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.
When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what’s inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what’s inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what’s inside.
– Wayne W. Dyer
I had a private meeting with Adyashanti a few years ago. It was at his office in San Jose, and early on in the darkest phase of the dark night of the soul. (I have written about the dark night in other posts. It’s been a phase of loss, of old trauma surfacing to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as presence, and much more, and it’s been very humbling in a painful but good way.)
He said that in the time ahead, life would squeeze out what’s left in me.
What does that mean? To me, it means that life circumstances bump up against remaining fears, identifications, and shoulds in me, and that’s when I feel squeezed. In reality, it’s these identifications that are squeezed since they are in opposition to life as it is. It feels like “I” am squeezed because there is identification with them.
If I allow it, or when I get sufficiently worn out and humbled, then life will squeeze out of me these identifications and what wants things to be different. And until that happens, at the very least I get to see what’s here. I get to be more familiar with it.
It does seem that life sets up situations for me specially designed to squeeze me. What’s happening is that I inevitably live from the parts of me that are still “in the dark” (not seen, felt, loved, recognized as presence), and acting from these sets up situations that in turn highlight or squeeze these parts of me. Also, life is rich and some aspect of life will inevitably hit and squeeze these parts in me. There may be more going on as well, including synchronicities that also squeeze.
Adyashanti was right. I have experienced quite a lot of squeezing over the last few years, including right now. Sometimes, it seems relentless. Sometimes, a bit overwhelming. Sometimes, there is a set of amazing synchronicities setting up the squeeze. Sometimes, it seems that life knows exactly how to squeeze me the most. Sometimes, it seems like grace.
Bypassing means avoiding uncomfortable sensations and thoughts.
The sensations seem uncomfortable because of the imaginations associated with them. Thoughts give meaning to sensations.
And the imaginations, the mental pictures and words, seem real and solid because of the sensations associated with them. Sensations give a sense of solidity and charge to thoughts.
When we bypass, we do so because the sensations seem scary and the thoughts connected to them seem scary. We would rather not be reminded of them.
There is almost an infinite number of ways we can bypass. Although we typically do it with the help of stories and distractions, whether these distractions are external or internal or both.
We can distract ourselves with compulsive….
Entertainment, work, exercise, socializing.
Food, sex, alcohol, drugs.
Rationalizing, analyzing, understanding.
Going into future thinking, whether it’s scary or hopeful. Going into past thinking, whether it’s enjoyable or painful.
Getting caught in the drama of our own stories. It may seem that getting caught in the drama is feeling the sensations and looking at the mental images and words, but it’s actually a distraction from resting with them in presence.
Going into comforting stories about life and ourselves. These may also be “spiritual” stories saying there is nobody here to suffer, everything is perfect as it is, all is Spirit, we’ll arrive at a peaceful place in the future. They may also be inflated stories about ourselves, to compensate for painful deficiency stories.
Seeking healing or resolution. When this becomes compulsive, and the main aim is to avoid discomfort, this too is a form of bypassing.
Some of these are very healthy if they are not compulsive. When they become compulsive, they can still be relatively healthy, and it’s also a sign that we are trying to avoid something.
Avoiding certain charged stories and sensations is something we all do. It’s completely natural, understandable, and innocent. It’s a safety valve built into our system.
Sometimes, it can be quite healthy to avoid certain things in us. To not bypass may be beyond what we are capable of in the moment or situation. And if we are forced to not bypass, and have to do it in a way that’s less than safe and skilled, it tends to lead to retraumatizing.
I should also mention that I don’t really like the term bypassing. It’s often used with a hint of judgment. And although I have used the word in this post, since it’s something many are familiar with, I rarely use it otherwise.
After I got CFS some years ago, I have had occasional crashes.
These typically happen through a combination of three factors:
(a) A disappointment about the day. I had looked forward to something, it didn’t happen or didn’t happen the way I thought it would, so I got disappointed. (I had invested certain images and ideas about the day with energy.)
(b) I didn’t have enough food or the right type of food soon enough.
(c) The reason was that I didn’t take care of my own food needs fully due to being with others, and wanting to not bother them too much. (Without knowing it at the time, I want to be liked and not inconvenience others more than avoiding a crash.)
