Low energy, its consequences, and how to bring it up

 

With my chronic fatigue (CFS), I have had plenty of opportunities to notice what happens as my energy level goes up and down. When I am more fatigued, it’s as if the light is dimmed so I get to see more of the things in me lurking in the darkness. In general, I tend to become more sensitive to sounds and activity around me, and I sometimes get to see some of my stressful beliefs more clearly. Fatigue can also look a bit like depression since I don’t have the energy to engage in emotions very much.

For most of us, when our energy level is lower, hangups, stressful beliefs, anxiety, depression, compulsion and more become more noticeable.

So we can find benefits to low energy when it’s here anyway. It makes it easier to notice what normally is under the surface. We can notice, allow, notice how parts of us respond to it, allow that too, and perhaps meet it more intentionally, with patience, curiosity, presence, and so on. Or not. And then notice and allow that. Or not.

It’s obviously good to bring the energy up, for a few different reasons. It supports our bodymind system in healing itself. It reduces many symptoms so our quality of life is higher. And it makes it easier for us to take care of what we have seen – find a different relationship to it, invite in resolution or healing for it, or simply being with it with patience and respect.

How can we bring up the energy? I am sure there are many approaches out there I am not familiar with. Of the ones I personally have tried, herbal medicine and energy work (Vortex Healing) have been the most effective, in addition to rest, moderate activity (within the limits of what I can do without crashing), and improving my diet (low on the food chain, mostly avoiding dairy, yeast, refined sugar, and the most common grains). It also helps, over time, to release tension out of the body (therapeutic tremoring, TRE), resolve and clear up stressful beliefs and trauma (inquiry, parts work, Vortex healing), and reoirent in how I relate to myself, others, and the world (heart practices such as heart prayer, ho’oponopono, tonglen).

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Physical tension to maintain beliefs, wounds, and trauma

 

It’s common to see physical tension as created by stressful beliefs and trauma. At the level of our regular everyday experience, that’s true enough. We have stressful thoughts and with that comes physical tension. It can be stressful thoughts that are recurrent and comes with recurrent tension, it can be more chronic and ongoing, or it can be something that happens rarely.

When we explore this through some forms of inquiry (e.g. Buddhist, Living Inquiries) we may find another connection between beliefs and physical tension. We see how any one identification and belief is associated with tension or contraction somewhere in the body. The thoughts give meaning to the tension, and the tension and contractions give a sense of solidity, reality and even truth to the thoughts. The physical tension is required for the thought to seem true. In a certain way, the mind creates physical tension in order to be able to believe a thought.

This is an abstraction from what I notice regularly in inquiry. I explore an identification or belief. I notice it’s connected with a particular sensation, tension, or contraction in the body. I notice how the thought gives a sense of meaning to the sensation (it seems to mean something when it’s there), and the sensation gives a sense of substance and truth to the thought.

For instance, the thought may be I am not good enough (identity as someone not good enough). I feel it as sensations in the throat. When I feel the sensations, they seem to tell me I am not good enough. And when I look at the thought I am not good enough it seems substantiated by the feeling in the throat.

This all happens without too much conscious noticing. It happens relatively automatic and at the edge of what we are consciously aware of. When it is brought into conscious awareness, through inquiry, the mechanisms are revealed. The man behind the curtain is revealed. And through noticing and resting with what’s noticed, with patience, respect, and curiosity, the connections between these thoughts and sensations tend to weaken and eventually fall away. Thoughts are recognized as thoughts and not inherently true. Sensations are recognized as sensations and not inherently meaningful.

Also, it all seems a bit silly. The mind believes a thougth just because it’s connected with some sensations? It creates these sensations (through tension) just so the thoughts can seem substantial and true? And yet, that’s how it seems to work.

These dynamics can be explored and addressed in a wide range of ways. We can explore the thought-sensation connections through Living Inquiries. We can find what’s more true for us than our initial belief through The Work. Therapeutic tremoring (e.g. TRE) can, over time, release the physical tension giving substance to stressful beliefs and identifications. Vortex Healing can address both the mind (thought) and physical (contraction) side of the equation. We can help the relationship between these thought-sensation “beings” through parts and subpersonality work. We can change our overall relationship to them (allowing them to relax, reorient, and partially resolve themselves) through heart-centered practices. We may notice these dynamics and giving them space to resolve themselves through noticing, allowing, and giving it time (basic meditation).

Note: When I say “stressful beliefs” or “stressful thoughts” here it really refers to identifications. When the mind identifies with the viewpoint of a thought, it takes it as true and make it into a belief. And any identification (or belief) is inherently stressful.

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The energy bound up in identifications, beliefs, wounds, and trauma

 

We bind a great deal of energy up in our identifications, beliefs, wounds, and trauma.

First, what do I mean by identifications? An identification is when the mind takes itself to be a certain viewpoint created by a story. It takes itself to be that viewpoint. It becomes that viewpoint, in its own experience. That’s how a belief is created, including stressful beliefs. (And all beliefs are stressful or become stressful eventually.) And this is also an important component of how emotional wounds and traumas are created and maintained.

And why do they require energy? Our body-mind needs to use energy to create and hold these in place. It needs to consistently fuel and recreate the identifications. It needs to create and hold onto stories creating identifications. And it needs to create physical tension to associate with these stories to make them appear more real, solid, and true. Both require consistent use of mental and physical energy.

What are some of the effects of this bound up energy? The identifications in themselves can create fatigue, depression, anxiety, compulsions, and more. On top of that, these tend to be stronger and more visible when our general energy level is lower because some of our energy is bound up in this way. Over time, having energy bound up may also contribute to the characteristics we sometimes associate with aging (fatigue, lethargy, stiffness, chronic illness).

When do we notice this energy-binding dynamic? Sometimes, we have glimpses of how much energy is bound in identifications. It may be in a smaller way when a specific belief or wound is released. Or it may be when we are released out of identifications as a whole – whether temporarily (spiritual openings or glimpses) or more stably (more stable awakening).

