Victim identity

 

The last few years, it seems that life has made an extra effort to set up situations where my victim identity comes to the surface. (Illness, loss of relationships, loss of house, loss of friends, feeling alone and unsupported, fear of the future etc.)

It’s easy to tell myself life is doing it so the victim identification can be resolved in me. It’s life squeezing what’s left out of me (as Adya said would happen). It’s easy to tell myself these stories, although I see that I am the one who wants it to be resolved in me. I am the one squeezing what’s left out of me. And I see how I contribute to create these situations.

Life sets it up —> I set it up.

Life wants me to…. —> I want me to….

That’s more true for me, and I can find specific examples of how each is true.

The victim identity alone is images and words. Add associated sensations (velcro), and there is identification. The identity seems more solid and real, and it seems what I am.

At times, the identification is activated and seems solid, real, and what I am. And other times, it may be in the background while still influencing how I perceive and live in the world, and it’s also partially dormant waiting to be triggered and brought to life again by my mind.

So how can it be resolved? I know some ways that doesn’t seem to bring resolution: Ignoring it, trying to push it away, denying it, distracting myself from it, making myself feel good temporarily.

What are some other ways?

Notice and allow. Notice images, words, sensations. Allow. Notice they are already allowed.

Find love for it. Find kindness and love for the victim me, for the images, words, and sensations, for the victim me in the past. Perhaps use ho’oponopono, or loving kindness, or tonglen. Scan back in time, find times where the victim identity came up, and find love and kindness for myself then.

Inquire into it. Can I find the victim me? Can I find the threat? Can I find a command to be a victim, or not be a victim? What’s the worst that can happen if I am a victim? If I am not? When do I remember first feeling like a victim? Can I find the victim me in those memories? Can I find the threat there? A command to be a victim, or not be a victim?

Include the body. Use therapeutic tremors (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, TRE). Bring the victim identity, and the situations triggering it, to mind while trembling. Go for walks, eat well, spend time in nature, do yoga (Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Breema etc.) as a support for my life, and for finding love for the victim identity and doing inquiry on it.

Ask for support. Ask life (God, Spirit) for support. Ask friends and family for support, if that seems appropriate. Ask people with helpful skills for support through facilitating inquiry and whatever else may support resolution.

What do I mean with resolution? It doesn’t mean making it go away. It does mean inviting in a shift in how I relate to it – the victim identity, identification, and anything else coming up around it.

It means notice and allow.

Finding love and kindness towards it. (Including from seeing that the victim identification is innocent, and comes from a wish to protect the me. It comes from love and kindness. It’s worried love.)

Inquire into it, to see what’s already there. See how the mind creates the victim identity and identification. See any associated images, words, and sensations.

It means treating it – the victim identity, identification, and anything associated with it – with respect. It’s there for a reason. When I see it’s there to protect me, it comes from love, it’s innocent, then it’s natural to find respect for it.

It means seeing that it really, honestly, doesn’t need to go away. When I find kindness and love for it, when I see it’s from love, when I see how the mind creates the victim identity and identification, then I also see it really doesn’t need to go away.

When I see the images as images, words as words, and sensations as sensations, and take time to feel the sensations as sensations, then I see it’s all OK. It’s all innocent. It’s all OK as is. It really, truly, doesn’t need to go away.

Also, when it doesn’t control me or my life anymore, it’s clear it doesn’t need to go away.

Similarly, when it finds it’s own liberation, it doesn’t need to act as strongly to get my attention. When it finds it’s own liberation from being mistreated, vilified, and pushed away by me, it naturally tends to quiet down, and it’s clear it doesn’t need to go away.

As always, knowing this can be helpful. It’s a first step. Even knowing it from previous experience, from a memory, is a first step. It’s like having a menu, or medicine in your hand. And what matters is actually applying it. Actually doing it. Actually ordering the food and eating it. Actually taking the medicine. And doing it wholeheartedly. Doing it thoroughly.

I see that the victim identity is quite central to my deficiency stories. Perhaps it’s like that for most of us. As soon as there is identification, the victim identification is set up to come alive. Even when we construct elaborate ways to deal with it, it may still be there underneath.

Our ways to deal with the victim identification may include creating an identity as as strong, capable or independent. Nurturing supportive friends and family. Using our natural strengths such as intelligence, knowledge storage, friendliness. Creating a life that’s safe materially and in as many other ways we can. All of these are fine, and many are even ways to be a good steward of our life.

And yet, the victim identification may still be there, and when it comes to the surface it’s good to notice, and perhaps explore it a bit. Sometimes, it’s so much in our face that we don’t seem to have many other options than really taking it seriously.

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Why things go wrong in a dark night

 

Recent experiences has brought me back to this topic:

Why do things tend to go wrong in a dark night of the soul?

When I use the term dark night of the soul here, I use it the same way Evelyn Underhill does in Mysticism, largely because the phases and how she describes them fit my experience. I am aware that the types, sequence, and characteristics of the phases people go through can vary quite a bit.

So why do things tend to go wrong in a dark night of the soul phase? Why do things fall apart or away? Why do things tend to not go “our way”?

In terms of contrast: It’s often reverse of the honeymoon phase

A dark night of the soul tend to follow an initial awakening and initial honeymoon phase. During this phase, life seems easy, joyful, and seems to mainly go “our way”. For me, there was a sense of being deeply on track, being held in God’s hand, and living a life full of amazing serendipities.

The following dark night phase has been the reverse of this, and it’s even more noticeable – and sometimes more painful – because of the contrast.

At a big picture level: Life squeezing out what’s left in us

A dark night of the soul is life squeezing out what’s left in us. It’s life rubbing up against remaining identifications (velcro, beliefs) in us, with an invitation for it to wear out, be seen through, and/or loved as is.

Central to this is life flushing out the victim identity in us. It comes to the surface, we cannot escape it, and are invited to meet it, examine it, find love for it as it is.

When I had a meeting with Adyashanti some years ago, he said I would find myself in this situation. And he used the words “life squeezing what’s left out of you”. That’s very much how it feels. I feel squeezed.

Flushing out what’s left from the inside: Victim identities and more

Along with all this, there also seems to be an inner impulse to flush out what’s left. Old wounds, traumas, hurts, pain seems to steadily come to the surface. With an invitation to examine unexamined painful stories, love the unloved, feel the unfelt.

They seem to surface even in the absence of “external” life circumstances and triggers, and although life certainly also has brought a lot of these triggers into my life during this phase. The internal impulse to flush out, and the external triggers, often go hand in hand.

And yes, I know there isn’t really anything internal or external. It’s all part of a seamless whole, all part of this seamless field of awareness. At the same time, it can be helpful to differentiate a bit using these words.

What’s missing: Lack of trust, confidence, resources

In this phase, it’s easy to lose heart. A sense of confidence, trust, and being able to rely on inner and outer resources may be among what’s lost. It’s been that way for me. It’s very humbling, and invites me to see what’s here without the possible defense or refuge of confidence, trust, and knowing I can rely on inner and outer resources. It makes me more naked.

At a more conventional level: Messiness begets messiness

When “the lid is taken off” our wounds and unresolved trauma, and these come to the surface and into focus, our life may reflect this (apparent) turmoil. We may act from these wounds, which in turn tends to create messy situations.

Inner messiness, confusion, and turmoil tends to be reflected in outer messiness, confusion, and turmoil. That’s how it’s been for me. Sometimes more than other times, and in some areas of life more than other.

Questioning the more basic ideas: Right & wrong, dark night, awakening, threats, someone going through it

As long as we hold onto ideas of certain things in our life going right or wrong, and the idea of right and wrong itself, life will rub up against it. Life will inevitably bring us into situations that we feel are wrong, or where something went wrong. (When I say “life” I could easily say “I” here, which would refer to both my human self and also the Big Mind/Heart/Belly Self.)

