Dark Night in Psychological vs Spiritual Context

 

The term dark night, or dark night of the soul, can be used in a psychological or spiritual context.

In a psychological context, it’s often used about anything psychologically shattering – trauma, loss, burnout or similar.

In a spiritual context, a dark night of the soul it’s what typically comes after an initial opening or awakening, and a period of “illumination” (as Evelyn Underhill calls it). It can take the form of a loss of conscious connection with the divine, a great deal of unprocessed psychological material surfacing, loss of health and other losses in life, and more. It’s a humbling and very human process, and the “darkness” comes largely from our reaction to it. Our minds don’t like it and perceive it as dark, even if it is the next natural step in our maturation and development.

They are quite similar. In both cases, we may have a great deal of unprocessed psychological material surfacing with an invitation to find kindness, understanding, and healing for it. We come up against our beliefs and identifications with certain identities and are invited to examine them and allow the hold on them to soften. In both cases, it’s an opportunity for great healing, maturing, humanizing, and reorientation.

In the bigger picture, both can be seen as a spiritual process. An invitation for healing, maturing, and even awakening out of our old beliefs and identifications.

There is also a difference, and that’s the conscious context of the one going through it. In a spiritual dark night of the soul, there is already a knowing of all as Spirit – even what’s happening in this part of the process. And that makes a great deal of difference. That helps us go through it, even if it’s just a background knowing.

What helps us move through a dark night, whether the context is psychological or spiritual?

Here are some possibilities: Taking care of ourselves. Understanding people around us. Therapy – body-oriented, mind-oriented, or both. Nature. Food that’s nourishing. Time. A willingness to face what’s coming up and move through it. Inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries etc.). Heart-centered practices (Tonglen, Ho’oponopono, loving kindness etc.) Body-inclusive practices (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema etc.)

For me, support of someone who understands the process, finding helpful tools and approaches, and the willingness to face what’s here and move through it, have been especially helpful.

What tools and approaches have worked for me? The ones mentioned above, and more recently Vortex Healing.

Note: In a spiritual context, there are several dark nights of the soul. I simplified it here and just mentioned the dark night of the soul. The essence of having to face beliefs and identifications is the same for all of them, at least the ones I am aware of so far.

Note: In any dark night, and any life experience, our distress is created by how we relate to and perceive what’s happening. That’s why inquiry can be very helpful. There is an invitation there to find more clarity and consciously align more closely with reality.

The photo is one I took at the edge of Princetown on Dartmoor some years back.

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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.

Deeply healing one issue will tend to impact other areas

 

Everything is connected. And, really, everything is movements within the same seamless whole.

This evening, I used Vortex Healing to prevent kidney stones. (I had an experience with it about ten years ago.) I noticed the energy working in the kidneys first, then moving up the spine and higher in the chest, and then working in the belly. (There was a lot releasing there, judging from all the physical movement). There was a clear sense that the belly healing and releasing had to do with preventing kidney stones. And a reminder that deeply healing one issue includes healing underlying issues which in turn may have several surface manifestations. In this case, I had the sense that healing the underlying issue of the kidney stones also meant healing an aspect of my belly and digestive issues.

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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Never know what’s left

 

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

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

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

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

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Awakening and what’s left

 

Chogyam Trungpa and many other spiritual teachers have shocked, puzzled, and baffled their followers with their apparently unenlightened behavior. It may be drinking, drug use, frequent affairs, bullying behavior, abuse of their followers, and more.

In our culture, we tend to have an image of awakened people as perfect. And yet, they so often are not. Why is that?

To me, it doesn’t seem so puzzling. In a way, it’s to be expected.

There can be a relatively clear awakening, and yet a lot left to heal at the human level.

If the person is receptive and open about it, then it can become a very helpful part of their teaching. It also helps their students know what they are getting into, and it helps the teacher to work on it if they are ready to do so.

And sometimes, there can be some degree of defensiveness around it, both on the part of the teacher and his or her followers.

The teacher may try to live up to an image or expectations from others. Admitting ordinary human flaws and hangups may not fit this image.