And how have I noticed it? I have noticed it in a few different ways. Most clearly during spiritual openings  when the mind trancends many of the identifications and hangups. In healing and inquiry sessions. And also when I have combined a daily meditation and yoga practice, or have done Breema regularly, and I find the bodymind wholeness that’s whole and healthy in spite of identifications, wounds, and physical ailments.

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Fascination with stories

 

It’s understandable that people, including me, sometimes want to know how a TV series – or a movie, book, or any story – unfolds and ends. At the same time, it’s slightly amusing since if it’s fictional, it’s all made up anyway, and the ending of the story is somewhat arbitrary. It’s an ending the writer or writers decided on out of many possible fictional endings. It doesn’t really matter how it ends.

It’s a reminder that our curiosity about the world, and how stories unfold and end, is built into us through evolution. It helps us survive to learn about the world. To learn about how people work, and how the world works, and how specific types of situations sometimes unfold.

Fictional stories sometimes depict a truth about human interactions and dynamics. Real life stories show us how things sometimes unfold in the real world. And any story is a reminder that they are stories. They are made up. They are our own interpretations and reflect our own backgrounds and viewpoints. They are not in any way final and they don’t reflect an absolute truth.

In our post-postmodern world, or whatever it is, that may seem obvious. And yet, there are areas of life where many of us sometimes don’t take it to heart. Any time we identify with a viewpoint, with an identity, with a story about others, the world, or ourselves, we haven’t really – and thoroughly – taken it to heart. Any time we take any story for granted and how it is, we haven’t taken it to heart.

Sometimes, we hold onto these stories because we are hurt and we think we protect ourselves through holding onto certain stories. Sometimes, we hold onto them because those around us do the same and we haven’t seen a need to question it. And sometimes, they are so basic and apparently obvious that we haven’t even thought of questioning it. (E.g. I am a man, a human being, content of my experience.)

Our minds are fascinated by stories. It may be because conceptual thought is relatively new in our evolution and we are still learning about it and how to use it and relate to it in a sensible way. It may be because this fascination has helped our ancestors survive (most likely it did). It may be because those around us are so we take a cue from them.

In any case, our current habit of identifying with thought does seem like something a young species would do. A species that is still figuring out how to use and relate to thoughts effectively. A species that currently is stumbling because it does tend to identify with thought and take them as more true and final than they are. A species that creates suffering for itself because of it, and may even bring about its own extinction because of it.

A species that, if it continues for long enough, may eventually learn to use thought as a guide of temporary practical value at most, and inherently free of any absolute or final truth. As a question about the world. And recognizing that all thoughts are like this – a question, a pointer, a temporary guide – including our most basic thoughts and assumptions about the world and who and what we are.

Note: It’s obviously only in fiction that stories end. In life, there may be chapters and storylines but no story really ends.

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Dollar synchronicity

 

I was in San Francisco yesterday, dropped a dollar bill without noticing, and a smiling boy ran after me and returned it. A few hours later, I sat in a coffee shop in Rockridge (waiting for a Breema class), saw a woman dropping a dollar bill without noticing, and I picked it up and returned it to her.

This was a form of synchronicity. It was a coincidence, and it was meaningful to me.

In which way was it meaningful?

On the surface, it was meaningful since there was a nice symmetry here. I got to be kind to someone in the way someone earlier had been kind to me.

And more significantly, I experienced is as a nod from life and a kind of answer to something that had been on my mind a few days earlier. I have a history of repeatedly finding wallets and credit cards and returning them, and yet not having the reverse happen (for instance, I lost my messenger bag full of things important to me, including a wallet with a good deal of cash, a year ago and it wasn’t returned to me).

It may not be apparent in this story, but the dollar synchronicity was as if life said: There is kindness in life and people. Don’t worry about the apparent asymmetry you noticed earlier. Notice the bigger picture and how much life gives you.

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Flame above crown of head

 

I usually don’t write about things peripheral to awakening, embodiment, maturing, and healing. Mainly because it’s often a distraction. But I’ll make a few exceptions since it could be helpful for a few out there.

In my late teens and early twenties, I had a period where the Christ meditation and heart prayer were my main daily practices.

The Christ meditation is where you envision Christ 2-3 meters in front of your body, behind, on either side, above, below, and in the heart (in all six directions and the center). I usually envision Christ as a light. Rest with this visualization for as long as you want, usually from a few minutes to an hour or two. (I was pretty gung-ho and often did it for 1-2 hours at a time, mainly because it felt profoundly like coming home.)

The heart prayer is where you say “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” with the breath and heartbeats. (I have given more details in other articles, and it can also be found in books and other online articles.) This is often done for dedicated periods, and also throughout the day. Over time, it becomes an ongoing prayer and it can even continue – as an intention and energetically – through the night and sleep.

Before this, I had noticed I could see auras and energies. I initially saw it around leaves of trees, and then around everyone and everything. Even nonliving things have an aura, although it’s simpler than for living beings. For people where there is a higher level of awakening, the aura becomes very subtle and extends out indefinitely. These days, I usually use it to see where spiritual teachers are at.

In the periods where I engaged in the Christ meditation and heart prayer, I noticed a light above the crown on my heart. (Yes, surprisingly enough, auras can be seen in the mirror.) And I then realized that this is exactly how the descent of the Holy Spirit is traditionally depicted, as a flame above the head. It was quite astonishing and created even more of a sense of connection with the (alive) Christian tradition and early Christians.

So, at least in my experience, what art historians and others may see as a symbolic representation may actually be meant as a literal depiction of what is going on in the aura of those with a strong connection with Christ, and which can be seen by those able to see energies and auras.

Note: This article on Women at Pentecost has several beautiful depictions of this flame. The mosaic above this article shows the flame a bit higher up than how I experienced it. It’s really touching the top of the head.

