The body wakes up

 

What is awakening?

We can answer that question in many different ways.

For instance, it’s what we are – that which our experience happens within and as – waking up to itself. An early awakening is when it notices itself. And a more stable awakening is when the “center of gravity” shifts there, when that’s what it takes itself to be more consistently.

That’s roughly accurate, in my experience.

Another way to say it, which is perhaps a bit more accurate, is that the body wakes up. The consciousness doesn’t need to. It’s what happens within experience – within and as what we are – that wakes up. And that is the body, including the energetic “bodies” (aka etheric, emotional, mental, spiritual etc. bodies).

It’s in these bodies the experience of being a separate self is created. It’s here consciousness is filtered so it creates an experience for itself of being a separate self. And when these filters are either transcended or lost, what it’s able to (effortlessly) notice what’s more real. It’s noticing itself as its whole experience, whether it’s labeled self or world, matter or consciousness, or anything else.

So awakening happens through the body, or – more accurately – through the bodies. It may happen through practices aimed at aligning the bodies (the self) more with reality. It may be boosted by transcendent experiences offering a glimpse of what’s more real than the apparently separate self. It happens through grace, and explorations preparing the ground for grace.

When it happens, there is still a self in the sense of these bodies. They are still here, and they operate much as before. And there is no self, in the sense that the experience of a separate self is revealed as created by the filters. It’s a temporary experience. It’s life exploring itself through the experience of separation, for a while.

The “filters” have an energy and consciousness side. And the thinning and loss of them happens as a process. (Although the loss of each one may happen suddenly, after a time of preparation and ripening.) As there

As there is spiritual practice, often combined with transcendent glimpses and/or loss of the filters, there is a gradual realignment and reorientation of the bodies. They gradually align more with reality. This is a process that typically include some wrinkles and detours, and these are all integral to the process. It’s a process of clarification, healing, maturing, and embodiment – learning to live more from what’s revealed.

And from the outside, from the perspective of the world, this process often looks like someone becoming a bit more sane, grounded, healed, and mature in a very ordinary and human way. It is very ordinary and human. It is a healing and realignment of the human self, of all the bodies.

I should also mention that when the bodies wake up, when the filters are lost, it’s as if the whole world wakes up. The real body is the whole world – the physical world and everything else that exists at different energetic levels. And all of that is revealed as Spirit. It’s all the play of Spirit as all of it, the whole world and all that is.

That is what wakes up to itself, as that, and it wakes up through loss of the (temporary) filters of this (temporary) self that has a physical body and a set of energetic bodies.

That’s why the historical Buddha said “I and the whole world awoke”. And that’s also why it didn’t happen automatically through the other bodies since the filters there were (and are) still in place.

As with anything else here, these words are meant as pointers for own exploration. There is nothing absolute or final about it. It’s just the way of looking at it that makes the most sense to me right now, based on own experience and how I have heard others talk about it. (And these include Buddhism, Ken Wilber, Adyashanti, and – more recently – Ric Weinman and Vortex Healing.)

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Awakening from avoidance

 

Awakening can be described in several ways.

The most common ones may be…..

Awakening out of identifications, and typically a set of underlying identifications that we gradually become aware of. (Human self, observer, doer, I, oneness, awakeness, etc.)

And awakening to what we are. Which we may, very inadequately, label consciousness, awakeness, love, intelligence, emptiness, mystery.

Awakening is also, in a sense, awakening from avoidance.

It allows us to more easily be with what’s here. And that’s for several reasons.

We recognize all as what we are. All as Spirit, the divine, consciousness, awakeness, or whatever label we put on it. So it doesn’t make sense to avoid something, because it’s what we are.

We recognize all not only as Spirit or the divine, but also love and intelligence.

And a couple that may require some exploration:

We recognize the wisdom and love behind all our experiences from an evolutionary and human persepctive, including the most uncomfortable experiences. They come from and are kindness and care for this human self. For instance, fear has helped our ancestors and us to survive, and there is wisdom in it. The same with pain, anger, sadness, and any human experience.

We know from experience, most likely, that avoidance = suffering and being present with = healing and resolution.

We may see that we cannot really avoid our experience. It’s already here. Trying to avoid it is the mind trying to run from itself. It’s doesn’t really work.

And one that seems built into awakening:

Our ability to avoid may be seriously weakened. An awakening or opening often involves “taking the lid off” anything we have avoided in the past so it comes to the surface. And it typically involves an inability to effectively avoid our current experience, whatever it may be.

The “dream of the ego” may be that awakening will allow us to avoid even better. And reality is that it’s an awakening from avoidance, from perceiving avoidance as neccesary or even doable.

The “dream of the ego” is a catchy phrase, but it’s also a bit misleading. It’s more what’s created when there is identification with thoughts. We perceive ourselves as this human self. We wish to avoid certain experiences since they are uncomfortable and seem scary. So we get in the habit of avoiding them. It seems to work to some extent, but it doesn’t really work and especially not in the long run.

At some point, it makes more sense to intentionally be present with what’s here, with some skill so it keeps moving and we keep moving into more clarity and deeper.

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Spirituality = ?

 

What is spirituality?

It’s a term used to mean many different things, as Ken Wilber has pointed out.

So what does it mean to me? How do I use it here?

To me, spirit = reality, and spirituality = exploring and aligning more consciously with reality.

In a Christian culture, this may seem a bit odd. Christianity came to create a dualistic worldview that sees spirit as mostly separate from this world. And that, in turn, meant that spirituality came to mean something impractical, mysterious, indefineable, and irrelevant to the daily lives of most of us. It became something we encountered briefly and occasionally in church and perhaps at Christmas, Easter, baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

For me, since spirit = reality, it means that spirituality is practical, relevant to daily life, and doesn’t have to be that mysterious. It’s something that can be understood and described in practical terms.

And what is reality? It’s our everyday reality, in addition to the aspects of reality we are not yet familiar with and haven’t explored or described yet (either individually or collectively). Our experience of life or reality is, obviously, very limited. And our interpretations and maps are tentative, only useful as pointers, and have no absolute or final truth in them.

There are many ways to explore reality. Everyday life and science are perhaps the most common ones in our culture. Spirituality is yet another way of exploring life and reality. And the tools of this particular approach happens to include prayer, meditation, body-mind practices, inquiry, energy work, transmissions, and more.

So science and spirituality are two ways to explore life and reality. They compliment each other. And they even use many of the same guidelines and methods. Scientific methods and guidelines very much apply to spiritual explorations.

And how do we use spirituality to consciously align more closely with reality? We do so through an honest exploration of what’s real. For instance, through inquiry I may see that thoughts or images I hold as real and true are not. They are created by my mind. Other thoughts and images about the same are equally or more valid. And none of them hold any final or absolute truth.

This is an ongoing process, and if I am honest with myself and have some basic skills, it will help my view and life gradually align more closely with life and reality.

How does that look? It looks very ordinary. It looks like normal clarity and sanity. It looks like living life as a more mature and sane human being, in a very ordinary sense.