That’s an invitation for us to question our stories about right and wrong, look at the deficient and inflated selves our life situations brings up (victim, the one in control etc.), and find love for the unloved parts of us and our experience.

Falling away or apart is not the same as going wrong. That something goes against my preferences doesn’t even mean it’s wrong. When things fall away or apart, and it brings up the story of something going wrong, it comes with an invitation to look at that story.

Even the idea of a dark night is good to look at. Can I find it, outside of images, words and sensations? Can I find a threat? What’s the best that can happen? The worst?

And can I find someone going through a dark night? A victim? Someone going through an awakening process? Someone who is squeezed by life? Someone who has something going wrong, or right?

Healing, maturing, deepening

This phase can be a phase of healing, maturing, and deepening. A deepening in trust, prayer, inquiry, love, presence. A healing of old wounds and traumas. A maturing as an ordinary human being in the world.

It’s especially so when we align with this. When we intentionally allow this to happen. When we intentionally play along with it. (Instead of opposing it, resisting, complaining, although that too is often part of the process, and can eventually lead to further healing, maturing, and deepening. That too is part of being human, and noticing what’s here.)

Embracing it all: Being human

This too is part of the dark night of the soul. Embracing it all. Being human. Noticing what’s here. Notice and even find kindness for my human frailties, weaknesses, and  imperfections. I am human, as anyone else. I am no different. We are all in the same boat. There is a huge relief in admitting this, and really seeing it, feeling it, and taking it in.

The initial awakening and honeymoon phase may be a phase of transcendence. A phase of transcending, at least temporarily, our human frailties and weaknesses. The dark night of the soul is an invitation to embrace, get to know, and find kindness for my very human weaknesses and messiness.

Three centers: Including the heart and belly

For me, the initial awakening was a “head center” awakening, a recognition and seeing of all as Spirit. Shortly after, the heart came in, with a love of all as Spirit, and a recognition of all (and Spirit) as love.

The dark night of the soul seems to be a cleaning out of the belly center for me, of the emotional wounds, traumas, and traumas related to the primal survival instincts. It seems to open for a more deeply lived and felt sense of all as Spirit.

Is there a guarantee?

Reading Everlyn Underhill, it seems that the dark night of the soul inevitably leads to a clarification, maturing, and deepening. But that’s because she took people who had gone through it and come out on the other side as examples.

She didn’t look at those who may have gotten lost in despair, resentment, pain, and reactivity, perhaps for decades and the rest of their lives.

Is there a guarantee that this phase will lead to clarification, maturing, and deepening? Will this happen on its own? I don’t think so. I think it’s up to us to intentionally align with and support this process. It requires intention, sincerity, and work. It requires readiness.

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TRE and back pain

 

Therapeutic tremors – the ones all mammals have after stress or shock, and is initiated through the Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) – heal the organism, and doesn’t seem to differentiate between body and mind. The healing happens wherever it’s needed.

One healing that happened early on for me was my lower back. I have scoliosis (still there), and used to have days where my back seized up and I stayed in bed for half a day or a full day to recover.

During the first few weeks of doing TRE, I had periods of soreness in the lower back, and trusted that it was part of the healing process. (While I also monitored it, and adjusted the frequency and length of my TRE sessions, so it wouldn’t get too uncomfortable.) After some weeks, or perhaps months, I noticed that the muscles in my lower back felt much softer and healthier, and it has continued to be that way.

There are still areas of chronic tension in my body, most notably in my shoulders. The shaking goes up there, as it has for a while, but I have – for whatever reason – taken that process a bit slower.

 

Manipulation and the dark night of the soul

 

What’s a dark night of the soul?

I tend to use the term the way Evelyn Underhill describes it in her book Mysticism. It’s what typically follows an initial awakening or set of awakenings, and an initial honeymoon phase. It seems to be a phase of life squeezing the bulk of what’s left out of us, so it can be seen, felt, and loved. Unexamined identifications come up to be examined. Unloved parts of us surface to be loved. Unfelt emotions come to be felt. It can be experienced as a very dark phase, depending on the duration and intensity of what’s showing up.

As Jeanne Zandi says, any form of manipulation tends to backfire in this period. It just makes things worse. The dark night of the soul seems to be similar to a gestation and birthing process that needs nurturing and support. (And not a problem or illness to be fixed, although there may be things happening during this phase that can benefit from such a approach.)

I notice that if I go as a client to someone who’s trying to “fix me”, it tends to not work. It’s painful, and it often makes things worse for me. It’s happened with spiritual teachers, a therapist, energy work, well-meaning friends, breath work, and more. It feels much too harsh, and it seems to come from a basic misunderstanding of what the dark night of the soul is about.

In the beginning of this phase, I got burnt several times, and now seem to fortunately have wised up a bit.

What does work is allowing and love, and also gentle inquiry to see what’s already here. And that – along with nature, understanding friends, a good diet, some herbal support, rest, and a few other very simple and nurturing things – seems enough.

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Own Enneagram test results

 

I took the brief enneagram test again, and got these results. I still think I am mainly a nine, with 1, 3, and 5 as quite strong, along with 2 and 4.

As with any identities, this is what I am, or at least how I appear, in a conventional sense. At the same time, the results change somewhat over time, and between each time I take the test.

It may be interesting to take these types of tests, and useful in some specific ways. For instance, it can help me notice patterns in myself, and – in this case – how I tend to seek safety. In the context of the Living Inquiries, it can help me identify deficient and inflated selves, and perhaps threats and commands, which I then can look at.

And these types are not what I really am. When I look for the me that’s a peace lover or peacemaker, I cannot find it outside of a collection of images, words, and sensations.

Enneagram Test Results

The Enneagram is a personality system which divides the entire human personality into nine behavioral tendencies, this is your score on each..

 

Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 4 Individualism |||||||||||||| 54%
Type 5 Intellectualism |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 6 Security Focus |||||||||||| 42%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||| 46%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||| 38%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||||||||| 70%

 

type score type behavior motivation
1 18  I must be perfect and good to survive.
3 17  I must be impressive and attractive to survive.
9 17  I must maintain peace/calm to survive.
5 16  I must be knowledgeable to survive.
2 15  I must be helpful and caring to survive.
4 13  I must be unique/different to survive.
7 11  I must be fun and entertained to survive.
6 10  I must be secure and safe to survive.
8 9  I must be strong and in control to survive.

 

Your main type is Type 1
Your variant stacking is so/sp/sx
Your level of health is above average
Your main type is which ever behavior you utilize most and/or prefer.
Your variant reflects your scoring profile on all nine types: so = social variant (compliant, friendly), sx = sexual variant (assertive, intense), sp = self preservation variant (withdrawn, security seeking).
For info on the flaws of the Enneagram system click here.

A golden child, and then all fell apart 

 

I thought I would share some of the painful stories that come up for me to be seen, loved, rested with.

These are very basic stories, and they come up without much filtering these days, partly because I seem unable to filter or set aside much.

These seem related to elementary school experiences:

I am a victim, unsupported, under siege.

In elementary school, friends would turn against me when certain other kids were around. I felt unsafe, scared, confused, unsupported (by family, teachers, school mates), under siege. All of these still come up now and then. I feel like a victim of life and circumstances (especially with my health, brain fog, divorce, loss of friends, lost opportunities, things continuing to fall apart). I feel under siege (noise, chemicals, lack of support, no place to call my own).

In elementary school, I couldn’t fight or flee, so I froze. I became paralyzed. And that’s still showing up in some situations in my life. (Being passive where it would be more helpful to be active.)

And a more overarching story:

I was a golden child, then all fell apart.

I had amazing opportunities and inner and outer resources until I got married and left my guidance (by physically moving away from many things that felt deeply right to me). Then it all started to fall apart. I lost opportunities. Lost friends. Lost health. Lost education and career opportunities. Lost support. Lost inner and outer resources (health, clarity, confidence, capacity, house, money).