Since the paintings depict Pentecost and the disciples, it shows a group of people with this flame. And that reflects how it’s not limited to a few select people but accessible to (I assume) anyone with some sincerity and dedication, and it’s more about a community of people with shared aim and connection than separate individuals.

Note 2: When I mention the “alive Christian tradition” I mean the thread within Christianity that’s alive in a spiritual sense. Christianity as a whole is less alive in that sense but there are many exceptions.

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Sending back projections?

 

A friend of mine talked about sending back projections. Other people put their projections on us, so we can notice and send them back (visualizing?).

First, what happens when we take on other people’s projections on us? We make it into a belief about ourselves. So although it may make sense to try to “send it back” we can’t really. We can’t send back a belief we have about ourselves because we made it ourselves. And we cannot will it away.

To me, it makes more sense to work with these beliefs about myself the same way I would work with any thoughts with a charge.

First, what’s an example of this projection-made-into-belief dynamic? Someone may have low self-esteem. They identify with beliefs and identities telling them they are not good enough and so on. So they project that onto us to feel better about themselves. And we may take on that projection through making it into a belief about ourselves. There is nothing inherently wrong or bad about this. It’s natural and understandable. Although as with any belief, these beliefs about ourselves may be stressful and limit how we live our lives.

And how would I work with it? One way is to examine these beliefs more thoroughly, for instance through The Work or the Living Inquiries.

Using The Work, I may examine thoughts such as: He is a jerk. He tries to put me down. He is insecure. I am not good enough. I am less than others. They will see me as not good enough. They won’t like me. They won’t accept me. They won’t love me. All of these, and whatever other thoughts I have, are gateways to really get to see the dynamics of the mind around this issue for me and find what’s more true for me. The thoughts become a valuable gift rather than a threat.

Using Living Inquiries, I may ask myself what the triggering situation says about me. For instance, I am not good enough. I am unlovable. I am less than others. I can explore how my mind creates these identities by combining thoughts and sensations. I can find the earliest memory I have of feeling that way and look at the thoughts and sensations creating that memory and anything associated with it. And in this way, the charge goes out of the identities and painful beliefs.

And although neither of these approaches explicitly talks about projections, that’s exactly what’s going on. Through either of these approaches, we identify, explore, and own projections, and the charge goes out of them. They are not only rendered harmless, they become a valuable asset and genuine gift.

Mild synchronicity: When I wrote this, I happened to listen to Michal Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.

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Sometimes, dull is good

 

A friend of mine (LL) showed me her ring yesterday and explained that the jeweler damaged the original stone and replaced it with a less spectacular stone. She was naturally disappointed, but since our connection is through Breema, our conversation naturally switched into how dull sometimes is good.

In what ways is dull good? The main one that comes to me is that dull is less distracting. It leaves space to notice. For instance, it may help me pay more attention to what someone is saying, or to relationships or people, or to what’s meaningful to me and so on. It can also help me notice what I am.

Also, for instance in Breema class, I notice that whether the instructor is charismatic or not doesn’t matter. The essence is still conveyed. The atmosphere, the sequence. In that sense, dull is good because it shows me that I don’t have to be charismatic. I actually typically enjoy and benefit from classes where the instructor is not.

I notice the same with writing. Sometimes, dull writing is good. If it’s concise and to the point, less flashy or eloquent writing helps me focus on the content. It helps me explore it for myself. I don’t get distracted by the form.

Dull times can be good. If I don’t have so many distractions, it helps me notice what I really want in life and what’s more meaningful to me, and it allows me to find my own creativity and initiative. For instance, being at the cabin can be dull because there are fewer distractions. But it does give me the opportunity to read books, write, swim, go hiking, and have good conversations. And it does help me notice, clarify, and find excitement for what I wish for myself in my life.

Sitting in a meditation retreat for hours, days, and sometimes weeks can be dull. And that dullness is good. It helps me notice the dynamics of my mind. It helps me change my relationship with the content of my experience and befriend it. It helps my mind bring content to the surface so it gets to be seen, felt, and attended to.

When it comes to awakening, a dull experience is good. If the content of my experience is less distracting, it’s easier for me to notice what I am. It’s easier for me to notice myself as that which this experience happens within and as. (As Adya sometimes says, there is a reason why flashy experiences fade and we come back to our ordinary experience. What awakening really is about is here independent of content of experience, and dull experiences are excellent for noticing what we are.)

And more mature spiritual teachers can sometimes seem a bit dull. The flashy ones are often earlier in their awakening and human maturing, and the more mature ones can seem more ordinary and even slightly boring. I would take a boring mature guide or coach over a more flashy one any day.

Dull isn’t better (or worse) than exciting. But it certainly has its own value and gifts.

Note: I think it’s clear from the context but I’ll mention it anyway. Here, I am using dull in the sense of unspectacular or even boring. Not in the sense of a dull mind, one that doesn’t pay attention. The value of something unspectacular is most easily found through noticing and attending to what’s here.

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Let’s go live our lives on Earth in the midst of them

 

Some birds were flying over a field when a man tried to shoot them. So they flew higher to get away from the bullets. Higher up, they were still bothered by the sound of the gun. So they flew even higher, but then above their heads an airplane passed. One said to the others, “Since we cannot get away from people no matter what we do, let’s go live our lives on Earth in the midst of them, and not worry too much – our job is to live our lives in joy.”

– Jon Schreiber in Your Home is the Entire Cosmos: The Wisdom of Breema

 

Adyashanti: If there is an egoic self, it exists within who you are

 

If there is an egoic self, it exists within who you are. That’s different than thinking it’s who you are.

– Adyashanti

This is a very good pointer. There may be an “egoic self” here – identifications with certain stories at conscious or more visceral levels – and, as any experience, it happens within and as what we are. And we can notice that. That gives the mind some distance to it. It softens the identification a bit. And that’s big. That’s a new way of being. That opens the mind up to something very different.

