Dream: Selling a large Tolkien collection

 

I have sold a large collection of Tolkien items, including several original notebooks and manuscripts. The buyer can’t believe his fortune and seems uncomfortable because he feels I sold it for a much too low price (a steal). I am content and happy on his behalf, but at the same time wonder if he may be right. Perhaps it would have been better if the exchange was more balanced.

This reminds me of two patterns in my life. One is that I often offer my time, presence, energy and services for free or a very low cost. (Which sometimes makes others uncomfortable and I lose out of a more balanced exchange.) The other is that I recently, over the last few years, have lost most of what I owned, including a large book collection (spirituality, ecopsychology, mysticism, nature etc.).

The second is, in many ways, a relief. But I do need to consider my wish for generally a more balanced and fair exchange.

The day before this dream, I read an article about Tolkien which is one of the seeds for the dream.

We are creating our own reality?

 

To me, healing, maturing and awakening is partly about discernment, differentiation, and clarifying in what particular ways something is true.

In modern spirituality, we sometimes hear people say that we create our own reality. This can be understood in slightly naive (misguided and less helpful) ways, but there is also some truth to it.

So how is it true for me?

In general, I see that my perception of anything is filtered through and created by an overlay of stories – of images and words. And most these are often not even noticed, unless we have spent some time exploring and noticing them intentionally.

Also, as what we are – that which any experience happens within and as – we can say that we “create” our world. Our experience of anything is an expression of the creativity of the mind.

And if we are so inclined, we can say that what we are is the divine, everything is the divine, and the divine creates all these experiences for itself.

There is a related question: are we creating the situations we find ourselves in?

Sometimes, because we live from our limited experience and perception, and sometimes our hangups, wounds, and identifications, that creates situations for us. We sometimes sit in the nest we built ourselves. This is the conventional and ordinary way of looking at it.

I mostly find it helpful to look for how I can use my current situation to heal, mature, and awaken.

It can be helpful to assume that life “wants” me to heal, mature, and awaken. Life sets up situations for me where I can see what’s left, with an invitation for me to invite in healing, maturing, and awakening for whatever in me needs it.

From a bigger perspective, we can say that life creates situations for itself that invites in local healing, maturing, and awakening through this part of itself that’s this human me.

I don’t know if it’s true in any absolute or final sense, but I find it a helpful guide.

I can also do another what if exercise. What if something in me created this situation? Which emotional issue, belief, or identification in me would create it? (This is similar to the – somewhat naive – assumption that we are creating our own situations, but the what-if angle gives it a lighter and more playful touch.)

How has this played out in my own life? This topic is current for me now in a few difficult situations. One is my health (CFS and Lyme) and another is a recent process with the government which took longer than I expected (the wait had some ripple effects).

Some may say (and have said) that I am creating the situations for myself. For instance, I have created the illness. When I try that assumption on, I find it creates stress in me and weird thought patterns. It feels more helpful to see the situation in a more conventional way and use a couple of what-if thought experiments to harvest the value in the situation.

I can look at the situation in a more finely grained way, and in a way that’s more real and honest to me. For instance:

Have I created the CFS and Lyme disease for myself? Not really as they are caused by a virus (EB) and Lyme. And yet, it may be that stress and some stressful beliefs and identifications in me weakened my system and created the conditions for these to move into a full-blown disease. It’s good to address this. It’s very helpful for me to strengthen my system in any way I am able, including through reducing stress and clearing up any chronic stressful beliefs and identifications in me.

The illness has brought to light many areas of myself where I resist my life as it is (other stressful beliefs and identifications), and it’s helpful for me and my quality of life to address these. I can use the illness and the situations I find myself in due to the illness to identify and invite healing for these parts of me.

I can ask myself what if I created this illness, where in me was it created from? (I find a victim identity, overwhelmed by life, and perhaps a desire to hide from life.)

Did I create the delay with the government process? No, I found myself in the same situation as others in the same process. The delay was caused by many social factors, including restructuring and priorities. And yet, here too, I can find stressful beliefs and identifications triggered in me by this situation and invite in healing for these. If life placed me in that situation so I can find deeper healing, which parts of me need healing? Which wounded parts of me were triggered? (Victim, hopelessness.) What did the situation say about me? (I am a victim.) And what if something in me created it, which wounded parts of me would that be? (A victim expecting things to take longer than expected.) 

In this way, I acknowledge the validity in conventional ways of looking at life. I benefit from assuming that life is conspiring on my behalf and places me in situations so I can heal, mature, and awaken and find healing and awakening for more parts of me. And I can even benefit from the angle (held lightly as a what-if question) that something in me created it.

A nice church sermon?

 

I feel that the way I write here is often like a nice church sermon. It stays on the surface, although where it comes from is often gritty, complex, and from a lived life. As long as it stays at the level of a nice and somewhat impersonal sermon, it’s less interesting to me and probably to others as well. So I want to bring more of the juiciness of a lived life into it. I want to make it more gritty. I want to be more vulnerable. I not only want but need to be more real. For me to continue writing, it needs to be more real. I want to bring more of myself into it. 

Niels Bohr: A deep truth

 

A deep truth is a truth so deep that not only is it true but its exact opposite is also true.

Niels Bohr, paraphrased

Yes, this is true (!) in my experience. Although, I find that any statement with some truth in it has reversals that also has some truth in it. It doesn’t have to be a deep statement. Words are only pointers, and we can find some validity in most statements about the world.

The question is specifically how something is true. When we identify that, we avoid assuming that all statements are somehow equally true (they are not) or true in the same way (they are not).

“…. she enjoyed reading bad books as much as she did masterpieces”

 

Gertrude Stein found late in life that she had read every great book, or nearly every one. She began to fear there was nothing left for her to read. Then a neighbor of hers in the French countryside died, and she bought his library, which contained many mediocre books. Stein discovered that she enjoyed reading bad books as much as she did masterpieces.