And another story:

This is a dark night of the soul. I went through the initial awakening and illumination phase, and now it’s the dark night of the soul. (Very similar to how Evelyn Underhill describes it in Mysticism.) It’s a heroic journey.

This one may be partly valid, and can – to some extent – be comforting. And it’s also unhelpful if I go to this story instead of looking at what’s really here, in immediacy.

There is also an earlier story, which came up more strongly a couple of years ago but is still here:

I am unloved. I am unlovable.

My parents would leave me alone in a dark room in my crib. I cried, and they didn’t come. So I gave up. (I froze.)

Before incarnation, beings showed me that it was time to incarnate and the essence of how this life would be and why (for my own maturing, and to do my little bit to help shift humanity). I agreed because I saw it was good, and didn’t voice my hesitation. (I had glimpses of memories of this even as a very young child.)

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Three centers & how I talk about it – including light and dark

 

I had a conversation with a friend today where I tried to put into words the difference between the initial awakening, and the shift that happened some years after.

During the initial awakening, it was a recognition and seeing of all as consciousness, all without exception as consciousness. (Or God, or Spirit, or the Divine.) In addition, there was a sense of the body, and all matter, as golden light. (Quite similar to one of the last scenes of The Matrix, although less dense than in that scene.)

Relatively soon after, there was a shift into recognizing all as love, a recognition of all as consciousness, intelligence, and love – without exception. All form, all in this world, is and cannot not be love. There was also a heart opening, and a loving of all as Spirit and love.

During yet another shift some years later, there was a sense of deepening and depth, and a softer sense of all matter as consciousness, love, the divine. More specifically, there was a sense of consciousness “peering out” from the inside of all matter, of all being and being inside of (in the womb of) the divine feminine, and all being and being held within a soft, velvety luminous blackness. There was a felt sense of all as Spirit. (This was followed by a process where unloved/unquestioned emotional materials has and continues to come to the surface – with an invitation for it to be seen, felt, loved, and the stories behind it questioned.)

Through Barry Martin Snyder, and his description of the three soul centers, I found that I could map the initial awakening to the head center – a seeing and recognition of all as Spirit. The second shift can be seen as relating to the heart center, a recognition of all as love and a love for all as Spirit and love. (Apart from when wounds and hangups were triggered.) And the third relates to the belly center, a shift into feeling all as Spirit. The head center can be seen as more yang or masculine, and the belly center as more yin or feminine.

When I talk about it in this way, it does reflect my experience quite closely, and yet I feel a bit uncomfortable about some of the wording. The three centers is a metaphor, with a possible physical correlation. The words masculine and feminine are used in a more traditional way, and also as a metaphor. Light and dark are similarly used as metaphors, and I see that they come from an image I have of golden light, and of luminous darkness. Before I noticed these images, it somehow seemed that the world (as matter, consciousness, Spirit, love) was inherently golden luminosity and dark luminosity. After noticing these images, I see that these are images. They may have been created by my mind to fit the experience, and based on cultural influences.

And just to make it clear, these awakenings are not “complete” or a destination of any sort. They were shifts that are still here. They are more or less in the foreground of experience at different times, and shift in “volume”. It’s an ongoing process.

Also, for me, the head and heart awakenings were relatively easy, although they did involve a great deal of reorganization of my human self. The belly shift has been far more challenging, and has involved a large amount of unprocessed (unloved, unquestioned) material coming to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and gently questioned. It’s all happened on it’s own schedule, and it seems to live its own life, in a way.

I am trying to intentionally align with what seems to happen, and what the invitation is in each moment, although I am unable to do it as consistently as I would like. That too is part of the process. It’s a bit messy, and I am aware that it can seem cleaner and more straight forward when written out in this way. To make it clear, this process is messy. I am bumbling through it.

When difficult emotional material is surfacing, I sometimes react to it and act on it. I sometimes actively avoid it through entertainment, or talking with a friend, or going for a walk, or food. I sometimes rest with it. I sometimes inquire into it. I sometimes find love for it. At different times, I do everything on the spectrum of how humans typically relate to these kind of things.

It can be helpful to bring anything here to inquiry.

Can I find X? Light? Dark? Luminosity? Luminous darkness? Masculine? Feminine? Head center? Heart center? Belly center? Recognition? Love? Feeling?

Can I find someone who is or has X? (Any of the above.)

What’s do I fear would happen if X is not here? What do I hope (or fear) would happen if it is here? Can I find the threat? Can I find what I hope will happen?

Is there a command to find (create, hold onto, not hold onto) X?

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Attending to the spine

 

In my teens and early twenties, I did a Taoist practice where I brought attention up and down the spine and through the top of the head. (Visualizing dark light going up, and golden light coming down, with the in and out breath.)

Now, I am doing a similar although simpler practice where I bring attention up and down the spine. Rest with it. Notice. Allow. Feel.

I notice again something I noticed several years ago. When I bring attention to the spine, I see three (or more) pictures of the spine, and they don’t quite align. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the spine is, for that reason, and it’s more noticeable from the chest area up. My sense is that it’s connected with an incarnation trauma, perhaps the sense of being unloved and unlovable, and a sense of fragmentation. (Which is also expressed in sometimes being confused what to do next in life, and feeling split between two or more options.)

Some ways to explore this:

Continue bringing attention to the spine. Notice. Allow. Rest with it.

Find kindness towards it. See it’s there to protect me. It’s from deep caring. It’s from love. Treat it with respect. Kindness. Authenticity. (As I would like to be treated.)

Look for a threat. Where is the threat in bringing attention to the spine? In the multiple pictures of the spine? In the slight discomfort I experience when I bring attention there?

What’s the worst that can happen if this doesn’t heal or resolve? (Look for the threat.)

What’s the best that can happen if it does heal and resolve? (Look for that.)

Look for the spine. See if it’s findable.

Look at the incarnation trauma. Look for a threat there. (In the images, words, sensations associated with it.)

My influences

 

I thought I would make a list of some of my influences. I am sure  I am (accidentally) leaving out many important ones.

Teens & Early Twenties

  • Fritjof Capra **** – very strong influence in his exploration of the intersection of science and spirituality.
  • Ken Wilber **** – I started with No Boundaries, and have read just about all of his books since.
  • Shirley Maclaine –  yes, I know, but reading her books did early on help open my mind.
  • Parmahansa Yogananda *** – I read just about everything published by him.
  • Meister Eckhart – after the initial awakening, I found someone who was coming from the same place in his writings. (Although filtered through a different culture, tradition, and intentionally wanting to be a bit obscure.)
  • Saint Francis ***** – very strong heart connection.
  • The Gospel of Thomas ***** – strong resonance.
  • CG Jung ***** – very strong influence, I read a great number of his books in my teens and early twenties.
  • Taoism, I Ching etc. ***** – I felt a strong connection to Taoism and read and reread a number of the classics, and also some more modern texts.
  • Rudolph Steiner ** – I read a number of his books as well, along with other Anthroposophical writings.
  • Tibetan Buddhism *** – many of the modern and traditional classics.
  • Zen **** – during my time at the Zen Center, I read a number of modern and traditional classics in Zen too.
  • Ecospirituality, ecopsychology, The Great Story **** – I have been deeply interested in this since my teens, and have read most of what’s been available on these topics. (Which, for a while, wasn’t that much.)
  • Arne Næss **** – the ecophilospher, another one I feel a great kinship with.

Later on

  • Douglas Harding *** – I really like his simple and direct approach.
  • Ramana Maharshi, Nisgaradatta, Papaji, Ramesh Balsekar, UG Krishnamurti etc. – I had a phase where I read many of the modern classics within Advaita.
  • Adyashanti ***** – the teacher and teachings I resonate the most with. He feels like a brother on the path, one that’s a bit older and wiser. (It also felt that way when I met with him a few years back.)
  • Byron Katie **** – yes, very clear and has been very important to me.
  • Bonnie Greenwell **** – clear, down to earth, practical, insightful, experienced.
  • Scott Kiloby **** – I really like his ordinariness and down to earth approach, his clarity, humanity, and the approaches he has and is developing.