This sounds very specific, but it has happened a few times just like this. The next thing that typically happens is that I feel out of it, I go quiet, and I don’t have much energy. And the one(s) I am with tend to take it personally. They think it’s about them, that I don’t like them, don’t want to be with them etc. even if that’s far from my experience.
There are several lessons for me here:
Bring food, and especially protein rich food, even if I think I’ll have a meal soon. (A meal that is postponed is often a precursor to these crashes.)
Speak up for myself and take care of my own needs, even if I think it’s an inconvenience to the one(s) I am with. It’s more of an inconvenience for them and me if I don’t and then crash.
Work on my tendency to get my hopes up for doing certain things on a special day out and then get disappointed when it doesn’t happen. I often am very aware that my images about the future are just that, and I don’t invest them with that much energy or hope. But sometimes, I do, and that’s when these crashes tend to happen.
In an evolutionary and survival perspective, it makes sense that most of us lean slightly towards a problem focus. It’s good for survival, although less so for peace of mind or happiness. Happiness has a lower priority, and that’s also been good for most or all of the human journey.
This bias towards problem focus needs to be sufficient to offset complacency, and not strong enough to paralyze us. And sometimes it does go a bit too far in either direction, often due to trauma, stressful beliefs, and identifications. We may go too far in risk taking, or we go into freeze and are unable to be good stewards of our life.
Relating to this dynamic more intentionally, along with explorations like inquiry, natural rest, and TRE, can help shift this dynamic, and more importantly, shift how we relate to it. Neither is set in stone.
How or why do the Living Inquiries work?
In general, it’s because we get to see more clearly what’s really here. Instead of being mesmerized by scary or uncomfortable appearances created by the mind, we get to align more consciously with reality. And that in itself is a relief and healing.
Here are some more specific possible reasons why it works.
We go out of story and instead notice thought as mental images and words. The stories may be stressful, and perhaps not entirely true. So noticing them as mental images and words is a relief. We align more closely with that reality. (Withouth denying the validity of the stories.)
By separating out the elements and looking (images, words), listening (words, sounds), and feel (sensations) them, the mind “gets” what they really are, and this allows the glue holding the elements together to soften and perhaps release.
Said another way, when we rest with each element, it sinks in what they really are – images, words, and sensations.
By facing what we fear, a charged combination of elements, we get to see that it’s not as scary as it initially seemed. As long as we avoid it, we reinforce the idea that it’s scary and dangerous. When we meet it, we get to see what’s really there and it’s less scary.
It’s a form of exposure therapy. We rest with the scary images, words, and sensations. We get more familiar with them. We get to see they may not be as scary as they initially seemed.
When we notice the (infinite) space the elements happen within and as, they seem less charged or strong. It’s as if their charge is diluted.
By asking questions such as what’s your first memory of that feeling?, we get to see how the charged combination of elements was created early in life. We may see the innocence of it. And how it made sense then, and makes less sense now in our current situation.
When we work with a facilitator, we are accompanied by someone else holding space and guiding us. This makes is easier to meet and explore what’s here. We feel more held and supported. We have a witness, which somehow makes it easier for us to witness what’s here. This person is also familiar with the process, and knows from own experience that any charge experience is made up of simple elements, and the relief when we get to see and take this in.
Most of us go to thought to avoid feeling sensations given meaning by thought. It’s an interesting circularity that begins and ends with thought.
Here is the simple version of what’s happening.
(a) Thought gives a scary meaning to sensations.
(b) Since it seems scary, we want to avoid it.
(c) And the easiest way to avoid it is often to go to thought.
And a more elaborate description:
(a) Thoughts give a scary meaning to sensations. And the same sensations give a sense of substance and reality to those thoughts. These sensations often take the form of a body contraction, and this can be activated in the moment, or it can be more chronic.
(b) Since it seems scary, we want to avoid it. The thought-sensation combination seems scary, so we typically want to avoid looking at it closely. We may be caught in the drama of it, and even that’s a way to avoid looking more closely at the thought component and feeling the sensation component.
