Identities, cycles and alchemy

 

Over my life so far, this is by far the phase where I am most exclusively focused on the inner process. In the past, there has been times where the attention has embraced the inner and outer equally, and the outer more than the inner (my time in very active sustainability work), and now there is a focus mostly on the inner process. It goes against the grain since I have never wanted to see myself as someone emphasizing the inner more than the outer (activities in the world), so I guess it is good for me. Another identity that has to bite the dust.

Within this, there are also cycles, and one is the cycle of active exploration and investigation, and of rest (at least in that area). In alchemical terms, I guess the active exploration is a combination of differentiation (separatio), clarification (sublimatio), and developing new patterns (coagulatio), and the passive phases is the letting go of patterns (solutio), a minor death that allows for something else to emerge.

It is similar to clutching, taking the gears out of action so it can shift into something else (although the gears here are innumerable). Or the fall and winter allowing for a period of rest and rejuvenation before the new activities of the spring and summer.

The gifts of off-days

 

One of the things I appreciate, usually in hindsight, about off-days is how they help me notice things about myself I usually don’t notice, or don’t want to notice, or at least don’t want to explore in much detail.

These off-days are like the ghosts of Christmas showing Scrooge his life, and especially those parts he didn’t want to see. The parts he needed someone else to show him. It may not be comfortable to go through, but it can also lead to a shift, if we allow it to.

For me, seeing what I don’t want to see about myself especially happens when something is off physically. There is less energy to maintain a desired persona, and maybe even less energy to try to change it, mask it or disengage from it by using a technique or practice.

Yesterday

Yesterday, I certainly noticed some of these (often well hidden) patterns such as going into a state where everything feels utterly wrong (my life, my day, etc.), and some family patterns around a martyr role: the noble quiet suffering, silently blaming the world for my misery.

I guess that is very Norwegian…! The quiet noble suffering, bearing it without complaining too much, and then often not even consciously blaming the world for it being that way. Just bearing it… until it – and my life – is over(!). No wonder that is kept safely in my shadow.

Three effects of physical problems

I also see how physical problems usually have one of three effects for me…

With pain, or apparently heat exhaustion, I tend to find myself as awakeness, as crystal clear awareness. Not by trying, it just happens on its own. I guess the misery is too intense and sharp, so there is a shift out of (exclusive) identification with it and into awakeness, the crystal clear witness of whatever is happening.

Physical reactions to certain foods (food intolerance) or exertion brings out the shadow, in the ways described above. They tend to lead to contractions and reinforce a separate-self sense.

And sometimes, when I am in a phase where headlessness or Big Mind is more strongly in the foreground, then whatever happens to this body-mind just happens, as Big Mind.

A spectrum of what we can find ourselves as

Writing it up this way, I see how these three reflect the span of what or who we can find ourselves as.

At one end of the scale is pure awareness, awake emptiness, crystal clear awake space. The crystal clear awake space is in the foreground, and when form arises (as it often does), it arises within and as this awake space, but as distant, just a small speck within the vastness of awake space.

Then, we can find ourselves as Big Mind, as awake emptiness and form, the awake emptiness arising as form. Here, awake emptiness and form are equally pronounced. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

And at the other end of the spectrum, form is in the foreground, and the awake emptiness is in the background, sometimes so far distant that it is not even noticed. There is usually an exclusive identification with our human self here, a forgetting of everything else that we also are. It can be great – fun, ecstatic, an adventure, but it is also where we can feel trapped, confined, helpless, without control, in misery. We are at the mercy of an exclusively finite existence.

Cycling through, inviting greater familiarity

And for me, at least now, there is a cycling through of each of these. One after another, presenting themselves, inviting me to find myself as each of them, to become more familiar with each, more intimate, to know each of their landscapes in more detail.