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The gifts of fatigue

 

It’s easy to see chronic fatigue (CFS) as a disaster.

That’s how we (most of us) are trained to see significant health problems. And if that’s all we see, and we hold it as true and real, that’s how we create suffering for ourselves.

And yet, as with just about anything else, there are also gifts there, and it’s good to acknowledge these. It helps balance the picture in my mind, and how I relate to it and my life.

So what are some of the genuine gifts in CFS for me?

When I thought of fatigue, the first that came up for me is I love you. (To the fatigue and associated symptoms.) This shows that something has shifted in me since I first got it.

I learned to befriend ordinary rest. I used to be driven to always do something productive (studies, work, photography, meditation). I didn’t want to “waste” any time. From the fatigue, I learned the value of rest.

I learned to find peace with being dependent on others. I used to be strongly invested in being independent and take care of my own life. And I learned the gifts in being dependent on others. In receiving. In letting people give. We are always dependent on others, in innumerable ways. And I found the gifts in being dependent in a more obvious way too.

I learned to find kindness for my very human experience, even when my human side didn’t like it at all. I learned the value and relief in finding peace with and love for what’s here. And I am still learning.

I had to face beliefs about health, value, roles in society, success, failure, and more. I have worked on and looked at many of these, although there are some left.

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Reasons for the dark night

 

I have written about this before, but wanted to revisit it for my own sake.

There are a few possible reasons for a dark night of the soul:

It’s a common stage in an awakening/embodiment process. It seems to be part of the process, for many or most.

It’s a part of natural swings. After a “high” there is a “down”, and the dark night of the soul sometimes comes after a honeymoon phase, an initial “high”.

With these swings, the invitation is to see, feel and love it all as awareness (Spirit, love), and to find ourselves as that which already is and allows it all.

It helps us see what’s left in terms of unloved and unexamined wounds, trauma, fears, beliefs, and identifications. It’s an invitation to find a new wholeness as a human being, and for identifications to (continue) to wear off.

It seems the dark night happened because I left my guidance. I went against my knowing and my guidance on a major life decision, and didn’t leave the situation even if it continued to not feel right. This led to a sense of being deeply off track, and eventually fatigue and collapse at many levels.

All of these may be part of the picture. It’s a natural phase, it’s an expression of natural swings, it’s an invitation to see/feel/love all as what I already am, it shows me what’s left, and it happened the way it did because I left my guidance on a significant life decision.

What are some possible reasons for an especially long and/or intense dark night of the soul? And, in particular, what may be some reasons in my case? (I am thinking of DNs that last 10-15+ years.)

It followed a long and intense initial awakening phase. The unusually high high was followed by an unusually low low. (Respectively 10+ years, followed by a transition, and then 10+ years.)

I may have special difficulties in finding love for what’s here, and examine it thoroughly. Perhaps due to trauma? In my case, it seems that it’s been difficult for me to allow it – the love, trust, understanding, insights – to deeply sink in and work on me at a deep(ish) level.

I continued to go against my guidance for several years, which deepened the sense of being off track, brought fatigue, and led to eventual collapse. I stayed in a situation that didn’t feel right, at a deep level.

On the topic of stages, here are some as described by Evelyn Underhill and Adyashanti.

Evelyn Underhill’s stages: Initial interest, dark night of the senses, illumination, dark night of the soul, unitive life.

Adyashanti’s stages: Calling, awakening, trails and tribulations, abiding tranquility, transfiguration, relinquishment, transmutation.

To me, it makes sense that a dark night of the senses leads to a more abiding tranquility. It seems that the only (?) way through it is to find a deep love for what’s here, including the deepest pain, and recognize it too – including at a felt level – as awareness and love. And it makes sense if this leads to a deeper sense of ease with what’s here, whether it’s easy or difficult, pleasant or painful, “light” or “dark”. It’s a deeper level of “one taste”, one that’s not only seen or loved, but also felt.

Update:

I am adding these points which came to mind:

A year or two before the dark night of the soul happened, I prayed for full awakening no matter what it would cost (for days, in front of the main altar in Bodh Gaya of all places). This is a type of “dangerous prayer” which may give us what we ask for, but not in the way we expect or (think we) want.

About six months before the darkest phase of the dark night, I received diksha (energy transfer) which led to about half a year in a (simple, easy, unremarkable) nondual state. This was followed by sudden fatigue and collapse at almost all levels. It’s possible that this was a response to the diksha. It may have tried to push or force a natural development that is better left to unfold in its own time. (Of course, this became part of my process and how it all unfolded.)

A couple of weeks before the absolutely darkest phase of the dark night (two years after the diksha event), I said another dangerous prayer. I asked to be shown what’s left, and was plunged into about nine months of primal and immense dread and terror.

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Collapse

 

For me, the “dark night of the soul” has been a slow – and then faster – collapse.

It’s been a collapse of health, identities, relationships, courage, strength, mental clarity, hope, optimism, authenticity and more.

It was preceded by a life choice where I didn’t follow my guidance, and instead acted on shoulds and fears. I guess it’s possible to say that this triggered the collapse, which was slow at first. (The choice was to move to Wisconsin because of a relationship, even if moving there went against a very clear inner guidance.)

At the same time, a dark night of the soul seems to be a somewhat predictable phase in the process, following the initial awakening (illumination) and going before equanimity (ease through ups and downs). My process has happened to follow this pattern “by the book”, which I know is not always the case.

What is the function of this collapse?

It shows me how draining it is to go against my inner guidance (heart, integrity).

It shifted me out of my familiar roles (which were identified with) and into their reversals. This is an invitation to include a wider range of identities in my image of how I see myself, and for the identification with these identities to soften and even release.

It’s an invitation to inquire into my stories and assumptions about myself, my life, what is happening, and the world.

It’s an invitation to find love for what’s here (fatigue, brain fog, grief, despair, anger, fear, fearful thoughts etc.), and recognize these as love (here to protect the imagined me).

Its an invitation for life to recognize itself as this too. (For the divine, Spirit, love to recognize itself as this too, and not only bliss, mental clarity etc.)

It’s an invitation to find a deeper trust – in life, existence.

It’s an invitation to find myself as that which “is space for” what’s here, whatever it is. (That which allows and is the field of experience, as it is.)

It’s an invitation to find empathy and understanding for others in similar situation, through my own lived experience.

It’s an invitation to deepen and mature as a human being.  And to deepen and mature in “spiritual” recognition and understanding.

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Repeating the incarnation trauma

 

I have images of an incarnation trauma, and the feelings to go with it. I am in a heavenly realm. A group of beings convey to me that I am about to incarnate, for the benefit of Earth and myself. I agree. I don’t speak for the part of me that deeply loves the heavenly realm, and doesn’t want to incarnate. And it’s quite traumatic. There is a loss of what’s most important for me, and a deep pain from this loss.

It seems that I have repeated this incarnation trauma several times in my life, especially around intimate relationships and also in other situations. I lose what’s most important to me (a relationship, a person, a place, an opportunity) right at the threshold of it happening, or shortly before or after it happens. The feeling, images and experience of it is very similar to the incarnation trauma. There is a deep sense of love, connection being home, rightness. And it’s lost.

A part of me also experience that a woman (relationship) will either save me or destroy me. And this too mirrors the incarnation trauma. God/the divine saved me, destroyed me (by sending me here), and may save me again. A woman will save me (if it is a deep soul connection, deep soul love, aliveness), or destroy me (if she has blind hangups, anger, and I feel trapped in it). Both the incarnation and some relationships (the ones with a deep soul connection) become a big thing, a life and death situation, in my mind.