We can also say that who we are happens within and as what we are, and independent of whatever form who we are takes we can notice it happens within and as what we are. Who we are may just be this human self operating on its own. It can be identification as this human self. Or it may even be who we are at more subtle energy levels, for instance as a soul. In either case, we can notice that who we are happens within and as what we are. And over time, this can be an ongoing noticing.

A note on terminology: This human self operating on its own can be called the psychological ego. This is the human operating system and it’s something we want to be as healthy as possible. Identification with a self – whether it’s human or soul or something else – is what’s sometimes called ego in a spiritual context. And that tends to lessen as we keep noticing that it happens within and as what we are.

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Is Vortex Healing too good to be true?

 

Is Vortex Healing too good to be true?

After all, it’s a relatively effective way to deal with a wide range of issues, from physical to emotional to relationships to situations to places. And it’s an effective way to invite in both healing and awakening.

In my experience, all of that is accurate. I was very skeptical at first, to the point where I initially refused my first (free) session. But over time, I have come to see that it is an effective and safe way for healing a wide range of issues, and it’s an effective and safe way to invite in and stabilizing progressive awakening.

So what’s the downside? I wouldn’t say there are any major downsides, although there are several caveats.

Although some issues can improve quickly, most issues – and especially the more deeply rooted ones – can take longer to resolve. That means we’ll need several sessions from someone else, or we’ll need to take courses so we have the tools to do it for ourselves. One way or another, we have to put in the time, energy, and work required. (And that’s how it is with most things.)

It only does what life does naturally. Healing and awakening are natural processes of life. And Vortex Healing can focus it and speed it up. (The speeding up can be quite dramatic but it’s done in a grounded and safe way.)

It’s not always comfortable. Neither healing or awakening is free of discomfort, no matter how we go about it. And so it is with Vortex Healing. Sometimes, we’ll have to face and experience something we have avoided for a long time, and where the avoidance has blocked our healing or awakening.

If we want to use Vortex Healing as an awakening path, or as a support on our awakening path, we’ll need to take courses. It can’t be done through regular sessions. Those are only for healing.

Another “downside” may be that the name can sound a bit weird to some. And the more detailed explanation of how it works, involving an avatar (aspect of the unfiltered divine) and Merlin, may turn some people off. That’s not necessarily a downside in my experience since most people don’t want or need to know the detailed background story (“energy healing” is usually sufficient, or “divine energy healing” if they are open to that).

In all my years of exploring healing and awakening, from a wide range of angles and through a wide range of approaches and traditions, I haven’t encountered anything quite like Vortex Healing. On the surface, it may look a little like Reiki, but it’s really in a whole different category. It’s profoundly effective and is so in a grounded and safe way. And that’s rare. As far as I know, there isn’t anything out there like it.

I am deeply grateful for finding Vortex Healing, and for being able to contiunue exploring it through courses and receiving and giving sessions. And for it fitting so well into everything else I have found helpful: heart practices, natural rest, stable attention practice, parts (subpersonality) work, inquiry, and more.

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What is identification?

 

What do I mean by identification?

Identification is with a thought. With a mental image and/or words that create a story, interpretation, assumption, and so on.

When the mind identifies with a thought, it takes on that perspective, it becomes that perspective in its own experience. So instead of seeing a thought as a thought, as an innocent question about the world, it becomes the viewpoint of the thought and takes it as not only solid, real, and true, but as what it is. If this identification is questioned, it can feel like it’s existence is threatened.

For instance, the mind has the thought that “he is wrong” and the mind then identifies with that thought. That means the thought is invested with energy, which – in turn – means its associated with sensations lending the thought a sense that it is real, solid, and true. The mind views the situation, the person, and even the world, from the viewpoint of that thought. It becomes, in its own experience, that viewpoint. It sees itself as the viewpoint. So if the validity of that thought is questioned, it may feel that its existence is threatened and it will fight that possibility. It will come up with evidence supporting the apparent truth of the thought and reject anything that doesn’t fit.

This dynamic is sometimes called the “ego”. I prefer to not use that word since it can be confused with the psychological ego which is more like the operating system for the mind and essential for our functioning in the world. And it also makes it sound much more solid and as a “thing” than it is.

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Trauma-related dark nights

 

Dark nights or challenging phases of a spiritual path come in many different forms.

What’s common is that life rubs up against our remaining identifications with some of our identities and beliefs. Often quite central ones, and sometimes previously un-noticed ones.

One type of these dark nights is the trauma-related dark nights. As Adyashanti says, the lid is taken off some of our remaining traumas. Our mind opens to the divine as all, or as the One, and that sometimes means it also opens to what’s unhealed in us.

Another side of this is that it happens so these parts of us can be met, seen, felt, loved, and healed to some extent. And that’s required so the awakening – whatever clarity is here – can be lived more fully in more situations in our everyday life.

As long as traumas are left, they’ll be triggered by life situations and we’ll tend to react to these traumas rather than responding from whatever clarity and love we have access to.

So there is love behind this dark night, as there is love behind any dark night. It comes with an invitation to clarify, heal, mature, and live more fully what’s realized so far.

It doesn’t mean it’s easy or painless. It often feels unbearable. It can seem like it will never end. Our minds may even tell itself that it has “lost” God or the awakening, or that something has gone terribly wrong. This may especially happen if we don’t have a guide who has gone through it on their own, or if we don’t have a community around us who understand what’s happening and support our process. And if we don’t, that becomes part of our process and comes with its own gifts.

As others have pointed out, it’s a very human process. It doesn’t feel “spiritual” at all. And it’s deeply humbling and, if we allow it, humanizing.

I am writing about this in a more general way here, but it comes from own experience. I have gone through this for the last ten years or so. First, there was an initial awakening or opening. Then, a honeymoon phase. Then, another form of awakening. And then health challenges and a trauma-related dark night (what some may call a dark night of the soul).

