Schedule a session

I am now taking 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.

My background includes a graduate degree in psychology in addition to being certified in Living Inquiries, Vortex Healing (Divine Energy Healing), Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, and Breema bodywork. I have worked on my own healing and awakening process for more than two decades under the guidance of spiritual teachers from a range of different traditions.

Hi Per, I just wanted to say thank you for everything. Thank you for the difference you made my life and my recovery. I will never forget you. You were one of the greatest and most influential. You always thought of me and kept me calm when I wanted to jump out of my skin and run for the border.

– Thank you, keep in touch. Breana K., Rancho Mirage, CA

See more testimonials from clients.

Healing on behalf of life

 

When I invite in healing for myself, it’s on behalf of life.

When I heal a part of me, it obviously benefits myself, my future self, and those around me. It may also benefit future generations and all life. And I am doing it on behalf of my ancestors.

So when I do healing for myself and it feels challenging, I can remind myself of this. I am doing it on behalf of life. And, in a sense, I have the support of all of life in my healing process. 

How is this true, more specifically? 

When I find emotional healing for myself, it benefits me and my future self. It’s an act of solidarity with my future self. I’ll be better able to make good decisions and fully enjoy and live life. It may also benefit those around me since I’ll be more free of emotional issues and reactivity, less annoying, and perhaps more understanding. 

In the same way, it may benefit future generations. If I have children, they will benefit from my healing and pass it on, and at the very least not pass on the unhealthy patterns that ended with me. 

And I am doing it on behalf of my ancestors. Many unhealthy emotional patterns are passed on through generations and through our culture.  And even if my ancestors and previous generation were not able to find healing for the patterns passed on to me, I may be able to find healing for what they couldn’t (due to different times, awareness, support, skills). 

My healing can also help the wider living whole. Healing means contentment and less reactivity, and contentment allows for less (harmful) consumption, and reduced reactivity allows for kinder and more informed decisions and way of life. A way of life that takes into account the well-being of all of life. 

In these ways, all of life is an ally in my healing. When I imagine all beings as kind and clear, I know they support my healing. And I can remind myself of this and this implicit support, when my own healing seems challenging.

Beyond just reminding myself, I can call in and ask for support from ancestors, future, generations, and all of life for my own healing process. 

Note: I say “heal myself” which is partly true, but it’s more true that life heals itself. “I” am not doing it and cannot do it. Life does it. Life invites in healing for parts of itself and heals itself. 

Spirituality in Norway

 

I have lived several years on the US west coast (Oregon and California) and am very comfortable with the more mature spiritual communities I find there. They draw on decades of experience with exploring spiritual traditions and practices, and combining them with western approaches to therapy, bodywork, and healing. 

In Norway, where I grew up and find myself right now, I haven’t found any communities where I feel at home in that way. And, if I am honest, not many – or perhaps any – individuals I resonate with in that way. Of course, there are many spiritual communities and even more individuals I don’t know about and haven’t yet met. 

What I have found is less experience, less variety of experience, and overall less maturity. It feels a little provincial. And for good reasons, since the contemporary spiritual community in Norway is provincial. It’s not as rich or old as in some other places. 

Of course, this sounds a little arrogant. But it’s also real. The US west coast is unique in this way due to its unique history (partly because of the large Asian population and the counter-culture of the 60s and 70s). 

What I have found more of in Norway are people being more dogmatic about the one approach they have found and are familiar with, or people with a lose grasp on reality who seem to want to believe anything that’s weird (and the more weird the better). Again, this is perhaps to be expected since contemporary spirituality is relatively new here, and it’s perhaps also a not entirely fair description. 

Whenever I write these type of posts, I am very aware that they reflect my own hangups and wounds. I am holding up a mirror to myself. I find myself in how I see the US west coast and in Norway. I have the more mature, inclusive, and innovative forms of spirituality in me, and also the less mature versions. And those projections come from beliefs, identities, and wounds that I can explore through inquiry and find some resolution for through a variety of approaches. 

Irrational emotions? No

 

Are emotions irrational? 

Not in my experience. They do their job perfectly. And that job is to follow our beliefs, including beliefs we may not realize we have, and conflicting beliefs. 

We can say that the emotions are always “rational” in that they do their job. It’s the beliefs that not always are so rational. Although they made perfect sense at the time our minds created them. They made perfect sense in that situation and with the inner and outer resources available to us. Since most of them were formed when we were children, they made perfect sense to our child self at the time. 

In that sense, even the beliefs are rational. Although they may not always appear to make sense to us and others now, in our current situation. 

How do we identify these beliefs? And how do we invite them to resolve so we can live in a way that makes more sense to us now? Inquiry – The Work or Living Inquiries – are effective ways to do this, although it does take intention, sincerity, work, and often patience. And the guidance of someone familiar with how to use them effectively. 

(more…)

Beginner’s mind: What it is and isn’t

 

We are all “just starting” our spiritual journey. To believe one has advanced, by even a step, is to erase one’s own footprints before they are trodden. ?

A comment in an online group. I assume it was in response to me posting a link to The Way of Liberation by Adyashanti, and commenting that it’s a book helpful both to beginners and people further along the spiritual path. 

If spirituality is about truth and reality, then ideology doesn’t mix very well with it. We may start out with different ideologies, but we have to abandon each of them at some point. And that includes non-dual ideologies. 

The quote above is from an online group I am a member of and illustrates a non-dual ideology common in some circles. We hear something that has truth in it, and take it on as an ideology and over-apply it. 

So what is beginner’s mind? To me it’s receptivity, sincerity, curiosity. A willingness to let cherished views go when we encounter something that seems more aligned with reality.

And also, keeping an eye out for where we hold onto fixed views – usually for comfort and safety. Knowing that any thought or idea can help us orient and function in the world without having any final or absolute truth in it. 