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Healing, Awakening & Sustainability = aligning with reality

 

Healing, awakening, & sustainability. As shines through what I wrote above, healing, awakening and sustainability are all about aligning with reality. That’s why the three – for me – are inseperable. The seeds of dis-ease, an unawakened experience, and a society out of tune with the larger living world, are all the same. And the basic remedy is the same as well – align with life and reality.

For healing, we can align through inquiry, TRE, Breema, yoga, meditation and more. For awakening, we can align through inquiry, meditation, prayer, and more (whatever helps us ripen). For sustainability, we can align with life through philosophical and economic frameworks that takes ecological realities into account (which none of the current mainstream ones do), and a generally worldview that does the same.

This is from a previous post where I wrote mostly about healing and awakening, and added sustainability as an afterthought. So I thought I would write a briefer post here about the three as equals.

Healing, awakening, and sustainablity all have to do with aligning with reality.

Healing is here healing of the mind, and we do so by questioning stressful and debilitating thoughts and finding what’s more true for us. When we look closely, my experience and the experience of others, is that we find something that’s genuinely more true for us than the initial thought that’s also very healing. (The Work.) Or we may find that thoughts that seemed real and substantial because they had a charge (associated with sensations) now have less or no charge. They are recognized as a thought, and comes with less or no stress. (Living Inquiries.)

Awakening similarly comes from seeing what’s more real than our initial experience and assumptions. Consciousness takes itself as (a) a being (b) that’s separate from everything else, and that comes from a deeply ingrained thought helds as true. When consciousness starts to align more with reality, it recognizes itself as all there is, and the local being as happening within and as itself. The being doesn’t go away, and doesn’t really need to change. The only change is a shift of what consciousness takes itself to be. And just as with healing and maturing, this is an ongoing process.

Sustainability has to do with aligning our worldviews and all our philosophies, frameworks, and systems with ecological realities. To the extent our views and how we organize ourselves – individually and collectively – is aligned with life, we have a sustainable life and society. Right now, we are quite far from this.

Our current mainstream worldviews and frameworks (for economy, industry, transportation, energy, waste etc.) are set up as if our wider ecological systems didn’t exist. This means they are inevitably unsustainable. Even our current mainstream attempts of sustainability are done within this mental and physical framework and are not anywhere close to being really sustainable.

We do have a wide range of good replacements of these views and systems, and real-life examples of how we can organize ourselves collectively and live our lives. We just need to chose to implement them. And that will come. It has to come, at least if we come to our senses and wish for our civilization to continue.

It may seem that our only choice is between real sustainability or collapse of civilization as we know it. But there is also a(n unsatisfactory) middle ground where we have a partial collapse, a loss of a good number of people, and an attempt to build up again from there.

Reality is kind & ruthless. In each of these three areas, reality waits for us and shows us when we are off. It’s kind in that sense. And also ruthless if we don’t get it.

Why not all three? Why do some chose to focus on only one or two of these, when they so obviously are intertwined? I don’t know. It may have to do with personal inclination and interest, or perhaps just wanting to specialize.

Symbiotic. For me, there is a symbiotic relationship between healing, awakening, and sustainability. The seed problems and solutions are the same in each of these areas. There is a great deal of room to explore how patterns in one area is transferable to another, offering new insights and ways of working with it. I assume we’ll see much more of this in the future.

Healing & awakening = aligning with reality 

 

Healing and awakening is all about aligning with reality – at all levels of our being.

That’s a tall order. And it’s already what’s here.

In brief:

We are a local part and expression of life. We are already reality so from this perspective, no alignment needs to happen. We can’t align with what we already are.

And yet, as human beings, we are typically out of alignment in many ways. There is room for alignment and this alignment is an ongoing process of exploration and inquiry, healing and maturing as human beings, and embodying our discoveries and realizations.

How did we get out of alignment? We got out of alignment by holding our thoughts as solid, real, and true. We aligned with our thoughts more than being receptive to life as it is. We came to identify and experiencing ourselves as a being separate from the rest of existence. (Consiousness identified in that way, and took itself to be a being within the content of itself.) And this process built on itself so we came to create wounds, trauma, dynamics leading to some physical illnesses, relationship problems, and a culture and society out of tune with the larger living world.

Nothing is wrong. It’s all life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. And yet, it is uncomfortable so at some point, there is a motivation to coming back into alignment with life so we can find a sense of home, being in tune with reality, and being more at ease.

How do we get back into alignment? We do so by noticing what we are. That we already are (this local expression of) life and a whole that always is whole. We do so by healing and maturing as human beings. We do so by an ongoing process of clarifying and embodying.

That’s the short version.

And in more detail:

Already reality. We are, in a sense, already 100% aligned with reality. We are life, this local part of the Universe, all of us is already Spirit. We cannot help being 100% reality. We are more than aligned with reality, we are reality. We are this local thinking, feeling, experiencing part of reality. As what we are, we are already reality.

Room for realignment. And it’s a tall order. It’s an ongoing process. We’ll need to face a great deal that may be uncomfortable to us, mainly because we have habitually pushed it away and seen as scary. As who we are, this human being, there is a lot of room for realignment.

Out of alignment. How did we get out of alignment?

One answer is that we, as human beings, tend to believe our thoughts. We hold some of our thoughts as real and true representations of reality and perceive and live as if that’s the case. That inherently creates a sense of separation and of being a separate being, and temporarily veils what we already are. (Life experiencing itself through this local body and these local thoughts, feelings, and experiences.) This – combined with meeting difficult life situations – is also what creates contractions, wounds, and trauma, and the accumulated effects of different types of contractions.

Another answer is Lila, the play of the divine. It seems that Existence has an inherent drive to experience itself in always new ways. The universe is life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. And one aspect of that is creating beings and energetic/consciousness veils that create a temporary and local experience of separation. Nothing went wrong. There are no lessons to be learned, no redemption to be earned. It’s just the temporary play of the divine.

Into alignment. So how do we get back into alignment?

We get back into alignment by noticing that we already are life and whole as we are. We already are a wholeness that’s always whole. We can understand that in different ways, and the easiest may be to notice that all happens within and as awakeness or consciousness. And that’s always whole and undivided.

We also get back into alignment through healing and maturing as human beings. And by consciously living from whatever realizations we have about life, what we are, and who we are (aka embodiment).

Both of these are ongoing explorations. As what we are, we keep noticing and clarifying. As who we are, we keep healing, maturing, and embodying. And it’s not at all a linear path.

A few additional notes:

Christianity. I thought I would say a few words about Christianity. In some cultures, the idea of aligning with reality for healing and awakening is natural and comes in from birth. I assume Buddhist cultures, Taoist cultures, and many native cultures are this way.

In other cultures, and specifically Christian and perhaps Abrahamic or theistic cultures in general, it’s different. Here, nature, life, and reality is viewed with some ambivalence and perhaps suspicion.

