Adyashanti: Sometimes your deepest shadow comes up after your deepest awakening

 

Sometimes your deepest shadow comes up after your deepest awakening.

– Adyashanti, The Way of Liberating Insight

Why does it come up? We can say that an awakening is an opening to reality, and that reality includes our shadow. Or we can say that bringing the shadow into awareness is required for us to live the awakening in more situations and areas of life.

In any case, long before this happened to me, I thought this and other forms of a dark night sounded noble and a bit heroic. I thought I would be able to continue keeping what surfaced at a safe arm’s length’s distance and remain firmly centered in clarity and presence.

When it happened, it was more experienced as a complete disaster. And for me, that was part of the shadow that surfaced. I was unable to remain clear, centered, and keep it at some distance. And I had to finally admit to myself I was completely and utterly human.

Note: Healing unhealed parts of us is part of the embodiment process. As long as they remain unhealed, they will be triggered by life situations and we tend to live from reactivity to these unhealed parts. To the extent they are allowed and healed, there is space there to instead live from responsiveness, clarity, kindness, and wisdom. The shadow surfacing in the way Adyashanti talks about it is an important part of the embodiment process. It’s not comfortable. It may not be what we think we want. But it’s what’s needed for us to live more fully from the awakening.

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Invitation for healing, maturing, awakening

 

I sometimes use the word invitation. For instance, I may write there is an invitation in this situation to heal, mature, and even awaken. What do I mean by the word invitation here?

There is no actual invitation inherent in life or any situation. But it’s there as a potential. And we can see it as an invitation and make use of it as an invitation.

In this sense, there is an invitation from life to us in any situation. There is an invitation to heal, mature, and awaken. An invitation to explore and learn. An invitation to notice and experience. If we are ready for it, there is also an invitation in any situaiton for us to notice what we are, and all as the divine.

And we can also invite life. We can invite in healing for something in us, or maturing, or even awakening. We can prepare the ground, we can set the stage. And if it happens, then it’s grace.

So there is no actual invitation inherent in life. But we can make use of it as an invitation. And we can invite in certain things by preparing the ground for it, and if it happens, it’s grace.

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Shadow material surfacing in an awakening process

 

It’s common – or perhaps inevitable – for shadow material to surface in an awakening process.

What’s shadow material? Anything in us that’s unhealed, unmet, unloved, unrecognized as the divine. Anything in us we are unaware of, or deny, or see in others and not in ourselves. Anything in us we live from and react to without openly recognizing that’s what’s happening.

Why does it surface?

The mind’s ability to push it down is weakened or gone. In an awakening, the mind opens to all as the divine. And that opening is also an opening to whatever in us is still unseen, unprocessed, and unhealed.

It surfaces with an invitation for us to recognize that too – the most painful and unwanted parts of us and our experiences – as the divine and what we are. That is another piece of the puzzle. Another phase of the awakening and embodiment process.

It comes to be seen, felt, met, healed, and loved, allowing for a fuller embodiment of the awakening. It allows the awakening to be lived in more situations in our life. When life triggers something unhealed or unprocessed in us, we may respond by reacting to it. When that’s healed, we are more free to respond from clarity and kindness.

And what about the role of identification? The more identified our mind is with how it reacts to the surfacing shadow material, the more it tends to struggle and suffer. But it can’t just decide to not identify. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. What we can do is notice what it all happens within and as. We can invite our center to shift somewhat in that direction. And although it may not make it any easier in the moment, we can remind ourselves that the cycles of identifications are part of the process. It’s part of what allows the mind’s tendency to identify to gradually burn out.

What can we do when we are in a phase of surfacing shadow material? Here are some thing’s that’s been helpful for me, at different times.

Go for walks. Spend time in nature.

Notice and allow. Rest with the noticing. Notice the space it’s happening within.

Invite it – and my reactivity to it – to heal through whatever approach works for me. In my case, inquiry, dialogue (kind, respectful), ho’oponopono, TRE, Vortex Healing etc.