(c) The easiest way to avoid it is often to go to thought. These thoughts can be about nearly anything. They can be distracting thoughts. Analyzing thoughts trying to understand the problem. Strategizing thoughts trying to find a solution to the apparent problem. And they can even be the initially troublesome thoughts themselves when we get caught in their content instead of recognizing them as mental images and words.
There is a circularity here. The whole cycle starts and ends with thoughts. It starts with a scary thought held to be true. And ends with thoughts aimed at avoiding taking a closer look at these thoughts, and avoiding feeling the associated sensations and body contraction.
The solution to this and the way out is described in several other posts on this blog.
I notice a few things in the upper torso and throat area that likely are related to the same issue.
(a) A persistent contraction in my throat. (This one has changed and is lighter through inquiry. I found it related to a few times in childhood where I felt I was suffocating, and there is likely something there about communication as well.)
(b) Tension in my shoulders. I have had this at least since my teens, and it’s a pattern in my immediate family. (I think it partly has to do with not speaking up, holding things inside, feeling the burden of what’s unsaid.)
(c) My internal images/sense of my upper torso is a bit fragmented. For instance, if I want to pinpoint mentally the location of a point on the spine, I see two or three overlapping images and am unable to do so. I especially notice this if I do a practice of bringing my attention up and down the spine along with the breath. I did a similar Daoist practice in my late teens and early twenties, and that’s how I initially became aware of this. (I suspect this may have to do with not wanting to incarnate fully, and perhaps some developmental trauma in early childhood.)
(d) My belly feels relatively rich and full of energy, while my upper torso – chest, shoulders, and throat – seems to have less energy and fullness. This is also reflected in the appearance of my upper torso.
All of these have shifted through TRE, inquiry, and – more recently – Vortex Healing. I may update here as it continues to shift.
One form of awakening is when my very ordinary human experience is revealed to itself as presence, love, consciousness, void etc.
Another is when there is a very real sense of the whole universe awakening to itself as all of that – consciousness, love, wisdom, Spirit, God. Or, more precisely, it was already awake to itself as that, and now it happened here too through this human self and experience.
I am somewhat familiar with both types, which is why I am curious about this distinction. The initial opening or awakening was very much of the second type. And now, I am exploring more the first.
There are many dimensions or aspects of awakening.
What is awakened to? Or what awakens to itself? There are many possibilities and combinations.
(a) Certain facets of reality (God, life, the divine) may be revealed. Some of these facets can be called presence, love, silence, the void, the masculine divine, the feminine divine, and Spirit.
(b) All content of experience can be recognized as any of these. For instance, all experience can be recognized as love, wisdom, silence, void, or Spirit. Alternatively, these faces of the divine may appear different or separate from (other) content of experience. It may seem that there is a realm of love, while other content of experience – our human self and this world – is distinct from this. This happens if there is still identification as a separate self.
(c) Any of these – and several more aspects – of reality can be revealed to themselves, or revealed while there is still identification as a separate self. For instance, presence may notice itself as all there is, and love may do the same, or Spirit. Or it may appear that a separate self awakened to and recognized these.
(d) Another wrinkle is that we may, of course, use different words to describe the different faces of Spirit, and any of the other variations of awakening.
How clear or stable is it? Is it a glimpse? Is it more lasting? Does it fade over time? Does the intensity of it, or the bells and whistles associated with it, fade? (Most likely, yes.) Is there a more real insight, and does this stay or fade? When and how often is this more real insight clouded over by remaining identifications, wounds, and hangups?
How wide and deep is it? How much of our human self is transformed and aligned more closely with this awakening? How widely and deeply is our human self aligned with what we are? Some of this transformation and alignment may happen by itself through the initial opening or awakening. And in most cases, a lot of the work is done more over time by life and some is done through intentional efforts to heal and realign.
I am sure there are many more facets of awakening than the few I have mentioned here. I may have forgotten some, or not yet experienced them, or not yet distinguished them in my own experience.
The way awakening is experienced and expressed through this human self is complex. One aspect of it may, in some cases, be like an on or off switch. And the majority of it is much more of a complex process unfolding over time.
In the Living Inquiries, most of the time we notice what’s here and align more consciously with reality. That’s where the deepest healing is found. And sometimes, we also use “tricks”.
