Headphone adventures: approaching life situations as symbolic or as if a dream

 

Over the last several months, I have had an adventure relating to headphones. I wanted to buy noice cancelling headphones (for travel and neighborhood noise) and do it outside of Norway since the price is lower.

The first was going to be delivered to my partner when she did a Vortex class in Wakefield. The delivery people didn’t deliver it since they “thought the hotel was closed on Mondays” (!) and there was no time for re-delivery before she left the hotel. (April 2019.)

The second – which I got when I was in London – was defective (pulsing in one ear) and I had to return it after coming back to Norway. (November 2019.)

The third was one I actually bought in Norway but it was the wrong – and inferior – model so I again returned it. (January 2019.)

The fourth got delivered to the wrong address in London and was signed for (!) and received by someone I have no idea who is. At least someone out there now has a nice pair of headphones and they didn’t have to pay for it. (February 2019.)

At this point, I knew I had to take the symbolism in this more seriously. If life is trying to show me something, what is it? What can I learn from all this?

What I first saw was my contraction around it. I have sound sensitivity (typical for CFS) and also misophonia, and although it’s much better than it was, I still sometimes get stressed from noise. My approach to the whole situation – and getting noise cancelling headphones – was contracted and fear-based.

How can I approach noise in general with more ease? (I have already worked on this but there is further to go.) And how can I approach the headphone situation differently?

When the last pair of headphones were delivered to someone I don’t know who is, I got into a stressful pattern of thinking and feeling – some mix of hopelessness, victim, and related beliefs, identities, and emotional issues. I noticed this and the addictive tendency in it.

The whole process seems to have put me in a place where I was finally ready to hold it all more lightly. To let it go more fully. And to take a more genuine approach of playfulness and adventure.

I decided to order another pair more as an experiment. This time too, something went “wrong”. When I went on the website to order, they didn’t have any new ones in stock and there was no indication they would get more in. So I ordered the one pair of used headphones listed. The following day, I got the message they had cancelled my order since “the product was unavailable”.

This only strengthened the shift that had already happened in me. From this new place, I went back to the website, ordered another set (they were now suddenly available), received it without problems, and enjoyed using them on the flight back to Norway. (The flight was very enjoyable, partly because of the comfort from the headphones.)

Not everything in life needs to be taken as a symbol or as if it’s in a dream. But when there is a pattern like this, it can be helpful to approach it in that way. If life wants to show me something, what can it be? If this was a dream, what would it mean? If I am supposed to learn something from this – to grow, heal, mature – what would it be? How would I be different in this situation? How can I implement it? What issues – emotional issues, beliefs, identifications – stops me from making this shift?

I also noticed that this ongoing situation felt like a series of synchronicities. Perhaps not in a strict sense, but what happened seemed to follow a similar dynamic. It was as if life wanted me to see something through a series of unusual events. (So far, when I have ordered something online, it usually goes without a hitch.)

The Fool & Stepping Into the Unknown

 

Although I am no expert on the Tarot (or even a beginner!), I know it can be very helpful as a projection object. Through synchronicities and universal symbols and archetypes, the cards become a mirror for us.

I enjoy taking a quote or the title of a book and explore it for myself and see what I find. And I also like exploring universal symbols in the same way.

So what about The Fool from the Tarot?

The first thing I see is someone who seems to enjoy the sun and the beauty of life and is about to step off a cliff. Perhaps the dog is trying to warn him?

In a conventional sense, that’s obviously foolish. Here is someone living in his own world and not taking care of the basics of his own life, and that can sometimes happen to all of us.

It’s more interesting to me to explore this in a bigger view. For instance, I can see how The Fool represents awakening.

Stepping off a cliff is similar to stepping into the unknown. We are always stepping into – and living – in the unknown, whether we know it or not.

This moment – and life – is ultimately a mystery. We cannot know anything for certain. Even what seems the most certain to us is ultimately not.

At the same time, we know many things in a provisional sense. We know our name. How we appear to others and in the mirror. What labels we have in society. How to go about our daily life. And much more. All of this is very useful in a practical and pragmatic sense. Even if there is no ultimate or final truth to any of it.

Many will admit that this is accurate, although most of us will also cling to certain ideas and identities as if they were ultimately true. And from this way of living, deeply embracing and embodying all as the unknown may seem attractive, foolish, and slightly disturbing.

The Fool is dressed in a tunic decorated with stars and leaves. He encompasses the whole universe and all of life. He knows about Big Mind and that it’s his true nature. Big Mind may even notice itself as all there is including The Fool knowing about the ultimate mystery of all.

The dog is perhaps warning him from stepping off the cliff. In this view, the dog represents the parts of us scared of embracing the unknown. The dog may also be excited that he is knowingly stepping into the unknown. When we are more free from the constriction of beliefs and identifications, it can free us to more deeply embrace and embody our animal nature. (We are also more free to follow our inner guidance and live a more kind and authentic life.)

The flower may represent beauty and enjoyment of life and nature. Embracing the unknown, we open for gratitude and appreciation of what is – both what our personality likes and what it doesn’t like.

He carries a small bag. In it, I imagine he has whatever he needs for his journey. He doesn’t need much and he carries the little he needs with him. [Note: After writing this, I was informed that the bag contains the whole tarot deck. The Fool carries with him all the archetypes and the wholeness.]

There is a circle above him. Perhaps this represents zero or not knowing. Or the unity of all life. Or the oneness recognizing itself – including as this human self who doesn’t know anything for certain and always steps into and lives in the unknown.

The sun is shining. When we discover ourselves as that which all our experiences happen within and as, we find that which is independent of the “weather” of experience. A metaphor for this is the clear sky above the weather where the sun always shines. (At least, during the day!)

Interpreting The Fool in this way, it becomes a very beautiful image and archetype. He becomes the holy fool.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXI

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

From The Incal series by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius.

Jodorowsky & real imitation. The foreword to the current hardcover edition of The Incal mentions the many who have stolen elements from the story or the visuals. Of course, any good artist “steals” but some apparently have lifted whole segments out of The Incal for their own work.

For me, it’s a reminder of different types of imitation. One form of imitation is to steal – or be inspired by – elements of the final product. Another is is to imitate where it came from. To find in ourselves the courage, authenticity, realness, imagination, and so on that brought it into life. That takes longer and is ultimately far more rewarding.

Jodorowsky & shamelessness. On that topic, I admire Alejandro Jodorowsky for the range and diversity of his work (see his Wikpedia article). How did it come about? I imagine a big part of it was shamelessness, in the best sense of the word. He seems to be someone who is real, authentic, courageous, does what he is drawn to, and follows his guidance. Perhaps most importantly, he seems to not be afraid to create and and put it out in the public.

He probably has fears and doubts as we all do, but he has worked through it or does it in spite of these fears and doubts. And many love him for it because it’s what we want for ourselves.

The Incal & dreams. I haven’t read all the books in the Incal series yet, but I get the impression that these stories are like dreams. They are full of archetypes and archetypal processes and dynamics, and they are free-flowing like dreams.

Often, stories that consciously use archetypes and dream symbols feel clinical. They feel thought out more than something that grows more organically out of who and what we are. Jodorowsky seems to be able to allow these stories to grow organically without pruning and guiding them too much by intellectual understanding (although I am sure that’s there too).

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Dream: Creature impersonating people

 

A friend of mine (BH) is visiting and we are having a good conversation. At some point, I notice that her face has morphed and although she has the same voice her face is different. I suspect something is going on, and ask what her name is. She says “Wendy” which is not the correct name. I realize I am talking with a creature that is impersonating people. The creature then disappears into a shelf in the room. I tried to catch it.

The creature is similar to some in the Harry Potter universe.

Over the last few days, I have been very aware of the fake part of me and felt it right on the surface of my inner world. I have partly taken it personally and felt ashamed, and partly seen it’s universal and a way for us to protect ourselves.

It’s innocent although it can hurt ourselves and others. And the creature in the dream also seemed innocent.

The night before, I had a deep conversation with my partner relating to this. Times when I have been fake (deceptive) out of fear, and hurt myself and others in the process. It’s normal and understandable, and yet I want to notice, be honest about it with myself and others, and be more real even and especially in scary situations.

Dream: Magic psychoactive potion

 

I am in a small rural town in England with a group of people. Adam S. and another are making a psychoactive drink. I hold a cup of it in my hands. Aware I am dreaming, I notice thinking that is not the same for my mind to imagine I am taking it as it is to actually taking it, and then remembering that it’s my mind creating the experience in either case.

I am on a train, on my way to the circle of the first part of the dream. Some bandits are on the train. I tell a friend it’s best we pretend to sleep and hide our faces so they don’t recognize us. (They know us.) He agrees but is relaxed about it. I pretend to sleep and they take a pillow, my sweater, and a bag of food. I run after them to get some of my food back since I need it.