In Christinanity, there is the idea of original sin which makes us question our own nature, we are suspicious of our natural drives (sex, eating, resting etc.). We may also be trained to be suspicious of nature and life since it can lead us into temptation. In a Christian culture, or one that was Christian for a long time, it can seem odd or questionable to want to align with reality. If we and nature is more or less inherently sinful, why would we align with it?

Maybe it’s better to push it away as much as we can? Or maybe it’s better to transcend? We may try transcending, and find it works for a while, but reality is whole so we are inevitably brought back here and now with what’s already here.

In this case, it’s good to take small steps. Try it out and see what happens. We can explore this through inquiry where we question stressful thougths and find what’s more true for us. We can also explore it through body-centered practices such as Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises where we use the natural and inherent mechanisms of the body to find healing. Through these explorations, we may see that aligning with nature and reality is healing and can give us a sense of coming home.  We gradually build trust.

Healing, awakening, & sustainability. As shines through what I wrote above, healing, awakening and sustainability are all about aligning with reality. That’s why the three – for me – are inseperable. The seeds of dis-ease, an unawakened experience, and a society out of tune with the larger living world, are all the same. And the basic remedy is the same as well – align with life and reality.

For healing, we can align through inquiry, TRE, Breema, yoga, meditation and more. For awakening, we can align through inquiry, meditation, prayer, and more (whatever helps us ripen). For sustainability, we can align with life through philosophical and economic frameworks that takes ecological realities into account (which none of the current mainstream ones do), and a generally worldview that does the same.

Psychotherapy. I intentionally left out psychotherapy from my (brief) list of ways we can find healing. That’s because psychotherapy can be healing or not depending on who’s doing it (the therapist) and the approach they are using. If the therapist’s view is inherently skeptical about life and reality, then any healing won’t go very deep. It may even be traumatizing. If their view and life is more deeply aligned with life and reality, and they have a deep trust in life, then the healing can go quite deep. Process Work is an excellent example of an approach that’s inherently trusting of and aligned with life.

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Talking about the healing modalities I use

 

It can be challenging to talk about healing modalities that are quite different from what most people are familiar with.

Most of the approaches I use fall into this category:

Breema bodywork looks similar to Thai massage or partner yoga, but the experience of and intention behind is markedly different. It’s deeply nourishing and helps us find ourselves as the fullness and wholeness that’s always here and always healthy, even as our body and mind may have ailments.

Inquiry can look similar to cognitive therapy, but it goes far deeper is far more all-inclusive than typical cognitive therapy. Living Inquiries is an exploration of how our mind creates its own experiences, including the stressful and painful ones. We get to explore the basic building blocks (images, words, sensations), and through separating and spending time with each one, it’s difficult for the mind to put it together again in a believable way. We also go back in time to the origins and roots of the issue, and we look at the different branches holding it in place.

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) involves trembling and shaking, rocking and stretching, and sometimes also sounds. This is something we are all familiar with, but in TRE these all happen spontaneously and are initiated and guided by the body. We are just along for the ride. (Although we can stop it at any time, if we wish.) There is also a deepening, and a deep relaxation and sense of nourishment that happens as we do TRE regularly over time.

Vortex Healing may look similar to energy healing modalities such as Reiki, acupuncture, or chigong. It’s true it’s an energy healing modality, and yet it’s different to most other approaches in that it uses divine energy guided by divine intelligence. This is the intelligence of life or Spirit itself, so it already knows the problems and the way out of them. As a practitioner, I use my intention to support the healing, I partially guide and partially am guided through the healing session, and I allow my system to be used as a channel for the energy needed for the healing. Where other modalities often work more in a general way, Vortex Healing is especially effective when we work on very specific issues – sometimes the more specific and detailed the better. As a practitioner, Vortex Healing also speeds up and guides my own awakening and embodiment process. It’s very much an intimate partnership with the divine.

And, of course, most people are interested in if and how they can be helped, not the specific modalities. The modalities are just tools. While it’s easy to become fascinated with the tools as a practitioner, clients have a different priority. And rightly so. They are interested in what can be done for them. Can you help me with what I need help with?

In my experience, any issue can be helped by using these tools: Physical and mental health. Psychological and behavioral issues. Relationships. Awakening and embodiment. If there is a problem, there is a way out of it. And as usual, the degree we can be helped depends on many factors, mainly the willingness for change and the energy and time put into it.

Awakening is multi-faceted

 

Awakening is multi-faceted.

What we are awakening to itself. One aspect is what we are awakening to itself as all there is, and out of identification with thoughts – and taking itself as a separate being in a wider world.  This can happen as an opening – as a preview or a temporary transcendence – or in a more stable way.

When it’s more stable, this awakening continues to open, clarify, and deepen over time.

Who we are realigning. Another aspect is how our human self operates within this new context. All the many parts of our human self is invited to realign within this new context. (The context itself is not new but the remembered and conscious recognition of it is.) This realigning is an ongoing process and takes the form of healing, maturing, and embodiment.

Sudden and process. The ripening leading to an awakening is a process that may have occurred over many lifetimes. Awakenings or openings are often sudden, although they sometimes occur gradually and almost imperceptibly. The continuing opening, clarifying and deepening is a process, as it the ongoing realignment – the healing and maturing of our human self, and the exploration of how to consciously and intentionally living from the awakening.

Consciousness, energetic, and lived. We can look at or describe the awakening process in different ways. We can describe it from the consciousness side, and this is most common in – for instance – the public face of Buddhism, Sufism, Christian Mysticism, and Advaita. We can also understand and describe it from the energetic side, which we see in Vortex Healing (see Awakening Through the Veils) and yogic traditions. And we can look at and describe it through how it’s lived and embodies. Each of these are equally valid and together paint a fuller picture.

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Awakening in Vortex Healing and in other contexts

 

Vortex Healing is a path of healing and awakening.

When I first encountered Vortex Healing (VH), I was curious about how awakening within the Vortex Healing context is similar to and differs from other traditions I am more familiar with. I still have that curiosity, and here is some of how it looks to me now.

Similarities 

Same awakening. What’s described as awakening in the VH context is the same as how it’s described in the many spiritual traditions of the world. It’s Spirit awakening to itself and out of its temporary identification as a separate being. (Spirit = consciousness, awakeness, empty awakeness etc.)

Gradual. Awakening is a gradual path. There is a continuing clarifying and deepening. There is an awakening out of identifications, and as the fullness of existence beyond and including all polarities.

Sudden. Basic awakening is sometimes sudden. It can happens in a flash.

Embodiment. Awakening requires embodiment. It requires our human self to realign with this new reality. It requires healing, maturing, and realignment.

Ripening. Awakening requires a readiness and ripening. And we can set the stage for and support this readiness and ripening. There are certain things we can do to invite it in.

Work. Awakening requires work. Ripening, clarfying, and embodiment requires attention, sincerity, and work. That’s the same for all paths I am aware of. (The type of work can be somewhat different, although much is similar.)

Differences

Reliable and consistent ripening. Ripening happens in a relatively predictable way through any serious path, but it does seem to happen in a more reliable and consistent way through VH than what I have seen from other paths.