Of course, I see that what was there before incarnation isn’t really lost. It’s here now. And it’s all God / the divine, whether it’s a heavenly realm or this life with all the usual human experiences.  And still, the pain is here, and it’s worth meeting with love and curiosity. It’s worth allowing the pain to come home.

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Self-hatred aka shooting myself in the foot

 

I see a pattern in myself that I am embarrassed about, and am hesitant admitting to (both a sign that there is more to see there).

I sometimes set up situations where I fail or don’t get what I want, go into victim mode, and then blame others or life.

Some examples:

When I applied for residency in the US, I wanted to go back to Norway to finish my degree but a Norwegian friend of mine said I couldn’t apply from there. I thought it didn’t sound right, but accepted it and later found she was wrong, felt like a victim, and blamed her.

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Fear of meditation

 

For about ten years, from late teens to late twenties, I meditated and prayed daily, often more than once and for an hour or longer each time. I did it because I loved the connection with soul and Spirit so much.

Then, as I left myself and my guidance, this changed. (I moved geographically because of a relationship, which felt deeply wrong.) I wasn’t able to meditate or pray anymore. It was too painful. It brought me face to face with the pain of leaving myself and my guidance, and the shoulds and fears that made me leave myself. This was the beginning of a dark night of the soul for me, and the ability to meditate and pray were among the many casualties of me leaving myself.

This inability to meditate and pray lasted for a few years. I then got back into meditation again, which led to a nondual/selfless state for a few months followed by a very intense dark night.

And during this phase of the dark night, it was again very difficult for me to meditate or pray, at least in the more formal way I was used to previously. It was as if I lost the capacity to engage in these practices. I was able to – at least at times – breathe and feel the feelings, be with what’s here, pray for guidance and assistance, and some other variations of what may be called meditation or prayer. But the ability to do more formal sitting practice, and more formal prayer sessions, went out the window.

There is still an inability to do much sitting practice, and I see that one reason may be fear. There is still a fear of facing the pain and discomfort of leaving myself, a fear of meeting the shoulds and fears that led to me leaving myself, and a fear of facing the pain of the consequences (all the losses) of me leaving myself. (Even though I have now left the situation created by me leaving myself.)

One thing that came out of this is a deepened humility. There is a deeper empathy and understanding of others who experience a fear of meditation. For me, meditation and prayer was so deeply satisfying and nurturing that I didn’t “get” this fear earlier. Now I do.  There is also a deeper understanding of the possible consequences of leaving myself, both “inner” (pain, distress) and “outer” (loss of much of what was most important to me).  (more…)

Leaving myself

 

I keep looking at this now…..

In my twenties, I found myself in a situation where I left myself. I got married (which was OK) and moved to Wisconsin (not OK). I left myself when I moved to Wisconsin. I left my guidance, my friends, the Zen center, a place I loved, a study I loved, and much more. I felt deeply off track, and continued to feel off track for years. And as time went on, without me choosing myself again, I lost more and more. (Friends, opportunities, passion, enthusiasm, health, etc. The same day I moved I went from being passionate about art, meditation and prayer and doing it daily for hours, to being unable to do it at all. It was too painful.)

I left myself. And I made myself small. And I did so because of shoulds and fears. I thought I should sacrifice myself for my wife. I thought I should make myself small for the sake of the marriage. I thought I couldn’t set myself first, and didn’t see – or at least feel – that this would be the best for both of us. I also acted from a fear of disappointing another, and of not being able to find someone else. (Is either of those true? And is it true it wouldn’t be OK if either happened?)

This was a quite hard lesson in what happens when I leave myself. And much of what comes up for me now is regret and grief over what I lost during this phase of my life (including the possibility for a relationship that felt more right, and children).

In a sense, we cannot leave ourselves. We are here. The divine is here. Whatever happens is love and God’s will. And yet, it’s also very possible for me to leave myself within that. I can follow my shoulds and fears instead of honoring my wisdom. I can scare myself with my shoulds and fears, and I can scare myself away from my shoulds and fears, instead of finding love for them and seeing through them.

Leaving my guidance

 

During the initial awakening phase, where the center of gravity was in Big Mind and Big Heart, and the wounds of the human self were mostly transcended, it was easy and natural for me to follow my inner guidance, partly because the guidance was clear and the consequences of not doing so were immediate and unpleasant.

Then, after several years, I left my guidance. I moved to another state because of a relationship, and I went against my guidance because of fears (of not finding anyone else) and shoulds (I should live with my wife, I should sacrifice myself for my partner). The fears operated at an emotional level, even if I knew consciously they were not true. And the shoulds were clearly inherited from my parents (ancestral) and partly my culture.

This led to several years of feeling increasingly off track in all areas of life. Where I had felt deeply on track and alive, I felt more and more off track, aimless and lost. I had left my friends, a state I loved (Utah), the Zen center, and much more. And more and more of what was important to me in life continued to fall away, including work and educational opportunities, friendships, health and more. Leaving my guidance, and still being too caught in fears and shoulds to not do what was required to follow it again, had quite severe consequences in my life in a conventional sense.

As usual, there are several ways of looking at this:

From the view of awareness and life, it’s neutral. This too is life expressing, exploring and experiencing itself. It’s lila, the play of life and the divine.

As any experience, it’s all happening within and as clear, awake presence and love. And the fear and shoulds I acted on came from confused love.

This is one way the dark night of the soul plays itself out. Sometimes, it’s relatively easy and quick. Other times, it’s harder, more severe, and longer. In my case, this is how life set circumstances up so remaining identifications would wear out.

It helped me learn, deepen and mature. It brought me face-to-face with some of my core fears and shoulds. It showed me what happens when we leave our guidance, and that it has real life consequences. It humbled me, and helped me see that I couldn’t raise above any situation as I earlier thought I could. It gave me a deeper understanding of and empathy with others who act on their fears and shoulds.

It was an unfortunate misstep in life. I could, in theory, have learned the essence of the dark night quicker and easier, if I had followed my guidance.

All of these have validity. For me, they all co-exist, they are all facets of this particular situation and phase of my life.

My sense is that the dark night of the soul may have been easier and quicker if I had followed and stayed with my guidance. And yet, I have certainly learned something from what happened that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I also see that I would never recommend anyone to do what I did.

I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to…. (a) face and inquire into any of the ways they stop themselves from following their guidance, especially when it comes to major and lasting life decisions, and (b) follow their guidance – when it’s clear – even if it is scary. (The inner guidance is always kind and intelligent.)

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Tested

 

Adyashanti sometimes mentions how our realization or insights are tested following an awakening or opening.

Life gives us situations where we “have to” act from our new realization for it to be resolved.

That has been my experience, and I have floundered and lost my courage as often as I have acted from my realization. (That’s how it seems, at least.)

When I flounder and lose my courage, it’s an invitation to see what’s really going on. What fears are triggered in me? What deficient selves? What are my beliefs about the situation? How do I stop myself from acting from kindness and clarity, from my inner guidance, from a more mature place?

For instance, when I moved to Wisconsin, my inner guidance was very clear that it wasn’t the right move. It was clear that staying in Salt Lake City (at the Zen center), or going back to Oslo (to finish my graduate studies) was the solution that felt peaceful and quietly right. Why did I still do it?

It was because of a relationship, and fear of being alone and not finding anyone else. These were not rational fears, but fears from deep childhood wounds. It was completely innocent. I didn’t really have a choice. (Although it certainly seemed so at the time, and I did have a choice in a conventional sense.) And it did come from love, from love confused by this fear and the wound that was triggered.

So this is clearly one of my achilles heels. And as long as the wound is un-healed, and I haven’t thoroughly seen through my stories around it, I may again leave my guidance when this wound is triggered.

This is an example of something else Adya sometimes talks about. When we speak our truth, it has the quality of a confession. This certainly feels like a confession. And there is one person it’s really important for me to confess to, and that is myself.