It has gradually become easier but I am still not quite out of the woods. Life wants more in me to be seen, felt, met, loved, explored, allowed, and perhaps healed. At the very least, there is an invitation for me to heal my relationship to it, and that’s as or more important than the healing of the issues themselves.

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What do I do if I am interested in awakening but have had no success so far?

 

What do we do if we have an interested in spirituality and awakening but have had no success so far? Perhaps more to the point, what do we do if that weighs us down and we feel hopeless about it?

Here are some possibilities:

Explore forms of inquiry that can give you an immediate taste of what it’s about. Some I have found effective are the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, and – to some extent – Living Inquiries. This taste can give you a pointer for what it’s about, it can help you see that what you are seeking is already here, and it can serve as a needed disillusionment for the ideas you may have about what awakening entails. (Sometimes, people get an actual taste but dismiss it since it seems too simple and ordinary, and they continue to seek something more highfalutin and with more bells and whistles, and the disillusionment comes later.)

Inquire into beliefs you have about awakening and what not having it says about you. For instance, fill out these sentences and inquiry into them using The Work: Awakening is…. If I awaken, it will… Not being awakening means…. What I fear the most about not being awakened is…. Or use Living Inquiries to see if you can find the one who is unawakened, or awakening itself, or the drive to awakening, or anything else related to awakening and you in relation to awakening.

Along the same lines, clarify your motivation for awakening. What do you hope to get out of it? And what do you hope to get out of that? Continue until you find something very basic – and typically, universal – that you hope to get out of it. This, in itself, can be helpful, and it can also help you find other strategies to meet that need. As with any inquiry, take time with the question. Stay with it. Let it percolate. Allow the answer to surface on its own time.

Often, parts of our motivation for awakening is really a wish for healing. Identify what in you need healing, and may drive the desire for awakening, and invite in healing for those parts of you. Use whatever approach you are drawn to and that works for you.

If you have engaged in a particular spiritual path and don’t notice much results, consider revising your approach. Look at revising both your orientation and the tools and approaches you use. (a) Clarify your motivation for awakening. Inquire into your beliefs and identities connected with awakening and spirituality. Find healing for the parts of you that need healing and (partly) drive your wish for awakening. All of this can help you find a more helpful orientation to spirituality and awakening. (b) And you may consider trying out approaches or tools that may be more effective for you. If something doesn’t work in other areas of life, wouldn’t you try a different approach? So why not also when it comes to spirituality?

Awakening has a consciousness side and an energy side, and – for me – Vortex Healing is the most effective way to work with the energy side of awakening. Energetic structures hold consciousness in certain patterns and progressively undoing these will open for awakening. This won’t be the bells and whistles type of awakening some look for, but it will open a window to authentic awakening.

The approaches and tools I mention here are particular to me and what I am familiar with and have found especially helpful. As with anything I write here, this list is mostly meant as inspiration and to give some ideas for how to approach it. You’ll have to find what works for you. You have to make it your own.

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Engaging in spirituality for very human reasons

 

For most of us who are into spirituality, very human motivation sometimes play a part.

We may find ourselves using our spirituality to improve our image or for virtue signaling, or to help our self-esteem by feeling better than others, and so on.

It’s very understandable and human, and there is nothing inherently wrong in it (although it’s painful). And it’s good to notice, acknowledge, and even explore.

I am personally noticing this right now since I lost most of my books (an extensive library of books from all spiritual traditions) in a divorce a few years back, and am now making mental and digital notes of which books I would like to get back to rebuild my library. I have also been to bookstores in Berkely the last couple of days browsing the spirituality shelves.

And I find myself asking myself why I want these books back. Is it because I want a certain image for myself? Because I want others to see me a certain way? Do I want some acknowledgment that I am smart and have some knowledge of the different spiritual traditions? Is it because I actually want to read them (again)? Is it because I want to be able to lend my favorites to others? Or that I may write a book myself in the future and would like some of these as references?

For each book, the mix of answers seem a little bit different. Much of the time, it may be more about image. And sometimes it seems it’s about something else. When the former is the case, thinking about buying the book feels like a burden and makes me feel confused and heavy. When something else is there – a deeper affinity for the book or that it may actually be useful in the future  – I feel more light, clear, and alive. So far, the proportion is probably 10 to 1 or even 20 to 1.

If anyone is curious, I notice it’s the more essential books that makes me feel more clear and alive, and mostly those by contemporary authors. For instance any book by Adyashanti and Byron Katie, the more central books by Ken Wilber, AH Almaas (Hamed Ali), and Pema Chödrön, and also books by similar authors such as Bonnie Greenwell and Stephan Bodian. And, of course, the old classics for me such as Jung and Jes Bertelsen.

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Ram Dass – Fierce Grace & Going Home

 

I love Fierce Grace and Going Home, two documentaries about and with Ram Dass. He shows how we can use life challenges to humanize ourselves, to become more deeply human, to embrace who we are as humans more fully with flaws and everything else, and realize it’s really all about love. Any desire for awakening, healing, maturing, humanizing, freedom from suffering, or whatever it may be, is really about love.

No preferences?

 

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.

– quoted in archival footage by a young Ram Dass in Ram Dass: Going Home, from Hsin Hsin Ming by Sengcan

I assume this may be a translation mistake. Preferences are natural, inevitable, and required for us to live a life as a human being. I prefer a lot of things from a society that works for everyone to strawberry ice cream. We need preferences to create the society and life that makes sense to us, and they also add up to the unique expressions of life that we all are.

What’s equally natural, but not inevitable or required, is identifications with these preferences. Beliving they are needed for our survival or happiness. Having sensations associated with these preference-thoughts that the mind then interprets as meaning that they are solid, true, and perhaps final.

I see there is another translation saying “The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences” and that makes more sense. That’s what I wrote about above, although I prefer (!) to not use the word attachment. It comes with a bit too much baggage. 