Sparrow in My Book Life, Sun Magazine May 2019

I suspect this is a common part of maturing. It certainly has been for me (although I don’t consider myself that mature!). I was much more concerned with high and low, good and bad and so on in my teens and twenties. Now, I am happy to find enjoyment, insights, and value anywhere – whatever labels people may give it.

Dream: Innocent fascination with a revolver, and gradually reminded of all the things connected with it

 

I am in the US, in a country store selling a variety of different things. I see some beautiful old-west revolvers and rifles and am fascinated by them. Especially one revolver is exactly the classic style and I find it beautiful with its silver metal, ivory (or polished bone?) shaft, and soft leather holster. It’s $90 and not very expensive. I have an innocent fascination with it, its beauty, and it’s all connected to my innocent childhood fascination with the old US west.

I start wondering if I should buy it but am reminded that I have to bring it back to Norway. I am not sure if I am allowed to import weapons to Norway, or if I need a permit in advance, and the taxes may be very high in any case. Also, I’ll need to take it to the police to have it registered, and they’ll probably want to interview me and ask why I would want to own a gun.

I decide to get it anyway since it’s such a good match with my innocent childhood fascination with the old west, and I go to the counter to pay for it. The man behind the counter makes me hesitate and I am reminded of the ugly gun-loving culture in some parts of the US. I also see some beautiful stickers and fridge-magnets, with very ugly (bigoted) sentiments written on them.

In the end, I decide to not get it. There are too many ugly associations with it. The reality of these guns is very far from the innocent fascination I initially had for them.

This dream reflects a topic that’s been on my mind my adult whole life, and also recently: there is sometimes a big gap between innocent fascinations and reality.

In this case, it’s the gap between my innocent childhood fascination with the old west and the ugly reality of European settlements in North America (genocide) and the equally ugly reality of the current gun culture in the US.

It also came up in a conversation where I mentioned the Thank U, Next song. I see the lyrics as wise and kind and am grateful that such a song became number one on the lists. My conversation partner was much more skeptical and focused more on the (very unhealthy) images and ideals in the video, and so on. My innocent enjoyment collided slightly with all the ugly things around it, which I had been aware of but chose to set aside or disregard.

I also see how I do this with people. An innocent fascination sometimes collides with a different reality, and I may chose to follow the innocent fascination for a while instead of fully taking in the reality.

I assume we all do this in different ways and different areas of life. It seems to be part of how the mind works, and resolving the difference between the innocent fascination and other sides of reality is part of growing up and aligning more fully with reality.

Our innocence is natural and a part of us our whole life, and we can find where it naturally belongs in our life. For instance, an innocent fascination with the world, innocent awe and wonder, innocent excitement in exploration and expression, and so on. And we can recognize when the innocent fascination is placed on specific objects (including people) in the world and needs to be balanced with a dose of reality.

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It’s all a mystery and the mystery

 

It’s all A mystery and THE mystery.

It’s all a mystery in a conventional sense. Anything in life is something to keep exploring. How we experience it and the stories we tell ourselves (and each other) about it keeps unfolding and changing. There is always more to explore. There are always new stories about it that makes as much or more sense. There are always new contexts (sets of stories) we can see it within that makes as much or more sense to us. In that way, everything is a mystery that keeps unfolding for us.

It’s all also THE mystery. That which cannot be named. (Although we have many names for it – life, Spirit, God, Godhead, void and so on.) We can say it’s all happening within and as consciousness, but that’s a label which makes it look like we understand it more than we do. We can say it’s all untouchable by words and thoughts. We can say it’s all happening within and as that which in itself is nothing but allows and is it all. We can find ourselves in immediacy as all of that. And yet, it’s all a mystery.

Recognizing either of these forms of mystery helps us find a little more of the receptivity, awe, curiosity, and sincerity in ourselves that’s always here.

Adyashanti: The biggest barrier to awakening

 

The biggest barrier to awakening is the belief that it is something rare. When this barrier is dropped, or at least you start to tell yourself, “I really don’t know if my belief that awakening is difficult is true or not,” then everything becomes instantly available to you. Since this is all that exists, it can’t be rare and difficult unless we insist it is. The basis of all this is not theoretical, it is experiential. No one taught it to me, and no one can teach it to you.

Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

Waking up issues and more

 

I’ll write more about this in other posts, but wanted to make a quick note of it here.

When there is some degree of awakening here, this awakeness can be used to wake up other things, including emotional issues.

In my case, I connect with the awakeness (bring it to awareness), I connect with the lack of awakeness in the emotional issue, and I intend for the emotional issue to wake up. To wake up from its painful dream (the reason it’s an emotional issue is that it still lives in separation consciousness) and to reality (all as the divine and One).

When we wake up emotional issues in this way, it’s deeply healing, and it also helps us to live our awakeness in more areas and situations in life (embodiment). Instead of certain situations triggering the emotional issue, there is now more space to live from awakeness.

We can also wake up parts of the physical body or objects in the same way. The divine becomes more awake to itself as and through these objects.

This is the direct way to wake up issues and other things. And there are also other ways, including through a whole range of healing modalities such as Vortex Healing (after Core Veil is gone), the Big Mind process (shifting into Big Mind/Heart, holding a part of us still not awake, and invite it to wake up and align with reality), and different other forms of inquiry (Living Inquiry, The Work, headless experiments etc.)