Adam S. is a senior Vortex healer who gave me many sessions when I was new to Vortex Healing. He lives in Totnes, Devon, where I also lived for a six months some years back. The first part of the dream may have been set there – a little outside of a small town in a very charming part of England.

There was again, as in so many dreams these days, a sense of being part of an Earth-centered community. The psychoactive drink was made of a fungus from a tree. It comes from an unbroken ancient tradition. The purpose of the community and drinking it was for profound healing and supporting awakening and embodiment. And doing so with the help of the plant spirits and in a way difficult to do any other way.

The second part of the dream seemed to happen before the first part. I and a friend are on our way to the gathering, and some people with no good intentions are on the train. They know us so we find it best to hide our identity as long as possible. One of them steals my food which – in my waking life – is essential for me to avoid crashing. So I run after him to get some of it back.

Synchronicity: Walking on Hampstead Heath later in the day, with my partner, I see a tree-fungus on the side of the path. It’s the same type of fungus they made the psychoactive potion from in the dream. The photo is of this fungus.

Note: This is a dream. As far as I know, this type of fungus has no psychoactive properties in waking life.

Spirituality as a restriction

 

The elements of formalized spirituality – the teachings, practices, traditions, guidelines and so on – are meant as stepping stones. They help us shift from taking ourselves as fundamentally and finally a separate being, to recognizing ourselves as oneness, to oneness recognizing itself as all there is. And it helps us realign our human self within oneness recognizing itself. (All of which is an ongoing process of noticing, clarifying, deepening, and so on.)

And yet, as with any stepping stones, we need to move on. At some point, they become restrictions. Life and Spirit is boundless. It’s more than and different from any ideas we have about it. What we are is more and different from any ideas we have about it and any pointers anyone can give us.

At this point, there may be a mix of still using some tools and guidelines as needed and a more free exploration guided mostly by our inner guidance, the quiet inner voice or knowing.

Dream: Climbing up a tall building resting on the mountainside

 

I am in the mountains in Norway, in a beautiful valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. I am with a relatively large group of people and it feels like a community. My little group decide to go skiing up the mountain. They go ahead as I have something to do first, and I will then catch up with them.

As I have put away my phone somewhere else, I use a paper map and ask for directions (from a very beautiful woman). A little higher up the mountain, I catch up with my group. We then climb up the stairs of a very tall building that’s resting along the almost vertical mountainside. It has many opening to the outside and beautiful views, and there are also many small rooms along the way with many small interesting things to look at.

A few things stood out to me during the dream and as I woke up:

As with so many dreams these weeks, I am in a community and it feels very good. We have a shared orientation and purpose and there is a quiet mutual understanding and support. It’s not explicit in the dreams but it feels like these communities have to do with mutual support in living in a more life-centered way.

I have intentionally left my electronics. I want to just use an old fashioned paper map and asking people for direction. (This reflects a conversation the night before about using my phone and computer less, and not so often listening to a podcast or audiobook while falling asleep.)

Climbing a building is an image of “going high” in a mental or spiritual sense, and can mean being ungrounded or unstable. In this case, I climbed a very tall building which was also completely grounded since it rested on the side of the mountain. The building also had beautiful views and many small rooms with interesting treasures. (Again, the treasures reflect a conversation the day before about enjoying exploring little treasures that we or others have collected.)

This dream may reflect my inner community and climbing “higher” in a sense while also staying earthy and grounded.

All the community dreams may also remind me how much I love these type of communities. The ones I had when I worked with sustainability in Madison, Wisconsin, and Oregon. The ones I don’t have so much right now, apart from perhaps online.

The photo is one I took at Sisters, Oregon, more than ten years ago. Although it’s Oregon and not Norway, it is similar to how the mountains looked in my dream.

Chronic fatigue reflections II

 

This is the second in a series of posts with Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) reflections. These are my own observations so take it with a big grain of salt and – if you have CFS and are curious – explore it for yourself and see what you find.

CFS, rest, and energization. A big part of living with Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFS) is needing rest, and often a lot of rest (before, during, and after activities). With Vortex Healing in my life, that’s now a little different. When I need rest, what I really need is Vortex Healing energization. The need for rest comes from lack of energy, and this can be remedied – partially or largely – with VH energization.

The way it most often looks is that I notice the need for rest. Lie down and rest, and also receive VH energization. The energization fills up my energy system, and the rest allows my system to absorb it and recover. The result is that I feel much better and the rest period typically is shortened.

Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to channel for myself (since that takes energy), and that’s when it’s a blessing to have a partner who is a senior-level Vortex healer.

CFS, crashing, fear, and grumpiness. I have mentioned this in another post and it’s something I keep exploring. If I am out and about, even for a short period, I need to eat (small amounts) and drink frequently. If I don’t, my system starts crashing.

When that happens, one of the early symptoms is grumpiness. Sometimes, it takes a few minutes before I notice what’s happening and that I need some food and drink. The grumpiness may then take the form of a mostly single-minded focus on getting just that.

Although grumpiness is fine, it’s not always so enjoyable for me or my partner (when we are out together). So I have set the intention to be more aware of this pattern, recognize it earlier, and explore the grumpiness itself.

What I have found is that it’s actually fear. Survival fear.

When I notice that fear, I can tell myself (and my partner) that I notice fear. I notice fear. Survival fear. That means my system is about to crash and I need something to eat and drink as soon as possible, and also a bit of rest.

Noticing what’s behind the grumpiness, putting it into words, and saying out loud helps take some of the charge out of it.

I am still early in the process of exploring this but I suspect it means it doesn’t have to go into grumpiness in the same way.

If this dynamic follows a pattern I have explored before, then it can take two forms. One is that my system needs food and water urgently, there is survival fear, I don’t notice or recognize this fear, and it takes the form of grumpiness or even anger.

The other is that the fear is noticed and acknowledged, and it doesn’t have to take the form of grumpiness or anger because it is already acknowledged and listened to and I take steps to remedy the situation it’s telling me about. (Through food, drink, and rest.)

In the first case, the signal is amplified because I didn’t notice it early on. In the second case, I notice the early signal so it doesn’t have to amplify.

Fear of the truth

 

I was reminded of this in a conversation this morning.

When we believe something, we are automatically scared of the truth because the truth may destroy what we believe. That’s how it is for us as individuals, and also for us as organizations and groups.

Sometimes, we are also scared of the truth because it goes against what we want others to believe about us.

For instance, when I lived in Salt Lake City in the ’90s, the Mormons (LDS Church) excommunicated a university professor for researching the early history of mormonism (and finding things they didn’t like). What they wanted to present to others as the truth was a glorified and idealized version of their history, and reality turned out to be a little less savory.

Instead of embracing it and chose to be real and transparent, they chose to (try to) get rid of the messenger, and scare others within their church from doing similar things in the future.

Any time we believe something, we are scared of the truth. It doesn’t matter what it is or how close to reality it is. Any thought is just a pointer. It’s not the whole picture. We may see it differently, or in a different context, with more experience. And the reversals of the thought also have some validity to them.

So when we believe any thought, and hold it as a final or absolute truth, we are automatically scared of the truth. We invest the idea of truth into the thought, and We feel we need to defend the thought because reality may show us it’s not as true as we initially thought.

How can we notice when this is happening? For me, I keep an eye on any time I feel something is a given truth. Or when I feel defensive about something. Or feel a need to justify. Or find others who agree so I can feel better. Any time there is a charge on a thought, it means I believe it.

What can we do when this happens? Sometimes, it’s enough to notice this. That, in itself, may help us shift out of it and uncover the receptivity we are. It also helps to admit – to myself – what’s happening. (OK, I notice I have a charge on this thought. It feels true to me, but I know it’s not.) Sometimes, if we feels safe to do so, we can admit it to someone else. And it also helps to explore the thought through inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work).

When I work with clients (including myself), we sometimes encounter this fear of reality. And it can be helpful – and sometimes essential – to address this fear directly before going further.

Douglas Harding: On Having No Head

 

I just started listening to the audio version of On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious by Douglas Harding, narrated by Richard Lang.

Although it’s several years since I discovered this book, Douglas Harding, and the Headless experiments, it feels fresh and new. And I am reminded of how much I enjoy and love this approach to finding what we really are.

The approach is simple, direct, honest, and pragmatic, and can be profoundly transformative for anyone sincerely exploring it.

The best way to begin may be with this book, or the Headless Way website.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XX

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

A more formalized type of mirror. I am not much into astrology or tarot, although I recognize that it can be helpful. At their best, they combine archetypes, projections, and synchronicities in a powerful and potentially life-transforming way.

Both have systemized some basic archetypes and some of their dynamics. And since archetypes are universal, they will resonate with whomever is receptive to it.

Both can serve as very good projection objects. We see ourselves in the astrology charts or a tarot card or layout because we put ourselves into it.