This is not something we can will into (or out of) existence. At most, we can notice what’s happening. Notice the dynamics of the mind. Invite the association between certain thoughts and sensation to fall away. Inquire into beliefs and find what’s more true for us. Rest as that which all of this happens within, and then within and as. Shift our relationship with these dynamics (from seeing them as a problem to befriending them). And so on.

Oneness vs one with

 

I am looking at Ken Wilber’s Integral Buddhism and notice that he says “one with” rather than speaking about the one.

“One with” implies someone who is one with a larger whole. That’s a bit misleading.

He could have talked about the One temporarily taking itself to be a separate being and then noticing itself as the One again.

Of course, the experience of being a separate being one with the larger whole can be a phase of this remembering, but it’s one of many phases so why focusing on that one?

Little of what KW writes seems unintentional, so I have to assume this wording is there for a reason. It could be to use words closer to people’s experience so they can connect with it more easily. Or it could be to avoid readers assuming they get it in a deeper sense when they get it at an intellectual level. Or it could be that he wants to write authentically and that “one with” is the phase he is in. I am not sure.

Note: I love KW’s integral model and maps and what he has contributed to our view on spirituality and science. I also have some minor concerns about some aspects of his writing (poor understanding of some of the theories he writes about, hangups about the “green” level, straw man arguments used against some teachers etc.) and the integral community (seems a bit arrogant, defensive, and having adopted unfortunate sides of KW’s personality).

Noticing and labeling experience

 

Notice and labeling our experience is more used in mainstream psychology these days, and it’s also a traditional practice in Buddhism.

Here is the general practice:

Notice what’s here. And give it a label.

This label can be very basic: A thought, sensation, sound, sight, taste, smell.

Or it can go a little further in interpreting what it is: A man, woman, sadness, words, mental images, discomfort, and so on.

As an emergency measure to help us deal with discomfort and distress, we can approach it in a few different ways, and a combination can be most effective.

Notice the emotions. Label the emotion(s). Anger. Sadness. Joy. Elation. 

Notice the overall experience. Label it. Overwhelm. Compulsion. Reactivity. Distress. 

Notice the thoughts, the mental words and images. Words. Mental images.

We can do it for a set period of time, perhaps once or twice a day. This functions as a laboratory and testing ground so we become more familiar with how to do it and what it does for us. Noticing and labeling become more familiar to us, and that makes it easier to bring it into daily life.

In daily life, we can do it specifically when we notice an experience that’s stressful, uncomfortable, or distressing to us. Sadness. Anger. Compulsion. Words. Mental images.

This creates a distance to whatever we notice, and label. And that makes it easier to relate to it more intentionally and a little more dispassionately.

It goes from an I to an it. From subject to object. From what I am to something that’s here.

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Adyashanti: Imagine that your existence is in no way a mistake

 

Imagine that your existence is in no way a mistake. Imagine that you are here in your life, in your incarnation, as an act of love. Because only by being completely willing to be here as an act of love can you redeem all the hidden and painful places within your being.

– Adyashanti

Another way to say this is that we are here as an act of love. Existence is an act of love. That anything exists at all is an act of love. And when we align with that, and our fighting against it falls away, a more profound healing is allowed to happen.

Byron Katie: When you free yourself

 

When you free yourself, you free us.

– Byron Katie

In the context of The Work of Byron Katie: When I free myself from a particular belief, I free others from me perceiving, acting, and living from that belief.

Belief here means taking a story, any story, as solid, true, and final. When we do so, we inevitably create suffering for ourselves, and we tend to become a nuisance to others. Most of us have learned – from parents and culture – to do so, and undoing it takes time. It’s an ongoing process, one belief at a time.

Also, these beliefs operate at different levels. Some, we may take as real and final in our conscious view and we may not be motivated to question them until life clearly and painfully pushes up against these beliefs. In other cases, our conscious view may be quite different from a deeper belief that still color our perceptions, actions, and life. And there are combinations of these. (more…)

Having CFS is similar to being an athlete

 

Having chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is similar to being a top athlete.

I have to be very conscious about my diet. I need to avoid certain things (in my case dairy, yeast, alcohol, wheat, and to some extent sugars) and make sure I eat low on the food chain and ideally with the seasons and local and organic foods.

I have to make sure I rest enough and give my body and system time to recover, especially after any form of exertion. (Extertion in my case means any physical or mental activity.)

I have to prepare for important events. I need to give myself enough rest, and pay even closer atttention to my diet. (Important events means any time I, in advance, know I will need to extert myself physically or mentally.)

Mindfulness and mental strategies can play an important role.

I can push myself if it’s called for and this is often followed by a physical crash and sometimes collapse. Endurance athletes do this, as sometimes do people with CFS.

In general, I need to keep my body in as good shape as possible through, as mentioned above, diet and rest, and also gentle exercise as I am able (walks, swimming), herbal medicine, gentle forms of yoga, and so on. And I can push myself if it’s called for, even if it’s followed by a crash. (I have learned to avoid this as much as possible as it can take a long time to recover.)

Note: I write about CFS here since it’s part of my life and an important invitation for healing and maturing for me. Also, there is a chance that something I write here could be helpful for someone else with CFS, or that it can help people who don’t have CFS to understand it a bit better.

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Willing to enter the scary areas because we trust it can be resolved

 

In one of my trainings with David Berceli, the founder of Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), he mentioned that he is willing to be traumatized since he knows how to release it.

Specifically, if he goes into a disaster area and works with people there, he may experience second-hand trauma, and that’s OK with him since he knows what to do with it. It’s worth it. (I think he also mentions this in his book The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process.)

I find that too in working with clients, and also if that client is me.

The more I trust that whatever I encounter can be resolved, I am willing to – and even eager to – meet and explore areas in myself that may initially seem a bit scary.

What is this trust specifically in, and how is it built?

If there is something in me I am scared of approaching, I have (at least) two options. I can heal my relationship to it, and I can invite the issue itself to heal and resolve. Most of the time, it’s helpful to address both of these.