I may have a client notice images, words, and sensations (contractions) associated with a particular perceived threat, or compulsion, or deficiency story. I have them notice the boundless space it’s all happening within and as. We may explore the earliest memory of feeling that way. All of this is just noticing what’s already there and resting with it. And it can be very healing.
And sometimes, I may use a “trick”. One of my favorites is amplify / release. When something has a strong charge, amplify it. Make it stronger for about 10 seconds. Then release and relax for 10 seconds. Repeat a few times. This helps us see that what we tried to avoid because it seemed scary is actually not quite so scary. Also, by attempting to make it stronger we may get some insights into how these contractions and charged experiences are created and held in place by the mind. And the charge does tend to lessen, which makes it easier to rest with it and inquire into it. It supports resting and inquiring into it.
There are also other tricks which I rarely if ever use. For instance, when looking at words, you can scramble the letters and/or let them fall down in a pile. This helps the mind get that they are words without any inherent meaning. (For me, this is a bit too much of a “trick” although it seems to work for some.)
For me, allowing and healing go hand in hand.
What’s here is already allowed. This experience, as it is, is already allowed – by life, mind, space, awareness. There is an allowing of what’s here inherent in existence and what we are. Our conscious view may or may not be aligned with this allowing, and this alignment may change from situation to situation, and that’s allowed as well.
When we don’t notice this allowing, and instead are caught in beliefs saying what’s here is wrong, bad, and shouldn’t be, we struggle with what is. And that’s suffering. It can be very helpful to notice and then align more consciously with this allowing. It’s a relief. It is, in a very real sense, a coming home. We are coming home to a central characteristic of what we already are, which is this inherent allowing.
One of the innumerable things that are allowed is a wish for something to be different. If we don’t notice the allowing, then wishing for something to be different can become compulsive and add another layer to the suffering. If we do notice the allowing, then the movement for change can become much lighter, more of a natural movement than a compulsion. In either case, the wish for something to be different is very natural, very human, and sometimes even kind and healthy. It can be a kindness to our human self and perhaps to others as well.
This topic sometimes comes up in an inquiry context. The allowing invites a natural healing, and it also allows us to work towards this healing. Say I feel unloved. I can notice it’s all already allowed. The sensations, images, and words making up the sense of being unloved is already allowed. And just resting in that noticing is very healing. I rest with each of the components of “unloved” while noticing the boundless space it’s happening within and as, the presence it’s happening within and as, and the inherent allowing of it all.
And I can also explore it more thoroughly and intentionally through inquiry. I can ask simple questions about each component of “unloved” to see what’s really there. I can look at the early situations in my life where that identify was initially created. I can do some mining on the body contraction supporting the sense of being unloved and see what additional stories are connected with it. All of this too invites in healing.
When I notice and align more consciously with the inherent allowing, I get to notice and align with what I am. When I invite in healing, I do something very natural and kind for my human self.
Note: The topic of this post became more clear to me as I wrote. If I was to rewrite it, which I probably will in another post, it would probably be more clear, simple, and direct. That’s one of the benefits of writing. If it starts out fuzzy, it does tend to become a bit more clear as I write.
Some form of trauma is behind anxiety, depression, addictions and just about anything else that seems troubling to us.
That’s why it’s helpful to focus on trauma in inquiry sessions on these type of topics. A good question to get back to an early or initial trauma is to have the client notice and feel the sensations connected with the current problem, and ask what’s your earliest memory of feeling that way?
How can we avoid retraumatizing the client in inquiry?
Here are some ways to reduce the chance of retraumatizing:
Approach it indirectly.
Find the deficiency story triggered or created by the traumatizing situation. What does the situation say about me? Explore that identity.
Explore the threat in looking at the images and words associated with it, and feeling the sensations.
Isolate out the components – images, words, sensations – one at a time. Look at words or an image, feel the sensations, and set the rest aside for a while as best as you can. Slow it down, isolate out each component.
Notice the infinite space the imaginations or sensations happen within, and that’s also inside of the sensations and body contractions.
Spend a lot of time resting with what’s here. Again, slow it down, isolate out each component, spend a lot of time resting with it.