And what is it not? It’s not being stupid. It’s not pretending we don’t know what we know (in an ordinary human limited somewhat flawed sense). It’s not discounting our experience. It’s not discounting that people have different levels – and types – of experience, maturity, clarity, wisdom, and skills. 

Ideologies can seem comforting and safe. But if we are sincere, we need to look a little closer. We need to find what’s more true for us, including that it may and probably will change as we gain more experience. 

There is truth to the quote above. We are just “starting” on our spiritual journey as there is always further to go. As what we are – that which allows and is this content of experience – we don’t advance. And our footprints are always erased as past, future, and present are ideas and not something tangible we can find anywhere. It has truth in it.

And yet, it’s not true in the sense that we don’t gain experience, and we are at different levels of insight, clarity, skills and so on. It’s also not true in the sense that all books are equally helpful to beginners and more experienced people. Books are pointers, and pointers can be seen medicine for different conditions. They apply to some people in some situations, and not to others in other situations. You wouldn’t give a Microsoft programmer a beginner’s introduction to programming. And you wouldn’t start a beginner out with the most advanced books. 

(more…)

Brené Brown: We’re hungry for more joy because we are starving from a lack of gratitude

 

We’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.

– Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Yes, this is very true in my experience. Gratitude fills me up. It makes me content. And when there is less gratitude and contentment, I crave a variety of things including joy. 

I think this is craving is widespread in contemporary societies, and perhaps especially in the US. Modern media and advertisement intentionally instill a sense of lack and entitlement. I don’t have what I need, and I am entitled to it. And this creates a hole that needs to be filled with products, status, and experiences – including joy. Gratitude is the antidote. And not only an antidote, it’s what we really wish for. It’s what creates a more satisfying and real sense of contentment and being filled up. 

We can’t fake gratitude, and we can’t tell ourselves to be grateful. But it’s close by, and we can invite it in and more in the foreground of our experience. Some of my favorite ways are ho’oponopono, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practices. Natural rest or basic meditation is another way to invite in gratitude, and really… we are “just” noticing the gratitude that’s already here and that we are. (Which is huge.) 

Thomas Keating: The spiritual journey… is a series of humiliations of the false self

 

The spiritual journey… is a series of humiliations of the false self that become more and more profound.

Thomas Keating?

Yes. This is not the usual sales pitch of spirituality, but it’s real and true. It’s what we realize after a while on the spiritual path. 

What he calls humiliation is what I see as life rubbing up against any thought we hold as true, any belief or identification. These are the ones that create a sense of being a separate being, so these are the ones that gradually go. It’s not a comfortable process. It’s not what many think spirituality or awakening is about. But it’s what happens. It’s what’s needed for life to wake up to itself more as it is, without the filter of identifications and taking itself to be separate in any way, or anything else than all there is living a local life as this human self. 

The truth will set us free

 

and the truth will set you free

New Testament, John 8:32

This is true in many ways. 

It’s true in relationships, in society, and in terms of social justice and sustainability. We need the truth, and to be honest about it, for change to happen. 

It’s also true in healing. And, as Jesus referred to, it’s true in awakening. 

For emotional healing, we need the truth. Truth = reality, and consciously aligning more with reality = emotional healing. 

For awakening, we also need truth. Truth = reality, and awakening means to consciously align with reality. 

And then there is fear of truth. Most of us have a fear of truth to some extent, in some areas of life, for several different reasons. It’s important to honor this fear, and explore it with some gentleness, kindness, and curiosity. 

I have written about each of these more in depth in other articles so I’ll leave this article brief.  

(more…)

Ariana Grande: thank u, next

 

I know they say I move on too fast
But this one gon’ last
‘Cause her name is Ari
And I’m so good with that (so good with that)
She taught me love (love)
She taught me patience (patience)
How she handles pain (pain)
That shit’s amazing (yeah, she’s amazing)
I’ve loved and I’ve lost (yeah, yeah)
But that’s not what I see (yeah, yeah)
‘Cause look what I’ve found (yeah, yeah)

There isn’t too much to say about this song because it’s all there in the lyrics.

It’s about gratitude, impermanence, and self-love. 

Everything passes – all our relationships to anything in the world, to people, things, situations. And all we can do is learn from it and say thank u, next. 

Except, one relationship doesn’t pass and that’s to myself. I can find a good relationship to myself. I can treat myself as I would want to be treated by someone important in my life. I can treat myself – and anything coming up in me, all my experiences – with love, kindness, respect, as a good friend or lover. 

It’s an important pointer. In some ways, it’s the secret to life. And it’s beautiful to see it in pop culture, and especially when aimed at younger women as I assume this one is. Although the pointer is equally valid and essential independent of our gender or age. 

This song is completely aligned with the insights we find through The Work. I won’t be surprised if this will be a regular song at future Schools. 

(more…)

Genpo Roshi: Life is very fragile, very precious

 

Life is very fragile, very precious. Realizing this, we have more willingness to face whatever gift life brings us. The experience of doing that over and over again gives us faith and courage to keep going. Taking life as it comes, not knowing what will happen next, we can be fully present each moment to experience whatever it is. If it is suffering, we suffer; if it is pleasure, we have pleasure.
— Genpo Roshi

Incarnation trauma

 

From early childhood, I seem to have had a clear memory of life between lives. An profound sense of all as love and wisdom, an infinite sense of being home. 

And along with that, formless beings and communication without words. The other memory I seem to have is of when I knew I would incarnate again. It was shared with me by a group of a dozen or so beings, I was shown the life in broad strokes, and I was shown I would incarnate along with many others needed in this phase of humanity’s and Earth’s evolution. 