Synchronicities can play a role in both. Something going on in our life – and especially in our mind – can be reflected in astrology and tarot.

In all of these ways, astrology and tarot can serve as a mirror for us. They can help us see and get to know aspects of ourselves.

It seems less useful if we have a simplistic and heavy-handed approach to astrology, tarot, or anything else. For instance, if we think they tell us something that’s going to happen. That can create stress, and even self-fulfilling prophecies (or the reverse).

And it seems more useful if we hold it all lightly. If we consciously use them as mirrors for ourselves. And if we are conscious of the archetypes, projections, and synchronicities.

Of course, the whole world is a mirror for ourselves. We don’t need astrology, tarot, or something similar to see and get to know aspects of ourselves. We just need to recognize that the whole world – and especially what in the world and our life currently draws our attention – is a mirror for what’s here now.

Astrology, tarot, and similar things are more formalized, structured, and explicit mirrors for ourselves. Life is the mirror we live with all the time, and we may need a somewhat structured approach to make use of it. For instance, some form of inquiry.

Unedited photos from Bryant Park, New York.

Editing photos. When I take, select, and edit my own photos, I need one or more pointers for myself to guide me. Here are some of the pointers I tend to use:

Something I would like to look at over time, and again and again.
Something that gives me pleasure.
Something that is interesting.
Something where I can keep discovering new things. 
Something that conveys a certain mood.
Something that conveys a certain way of perceiving the world.

Something that feels right at a deep level.

Of course, not every photo need to satisfy each of these. And a photo can be interesting for other reasons. But these are useful pointers for me, at least for now.

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North Korea and the need for control

 

In watching a short BBC story about North Korea (Surprising images from inside North Korea), I was reminded of the need for control – and how it looks very similar in North Korea (and similar places) and in ourselves and our own lives.

North Korea is a country run by fear and they feel a need to control their citizens and anyone visiting. As the photographer in the video says, he could only visit approved locations, he had to stay in special hotels for foreigners (sometimes as the only guest), his “guides” were in the rooms next to his and emerged as soon as he opened his door, and so on.

In other words, North Korea is behaving as a terrified person. Everything needs to be controlled, often harshly. And if it’s not, there is the fear (I assume) that everything will fall apart. (That may be true. The totalitarian regime may well fall apart giving space for something else to emerge – perhaps a South Korean style modern democracy.)

Most of us have probably met people who seem a bit like this. Who tightly try to control a situation. Who seems terrified of things going “out of control” in themselves or their life.

And, if we are honest, we can probably find it in ourselves.

When am I acting like North Korea? Can I find examples of…. A time when I felt I needed to control a situation? When I desperately wanted to present a certain image of myself while keeping less savory parts hidden? When I felt a strong need to maintain a certain image? Or to maintain things the way they are? Or to avoid certain experiences I was terrified by?

In a sense, that’s the gift of North Korea. It shows us how a tightly controlled country – run by fear and through fear – looks. And, if we allow, North Korea can be a mirror for ourselves. When am I like North Korea?

What do I fear would happen if I am not like that? If I am more authentic and real and allow others to see me as I am (in all the humanness)? If I allow situations to unfold as they do with less of an attempt at tight control? How would it be to try it?

Some additional thoughts:

Why is North Korea the way it is? Of course, there are clear historical reasons (the war and connections with China etc.). Mainly, the leaders are terrified of giving the people are more free rein because it would – almost certainly – be the end of the current regime. There is a lack of trust that it would be OK or perhaps better than it is currently. Again, that fear may be justified since the few who benefit from the current regime most likely would benefit far less from a more liberal society and a democracy.

Again, that’s similar to us. We may fear that without a tight control – or attempt at control – in some situations and with some parts of ourselves, things would go haywire. We may fear to lose respect or admiration, or the image of being a certain type of person, or some perceived advantage, or perceived control over someone else or a situation.

So in exploring this, we need to address the fear, and we need to gradually find trust in ourselves – what’s in us, and in life in general. Mainly, we need to learn to trust that we are OK as we are – warts and all.

Addressing multiple aspects of the same issue

 

When I work on issues, and especially deep seated issues, I find it helpful to approach it from multiple angles. This sometimes means to use different modalities. And it can also mean to differentiate out different aspects of the same overall issue.

Recently, I have explored and worked on an issue around not being authentic. I have looked at the different situations where this has happened in my life, the fear behind it, and how it ties in with family (and cultural) patterns. (For instance, my father taught me to not speak and stand up for myself at some crucial times in my childhood.)

I have also found several aspects or branches of this issue: Not speaking up. Not standing up for myself. Not being authentic. Not being real. Burying my inner warrior. Burying my inner beast. Not following my inner guidance.

These are all angles into the same overall or general issue. And if I want to be thorough in working on it, I need to address each of these. (As I work on one, the others will often be easier or have less charge since they are related.)

I got a clear demonstration of this yesterday when I received a Vortex Healing session. We worked on releasing the choice points for each of these. (Choice points are energetic structures that reflect a divine choice. They are created in crucial situations when “I” chose to not be authentic etc., or – equally accurately – when the divine made this choice to have a certain experience for itself.)

If each of the aspects I identified were really the same issue, there would be just one set of choice points. In this case, each one had its own choice points.

So if I had been satisfied working on just one, I would have missed the others contributing to the overall and more general issue.

Cellular structure of the aura

 

New photos shows the cellular structure of the surface of the sun in more detail. I won’t say much about it but it did remind me of something I discovered early on in my explorations, when I was 19 or 20.

I had connected with Hanne Bertelsen (as she was called then), the then-wife of Jes Bertelsen. I had already seen auras for a few years. She encouraged me to look a little closer at the aura and focus more directly on it. And, to my surprise, I saw the cellular structure of the aura.

I could have seen it all along but had focused more on the global impression of the aura – and especially how it reflects awakeness or lack of it – and overlooked the more close-up and detailed view.

The cells in these new photos of the sun are quite similar to the cellular structure of the aura, at least as it looks to me.

It’s not very important in itself but fun to notice. And although different people tend to see slightly different aspects of the aura, this may be something we can more easily check with others – which can help us trust what we see.

Dream: Finding new close relatives (after healing work the night before)

 

I have found two close family members from a previously “blank” part of the family tree. One is a little older than me, the other a young man. They are both black. I experience a deep and easy connection with both. We are traveling together and are now in an art museum while we also talk and get to know each other better.

We talk briefly with another small group of people and I first assume they will think we are three generations out together. Then I remember they are black and I am white. And wonder how we can be as closely related as we are while looking – to others – so different.

I am now aware it’s a dream and I feel sad and disappointed that it is a dream. I tell the older man and he nods knowingly in agreement.

In the dream, I don’t find it odd at all that I am so closely related to a black family – until I am aware that others will assume we are not at all related. I have a, easy, strong, and deep connection with both, and especially the older man (who looks like a slightly older version of Pharrel Williams – of Happy fame). It seems that we are in the US but that doesn’t play much of a role in the dream.

A former blank area on my family tree is now filled. I have found my klan and I feel a deep sense of belonging. And they both happen to be black. (I am 80% Scandinavian and 100% northern European.) We could easily have been three generations of the same close family – grandfather, father, and son.

What do I associate with African (black) people and culture? Mostly, I associate an inner freedom, spontaneity, and connection with the body, nature and Earth. (I know this is not always the case. African cultures are very diverse and people of African decent living other places – and often with slavery in their linage – may be different. But this is my main association.)

The night before this dream, I received healing work (Vortex Healing for choice points) for some central family patterns. Specifically, for not speaking and standing up for myself, burying my inner warrior and beast, and not following my inner guidance. These are patterns mostly from my father and my father’s lineage, and my two new relatives in the dream are both men – one older (who could be my father) and one younger (who could be my son). These represent another way of being. New close relatives. People I feel a deeper resonance with.

As I wake up, I am sad that it was a dream and not waking reality. I then remember my partner next to me and that I have a similar deep connection with her. (And that she has a portion of black ancestry.)

Outer space and spiritual explorations

 

Since childhood, one of my main interests has been space, space exploration, and science fiction. And I have had an intuitive sense of the connection between space exploration and spiritual exploration. Why is there this connection?

Here are some of the parallels I find:

Both involve exploration of (for us) unknown territory. Space exploration and spiritual exploration are both an adventure and an ongoing and endless discovery.

Space appears infinite and what we are the same. To us, outer space seems infinite. And when we discover what we are – what this experience happens within and as – this “space” too appears without end.

From space we see Earth as a single whole and a single living system. There are no border visible. We are in the same boat. Our destiny – of all Earth life – is interconnected. We are inspired to take care of all life and future generations to the best of our abilities. This recognition of the oneness of all life can also come through spiritual explorations.