Meet what’s here – images, words, sensations – with kindness. Meet it with gentleness, kindness, patience. If needed, use ho’oponopono. (I am sorry, Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.) Or the thank you phrase. (Thank you for arising. I love you. Stay as long as you like.)
Sometimes, other supports can also be helpful such as tapping (EFT, TFT). Or the amplify / release technique. (Make the sensations, image, or words as strong as you can for 10 seconds, then release and relax, repeat a few times.)
I enjoy exploring the amplify / release technique.
Notice a body contraction, or an uncomfortable experience of any type. (Discomfort, restlessness, cravings, fear, anger, sadness, physical or emotional pain, a body contraction.)
Amplify it. Make it stronger. Do this for about 10 seconds. (Intend to make it stronger, whether you are able to actually make it stronger or not.)
Release. Relax. Take a full breath. Maybe hum a tune. Do this for 10 seconds.
Repeat a few times. Notice what, if anything, happens.
Several things happen here.
We bring attention to the discomfort. This brings it out of the habitual (and often stressful) thoughts reacting to or fueling it.
We get to notice how we intentionally make it stronger. We may bring up or strengthen certain images or words, we may contract the muscles in the area of the sensations or body contraction.
We get to see the imaginations and sensations making up the discomfort is perhaps not as scary as it initially seemed. As long as we avoid it, we reinforce the idea that it’s scary, and the experience of it as scary. When we meet it, we get to see more closely what’s really there (imaginations and sensations), and that it’s not as scary as it initially seemed.
Each of these helps us shift our relationship to it and befriend it more genuinely. It may also help the charged combination of imaginations and sensations soften its charge.
This, in turn, makes it easier to continue to rest with it and explore the different elements making it up.
How would I like to be met when I am distressed? With kindness, patience, and presence. Listened to. Given full permission to be exactly as I am in the moment.
And that’s how the distressed parts of me want to be treated by me as well.
If they are treated with avoidance, disrespect, and wanting it to change, it only reinforces the struggle and suffering.
If they are met with kindness, patience, presence, then they tend to relax and soften.
These distressed parts of my experience are just like me. They want to be treated as I would like to be treated when I am in distress.
The mind is a sweetheart, as one of my teachers (Todd C.) likes to say.
It tries to make sense of what’s going on. It tries to help out the best it can.
This happens when an old trauma is triggered by a current situation.
An old trauma is triggered by the current situation. A strong emotion or reaction comes up, the mind thinks it must be about the current situation, and makes up a story that makes it seem as if the current situation justifies the situation. To others, it may seem that the reaction is way out of proportion to the situation, but to the mind it seems justified because of the story it made up. (Afterwards, we may recognize this and feel perplexed or even a bit ashamed Or we may take it as an opportunity to look at the trauma and the initial situation creating it.)
And we also see it just about all the time in everyday life. Something happens, and the mind tries to make sense of it. It interprets. Makes a story out of it. Tries to make it coherent as best as it can. It may make a story out of it that either deflates or enhances the imagined self, depending on its inclination.
The mind is a story maker and we need it to function. We do need basic stories to navigate and orient in the world. And yet, it’s really helpful when we can recognize this as it happens. Recognize the stories as stories. Recognize velcro as velcro. (The charge we experience when the mind associates sensations with the stories.)
When something charged is activated in us and not recognized, then we are often unconsciously identified with it.
If we instead notice it as content of experience, and notice how it’s made up of a combination of sensations (charge) and stories (meaning), then there is often a softening or even release of the identification.
For instance, resistance may come up in an inquiry session. There is a resistance to doing the inquiry, and this may come from fear and fearful thoughts about what we may have to feel and encounter. If we don’t notice this resistance, or don’t look at it more closely to find the images, words, and sensations making it up, we are typically unconsciously identified with it. It will color our session, and our relationship to the session and the facilitator. A good facilitator will notice this and invite the client to find the resistance and explore its components. Look at the imaginations, the mental images and words. And feel and rest with the sensations. This helps us notice it as content of experience, as made up of imagination and sensations, and it tends to soften the identification with it. We also get to explore the fear behind it. We can relate to the resistance/fear more intentionally.
What’s up for us tends to color our experience of anything.