A few additional notes:

How, more specifically, do I go about waking up issues? In my case, I notice the awakeness of all of existence – as it appears to me and as it stretches out indefinitely. (Some connect to the awakening in their spiritual heart, a little above the physical heart.) I then bring attention to the emotional issue – where I notice a physical contraction (there is a bodily contraction with every emotional issue), and I get a sense of the (stressful, separation-consciousness created) stories connected with it. Then, I intend for the issue to wake up – for the awakeness that’s already here to infuse the issue so it can wake up to itself as the divine. (And also, so “I” can recognize it more clearly as the divine, temporarily confused, temporarily pretending to believe in stressful stories, temporarily creating a “hook” for identification and so on.) And I stay with it until I notice the shift, and a bit longer so it can deepen and settle.

There can be a “general” and “global” awakening, and yet when we have emotional issues, as we all (?) do, these parts of us still remain in separation consciousness. They were formed from separation consciousness and still operate from separation consciousness. And life “wants” these to awaken, so it’s common that at some point after the general awakening, these confused and unawake parts surface so they can join in the awakening. To the extent we struggle with it and don’t know how to deal with it in a constructive way, it can be distressing and painful, and yet it’s an essential part of awakening and embodiment. And most of us learn, over time, how to better and more consciously dance this dance.

As I sometimes do, I have written this in a more ordinary language. It’s more accurate to say that it’s the divine waking itself up. The divine is (somewhat) awake to itself here, and uses that awakeness to wake up other parts of itself (emotional issues, parts of the body, objects in the world).

I should also add that the dynamic behind waking up issues is also why it can help to be in the presence of someone awake. That local awakeness helps the divine nearby (in the form of other people) to ripen and eventually wake up to itself.

And I want to add a few words about why I am writing about this now. I have naturally done this since the initial awakening in my teens, but it has sometimes taken a back seat since many people recommend and speak about other approaches to healing and embodiment. I have re-found courage to use this more direct approach since it’s used (in a slightly different form) in Vortex Healing, and since new people in my life have spoken about it and use it themselves. Another reason is that I overcooked myself a few months ago from giving myself and receiving a lot of energy healing, and I am unable to do much conventional energy healing right now (Vortex Healing). So what’s left is this more direct approach of awakening the issues. It doesn’t tax or strain my system nearly as much.

Awakening the issues can be very helpful and can create a big transformation. It doesn’t necessarily remove the issue, but it becomes lighter and has less charge, and since it’s more awake to itself as the divine it’s easier to relate to it more intentionally and in a healthier way. And any other healing or inquiry approach can be very helpful in conjunction with waking up the issue.

I assume when we wake up issues in this way, they wake up to the extent the “global” consciousness is awake. At the very least, we can wake up issues to the truth that the person is currently aware of and experiencing.

Space exploration and the epic of evolution

 

And we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos we’ve begun, at last, to wonder about our origins. Star stuff, contemplating the stars, organized collections of 10 billion-billion-billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet Earth and perhaps, throughout the cosmos.

Carl Sagan, Cosmos, episode 13

When I was a child, I was strongly influenced by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and especially the quote above. It touched something in me. It resonated with a knowing in me.

Later, in my early twenties, I read The Overview Effect by Frank White, and that too resonated deeply with how I already experienced the world. In it, he describes how astronauts, when they see the Earth from space, often viscerally realize that the Earth is one seamless whole, fragile, with a thin layer of air supporting life. For some astronauts, and especially those who went further away from Earth, it was a deeply transformative experience.

All of us have access to it through photos, movies, and first-person accounts. And also through seeing the starry sky at night, and any time we are reminded of the Earth as one seamless whole. In my case, I had a profoundly transformative experience when I was 10 or 12 years old, in a sleeping bag under the vast starry sky on a mountain in Norway (Sølen) with an equally vast view of the landscape stretching our below me.

I see that Frank White has a new book coming out in a few weeks: The Cosma Hypothesis – Implications of the Overview Effect.

Following the pattern set in The Overview Effect, the book draws on interviews with astronauts about the ways in which spaceflight shifted their understanding of our relationship with the universe. The Cosma Hypothesis suggests that our purpose in exploring space should transcend focusing on how it will benefit humanity. We should ask how to create a symbiotic relationship with the universe giving back as much as we take, and spreading life, intelligence, and self-awareness throughout the solar system and beyond. 

From the Cosma Hypothesis book description.

I obviously haven’t read the book yet, but again it resonates with me.

As Carl Sagan said in the quote above, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into awareness. We do it in all the different ways we live our lives, individually and collectively, no matter how exciting and novel or mundane and familiar it seems to us. All beings are the local senses, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. All beings are the universe locally bringing itself into awareness.

And so it also is with space flight and space exploration. That too is the universe bringing itself into awareness. The universe exploring itself beyond this one living planet. It may even be how the universe spreads the life on this one living planet beyond this planet through colonization and terraforming. From the Earth’s perspective, we may well function as the reproductive organs of Earth.

The universe brought itself alive through this living planet and us, and it’s very natural for it to wish to explore itself beyond this one planet, and even to spread life beyond this one living planet, and to do so through us. We happen to be the social and physical organs of the Earth that are equipped to do just that, and the time for the first small steps happens to be now.

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Adyashanti: People suffer terribly when they lack a self-transcending orientation

 

People suffer terribly when they lack a self-transcending orientation

– Adyashanti

Yes, and that can be several forms of self-transcending.

It can be a genuine care for someone else – a partner, parents, children, friends. It can be a genuine care for the larger society, Earth as a whole, and future generations.

It can be a sense of belonging to a larger whole – whether it’s a family, group of friends, a larger society, the Earth, or even the Universe or existence as a whole.

It can be a sense of oneness with the larger whole or all of existence, or a realization that all of existence – as it appears to us – happens within and as what we are.

What are some of the benefits of a self-transcending orientation?

Most of us have a self-transcending orientation, at least sometimes and in some areas of life. It’s more a matter of what we give our attention to. I notice that when I give my attention to the larger whole in one of these ways, there is a sense of belonging, care, and gratitude. I know who I am in an important sense.