See if I can find a way to meet it – and my reactivity to it – with kindness, respect, patience, allowing. Befriend it. Ho’oponopno, dialogue, and tonglen can be helpful here.

Find and talk with people who have gone through it themselves. People who understand and shows us we can get through it.

It can be a very painful process. It can feel unbearable and overwhelming. It can feel like it will never end. And yet, it does. At least the intense phase does, in my experience. And as more shadow material is seen, felt, healed, and loved, it does create more space and opening in our system for living from the awakening in more situations in life.

Note: I added the “dark night” tag to this post since an intense phase of shadow material surfacing is one form of dark night. It’s one of the things that can happen in an awakening process that the mind doesn’t immediately like so much.

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My experience with Vortex Healing awakening courses

 

I thought I would make a brief note about changes I notice after each of the Vortex Healing awakening courses. It’s by no means complete, just the effects I especially notice or that are surprising to me.

Core Veil, Dec. 2017. A sense of tying up lose ends in terms of the basic awakening. Relief. Something found rest in my heart area. The healing energy seems to engage deeper in the client’s system when using the healing tools. Clearer sensing, including a sense of temporarily becoming whatever is the focus of healing (e.g. an organ or system).

Inner Veil, February 2018. A sense of being space. Of being awake space. More spacious energy system.

 

Healing as a motivation for awakening?

 

People who express a desire for awakening typically have a range of motivations, some of which they are conscious of and some not.

One of these is healing. We wish for healing. It may seem a tall order. So we wish for something as apparently dramatic as awakening to cure us. And, again, this may be conscious or not.

How do we identify our deeper or original reasons for wishing for awakening, or anything else? One is to follow the chain of “what do you hope to get out of X”. What do you hope to get out of awakening? Peace. What do you hope to get out of peace? etc.

And what if healing is a central motivation for wishing for awakening? If we identify that motivation, it can help us reorient in a couple of different ways.

One is to find and use approaches that invite in healing and awakening. I tend to take this approach, which is why I have spent time exploring inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), heart centered practices (ho’oponopono, tonglen), therapeutic trembling (TRE for healing and embodiment), Breema, training a more stable attention, natural meditation (notice and allow), and more recently Vortex Healing.

If we find that healing is our main motivation, we may change our focus to healing and leave the awakening aside for a while. It may be more likely to give us what we really want, and perhaps the awakening interest returns at some point or not. Either way is fine.

In either case, it’s helpful to clarify our motivations and reorient accordingly. What do we really want? How do we most effectively invite it in? And that’s an ongoing process.

Also, we may find that some of our motivations for awakening come from fear or a sense of lack. If so, we can explore these and invite in healing for these parts of us. In my case, I have used the approaches listed above, but there are many helpful approaches out there.

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Why so passionate about healing and awakening?

 

Why are some of us so passionate about healing and awakening? Why are we, in the words of someone I talked with earlier today, spiritual terriers?

It may be that I need the healing. That I know the liberation on the other side. That I wish for a clear and deepening awakening because it’s like coming home to what I already am. That I see healing or awakening as a way to escape discomfort. That I have developed a compulsion around it because I don’t want to face my pain. Or any number of other reasons.

In reality, I don’t really know. Why do we develop a passion for anything? Why do some of us develop a passion for music, or chess, or a sport, or drawing, or anything at all?

We can say that it makes sense evolutionarily. It helps the survival of our species for some of us to develop passions for skills, understanding, and certain experiences.

We can say that it’s a confluence of innumerable influences, stretching back to beginning of time and the widest extent of the universe, and it’s impossible to account for all of them or even a significant fraction of them.

We can say that it’s the divine passionate about experiencing and exploring aspects of itself.

And although there may be some truth to each of these, we don’t really know. But it is something we can make use of when it’s here. It adds flavor to life. It can give a sense of meaning and purpose. It can sometimes be used to support our own life in terms of making a living. It can be used to support other people, in this case – of passion for our own healing and awakening – in aiding their healing and awakening.