Note: Another set of beliefs here was around marriage. I had recently gotten married, and felt obliged to sacrifice my own life so she could do what was important to her. These were beliefs I had inherited from my parents. And it took a while for me to work through them. (There is probably more left.) If I hadn’t been married, I doubt very much I would have left my guidance in this situation. Most of the unhealthy patterns I have worked on in myself seem to be ancestral – from my parents and culture. Even the more archetypical ones are filtered through and colored by the ancestral.

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A double dark night of the soul

 

As my posts here show, I have been exploring the dark night again recently, and especially the dark night of the soul.

I realize that my experience with the dark night of the soul can be seen as a quite long period with two distinct phases.

Dark night of the senses. Around noon the day after my first and last binge drinking, at age fifteen, the world seemed to “retreat” from me. It became very distant, and also seemed “unreal” as if I could put my hand right through it. I went to doctors and specialists, and had many neurological tests done, and they – not surprisingly in hindsight – found nothing. I had no idea what was happening, although I now see that this may well have been a dark night of the senses.

Opening & illumination. After the initial opening or awakening at age sixteen, there was a 10+ year long phase of what Evelyn Underhill calls illumination. I had a great deal of energy and passion, and there was a sense of my life being on track in a deep soul sense. I also engaged in spiritual practices for hours daily, including prayer (the Jesus/heart prayer mostly) and meditation (Tibetan and Zen). I was a student and then graduate student, I worked, I lived at a Zen center, I did art and photography, I spent time in nature, and had a very active and rich life. I followed my guidance and heart closely, in smaller and larger things (with a few smaller exceptions).

Initial phase of the dark night of the soul. Then, I left my guidance (for a relationship), and that was the beginning of a gradual “decent” into the dark night. For the first several years, I was still very functional, much as before, although now there was a deep sense of being “off track”. I was also unable to do any spiritual practice. (Mainly, it seems, because it reminded me how off track I felt, and it was too painful.) After five or six years, after reading Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism, I realized that what I was going through fit the description of a dark night of the soul.

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Spiritually Transformative Experiences

 

I have been reading more about Spiritual Emergencies and Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs) again recently. (I was very much into it in my teens and early twenties). A couple of things stand out right now. One is the commonalities in what happens to people after an STE, whether it’s an opening or early awakening, a Near Death Experience (NDE), apparent alien abduction, loss, death of a loved one, child birth, travel, sex, or much more. For me, it was an opening or early awakening in my teens, and the way it changed me is very similar to how people who experienced other types of STEs report it changed them.

Watching a documentary about Near Death Experiences, I am also reminded of another commonality. As a child before school age, I had flashes of memories of how it was before incarnation: infinite love, infinite wisdom, all a radiant golden subtle light, infinite sense of being home, infinite sense of belonging. (All of these are crude descriptions.) People who have an NDE report something that’s quite similar. And there is also another parallel: a sense that this was in the past, and not here now. I perceived it that way too, for a while. Now, I see that what was then, is also here in immediacy. All the characteristics of what was “then” is here now. A simple and sincere inquiry helped me see that:

Is it true it’s not here now?

A thought may come in and say “it’s not the same, this is much less strong”. Which leads to another inquiry:

Is it true it needs to be strong? Is it true that strong is “better”? Is it any less real or significant if it’s not as strong?

Types of dark nights, in my own experience

 

There are many types of dark nights in a spiritual context, and I am only experienced with a couple.

There is the dark night of the senses, where identification with the body and as a human being is loosened.

And there is the dark night of the soul, where remaining identifications are triggered, wear out, and softened or fall away.

For me, the dark night of the senses lasted for about a year. When I was fifteen, I drank a large amount of alcohol for the first and last time, and the day after, January 1st, I felt the world becoming more (and eventually very) distant. I even remember the exact situation and moment it happened. This lasted for a year, and I thought something was seriously wrong and went to see several doctors and specialists, and had several neurological tests done. Not surprisingly, in hindsight, they didn’t find anything. Now, I see that I could call it an “absorption into the witness”. It was still very dualistic, but a very simple dualism between “I” here witnessing, and the world (including my body, emotions, thoughts) “out there” quite distant from me, and appearing quite unreal, like a dream, as if I could put my hand right through it. This seemed to be triggered by the alcohol, and I had been an atheist for several years by that time. This dark night of the senses, if that’s what it was, didn’t seem “spiritual” at all to me. Prior to this, I had some years where I felt very much an outsider and awkward socially, and also “frozen” in some ways. That too may be seen as part of this dark night, or at least leading up to it. (I sometimes hear “dark night” being referred to as “dry” and losing interest in the world. I wonder if this is not another form of a dark night of the senses.)

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Duration and intensity of a dark night

 

Some factors that may play a role in the duration and intensity of a dark night (and probably any spiritual emergency):

Struggle vs. welcoming. The more struggle with what’s happening, the more difficult the process may be experienced. It adds a layer of suffering, and it’s possible that it prolongs the process (I don’t really know if it does or not). This struggle comes from beliefs and identifications, and the release of these is one of the things that tends to happen in a dark night. So there is nothing wrong with struggle and resistance. It’s just a surfacing of what’s left, with an invitation for us to see through it. Conversely, the more genuine welcoming there is of the process, the more there is an aligning with it, the less struggle and suffering there tends to be. And we can support this welcoming through various forms of inquiry. For instance, what do I find when I look for my ideas of resistance or struggle? Is it really what it initially appears to be? Also, is there really a separation between a me or I and what’s happening? Is it true it’s too intense? Is it true that I know better than life how things should be?

Depth of process. It’s also possible that the “depth” of the process influences how the dark night is experienced. If it’s mainly about the head and/or heart center, it can be intense enough, but it seems that the belly center opening requires even more of us. That has certainly been the case for me. (The dark night preceding the head and heart center openings lasted a few years, with one year that was quite intense. The current dark night, which seems to have to do more with the belly center, has lasted much longer and is far more intense and demanding.) For each center, I assume there may also be several “dark nights” as there is a deepening. And speaking of “depth”, there is probably a lot here I am unaware of as well, including what’s ahead in the process.

Trauma and old patterns. The third factor seems to be the amount of trauma and old patterns we each bring with us, from this and possibly past lives. It seems that I am in the mid-range when it comes to trauma, and the amount that’s come up here has already been quite difficult and at times overwhelming. As someone said, “there is no easy trauma”. Again, the more we can align with and support the process, the easier we make it for ourselves.

Finally, we don’t know. These may all appear to play a role, and they may be helpful practical pointers. And they are really only an overlay of images and words, and assumptions and interpretations.

So how to we support and more consciously align with the process? What I have found helpful includes:

Taking care of myself through diet, moderate exercise, spending time in nature, seeking support from friends and family.

Doing various forms of inquiry to see through my stories of what’s going on.

Seeking support and guidance from people who have gone through it themselves.

Seeking healing for the trauma and wounds that are surfacing.

Staying with the sensations rather than going into the stories of what’s happening, with the support of inquiry (seeing through my stories). Noticing that the sensations are already allowed.

Meeting what’s here with love, with the support of ho’oponopono, tonglen, placing myself in the heart flame, meeting what’s here in satsang. Inquiry is also helpful here, recognizing what’s surfacing as already love.

Gaining just enough knowledge and understanding of the process for navigating it a bit more skillfully, and finding more peace with it.

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Barry: Things will continue to fall apart until the death is complete

 

Things will continue to fall apart until the death is complete.  All this is taking to you to a place where there is absolute freedom, where the personal self sense has dissolved.  That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help to get the basic human needs met. That is all part of love and truth. [….]

When this happened to me all I could do was pray to God to receive the gifts of this pain and suffering and see it as God’s grace and path to Christ.  It is hard, but it is the truth and the way through…Surrender, surrender, surrender, throw yourself body, mind, soul, spirit into God’s hands.  Remember Christ’s last words on the cross..”Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!”  Love, Barry

– Barry, in an email to me.