They may feel they are above criticism. (And perhaps lash out if they perceive criticism.)

They may justify their behavior, for instance as crazy wisdom or that they are above conventional expectations.

And really, they are just scared to admit it and look at it, as we all sometimes are. And they use all sorts of tactics to avoid facing it for themselves.

This is pretty universal. We all avoid facing certain things in ourselves because it seems too scary, and we use different tactics to avoid it. And this continues to some extent whether there is an awakening or not, and whether we happen to be in a teacher position or not.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Awakening and healing go hand in hand

 

Awakening and healing go hand in hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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Beating around the bush 

 

It’s very common to beat around the bush in inquiry and most other forms of healing work.

We work on the more peripheral or immediate issues, and hold off working on the deep, scary, and more core issues.

There are good and sane reasons for this. We want to feel that we can trust the process and the person guiding it – whether it’s ourselves or a facilitator – before we get into the deep stuff. If we dive into it too soon, without proper guidance or  understanding of how to work with it, we can easily retraumatize.

There may also be fear preventing us from going into the deeper issues, fear that’s unmet, unquestioned, and unloved. And it can be very helpful to look at this fear. What do I find when I explore the elements making up this fear? What shoulds do I have about not meeting these deeper issues, or about meeting them? What deficient selves do I find, either when I consider facing the deeper issues, when I find myself scared of doing so, or if I look at the deeper issues themselves? Looking at these deficient selves is often easier than diving right into the traumatic memories.

Looking at these things helps bring us to a place where we more sanely can evaluate whether we want to dive in deeper or not, and whether we trust the process and the guidance enough to do so.

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Allowing vs healing

 

For me, allowing and healing go hand in hand.

What’s here is already allowed. This experience, as it is, is already allowed – by life, mind, space, awareness. There is an allowing of what’s here inherent in existence and what we are. Our conscious view may or may not be aligned with this allowing, and this alignment may change from situation to situation, and that’s allowed as well.

When we don’t notice this allowing, and instead are caught in beliefs saying what’s here is wrong, bad, and shouldn’t be, we struggle with what is. And that’s suffering. It can be very helpful to notice and then align more consciously with this allowing. It’s a relief. It is, in a very real sense, a coming home. We are coming home to a central characteristic of what we already are, which is this inherent allowing.

One of the innumerable things that are allowed is a wish for something to be different. If we don’t notice the allowing, then wishing for something to be different can become compulsive and add another layer to the suffering. If we do notice the allowing, then the movement for change can become much lighter, more of a natural movement than a compulsion. In either case, the wish for something to be different is very natural, very human, and sometimes even kind and healthy. It can be a kindness to our human self and perhaps to others as well.

This topic sometimes comes up in an inquiry context. The allowing invites a natural healing, and it also allows us to work towards this healing. Say I feel unloved. I can notice it’s all already allowed. The sensations, images, and words making up the sense of being unloved is already allowed. And just resting in that noticing is very healing. I rest with each of the components of “unloved” while noticing the boundless space it’s happening within and as, the presence it’s happening within and as, and the inherent allowing of it all.

And I can also explore it more thoroughly and intentionally through inquiry. I can ask simple questions about each component of “unloved” to see what’s really there. I can look at the early situations in my life where that identify was initially created. I can do some mining on the body contraction supporting the sense of being unloved and see what additional stories are connected with it. All of this too invites in healing.

When I notice and align more consciously with the inherent allowing, I get to notice and align with what I am. When I invite in healing, I do something very natural and kind for my human self.

Note: The topic of this post became more clear to me as I wrote. If I was to rewrite it, which I probably will in another post, it would probably be more clear, simple, and direct. That’s one of the benefits of writing. If it starts out fuzzy, it does tend to become a bit more clear as I write.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jeff Foster: A true healer does not heal you

 

A true healer does not heal you; she simply reflects back to you your innate capacity to heal. She is a reflector, or a loving transparency.

A true teacher does not teach you; she does not see you as inherently separate from her, or less than her. She simply reflects back your own inner knowing, and reminds you of the vastness of your being. She is a mirror, a signpost.

