are many ways to help the mind shift into this.
Tonglen. Give and take. Visualize the “enemy” – whatever it is. See its suffering as dark smoke. Breathe it in. Breathe out light and see it go into and light up the other. (This can feel scary at first. If it does, do tonglen for the scared part. Include it.)
Ho’oponopono. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Say it many times towards the other. Repeat until the sense of separation and sense of it being an enemy softens and dissolves. Here too, if there is fear or resistance coming up, do ho’o towards these parts of the mind.
Prayer. Pray for the health and well-being of the other.
Inquiry. Examine any sense of threat and a threatened one, any sense of solidity of the other (and yourself), any command to see the other as an enemy or not. (Living Inquiries.) This will help soften or dissolve any sense of solidity of what you are examining and it tends to open for receptivity, understanding, kindness, and love.
Love seems to be at the core of healing. Love. Reconciliation. And helping softening and dissolving any sense of solidity of the components (threat, separation, commands) creating a sense of an enemy.
As I have said before, to me the love your enemy pointer is more a pointer for healing than anything else. Although I also see how it can be helpful if it’s taken more as a pointer for how to behave.
Your heart is broken. You no longer feel at home. The world as you know it is crumbling. You feel you have lost something very precious to you, something that defined you, something that made you “you.” It feels like a part of you missing. Life doesn’t seem fair, kind, right, or even real anymore. You long to escape, to move away. To rewind to the way things were or to fast-forward to how things could be. You feel disconnected, lonely, lost, beyond help. You feel nobody could possibly understand, for nobody stands where you stand.
You feel like you are standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Stop. Breathe. Consider that this is exactly how things are supposed to be right now. This, this present scene, is life, not a violation of life.
A Universe cannot go “wrong.” Life only seems to go “wrong” in our thinking.
Come out of the movie of past and future, time and space, and turn to meet a sacred moment, this moment, the only moment there is.
Sense your own presence, here and now, so still, so stable amidst the chaos of the world. Feel the body pulsating, tingling, every part alive. Feel its heaviness, its weight, the way it is attracted to the ground, pulled downward toward the center of the Earth, giving itself to gravity. Feel the heart pulsing, the belly rising and falling. Feel the raw life that is here, enveloping you, filling you, animating you. Feel the pressure in your head, the fluttery sensations in your belly. Feel your feet on the ground, the way the air moves across your nostrils. Listen to the sounds appearing and disappearing all around you.
Know that the next step can only be taken from here, where you are, the true ground of all grounds. Relax into not knowing what the next step will be before it is actually taken. Trust that you cannot trust right now; the next step will appear in its own time.
The true path will emerge; it always does. Be here, now.
Your heart may be broken, friend, your old dreams may have crumbled to dust, but you’re always in the right place for life.
– Jeff Foster
We often stake a claim. It can be on a person, a job, a place, a house, money, our own body, health, insights, skills, or anything else.
When we do this, it’s often to create a sense of safety and predictability.
And yet, it all goes. We know that. It’s the nature of anything created to change and be uncreated. Whatever it is, it’s ultimately not in our control.
To the extent we stake a claim, we suffer when it goes away. And to the extent we recognize it as a temporary gift, we appreciate the adventure of experiences – including of people, things, situations, states – that come and go.