And the trust itself is built over time as we gain experience, skills, and find effective tools. And as we see that these scary areas may not be as scary as they initially seemed, that our relationship to them can be healed, and that the issues themselves often can be healed and resolved – at least to some extent and more as we keep exploring them. (Issues that are deeply ingrained and have several roots and branches may take longer.)

And how do we invite in this healing and resolution? Through, for instance, forms of inquiry, heart practices, therapeutic tremoring, energy work, and more. (I have written about this in other articles.)

The other side of this is facing scary life situations. This is often how I notice unhealed and unexamined parts of myself, and as I take care of these the triggering situation will seem easier to deal with. Over time, life as a whole may seem a lot less scary.

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What makes a good blog post?

 

What makes a good blog post?

Specifically – since it’s what I tend to write about – what makes a good article on healing, maturing, or awakening?

Here are some features that come to mind:

Personal. It comes from and is based in my own experience. It’s something I have tried out and have some familiarity with. And when I include my own experience as an example, it grounds it in real life. It also helps if I reveal sides of myself and my life I may be a bit embarrassed to reveal since it connects with the reader and makes it feel a bit more personal.

Practical. Include practical information that allows the reader to get a taste of it and try it out for themselves. Include some hints on possible obstacles and how to overcome them. And include enough information so they can explore it further through other sources if they like to.

Simple. Keep it simple. Keep the language simple (ordinary language, mostly active sentences). Keep the topics as simple as possible. That reveals the content more clearly and makes it more accessible. (If I notice an impulse to impress an imagined reader, that’s an invitation to explore where it’s coming from.)

Levels of abstraction. Ground the topics in specific (personal, real life) examples and the nitty-gritty, and show how it relates to more universal dynamics and patterns.

Connections. Reveal some of the connections to what I have written about before and also what’s out there in the world. It’s always based on something, and when it’s made explicit it helps others find and explore those sources.

Fresh. Keep it fresh and interesting for myself. Keep it authentic and from real life experiences. Venture one or a few steps into the white areas of my own maps. Take time to go a little beyond what I am familiar with. If what I write feels a bit boring or obvious, I can let the article rest while I explore the topic(s) further until it becomes more fresh, alive, and interesting to me.

Do I always do this? Not at all. Most of the time, I only touch on a few of these. But I would like to use these guidelines more actively when I write articles, which is why I am writing this post and make it public. It may help me stick to it.

And is this a complete list? Not at all.

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The upside of feeling a bit grumpy: getting things done

 

I regularly notice the upside of being a bit grumpy.

It helps me get things done. It helps me overcome inertia so I can do tasks I, on other days, may put off due to some resistance.

This is an example of helpful daily-life strategies. I notice I am a bit grumpy, and I intentionally use that grumpiness and the energy behind it to get things done I have earlier put off.

In the longer run, it’s also good to explore what’s behind the resistance and resolve it. It may be (unexplored) fear and discomfort, and behind that stressful beliefs and identifications, and behind that early life experiences creating wounds, stressful beliefs, and perhaps (mostly low grade) trauma.

Going back to the initial strategy, there is now some research on grumpiness and pushing through resistance. It’s an example of research where – I assume – the researcher had a hunch, followed up on it through research, and had it confirmed. The hunch may have been from noticing something in their own life, or being told about it, or reading about it in fiction literature. And, of course, the research may later be interpreted in different ways, or later research may find something else. That’s always a possibility.

It’s also an example of research that may seem a bit obvious. Since psychology as a scientific discipline is still in its infancy, a lot of the research will seem a bit obvious. It needs to be to create a foundation to build on. And, sometimes, they do find things that initially may seem counterintuitive.

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Follow-up to Earth Day dream

 

My Earth Day dream earlier this year marked a shift in me.

In my dream, I am at the cabin, on a cruise ship going around the lake. I learn it will remain on the lake and keep taking people on cruises, and I realize the destruction it will cause over time. The lake and the forest around it will die. I feel it as if this natural area is my body, and as if my body is this natural area.

Since then, I have felt these types of things – the suffering of people and destruction of nature – in a far more visceral way. I feel it in my bones.

It’s a good shift. Where I before could hold it at an arm’s length distance, I am now unable to. I feel it as if it’s happening in my own body, and as if Earth now is my body. It’s not abstract. It’s immediate, apparently inevitable, and very visceral.

There is a small stream in me that is despondent from this more visceral experience. And another movement responding to it finding a deeper and equally visceral trust in the larger whole. In the inherent wisdom of the processes of the Earth, life in general, and the divine as all. The two go hand in hand.

Note: As I write this, I am at the cabin, sitting outside looking over the lake. Feeling the breeze. Hearing the sounds of the waves hitting the shoreline.

While I have been here this summer, I have experienced a mix of concern over the loss of life here (fewer insects, missing ant hills, far fewer swallows nesting, fewer birds in general, no bats at night and so on), I have felt the loss in my bones, I have experienced the immense value and divinity of even the smallest forms of life, I feel the small stream of despondency in me, and the deepening felt trust in life – no matter what happens.

There is a very real possibility that we, and Earth as a whole, is heading for major disasters. Climate change, combined with general loss of natural ecosystems and biodiversity, combined with toxins throughout nature and our own bodies, combined with economic and social systems inadvertently designed to destroy nature, combined with our own inability (or lack of will) to do what’s needed, does not bode well. Already, large parts of nature are dying off, and significant parts of humanity are impacted by it. And humanity may be the next to experience such a die-off. We don’t know.

What we know is that we need to redesign how we have organized all parts of society to take ecological realities into account. We can do it. We know how to do it. We have faced major challenges in the past, eventually – when avoidance is no longer possible – made it a priority, and found solutions. The question is at what cost? What will our delay cost? What will it cost us, nature, and future generations?

And what will we gain? Will we become more aware of Earth as, literally, our own wider body? Will designing systems that take ecological realities into account become second nature? Will we find a deeper sense of connection with all life? Will we include the interests of ecosystems, non-human species, and future generations in our decision making?