I was also asked if I would. Being a good boy (soul), I said “yes”. And yet, it wasn’t honest. I wanted to because I knew it was the divine movement and there wasn’t really a choice. But the rest of me deeply and profoundly didn’t want to. I had spent a long time in this place that was partly timeless although also touching on time. (My previous incarnation may have been in the second half of the 1800s.) 

Saying yes when so much of me wanted to say no seems to have been traumatic. It created a deep wound in me. It was dishonest. And it was pointless dishonesty since these beings knew everything about me anyway. 

When I replay it being honest, it is beautiful. I acknowledge the “no”. I say it out loud for myself and these beings to hear. (Although not with words.) I grieve. And I arrive more wholeheartedly at a yes that’s aligned with this divine movement. 

Going back in my timeline to find me needing healing at different times, this seems one of the more important ones. 

As usual, I am not taking this literally. (Although I am also open for it being an actual memory.) I take it as any dream or vision or apparent memory that can’t so easily be verified. I take it as giving form to something very real in me. In this case, a “no” to life and a trauma around being incarnate, around being a human being in this world. 

That’s what this points to. That’s what may need to be seen, felt, loved, resolved, and healed. That’s where the invitation is. 

Am I awake?

 

Am I awake? 

Not the right question. First, as nondual sticklers will happily tell you, it is – in a way – the wrong question. What we are awakens to itself, not the apparently separate self that we may think we are. This is the smart-alecy answer, and there is something to it. It can be a helpful pointer. 

The question answers itself. If there is an awakening, the question falls away. It’s not important. So if we have the question and it seems vital and important, then the answer may be not yet. Keep looking. 

Yes and no and it depends. I can say it’s yes and no and perhaps depending on the definition. It’s not hard for me to recognize that all is happening within and as consciousness. It’s all one field. And all of that is happening within and as void or capacity for it all. At the same time, my mind does sometimes identify with thoughts. So there is usually a mix of what I am noticing itself and within that the mind partly identifying with some old identities and thoughts. And the tendency for the mind to identify with a wide range of old thoughts and identities is latent in my system, ready to be triggered by life situations. Is that awake? It’s not as awake as it’s possible to be, but it’s also not completely unawake.  

As Byron Katie says, we are awake to the thought that’s here or not. 

Love is what I really want. Also, it’s not terribly important. What’s more important for me is to meet what’s here – my experience – with kindness. To meet it with love. That’s what I really want, more than awakening. That’s what I am craving, and what the different parts of me crave. And, of course, the two go hand in hand. The more I meet my experience with kindness, the easier it is for what I am to notice itself. And the other way around. 

It’s a rich topic and there is a lot more to say about it. 

For instance, we tend to project a whole lot of things on awakening. We project what’s already here, both the awakeness that’s already here, and our hopes and fears and hangups at a very human level. Whatever I see in awakening, can I find it right here and now? (The answer is most likely yes, if I look.) 

There is already awakeness here, and “we” can notice it (it notices itself while still taking itself to be separate from it), and it can also notice itself as all there is (more clear). The Big Mind process can give some people a glimpse of this, as can the Headless experiments. 

The awakening is both a process and sometimes involves sudden shifts, and it’s not as black and white (at least as it looks to me) as it’s sometimes depicted. Yes, we can have openings and phases where everything seems very clear and awake and unobscured by any identifications. The shifts may be very clear and sudden. And yet, over time, there tends to be a mix of the awakening and remaining tendencies of the mind to identify with thoughts.

These identifications can be gentle and recognized as identifications while awakeness recognizes itself as all there is, including these dynamics of the mind. Sometimes, the identifications may take over for shorter periods of time while we in the back of the mind know what’s going on.

And in some cases, the mind may consistently tell itself that a particular identification is absolutely true, in which case the awakening is obscured in that area of the mind and life. For instance, there are classic cases of what seems like a relatively clear awakening obscured by persistent racism. This is an example of clarity obscured by cultural beliefs, and I guess that may happen quite frequently including among contemporary teachers. It’s just harder for us to notice if it happens within our own culture. (And it will be easier to notice for those outside of our culture, probably including future generations.) 

So am I awake? Well, it depends. Yes, in some ways. No, in some ways. And there is also a middle ground of maybes that I feel quite familiar with. 

And I am very open to this changing for me – the way I tell a story about awakening. I would be disappointed if it didn’t. Perhaps in a day, or month, or decade, I would write about this very differently. 

I am also very aware that this way of talking about awakening can be frustrating to some. If our mind tells us awakening is vital and essential, and there is an internal pressure to “have it”, then it may want more certainty. Our mind may want it to be more black and white. I imagine some nondual folks reading this and their minds telling itself “no, he is completely wrong, awakening is this and it’s either here or it’s not, there is no middle ground and no maybes. I know that because this teacher said it, and this other teacher said it too, and my experience tells it to me. What an idiot…!”. And that’s OK. 

Healing and the limits of what happens inside of thoughts

 

When it comes to healing of emotional issues, it’s limited what can happen inside of the person’s thoughts. There is a limit to what can happen through thinking and talking. 

Of course, through thinking and talking, some limited resoling and healing can happen. It can be good to think or talk about something and put words on it. It can be good to have someone listening to it, whether that’s ourselves or someone else, especially when the listening is kind, insightful, and helps us find our own insights and resolutions. 

In the best case, it can help us gain some perspective and resolution. In the worst case, our painful (and trauma-creating) stories can be reinforced by ourselves or the other person. And by entering into something too quickly or in an unskillful way, we can also retraumatize ourselves. 

And although emotional issues may be largely created by us believing our own thoughts about something that happened, the emotional issues themselves go far beyond out thoughts. They sit in our whole system. 