I have gone through a period where things seem to fall apart, often in amazing ways and (largely) outside of my control. It’s happened especially strongly the last 2-3 years, although it started earlier. It’s part of the dark night of the soul that I seem to go through.

These days, I notice a deeper rage and anger towards life, God, and perhaps – from my younger self – towards my parents. It’s probably an anger that has accumulated over a long time, and it feels very much like the rebellious and desperate tantrum of a child. It seems to be a hopeless, desperate anger. There are also thoughts such as: I didn’t ask for this. I refuse to be “taught lessons” in this way. I refuse to mature and find clarity if it’s going to happen through these situations. 

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Differences in the ease of the path

 

Why does some paths to/in awakening seem easy and some hard, and some quick and some slow?

This question sometimes comes to me since I know many who seem to have a relatively quick and easy path to what appears to be a stable awakening. And for me, it’s been long and – at least the last several years – painful and difficult.

Here are some things that come up for me:

For people with a lot of trauma in their system from this life, the process can be more painful and prolonged. As the wounds surface, the trauma can get retriggered, and we get into a cycle of surfacing wounds and reactivity. This makes it more difficult to see through it and allowing it to heal. It’s also possible that patterns from previous lives surface to be seen, felt and loved, and people may have more or less “baggage” here.

There are different “levels” or phases or awakening, or different “soul centers” that awaken. For me, the head and heart awakening happened relatively quickly and easily. And the belly awakening seems to be much more challenging. That’s where wounds surface to be seen, felt and loved, and that’s also where reactivity gets triggered on my part to what’s surfacing, which often makes a real resolution challenging and elusive. At the very least, the reactivity makes the process more painful and drawn out.

For me, there may also be some resistance to the process. I tell myself I didn’t ask for it. It just came out of the blue in my teens, uninvited. And I didn’t ask for life to give me “lessons” so I could “awaken” or “mature”. As I write this, I notice a deep resentment towards life for putting me in this situation. And all of this is good to take to inquiry.

A part of the invitation here is to question my ideas about it – my ideas of time, difficulty, ease, struggle, reactivity, delusion, awakening, an end point and so on. What do I find when I investigate my thoughts about it? (The Work.) Can I find any of these when I look? Can I find time? Struggle? Ease? Reactivity? Resistance? Awakening? An end point? Can I find the one who is having a difficult time? The one who is struggling? The one with reactivity? The one who is not clear enough? Another for whom it’s easier? (Living Inquiries.)

I see that it’s all lila. It’s part of life (Spirit, Buddha Mind, Brahman, God) exploring and experiencing itself in its richness, in always different and new ways.

And I see that I really don’t know. It’s a mystery. All of these thoughts, and any other I have about it, are just my own images and thoughts. It’s all created by my own mind, in an attempt to make sense of it and perhaps find a temporary sense of comfort and security. None of my images or thoughts about it are inherent in reality.

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Recognize nature of reality and illusion

 

Here are some phases I see in my own process:

First, recognizing the nature of reality. A though may say that Spirit recognized all as itself, or that consciousness and it’s content was recognized as the same. It was an awakening out of identification as a separate object. Out of identification as a part of content of experience. Out of identification with words and images which previously created the experience of separation. This happened uninvited and early in life, before the “ego” in a psychological sense had formed in a mature way. (Some would say a little too early, but life obviously didn’t see it that way.)

Then, recognizing the nature of illusion. I am still in this phase, and for me, this includes exploring the nature of illusion through different forms of inquiry. How is the experience of separation created? What happens when there is identification with and as certain words and images, certain viewpoints? What are the consequences? How is it experienced? (For many, this phase goes before recognizing the nature of reality, or the two go hand in hand.)

Along with this, there is a more stable meeting of what’s here. A more stable meeting of any experience, as it is. The two previous ones makes this a little easier. This is also a building of capacity in meeting what’s here. And inquiry can certainly help. Is it true it’s overwhelming? Is it true these words, these images, these sensation can harm me? What words and images are stuck to these sensations? How is it to examine these, so I can feel the sensations as they are, recognizing them as just sensations?

And through this meeting of what’s here, more and more of what’s previously unmet, unfelt, unloved and unexamined is met, felt, loved and examined. At some point, many of the largest chunks have been met, felt, loved and examined, although – I assume – there will always be more to met, feel, love and examine.

So there is a recognition of the nature of reality, a recognition of the nature of illusion, a more stable meeting of what’s here, and of more and more of what’s here being met, felt, loved and examined, and all of these go hand in hand. There is no end point for any of these. They happen here and now. It’s fresh. And a thought may say each of these keep opening up and reveals more of itself. A though may say that life (reality, Spirit) keeps revealing itself to itself.

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Scott Kiloby: Everything that is stored in the body will resurface and have its day

 

When I first began the process of awakening, of investigating reality to see whether separation is in fact real or just a belief, I had no idea where that would lead.

I thought it was just about the mind, that machine between the ears. The idea was “wake up out of the belief in my thoughts and live in the now.” Seemed cut and dry to me back then. I had no idea what was in store with regard to my body and the rich but unconscious stories and memories it had stored through the years.

I had those monumental shifts that people often talk about. And I thought I was done. These were, for the most part, head awakenings where beliefs were seen through and stories were dissolved. For a few years after those shifts, I felt a clear transparency where my once really-busy mind had been. And this, again, made me feel like I was done. I hear people all the time proclaiming in one way or another that they are awake simply because they have had a head awakening. I listen patiently, knowing that the other shoe is likely to drop, meaning that everything that was stored in the body will resurface and have its day, until it too is investigated.

You see after the head awakening, which is that awakening into the present moment where one begins to feel as if there is no self, the body awakening is only beginning. In my experience, the body has its own memories, its own shapes, colors, stories, contractions. The last few years have been a process of gradual unfolding in the body, openings one after the other. And the road was not always easy. In fact, at times it has been quite painful.

My chest area opened early on, right after the initial awakening experience. What do I mean by heart opening? Nothing really mystical. It’s just that my chest felt clear and open, warm and loving. For eight years now, I have not felt any emotion (negative or positive) in the chest area. Just a warm, clear, transparent peace there. It’s quite simple really. The heart area is open. Nothing much more to say about that.

But the pelvic area, stomach and throat didn’t clear that easily. It took time. In my pelvic area, I began to be acutely aware of the contraction there after the head awakening. This area was dense, contracted and tight. Sexual addiction was rampant during this time. I wasn’t always acting out on it, but the addictive thoughts were there. And they seemed tied to that pelvic contraction. It’s almost as if that area of the body was screaming madly for pleasure, for release. And nothing would satisfy it for long – no sex act, no pornography. I would indulge in these things and find a temporary release of that dense energy that would last just a few days. The contraction would return and the sex addiction would come with it.

With the Living Inquiries, I finally had a tool to investigate this contraction very deeply. It was often a painful and frustrating investigation. Resting, looking and feeling into that area. Seeing pictures, words come and go, all of which seemed to be connected to that area. The pelvic area seemed as if it had its own mind, its own movie, its own set of meanings. As the meanings were distilled out of the contraction, it began to release. Warmth and space was all that was left.

And when the pelvic area opened, the vast difference between the now-open chest and now-open pelvic made the stomach and throat contraction even more obvious. The stomach and throat were the holdouts. The stomach held all the power-seeking, the intense wanting. The throat area seemed stuck, unable to express itself freely. And these areas carried their own little addictions, pain, sadness, and tightness. These were deeply embedded contractions that were resistance to almost every spiritual investigation, except the inquiries. The inquiries were the only tool that helped me open the stomach and throat. But again, this wasn’t a walk in the park. Months and months of infinite patience, of resting and feeling into those areas gently. Months of mining out the words and pictures that were embedded into the sensations in those areas.

And finally, through this gentle and thorough investigation, those areas began to open. I saw that what I had called a body through the years was actually a combination of words, pictures and energies that appeared on a screen right in front of me. For years, I thought that this play of words, pictures and energies was a body, a physical unit of sorts. Upon investigation, it all began to dissolve, slowly.