I should add that when it comes to any compulsion, including in spirituality or awakening, it’s good to look at where it comes from. Is there a belief? An unexamined fear? A sense of lack? Those are all helpful to look at and invite healing for. Then we can approach it with a bit more clarity and sanity.

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How awakening is perceived by others

 

How is awakening perceived by others?

Mutual recognition. If there is awakening both places – in both people – it’s often immediately suspected, sensed, or recognized. For instance, for those of us who sense or see energy, it’s relatively easy to see the level of clarity and type of awakening in someone else. (The energy around the person mirrors the awakening – it’s clear, finer, awake, with no apparent end in space.)

To others. If not, it depends. It depends on the level of healing, maturity, and embodiment of the awakening. And it depends on the role the person has in the world. Most often, the person looks quite ordinary and lives an ordinary life. The person may or may not talk about spirituality or awakening, and may or may not have taken the role of a spiritual coach or guide.

If he or she speaks about it, it may appear as an idea or something read in a book. (Since that’s it would be for the recipient.) Or it may appear as coming from direct experience the recipient has been told it’s from direct experience.

My experience. How has this been for me? During childhood, when I had flashbacks and memories of life between lives – and all as the divine – I didn’t talk about it. I just had a sense of nostalgia and a longing for “home”. In my teens, when Spirit as all woke up to itself more fully and clearly, I initially had no words for it and no intellectual context for it. After a while, I did speak my direct experience to a few people but they were either not interested or thought it was just an idea or from a book. Even people I thought would understand and be familiar with it – a few local Buddhist teachers and students – didn’t seem to recognize it and were more interested in traditional teachings.

Eventually, I did meet a couple who immediately recognized it. As me, they saw it in the energy system. One was a spiritual guide (Jes Bertelsen’s wife at the time), and another lived a more anonymous life and became a close friend. And later, I met others who have had a similar path as me and immediately recognizes it. Adyashanty is probably the main one. It felt like communication within awakening, and at a human level as meeting a brother, when I had the opportunity to talk with him for a few hours.

Over time, I also found writings from people who expressed this awakening or at least a view aligned with it.

In my teens, I could see that Jung had an inkling about it although he kept his writing at a human level. Arne Næss was aligned with it, although mostly through recognizing the oneness of Earth. As did Carl Sagan through the oneness of the universe. Fritjof Capra was similarly aligned with it through recognizing how eastern mystics and western science – quantum physics and systems theories – described the same reality. Ken Wilber, through his mapping, had a good understanding of it from an intellectual level and through glimpses. Jes Bertelsen was aligned with it and very important to me in my teens since he was a fellow Scandinavian. Some of the old Daoists expressed it quite clearly and beautifully. Some of the Christian mystics expressed it although filtered through their tradition and a wish to not appear heretical.

Later, in my twenties and thirties, I found others. Genpo Roshi obviously knew what it was about, and his Big Mind process was a good way to help others have a taste of what it’s about. (I was a resident at his Zen center for a few years.) Adyashanti is the one I experience as most clear and aligned with how reality revealed itself to itself in my case. Ramana Maharshi was almost a bit boring to me because it seemed too obvious (!). I really enjoyed Douglas Haring and his clarity, ordinariness, and playful pragmatism. I also enjoyed connecting with Joel Morwood and the other teachers at the Center for Spiritual Sciences which was just down the road from me for several years.

And, more recently, I am grateful for having found Vortex Healing and Ric Weinman. His very detailed descriptions and maps fit nicely into my more general views and experiences. And Vortex Healing has helped me greatly in healing at a physical and human level, and in clearing up and tying up loose ends from earlier awakenings (especially the VH awakening courses).