Also, a self-transcendent orientation tends to reward us back. We serve ourselves and the larger whole, and the larger whole responds.

ltimately, a self-transcendent orientation is aligned with reality and who and what we are. We are the universe locally bringing itself into awareness. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. And as what we are (aka consciousness), we are that which existence – as it appears to us – happens within and as.

And that also gives the answer to why a lack of a self-transcending orientation creates suffering. It’s out of alignment with who and what we are. It’s out of alignment with who we are as human beings, completely interdependent with all of life and as a local expression of society, Earth, and the universe. It’s out of alignment with what we are, as that which everything – ourselves and the whole world as it appears to us – happens within and as. And pragmatically, it’s very unwise and tends to create a miserable life.

In a sense, life rewards a grounded, sane, mature self-transcending orientation. And it discourages the opposite. Life can’t help it, because a self-transcending orientation is aligned with who and what we are, and a lack of a self-transcending orientation is out of alignment with who and what we are.

Forms of self-talk

 

We talk to ourselves in different ways.

We talk to ourselves silently with words (thoughts). It’s often helpful to bring awareness to this type of self-talk and change it if it’s not supportive. For instance, in stressful situation we can intentionally talk to ourselves as a good mother would to a child (or a father would to a child, or a good friend to a friend). We can give ourselves what we wish for. This is also a part of re-parenting ourselves. (Becoming the parent to ourselves we perhaps didn’t consistently have growing up.)

We talk to ourselves through words and images we may not be consciously aware of. Through inquiry, we get to see some of these and how much they impact our perception, actions, and life without us even knowing.

Another way we talk to ourselves is through our actions. Whenever we chose something and act, we reinforce what that choice and action came from. If it came from a stressful thought, we tell ourselves that thought is real, valid, and something we have to act on. If it came from a quiet and peaceful knowing, we tell ourselves it’s OK to act on that quiet and peaceful knowing.

There is also a bigger picture. In a sense, anything that happens is the universe or existence talking to itself. It’s the universe expressing, exploring, and – through living beings – experiencing itself.

In our case, we can see our interactions with ourselves and the wider world as life talking to itself. We act and receive feedback and, in a sense, it’s the same the other way around. Any thought, feeling, sensation, sight, sound, taste is life talking with itself. Any interaction with the larger social and ecological whole is life talking with itself.

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Acceptance and commitment

 
From the Optimum Health Clinic

This video is a reminder of the importance of acceptance and commitment if we want to change. He talks about chronic fatigue (CFS), and it also applies to change in general.

How does acceptance look to me? And specifically in the context of CFS?

I am more honest with myself about my situation. I let it sink in. I live according to my situation. (I make plans, regulate my activity etc. according to the limits and possibilities of living with a serious illness.) I also take care of (care for) the emotions and fears coming up in me when I am more honest with myself about my situation.

And how does commitment look?

I am committed to finding improvement. To explore best practices. Work with someone who has a good track record in helping people with CFS and uses a grounded and integral approach. Implement their recommendations. Stay with it. Make adjustments as I learn more and see what works for me.

I find it interesting to look at the comments to this video. Some comments (almost all as of writing this) seem a bit reactive and express something like “are you telling me I am not committed? I have been fighting this illness for years!”.

We may wish to heal, we may be distressed about it (sad, angry, hopeful, disappointed), we may try a lot in order to heal, but that’s different than acceptance and commitment. For instance, the word “fighting” in itself implies a lack of acceptance and an orientation that can get in the way of a deeper commitment.

To me, acceptance and commitment are quiet, deep, and gives a direction over the long term. And it’s an ongoing process, at least for me.

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What I write are pointers for myself

 

We teach what we need to learn.

That’s very clear for me with these articles. The pointers I share here are for me.

If I finish and article without taking time to intentionally apply it for myself, it feels incomplete. And when I do, it completes it.

Of course, what I write does come from my own immediate experience. And I do go into it before writing to make sure it’s alive and I can discover more about the topic, or at least remind myself about it. And yet, it makes a difference when I take the main pointer from the article and intentionally apply it after the article is written.

In The Work of Byron Katie, this is what they call Living Turnarounds. I take the most juicy pointer from the inquiry and apply it in my life. That’s how the work comes alive in me and my life. That’s how my insights ground in real life. That’s how I get to see what’s left.

I sometimes tell myself that if just one person benefits from what I write here, it’s worth it. By applying my own pointers after writing a post, I make sure at least one person benefits from it – and that’s me. And if one other person benefits as well, that’s wonderful. That’s icing on the cake.

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Therapeutic tremoring is not enough in itself

 

I love therapeutic tremoring. It’s as natural as it can be. It reminds me that I am a mammal and am part of nature. It allows the inherent wisdom in my system to take over and I (the conscious me) can take the back seat. It allows deep tension to release out of my body. It tones and relaxes the tissues of my body. It frees up energy from being bound up in contracting muscles.

And yet, it’s not sufficient in itself. For mammals in the wild, it may be and probably often is sufficient. But it doesn’t seem sufficient for us mammals called humans who live in a (often pretty screwed up) culture and were not taught or encouraged to naturally use therapeutic tremoring from early childhood on.

We need to also approach it from the mind side. Tension is created by stressful beliefs and identifications. Releasing tension out of the body certainly improves our well being and how our body functions, and it can even lessen the stress connected with these beliefs and identifications. But it doesn’t resolve the causes of the tension and underlying stress in our life and body.

To do that, we need to bring the stressful stories we have about ourselves, the world, and certain situations into awareness. We need to find them, investigate them, and through that allow them to find a resolution. We can do this on our own, with friends or confidantes, with a therapist, and through a range of different modalities.

How do we (re)learn therapeutic tremoring? The approach I am most familiar with, and find very helpful, is Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE).