So for a more thorough and real healing and resolution, we often need something outside of thought. As mention above, the main healing factor may be listening with presence, patience, respect, kindness, and invitation for us to find our own insights and resolution. 

Among the many outside-of-thought approaches to healing out there, I am only familiar with a few so those are the ones I write about here. They are just examples, and I don’t mean to say you have to do any of these. The ones available to you, and the ones that work for you are the ones best for you. 

So here is a list of examples I happen to be familiar with: 

Release tension related to and created by the issue out of the body through therapeutic tremoring (TRE). 

Reorient in how I relate to the emotional issue and to the triggering situation through heart-centered practices. (Ho’o, tonglen, all-inclusive gratitude practices.) 

Examine the stressful and issue-creating thoughts, and find what’s more true for me (The Work). 

Examine how the mind creates its own experience, and specifically the issue, through combining sensations and thoughts. Peak behind the curtain. Shine sunlight on the troll. (Living Inquiries.) 

Use energy healing to release the issue, including through releasing conditioning at all levels and invite in new insights. (Vortex Healing.) 

In addition, there are the time-honored ways of healing through touch, movement, loving social interactions, and time in nature. 

(more…)

The beauty of parts language, and when to use it and not

 

What is parts language? It’s when we are aware of parts of us, or we can call them sub-personalities, anything in us that are somewhat like their own little beings. And we acknowledge it to ourselves or someone else in words. 

For instance, I may say “a part of me is scared of this!” or “a part of me is angry that it didn’t happen”. 

When there is a mutual understanding of parts language, I find it very helpful. It signals that we are aware of something in us, and we are not so identified with it. There is enough space around it so we recognize it as a part, and we don’t feel compelled to believe what it tells us or act on it. It’s just an acknowledgment of something that’s here that we notice. 

When there is not a mutual understanding of parts language, it can be misunderstood. I have experienced this when I assume someone is familiar with parts language (a psychologist or therapist), I use parts language, and they respond as if they think I am completely identified with the view of the part I am noticing and giving words to. 

It can be quite dismaying. And I have also discovered it can be difficult to explain and clear up. 

For instance, when I went through my process of being officially diagnosed with CFS, I met with a psychologist and used parts language freely. I mentioned several parts I have noticed, and I saw it as innocent and completely ordinary since I am used to using parts language with therapists and the parts I mentioned are universal. Somehow, she saw it as if I was completely identified with these parts (why would I otherwise mention it?) and that they were strong (again, from her perspective, why would I otherwise mention it?). It led to complications and a longish process to clear it up which involved seeing specialists. Fortunately, they realized quickly that she had misunderstood and misread the situation. 

So why do we even mention what we notice? Especially if it’s not necessarily strong and we are not so identified with it? For me, it has to do with transparency. I notice something in me and wish to share. Also, when I put words on it, and especially if I speak it out loud, it removes some of the power and charge out of it. It is named. It becomes an object. Trolls burst in daylight. And it’s also a reminder to myself to perhaps later explore it more fully and invite in healing for it. 

Parts language can be very beautiful and helpful. And, as I have learned, it’s good to not automatically assume that the other understands it even if I a part of me thinks they should because they are a psychologist. I also need to remember that I lived most of my adult life on the west coast of the US (Orgegon and California), so when I talk to people in Norway – even if they are psychologists or therapists – they may not understand. Norway is, after all, often quite provincial when it comes to these things. And, yes, a part of me feels dismayed by it! 

Infatuated with freedom

 

This is a follow-up to the mountains are mountains article. 

In an early awakening phase, whether it’s more stable or through glimpses, we can be infatuated with freedom. We have been released from an exclusive identification as a separate being. We have discovered all is consciousness, or love, or the divine. We have realized it’s all the divine appearing as all this, including for a little while taking itself to be a separate individual. We see that all conventions and ideas are mind and human-made and have no inherent truth or finality to them. 

So it’s natural to be somewhat infatuated with the freedom that seems to be here. We feel free from our old self-imposed and imagined constraints. 

We felt oppressed by the constraints, so now relish the freedom. 

Some current non-dual teachers tend to emphasize what we are and the freedom inherent in it. And that may be the right medicine for people still very much identifying as a separate individual. 

And it’s not the whole picture. It may look a bit different when we mature into it. It also looks a bit different if we have a different orientation going into it. If we have more of an orientation towards wholeness, inclusivity, and realness. 

I tend to prefer guides and coaches who acknowledge both what we are (what everything happens within and as) and who we are (as human beings), and the infinite complexity of the interactions between the two (which are really one). And who do so with honesty and realness, and prioritize the very human messiness of the process over how it “should” look. 

Some of the ones I have found and resonate with are the ones I write about or quote from in these articles…. Byron Katie, Adyashanti, Douglas Harding, Bonnie Greenwell, Jeff Foster, Matt Licata, Hameed Ali, and many others. 

I know this post is a little black-and-white and can seem a little harsh. I notice an impatience in me sometimes when spiritual teachers emphasize the what-we-are side over the human or the interactions between the two. It can seem too idealized, or a bit immature, or even a bit misguided or misguiding.

Of course, it can be a nice carrot to get people hooked. And there is nothing inherently wrong in it. And at some point, we need to get more real. 

Mountains are mountains

 

Thirty years ago, before I began the study of Zen, I said, ‘Mountains are mountains, waters are waters.’ After I got an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, I said, ‘Mountains are not mountains, waters are not waters.’ But after having attained the abode of final rest [that is, Awakening], I say, ‘Mountains are really mountains, waters are really waters.’

And then he asks, ‘Do you think these three understandings are the same or different?

Abe Masao, Zen and Western Thought

First, mountains are mountains. We experience the world as most do, as physical, as made up of separate beings and things, as existing in itself and we just happen to perceive it. 