When I am on the US west coast I regularly meet people who understand and where there is a mutual recognition. But in periods, and mainly when I am in Norway, it’s been more lonely at a human level. I have yet to meet someone here where there is the same easy mutual recognition. Most of the time, it’s OK. But occasionally, I notice some emotional issues around this – and that’s an invitation to meet it with some kindness, patience, and perhaps invite in some healing.

A note about language: As usual, it’s a little hard to find the right words talking about this. An awakening is the One awakening to itself as all there is, and that awakening somehow operates through this human self. So we cannot accurately say that a person awakens, or that someone is awakened. It’s more that the One is awake to itself as all, and that’s expressed and lived through a human being. Our ordinary language doesn’t express that very well or easily. So we have a choice between using ordinary and simple language which is somewhat misleading and inaccurate, or a language that’s more accurate and often more convoluted and awkward, or something in between. I often go for the inbetween option although that too is not always so satisfying.

A note about the One awake to itself as all. I realize that when I write “Spirit / the One awake to itself as all”, it can easily be misunderstood. It’s meant literally. All of existence is awake to itself as Spirit. Even what we experience as matter is consciousness, space, and Spirit. And in this awakening, it’s clearly revealed as that. It’s not an intellectual understanding. It’s an immediate and clear recognition that’s expressed through language.

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At home everywhere

 

The initial awakening or opening was surprising in itself. And there were several surprises that came with it. One of the surprises was that now everywhere was home.

I was at home everywhere because everywhere is God (Spirit, what I am). Spirit as me is visiting Spirit as a place. Anywhere I went was home.

There are a couple of other sides to this.

My very human preferences are still here adding flavor to my experience. So although any place is home, in a more real sense, I still have preferences. I still like the western half of the US over the other half. I still especially like Iceland and the English west country. I still like the Netherlands and Switzerland more than Germany.

And there is also something that happens as we mature and heal as human beings. The more we heal and mature, the more we feel at home in ourselves. So the more we feel at home in the world, just about anywhere.

This is also true for how I experienced people. When I met a person, it was Spirit as me meeting Spirit over there. Me over here met me over there. And as above, this coexists very well with my human preferences. And as I get to know myself more as a human being, and heal and mature, there is also a very human sense of recognition when I meet just about anyone.

So there are several flavors to my experience of places and people. One is of Spirit meeting itself. Another is my human preferences. A third is recognition and feeling at home from healing and maturing as a human being.

And yet another flavor is that in me that still doesn’t quite recognize this. The parts of me that haven’t yet healed or awakened. So when I don’t (notice that I) feel at home somewhere, it can be a pointer to parts of me not yet healed or awake. And when I don’t recognize myself in someone, or see that person as me over there, it’s the same. It’s a pointer to something in me that’s not yet healed or awakened.

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Using practices to get rid of things

 

In healing work, there is a balance between (a) noticing we are that, (b) exploring our relationships with it, and (c) healing it. Whatever “it” is. Whether it’s an emotional issue, physical issue, or situation.

Of course, for some (a) is not so relevant. It’s not where they are at. But for all of us, it’s helpful to explore our relationship to “it” as well as inviting in healing for it.

Here are a few words about each.

(a) Notice we are that. For those interested, any apparently troublesome issue is an invitation for us to notice we are that. It’s “me over there”. Healing our relationship to it is a good start. That, in itself, softens the mind-created boundary. And other forms of inquiry can help us see it more clearly, for instance the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, or The Work or Living Inquiries.

(b) Our relationship to it. If I want something to change, it’s helpful to explore where that comes from. Often, it’s fear and a sense of lack. And, really, that this fear and sense of lack is unloved. So we can explore this in inquiry, and also change our relationship to it, befriend it, find genuine love for it. We can heal our relationship to the troublesome issue. A great deal of distress is created from seeing something as an enemy and something to struggle with. So when we find more peace with it, there is often a relaxation and sense of liberation.