And what modalities can we use to help resolve the causes of stress and tension? We have to find one or more that works for us (that we like, resonate with, and get results from), and it helps to have a good guide, at least at first. Again, for me, inquiry complements therapeutic tremoring very well. As do energy healing (Vortex Healing) and heart-centered practices.

Note: Some call this neurogenic tremoring, and that’s accurate although a little too broad. There are many types of neurogenic tremors (for instance shivering to warm up our tissue and body). Therapeutic tremoring is the tremoring built into our body through evolution specifically to release tension and stress, including tension and stress from traumatic experiences.

Conversely, tremoring is a little too specific! When the body releases tension in this way, it can do a lot more than just tremble. We may stretch (often on one side of the body, and then symmetrically on the other side), make sounds, cry, laugh, and so on.

Own inquiry: Unlovable

 

Love is gonna be on your side

Just that feeling of love
That’s gonna be on your side

Firefly, Love is gonna be on your side

Life brought me to explore the feeling of being unlovable this morning and I did some simple inquiry into it as I did some other things. As I sat down to do record a more thorough inquiry here, and wrote the title of the page, I noticed the lyrics of the music I had on in the background. (Yes, I love cheesy disco music!)

Living Inquiry

When I feel into the unlovable identity, I see something dark and shriveled up in me (like a dry prune). I look at the image and notice the shape, texture, and color of the shriveled up prune.

I feel it in my chest. A pressure. Sinking in. And also in the solar plexus. My breath is shallow. I feel the sensations.

I notice it feels like I want to just shrivel up and die, and look at those words. I see the words in front of me. Is there a charge on those words? (Do they seem like me, the unlovable one?) Yes, the words seem connected to sensations in my face, chest, and solar plexus. I feel those sensations.

I notice sadness in me. I feel it mostly in sensations in the belly and feel those sensations. I stay with it for a while and feel the sensations as sensations.

I see a picture of darkness connected with the sadness. The picture is of darkness in my belly and it feels like it goes infinitely far. When I ask myself if that picture is the unlovable one, I notice the picture still has a charge (which makes it a “yes”), and that charge is the sensations in my belly. I feel those sensations.

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Working with dreams

 

I thought I would do a series of articles on how different approaches to healing and awakening work. So here is one on dreams.

In my experience, dreams are the mind digesting either what happened the day before (often more fragmented dreams) or an emotional issue (often more of an unfolding story and sometimes archetypal). I wonder if not this digesting happens most or all of the time, and it just happens to take the form of dreams while we sleep.

Everything in the dream is me. It’s all created by my mind and reflects parts of me and the dynamics between these parts.

The digesting inherent in dreams is likely helpful in itself, and I suspect I don’t even need to remember the dream for it to have some effect in terms of processing, healing, and gaining some insights from it.

And yet, I sometimes also explore the dream more actively, especially if it’s a strong or more archetypal dream.

Here are some of the approaches I find helpful:

Active imagination comes out of Jungian dream work, and here we go back into the dream (imagine ourselves back in it) and interact with the different elements of the dream. For instance, I can take an action and see what the response is, or I can engage in a dialogue with the different dream characters and get a sense of who they are and what they want (both on the surface and what would deeply satisfy them). There is no limit and it can yield a lot of helpful insights. Often, these insights are just at the edge of what we are conscious of, and active imagination can help make them more conscious. (I typically avoid formulaic dream interpretations since dreams seem more juicy, fluid, and sometimes individual than that.)

Active imagination is a form for parts (subpersonality) work, and if we are familiar with a form of parts work, we can use that one.(For me, Voice Dialog and the Big Mind process.)

And then there are the approaches I often write about here.

I can explore the dream through inquiry. For instance, I can do inquiry on any stressful beliefs I had in the dream or about it after waking up (The Work). I can also explore any identities the dream brought up in me, any fears, or any compulsions in the dream or after I woke up (Living Inquiries).

I can use heart-centered practices for anyone (or any thing) in the dream that seemed hurt or uncomfortable in any way. (Ho’o, tonglen, metta.)

I can use energy healing on any emotional issue brought up by the dream, or anything else the dream pointed to as needing resolution or healing. For instance, last year I had a dream about a lake being polluted, so I could intend healing for what that lake represents in me. (Vortex Healing.)

I can do some therapeutic trembling to release any tension from the dream. (TRE)

And I can use any other approach I know and find helpful.

The key is that I can explore dreams as I would anything in daily life, and I can also explore daily life as I would a dream(!). It’s the same mind creating our experience of both.

For instance, active imagination is traditionally used specifically for dreams, although it can be helpful to use it in other areas of life as well. We can use it for situations from past, present, or the imagined future, and it can help us see what these situations mean to us, how we relate to them and find other ways of understanding the situations and relating to them.

Why befriending life?

 

Why would we want to befriend life? Why would we want to befriend our experience, including the uncomfortable experiences? Why would we want to befriend different parts of ourselves?

The simple answer is that it’s more comfortable. Struggle is uncomfortable, and befriending is comfortable.

We may not see this at first. We may be trained – by our culture, parents, and friends – that struggle is the way to deal with our uncomfortable experiences. We try to avoid, fix, or get rid of it, and we do so both in immediacy (here and now) and in our life by seeking some situations and states and avoid other (which is generally a sane strategy).

We may accidentally befriend an uncomfortable experience and notice it’s actually not as scary as it seems and it comes with a lot of benefits. (Less struggle, more sense of wholeness and comfort.) This may open up something in us and we may find curiosity about befriending our experience. We may set out to explore it more intentionally, perhaps through mindfulness, natural rest, inquiry, heart-centered practices, yoga, tai chi, or something else.

We may also discover that struggle with our experience doesn’t really work. It doesn’t really go away. And we may be put in a situation where this is made very obvious to us, at least if we are open to seeing it.