Through the Universe Story – as told by modern science – we see that the universe and all of existence is one whole. It’s one seamless system evolving in all the ways we see around us, and as us and our experiences and life. As Carl Sagan said in Cosmos (paraphrased), we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe exploring itself.

Through spiritual explorations, we can find something very similar. We find ourselves as the One locally expressing itself as this human self and the experiences of this human self. We find ourselves as that which our experience – of this human self, the wider world, and the universe as it appears to us – happens within and as. We find ourselves as that “no-thing” that’s capacity for all of this.

So there is no surprise if I experience an intuitive connection between space exploration and spiritual explorations. Both involves ongoing and endless adventure and exploration. Both involves the appearance of something without end. Both gives us a realization of Earth and all life as a seamless whole. Both involves a recognition of Oneness and our human self as a local expression of this Oneness – beautiful and amazing in all its richness.

Note: As a child, I was deeply fascinated – and somewhat transformed – by Cosmos by Carl Sagan, and also read anything I could find about astronomy and science fiction. In terms of science fiction, I loved the classics like Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and others.

When you practice fire the right way

 

When you practise fire the right way, it helps to reduce or stop the wildfires. They will still come but are not as bad as the wildfires we are seeing. If you burn the right way you will also get the next generations of food, habitat and trees. Fires are a critical part of koala country.

– from Our ancestors managed fire country for millennia. We yearn to burn once more by Oliver Costello in The Guardian

And so also with our own fire, the fire in our own life. When we practice fire consciously, the wildfires are less strong and they do less damage.

This can be the fire of anger. Of the warrior. Of the beast. Of passion. It takes many forms. And when we practice this fire consciously, when we align with it, when we allow it consciously, the wildfires may still come but they are not as bad.

These days, I am exploring anger. I connect with it in my system. Feel and get to know the energy. Notice how connecting with it gives me strength, focus, and determination. Rarely does it take the form of anger. Instead, it fuels and supports my activities in a very beautiful way.

Connecting with the anger intentionally and consciously in this way allows the fire to burn without burning down or damaging anything, and if or when the wildfires come, they are less strong and damaging.

What happens when we practice fire? It helps us get to know the energies. We become familiar with them. We learn how to make use of them in a more conscious and supporting way. We – metaphorically – burn up a lot of the flammable material so the wildfires have less fuel.

Men’s sexual health: replenishing lost energy and avoiding losing energy in the first place

 

It’s common for men to experience some fatigue or tiredness after losing semen. I notice that too, and I especially notice how my energy system feels empty, hollow, and weak in the kidney area and in the part of my energy system responsible for replenishing lost semen. Since I already have a weakness in my system (CFS), this additional loss of energy can impact me for one or more days.

With Vortex Healing, I have found a way to replenish this energy. Doing this, I hardly notice any weakness or loss of energy at all. (Fortunately, I and my partner are both Vortex Healers so we can do this together and it doesn’t take a very long time.)

It also helps me to avoid losing semen each time and instead chose when to lose and when to not, and only lose semen once a week or so. This can also help increase the pleasure and enjoyment for both partner. (My partner understands and is supportive of this, which makes it much easier.)

My own experiences

Teenage interest in Taoist sexual practices

I have noticed this loss of energy since my teens, and I was – at the time – very interested in Taoist sexual practices to maximize pleasure while avoiding losing energy.

I noticed I knew – instinctually or intuitively – how to have orgasm without losing semen. I used my intention to allow the orgasm while not ejaculating. I also noticed it was possible to experience different combinations of orgasm and ejaculation: Orgasm without ejaculation. Orgasm with ejaculation (conventional). Ejaculation without orgasm (once or twice although when this happens, I can continue).

Unfortunately, at the time and later, my partners were not very interested in Taoist sexual practices so I didn’t get to explore it as fully as I wanted. If I am honest, I gave up on these explorations after some years since my partners (serial monogamy) didn’t really understand and thought I didn’t experience pleasure if I didn’t ejaculate. (The contrary was actually the case.)

Now, I finally have a partner who understands and wants to explore this with me, so I get to continue my interest from my teens.

How I experience loss of semen

As mentioned earlier, I notice it mostly in my kidneys and the surrounding area. It feels like whatever systems and organs helps replenish semen are all depleted and weak after ejaculation. I usually notice this about 10-15 minutes after, and this is followed by a general sense of fatigue and depleted energy. It can impact me for days.

Why do my kidneys seem especially affected? It may be due to a previous chronic virus infection (Epstein-Barr), perhaps combined with emotional issues (fear etc.) impacting the kidneys.

And why did it sometimes impact me for days? It probably affects me more strongly than many others because of the chronic fatigue (CFS).

Using Vortex Healing to replenish sexual energy

With Vortex Healing, I have found a way to replenish this energy.

Immediately after loss of semen, it helps greatly to replenish prenatal jing and kidney essence, to energize my system in general, and intend for whatever else that needs it to be replenished and energized. (Fortunately, I and my partner are both Vortex Healers so we can do this together and it doesn’t take a very long time.) Doing this, I hardly notice any weakness or loss of energy at all. This is a dramatic change from how it was before I found this way of using Vortex Healing.

Using Vortex Healing for prevention and strengthening my system

In the bigger picture, it has helped me greatly to bring up the constitutional energy of the kidneys and my system in general, to work on my kidneys more specifically, to energize my system in general, and to work on energizing and optimizing my sexual system (including whatever parts of my body and energy system is responsible for replenish semen).

Additional notes

This is my experience, and it’s somewhat unusual since I am a Vortex Healing practitioner. How can others benefit from this?

Learn about Taoist (or similar) sexual practices. I have found Mantak Chia’s books useful.

Learn to enjoy sex without ejaculation.

And, if you want, ask a Vortex Healer to work on your system so you are less impacted by loss of semen. For instance, bring up prenatal jing and kidney essence (to a ten on a scale from one to ten), bring up the constitutional energy of the kidneys, the sexual system, and your system in general (especially energy channels), and bring up and optimize the main parts of your energy system (chakras, energy channels etc.).

I realize this sounds like an advertisement for Vortex Healing. In a sense, it is since it’s the most effective way I personally have found for working with the energy system in this way. If there are other ways, and you know about these and like them, then by all means use those 🙂

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Dream: Art exhibit and shamanic training

 

I have put together a large exhibit. It’s art created from all different materials and of all different sizes – made by an Asian female artist. The whole community is here admiring and interacting with the art and each other. It’s held in a large community space used for many different activities.

After this, I am with my partner Ale. There is a transparent torso filed with many different smaller and larger things – each one representing parts of us (all levels of our being). I rearrange sections of the pieces. It’s part of shamanic training and of the healing and awakening process.

The art pieces were largely made of wood and fabrics and threads of all colors, and the pieces in the torso were made of the same materials and had the same colors – only much smaller.

My dreams over the last few months have had a community feel to them. In the first part of this dream, the whole community was there to enjoy an exhibit I had put together. I enjoyed very much being part of the community and seeing all of them enjoying it and enjoying this aspect of the community.

I am not sure why the artist was a woman from Asia. Perhaps because I have – since my teens – felt a strong connection with different Asian cultures and forms of Asian spirituality (especially Taoism and the more shamanic Tibetan form of Buddhism). And I am drawn to the more feminine approach to spirituality to balance out the more mainstream traditional masculine approaches.

In the second part of the dream, I am with my partner. Inside a transparent torso is many different small things of all different colors and shapes. I rearrange sections and it’s part of my shamanic training and also the awakening and healing process. The different parts represent parts of our being at all levels – thoughts, emotions, energies, physical body and so on.

When I explore myself, this is the experience I have. I am exploring many different parts of myself and they all have different shapes and colors and go together in different ways. And I am exploring myself as all different levels. (Through informal and formal inquiry, energy healing, and more.)

In a way, the first dream was about an outer community and the second my inner community. The dream is a reminder that my outer community reflects my inner community, and how I relate to one reflects and influences how I relate to the other. This mirroring is highlighted by the art and the things in the torso being made by the same organic and natural materials and having similar colors.

In the dream, I was an active part of my outer community and I offered a community experience they very much appreciated and enjoyed. I then explored my inner community in the presence of my partner and in a sacred or shamanic context.

Out-of-body experience when I was a few months old

 
Me when I was 8-10 months old, excited about a rabbit

I see my parents and older brother walk on the sidewalk to the house I grew up in. I am in a stroller. It looks like spring. I see it all from 20-30 meters up in the air. We continue walking up the gravel road to the house. Something large, rectangular, and white is in front of the house. Inside the house, I see that the walls in the large bedroom has old dark wallpaper.

This is my earliest memory and seems to have happened when we moved into a new house in the same small town they lived in before I was born. Everything is in a birds-eye perspective, apart from when I was floating around in the house and checking it out.