Then, mountains are not mountains. The illusion is revealed. We may realize all as consciousness. As One. As the divine. We may realize that an overlay of thought creates the experience of separation and of physicality. It’s all the divine locally and teporarily taking itself as a separate being through holding certain thoughts as true. We are like Neo seeing the Matrix as a matrix and created by code. 

At this point, when we are relatively new to it, several things can go a bit haywire for us. We may feel we are going crazy, or we may blame and judge others for not seeing it, or we may go into nihilism and tell ourselves nothing matter and we can do what we want since it’s all illusion anyway. We can fall into some common pitfalls. We can contract some baby Buddha diseases. There is often some arrogance in this phase. (For me, it was that I could deal with anything. I got into and stayed in a bad situation because I told me I could deal with anything.) 

Then, mountains are mountains again. We have matured a bit in our realization. We have lived out some of our youthful follies in the awakening and embodiment process. Our lives now often seem very ordinary and ordinarily human, although also lived from wisdom and kindness. We are happy to follow convention apart from in the few situations where our heart, guidance, wisdom, and kindness says otherwise. 

We know our actions have consequences and may pay more attention to our actions and life in the world than ever before. If we have gone through some type of dark night, we have been more deeply and thoroughly humanized. All the while realizing even more clearly it’s all the divine and the play of the divine. 

Fascination with tragedy

 

It’s normal for humans to have a fascination with tragedy.

It’s built into us since it has helped our ancestors – whether human or much further back – to survive. 

This fascination can take a few different forms. Most commonly, it’s a fascination with tragic news, gossip, and stories of any kind. 

We do need to know what’s happening in the world, and in our local community and those close to us. And grittiness and tragedy is part of that. But a fascination with tragedy isn’t really needed. It’s something we can explore and invite to soften or fall away. 

Another form this fascination with tragedy can take, perhaps especially for some on a spiritual path, is a glorification of tragedy or general life difficulties as fodder for healing and awakening. It is true that the grittiness and challenges of life can be and are fodder for healing, awakening, maturing, and embodiment. But we don’t need to glorify it or seek it out. 

So what do we do with this tragedy-seeking in ourselves?

The first is to be aware of it. Notice. See some of the dynamics. See how it influences our daily life. 

It’s also good to see that it’s here for a reason. It has served humanity well. Without it, we may not even have been here. It is a form of love put into us through evolution. 

And then there are more specific approaches. Here are the usual ones I currently find helpful. 

Release some of the tension created by it in my body through therapeutic tremoring (TRE). 

Inquire into it (The Work, Living Inquiries). 

Change my relationship to it through heart centered practices (ho’o, tonglen). 

Clear conditioning and wake up the issue with Vortex Healing. 

Vortex Healing is by far the most effective and powerful approach for me now. Although more powerful is a combination of them all. 

Finding healing for myself at different ages

 

One of the things I like to do is to invite in healing for myself at different ages. I imagine myself as a specific age (e.g. age 5), feel into and look at whatever may have bothered me at the time (issues, uncertainties etc.), and then invite in healing for me / him as I would for any client. If it’s inquiry, I can do inquiry from that age, as if I am myself at that age. If it’s a heart-centered practice (ho’o, tonglen), I do it as if I would for anyone else by imagining him in front of me. And I find it works well even with Vortex Healing. I imagine him (me at age 5) as I would any client, and take him through a session (with some slight modifications) as I would any client. 

I find it helpful to do this through the timeline. I may scan my own timeline, find an age and period where I wasn’t quite comfortable with myself and the world, and spend time with myself at that age and invite in healing. Through presence. Noticing. Allowing. And sometimes inquiry, heart-centered practices, or divine energy healing (Vortex Healing). 

Why do I do this? I find it helpful to do healing for myself at specific ages. It brings certain issues more alive for me. It’s also easier when I see myself in front of me and approach the healing as I would for any client. I can access the issue internally, and it’s also an object I see in front of me which creates a helpful distance and somehow makes it easier for me to stay with the healing process. 

Byron Katie: If you want real control, drop the illusion of control

 

Being present means living without control and always having your needs met. For people who are tired of the pain, nothing could be worse than trying to control what can’t be controlled. If you want real control, drop the illusion of control. Let life live you. It does anyway. You’re just telling the story about how it doesn’t, and that’s a story that can never be real. You didn’t make the rain or the sun or the moon. You have no control over your lungs or your heart or your vision or your breath. One minute you’re fine and healthy, the next minute you’re not. When you try to be safe, you live your life trying to be very, very careful, and you may wind up having no life at all. Everything is nourishment. I like to say, “Don’t be careful; you could hurt yourself.”

You can’t make people moral. People are what they are, and they’ll do what they do, with or without our laws. Remember the prohibition amendment? I hear that it was passed by well-intentioned, moral people, who just wanted to save the rest of us from the temptation of alcohol. Of course it failed, because sobriety can come only from the inside. You can’t force people to be sober or honest or kind. You can say “thou shalt not” till you’re blue in the face, and they’ll do it anyway.

The best way, the only effective way, is to serve as an example and not to impose your will.

Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

I agree with this, and also see how it can easily be misunderstood.

It’s doesn’t mean not working towards something in life. Or creating the conditions for a happy and healthy society and life. Or being assertive when that’s needed.

It doesn’t mean that anything needs to change. Apart from one thing, and that’s the idea that we can control life, or need to, or that life would be better if we could. 

So how do we arrive at this place of more clarity around control? Inquiry is one approach, including Byron Katie’s The Work. What beliefs and ideas do I have about control, especially when I allow myself to be petty, childish, and uncensored? What do I find when I investigate these beliefs, and find what’s already more true for me? 