In VH, the ripening happens thorugh the courses we take as VH students, and it happens in a predictable way so all have basic awakening after a certain number of courses. I am very aware that this sounds like a naive assumption, and I was extremely skeptical for a while. Now, I have seen and experienced enough to say that it seems accurate.

Basic awakening happens at a certain predictable phase of the process, and it happens for everyone who makes it that far. (And it’s not even that far into the process. It can easily happen within two years.)

Unique paths. Each unique path brings something unique. The practices we engage in builds a certain set of skills, insights, and experiences. And we bring those with us into and within the awakening. For instance, in VH, we practice attention, intention, sensing, surrender, being guided, and transformative magic. (I know the word “magic” can be off putting. It was for me in the beginning, and I still rarely use the word. I guess I am getting somewhat used to it, and I also see that it’s a pretty accurate way of describing what’s happening.)

I should also say that in VH, the basic awakening is very precise and limited to releasing the core sense of self or an I. In other traditions, a sudden awakening may clear out a good deal more in the process. In VH, that clearing tends to happen more gradually through taking the courses and receiving healing sessions from oneself and others.

One of the things I find very helpful about VH is the gradual ripening and healing. It’s a gentle process, for the most part. I feel in safe hands. And it’s helped me heal things that went a bit haywire from earlier openings and awakenings.

I know that this can be a bit upsetting to some who have invested a great deal of time in traditional spiritual practices. There is another path where they can have basic awakening within two years? And it’s easy to dismiss it, as I did at first. It seems to easy. And yet, it’s not really. To be attracted to the VH path, we have to be pretty ripe already. Other traditions have a great deal of gifts in them. And it’s not one or the other. Most people combine other paths and practices with VH in their lives.

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Awakening

 

This is a pretty standard way of talking about awakening, at least from those who have had a taste of it.

Awakening is the divine waking up to itself as all there is without exception, and still functioning through and as this human self.

It’s the divine waking up to itself, or consciousness, or Brahman, or Big Mind, waking up to itself as all there is.

It wakes up from the previous trance, or identification, or believable filter, of being this human self.

And this human self still very much functions as before, operating and doing things in the world, although now from this new context. Sensory input is still from this human self. There is still “internal information” – in the form of thoughts and sensory input – from this human self. And to all the world, it still looks like we “are” this human self.

As somebody said, no human has ever woken up. It’s always what we really are that wakes up to itself while still connected to this particular human self. And the human self then functions in a new context.

This awakening can be more or less deep and wide. As more core sense of I or identification goes, it goes deeper. And as more and more of our human self is included (healed and aligned with this new context), it goes wider. It can also be more or less lasting. The areas that lack depth or width tend to retrigger identification, which is just a reminder that there is further to go and more to explore, clear, and heal. Often, there is a series of openings which support this deepening and widening.

Ric Weinman: What needs to be done?

 

6) Do good deeds & save the world. This was traditionally called karma yoga. But most people who practice it do so from the wrong understanding and get nowhere with it, in terms of their own awakening. Typically, karma yoga is practiced from the point of view of ‘what can I do?’ Every action is taken based on ‘what can I do?’ and so every action reinforces the position that it was generated from, which has ‘I’ at the center of it. ‘What can I do?’ is centered on the ‘I’. True karma yoga asks, “What needs to be done?” Notice that there is no ‘I’ here at all. One has already surrendered the ‘I’ for the sake of the larger need. This kind of karma yoga becomes a practice of ‘not-I’ and develops the sense of not-I. Done long enough with enough sincerity, the sense of not-I will keep going deeper until it becomes the living reality in the core of that being.

– Ric Weinman in The Nature of Awakening Part 2

Ric Weinman: The Nature of First Awakening (article)

 

So, if the ego does not awaken, who does? Imagine you are having a dream that you are a cow, and suddenly you wake up and you are back in your bed as yourself. You would not say that the cow woke up and realized it was you. You didn’t turn into a wise cow. You would say that you were always yourself but were lost in the dream of being a cow, and that you awoke out of that dream of being a cow. The moment you stopped pretending/dreaming you were a cow, you were back in your normal experience of yourself. The dream character didn’t wake up; the dreamer did. […]

Often, I will get an email from a student who has had a powerful spiritual experience and the student wants to know if this is awakening. The answer is found by looking at whether there is still a sense of ‘I’ residing in the heart. In fact, this is the only true test of awakening—not external behavior, not symptoms, not subjective experiences of peace or bliss or oneness. The only test of this initial awakening is whether or not the ‘I’ has disappeared from the heart. A student may have a taste of awakening (different from mystical experiences), where they feel they have disappeared, but if I can see that the ‘I’ is still there in the heart, awakening hasn’t happened. Sometimes, as a student gets close to awakening, enough of that sense of ‘I’ has broken down that it is hard for them to sense it. But no matter how subtle it is, if it is still there, awakening has not happened. The other ‘false positive’ that can happen, especially with students of neo-advaita teachers, is that the student truly has gotten that there is no ‘I’, but they have gotten this in their head only, and it has not penetrated to their heart. Getting it in their head does create a change in their consciousness, but it still is not true awakening. It is more like a taste of awakening in the mind, and sometimes neo-advaita students get stuck in that place.

– Ric Weinman in The Nature of Awakening, printed in Paradigm Shift, Issue 43, July 2009, UK

I selected these two sections of his article, the first as a relatively standard (yet clear and insightful) description of awakening, and the second as a hint of how awakening in a Vortex Healing context is understood in a quite precise and differentiated way. Here is Part II of the article and a list of additional Vortex Healing articles.

The approaches I find especially helpful, their unique contributions, and how they work together

 

I have found a few approaches especially helpful to me: Breema, inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), and Vortex Healing. I am also certified in Breema, Living Inquiries, TRE, and Vortex Healing.

It doesn’t mean that I think these are the best approaches out there in any general sense, or that they are right for everyone in all situations (they obviously are not). But they are the ones I am most familiar with, and they do work well for me.

Here are some of the unique contributions of each, and some of the ways I notice they are in mutual support of each other.

Breema. Receiving and giving Breema gives a deep sense of nurturing and wholeness. We find the health that’s always here, and within which conventional illness and health exist. As a practitioner, it also helps me explore the wholeness of who I am as a human being, what it all happens within and as (presence, awakeness), and how to shift back into noticing and living from that noticing. In general, Breema has a full and nurturing quality.

TRE. TRE helps me release tension out of the muscles, and that reduces anxiety, depression, and compulsions. It helps the body and mind heal and operate from a more healthy and dynamic state. It can also help us be less afraid of trauma since we know there is a through it to health.

Living inquiries. Living Inquiries helps release the charge out of charged thoughts (fears, identities, compulsions). Through exploring how thoughts (images, words) and sensations combine, and how thoughts give meaning to sensations, and sensations give charge and substance to thought, the association between these loses its strength. Sensations are more easily recognized as sensations and thoughts as thoughts. The sense of substance and reality of fears, identities, and compulsions is reduced or falls away more thoroughly. This form of inquiry also gives a variety of insights, both into general dynamics and patterns of the mind, and into specific issues (e.g. their roots, how they relate to early experiences and identities).

