In feeding demons – and similar practices – there is always a range of gifts I can receive.
I can receive information when I dialog with the demon (or the disturber), and this information can be very helpful. The character (subpersonality) often has valuable insights for me, and something it wants to tell me. (This is similar to voice dialog or the Big Mind process.)
I can pick up the energy behind it and bring it into daily life in an exiting and constructive way. This is true especially for the energy it has before it is fed, which is often very much alive. (This can be accessed through movements as well, and is similar to Process Work.)
And after it has been fed, there is a feeling atmosphereI can bring into daily life. Often of being deeply loved. Seen. Felt. Safe. At home. (Happens in a range of other practices, such as tong len.)
There are five simple steps to feeding demons, and as I have explored it for myself, I have found a few tweaks that seem to work a little better for me…
When I shift into the role of the demon, I take some time to move and sound like it, to get a better feel for it. How does it feel to live as the demon? (I may just imagine it if I am in a public place!)
I also don’t discriminate in terms of how it should look. If it is a worm or rock or pond, that is fine with me. I can equally well dialog with them as with a being with arms and legs and a mouth.
Before feeding the demon, I find it helpful to ask if it would like to be fed. If it says no, I will just stop there and come back to it later. (Hasn’t happened yet.) It feels more respectful, and takes away the sense of “force feeding” that comes when feeding without asking first. In short, it helps me work with the dynamics of the process instead of against what is happening.
While feeding, I sometimes switch from being the nectar feeding the demon to the role of the demon being feed. It helps me feel it from the inside, the sense of being deeply nurtured to complete satisfaction.
In dialoging with the ally, I use different words. Mainly, I ask how it can help my human self in daily life, and how my human self can access it.
In general, it seems to work best to have the attitude of doing it for the sake of the demon. Here is a demon suffering, and I am in a position to feed it what it needs, so I do it for its sake. More specifically, I take responsibility for how I relate to the demon and how I live from the shift that happens when it is fed, and that is it. What happens otherwise is, luckily, life’s business – not mine. (There isn’t really such a division, but it is helpful to see it that way here.)
And finally, using the word “demon” sometimes seems a little too dramatic. I find it helpful to use the word disturber instead, and work with it the same way. Find where in the body I experience it. How it moves. What sounds it makes. What it looks like. And so on.
After having done the demon feeding practice for a few days, I notice how the effects tend to manifest. Mainly, there is a shift from taking stories as true (even just slightly) to holding them much more lightly, and from reactive emotions to a sense of relaxation and nurturing fullness. It is a very visceral practice, and the effects tends to be visceral – deeply and fully felt in the body – as well.
I notice that when I do inquiry these days, it is more difficult to come up with statements. That is one reason I started doing role playing, imagining beliefs others may have and inquire into them as if they were my own. (Which they are, even if I see them in others more easily.)
That is one reason I enjoy doing the demon feeding practice now. It is much easier to find demons, and as I start working on them – feeding them what they need – it seems that more of them line up. People in a poor neighborhood flocking to a soup kitchen. Demons flocking to be fed.
Milarepa went through a process of relating to his demons in different ways, from asking them to leave, going into dharma combat, welcoming them, and finally feeding them. (I have read a few differentversions of this so am not sure what it says in his own writings.)
In any case, it is a good illustration of how I find myself relating to my own demons…
I may ignore them, pretend they are not there. Push them aside for a while. But they stay around and continue to do their demon things, so I need to find another way of relating to them. (Milarepa was probably smart enough to pass through this one quickly.)
I ask them to leave. Some may leave. Others may leave and come back. Many don’t leave. This one is also not very effective.
I go into arguments with them. I tell my version of the story. They tell theirs. And it doesn’t work very well.
I welcome them. Wholeheartedly. As they are. Allow them to stay as they are, even forever if that is what happens. (Which it isn’t.) Some go away. Others transform. And again, some stay. Some even continue to bug me.
I may ask (pray) for guidance, inviting in intention and receptivity for a shift in how I relate to them.
I may have a dialog with them. Asking them who they are. What they want. What they need. What I can do for them. What they can teach me. How they can help. This is more productive.
I can shift into their role, find myself as them and what I see in them in myself. Taking time to sink into it.
I may find any beliefs related to the demons, including the ones that make them appear as demons, and inquire into them. Is it true? What happens when I hold onto that belief? Who am I without it? What is the grain of truth in each reversal?
I feed them. I give them what they really need – love, kindness, sense of safety, and so on. I hold them within Big Heart, and allow them to transform in whatever way they want – within Big Heart.
I can notice them – and anything else – as awakeness itself. As the play of awakeness in/as form. This is the other side of the coin from working with it on the form side.
Reincarnation holds a particular fascination for many. After all, if I am someone, then what will happen to this someone after death, and what – if anything – was it up to before this birth?
And as usual, it can be very helpful to see what is going on here now.
What I find is that any fantasies I may have about these things (have to create them intentionally since I am not very interested in it!), mirror something here now. That is the case whether someone else tells me about past/future lives, or it comes up for myself in dreams, regression therapy or some other way.
The characteristics and dynamics of those stories mirror something here now. And also, when I take stories about past and future lives as real, I take stories alive here now and tell myself they are (a) about the past or future, and (b) are about something substantial and real. I project characteristics and dynamics out into those stories, and I project a mental field activity out in the past/future and as substantial and real.
In general, stories about reincarnation mirrors how we – and content of experience in general – continually dies as what it was and is reborn as something else. In that sense, the process of reincarnation is happening here now, always.
And more in particular, whatever I imagine into past or future lives – who I was, what life I lived and so on – also mirrors something here now. Typically, it mirrors my fears (shadow) or my hopes. Qualities and characteristics present here now, which I am not completely aware of so can more easily see out there in someone else, in the past or future. (Usually things that are here, but do not fit my conscious self-image, who I am in the world.)
So it can be very useful to work with imaginations around reincarnation, and I find that I can do it in any of the ways I work with anything else.
I can dialog with figures – who I was or others in that life. Who are they? What do they want? What do they need? What do they want to tell me? How can I help them? How can they help me? What can I learn from them? How do I relate to them? How can I relate to them in a more skillful way? How can I notice them more in my own life, or bring them more out? What is a healthy expression of the qualities I see in them?
I can do tong-len with these figures, especially the ones that suffer.
I can find the figures that appear as demons to me (troublesome) and go through the feeding the demons process.
I can allow the experience that comes up, as it is, including any resistance to it. I can find myself as that which already holds and allows all of it. And I can do it with kindness and compassion for my human self who may have trouble dealing with it.
I can find any beliefs I have around particular stories about past lives, and inquire into them. What happens when I hold onto those beliefs? Who am I without them? What is the grain of truth in their reversals?
I can explore it through the sense fields. When I activate stories about past or future lives, what do I find in the different sense fields? What do I find in the mental field? Can I see it all happening within and as this timeless present, as activities in the mental field – sometimes combining with sensations and other sense fields?