Feeling lost

 

When wounds AKA bubbles of confusion surface, I sometimes feel quite lost. And it’s perhaps not so surprising.

These parts of me – these wounds and bubbles of confusion – have been orphaned by me. They have been met with fear, resistance, sometimes even disgust. I have recoiled from them. They have not been included in the family. They have not been met with love, or been recognized as (sometimes confused) love.

These parts of me feel lost, because they are. They have been disowned, left out in the cold, isolated, without care, nourishment, or guidance. So when they surface, these associated feelings – including of being lost – surface with them.

When all of this comes up, what images do I see? How is it to meet it with love? Can I meet the fear with love? The sense of being lost? The feeling of aloneness? The feeling of isolation?

Looking at a thought from its outside and inside

 

There are two ways of releasing identification with a thought: By looking at it from the outside, recognizing it as just a thought. And by exploring it from the inside, finding the validity in its turnarounds, and releasing any sense of absolute truth in any of the versions.

In both cases, there may be clarity, nonreactivity, kindness, wisdom. In both cases, stories are seen as tools of practical value only.

At the same time, it is pretty easy to notice which teacher has worked with which approach.

The ones who clearly see a thought as just a thought, and have not explored the truths in turnarounds much, often stay with the tools of relatively conventional stories. Stories that are familiar to them, that have been passed on to them through whatever traditions they are familiar with. They may even be slightly shocked by folks who freely use the turnarounds of these stories as holding validity and useful truth.

Others, who also see thoughts as just thought, but have extensively explored the truth in reversals of common stories, have far more freedom in which and how they use stories. They are free to use the conventional ones, and also their reversals when that seems appropriate. They have a wider active repertoire of stories.

Although both come from clarity, there is a difference in flavor. The first one may seem a little safe and timid, while the second is more juicy and alive. (At least to me!)

And there is also a parallel to voice dialog and the Big Mind process here.

Just as we are more familiar with certain voices (subpersonalities), and can disown or own their polar opposites, we are more familiar with certain stories and can be familiar or not with the truths of their reversals.

And the more we own disowned voices, and find the truths in the reversals, the wider the active repertoire of our human self becomes.

Whether Big Mind is awake to itself or not, a wider active repertoire gives a richer set of options for our human self. A wider range of ways of functioning in the world. A wider embrace of the richness and fullness of the human self and how it lives in the world.

If Big Mind is not awake to itself, it at least makes for a more fun, juicy, fuller life.

And when Big Mind is awake to itself, this wider embrace translates to more fluidity and richness in skillful means.

One example that brought this home for me: Byron Katie said once that Hitler may have brought more people to God than Jesus, and I can easily find the validity in that story. (Which is a reversal of conventional stories in our culture.) When I mentioned that to a local teacher who has not worked much with turnarounds, he reacted with horror and did his best to banish any appearance of validity in that statement.

He of course saw it as just a story, as any other story, but had not explored the truth in that reversal, was not comfortable in using it, so then also missed out of any insights that may come from it. And his students then miss out of the same as well, and also any releases from beliefs that may result from it.

Spirit animal

 

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When I was a child, I had a Big Dream about a black panther, and I realize later that it was very similar to shamanic experiences and connections with a spirit animal. In the dream, there was a connection with the panther as long lost friend, and someone who had immense wisdom, insight and ability to guide me.

The world is a mirror of what is inside of ourselves, and animals can be especially helpful in mirroring and evoking certain qualities in us.

When we journey – whether in dreams, shamanic rituals, active imagination, through using the whole of us as in process work, or even through voice dialog – we are often guided to exactly those qualities that wants to come into our lives more fully. Those that may have been disowned, or just temporarily forgotten. There is an infinity of sources for reminders, including animals.

What comes up is what is needed here and now, so will change over time. But some may have to do with longer term processes, unfolding over decades, and the black panther for me seems to be one of these.

For me, the black panther evokes a beautiful combination of polarities, maybe especially a natural confidence and relaxation, and alertness and explosive activity, depending on what the situation calls for. It is firm and gentle, cute and vicious, and follows its path with receptivity yet in a non-nonsense way and undistractedly. Its velvety blackness reminds of the fertile blackness and awakening of the belly center, which nurtures each of the qualities listed above.

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Shamanism is probably the earliest form for psychology, and from the little I know about it, it can be every bit as sophisticated as any contemporary western psychology. Judging from the earliest examples of rock art, it is a form of psychology that has been with us since before the dawn of civilization, which is humbling and also gives a sense of connection across time and universality.

I have worked with the black panther more lately, bringing its qualities into my daily life, and have found it a great support.I may find the black panther qualities in myself through images and movements, or just ask myself what would the black panther do?

Beliefs, knots and orphans

 

What are the relationships among beliefs, identities, knots and disowned parts or orphans?