Since we wish to avoid discomfort and seek comfort, the impulse to befriend is built into us. Of course, if and to what degree we notice and explore it varies. Sometimes, we are ready and drawn to it. Other times, we may not be. (And that’s OK.)

Another way to look at this is that in our own immediate experience, we and all of existence is one. What happens within each of our sense fields happens within and as consciousness, and in our immediate experience, we are all of it. We are all of existence as it appears to us.

So when we struggle with anything, we are struggling with ourselves. We pretend there is an absolute separation. And that’s uncomfortable.

If it appears that we are not this oneness, it’s because our mind is good at creating the appearance of a self and a world, and that we are this self and not the rest of the world. I assume this has an evolutionary function and has helped humanity to survive. It’s also an expression of the creativity of consciousness.

Usually, the transition from apparent separation to a more conscious oneness is gradual and goes over time (with some glimpses, jumps, apparent setbacks, rough patches etc.). And that’s not a bad thing since we need some time to reorient and figure out how to live in the world from oneness. We need to take the best from our life as apparently separate and bring it with us while also let go of the less helpful aspects of it. We need to learn how to function well and effectively in the world while also operating from oneness.

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Purgatory

 

Another revisited topic:

Anything we imagine, including any maps we have about the world and anything described in religions, and especially the ones that feel juicy and capture our imagination, reflect something in ourselves.

And so also with purgatory, heaven, and hell.

For me, purgatory is what happens when I befriend the parts of me I have seen as an enemy, alien, a problem, or something to avoid, fix, or get rid of in some other way. I meet the unmet, feel the unfelt, examine the unexamined, find love for the unloved.

And that can be very painful. It’s a pain that leads to heaven.

Heaven can be seen as a pleasant and comfortable state. And a more real heaven is when we befriend our current experience.

Hell is what the mind creates when it believes hellish thoughts. It’s what we create for ourselves when we believe painful stories, and when our most cherished identifications are threatened by life and situations.

Of course, we can say a lot more about each of these. For instance, we can say that heaven is when we find ourselves as that which we already are, that which this experience happens within and as. Or it may be when we recognize all our experience, including the ones our personality doesn’t like, as consciousness, or the divine, or happening within and as the One. Or that it’s all of that when our human self is more healed and thus less in pain. Although right now, I like the befriending way of talking about it.

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A hole in us: filling it, seeing it’s not there, and living the opposite

 

Many of us experience that there is a hole in us. Something is lacking or missing. We are not quite enough. Not quite OK.

This is created by beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, and identifications. And it’s rooted in our culture, our family patterns, and our own journey through life.

We can approach this in a few different ways. Tracing the sense of lack back to a belief and identity, and seeing how it (most likely) was created early in life, can be helpful in itself. It helps us see it more as an object (a part of us) than a subject (what we are). Being honest about it with ourselves and others helps for the same reason, and it helps us see it’s a universal experience.

We can dialogue with these parts of us. Get to know them. Befriend them. Listen to what they want to say to us. Be a friend to them. Give them our kindness, wisdom, and love. (Parts work.)

We can give these parts of ourselves love through heart-centered practices such as ho’oponopno and tonglen. And we can do the same towards ourselves as a whole, and towards those who trigger these parts of us now and in the past.

We can seek out situations where we feel loved and cared for, by ourselves and others. We can seek out people and communities that genuinely love and care for us.

We can increase our overall sense of well being. For instance through mindful movement (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema etc.). Training a more stable attention (e.g. by bringing attention to the sensations of the breath). Find gratitude for our life, both what we like and perhaps what we don’t so much like (all-inclusive gratitude practices). This creates a different context that makes it easier for the not-enough parts of us to reorient and heal. (Although the healing may require one or more of the other approaches as well.)

We can identify and investigate the beliefs creating a sense of lack and not-OKness, including underlying and related beliefs. We can come to find what’s more true for us (and more peacefully true) than these stressful beliefs. (The Work.)

We can explore how our mind creates its own experience of these beliefs, identities, and stressful situations triggering them. We can see how they appear in each of our sense fields (sensations, thoughts, images, sounds, taste, smell etc.), and how the sense fields combine to make them seem solid and real to us. And through this investigation, the “glue” looses its strength and the sensations appears more as sensations without (stressful) meaning, and the thoughts appears more as thoughts without (stressful) substance and reality. (Living Inquiries.)

We can use energy work (often combined with some insights or simple inquiry) to release these beliefs, emotional issues, and identifications. (For me, Vortex Healing.)

We can even shift into what we are (that which these experiences happens within and as), and notice that it’s all what a thought may call consciousness. It’s all happening within and as what we are. Sometimes, we call it the divine or the One. (Big Mind process, headless experiments.)

So when we experience a hole in ourselves, we can fill it through befriending this part of ourselves and giving it care and love, and we can see through it and see it’s ultimately not real in the way it seemed to be. And we can also live in a way that helps us reorient and rewire and shows that these parts of us are not who we are. (Living turnarounds in The Work of Byron Katie.)

Finally, we must all find our own way through this. The examples I gave above are just examples based on what am familiar with and have found helpful. And finding our own way often includes finding someone who has gone through it themselves and can guide us through it.

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The science and art of spirituality

 

There is a science and art to almost anything, and so also spirituality.

We can say that the science is what we can write in a book, and the art is how we go about doing or living it. Or, in this case, how we live life itself. How life lives itself through and as us as a human being in the world.

What’s the science of spirituality? We can say it’s the maps of the terrain, where the terrain is all of existence, who and what we are, and the process of awakening and living from the awakening. It’s also the study of the effects of different practices, and perhaps what practices works best for whom when. These are all things we can write down, read, and learn about.

At another level, the science of spirituality is our own process of trying out different practices and pointers and see what happens. We can benefit from the guidance of others in this, although it’s something we ultimately have to do on our own.