(c) Inviting in healing for it. This is an healing of the issue itself, and in this framework it happens within the context of (b) and (a). It can happen within noticing it’s “me over there”. It can happen within a context of befriending it and what it brings up in me. And the healing of the issue itself can happen through any number of ordinary healing practices, including medicine and psychotherapy.

It’s natural for us to want certain things to go away. We may focus on making it go away and forget about (a) and (b). There is nothing wrong in that. It’s natural and understandable, and for most people, it may even be appropriate.

But if we wish to have a more conscious and intentional relationship to life, and we wish for a deeper healing and awakening, we can’t really avoid (a) and (b). They need to be included.

There needs to be some attention on each so that (b) and (a) becomes the context for (c). A more friendly relationship to the issue, and perhaps noticing it as “me over there”, becomes a context for inviting in healing of the issue itself.

That’s how we invite in deeper healing and awakening. That’s how we align ourselves more consciously with life as it already is.

It’s all already happening within and as Spirit and life. An adverserial relationship doesn’t have real substance to it, and doesn’t make sense in that context. And inviting in healing of issues and situations comes from kindness. It’s what naturally happens when it’s all recognized as Spirit and life.

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A kind universe?

 

The universe is a friendly place.

That’s something Byron Katie says, and it’s sometimes repeated by her followers.

It can be understood in a few different ways.

Life unfolds as we like it. When life unfolds as our personality and human self (conditioning) likes it, it’s easy to see it as kind and feel that the universe – in this case – was friendly.

Life is challenging. When life is challenging, we can see it as an invitation for clarity, healing, maturing, and awakening. Specifically, we can question our stressful – and unkind – beliefs and find what’s already more true – and kind – to us. We discover that when we go deeper, we find more true and kind stories. Here too, we can see how the universe is friendly even when life goes against our very human preferences.

Anything at all. Independent of what happens, it all happens within and as Spirit. When we see this, we see that the universe is inherently kind no matter what happens. The universe is inherently friendly.

The first opens us up to gratitude in an ordinary way. The second is a path to deeper seeing and deeper healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment. And the third is revealed to the extent the “veils” have gone, the identifications with and as particular content of experience creating a belief in stressful stories (any story is stressful when believed) and sense of being a separate being.

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Why do these approaches work on so many issues?

 

When I talk about the approaches I use to healing and awakening, I am often aware that it sometimes can sound too good to be true. They seem to work on a wide range of issues and work pretty well – at least if used with skill and over some time.

So why do they work on such a wide range of issues? The simple answer is that they tend to address underlying issues and dynamics. They go below the surface, so they work on a wide range of surface manifestations.

And are they too good to be true? Yes and no. As mentioned above, they tend to work well if used with skill and over time. But it does take work. And if an issue is entrenched, it can take time to clear it.

Here are some examples:

TRE – Tension & Trauma Release Exercises. Therapeutic trembling releases tension out of the body and mind, and that has a wide range of effects. It tends to reduce anxiety, depression, and compulsions. It improves sleep. It can give us a different and more healthy experience of ourselves and the world, and improve our relationship to ourselves, others, and the world.

Inquiry. In inquiry, we examine our beliefs and identifications. Since we often have a layer of beliefs and identifications on top of how we perceive ourselves, others, and life, we can address just about any issue with inquiry. Inquiry can help us release whatever charge is there in our experience of anything. And that means that this too can reduce anxiety, depression, compulsions, and more, especially in relation to something specific.

Vortex Healing. Any issue has a consciousness and energy side. Inquiry tends to approach something from the consciousness side and has an effect on the energy side. Vortex Healing approaches it from the energy side and has an effect on the consciousness side. Vortex Healing can work on emotional or physical issues, relationships, and situations. The deeper reason is that Vortex Healing is divine energy guided by divine consciousness, and since everything is already the divine, only the divine can allow for a deep and thorough healing and clearing of something.

Heart approaches. Ho’oponopono, tonglen, heart prayer, and all-inclusive gratitude practices tend to change our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world. This can be deeply healing and also aligns us with awakening.