And what does she mean by finding real control through dropping the illusion of control? I am not sure, but for me it means that when I see through the illusion of having, or needing, or even wanting control, there is a resting in reality. I, as a separate being, don’t have control over life and never will. I don’t need it and never did. When I look, I see I don’t even really want it, and never did. And, in some ways, that’s control.

At the very least, it’s freedom from the lack of control – the instability and stress – I create for myself when I believe my ideas of needing, having, or wanting control. It’s a resting in and as what is. 

Amor fati

 

I love this Latin term amor fati – ‘love of fate’. Instead of bemoaning your fate – and sometimes our fates are terrible – we love our fate. Amor fati. It’s a way of being grateful. I’m going to love what happened to me because I trust it’s here to remove a veil. I’m going to search what’s happening to me in this time so I can take away yet another misconception.

Elizabeth Lesser

I also love amor fati. Love your fate. 

It’s pragmatic. When we fight against our existence and life, we create suffering for ourselves, and it distracts us from making good use of what’s here. When we find love for our fate, we open our mind and heart to possibilities. We are more open to make the best out of it. To make it into something beautiful, both in how we see it and in what we make out of it in our life. So finding love for our fate makes pragmatic sense. 

We can also see our fate as an invitation to heal and wake up. Whatever happens, and especially what we don’t like, shows us what’s left. It shows us where our attitudes are out of alignment with reality (with life, the divine). It shows us what’s left to heal of wounds and trauma. It shows us what we still haven’t seen or the clarity we still haven’t brought into our life. 

In a more general sense, we can say that what happens is an invitation to trust the divine, to look for the genuine gifts in it, to surrender to what’s here, and to say yes to life

So how do we do it? It requires a reorientation to ourselves and life. It requires looking for the genuine gifts in our life and situation. It requires realness and honesty with ourselves. It may require temporary support from a range of different practices including all-inclusive gratitude practices, heart-practices (tonglen, ho’oponopono), natural rest or basic meditation, different forms of inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), or energy work (Vortex Healing). It will also be made easier as we heal from our wounds and traumas in whatever ways best work for us (all of the above and TRE).  

An important part of this is to acknowledge the parts of us definitely not loving what happened and what is happening. To notice, allow, see it’s very natural and understandable. See that these parts of us are here to protect this apparently separate self. They come from (sometimes slightly misguided) kindness and love. They want to be seen, felt, respected, understood, met with kindness and patience. 

There is a bigger picture here. The way human life and this universe is set up, as long as our conscious view and our conditioning is out of alignment with reality, we’ll experience friction, discomfort, and pain. We are motivated to find a solution. And the only solution is to heal and awaken, and to keep healing and awakening and living from this healing and awakening.

The divine created this universe to explore, express, and experience itself in always new ways. We can say that it wanted to explore itself, get to know itself, get to know what was possible. We can also say that the infinite wanted to experience itself as finite. Or that love wanted to experience itself as (apparently) not love. Or that wisdom wanted to experience itself as (apparently) lack of wisdom. So it created this universe, and a possibility for itself to temporarily and locally take itself to be separate, a separate being, and – in our case – separate human beings. 

There is a profound beauty in all of this. It’s the play of the divine. A play for the divine, by the divine, with the divine as all actors, the set and stage, the audience, the director, the writer, and the stories played. (And it’s being written as it’s being played.) It’s a tragedy and a comedy and neither. 

Of course, when the divine does take itself – here and now – as separate, it may not seem beautiful at all. It may seem like a tragedy and only as that. And that’s part of the play as well.

The invitation here is to take a small step. How would it be to try to love my fate? If even just a little at first. Perhaps as acceptance of what’s here, and a curiosity about what I can make out of it. These are the ingredients, what meal can I make out of it? What happens if I engage in an all-inclusive gratitude practice for a few weeks? What happens if I try ho’o or tonglen? What do I find through inquiry? How does my life and the world appear to me as I find more healing for my wounds and traumas? 

(more…)

Hafiz: Everyone Is God speaking

 

Everyone
Is God speaking.
Why not be polite and
Listen to
Him? 

Ladinsky + Hafiz

Everyone and everything is God speaking. We can realize that when we temporarily break through the veils, or when the veils fall away.

Or, simply, when we notice what everything happens within and as, and we notice that’s what we already are. 

We can also use this as a pointer in daily life. 

What if this is God speaking? This man? This woman? This person I love? This other one I dislike? This animal? This sun? This rain? This ecosystem? This planet? The stars? 

Adyashanti: Rampant thinking is your mind looking for peace

 

Rampant thinking is your mind looking for peace—as if, if you could just think enough and understand enough, your mind could be at peace. But the mind never thinks its way to a lasting peace. In fact, in the mind’s rush to find peace and security, it overlooks the peace that is already present within the presence of awareness.

So contemplate what your mind is trying to run away from, and what it is looking for. And begin to show your mind that peace is available in the present. Literally bring your mind’s attention to the greater peace of awareness. And give your mind something to do in the form of following your breath. Just follow the breath whenever you can during the day, because it will calm your nervous system and give your mind something to do other than to obsessively think. Of course, thoughts may come, but anchor them in the breath. Be patient and kind to yourself. Very patient and very kind.

Adyashanti, The Way of Liberating Insight

Loss and its many gifts

 

You will lose everything. 
Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memory. 
Your looks will go.
Loved ones will die. 
Your own body will eventually fall apart. 
Everything that seems permanent is absolutely impermanent and will be smashed. 
Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. 
Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away. 
Right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground. 
For that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realising this is the key to unspeakable joy. 
Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. 
This may sound obvious but really knowing it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. 
Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.

Jeff Foster

Loss is a gift in so many ways. 

It’s what allows this universe and anything to exist in the first place. This universe, living planet, and us and all we know is here because the universe is always in transition and changing. What was before is gone so what’s here now can be here. 