This apparent memory was very vivid and I never really questioned it. It just seemed to be what happened. When I asked my parents about it in my mid-teens, they confirmed everything. They had walked from the old house to the new. I was in a stroller. It was an early spring day. The white rectangular thing in front of the house was the moving van. The old wallpaper was there and they painted over it almost immediately.

I don’t remember any other out-of-body experiences. It may not have happened at other times. Or this one may be the only one I remember since it was a big milestone in my young life. I may have been three or four months old when this happened.

Could it have been just a regular in-body memory? It’s possible but seem unlikely. Why would I convert a regular in-body memory to an out-of-body memory? The birds-eye perspective was unmistakable, and I did see the moving van from above.

Why do I remember it? Perhaps because it was an out-of-body experience? Perhaps that makes it more easy to remember?

Could I have imagined it all? Not likely since my parents confirmed everything.

The Work of Byron Katie as shadow work

 

In a Facebook group for The Work of Byron Katie, someone asked for recommendations for how to do shadow work. For me, the most obvious answer is to do The Work! It’s a direct and powerful approach to working with projections in general and the shadow in particular.

In The Work we….

(a) Project out on someone or something else, and do so with pettiness and without much if any filter. (This is the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.)

(b) Examine what happens when we believe the thought(s). In this process, we also get a more detailed sense of what we see in the other. (Step three in TW.)

(c) Turn the initial thought around in several different ways. This includes finding in ourselves what we see in the other, with several specific and genuine examples. (Turnarounds.)

The process helps us (a) project without holding back, (b) examine this projection, and (c) find what we see in the other (also) in ourselves.

Each step helps make the process gentler and together they make it easier to find in ourselves what we see in the other, recognize it, own it, and – often – experience relief from (finally) finding it in ourselves.

After a while, after doing this process many times, it also becomes easier to do this spontaneously in daily life. The inquiry lives in us.

What is the shadow? It’s whatever qualities and characteristics in us we deny, reject, or overlook, and see more in others (and the world in general) than in ourselves. It’s whatever doesn’t fit the image we have of ourselves or want to have of ourselves. It’s whatever it’s easier for us to recognize in others than in ourselves.

It’s often what we and our culture sees as undesirable, although – depending on our image of ourselves – it can also be qualities our culture generally see as desirable qualities. (In some cases, our own gentleness, kindness, wisdom and so on may become our shadow.)

As we work on our own shadow, the ideas of desirable and undesirable tend to soften and are recognized as our own ideas and culturally created. Even the apparently undesirable qualities and characteristics have something of value in them. By recognizing them in ourselves we become more whole and real human beings. We have a far greater repertoire. We learn to relate to these parts of us in a more conscious way and make use of these parts of us in a more conscious and constructive way. And we realize – in a more visceral sense – that we are all in the same boat.

What I see in you is also in me. And – if you are like me – what you see in me is also in you.

And that’s perhaps more important than holding onto rigid ideas of me as inherently better or worse than you.

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Dreams reflecting our ecological crisis: Boiled pigs

 

I am in a restaurant with friends. They are boiling two live pigs in hot oil to be eaten by some of the guests. I am horrified and shocked but nobody else seems to understand what I am reacting to. They see it as completely normal to boil pigs alive and then eat them.

– from Alejita’s dream a couple of nights ago

Since this dream is not my own (it’s from my beloved), and most dreams have a personal and a collective aspect, I’ll focus on the collective side here.

When I was told the dream, my first thought was that many today probably have dreams like this, and perhaps especially young people.

It reflects a growing awareness of how we treat nature, how cruel and damaging it is, and how it impacts ourselves – psychologically and our ability to thrive and survive.

These dreams shake us. They help wake us up to how we treat and relate to nature and ourselves as nature. They help us recognize our cultural power-over attitude towards nature, women, children, animals, and our own bodies and ourselves as animals.

We are in the middle of a global ecological crisis. We have created it ourselves, mainly through a too-often unexamined power-over attitude. It shakes us, including through these types of dreams. And we need to be shaken. We need to examine ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to nature. We need to transform how we see ourselves and nature and how we organize ourselves within the larger ecological systems and this living planet as a whole.

At a personal level, these dreams may cause us to be more conscious of our behaviors in general. They may also be a small piece in transforming our worldview. They may change how we vote and what policies we support. And collectively – if we are lucky – these type of dreams help move us towards a more ecologically sound and wise civilization.

I am very curious about how many have these types of dreams these days – of cruelty to animals and nature and of ecological devastation. I imagine they are more common than we realize. It would be very interesting to collect some of them to get a sense of how our minds are processing the situation we are in and also as a historical record.

One of my own ecological-crisis dreams is recorded in this article.

As an aside, how do I see the situation we are in and how it was created? An early significant shift was transition to agriculture and the possibility of accumulating wealth and creating social hierarchy. With it came a power-over attitude towards nature, other human beings (especially women and children and those lower on the hierarchy), and ourselves.

On top of that, we created our current economic and social system (in the 1700s and 1800s) at a time where we didn’t need to take ecological realities into account. We are still using and living within that outdated system even thought our situation now is very different – we are far more people and our technology is far more powerful.

And that – agriculture, power-over, and an outdated economic and social system – explains the crisis we currently find ourselves in. The crisis is feedback. And how we respond to that feedback determines our own future and fate and whether and how we will survive.

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Dream: I am five years old, giving a message to people trying intimidate me

 

I am five years old and in our house with my parents. I know something that can be dangerous for some criminals. In the middle of the night, they come and pretend to be phantoms with lights and ghostly sounds. I shout at them and tell them I know who they are, what they try to do, and that it won’t work.

In my dream, I am myself at five years old. My parents are in the house and are the age they were when I was five. The house is different and is more spacious with a very tall ceiling. (The lights they use to scare me shine on the ceiling and on the top of the walls through windows up by the ceiling.)

While I dream this, I yell in my sleep, bark three times, and wake up my partner. (The barking may have been to scare off the bandits.)

This was the night after receiving a Vortex Healing session for my kidneys. They sometimes feel a bit cold, dry and shriveled up energetically, perhaps because of an Epstein-Barr infection (mono and then CFS) that lasted more than thirty years before I had the Vortex Healing tools to remove the virus. We both noticed that a lot of fear also seemed to release from the kidneys during and after the healing.

I slept very deeply and long, for almost twelve hours. I also slept restlessly with many dreams that all felt a bit foreign. It felt like my system was releasing a lot, probably from the kidney-healing just prior to falling asleep.

In the dream, I know what’s happening, is not very scared, and yell at the bandits that I know what they are doing and it won’t work. Also, my parents in the dream are whole and emotionally healthy. (In waking life, although they both are very kind and supportive they have some issues as we all do.)

It may be that fears that used to seem very real to me now don’t because I see through them. It may also be that I have healed – to some extent – my inner images of my parents. I have worked on parental issues in different ways, including through dialogue with them where I visualize all of us as whole, healthy, wise, and kind.

The dream of the divine

 

Sometimes, it can seem like the world is a dream and that may be more accurate than we realize.

Dreams at our personal level

At our local and personal level, we can explore how the world is as a dream in a specific way.

In dreams, all the content of our experience – all that happens in the dream – happens within and as consciousness. It can’t really be any other way. It makes logical sense. And we can notice it when we do lucid dreaming.

In our waking life, it’s the same. All content of our experience – including our human self and the wider world and anything else – happens within and as consciousness. We can notice this through different forms of inquiry. In my case, I have found the Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and the Living Inquiries, to be especially good at revealing this.

From this, we see that what we are is consciousness, and what we often take ourselves to be – like this human self – happens within and as consciousness. In other words, who we are happens within and as what we are.

This can seem abstract at first, if it’s just an idea or something someone else points out. We can then get a taste of it for ourselves, perhaps through inquiry or spontaneous revelations. And we can then continue to explore it and get more familiar it and allow our life to be transformed within this noticing.

If the world sometimes seems like a dream to us, it may be because it’s more true than it first seems. Just as our dreams happen within and as consciousness, our waking life happens within and as consciousness.

The dream of the divine

Similarly, we can say that all of existence is the dream of the divine. It’s all consciousness and all of existence happens within and as consciousness. It happens within and as the divine. And this consciousness – right here and now – is no different from this consciousness. It’s the same consciousness.

These experiences – that we may take to be “ours” – are the experiences of the divine. These experiences of sights, sounds, sensations, taste, smell, movements, and thoughts are the experiences of the divine. These thoughts saying these experiences belong to “me” as this limited and local human self are the thoughts of the divine.

Alan Watts’ thought experiment

I love a thought experiment from Alan Watts.

Say you can decide what you’ll dream about. First, we may chose to dream very pleasant dreams. After a while, that may get boring and we throw in some challenges, and perhaps some that seem very serious and a matter of life-and-death. If we know we are dreaming while we dream, we won’t experience the full effect of it. So we may also decide to forget that we are dreaming while we are dreaming so the dream feels more real to us.