Here is a quick sequence…

  1. We believe a story. It is taken as real, substantial, somehow reflecting something inherent in the world. The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored, and the grain of truth in the initial story is blown up and bolstered, made to appear as more than just a relative truth of practical value only.
  2. This belief creates an identity. We form an identity as someone who takes that story as true. And the content of the story may also form an identity for us. For instance, if I believe that people should be considerate, my own identity is as someone who either is, or at least want to be, considerate.
  3. Whenever there is an identification with a story or an identity, there is friction between this story/identity and how the world shows up. There is a gap between our stories of how things should be, and how they are or can be. And from here, a whole cascade of things happens, including fueling of resistance and certain emotions and behaviors. And since there is an identification with the story and identity fueling it, there will also be an identification with (most of) its effects. It is all taken as I, as intimately personal, as who I am.
  4. The belief creates friction, which in turn has certain effects, and together they all form a knot. This knot is the whole conglomerate of beliefs and identities, and the patterns of resistance, emotions and behaviors associated with it.
  5. This is where the orphans come into the picture. The obvious orphans are for instance the emotions created by the friction, which are usually resisted and disowned to a certain extent. Resistance itself may also be resisted, so this too becomes an orphan. And other orphans include the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. Each of their reversals have a grain of truth in them, and this grain of truth it also resisted and disowned.

I believe I should be healthy, so form an identity as someone who is – or at least want to – be healthy. I am not healthy, so there is a friction between what is and what should be. This creates various emotions, such as frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness, grief, and so on. It also fuels behaviors to avoid triggering a noticing of the discrepancy between what is and what should be, and the emotions created by this discrepancy. All of this creates a knot, and much of it is resisted to a certain extent. I try to escape it, avoid it, disown it. So the orphans here are the resistance itself, the emotions triggered, and also the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. To welcome these orphans back into the warmth, I can be with the resistance and emotions in a heartfelt way, as if they would never change. And I can investigate the truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity.

Ragged guests

 

Sometimes the guests that come through are pretty ragged… (Guests here meaning any content of experience, including emotions, reactivity, wounds, etc.) And if we try to push them away, ignore them, call the police, pretend they are not there, or end up wailing or running frantically around with them, they stay ragged.

The other option is to be with them in an heartfelt way, to allow whatever comes up from them, listen to it, feel into it, and even love it. That is how people in our life often can heal, and that is often how these guests can heal as well.

Again, nothing new here. We know it from our own life… seeing it in the world of humans and other beings, and the inner world of emotions, reactivity, wounds, and so on. At our human level, the outer and the inner mirror each other.

We can explore it quite simply in this way… just being with what comes up, in an heartfelt way. And we can also explore it more in detail through for instance voice dialog or the Big Mind process. Listening to disowned voices, the ones that are hurt in different ways, allowing them as they are, not needing them to change, not using them as something to manipulate or as a gateway into something else. Being interested in who they are, their history, being receptive to them, respecting them as they are, seeing and allowing them, feeling into what they say, and even loving them as they are. Even shifting into Big Heart and embracing them from Big Heart.

In terms of the three centers, there is receptivity at the head center (seeing), belly center (feeling, felt-sense), and heart center (love)… in short, a heartfelt seeing.

When we resist them (identify with the resistance), we not only rehearse the (apparent) split between I and Other but the guests also stay as they are, in misery, coming back later wanting to be let in.

Compassion includes guests in any form and shape, whether they show up in flesh and blood or in the form of emotions, reactivity, frustration, grief, sadness, anger, irritability, restlessness, wanting to be somewhere else.

Voices disowned in the self-inquiry process

 

The voice of resistance is one of the voices battered by my approach to self-inquiry… Put down, tried set aside, ignored, not wanted, resisted, disowned, placed in the shadow.

It is a subtle disowning compared to what is possible when there is a strong sense of a separate I and a particular identity, but also a crass disowning compared to how it can be when all is allowed.

Other voices pushed away in this process may be the sense of I, hangups, contractions, and duality. And the voices identified with when these are pushed away, are the voice of self-inquiry, of seeking (seeking to realize selflessness.), and maybe even the voice of seeing selflessness.

The irony is of course that in the process of attempting to allow all, some are pushed away and resisted.

Compassion for what is disowned

As I write this, I notice a good deal of compassion coming up for these disowned voices.

And this compassion is similar to the compassion that has come up lately for the vulnerable animal, this human self as a vulnerable animal, sometimes confused, scared, contracted, reactive, blindly wanting, trying to protect a particular identity, loving and hating, trying to survive, find its way in the world for the short time it is around. This vulnerable animal is a voice in itself, and it is also the reason all the personal voices are around, it is what the personal voices serve, guide and protect.

Voices to dialog with

So some voices to explore for me right now may be…

Voice of resistance – voice of allowing, sense of I – Big Mind, contractions, hangups, duality – nonduality, self-inquiry, seeking mind – nonseeking mind, seeing selflessness, the vulnerable animal, and maybe even Big Belly (the voice of endarkenment.)

How do they each serve the self? How do they function right now? Are they appreciated? How are they treated? How can they serve the self better? How can the self serve them better?

What is alive in pushing away

As I write this, the quality that comes up when certain things are pushed away, such as resistance, is very much alive.

The hardness of it. The sense of pushing away. Of a split. The aggression of it. A sense of something to protect and defend. A sense of the possibility of the wall breaking down and being invaded by what I am trying to push away and defend against. The precariousness of the situation. The paranoia that comes with it.

Always looking for signs of the wall breaking down. The ambivalence towards life and other people, not knowing what they may say or do that can threaten the identity built up around this. The energy that goes into building up a particular identity, and holding what is on the other side of the wall at bay… at all cost, in any situation. It is terrible, but also seems so desperately necessary.

Until it isn’t. When the wall falls, it is OK. But that is certainly not how it seems when the wall is up, when all energy is used to keep it up, to defend against what is on the other side… whether it is certain experiences, disowned voices, human qualities not included in our self-identity.