Loss – in the form of change – is how life (the universe, existence, the divine) continues to express, explore, and experience itself in always new ways. 

When we take in the reality of loss, we find that what’s here is infinitely precious. It’s a gift. It won’t ever come back in this way. It’s a unique and precious gift. Even that which our personality and mind doesn’t like very much is an infinitely precious gift. It’s how the universe (life, the divine) presents itself to itself here and now.

When we sober up to the reality of loss and change, it’s easier to live with loss. We won’t fight it as much or perhaps not at all. We may even find genuine gratitude for it. It will still break our hearts. It breaks our heart open. 

Sobering up to loss is an invitation to notice what everything happens within and as. And to notice that’s what we are. 

So loss is what allows everything we know. It’s essential to the play of life – Lila. Sobering up to it allows a profound appreciation for what’s here. It makes it easier to live with. It breaks our heart wide open. And it’s an invitation to find ourselves as what we already are – that which all content experience happens within and as. (That which we may label consciousness, or love, or even the divine.) 

Awakening: small vs big interpretation

 

This is something I have found interesting since the initial opening or awakening, and I have written about it a few times before. 

The experience of awakening is, in itself, quite simple. And yet, there are different ways to interpret it.

What do we mean by awakening?  I have found a simple way of talking about it that seems relatively accurate. What we are, which is what any experience happens within and as, wakes up to itself. We can label this consciousness, or love, or Big Mind, or the divine, or many other things, but each of these labels makes it seem that we have pinned it down more than words really are able to. What we are wakes up out of identifications with anything created by words, with any identity.

Thoughts – mental images and words – describe what happens within content of experience. And identities are created by thoughts so also happen within content of experience. They cannot easily point to anything outside of the world of experience. They cannot very easily point to what we are, what awakens to itself. 

Small interpretation. There is a small interpretation of this, and we can also call this the psychological interpretations. I assume this is the interpretation that some within psychology or academia use or will use in the future. We can assume a world much like most people perceive it. There are separate beings. We have a physical world. And the awakening happens because we are, in our own immediate experience and whether we notice it or not, consciousness.

Since we are consciousness, or that’s where the identification “lands” in an awakening, everything appears as consciousness. All of content of experience – all our sense fields including thoughts – happens within and as consciousness. So, to us, the whole world appears as consciousness. It’s a projection. 

Awakening is real, and happens much as it’s described by mystics of all and no traditions. And yet, the world as the mainstream society and academia assumes it is, is just like that. Separate physical beings exist within a physical world, and that’s it. This interpretation makes awakening more palatable to the mainstream society and academia. And the essence of awakening is still as described by mystics from all times and around the world. 

Of course, any thought of the world existing as the mainstream sees it happens within and as what we are. So we just pretend that’s how it is. It’s a strategic choice. A guess. An assumption that makes sense because it makes awakening more understandable to more people. 

Big interpretation. There is also a big interpretation of awakening, and this is the one often found in spiritual traditions. Again, the essence of the awakening is the same as described above. But here, we assume it’s all about the divine. All of existence is the divine, and it wakes up to itself locally and sees through the thoughts of being separate, being a separate being, the world inherently being physical and so on.

In an awakening, the world appears as consciousness and love taking all the forms we see in the world, and that’s exactly how it is. It is all consciousness and love, and we can call it Spirit, Brahman, the divine, or whatever else the different spiritual traditions call it. 

Which one to choose? Which interpretation do we choose? It depends on our situation, background, and inclination. If we want to approach the mainstream world, or work in academia, the small interpretation may make more sense. If we are more free agents or come from a spiritual tradition, the big interpretation may make more sense. 

And there are also some hints that can help us choose. With an awakening, there is often a whole range of side-effects. We may see auras and energies. We may pick up information at a distance. We may experience a great deal of hard-to-dismiss synchronicities. We may sense what will or may happen in the future. All of this, in my view, points to and fits better with the big interpretation of awakening or reality. All happens within and as the divine. Within and as the One. Within and as the nothingness allowing it all. 

(more…)

This too is the divine

 

This too is the divine. 

Any pointer in healing or spirituality is medicine for a certain condition. 

If our condition happens to be that (a) we have recognized all as the divine – either in glimpses or ongoingly, and yet (b) we don’t always see, feel, and love some experiences as the divine, then this can be a helpful pointer. 

This too is the divine. 

This is where I have found myself for a while. I know deeply that all is the divine. I can see it. I can feel it. I love it as the divine. 

And yet, when some experiences come up – strong discomfort, emotional pain, physical pain, wounds, trauma – I don’t always see, feel, or love it as the divine. Old reactive patterns take over. (And that’s OK since that too is the divine, it’s a local and temporary expression of the divine.) 

It’s really a question. Is this too the divine? Sit with it. Let it sink in. Let it guide noticing. Let it work on you. (There is no need to answer with words.) 

I find this one helpful. It’s the right pointer for me right now. It probably wasn’t some while ago, and won’t be at some point in the future. But now, when my attention gets absorbed in what’s triggered in me and I temporarily don’t recognize what’s here as the divine, it’s the right medicine. 

It’s not the right medicine if we don’t easily recognize most as the divine. Then it just becomes intellectual and not helpful. And it’s a not needed medicine if we habitually recognize even that which our personality doesn’t like as the divine. 

Most of the time, I focus on remedies and pointers that have more universal use such as different types of inquiry and heart centered practices. And yet, sometimes, more narrowly applicable remedies are just what’s needed. 

(more…)

Mother and father issues

 

When asked about what our depression, or anxiety, or troublesome behavioral pattern is connected with, most of us will answer with immediate triggers. It has to do with our work situation, or the world situation, or current relationships.