And love is the space in which all of this is possible; love heals, and we learn best in a loving field, no threat of failure, no punishment.

– Jeff Foster

How the modalities I use work together

 

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

THE MODALITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW HEALING AND AWAKENING WORK TOGETHER

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

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

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

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

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

Love your enemies

 

Love your enemies. 

I keep rediscovering and relearning how healing this is.

What my mind makes into an “enemy” can be a person, a situation, a part of myself, an experience, or anything else. As soon as my mind makes anything into an enemy, there is struggle, a sense of separation, and suffering (even if just slight). It’s uncomfortable. It creates unease. It’s how suffering, wounds, and trauma are held in place.

When the mind finds love for it’s “enemies” there is a relaxation, a healing, a reconciliation, a sense of connection (or no separation at all), and receptivity.

So how can we do this? There are many ways to help the mind shift into this.

Tonglen. Give and take. Visualize the “enemy” – whatever it is. See its suffering as dark smoke. Breathe it in. Breathe out light and see it go into and light up the other. (This can feel scary at first. If it does, do tonglen for the scared part. Include it.)

Ho’oponopono. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Say it many times towards the other. Repeat until the sense of separation and sense of it being an enemy softens and dissolves. Here too, if there is fear or resistance coming up, do ho’o towards these parts of the mind.

Prayer. Pray for the health and well-being of the other.

Inquiry. Examine any sense of threat and a threatened one, any sense of solidity of the other (and yourself), any command to see the other as an enemy or not. (Living Inquiries.) This will help soften or dissolve any sense of solidity of what you are examining and it tends to open for receptivity, understanding, kindness, and love.

Love seems to be at the core of healing. Love. Reconciliation. And helping softening and dissolving any sense of solidity of the components (threat, separation, commands) creating a sense of an enemy.

As I have said before, to me the love your enemy pointer is more a pointer for healing than anything else. Although I also see how it can be helpful if it’s taken more as a pointer for how to behave.

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Sweat lodges helping veterans with PTSD

 

[Video removed since it autostarts.]

A beautiful story in so many ways.

“You pray for your enemies and people that don’t like you,” Cheek said. “And that’s difficult, and as a veteran, you’re praying for those people that actually shot at you. That helps you come to terms with a lot of the stuff.”

– from Centuries old tradition is helping veterans sweat out stress.

I would say that this is probably an essential part of the healing for these veterans. Love and reconciliation – even if it’s only inside of ourselves – heals.

When Jesus said “love your enemies” he may not have meant it as a prescription or morals. He may very well have meant is as a guide for healing.

Terrorism: Hurt people hurt people

 

Why terrorism? Specifically, why the Muslim terrorism we see today?

To me, the most obvious answer is that alienation, trauma, and the way the west has treated the rest of the world for centuries = terrorism.

Alienation of Muslims in the west + individual and collective trauma (individual trauma from abuse, violence and poverty, and collective trauma from war, violence, poverty, authoritarianism ) + continued western military / economic / cultural imperialism = fear, anger, hurt, reactivity = radicalization and terrorism. It’s the perfect recipe. And to reduce and prevent terrorism, we need to change the elements of that equation.

Terrorism is a crime and needs to be treated as a crime. There is no question about that. I support that wholeheartedly.

It’s also obvious that war and (amazingly childish) retaliation doesn’t solve terrorism. It only fuels anger and resentment which in turn fuels further radicalization and terrorism. War is its own form of terrorism, and often has much more to do with control of natural resources and gaining a foothold in certain regions than dealing with terrorism.

It may seem that terrorism in this case has to do with religion, but to me that’s a lazy answer. Religion in itself is pretty neutral. It’s what we do with religion that matters. And what we do with it comes from our level of health or hurt. If we are deeply hurt, we may easily use religion or any other ideology to hurt others.

And who is to say that the way the west has treated the rest of the world isn’t terrorism? It has certainly terrorized people for centuries, and it continues today.

So what’s the answer? To me, it includes reducing alienation of non-westerners in western societies. Strengthen traditional cultures and self-reliance in cultures around the world. Reducing western cultural, economic and military influence around the world. Admitting openly to the trauma created from centuries of western imperialism and abuse. Healing trauma. Giving people a real opportunity for a good life.

