Core, ground, periphery

 

Here is one way to map out the discomfort/suffering dynamic.

Core. The core is identifications and beliefs. It’s holding stories as true and real, and this has energetic, emotional, mental, perceptual, and lived components. It’s reflected in all our human levels of being, in how we perceive, and how we live.

Periphery. These are the consequences of the identifications and beliefs. They include additional beliefs that support the initial ones, reactions towards the pain created by the initial beliefs, reactions towards the life situations the initial beliefs brings us into, and more. There is sometimes a great deal of these more peripheral beliefs, and they in themselves can become core beliefs for additional ones.

Ground. The ground is what we are and everything are, aka consciousness and love.

Identification means identification with or as the viewpoint of a thought. We hold it as real, and perceive and live as if it’s real. This creates a sense of separation. It also creates discomfort and even suffering since it’s out of alignment with reality. Life and reality rubs up against our beliefs and identifications, and this is uncomfortable.

Say there is a belief that there is a separate self. This can have a more peripheral belief that this separate self is unlovable. And this in itself becomes a core belief for a constellation of other beliefs, for instance that I need to seek love by doing what I think other people want me to do, and that her look means she doesn’t like me and that is terrible. All of this creates discomfort and suffering.

And that discomfort is an invitation to – eventually – examine more closely what’s happening and find more clarity and release from it. And that will eventually lead Spirit to recognize itself – and all there is – as consciousness and love.

Why is all this happening? We can see it from a few different perspectives.

At a human level, we can see the formation of the initial beliefs and identification as mimicking the adults in our life. We take on what we see our parents and others doing. It’s a form of love. It’s a form of taking care of ourselves. It’s innocence.

At a multiple-life perspective, we can see it as a habit that is passed on over lifetimes.

At a Spirit perspective, we can see it as Lila, the play of the divine. The universe – and our experience – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. And this includes temporarily experiencing itself as separate, as a separate being. It’s part of the play.

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Willing to experience discomfort in healing & awakening

 

Healing and awakening – and life in general – requires some willingness to experience discomfort.

And this willingness comes with experience, skills, and trust.

It comes from experience with moving through discomfort. It comes, it’s familiar, it passes.

It comes from skills in how to relate to it. For instance, notice and allow. Rest with it. Notice the space around and within it. Notice it’s already awakeness.

It comes from trust in the process, in all as awakeness (the divine), in all as lila (the play of the divine).

We can also explore the fear of discomfort more directly, for instance, through inquiry or Vortex Healing. We can meet it, explore it, and see what’s there and where it’s coming from.

For me, I notice this most clearly in inquiry and Vortex Healing. Inquiry requires me to meet and dive into the scariest and “darkest” areas of my experience. And over and over, I get to see that it’s not as scary as it first appears. In Vortex Healing, after going deeply into something that needs healing or awakening, there is often a kind of healing crisis which can be uncomfortable. (This can be reduced or avoided by doing it more gently and doing more integration and catch-up, and I typically do this with a client. But when I do it for myself, I often choose to dive into it with less restraint.)

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Is it true this experience has to go away?

 

Sometimes, when I notice discomfort, and a wish for this experience to go away, and may ask myself:

Is it true this experience has to go away? 

Or…. Is it true it’s overwhelming? Is it true it’s too much? Is it true I need to escape?

Or even… Is it true it’s discomfort? Is it true it’s pain?

This is just a little nudge. An invitation for the mind to shift a bit in relation to the experience that’s here.

And the reality is a little different. Simple. Yet also with wrinkles and other elements.

In practice, I notice the impulse to move away from it, and instead feel it. Drop into the feeling. Allowing it. Allowing all of it – the feeling,  the impulse to move away from it, the wish to do the opposite. Notice it’s all already allowed. All content of experience is already allowed.

I may also say: You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. I love you.

And I notice images and words connected with the feeling. Sometimes just looking at them, until they perhaps fade, and sometimes asking simple questions about them to help me see that they are images and words.

The center is feeling what’s here, simply, as it is. And the rest are just occasional aids to allow a simple feeling.

Origins of discomfort and reactivity

 

I keep seeing that when there is a mismatch between my dearly held views and reality there is discomfort and reactivity, and this reactivity includes emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, grief, longing and even exhilaration.

The beliefs themselves create this discomfort and these emotions. If they were true, as I tell myself they are, discomfort and these emotions are reasonable reactions. We are wired to react that way.

I also see that the discomfort and the anger, fear, sadness etc. almost seem to come from the discrepancy between (a) knowing that my dearly held views are not true, and (b) still feeling compelled to hold onto them. Somewhere in me, I feel I need to hold onto them – to survive, to do well, to avoid discomfort, to find satisfaction and happiness. That’s another discrepancy that is bound to create discomfort and a range of different emotions.