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Compulsively seeking awakening?

 

Sometimes, people compulsively seek awakening.

How does it look? One end of the spectrum is a rash “I need awakening now!” urge. The other end may be people who are a bit more mature, skilled in how they go about it, and are in it for the long haul.

What’s the upside of this? It may actually work. It may bring about healing, awakening, and needed disillusionment (not necessarily in that order). A strong effort – especially combined with some insight, skill, and persistence – can, ultimately, lead to healing and awakening, often through a series of disillusionments.

What’s the downside? If we are compulsively seeking anything, it often means we are chasing an image or a state, and that we are compulsively trying to escape or avoid something. We may overlook what it’s actually about for ourselves. And we may successfully avoid, for a while, what we wish to avoid, which is something in us that needs attention and healing.

What’s a good way to make use of this urge?

Be smart about it. Find an experienced guide or coach that seems sane, mature, and grounded. Learn the skills and apply them. Explore different approaches. Combine the ones that work best. Stay with what works.

Explore the urge itself. Investigate the beliefs behind it and find what’s more true for you. Investigate your ideas about awakening and what it gives you (for instance, through how these ideas appear in the sense fields). Find healing for the parts of you creating the urge for awakening. (The pain you may want to avoid, the reactions to the pain saying awakening is the way).

Use approaches that invite in healing and awakening. Most likely, an urge for awakening is a combination of a genuine pull towards awakening and a reaction against our own pain. A genuine pull towards awakening is, in itself, quiet and persistent. (At least, in my experience.) And a compulsion that comes from our reaction to our own pain can be more loud, stressful, and more of a drama queen. Most of the approaches I write about here, in these articles, do both.

Explore approaches that give a first hand taste of what awakening is about. This will give a guideline and also some grounding to your exploration, and it’s part of the disillusionment mentioned above. (The Big Mind process and Headless experiments work well for some people.)

It does seem that compulsively seeking awakening is a phase of the process for many people, whether it’s more rash or seasoned, or more fanciful or skilled.

In any case, it’s the divine wishing to wake up to itself. It has temporarily experienced itself as what it inherently isn’t – separate, isolated, prone to believing thoughts and so on – and wishing for awakening is another phase in its ongoing exploration of itself. The awakening itself – with its ongoing clarification, maturing, and learning to live from it – is yet another phase.

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Resolving misophonia: my case

 

Misophonia is a bit of a mystery. At least in the mainstream, and when it comes to explaining what causes it and how to best resolve it.

I have had it for as long as I can remember. Certain sounds – especially chewing and turning newspaper pages – create a good deal of discomfort in me. And, perhaps related, I also have sensitivity to certain forms of noise. Especially loud talking and machines, and especially machine sound I experience as aggressive.

It’s clearly selective. The sounds of children and animals are OK and even enjoyable. I can listen to animals eat loudly and be completely fine with it. I can listen to a loud waterfall or a storm and enjoy it very much. And there is a clue right there. Most likely, there is something about my thoughts about and associations with certain sounds that create the distress in me.

When I first encountered The Work about fifteen years ago, I used it on my reactivity to certain sounds. I found my thoughts about it (she is loud, she disrespectful, she is mindless, he is crude, he is inconsiderate, he takes her anger out through being noisy etc.), questioned these thoughts, and found what is more true for me. That helped. But it didn’t completely resolve it.

Now that I have Vortex Healing, I have begun exploring how to best resolve it through this (very efficient and thorough) healing modality. Since it’s a long-standing issue for me, I need to address it from several different angles to be more thorough.

The obvious is the surface examples of sound irritability. I am addressing specific themes and instances, for instance, chewing, newspaper rustling, loud talking, loud machines (lawn movers, construction near my house etc.). Addressing this takes care of the surface layer.

Then, I asked myself, what’s my earliest memory / memories of being annoyed or distressed by sound? Or – when I feel distressed by certain sounds today, what’s an early memory of feeling like that? The answer is, not surprisingly to me, the sound of my mother nagging my father. I remember this from early in on life, and it was quite distressing to me as a kid (and later). So this is another one to address as a theme and through specific instances.

And even deeper is not just the sound of my mother nagging my father, but my own emotional issue around her nagging my father. This is an even deeper root of my sound sensitivity. And it’s an issue that, most likely, influences me and my life in a lot more ways than just reactivity to certain sounds.

This is an example of how addressing underlying causes of something that, on the surface, can seem quite trivial, can bring healing to many areas of life, and sometimes in surprising ways. I assume that when I have resolved these issues in me in a deeper way, some of the ways this healing shows up in my life may be quite unexpected.

I’ll report on how this goes later, when I have worked on it a bit more and have had opportunity to test it in a variety of real life situations.

Is misophonia completely, or in all cases, rooted in early sound-related distress? I don’t know. I assume there may be a genetic predisposition, as there is with most things. And some epigenetics at work. And perhaps something else. But I am pretty sure that addressing it through, for instance, a combination of inquiry and energetic healing can be quite helpful and effective in most cases.

Note: When I use Vortex Healing on this, I use – among other things – denetworking (to denetwork the issue from related, intertwined issues), clearing the energetic blueprints, and generally clearing the conditioning around it.

Update: As I have explored this in smaller chunks over a few days, I notice another branch of what may be behind the misophonia. I have a reaction to younger men who speak loudly and with (false) bravado. As a teenager, I strongly disliked teenage boys who behaved with this false bravado. I had value-laden judgments about them. I didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t want to be around it. And even now, I notice a reaction in me to hearing loud people with this kind of (apparently false) bravado. So that’s another branch to explore and invite to resolve. And it’s an example of an issue that is directly related to my reactivity to certain sounds, and probably impacts my life in other areas as well. So I get double benefit from working on it, and it may help my life in people I don’t expect. (Also, I will probably be less of a bother to others in these situations.)

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