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Dark night and trauma

 

Following an awakening or opening phase, there may be another where “the lid is taken off” as Adyashanti says. A good amount of what is unquestioned, unloved, and unhealed in us comes to the surface, and we have little or no ability to set it aside or push it away.

It’s as if life wants to heal the human side of us, so we can become better vessels for the clarity, love, and awakening. The more we have questioned our unquestioned stories, the more we have found love for what’s unloved in us and our experience, and the more we have healed and matured as human beings, the better the clarity, love, and awakening can be expressed and lived through us.

For some, this may be more gentle and ongoing, and without dramatic “dark nights” of this type.

For some, it may be relatively short, or less intense. Perhaps if they already are quite healthy as a human being, and relatively free of what’s unloved and unhealed.

And for some, it can be quite dramatic, intense, and overwhelming. I seem to find myself in this category now.

Why is it more dramatic and intense in some cases? I suspect part of the answer is trauma. If there is more trauma – more that is unquestioned, unloved, and unhealed – this type of dark night may be more intense as well, and perhaps even last longer. There is simply more material to question, find love for, and heal.

The drawback then is that this phase may be more rocky, painful, and last longer, and it can impact ones life in many areas. The benefit is that there is an opportunity to learn a great deal through this process. And this may in turn even benefit others. There are plenty of examples of “wounded healers”.

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Here and now, and from the past

 

Velcro, identifications, and trauma are here and now, and from the past.

They are here and now, and cannot be found in the past or future. We cannot even find past, future or present outside of what’s created by images, words and sensations.

At the same time, velcro, identifications, and trauma were initially created and formed at some point in the past, often in early childhood. And it can be very helpful to look at that, question the painful stories, and find love for what was unloved. One way to find these early events is to ask when did you first have that thought?, or when do you remember first having that feeling?

It’s frequently said, and it seems to be true enough, that childhood trauma is behind a great deal of what we struggle with as adults.

So which one is it? Are these things here and now? Or found in the past? It’s both, as so often. It’s all happening here and now, and within that we can find painful stories of events from early in our life. And it’s important to look at these, and find some resolution and healing.

It’s also neither. At some point, it can be helpful to look for velcro, identifications, and trauma themselves. Can I find these outside of my images, words, and sensations that create an experience of these?

And unfindable doesn’t mean doesn’t exist or that they are not helpful stories or pointers in some situations. They can be, for instance, in finding healing.

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TRE trembling and other types of trembling

 

After starting with Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), I have been curious about various forms of trembling.

There seems to be a few different types:

(a) Trembling from muscle fatigue. After exercise, physical exertion.

(b) Trembling to produce heat. Shivering from cold.

(c) Trembling after orgasm. Some report this.

(d) Trembling to release tension and trauma. Following a traumatic event (hunted by a predator, car accident), childbirth, and also the TRE exercises.

The muscle fatigue trembling seems relatively simple, and localized to the fatigued muscles.

Trembling to produce heat also seems relatively simple, and partly localized (for instance to the jaw) and partly general and involving the whole body.

Trembling after sex and/or orgasm may be a way for the system to release an “overload” from the stimulation of sex and orgasm. In some cases, this could be related to earlier sex related trauma, although that’s just a possibility.

Trembling from TRE seems different. It varies in frequency. It moves to different – and eventually just about all – areas of the body. It sometimes includes rhythmic movements of limbs (butterflying of the legs, shaking of hands etc.). It includes stretching. It seems to be guided by an inherent intelligence of the body, moving to where it’s needed and perhaps also at the frequency most needed. It seems to be much more about restoring the system to health (psychically and mentally).

David Berceli, the originator of TRE, uses the term neurogenic tremors for the TRE tremors. Neurogenic means initiated/guided by the nervous system, but all of these forms for tremblings seem to be initiated and guided by the nervous system. Using the word exclusively for the TRE type trembling doesn’t quite make sense to me. (I have to admit that I have used the word in that way in previous posts, because others do, and I have done so against my better judgment.) Some call it therapeutic trembling, which makes better sense.