It tends to color our experience of whatever we bring attention to, and the stronger the mind is identified with what’s up, the stronger the coloring. This goes for anything triggered in us, whether it’s a deficiency story, an inflated story, an emotion, or anything else with a charge.
This dynamic also happens within inquiry sessions.
Hopelessness is triggered. And we can become hopeless about inquiry, about anything helping, about the session itself.
Anger is triggered. And we become angry at the facilitator, the session, inquiry, life itself, and the mind has good reasons for each of these.
Sadness is triggered. And we are sad about how the session is going, maybe that it’s not helping as we thought it would, that we are a hopeless case.
Superiority is triggered. (Reaction to own fear.) We feel that the facilitator is dumb or naive and we know better. We feel we could do a better job than the facilitator. We feel we are wasting our time here.
Inferiority is triggered. We feel we are unable to do the inquiry very well. We are ashamed and may try to hide it from the facilitator.
Fear is triggered. We become afraid of where the facilitator will lead us next. We become afraid of looking at what’s here or feeling the sensations. We may want to flee from the session in any way possible. (Including falling asleep, go to the bathroom, start talking about instead of looking at what’s here.)
Frustration comes up. (Filtered anger.) We become frustrated with the facilitator, the way the session is going, with inquiry, and with anything else. And the mind comes up with good reasons for all of this.
The mind will direct whatever is up at whatever is here in the situation. It will try to make sense of the emotion or feeling by pinning it on something in the situation. And in reality, it’s something old.
There may be some truth to whatever stories the mind comes up with. There usually is, and as the facilitator, it’s good to acknowledge this and take it seriously.
At the same time, it’s helpful to notice this dynamic. It can help us take a step back, recognize what’s happening, and look at it in the inquiry session.
Freud recognized this dynamic, as must have many before him, and he called it transference. I like to just call it coloring.
It’s not anything terribly mysterious. We all do it.
The love you take is equal to the love you make.
(a ) When you live from love, kindness, caring, then it’s likely to come back to you from others.
(b) When you find love, caring, kindness in yourself, you experience it, you give it to yourself, independent of the apparent target in the world.
(c) When you find love, kindness, and caring for you own experience you experience and receive that love.
(d) When you find yourself as love, you both “make” and “take” that love.
In each of these ways, the love we make is the love we take.
Awakening can happen whether we have worked through a lot of our human stuff or not.
When it does, it’s often followed by a transcendence of our human hangups and pain. We experience a honeymoon phase. We experience some relief from it.
At some point, the intensity of the awakening may fade, and life’s pressures can retrigger our human wounds and hangups again. It may feel like something went wrong, but it’s just life showing us what’s left.
It’s life saying, now you have a taste of what you are, so use that new context to invite healing into who you are, into your human self.
It’s sounds simple talking about it in this way. And it can be experienced as very messy and often confusing when we are in the middle of it. That’s why it can be very helpful to have someone in our life who knows this process and has gone through it themselves.
And it’s not something that happens only once, or in just one way. This clarity / realigning cycle happens over and over and in many different ways.
It’s part of our human life.
Spiritual awakening involves shifts in both energy and consciousness. If you think about this you can see that is the essence of our existence. We are a molecular structure moving and acting through the flow of energy, and aware because of consciousness. Our brains function like receiving stations and organizing systems where we receive and store information that determine our thoughts and behaviors. So the energy in our bodies makes adjustments to release old wiring and patterns whenever a major shift in consciousness takes place, and spiritual awakening is a major shift in the recognition of who and what we are.
– Bonnie Grenwell, from Awakening Energy & Consciousness on the Awakened Living blog
I see how I sometimes use healing modalities as a way to avoid meeting something in me.
I experience distress. It feels unbearable. So I wish to do Living Inquiries, Vortex Healing, or something else to make it go away.
There is nothing wrong with these modalities, and they can help me work through and resolve the issues deeply in me. They may even help me meet and be with what’s here. And yet, it’s good to notice.
It’s good to notice when I reach for something, whatever it is, to avoid meeting discomfort in myself.
What I wish is to be able to meet and rest with the discomfort, and then continue and deepen the process through inquiry, VH, and whatever else is helpful for me to do that. And sometimes grace allows me to do just that, even when it’s intense and initially feels unberable.