Vortex Healing. Vortex Healing can be used for general or very specific issues, from energizing or healing physical issues to working on specific traumas or identities.

Mutualities. There is a great deal of mutualities between these.

Breema offers an important sense of nourishment and wholeness.

TRE releases the charge out of anxiety, depression, and compulsions (especially when used over time). TRE can also bring up emotions or memories which then can be explored in inquiry or Vortex Healing.

Living Inquiries can bring insight into issues and identities, and help us recognize the healing qualities of presence and resting with (and as) any content of experience.

Vortex Healing can be used on body contractions identified through TRE or Living Inquiries, or any issues or identities that surface through the other approaches.

Very simplified, I find that Breema offers nourishment and a sense of wholeness. TRE releases tension deeply and quite thoroughly (over time). Living Inquiries offers insights and takes a sense of substance and solidity out of stressful patterns, thoughts, and identities. And Vortex Healing can work on just about any issue and identity.

Healing and awakening. Each of these approaches also acknowledges the connection between healing (as who we are) and awakening (as what we are). They each support healing and awakening in their own way.

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The purpose of the Living Inquiries

 

What’s the purpose of the Living Inquiries?

There are many answers to that question, and the answer will usually be tailored to the person asking.

Here are two whys:

It’s about reducing suffering and living a better life.

It will help clarify and ground a spiritual opening or awakening.

And the hows:

It helps us investigate how the mind creates its experience of anything, and especially that which is painful and creates discomfort for us.

And that, in turn, tends to reduce its charge. With a reduced charge, it has less of a hold over us. We can relate to it more intentionally and it doesn’t control us as much as before.

In this way, the Living Inquiries – along with Natural Rest – can quite effectively help with anxiety, depression, cravings, and stabilizing an opening or awakening. It can help us heal, grow up, and even wake up.

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The high of openings or awakenings

 

A spiritual opening or awakening can come with a high, especially if it’s the first time. That high may be a gentle wave or very obvious, and it may last briefly or for weeks, months, or even years. That’s all natural and nothing is wrong if it happens.

Although if it happens, it’s good to check in about a few things.

Does the high mask something? Perhaps something still unhealed, unmet, and unloved in me as a human being? If it does, that’s very common and very natural, and it’s also good to be aware that something may be masked and may resurface later on.  That’s OK and natural as well. It’s just good to be aware of. We can also prepare for what may surface and know and practice how to relate to it more intentionally.

Do I use the high to avoid something? Do I latch onto the high (or the awakening itself) in order to avoid a certain feeling, emotion, or painful story about the world or myself? If I do, can I allow myself to rest with whatever I try to avoid? What do I find if I investigate how my mind creates its experience of the fear and whatever it fears meeting?

Beyond that, what does this opening or awakening point to about reality and what I am. What does it reveal that I can notice and explore through any state and experience? Perhaps including when I experience what my habitual mind says is a “bad” experience. Can I find what it points to even in a contracted state, emotional or physical pain, discomfort, or resistance to my experience?

In short, an opening or awakening can be used to avoid certain emotions, painful thoughts, or states. Or it can be used as a support to meet and perhaps befriend what we may have spent a lifetime avoiding.

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Never know what’s left

 

I have found that I never know what’s left in terms of healing and awakening.

There always seems to be deeper layers asking for healing at a human level. Sometimes, it’s familiar and asking for a deeper healing, sometimes it’s more new and surprising.

And there is always an invitation for further clarification and deepening of the awakening. Sometimes, it’s familiar. Sometimes, it’s surprising and something I couldn’t have predicted.

Both are ongoing. And that’s how I would want it since it keeps things fresh and surprising.

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Awakening and ordinariness

 

It’s helpful to look at anything that seems solid or real in connection with awakening. How does my mind create its experience of awakening, human self, non-enlightened people, confusion, separation, better than, worse than, deficiency stories, and so on.

The mind can easily use awakening, or more precisely the idea of awakening, to create a sense of safety. It can tell itself it made it, it’s safe, it’s better than others, it knows something that others don’t, it’s found approval from life or Spirit, there is no further to go, and so on. And that’s all ways to find safety. It’s good to look at.

A pointer is that if anything about the awakening seems less than ordinary, then it’s good to look at.

It’s less helpful to just list ways that an awakening is ordinary or less so. It’s mainly just fodder for thoughts, and that nourishment doesn’t go very deep. That said, here is a less than helpful list of how awakening is ordinary 😉

It has happened to – or through – a large number of people through history. Most of whom we have never heard about because they lived quiet lives without writing much or anything, and they may not even have had many or any students.

It’s what we are noticing itself. It’s presence (aka awakeness, consciousness, Spirit) noticing itself as all there is. It’s what we already are noticing itself, and it’s what everything already is noticing itself. In that sense, it’s ordinary all around.

The essential realizations that go along with an awakening are universal and ordinary in that context.

There is a flavoring to how this is lived and expressed, and that’s to be expected and ordinary. It’s colored by culture, tradition, and individual experiences and inclinations.

There are usually more peripheral or supporting realizations and pointers, and these too are colored by culture, tradition, and individual experiences and tendencies. How this is expressed may or may not appear ordinary, and that something like that is happening is to be expected and ordinary.

And a couple of ways awakenings are not so ordinary.

What’s awakening to itself is all there is. Still, that awakening or noticing is not happening in a widespread way in society. It’s not ordinary in a statistical sense.

The flavors of the realizations and how they are expressed are unique. (Even if that uniqueness is to be expected and is ordinary in that sense.)

In the best case, these statements can be used as a starting point for inquiry and our own exploration. What do I find when I look for myself? What do I find when I look in a more finely grained way, with specific examples? (That’s how it can sink in a bit deeper.)

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Awakening & deep, primal and visceral fear

 

There is a quite common pattern of (a) an opening or awakening, and (b) a deep primal fear happening in connection with each other. Some experience the deep, primal and visceral fear first, and others the opening or awakening first.

For me, there was an initial awakening without the fear, then a second one followed by that primal fear that was more a dread and terror. It was very strong for about nine months and has surfaced now and then – or stayed relatively stable at a lower level – for some years after.

I see it as related to trauma, and a very primal survival fear, and the two go hand in hand and are really the same. Some say it comes up since the imagined self fears for its life. It goes when there is a more clear awakening so it naturally fears for its life. (There isn’t any “it” there to fear for its life, but the mind makes it seem and feel that way through velcro and beliefs.) That may be true enough. The other reason, which makes as much or more sense to me, is that for the human self to deeply heal, that deep primal survival trauma needs to surface and find healing. This allows that part of the human self to realign more consciously with reality, with this new context of all as presence, love, Spirit, or the Divine.

Having this primal fear surfacing has been among the most challenging experiences of my life. It feels like every fiber in me resists it, and yet I know that what’s called for is meeting it in presence, feeling the sensations, and look at the imaginations connected with it. It’s been a long and difficult process for me.