It would be very interesting to know more about how these different forms of trembling are initiated, which parts of the nervous system is involved, and perhaps also which parts of the brain are involved in the different forms of trembling.

Unloved and unquestioned for generations

 

I suspect that some things in me has been unloved and unquestioned for generations, in some cases perhaps even back to the beginning of civilization or earlier.

For generations, we have learned to not love certain experiences and parts of ourselves, and not question – or even notice – certain stories. And the pain has been passed on from one generation to the next.

Here and now, some of that pain is surfacing with an invitation for me to love it, questions the stories behind it, and release it from the pain of being unloved and unquestioned.

Sometimes, I imagine generations of ancestors here, approving of me engaging in this process of love and questioning, encouraging me, quietly supporting me. I even dialogue with them, to remind me, to hear what they have to say, and to feel their support.

This is, of course, all a story. It’s made up in my own mind. I cannot find any actual ancestors, or generations, or passing on. What’s here is here, and I cannot find it in the past. I cannot even find a past.

At the same time, this is sometimes an helpful story. It’s a reminder that my ancestors would support me in this if they were here and came from their more wise and kind sides. It’s also a reminder that I am may do this for myself, or think I am doing it for myself, and yet this is something far more universal and shared, and I cannot know the ripple effects of the work I am doing now.

It may not seem much. It may not always be enjoyable. I may not feel I am doing it as sincerely or diligently as I imagine I could. And yet, I really don’t know the ripple effects of this work – for myself and others, or perhaps even for Earth as a whole.

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How we relate to what we wish to heal

 

How we relate to what we wish to heal, or “see through”, in ourselves, makes a big difference.

We know that from daily life. How someone relates to me makes a big difference in how I feel about the connection, and respond to it.

If someone relates to me with respect, kindness, and well wishing, I tend to relax and enjoy the connection. If someone relates to me with an intention to fix me or change me, I am likely to resist and oppose it with an equal and opposite force.

That’s how it is with what’s unloved, unhealed and unquestioned in us. Those parts of us wish to be treated with kindness and respect, just as we do. And if we relate to them with the intention to fix or change them, they are likely to resist.

Three things seems to help me reorient in how I relate to these parts of myself.

One is to remember how I would like to be treated by others, and then do that. I wish to be treated with kindness, respect, and well wishing, and ideally with presence and some wisdom.

Another is to ask the part of me how it would like to be treated. How does P. (me) usually relate to you? How would you like him to relate to you? What advice do you have for him? What would satisfy you forever? 

Yet another is to have the intention for it to find release, freedom, peace, and liberation from suffering. (If that’s what it wants, which is not unlikely.)

When I befriend a part of me, it becomes more friendly. And it’s all the mind meeting the mind. It’s the mind healing itself from what it has done to itself. It’s the mind untangling the knots it itself has created.

It also helps to see that the wounds and knots are from innocence, from a wish to protect, from deep caring, from love (worried and confused love). The wounds and knots are from (worried) love, and the healing is from (a more clear) love.

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Attending to the spine

 

In my teens and early twenties, I did a Taoist practice where I brought attention up and down the spine and through the top of the head. (Visualizing dark light going up, and golden light coming down, with the in and out breath.)

Now, I am doing a similar although simpler practice where I bring attention up and down the spine. Rest with it. Notice. Allow. Feel.

I notice again something I noticed several years ago. When I bring attention to the spine, I see three (or more) pictures of the spine, and they don’t quite align. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the spine is, for that reason, and it’s more noticeable from the chest area up. My sense is that it’s connected with an incarnation trauma, perhaps the sense of being unloved and unlovable, and a sense of fragmentation. (Which is also expressed in sometimes being confused what to do next in life, and feeling split between two or more options.)

Some ways to explore this:

Continue bringing attention to the spine. Notice. Allow. Rest with it.

Find kindness towards it. See it’s there to protect me. It’s from deep caring. It’s from love. Treat it with respect. Kindness. Authenticity. (As I would like to be treated.)