So one discrepancy is between my views and reality, and the other is between feeling a need to hold onto these views while knowing – somewhere – they are not true. Both create discomfort and reactive emotions.

The discomfort and these reactive emotions are alarm clocks, as Byron Katie says. They show me that I hold onto views, that these are out of alignment with reality, and they invite me to take a closer look at what’s going on.

It is a great honour to sit with discomfort

 

It is a great honour to sit with discomfort, for all the mysteries of the universe lie within. As you sit with discomfort, you also meet discomfort’s best friend – the urge to escape that discomfort! Is there enough room in you for both discomfort AND the urge to escape discomfort? Of course – who you are is vast and spacious enough to hold anything. This is true meditation – no longer resisting discomfort and trying to escape to a future comfort, but discovering the ever-present, unconditional Comfort that you are, the perfect calm in the midst of the storm.
– Jeff Foster

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Don Quixote

 

lostinlamancha

What do I see in Don Quixote? I see – among other things – someone who is at odds with reality, fighting imaginary enemies.

How do I find that in myself? I do the same whenever I take a story as true. I identify with a particular viewpoint, so am necessarily at odds with reality. Reality is not limited to my stories about it.

What happens when I am at odds with reality? There is stress. Discomfort. A sense of unease. Sense of separation. Tension.

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Comfort as priority

 

I listened to a CSS talk yesterday and a questioner brought up the topic of comfort. By looking at her own choices and actions in daily life, she could see that her main priority is comfort. (We can find our priorities by looking at our actual choices in daily life and where we spend our time and energy.)

Is it an obstacle? Yes, it can be, in all the obvious ways. By seeking comfort we may engage in mindless entertainment instead of practice, distractions instead of allowing experience and inquiring into beliefs, and so on.

But it can also be a gateway, an invitation for inquiry.

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Following ones heart, and discomfort

 

I went to a mini-retreat today with a woman Adya has asked to teach. Among her many very helpful pointers was this one about following ones heart and discomfort. It is slightly elaborated on from own experience.

If the small quiet voice (my intuition, heart) tells me one thing, and I do something else (usually because of a strong belief), there is naturally discomfort. I am out of alignment with what I know, somewhere, is the right choice of action in the situation. In my experience, this feels like the depth is wrong, even if the surface looks OK. The discomfort here is not only a reminder to follow the voice, but also comes from wearing away resistance to following the voice – the beliefs preventing me from following it in certain situations.

Also, when I do follow the quiet voice, there can sometimes be discomfort. I follow the voice, the action clashes with my familiar identity, and there is discomfort. As above, this discomfort comes from wearing away of identities and beliefs. But here, the depth is experienced as OK and the discomfort is more on the surface.

This is all happening within and as what we are, in both cases. It is all perfectly OK. It is just that following the quiet voice, and allowing identifications to be worn off by following it, is usually more fun as who we are – as human beings in the world.

Cloudiness and sense fields

 

I continue to explore the sense fields and how they combine to create gestalts, and in particular how thoughts combine with the other sense fields. (The sense fields: sound, sight, smell, taste, sensations, thoughts.)

I see how sensations combine with thoughts to create a sense of particular moods, emotions, pain, and much more.

Today, in the dentist’s chair, I noticed how particular sensations combine with thoughts to create a sense of discomfort. Seeing sensations as sensations and thoughts as thoughts, the gestalt loses its substance and sense of reality. The same happens when I bring attention to the sensations serving as anchor for the sense of discomfort. The gestalt cannot arise with any sense of substance when attention is brought to its anchoring sensation because the mechanism is seen through.

In the past, I have explored how sleepiness – for instance when it arises during practice – also is just a sensation combined with a thought.

And tonight, in exploring a sense of cloudiness, fuzziness, murkiness, I find that too as being made up of sensations and a thought.

In addition to all this, I also find that when there is an identification with any of these, it is as if a bulls eye for a sense of a separate I is placed on the sensations. They then not only serve as an anchor for the gestalt of an emotion, pain, discomfort, sleepiness, murkiness and so on, but also for the sense of an I with an Other.

And that is when, for instance, identity gets absorbed into the sleepiness or murkiness gestalt, and I fall asleep during practice, or the practice gets lost in murkiness.

Seeing all this, as it happens, allows the center of gravity to shift out of these sensations and gestalts. Now, I not only see how the gestalts are made up of sensations and thoughts, but the sense of a separate I is released out of them. (Either placed on other sensations, or seen through as awakeness itself.)

Now, they are objects happening within and as awakeness.