I don’t want to paint the picture of this unfolding as something that seems excruciatingly tiring or not worth the investigation. It’s been more than worth it to investigate these areas of the body. Rich, in fact. Very, very rich. Loving, compassionate and a lot of other adjectives I won’t bother adding into this post.

I had no idea in the beginning that awakening is not just about the mind. It is as much, or maybe more, about the body and the stories that are deeply engrained in it.

The body awakening has been the most eye-opening and rewarding part of this process of unfolding. I know now that one of the biggest traps is to proclaim that one is done. Yes, the seeking can end. Yes, one can have those shifts into what feels like non-dual space or oneness. But the unfolding continues to happen, with or without our consent. And it is largely an unfolding within the deepest caverns of our physical bodies.

If you are going through this embodiment, just know that there is support out there. There are many of us who can and will support you. You don’t have to buy into the religion of “I’m still seeking” nor do you have to buy into the religion of “I’m done.” You can watch the process unfolding naturally and organically with people who are also going through it with you or who have gone through it.

If you are interested in knowing more, join us in the Scott Kiloby Living Inquiries room. And if anything in this post is confusing or makes you feel defensive, that’s ok too. I’m merely sharing my experience. I’m not saying it is your experience. Only you can speak to that. I’m not trying to put any carrots out there to chase. I’m merely saying, in effect, “join me, because the pathless path to embodiment is painful yet extraordinarily wonderful and rich.” I feel so luck to have this human body, to watch it unfold and open in this way.

– Scott Kiloby on Facebook

Yes, yes, and yes. This fits my experience very closely.

In my teens, there was a clear head awakening followed by heart awakening. Then, after several years of “honeymoon”, there was the beginning of the dark night, which was also a deepening into a belly/body awakening. This has been a long and at times painful and difficult process, or – at least – that’s what a thought may call it. And it has been supported by several helpful tools such as Breema, The Work, and – more recently – the Living Inquiries.

Barry: All that is not who you are will die

 

In the end, all that is not who you are will die, because it is not real anyhow. You can assist this process by not feeding the negative thoughts and ego, but even if you do, sooner or later it will all run out of steam. It actually takes a lot more energy to keep it all going, though we are unware of it. One day you will burn through despondency, etc.

Yes, you have been dismantled down to the child level and are now slowly being put back together.  It is taking a long time because it is an organic process like growing a plant.  Only that which does not serve gets dimantled, ie that which you cling to as desirable as part of the self image that isn’t real.  I’m sure it goes back through many lifetimes because the pattern is so strong.  However long it takes.

What do you really know about what you life should look like etc?  What do you know about the future?  What is left but the emptiness of the mystery. All that is painful is the images that we cling to.  Everyone does it, so you are not doing it wrong.   As you let go of these pictures, images and identities you will find the peace you seek. Love, b

– Barry, in an email to me

Notes about the Dark Night

 

Some notes about the dark night:

If it appears dark, it’s because of beliefs about what’s happening. In my case, the dark night happened after about 10 years in an “illumination” phase. It took the form of reversals in almost all areas of life. And it triggered latent beliefs in me so I could see them and investigate their dynamics and what’s more aligned with clarity and love.

As long as thoughts such as “something went wrong” are held as true, the dark night will appear dark and as a dark night. It’s more true that the dark night is just a label, a thought, and cannot be found anywhere. And it’s also true that it can be called a brilliant day, an invitation to align more of me with clarity and love.

To take a concrete example: I often have an apparently unpleasant experience in my body. It feels heavy, yukky and unpleasant. When I look, I see I have images of this experience in my body. And I also see some beliefs. It’s wrong. It means I am doomed. It means something terrible happened. It means something terrible will happen. Through The Work, some of these are seen through. And through the Living Inquiries, the “velcro” between the words, images and sensations is loosened. And as the images and words associated with it fall away, it’s easier to sit in the sensations, to feel them and allow them their life. I am still not where I consistently am able to meet what’s here as a friend (and I obviously don’t need to since it’s not what’s happening), but it’s an interesting process.

For me, one of the lessons of the dark night is to question any beliefs I have about what’s here, including any life circumstances and what’s going on with my body and mind. Another is to recognize all as what is (what a thought may call awareness, Spirit, God, Buddha Mind), and that it’s all OK. It’s all (what a thought may call) God’s will. It’s all (what a thought may call) love. Any identification is innocence, is well intentioned, and although it is allowed and welcomed by reality, it is also – in another way – out of alignment with clarity and love.

Incarnation trauma

 

This keeps coming into focus:

As a kid, I had memories of how it was before this incarnation – all as a presence with infinite love and wisdom, an infinite sense of being home, timelessness. What’s closest in the physical world is perhaps an ocean – in this case of awakeness, love, presence, wisdom, beyond and including the impersonal and personal – and of myself and any other more personal presences as part of this ocean. Before this incarnation, there was a council of sorts and a knowing of all of us that it was time for me to incarnate again. It was good for me (especially the first half of my life?) and good for others and humanity (especially the last half of my life?). There was a match between what I – as a soul – could learn and contribute, and what humanity as a whole would be learning and shifting into in this phase of our history. At some point, resistance set it, pretending I didn’t want it and didn’t chose it, pretending I was a victim, had lost something of infinite value, that God had chosen it for me, that it was a terrible tragedy to incarnate (not so much because this life isn’t enjoyable and interesting, but because of what was lost).

So there was a knowing that it was all right, and a wanting of this incarnation. A pretending it was a terrible tragedy. And quite a split between the two.

Later on in my life, I see some of these themes play themselves out, especially not fully wanting to be here (with my whole being) and repeated stories of loss of what’s most valuable to me, especially people, places and opportunities.

I also see how I tend to make idealized images of the past, as I did very early in life with my images of how it was before incarnation. Compare them with the present. And get caught up in the suffering created that way.

And I see how I – for a while – imagined that what was then isn’t here now. By holding onto an idealized image of the past, comparing it with an image of the present, and telling myself I lost something of infinite value, mind distracted itself from noticing it here, noticing it didn’t go anywhere.

Right now, I am most drawn to letting the (soft, gentle, loving, infinitely wise) light of Christ shine on this, the wound, the part of me pretending I didn’t want this incarnation, pretending I lost something of infinite value. And in this, there is a very quiet, soft, wordless loving inquiry, or sometimes just a whisper.

Is it true? What’s more true? How is it to take it in? Feel it? Stay with it?

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Loss of heaven

 

As a child, I had memories of how it was before this incarnation – all as a golden divine presence with infinite love and wisdom, a sense of being deeply at home. Later on, I remembered – or at least had images of – a group (of 12 or so?) beings/presences, a knowing that it was time for me to incarnate again, and that the first half of my life would for mainly for my benefit (growing, maturing), and the second mainly for others (service, guidance). And at some level, although knowing it was the right time and for the good, I resisted. I pretended to resist.

There are other images, including of a profound sense of loss when I incarnated, and of deep disappointment in my mother, my father, life, the world and God.

How could they do this to me? Why can’t my parents live up to or match the infinite love and wisdom from before incarnation, or at least show they know? I’ll show God he (she, it) made a mistake by having me incarnate. I’ll show my parents my pain and disappointment they couldn’t match what I had. I lost something of infinite value to me. I am unfairly treated. I am a victim.

And I notice that loss is a theme in my life. The pain of losing what I tell myself is most important to me, whether it’s people, places, situations or opportunities, and the expectation of future and continued loss and pain.

This all happens within my own images now, of course.

Inquiring into this, I have found that I did agree and want the incarnation, and that what I remember from before incarnation is something I can find here now. (It’s happening here, it’s reflected in a thought, another thought says it happened in the past, and noticing that I can find it here again.) And I notice there is something still left around loss, something left to feel and see, and find as love and find love for.

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