It does feel like something just needs to run its course. Even as I also work with what comes up in a more intentional way.

This primal fear calls for a few different things, and what it is may be different for each of us and at different times in our process. For instance, it may be meeting it with presence, kindness, and patience. Exploring the associated mental images and words. (As mentioned above.) Recognizing it as coming up to protect the imagined self and coming from love. And the presence and love recognizing itself as this fear and trauma, surfacing in that form right now.

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Byproducts of awakening vs its essence

 

This is something I have been exploring and that many talk about.

There is a difference between the byproducts of an awakening or opening and its essence.

The byproducts can be quite varied. It can be a mix of bliss, love for everyone and everything, a deep gratitude, new abilities such as being able to see auras or do healing, download of information, and inspiration to write or make art. I experienced all of these and more during the initial opening or awakening.

The essence is something we have to find for ourselves and it often clarifies with time. We are invited to use the opening or awakening as a pointer to find its essence, to find what it has revealed that remains through the  shifting states and experiences.

Many or all of the byproducts and experiences associated with an awakening fade and go away with time, and it’s easy for the mind to freak out and think that something essential has been lost. But that’s not the case. It’s the non-essential that has been lost so that the essential can be revealed and recognized more clearly.

And what is it that’s essential. What does the awakening, and the coming and going of its byproducts, point to? What remains through the different states and experiences? What’s still here from the awakening, even when the byproducts are all gone?

For me, it’s a recognition of any state and experience as what everything was revealed as in the initial opening or awakening. As presence, love, Spirit, void, or whatever the mind calls it. That’s really all. It sounds very simple, and it is. And it can be quite difficult to remember and notice when the mind creates temporary identifications and beliefs and stirs itself up.

What supports this recognition is meeting shunned parts of my experience with presence, kindness, and patience. To invite it to heal and align more with reality. These parts were formed in a different context, in a much more painful one, and they still exist within that reality, so meeting them in this way when they come up invites them to heal and realign with the reality discovered through the awakening.

As a mentor of mine once said, the initial awakening was free, and the continued clarification requires work.

I should also mention that there is a dark night connection here. If the mind holds onto the byproducts of the awakening as something essential, it can easily create a dark night for itself when they inevitably go away. The mind can go into despair, struggle, and even depression. That’s why it can be helpful to be aware of this before it happens. And it can also be helpful to practice recognizing the essence of the awakening through different states and experiences while it’s still relatively easy. That may not prevent the despair and struggle that sometimes happens when the byproducts go away, but it can at least provide a pointer and a direction for how to relate to and make use of that transition.

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All as Spirit, and a deeper layer of what needs healing

 

When I was 16 and had the initial opening or awakening, all was recognized as Spirit and Love. The divine woke up to itself as everything without exception, and as consciousness, love, and the void it all also is. This was quite strong for several years.

At the same time, I knew that there was still a lot of healing needed for my human self and that the remaining unloved and unexamined parts of my human self created a pull for identification. I worked on this as well as I could, but it was difficult to access as deeply as I felt was necessary.

So what happened was a dark night of the soul. And that brought that material up to the surface without much filtering and without much opportunity to hold it back.

There are many ways to talk about this and many angles to approach it from. Each one with it’s own validity and value.

These parts want what I want, which is to be met in presence, kindness, patience, and understanding.

These parts do not yet know all as Spirit and love. They seek to know.

They seek to know their own deeper reality, which is presence, love, and even void.

Said another way, Spirit seeks to know itself as these parts of me. And to know these parts – the trauma, pain, sadness, anger, fear, grief – as presence, love, and void. As the divine and the play of the divine.

This allows for a deeper healing. And it allows for a deeper and more thorough alignment of more of my human self with reality. This is one of the ways an opening or awakening deepens.

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Awakening and healing go hand in hand

 

Awakening and healing go hand in hand.

What is awakening and healing? Awakening can be seen as what we are recognizing itself to some extent. And this “what” can be called presence, awakeness, consciousness, and behind that void. Healing means a healing of who we are, this human self.

It may be worth mentioning that what we are is not in need of healing since it cannot be harmed. And who we are can’t really awaken since an awakening means that what we are awakens out of an exclusive identification as who we are.

How do they hinder each other? When there is more healing to be done, it means there is velcro and beliefs in the system that can be activated by current situations. When these are activated, there is a strong pull towards identification. And that makes for a less stable or thorough awakening. Conversely, when there is no awakening or has been no openings, there is a deeper level of healing that’s less available. That deeper layer of healing happens when the trauma and it’s components (sensations + imagination) is recognized as presence itself, or love, or even void. What we are recognizes it as itself.

How do they support each other? A deeper and more thorough healing of our human self allows for a more stable and deepening awakening. There is less charge that can be activated, creating a strong pull towards identification and out of recognizing what we are. An opening or awakening allows or a deeper healing of our human self, partly through recognizing trauma and its components as presence, love, or void. And also through making it easier to meet shunned parts of our experience with kindness, rest, and love.

So awakening and healing go hand in hand. That’s partly why I am drawn to tools and explorations that invite in both healing and awakening. It makes sense to include both since they are so intertwined, and are really two sides of the same coin.

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Is the drop awakening to itself, or the ocean?

 

One form of awakening is when my very ordinary human experience is revealed to itself as presence, love, consciousness, void etc.

Another is when there is a very real sense of the whole universe awakening to itself as all of that – consciousness, love, wisdom, Spirit, God. Or, more precisely, it was already awake to itself as that, and now it happened here too through this human self and experience.

I am somewhat familiar with both types, which is why I am curious about this distinction. The initial opening or awakening was very much of the second type. And now, I am exploring more the first.

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Awakening and trauma

 

Awakening can happen whether we have worked through a lot of our human stuff or not.

When it does, it’s often followed by a transcendence of our human hangups and pain. We experience a honeymoon phase. We experience some relief from it.

At some point, the intensity of the awakening may fade, and life’s pressures can retrigger our human wounds and hangups again. It may feel like something went wrong, but it’s just life showing us what’s left.

It’s life saying, now you have a taste of what you are, so use that new context to invite healing into who you are, into your human self.

It’s sounds simple talking about it in this way. And it can be experienced as very messy and often confusing when we are in the middle of it. That’s why it can be very helpful to have someone in our life who knows this process and has gone through it themselves.

And it’s not something that happens only once, or in just one way. This clarity / realigning cycle happens over and over and in many different ways.

It’s part of our human life.

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Change my relationship to an uncomfortable experience vs see it for what it is

 

We can change our relationship to uncomfortable experiences, or we can see it for what it is.

Changing our relationship to it. From seeing an uncomfortable experience as an enemy, a problem, something to be fixed, changed, or avoided, we can instead meet it, find peace with it, even befriend it. That in itself makes a big difference. It may still be there – whether it’s physical or emotional pain, a bodily contraction, an emotion, a story – but we experience it differently. Our relationship to it, and how we experience it, is different and more friendly. We are more kind towards it, so experience it in a more kind way.