Relationships are not about holding hands and walking into the sunset, they are about waking us up.
– Paraphrased from unknown source
This is very true. And it really helps to remember. My partner is not here to fill the voids in me. She is here to show me what I am running away from so I can meet it.
When I experience discomfort, and especially if it’s strong, here are some ways I sometimes avoid meeting it:
Connecting with friends and family.
Talking about what’s happening with someone.
Internet. Videos. News. Reading.
Nature. Walking. Photography.
Inquiry. Vortex Healing. Other forms of healing modalities that I hope will reduce the suffering.
If it’s especially strong: Readings, I Ching. (To feel I know about the future.)
And longer term:
Relationships. Education. Work. Stable situation.
There is nothing wrong with any of these. Many of them are very helpful and just part of a human life. But they can be used in a compulsive way to avoid being with what’s here, to avoid feeling the uncomfortable sensations. A good way to do it is to (a) notice what’s happening. (Uncomfortable feelings/thoughts + wish to avoid.) (b) Take time to rest with and feel the uncomfortable sensations. (For a while, for instance until how I relate to it shifts and then a little longer.) And (c) then do any of these other things if the wish is still there.
I sometimes share little things I notice in me that are at the polar opposite end of the big picture situation. It feels honest, raw, and vulnerable. It feels deeply human to me, and I think that’s why I sometimes am attracted to it.
For instance, I may deeply love someone, and sometimes other things come up as it does for all of us. And to me, it feels good to share. It feels transparent, human, vulnerable. It can deepen a sense of intimacy.
It can also backfire, as I have experienced a few times. (I really wish to learn.) And this can especially happen if the person I am talking with is less familiar or comfortable with parts language.
For instance, a girlfriend some years ago was about to visit my parents. We had it all planned with dates and everything else and it felt deeply good and right to me. Unfortunately, in a moment of wanting to be extra transparent, I shared with her that a part of me felt nervous or scared about her visiting my parents. It triggered a deep wound in her (so it seems), she was convinced I didn’t want her to visit my parents, and she canceled her trip and told her friends and family that I didn’t want her to visit my parents. Nothing I said seemed to have an impact.
In hindsight, I see that I was too casual about how I said it. I was used to talking with people familiar with parts language, so I didn’t consider how people who were less familiar with it could take it. In this situation, it would probably have been better to not say it. And I also see that I assumed she knew how much it meant for me that she was coming, how much I genuinely looked forward to it, and how deeply right it felt. If I had said that explicitly first, that could also have prevented her reaction.
I had said all of those things to her in other situations, but not in this one. And that may have made all the difference. I realize that when these things are said in separate situations, the person may think I have changed my mind. And if they are said together, it’s easier for the person to see that they do indeed go together. They are both there. One is the big picture. (In this case, that it felt deeply right for her to meet my parents.) The other is a small part of me that sits on the other end of the polarity. (In this case, some nervousness.) And that is how it is for all of us about just about anything, if we really look.
The yin-yang symbol reflects this. There may be one big picture and overriding orientation, for instance, something feels deeply right. And within that, there are small parts of us that are scared. It’s good to acknowledge both.
In hindsight, I also see that if I could have shared the reason a small part of me felt nervous: She and my family both meant a lot to me, and I really wanted them to like each other and get along well. I realize that she may have had another story about this nervousness. (One I still don’t know what was.)
As a friend said, we never know what we will do or say that will trigger deep wounds in someone else. That’s why people who are skillful communicators are extra conscious to frame things so the right meaning is more likely to get across. (Even then, there are no guarantees.)
When old pain is strongly triggered in us, it may feel completely overwhelming. Any continued interaction with the triggering situation or person feels like too much. Sometimes, we may just need to take a break and withdraw from the trigger, whether it’s a situation or a person. (Some people do this the only way they know, which is to break off connection completely.) And if we are the triggering person, sometimes the best we can do is give them space and wait.
Sometimes, we may just need to take a break and withdraw from the trigger, whether it’s a situation or a person. (Some people do this the only way they know, which is to break off connection completely.) And if we are the triggering person, sometimes the best we can do is give them space and wait.