By following this process, we see that what we end up with is the life we have now. There are perhaps a lot of good and pleasant experiences. It’s mixed in with challenges – big and small – that makes it more rich, juicy, and interesting. And we – as the divine – have temporarily forgotten we are dreaming in order to make it seem more real and make us more invested in the dreams.

The play of the divine – lila

Why is this happening? Perhaps for the divine to express, explore, and experience itself. For the divine to explore and experience its own potential infinite richness made a little more manifest.

The world can be seen as the play of the divine. And this is not a new discovery or noticing or speculation. In the Indian traditions they call this lila.

The world is real… and a dream

Our world is real in a certain way and also a dream in a certain way. That’s why I said “a little more manifest” in the previous segment.

Although there is validity to all our conventional ideas about the world and our lives, it’s all happening within a larger context that changes how we see it when this context is more alive to us in our immediate noticing and experience.

Even what we tend to experience as most physical is still happening within and as consciousness. The physical is real in that we experience it as physical and this seems to be a shared collective experience. At the same time, it’s our own mind – through combining thoughts and sensations – that gives it a sense of solidity and physicality. (How the mind creates its own experience through combining sensations and thoughts can be explored through inquiry, for instance Buddhist inquiries or a modern version of these such as the Living Inquiries.)

As we explore all of this, we may find that the world is simultaneously kind of real and kind of a dream.

Warrior and CFS

 

This is something I am in the middle of exploring so my insights around it are not so clear right now. (Of course, it’s a pitfall to assume that our understanding about anything in life is ever very clear!)

There is definitely a biological component to CFS (Epstein-Barr infection prior to onset of CFS etc.) but that may not be the whole picture.

I have long suspected there is a connection between suppressed warrior archetype / energy and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), at least in my case. Part of this suppressed warrior archetype is suppressed anger. And it has been suppressed because of adopted family and cultural norms and patterns, and more specifically through people-pleasing and sacrificing my own needs and passions in order to please others.

When I am intentionally in contact with my inner warrior and anger, I feel stronger, more solid, more authentic, more real, more grounded, and I have more energy. I seem to be able to do more without crashing.

I should say that the energy behind anger is, in itself, a more neutral energy. It can be expressed in many ways, including as determination, focus, and authenticity. It doesn’t have to be expressed in what most people think of as anger, although that can be appropriate as well. And if it’s expressed as anger, then the more we are free from beliefs and emotional hangups around anger, the more we can express it in a healthy and constructive way.

I should also mention that several people (senior Vortex Healers and teachers) have said that I seem to have had several lives as a warrior and that the trauma from these lives is still with me. It seems that this has especially surfaced the last few years in order to find healing. I don’t know, but I can easily see myself as having had several warrior lives in the past. And some of the trauma I have explored in myself definitely fits war trauma. Whether it’s literally true or not, the image definitely highlights something in me that needs attention.

In German New Medicine, they see feeling off track as connected with CFS. That also fits my experience. When I first got CFS, I was fifteen and felt lost and off track in life. The CFS symptoms subsided in my 20s and 30s, perhaps because I felt on track and had a strong sense of purpose in life. After several years in a marriage where I felt I couldn’t be myself I similarly felt off track and the CFS returned, and this time stronger.

Why did I feel off track? A major reason was people-pleasing and that I set aside – and didn’t embody or make use of – the warrior archetype in my life. If I had, I would have made very different choices and I would – very likely – have felt much more solid, authentic, and on track in life.

Of course, I don’t know if this had anything to do with the onset of CFS, or the maintenance of it, or what role it will play in healing from it. But I will certainly continue to explore it and do my best to bring the warrior back into my life.

What does the warrior archetype mean to me? It means being more real, authentic, honest, determined, passionate, and being a good steward of my life and – as best I can – the world. It means to stand up for myself as needed, and for others and the world. It means to use the energy behind anger and channel into all of this – authenticity, realness, honesty, determination, passion, and anything else.

How do I work with it? I can easily access the energy of the warrior and just being in contact with it – and use it for daily life activities – helps a lot. I am also actively working on any issues holding me back from living more from the warrior, and this mostly means fears and beliefs that it’s dangerous. (Which it is but that’s OK, that’s part of the game.)

In terms of approaches, work with it using inquiry, dialog, and Vortex Healing (especially choice points has been helpful) and so on.

Why do I say “the energy behind the anger”? Because what’s experienced and expressed as anger is something else before it takes that particular form. It comes from a more neutral and primal energy. And this energy can be channeled in different directions. It can be suppressed. It can be expressed as healthy or unhealthy anger. It can be expressed as clarity, determination, authenticity, honesty, groundedness, fearlessness (not allowing fear to stop me), and action.

Why do I chose to work on it? Because it can’t hurt. At least, it can give me a better quality of life. And it may even free up resources in my body so it can more easily heal itself.

If there is a connection between the warrior archetype of CFS, what may it be? It may be that suppressing the warrior (through people pleasing etc.) somehow sets up the system to be more susceptible for CFS. For many, a mononucleosis infection (Epstein-Barr) lasts a few days, is over, and has no long-term consequence. For some, it precedes CFS. The difference may be a combination of genetics, personality / emotional issues, ongoing and acute stress, and perhaps more. And in the personality / emotional issues category, we may find suppressing the warrior and anger. Who knows. At the very least, it’s worth exploring and see what happens when I free the warrior. (As I did in my late teens and twenties when my health was much better even though I still had CFS.)

Updates a few days later…..

Family background. I thought I would add a few words about how this pattern was created in my life. My father is a warrior by nature and has used that energy in his work and life outside of the family. But in the family, he suppresses his anger, emotions, and warrior. His motto is: Don’t speak up about anything. Don’t rock the boat. And especially when it comes to my mother. I was distressed by this dynamic even as a very little child and spoke up about it, but was told – as I was in many other situations – to be quiet and pretend nothing is going on. I adopted this pattern, by necessity, and unfortunately learned to not speak up, not stand up for myself, and instead be a people-pleaser. (Enneagram nine.)

The regrets I have in my life come from times when I didn’t speak up and didn’t stand up for myself when I needed to and it was appropriate. In other words, I learned to hide my inner warrior. I learned to hide my warrior nature. And – as mentioned above – this may be connected with the CFS. At the very least, going out of this pattern and standing up for myself more regularly will help me a lot in my life and improve my quality of life. And, who knows, maybe it even will help bring me back to a more robust health.

Spiritual dark nights and warrior. When I went to Nepal and India in my twenties, I wished for some kind of spiritual transformation. Instead, what I got was learning to stand up for myself. And that is a spiritual transformation. It’s part of embodiment.

When I occasionally mention the dark night I have been going through for a few years, most people think the transformation has to do with learning about or discovering interconnectedness, compassion, empathy, living for the larger whole, and so on. But for me, it’s the reverse. I did all of that in my teens, twenties and thirties. What I didn’t learn was to stand up for myself consistently and when it was needed in life. (Of course, I need to deepen in the oneness side too, but for now, what seems more important is to learn to take care of my human life with more consistency.)

The dark night obviously has had to do with healing old traumas and emotional issues, and seeing and questioning remaining identities and beliefs. But a big part of it is exactly this: learning to stand up for myself. Learning to be a good steward of my own life. Learning to take care of the individual side of the individual vs. collective/oneness side of the equation.

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Owl synchronicity

 

I lived in the countryside outside of Madison, Wisconsin, in the late 90s. At the time, my then-wife and I went to the Unitarian Society in Madison on Sundays. (This is the Unitarian building designed by Frank Loyd-Wright.)

One winter Sunday, the minister talked about Grey Owl, the British man taking on a Native American persona in Canada and giving talks and writing as if he was a born Native American. (If I remember correctly, the talk was about how he was authentic in feeling and living like a Native American although others saw him as a fraud when his English background was publicly revealed.)

The talk impacted me deeply since I have always had a deep admiration for and resonance with the Native American cultures. On the way home, driving along a silent winter road in Mount Horeb, we saw a large Snowy Owl sitting on a branch over the road. It seemed like a scene in a movie with the beautiful freshly snow-covered winter landscape and the owl sitting right over the road in front of us. We stopped the car and watched the owl for a while in awe. The owl then silently and majestically dropped off the branch and glided along the road and out of sight.

It was a powerful synchronicity and the talk and Snowy Owl experience made a deep impression on me. It started a phase in my life where I delved more deeply into Native American literature and the Native American world. (I had always been drawn to it, since early childhood, but this gave me an opportunity to go a bit more deeply into it.) I watched the movie about Grey Owl. I read his books. I read any other books I could find written by Native Americans. I read Native American stories and mythology. I took part in sweat lodges led by a Sioux holy man. And it generally deepened my earth-centered spirituality and appreciation for the Native American cultures.