My inclination is to seek out approaches that are effective and multi-purpose. Approaches that can be used to work on a wide range of issues, and also invite in healing, awakening, and embodiment. The ones I have mentioned above are among the most powerful I have found so far. (TRE tends to work mostly on healing, although it’s an excellent way to support embodiment of whatever awakening is here.)

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Awakening and mainstream psychology

 

Is awakening and mainstream psychology compatible?

I would say yes. At least if we understand awakening in a pragmatic way, use a simple language, and frame awakening so it makes sense from a psychological view. And if there is some generosity and willingness from the psychological world.

Here is an example of how we can talk about it:

(a) Our perception is always of all as consciousness. We don’t perceive objects, people, or the world. We perceive sensory input and imaginations mimicking sensory input, and all that happens within and as consciousness.

Apart from being logical, we can also explore it in immediate experience and find it for ourselves. If something appears real and solid, it’s because mind tells itself this experience is the real world. In reality, it’s a combination of sense experiences and imaginations of these sense experiences.

(b) So awakening is just a shift of our center of gravity, what we take ourselves to be, from content of experience to that which experience happens within and as. It’s a shift from ideas of being a human to the awakeness or consciousness it all happens within and as. Instead of taking ourselves to be content of experience, we find ourselves as context.

I say “just a shift” because it’s simple in theory. It’s easy to grasp as an idea. But the actual shift can take a good amount of work. We may have glimpses and short periods of experiencing this shift, but a more stable and thorough shift typically takes work (and, mostly, grace).

The idea that awakening and mainstream psychology are incompatible comes partly from weird and “mystical” ideas of awakening, and partly from psychology wanting to stay sober and down to earth. Of course, there is already a good deal of interest and research on mindfulness in psychology. And I suspect one of the next steps will be a genuine interest in, and research on, awakening. Using a simple, pragmatic, and sober language when we talk about awakening will support that step.

What may research on awakening look like? Here are some possibilities:

How people who claim a stable and clear awakening function in life? What are the typical characteristics? How do they perceive and operate? What are the brain and other physical characteristics?

The difference between the awakening itself and how it’s lived and embodied. How much of the person is on board or aligned with the awakening. How to support that embodiment.

What’s the process to awakening? What are the paths? What works for whom? What’s the most effective approaches for people in specific situations (personality, inclinations etc.)?

What are the pitfalls on the path? What can go wrong? When is it more likely to go wrong? When is it less likely? What can we do to prevent it? What can we do when something does go wrong? What are the approaches that work best for the different scenarios?

My guess is that we’ll see this type of academic focus and interest more and more in the coming decades.

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No self or other?

 

It’s common – in some circles – to hear people talk about “no self and no other”.

It can sound very cryptic and mysterious if it’s not our immediate experience. And it’s very simple and obvious when it is.

This human self, others, and the world is still here. And yet, it’s all happening within and as awakeness.

When awakeness is identified with or as the human self, it’s really identified with certain thoughts and mental images saying (a) there is a human self and (b) that’s what “I” am.

And that identification happens through thoughts being associated with certain sensations. The sensations lend a sense of solidity, substance, and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations (they mean “I am this human self”).

That makes it appear as if there is an “I” that’s this human self, and there are others who also are “I”s in their own experience, and a world full of objects and things. It seems very real and true. And it is, in a certain sense.

When awakeness is not identified with or as this human self, it’s all revealed as happening within and as awakeness. This human self, other beings, the whole world, happens within and as awakeness. There is no “I” in any of it. It’s all life happening as life.

This release of identification can happen temporarily as a transcendent experience (which will then turn into a memory), or it can happen more stably and thoroughly through a clear seeing through the mental dynamics holding the identification in place, and through a corresponding release of the energetic “veils” holding identification in place. When we explore this, we can work on it from either side – for instance through forms of inquiry (e.g. Living Inquiries, The Work) and energy work (e.g. Vortex Healing).