And yet, as Freud pointed out and has become a bit of a cliche, the real answer is often in childhood. 

We may not feel ready to go directly there. Sometimes, it can be helpful to explore more peripheral or immediate issues. We get to learn and trust the process, and we get to see that it’s safe to meet it and that it can heal.

We get to see that we can learn to meet what comes up with presence, kindness, patience, respect, and gentle curiosity. We see that we can find healing for our relationship with it and how much relief is found here. And we may get to see that the issue itself can find healing and resolve. 

And yet, it’s good to relatively quickly explore if the issue does have roots in our childhood. After getting to know how the issue is experienced here and now, one of my favorite questions in inquiry is “what’s your earliest memory of feeling that way?”. It often brings the client (which sometimes is myself) right back to early situations that tell us something about how the pattern was initially formed. We get to see that it – whether it’s anxiety, depression, a compulsion, or something else – made sense in that situation and was a way of coping with a difficult situation. It was the best we could do in that situation as a child. 

We find understanding and empathy for ourselves, and perhaps even for the issue itself. We see it came from wishing to protect ourselves. And we are in a position to address the biographical roots of the issue, and that may allow for a more thorough, effective, and efficient healing.

Efficiency isn’t neccesarily a priority in a healing process, but we do have limited resources – in terms of time, money, and attention – so it is good to keep at least half an eye on efficiency.

I should also add that by addressing more peripheral and immediate issues, we do actually address parts of the the more central issues. The core issues are expressed in these peripheral and immediate issues. So by working on these peripheral issues, we do make inroads in the core ones. We prepare the ground for addressing them more head on, and it makes it easier – for many reasons – to address the core issues more head on.

We learn about the process, we learn to trust it’s safe to meet our emotional issues, we learn they can find healing, and we do – indirectly and in parts – address the core issues and find some healing for them. 

(more…)

Fiona Robertson: The Dark Night of the Soul

 
The Dark Night of the Soul: A Journey from Absence to Presence by Fiona Robertson

My friend Fiona Robertson wrote this wise, heartfelt, and insightful book that I am sure will be of help to many. It is specifically about the dark night of the soul that some of us go through at some point in our life. But the insights apply to all the many mini-dark nights of the soul that are part of our human experience. 

When I read it, I was struck by the universality of the descriptions and insights from the different people interviewed for the book. It was as if I could have said just about all of them. I was interviewed for the book so some of them are actually my own, but when I read the others I actually didn’t know if they were mine or not until I read the attribution. (Of course, the people interviewed and the quotes were selected to fit into a narrative, but there is also something often surprisingly universal about the dark night of the soul.)  

The book is a reminder of how the dark night of the soul is a deeply human and humanizing experience. And that it requires us to be real instead of holding onto identities, beliefs, and ideas about how things are or should be. It strips away layers of who and what we are not. It helps us find our wholeness in a far more gritty and real way. 

Why is nature healing?

 

Why do we experience being in nature as healing? 

In nature, we are reminded of our larger ecological self. We are an expression of this living planet and its ecosystems, and in nature, we remember. We remember who we are. 

And the same is the case when we look up at the night sky. We are the universe evolving into this living planet and us, and we remember. That’s one reason a dark night sky is so important. 

Our species evolved in and as part of nature. Almost all of our ancestors lived in nature. It’s our natural habitat. It’s where we are home. 

In nature, we more naturally connect with our physical body. We remember who we are. We are invited to shift out of our obsession with thinking and into sensing and feeling, and this in itself is a relief and healing. 

Nature reminds us that the natural state is allowing and non-judgment. Nature allows all as it is. Nature doesn’t engage in value judgments. It doesn’t say that this straight tall tree is better than that crooked old one. And when we shift in that direction, that too is a relief and healing. 

We learn a lot by being in nature. We learn how we respond to different situations. We learn to handle challenges. We learn nothing is personal. 

In my experience, the more wild nature is, the more I benefit from all of this. And that’s one of many reasons why it’s not only important to preserve nature and ecosystems but to preserve the wild. 

Of course, not all experience it this way. In nature, we are also faced with our own conditioning. We are faced with the beliefs and habits that – in our minds and experience – remove us from our body, ancestry, and nature. And that’s another benefit of being in nature. We get to see how we divorce ourselves from our larger self and who we are. 

Floating around: out of body as an infant

 

I rarely write about personal experiences more peripheral to the healing and awakening process. But I realize that it can be helpful to share a few short stories now and then. At least, it may help others who have experienced something similar feel more normal.

Out-of-body experiences are relatively well known and perhaps not that rare. My out-of-body experience (I only remember one) is slightly unusual because it happened so early in life. 

When I grew up, I had a clear memory from when I was an infant. It was a sunny and cool day. I saw my parents and brother walking along the sidewalk to our house, and me in a pram. I saw them walk up the gravel road to the house. I saw something big and rectangular in front of the house. All of this was seen from a birds-eye perspective, perhaps 20-30 meters up (today I would say it was like a drone video). Floating around, I saw the living room, empty apart from a few things on the floor. I saw the very memorable (aka ugly) wallpaper in the main bedroom.

In my late teens, I finally asked my parents about this. It seemed like a clear memory but I also knew that we are not supposed to have memories from this early in life. I gave them the details, and it turned out that everything was accurate. It was in the spring and I was 4-5 months old, and they had walked to the house I grew up in from their previous house. The big white rectangle in front of the house was the moving van. The wallpaper had been in the main bedroom, and they painted over it almost immediately. 

I wonder if I remembered it so clearly because I was out of body. Perhaps that allows for memories from infancy. And floating around like this suggests that I wasn’t all that comfortable being in a body. At least in this situation, I preferred floating around checking out the new place.