Canada goose, death and synchronicity

 

I thought I would share more stories from my past, including this one of my many synchronicity stories.

The summer 2018, I was at our family cabin in the mountains of Norway with my then-partner from Canada. One night, she received a message that her uncle – whom she was very close to and was like a father to her – had suddenly become ill and was in a hospital back in Canada.

The following day, I was outside of the cabin. I heard honking over me and looked up. There was a Canada goose, circling the cabin several times while continuing to honk. It then flew off towards the east. It was very much out of the ordinary and felt like a sign. I suspected that her uncle had just died and I also felt his presence.

Not long later, we learned that he had died about that time.

I should mention that her uncle (and her) had Native American ancestry and strong connection to nature and the mountains.

The photo is from the cabin and that trip.

Chronic Fatigue reflections I: movement, surfacing emotions, crashing, food, and anger

 

I decided to start a series of posts with Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) reflections. These are just my own observations so take it with a big grain of salt and explore it for yourself (if you have CFS).

Chronic fatigue and conscious movement. One thing I have learned through living with Chronic Fatigue (CFS) is to be extra conscious of how I physically move. If I move too fast – and frantically – it’s clearly not good for my health. I need to find a comfortable way to move, and that usually means to slow down. Beyond that, if I can find a nurturing way to move, that’s even better.

When I see others moving in a fast or frantic way, it’s a reminder to me to slow down. I am usually pretty good at it, but I too notice the temptation to speed up and try to do a lot quickly. It’s also helped me to look at why I am tempted to do this. Mainly, when I have some “extra” energy – beyond just being able to lie in bed do close to nothing – there is a temptation to do as much as I can – and perhaps to do this relatively fast – since I don’t know how long it will last.

I have done a lot of conscious movement work in my previous life so this is relatively natural for me (tai chi, chigong, yoga, Feldenkrais, Breema). For others with CFS but without this previous experience, I imagine that very gentle conscious-movement explorations can be helpful if it’s adapted to what they are able to do without worsening too dramatically or crashing.

Chronic fatigue and surfacing emotions. We are a seamless system so emotions play a role in any aspect of our life, and so also in chronic illness. For instance, chronic illness may lead to – at different times – anger, frustration, sadness, grief, anxiety, and so on, and it’s good to address this to improve quality of life and give the system a better chance to heal itself. It’s also possible that certain personality traits – like perfectionism and people-pleasing – is connected with CFS although research has not shown this (yet).

In general, why not address emotional issues? It can certainly improve our quality of life no matter our situation, and it can also free up resources allowing our system to better heal itself.

There are many possible connections between CFS and emotions. Here, I want to highlight just one. When my energy level is good, my old emotional issues are mostly “hidden” and not very obvious. I have the resources to deal with life without having too many issues triggered.

When my energy levels go down, these old issues tend to surface more easily. Even smaller challenges in life can trigger my old hangups since I don’t have the resources to deal with life’s challenges as I normally would.

The gift in this is that I get to see these old hangups, make a note of them, and perhaps – if I have energy! – address them.

Chronic fatigue & crashing. When my system crashes, it’s typically when I am out of bed and in some activity, and when I do too much and haven’t had food and water frequently enough. The recipe for avoiding crashing is the reverse: do less, rest more, and eat small meals and drink (water, herbal teas) more frequently.

When my system crashes, it feels like a whole-systems crash. My physical body begins to shut down. My mind goes into survival mode with a single-minded focus on food and water. And if I perceive that someone or something is in the way of me getting food and water quickly, I may also get frustrated, angry, and/or grumpy. (The focus is often on chocolate and sodas since that gives me quick energy, even if I rarely if ever eat and drink it otherwise.)

Chronic fatigue & food. I know I do better when I avoid some foods (wheat, dairy, sugar, refined foods) and eat more of other foods (vegetables, some fruits, some less typical grains). In periods where I eat more indiscriminately, my system is eventually impacted and I need to switch back to a more intentional diet. Similarly, if I eat strictly for too long, I eventually need to broaden my diet.

The foods I get sick from if I eat them regularly become medicine in small amounts in periods where I eat more intentionally (for instance, cheese, cream, chocolate).

As mentioned above, if I am out of the house and notice I am about to crash, it can help to eat foods I usually completely avoid (AKA “junk” food) – simply because this food is full of quick energy.

Chronic fatigue & anger. I suspect that, for me, there is a connection between suppressed anger and fatigue. It may be one of several keys to healing. (It was obviously not the only or main factor in causing the illness, if it played a role at all.)

In my case, there is probably a connection between perfectionism and people-pleasing and suppressed anger (when we ignore our own needs in order to please others, we naturally get angry). And there are also beliefs and “shoulds” about anger from my family (where showing anger is not acceptable).

Anger is energy, and when it’s suppressed it means that the energy of the anger – in the moment – is not available. I also suspect that suppressed anger corresponds to chronic tension in the body (see other articles on how chronic tension is necessary for us us to hold a stance and believe anything at all), and that tension requires and “binds” energy that could have been used for the normal functioning of the body and for healing.

I notice that when I connect with the energy of anger, and perhaps use it when I speak and act (in a constructive way), I feel stronger and I feel I have more energy. And I don’t crash the way I normally do following exertion (PEM).

I thought this would be the end of this article but I’ll add a few more observations / questions….

Yawning as a signal. Over time, I have learned to notice signals that helps me avoid crashing. Yawning is one of those signals.

In my experience, when I yawn it means one of three things.

Most often, it means I need food – and that I need it right away. It’s already been a little too long since last meal or mini-meal.

If I have recently had food, it may mean that my system needs energization. Vortex Healing is the best way for me to do this.

And if I have had food and my system is relatively well energized, it may mean that I am ready for sleep.

All our thoughts: A human invention

 

This Christmas, a Norwegian author (Ari Behn) committed suicide. A close friend of him said he was tormented by feeling that his work was not good enough. I don’t know if that was the reason for his suicide, or how large part it played, but it was a reminder for me.

All our ideas are a human invention. All our shoulds. All our ideas about how our life should be. All our ideas of not living up to an ideal. All our “standards” that we live up to or not.

Why do we take it so seriously when it’s all a human invention?

These ideas and shoulds are not inherent in life. They are not prescribed by life or God or anything at all apart from the human mind. All our thoughts – all our words, ideas, world views, ideals, values and so on – were once created by an ordinary human being like you and me.

They are a human invention. Why take it so seriously? Why torment yourself with these human inventions?

Why take what thoughts say so seriously? They are just questions about the world. They are innocent. None of them reflect any absolute or final truth.

Of course, we are trained to believe our thoughts. For some reason, our society and culture encourages us to believe certain thoughts. I see how it’s a useful way to control people. But it also creates a lot of (unnecessary) suffering.

Why not instead teach people how to question their thoughts? Why not teach this as a Life 101 theme in school?

The most useful approach I have found to do this is inquiry. For instance, The Work of Byron Kate and the Living Inquiries.

Note: The family of Ari Behn were were open about it being suicide. The idea that it’s shameful or something to hide is another human invention, and a very old-fashioned one at that. It seems far better to be open about it. It reduces speculation. And it can generate very helpful conversations about suicide and how to support people who are going through difficult times.

Note 2: When I say that our thoughts are a human invention, it’s not entirely accurate. Yes, the content of our thoughts and what’s held as true and not was invented by someone, and reinvented each time someone decided to take it on for themselves. And yet, this is all the processes of life. Life came up with thoughts, and life came up with what thoughts to take as true and not. Ultimately, it’s all the play of life or the universe or the divine.

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Billy Knapp: Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world

 

Alice Longbaugh: I never had his certainties. I suppose it is a defect.

Billy Knapp: I don’t think it’s a defect at all. Oh, no. Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world. Only regarding the next are we vouchsafed certainty.

Alice Longbaugh: Yes.

Billy Knapp: I believe certainty regarding that which we can see and touch, it is seldom justified, if ever. Down the ages, from our remote past, what certainties survive? And yet we hurry to fashion new ones. Wanting their comfort. Certainty, is the easy path. Just as you said.

– from Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Cohen brothers

I found this exchange between Billy and Alice beautiful in its simplicity and honesty.

Uncertainty is appropriate for any idea we have. For anything we think we know, whether it’s the big picture questions or our everyday life. Any thought comes with a question mark, whether we notice or not.

Telling ourselves we have certainty about something is a way to seek comfort. In a sense, it’s the “easy” path since we can pretend to know and we don’t need to question it or explore it further. And yet, it’s not so easy because somewhere we know we are deceiving ourselves. And it’s out of alignment with reality and life may, at any moment, show that to us. Life may present us with a situation showing us that one of our most cherished ideas was not true, or not as true as we wanted it to be.