This is very simple, and it’s also an infinitely rich topic.

Realignment. For instance, as long as there is identification as this human self, it will align itself with the experience of separation, and that can be quite traumatic. So when there is a softening or release of identification, this human self is invited to realign with this “new” context of all as awakeness. And that realignment includes healing, maturing, and embodiment.

Whatever is unhealed is invited to heal (which can be quite challenging when unprocessed psychological material surfaces). Whatever is unloved is invited to be loved. Whatever is unseen is invited to be seen. Whatever is unfelt is invited to be felt.

There is also an invitation for this human self to life from this “new” context more consciously, stably, and in more and more situations. And there is an invitation for it to mature in a very ordinary and human sense, and the healing and embodiment is part of that maturing.

Localized. Awakening is, in a sense, localized. Everything is happening within and as awakeness. And yet, that “everything” is (mostly) sensory information received through this human self. In that sense, the awakening is localized.

Independent of traditions. This is independent of traditions. Spiritual traditions may talk about and offer insights and practices to help us explore this, and perhaps have a taste of it or invite a more thorough and stable awakening. But this is about reality and traditions are human made. They can offer pointers, at most. This is more than and different from any tradition, or anything we can put into words.

Ripening. Any opening or more stable awakening happens through ripening. That ripening can be invited through conscious explorations – through various forms of prayer, inquiry, meditation, body-oriented practices, relationships, social engagement, and more. And it seems that most, and really almost all, of the ripening happens outside of conscious awareness.

The ripening happens for innumerable reasons and with innumerable influences, and we are aware of only a tiny part. We could say that our conscious practices is only a small part of the influences on this ripening. We could also say that our conscious practices is an expression of this ripening that’s already happening.

And this ripening is living its own life and happens on its own schedule. How it looks and how fast it happens is independent of how our minds tells us it should be, and it’s often very different. It can be faster or slower, and is almost always very different in character.

Ongoing. Awareness of and releases of identifications is ongoing. Identifications may be released out of what’s more individual, and shift into something more universal. And that keeps happening. Reality keeps revealing itself to itself.

Different labels. There are different labels for what I here called “awakeness”. We can also call it Spirit, Big Mind, Buddha Mind, Brahman, Life, the Universe, or whatever else resonates with us. None of the labels are very accurate. They are all just pointers.

Lila. Is there a goal of “us” awakening? Is life a “school”? Not really, as far as I can tell. To me, this all seems more like the play of the divine. It’s life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. Identifications is part of it. As is a desire to awaken. And awakening itself. It’s all part of the play. Any other “reasons” for all of it happens within and as this play.

And any thoughts or ideas we have about it, including anything and everything written here, are all human notions. Reality doesn’t conform to our ideas. It’s more than and different from any of our ideas, however smart or intuitive or traditional or innovative or resonating they may seem.

Very ordinary. What happens to our human life in the world in all of this? There can be disruptions for different reasons (dark nights etc.). But mostly, and in the longer run, our human self continues to live it’s life in the world. And it tends to look very ordinary. It looks like an ordinary life, and ordinary healing, maturing, and whatever measure of clarity and wisdom is there. It’s all very ordinary and human. That may initially seem disappointing. And then, it may seem deeply fascinating, rich, and awe inspiring.

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One type of dark night: From early awakening

 

There are many forms of dark nights.

In general, a dark night happens when life strongly challenges what we hold as true about ourselves and the world. That’s why the term “dark night” is sometimes used about ordinary challenging life situations, and sometimes in a more technical sense about parts of a spiritual path and process.

One type of a spiritual dark night can happen following an initial opening or awakening. With a spiritual opening, there is an opening to all as Spirit, and sometimes also an opening to previously unprocessed psychological material. As Adyashanti says, the lid is taken off and it comes to the surface. And that can be challenging in the best of circumstances.