And what’s the art of spirituality? It’s in how we apply and explore what comes out of the science of spirituality. It’s in how we use and explore pointers. It’s in how we follow our inner guidance. It’s in how we take the ingredients of our life and make a meal out of it. It’s in how we relate to the wounded parts of ourselves. It’s in how we live from whatever kindness and clarity is available to us. It’s in how we live our life. This is something we have to discover for ourselves although it helps to have a community of others with a shared intention.

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You don’t have to fix everything

 

This video from The Optimum Health Clinic is about chronic fatigue (CFS) and it’s something I very much relate to.

Since we don’t know exactly what causes CFS and we often need to take a comprehensive and integral approach to manage it and perhaps heal from it, it’s easy to think that we have to fix everything to recover.

I am just like the client in the video. I know it’s probably not true, but I still often feel and act as if it’s true. I keep working on emotional issues, nutrition, diet, herbal medicine, regulating my activity levels, mindfulness, prayer, heart-centered practices, energy healing, being honest with myself and following my guidance, and much more, in order to see if I can recover from the CFS. At one level, it’s a wise, comprehensive, and integral approach. At another, for me, it sometimes has an element of compulsiveness.

It can be the same with healing from trauma since it’s often a set of emotional issues tied together, and we can always find additional related and underlying issues to address. We may have the idea that we need to fix everything before we are OK and can relax and enjoy life again.

And it can be that way with awakening as well, in whatever way we understand awakening. We keep going at it, perhaps from many different angles, and don’t feel we are OK or can relax until we “arrive” at some imagined place or state.

We may know – and perceive in immediacy – that all is the divine and perfect as is. We are also aware that there is room for improvement in terms of befriending our experience, clarity, healing, maturing, and living from our experience of all as the divine (Big Mind). And we may be genuinely drawn to keeping exploring all of this and deepening in it.

And for some of us on a spiritual path, it can feel a bit compulsive and we have the idea that we have to fix everything about ourselves before we are OK and can relax.

It’s very natural and understandable if we have some compulsion in our healing or awakening work. It’s even helpful. It creates an extra needed momentum and especially early on in the process.

And yet, at some point, it’s helpful to address the compulsion itself. Where does it come from? Is the voice in me driving the compulsion true?

Often, the compulsion is a reaction to believing that we are not OK and not enough as we are. We try to improve ourselves in order to get somewhere or get something we believe we don’t have. We may also have a belief that we need the compulsion in order to get anywhere and fear that we’ll stagnate without it.

None of that is really true, and as the compulsion relaxes, we may discover a few different things. We may find that it’s OK to take time to relax and enjoy our life as it is, and we may find we are more able to relax and enjoy it. We may also find that we are still moved to explore and invite in healing and awakening, and that there is a deeper calling or curiosity that’s not dependent on compulsion, a sense of lack, or (unquestioned, unbefriended) fear.

So the compulsion itself is not good or bad. It can be helpful in certain phases of our process. And it is driven by something in us that’s out of alignment with reality, so at some point, life invites us to notice and address it.

By doing that, we may find a deeper sense of contentment and OKness as we are. And that from here, we are more free to enjoy life and even to keep exploring and inviting in continued healing, maturing, and awakening. We lose the compulsion and we gain deeper contentment.

I should add that if our exploration was largely driven by compulsion and a sense of lack, we may let the exploration go after we resolve this sense of lack. We may be very happy to just enjoy and live our life without this element of exploration. And that’s more than OK too.

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Awakening = befriending life

 

What is awakening about? There are many ways to answer that question, and one way is to say it’s about befriending life.

Befriending life can be as simple (and difficult!) as befriending our experience as it is in immediacy. And especially the experiences that my human self doesn’t like and tend to recoil from. How is it to befriend it? What happens? What fears does it bring up in me? How does it feel to befriend it, or to make small steps towards befriending it?

We can also befriend parts of us (subpersonalities), for instance through dialogue. We listen to what it wants to tell us. Get to know it. Relate to it as a good friend, as much as we can. That, and other forms of inquiry, helps us befriend our experience.

Befriending life in this way is an aspect of awakening, and it can prepare the ground for awakening, but in itself it’s not really awakening.

Awakening is when what we are – that which all experience happens within and as – notices itself. It’s when the divine recognizes all – including that which our personality likes the least – as itself. This can happen all at once, but usually happens more gradually and in steps.

For instance, the divine may take itself to be a separate self while it intuitively senses what it is or experiences it in glimpses. And then it gradually recognizes that it is the divine recognizing itself as all there is. The “center of gravity” of what it takes itself to be shifts from a separate being and more into the wholeness of what it is. As part of this, it may also find itself as capacity for all there is. And it may keep on discovering and experiencing new aspects of itself.

We can say that this too is befriending life. It’s life befriending itself as all there is. It’s life noticing itself as life. It’s life shifting its identification from taking itself as a part of itself (this human self) and into itself as a whole, and as that which content of experience happens within and as.

There are also other sides to awakening. For instance, allowing our human self (psyche, subpersonalities) to heal and align within this “new” context of all as the divine. To live from what we are noticing itself, and explore and discover how to live from it. To mature within it. All of that is also life befriending itself.

So in all of these ways, we can say that awakening is life – or reality, or the divine, or the One – befriending itself.

See Why befriending life? for more on this topic, including why (perhaps) we life in a universe where this befriending isn’t the default for us.

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Hilma af Klint

 

Last fall, I went to see the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York.

I don’t know if she did receive her paintings or information about how to paint from the spirit world. But I do know that thinking that’s the case would have freed her up to paint outside of the expectations she and others had about how paintings should look.

Of course, she was still bound by some basic expectations of her time and culture, but she was also able to take several steps beyond. This is similar to the Big Mind process. We shift into Big Mind, see our own ideas and our culture’s ideas from that vaster perspective (in this process, Big Mind is a kind of perspective and also not), and are able to – to some extent – step outside it.