This is also why we get the preaching pattern (or lecturing or proselytizing pattern). We hold onto a thought or idea in order to find comfort or safety. Somewhere, we know we cannot know for certain if the thought or idea is true. And we probably know, somewhere that we hold onto it to find comfort. And we may, secretly, fear that life – at any time – will show us it’s not as true as we wanted it to be. If we are not honest with ourselves about this, then one way to deal with the inevitable tension inherent in these dynamics is to preach to others. We lecture and try to convince others the initial thought or idea is true so we can feel better about holding onto it for ourselves. At least, others are in the same boat. In an even more basic sense, we lecture others so we can hear it ourselves. We lecture ourselves about the importance of believing the initial thought or idea. We try to remove our own doubt, which is impossible. Doubt is sanity. Doubt is being aligned with reality. We can never completely deceive ourselves.

Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world. Only regarding the next are we vouchsafed certainty.

Uncertainty is appropriate for matters of this world. It’s appropriate for any thought and anything that has to do with the content of our experience. We cannot know or say anything for certain about this.

Only about the “next” world can we say anything for certain. Perhaps not the way Billy may have thought about it, but in another way. The only thing we know for certain is that we are – what the mind may label – consciousness.

We cannot say anything for certain about the content of consciousness. But we can say for certain that there is consciousness. That’s not only what we are but all we are, in our own immediate experience. The whole world, as it appears to us, and whatever we take ourselves to be as a human being, happens within and as consciousness.

It happens within and as what we are. And we can label that consciousness, awakeness, or whatever else we like. (Of course, the label and any ideas we have about it happens within and as content of consciousness!)

Down the ages, from our remote past, what certainties survive?

And that’s how it is today as well. The certainties we have today – collectively – will not survive. Future generations will have other certainties, and these also won’t survive.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XIX

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Trump as the shadow. Trump represents shadow material for many people in the US and the rest of the world. He is one of the few leaders who happily and wholeheartedly seem to embrace qualities most of us see as undesirable. Qualities many of us try to avoid acting on (which is healthy), and perhaps exclude from how we see ourselves (less healthy).

That’s one of the golden opportunities with the Trump presidency. We can’t avoid seeing despicable behaviors from him. And that’s an invitation to find the same in ourselves. What do I see in him? (Make a list.) When and how do those descriptions fit my behavior? (Use specific examples.) Take it in. Allow it to change how I see myself.

The test for how much shadow material I have worked through – recognized in myself and included in how I see myself – is how I react when I see Trump. Do I react with reactivity, contempt, disgust, and so on? Do I see a human being like myself? (Although I don’t agree with his words and actions. If I see him with more empathy and perhaps as a confused and wounded human being, can I find that too in myself?

One of the best ways I have found to work with projections and shadow material is The Work of Byron Katie. The Living Inquiries is also good.

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En-light-enment

 

What does enlightenment refer to?

In spirituality, it’s often points to what we are – that which our experience happens within and as – waking up to itself. It also means waking up out of taking ourselves to be this human self.

When it’s more complete, it also means waking up out of taking ourselves as anything in particular within the content of our experience, or believing thoughts and any identifications that comes with taking thoughts as true.

Although the initial shift may happen suddenly, it’s an ongoing process in most (or all?) cases? It keeps deepening, clarifying, and become more thorough and lived.

En-light-enment as a metaphor

En-light-enment. It’s a metaphor that means light being shed on something. We see something more clearly that previously was hidden or – metaphorically – in the dark for us.

What is illuminated? As mentioned above, the essence is that what we are wakes up to itself and out of taking itself to (exclusively) be this human self or anything else within content of experience, including any thoughts or ideas.

Another thing that may be illuminated, especially if it’s more thorough, is the dynamics of the mind that creates the experience of (exclusively) being some part of the content of experience (e.g. this human self) and not the rest (e.g. the rest of the world as it appears to us).

En-light-enment in a more direct sense

There is also an en-light-enment in a more direct – and perhaps literal –sense. In an awakening, we may experience ourselves (our human self) and the rest of the world as light. It’s all revealed as what our minds may label consciousness, love, quiet bliss, and light.

Going beyond ideas of light and dark

And there is also a shift into holding all words and ideas more lightly, and seeing that reality – and the divine – includes both what our minds can label light and dark. It’s all the play of what the mind may label consciousness or the divine. All content of experience – including ideas of light and dark and what these refer to – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. Our ideas about light and dark, in whatever form they take for us, have no final or absolute truth to them, and all of them refer to the divine and the play of the divine.

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Dream: Working with Trump

 

I am the educational minister for Trump. He likes me. And I have sympathy for him even as I disagree with much of what he says and does. I am free to do as little or as much as I want.

This dream went on for a while and continued even after I woke up briefly. I did have a genuine sympathy for him in the dream and I noticed it felt peaceful, even if my views on what he says and does is the same in the dream as it is in my waking life. When I briefly woke up, I was aware that this was – in a sense – a shadow dream. It is a dream about befriending the shadow.

Trump does – to some extent – represent shadow material for me. I sometimes see things in him I don’t admit to in myself, at least in the moment. And this dream was a reminder that getting to know someone is often to understand and find sympathy for them even if we still may not agree with much of what they say or do.

Why educational minister? Perhaps because it’s a little less contentious than some other positions so it allowed me to get to know him in a more peaceful setting. And perhaps because this dream is an education of myself.

How do we find peace?

 

There are many ways to find peace. Here are some approaches I have found helpful.

We can create a certain life. A life that feels right, nurturing, and meaningful. A life where we have nurturing relationships. Meaningful work and activities. A life aligned with our values and what’s important to us. A part of this is to heal and mend – as far as possible – any challenging relationships.

We can invite in healing. We can invite in healing for parts of us not in peace. We can invite in healing for trauma and emotional issues.

We can reorient. We can learn to befriend our experience as it is, including the experience of lack of peace (!). In this process, we also learn to befriend (more of) the world as it is.

We can find ourselves (more) as our human wholeness. As we find ourselves as the wholeness of who we are as a human being, there is a sense of groundedness and peace even as life and thoughts and emotions goes on. This is an ongoing process, perhaps including body-centered mindfulness and projection work, and the peace is of a different kind.

We can explore our need for peace. If we feel a neediness around peace, what’s going on? Do we have stressful beliefs about living without peace? Do we have identities rubbing up against the reality of sometimes lack of peace? Is there a trauma or emotional issue telling us we need peace? Examining this and find some resolution for whatever may be behind a need for peace can, in itself, help us find more peace.

It’s stressful to feel we need peace and fight with a world that doesn’t always give us the conditions we may think we need for peace. And it is, perhaps ironically, more peaceful to find peace with life as it is.

We can live with (more) integrity. Living with integrity gives us a sense of peace, even when life is challenging. Living with integrity means to clarify and follow what’s important to us, and to live with some sincerity and honesty – especially towards ourselves.

We can follow our own inner guidance. Following our inner guidance – in smaller and bigger things – connects us with an inner quiet and peace, even when life is stormy. We can learn to follow our inner guidance through experience. And it’s also helpful to notice when we connect with our inner guidance and don’t follow it, and examine what fears and stressful beliefs in us made it difficult for us to follow it.

We can connect with the larger whole. This larger whole comes in three related forms. One is the larger whole of who we are as a human being (mentioned above). Another is the larger whole of the Earth and the universe. We can connect with this through Earth-centered practices, the Universe Story, and more. The third is what we are.

We can explore and get to know what we are. What we are is what our experience happens within and as. As we learn to find ourselves as that, there is a different kind of peace. The peace of being like the sky that clouds, storms, clear weather and anything else passes through.

Each of these is an ongoing process and exploration. It’s not a place we arrive at for good and don’t have to pay attention to again.

The kind of peace we find in each of these ways is somewhat different. In a sense, they complement each other.

As for how to find these types of peace, there are many approaches and I’ll mention a few here.

To heal, I have found parts (subpersonality) work, inquiry, heart-centered practices, TRE, Vortex Healing and more to be helpful. To reorient, I have found ho’oponopno, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practice to be helpful. To find myself as my human wholeness, I have found body-centered mindfulness (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema) and projection work (inquiry, shadow work) helpful. To explore any neediness around peace, I have found inquiry to be helpful. To live more with integrity, it’s helpful to explore what in me (usually a fear, stressful belief, trauma) takes me away from living with integrity in any specific situation. To follow my inner guidance, it’s helpful to practice in smaller situations and likewise explore what in me (fears etc.) takes me away from it. To connect with the larger whole of the Earth and Universe, it’s helpful to use the Practices to Reconnect (Joanna Macy), Universe Story, and similar approaches. To explore what we are, I have found Headless experiments, Living Inquiries, and the Big Mind process to be helpful.

Photo: Flowers from Zürich ca. 2013.