In this type of dark night, we find ourselves in a difficult combination of (a) unprocessed psychological material coming to the surface, and (b) being unable to consistently see through it, or see it for what it is, since our clarity is not yet thoroughly clear or stable. There can be a great deal of difficult material coming up, from this and perhaps past lives. And since we are still “baby Buddhas” our clarity hasn’t deepened or matured sufficiently for us to clearly see everything for what it is. We still get caught in what comes up, at least at times.

As Evelyn Underhill and others point out, this is a deeply human process. It can be humanizing. Humbling. Painful. And it’s a pretty ordinary part of the process for many people. And we do get through it, whether we fight it (painful) or learn to go along with it (a little easier). It’s what I went through for a few years after the second opening (relative nondual clarity for about six months).

See below for a more detailed initial draft.

 

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The world becomes transparent

 

When there is a spiritual opening, a more thorough awakening, or just an in-depth exploration of the mind, it’s as if the world becomes transparent.

Spirit. One way the world can appear transparent is when all is revealed as Spirit. Spirit reveals itself to itself as all there is, including the world of matter, this human self, and anything else. All is revealed as Spirit, including what this is revealed to, so there is a sense of anything else – any appearances and labels – are transparent. They are ephemeral and “thin” compared to all as Spirit.

Exploration. Another way the world can appear transparent is through exploration. Specifically, an exploration of how the mind creates it’s own experience of the world and itself. As we become more familiar with these dynamics – for instance how thoughts and sensations combine to create identification and the appearance of something real – it’s as if the world becomes more transparent.

More about all as Spirit. When Spirit reveals itself to itself as all there is, it may happen in different ways. In a spiritual opening, Spirit may reveal itself as all there is as a glimpse which stays for a while and then fades. It won’t be forgotten, but the immediacy of it may fade. Often, it becomes a guide and inspiration for further exploration and awakening.  That may lead to Spirit recognizing itself as all there is in a more stable way. And that happens partly through embodiment. The different parts of us become more aligned with this reality of all as Spirit, and we live from it with more ease in more and more situations.

When there is identification with ideas about ourselves and the world, there is a “forgetting” of all as Spirit. And that impacts and shapes our psyche including through additional identifications, wounds, and trauma. These parts of us are no longer aligned with the reality of all as Spirit. So when Spirit reveals itself to itself, these parts are invited to heal and realign. They are invited to more closely align with all as Spirit. And this looks like quite ordinary healing, maturing, and kindness.

I should also mention that when Spirit reveals itself as all there is, that includes anything that can be labelled me or I. Nothing is excluded. This human self is still here. A soul may still be here. And so on. And it’s all Spirit. There is no actual separate me or I anywhere in it.

More about exploration. I have written about this form of exploration in other posts on this blog. See, for instance, any posts tagged inquiry, living inquiries, the work, or identification.

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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Why is God love?

 

 

God is love.

Why? Why do we often experience God as love when there is a spiritual opening or awakening?

From a human perspective, we can experience God as love for a few different reasons.

When there is an initial opening or awakening and all is revealed as Spirit, there may be an experience of love towards ourselves, others, and everything. It feels like love. God feels like love.

When that realization is lived through us, we act as if from love. All is one, so helping others – as and when appropriate – is as natural as the left hand helping the right. It looks like love.

And when that realization is more stable through situations, we may realize that all is good as is. All is Spirit. What happens is Spirit. There is an infinite wisdom and intelligence behind it. Nothing is out of place. And that, to us, looks like love. The world looks like love.

The first is a felt sense of love, and the two others look like love but are not dependent on any feelings of love. And that’s why we may experience, and say, that God is love. Of course, love – and these three points – are all human concepts. It’s a human attempt at putting words on something.

The first one tends to naturally fade over time. I suspect it’s more a byproduct of an initial opening or awakening. And the other two tend to deepen over time.

Note: The photo is one I took at sunset at Venice beach in 2012.

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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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