I imagine that Hilma af Klint, at the very least, may have shifted into some transpersonal voice (in the Big Mind terminology) when she painted her paintings. It would have given her the freedom to go a few steps beyond the expectations and confines of her culture.

The photos above are from my visit.

Allowing a situation to transform me

 

When faced with a challenging situation, my first impulse is often to change the situation. Most of the time, that’s what makes most sense and it’s generally a good way of going about it.

And yet, sometimes, I encounter a situation that doesn’t change, or that challenges me more deeply. What makes more sense then is to ask how I can allow the situation to transform me.

To help me reorient, I may pray for receptivity, clarity, and an open heart. I pray for clarification, maturing, and finding love for what is. I pray for being more consciously aligned with reality, truth, and love.

These are wishes and prayers for myself independent of any situation. And a challenging situation reminds me and may allow me to find more sincerity in the prayers.

In addition to these prayers, I can find more specific ways to allow the situation to transform me.

And for me, this often includes….

Being honest with myself and others in the situation. As Adya says, this honesty often takes the form of a confession. It can be a confession of deep fears in me, and thoughts and wishes I feel embarrassed or shy speaking out loud.

Inquiry where I allow the situation to help me see through my initial beliefs and find what’s true for me. I am willing to allow the situation to strip me of my old beliefs and identifications.

Heart-centered practices where I allow my old orientation (of complaining, blame, see myself as a victim) to make way for befriending the situation and what it brings up in me.

Energy healing where I invite in healing for emotional issues and identifications triggered by the situation.

And perhaps noticing all as what I am, for instance through the Big Mind process or headless experiments.

What’s the outcome of any transformation that may take place? We can’t know in advance, and it’s an ongoing process. At the same time, I have hinted at some in the list above.

We may find more honesty (and real kindness) in how we relate to ourselves and others. We may befriend the situation and what it brings up in us, and more. We may find what’s more true for us than our initial stressful beliefs. We may find healing for emotional issues triggered by the situation. We may mature as a human being. We may live with a little more kindness towards ourselves and others. We may find a little more capacity for allowing discomfort, and a little more resilience in life. We may notice what we are (that which any experience happens within and as) and perhaps become more familiar with it and even find that the center of what we take ourselves to be shifts more into it.

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Interpreting ordinary human experiences as part of awakening process

 

Seems that constantly being challenged is part of the awakening process

Someone commenting in a Facebook group

Yes, and it’s also how humans in general experience life. It’s universal. It’s part of life.

It’s tempting to interpret anything as being part of my awakening process. It makes it feel more significant and special. It gives it an extra spark.

And yet, so often, what happens in our life is just ordinarily human. We get sick as all do. We have challenges as we all do. We experience synchronicities, as all humans do now and then.

It’s helpful to be honest about this. What happens in our life is mostly ordinarily human. Even the awakening process and everything part of it is ordinary and universal. It happens to a lot and – most likely – eventually all beings, and the content of process itself is quite universal.

There is an upside to seeing anything happening in our life as part of an awakening process. It may help us make use of it in a more constructive way and see it in a more constructive context.

There is also a downside to it. If we see it in contrast to how most people live their life, we use a story to make our own life seem more special and different. In our mind, we may set us aside from others while we, in reality, are not so different. And we may do it avoid feeling and encountering certain feelings and thoughts in ourselves. That’s OK for a while, but at some point it’s easier and more helpful to meet and befriend it, and recognize that too – the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts – as local expressions of the divine. It’s all happening within the One.

As the awakening process matures and becomes more ordinary, it’s all recognized as the divine. And it’s all recognized as a miracle and ordinary.

It’s a miracle that anything exists at all, and all the amazing ways it exists. It’s ordinary in that it’s all the divine. And it’s ordinary in that all our experiences are ordinarily human, and ordinary parts of an awakening process.

The miracle gives it all a spark. The ordinariness allows us to relax trying to be different, special, and better or worse than others.

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Dream: Adya speaking gibberish

 

I am with Adyashanti and a small group of people. At some point, he sits down and asks me if I have a question. I explain my situation with the long-lasting illness (chronic fatigue) to him, and ask what the divine asks from me. He starts speaking gibberish.

The night before, I prayed for my situation with the chronic fatigue to transform me deeply, and for the divine as me locally support this process. I remember having the question of whether the divine (as the fullness of existence) asks something specific from me or if I (as the local divine) can decide, or if there is a middle ground and dialogue.

In the dream, as Adya starts answering my question, I am aware it’s a dream and that I – my mind – need to put words in his mouth. I am also aware that I don’t know the answer. That is perhaps why he starts sputtering and speaking gibberish as a faltering Westworld robot. If I think the divine has a specific request or plan for me, I don’t know and cannot know what it is. I cannot provide the answer.

The answer is more that it’s a dialogue between the divine as the wholeness of existence and the divine locally as me. We together find the answer. It’s a process. An ongoing discovery happening within the One.

At first, the dream seemed a little disappointing. After all, instead of answering my question, Adya sputtered nonsensical sounds. And now, I see that’s the perfect answer. In my dream, I have to provide his answer, and I cannot. If I think the divine “out there” asks something specific of me, I cannot know for certain what that is. The answer is more that it’s a process, a dialogue between the divine as all there is and the divine locally as me.

This is not new to me. But I see that when I recently prayed for my situation with the fatigue to profoundly transform me, I had in mind that the divine asks it of me and has something specific in mind for me. Almost as if it’s a test, and when I more fully allow the transformation, my health may eventually return. These were not very conscious assumptions, which is perhaps why my mind (the divine locally) produced this dream, allowing me to see more clearly these assumptions and that they are not so helpful.

It’s more helpful to see it as a dialogue and an ongoing process, and as happening within the One.