In these situations, old trauma is triggered by the current situation, and the intensity combined with our capacity to consciously relate to it determines how we are able to deal with it. We may lash out in anger, fear, and pain. We may put all blame outside of ourselves. Or we may be able to recognize the pain in us, that it comes from old trauma, and meet it with kindness.
From a parts perspective, we can become identified with the pained and suffering part that’s activated in us. We may temporarily “become” that part, and act and speak in uncharacteristic ways. We may also see the triggering person as the person in the past (if there was one) that was the catalyst for the initial trauma. We can easily demonize that person, even if what they said and did to trigger the wound in us was innocent or small seen from an outsider’s perspective. We both become different people to the person who has a wound that was activated.
If I trigger a deep wound in someone, it’s important to acknowledge the pain and suffering the other person is experiencing and give them space to be with it. It’s equally important to take responsibility for my part. Whatever the person is saying about me, and however much it comes from their own pain, I can find where and how it’s true for me and acknowledge it.
Love does not always feel safe because love is pure potential and pure presence and in pure presence every feeling and impulse is welcome, however gentle, however painful, however inconvenient, however fierce.
So when you let someone matter to you and you let yourself matter to someone and you are not ruled by fear your heart will have no choice but to crack to the hugeness of love and you will not be able to control the results and that’s why the ego cannot love.
Safe, unsafe. Happy, sad. Certain, uncertain. Afraid, fearless. Fragile, powerful. Worthy, worthless, and everything in between. There is so much life now trying to fill you up, and you can barely contain it all. You are full of life, penetrated by life, pregnant with life.
They lied to you about love, you see, they said it was always supposed to feel good and warm and happy, they said it was something you’d be given, something you’d have to earn, or deserve, they said it was all butterflies and angels and light, but really it was always you, naked, raw and alive, cracked, whole, vulnerable, shaky but real, inhaling a cosmos, exhaling euphoria and the darkness and the grief and the joy of humanity and sometimes not knowing what the hell you’re doing or how you’re still alive.
Good. Breathe. All is unfolding beautifully, here. Love is not only gain, it is also loss. The beloveds will die and the loved ones will vanish, but love will not. She will simply make you rise, you see, and fall again, and wonder again if you will ever rise. She will open you and close you and break you and humble you and laugh at your childhood fantasies of love.
But it is all natural, and it is all for you. You will come full circle before long, back to yourself, the Origin. You were only ever seeking your own Heart, and its multitude of reflections.
Love is here. Love is always here. Somewhere between the euphoria and the darkness she found you. And the very ground you stand on is blessed, and you are safe.
So cry, laugh, shake, vomit; you will never be abandoned by the Heart.
– Jeff Foster
Foxy Muffin had lost all signs of happiness and vitality over the past 6 months. I often thought of plans for her last days and when would be the right time to end her life so she would not suffer. P. asked if he could do a Vortex Healing session for her and I agreed hoping for any positive change. I was not expecting to see the energy and excitement that appeared the same day. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the happy, playful, and fun little Pomeranian that I knew was there all along. Foxy eats better, her tail is high in the air and she appears to have experienced a healing of sorts. I can see a difference with every session P. does for her.
– Paul C.
Abbreviated notes on own UI inquiry on “I am unloved” / the one who is unloved.
“I am unloved”. Yes.
Sensations in chest, throat, face, belly,
Picture of me sitting here, looking unloved. Yes.
Belly contraction. Dissipated.
“I am unloved”. Yes.
Chest, throat, face, belly.
Picture of me as an infant, abandoned, unloved, floating in space. Yes.
Face, forehead, belly, chest. Dissipates.
“I am unloved”. Yes.
Throat, face, chest, belly.
Picture of me in elementary school, feeling unloved. Yes.
Throat, as if crying.
A friend of mine reminded me of this:
When I experience distress……
Ask myself: Do I want to be free from suffering?
Wait for the answer.
Then ask the same of the suffering itself: Do you want to be free from suffering? (Ask this of the sensation that you experience as suffering.)
In most cases, the answer to both is a yes.
We are on the same team. Recognizing this helps to release the additional suffering of seeing the suffering itself as an enemy. We both wish to be free from this suffering. We both wish to be free from the discomfort.
I think he said this one is from Pamela Wilson.