By befriending it, our relationship to it is changed, but we may still see take it – the emotion, story, discomfort – as meaning something that’s real, solid, and true. So that is something to examine.

Seeing it for what it is. How does my mind create its experience of whatever seems scary, threatening, a problem, and real and solid? What imaginations (mental images and words) and sensations make up this experience? What happens when I isolate out and examine each of these components? What may happen is that I see – and get at a more visceral level – that my mind creates this experience for itself, and it’s not real and solid in itself. And sometimes, the charge may lessen or go out of it, although that’s not even necessary for this shift to happen.

These two support each other, and they are also aspects of the same.

Mutuality. Changing my relationship to it may make it easier for me to see it for what it is. It calms my mind down enough so I can meet it and investigate it more closely. And investigating it and seeing it more for what it is inevitably changes my relationship to it. When I recognize – again at a more visceral level – that it’s not as solid and real as it appeared, I naturally relate to it in a more relaxed and kind way.

Aspects of the same. When I change my relationship to something in my experience that appears as an enemy, there is also a change in how I perceive it. My beliefs about it changes as do my identifications. There is some shift there. And, as mentioned earlier, when I see how my mind creates its experience of something, my relationship to it changes with it.

How do I do it? How do I change my relationship to something in my experience that appears as an enemy? For me, ho’oponopono, tonglen, all-inclusive gratitude practices, Breema, TRE, inquiry and more helps me change my relationship to it. And how do I see it more for what it is? For me, inquiry – whether it’s The Work, Living Inquiries or something else – has been most helpful. It really helps to have some structure and guidance – from a structure and ideally an experienced facilitator – in exploring this. (And that facilitator can – with time, guidance, and experience – be yourself.)

Healing and awakening. These explorations support healing and awakening. How do they help us heal as human being? When we struggle with or own experience, it tends to keep wounding, trauma, and discomfort in place. And when we befriend it more, it tends to heal. And how do they support awakening? They help the mind see how it creates its own experience of separation. In this case, separation between an apparent self and an apparent enemy, problem, or discomfort. The experience of both is created by the mind, as is the apparent separation between the two, and the pull of attention into these stories and away from what we really are – which is that which all experience happens within and as. (Aka presence, awareness, consciousness, awakeness, and the emptiness all of that happens within and as.)

In practice. How can it look in practice? (a) Something is uncomfortable to my mind, and I notice something in me wants it to go away or escape from it. From here I can (b) either explore changing my relationship to it (as described above) or explore how my mind creates its experience of it (inquiry). Often, I do both. I may explore ways of changing my relationship to it within an inquiry session, or do them in separate sessions.

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How the modalities I use work together

 

The different approaches I use all fit together nicely for me. Detailing how would take a long time since the parallels and interactions are very rich, although here is the start of an outline.

THE MODALITIES

Living Inquiries (LI). An exploration of how sensory experiences and imagination combine to create our reality and how we experience the world. Specifically, we look at how sensations and imagination (mental images, words) come together to create an experience of different selves (deficient and inflated), threats, and commands. Through noticing the elements and the presence it’s all happening within, there is a release of the “glue” holding them all together. Our relationship to it changes. The charge tends to soften and go out of it. We recognize it all as presence and what we already are.

There is a deep allowing of what’s here which helps us to recognize ourselves as presence and that which all happens within and as. (And also as the emptiness allowing all of that.) There is also an invitation for what creates suffering in us to soften and release, which supports us as who we are, as human beings who naturally wishes to reduce and be free of suffering. These two go hand in hand and are mutually supportive.

The Work (TW). Identify and investigate beliefs. Beliefs means to take certain stories (imaginations) as true and real. It’s what happens when there is identification with the viewpoint of certain stories. We take ourselves to be that viewpoint, at least to some extent. The outcome is similar to the outcome of the Living Inquiries.

Breema. Mindfulness in movement. Finding ourselves as the whole that body and psyche is part of, and the presence it’s all happening within and as. This is also a very nurturing practice.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). Releasing muscle tension through the natural trembling and releasing mechanism of the body. Allowing our body and the innate wisdom of the body – created through evolution and the experiences of all our ancestors – to be in the driver seat. This also naturally and progressively helps release layers of trauma.

Vortex Healing (VH). My most recent exploration. Inviting and allowing divine energy and intelligence to work on us as a healing and awakening path. The framework for VH is very much aligned with the other modalities.

HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER

LI and TW. I sometimes will use TW within an LI session if I notice the client is more comfortable with thought than presence or feeling. It’s a stepping stone for them, and can be very helpful.

TW and LI. Within a TW session, I may include LI elements of resting with sensations, images or words.

Breema. Breema helps us bring noticing and allowing into movement. It can also be deeply nurturing. It helps us experience ourselves as the whole that body and psyche are part of. And it helps us find ourselves as the presence all happens within and as.

TRE and LI. TRE helps release the tension and body contractions that together with imagination makes up anxiety, depression, compulsion and general struggle and suffering. It speeds up the LI process, and LI helps speed up the TRE process.

VH and LI. VH can help bring the client into a more calm and present state, ready to do the looking required in LI. It can also help reveal and release whatever issues the client is exploring, and can help release and reveal the issues related to body contractions. VH can be used at any point before, during, or after an LI session.

LI and VH. LI can help us examine and find more clarity around issues revealed and softened through VH. It can help us see how the mind creates a sense of reality in anxiety, depression, and compulsions, and also help us find ourselves as the presence it all happens within and as.

HOW HEALING AND AWAKENING WORK TOGETHER

Healing and awakening. Beliefs, identification, and wounding are all words for the same. All creates the appearance of us being a separate self. All of it creates a contraction within mind and body which makes it difficult for what we are to recognize itself. It makes it difficult for the presence that we are to rest in itself as presence and as presence as the content of experience. When there is identification, beliefs, and wounds, we will inevitably identify as these whenever they are triggered. So healing is an essential part of a more stable awakening. Presence recognizing itself in a more stable and consistent way as that which all happens within and as, and then emptiness recognizing itself as that which all of that happens within and as.

It’s quite common for an opening or awakening to be followed by a “loss” of this awakening. That comes from mind identifying with stories again. And most (or all?) of the time, it’s because a wound is triggered leading to identification with painful stories. As these heal, which is a somewhat endless process (!), it’s easier for the awakening to be more stable and to deepen.

Awakening and healing. An opening or awakening can be very helpful for healing. It gives the mind a new context for any experiences, and this can make it easier to explore beliefs and identifications, and heal from wounds. At the very least, it gives a reference which can serve as a guide in this healing and exploration.

Awakening also can and will “take the lid off” of our trauma and wounds. At some point, these come to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and rested with in presence. They come up to be recognized as presence itself, as love itself, as the divine. They come up so the divine (presence, love) can recognize itself as that too, as wounds and identification. And that’s where the deeper healing happens.

Mutual support. Healing as who we are, this human being, supports a more stable and deepening awakening. And awakening as what we are, that which all happens within and as, supports the healing of who we are. They go hand in hand.

Awakening includes rude awakening

 

If you have a rude awakening, you have a severe shock when you discover the truth of a situation.

– from The Free Dictionary

An awakening process can be a rude awakening.

Some parts of the awakening process is what our personality likes. It aligns with what our personality likes and wants. For instance, an early and temporary transcendence gives us a taste of freedom from trauma, pain, and hurt.

Other parts may be more difficult for our personality. They can challenge or clash with habitual patterns our mind initially created to stay safe. These include but are not limited to:

Disillusionment. Awakening includes disillusionment and especially disillusionment about what awakening is and what “we” get out of it. We may hope for a state of eternal peace and bliss, and what it’s really about is awakening to and as that which already allows any experience and state, including sadness, anger, and pain.

Awakening to the shadow. Awakening means awakening to everything, including our own very human pain, trauma, and hurt. At some point, this comes to the surface with an invitation to question the unquestioned stories holding the hurt in place, feel the unfelt feelings and emotions, and love all of it as it is including any reactions we have towards it.

Most people have a lot of misconceptions about awakening or enlightenment. This is partly inevitable since awakening is a change of the context of our experience rather than a change within our experience, and most of us are only familiar with the latter until there is an initial opening or awakening. These misconceptions are also partly encouraged and perpetuated by some spiritual traditions and teachers, either for strategic reasons (which I happen to not agree with) or because they don’t know better.

It’s difficult to know in advance how much of the trauma is healed or cleared up by the initial awakening, or any practices we engage with before or after the initial awakening. It’s also difficult to know how much is there in the first place. A lot of it is “collective” trauma passed on through the generations and by our culture, and some may also be due to epigenetics. I was certainly surprised by the amount of pain and trauma that surfaced for me.

What do I mean when I say that awakening is a shift in the context of our experience? It’s because an awakening is an awakening to – and then as – what experience happens within and as. This is sometimes labeled awareness, presence, Spirit or something similar, although any label will make it seem more discrete and like an object than it is. Content of experience doesn’t have to change at all, although it often does as a side effect of this shift in context.

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Pitfalls of openings and awakenings

 

Here are some common pitfalls of openings and awakenings:

New identifications. With an opening or awakening, new identities may surface and the mind may identify with these for safety. These identities include but are not limited to awareness, oneness, spirit, free. These are just more thoughts that the mind identifies with, and it’s good to notice and inquire into these as soon as they arise.

Unprocessed material. With an opening or awakening, the lid may be taken off any unprocessed material. Anything that’s unfelt, unloved and unquestioned comes up to be felt, loved, and questioned. Any unfelt emotions or feelings surface to be felt. Any unloved parts of us or our experience (including our whole world) comes up to be loved. Any unquestioned stories surface to be questioned. This can lead to a version of the dark night of the soul.

Kundalini. With an opening or awakening, kundalini may activate. For some, this may lead to a kundalini overcharge. It may feel like high voltage is going through regular house wiring, and as if parts of us – and perhaps our brain – is fried. This can be prevented and reversed.

What do I mean with an opening or awakening? I mean that we realize what we are, or what we are realizes what it is. This is what the mind may call awareness, oneness, no separation, spirit (or even Buddha Mind, Brahman if it’s so inclined). This may be a glimpse, or it may be a more stable recognition. Often, there is a mix of this recognition and remaining identifications which partially obscure this recognition. We then live partially from noticing what we are, and partially from remaining identifications. This is very natural, and there is not really any problem here, but it’s good to be aware of and acknowledge, and also to have ways to work with these identifications.

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Adyashanti: Enlightenment is very ordinary

 

Do not think that enlightenment is going to make you special, it’s not. If you feel special in any way, then enlightenment has not occurred.

I meet a lot of people who think they are enlightened and awake simply because they have had a very moving spiritual experience. They wear their enlightenment on their sleeve like a badge of honor. They sit among friends and talk about how awake they are while sipping coffee at a cafe. The funny thing about enlightenment is that when it is authentic, there is no one to claim it.

Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence.

Everyone else may or may not call you enlightened, but when you are enlightened the whole notion of enlightenment and someone who is enlightened is a big joke. I use the word enlightenment all the time; not to point you toward it but to point you beyond it. Do not get stuck in enlightenment.

– Adyashanti

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Adyashanti: Enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all

 

We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is not easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go of long-held perceptions. We may experience great resistance to seeing through even those illusions that cause us a great amount of pain.

– Adyashanti

I don’t use the word enlightenment much. We can have a taste of it, or shift into it, by noticing content of experience and allow it, or rather notice it’s already noticed and already allowed. And that’s clearly not about “positive” emotions, which is another term I don’t really use.

It’s not easy, because it means a continuing disillusionment. It means looking at any belief, any identity, any identification, any hope and any fear, and see it for what it really is: a bundle of images, words, and sensations. It doesn’t exist outside of that. That disillusionment. We “see through” our most cherished identities, fears, and hopes, and that’s not always so easy, even when we cause ourselves a great deal of pain by not seeing them for what they are.

In this process, there is also an opening to anything unloved, unquestioned, and unhealed in us. All this tends to come to the surface, sometimes as a trickle, sometimes in great chunks at a time. And that’s not easy either.

So why do people seek this? That’s a whole other question, and the exploration could – and probably do – fill several books. The simple answer is twofold. One is that we seek awakening or enlightenment because we think it’s something else than what it is. We project our hopes into it. We think it’s a state. We think it will make everything easy. We seek it as an escape. The other is that it’s a natural movement for many of us. It happens whether we like it or not. We seek a more real truth, love, reality. We sincerely seek truth, love, reality. Truth, love, reality seeks itself through our life.

Waking up – from the trance of trauma

 

Waking up can be understood in many different ways.

Most often, it means waking up to what we really are, that which all experience happens within and as. (And cannot really be pinned down by a label, although it’s sometimes called awareness, Spirit, Existence, Brahman, Big Mind etc.)

For me, more and more, it also means waking up from trauma, from the trance of trauma.

The two go hand in hand. One shows us what we are. The other helps soften and release the often strong identification created by trauma, and holding trauma in place. What we call “ego” so often seems to be result of trauma. A way for us to try to find safety, for this vulnerable self we sometimes take to be who we are and separate. (Which is not wrong, but also not the whole picture.)

And trauma does create a trance. A trance of believing the stories and deficiency stories creating the trauma and holding it place.

Scott Kiloby: The five most helpful points for awakening

 

The Five Most Helpful Points for Awakening

1. Notice that thought? – Look at it, let it be all by itself.

2. Notice that feeling? Feel it, let it be all by itself.

3. Notice that there is an awareness that seems to remain no matter what thought or feeling is passing through. Notice that this awareness will not save you from having thoughts or experiencing feelings. So just go back to #1.

4. When you think you are still seeking, go back to #1.

5. When you think you are awake, go back to #1.

– Scott Kiloby, Facebook