Look for a threat. Where is the threat in bringing attention to the spine? In the multiple pictures of the spine? In the slight discomfort I experience when I bring attention there?

What’s the worst that can happen if this doesn’t heal or resolve? (Look for the threat.)

What’s the best that can happen if it does heal and resolve? (Look for that.)

Look for the spine. See if it’s findable.

Look at the incarnation trauma. Look for a threat there. (In the images, words, sensations associated with it.)

Cultivating the light vs meeting the dark

 

Some people talk about cultivating the light, or meeting the dark.

For me, the two go hand in hand. As so often, it depends on what we mean, and how we do it.

For me, cultivating the light means to cultivate what I wish more of. And meeting the dark means loving the unloved and examining the unexamined. It means healing the unhealed, and examining painful identifications and beliefs.

Already here, we see how they two go hand in hand. I wish to cultivate and become more familiar with loving what’s here, including what’s been previously unloved in me and my experience. I also wish to cultivate exploration of what’s here, and seeing more clearly what’s here, including how identifications and stressful beliefs are created.

This cultivation supports the meeting of the dark. And in meeting the dark, I am supported in continuing with the cultivation. (It inspires me to do so, I see it’s needed, and I get to test and fine tune my approach.)

How do I cultivate the light? Here are some practices I am familiar with:

Kindness practices, including loving kindness, ho’oponopono, tonglen, and also the Heart Prayer and the Christ meditation. Kindness towards me, parts of my experience, others, life.

Training a more stable attention also fits here, since it’s what I wish for and it supports any other activity and practice.

Natural rest. Noticing and allowing what’s here. Noticing it’s already allowed.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. To be shown the way. For Your will be done.

Body centered practices, such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema.

Spending time in nature. Spending time in service to life.

Setting the intention to live from love, examine what’s here, rest with what’s here, live in service of life (including my life).

 And how do I meet the dark?

By finding love for the previously unloved. Finding kindness towards parts of me and my experience I have habitually ignored, rejected, or battled and seen as undesirable.

By notice and allow what’s here. Including the discomfort, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and whatever else is here in the moment.

By questioning the unquestioned. Examining beliefs and identifications. Finding what’s more true for me than the initial beliefs. Investigating how my most basic perceptions of deficient and inflated selves, threats, and compulsions are created.

By resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Rest with in kind presence.

It can be quite simple and straight forward.

When I use the words light and dark here, it’s mostly to connect with how some use these words. I usually don’t use the words light and dark since they are quite imprecise, there are assumptions about the world behind them that I don’t quite agree with, and I don’t even know how I would use the words so they make good sense. That’s why the use of them in this post feels a bit awkward to me.

Why is love, kindness, examination etc. light? I don’t really know, perhaps just because it’s what our personalities tends to like and prefer. We tend to like sunshine and daylight, and also certain qualities in ourselves and certain experiences, so we use the word light for both.

Why are identifications and beliefs dark? They are what creates what some see as darkness, including hate, fear, grief, compulsions, trauma, violence and more. I suppose some call them dark since they are often seen as undesirable, and they are often what we try to hide from ourselves and others, and keep “in the dark”.

Behind the surface expression of these “dark” qualities and experiences is a desire to protect the self, and deep caring and even love. A worried and confused love. That’s one reason I often avoid the word dark about these things. It only addresses and highlights one level of understanding. There is something different behind it.

These words and ideas themselves can be taken to inquiry. Any ideas of light or dark, or cultivation or meeting, or love or inquiry, or anything else that comes up, can be taken to inquiry.

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If you love someone, set them free

 

If you love someone, set them free. 

Or…. if you love someone, you set them free.

You naturally set them free.

When we care for someone, we want the best for them. We support them in what’s best for them, even if it may not be our preference. It may even be that they leave our life, even if we would like them to stay.

There is a big catch here. It requires that we are not caught in our own wounds and neediness. It requires that we are not trying to meet a sense of lack in ourselves through the other person. It requires that this sense of lack is reasonably healed in us.

How do I find healing for this part of me? For me, it’s the usual ways. Inquire into beliefs creating the sense of lack. See if I can find the lack, or the one having a lack. See if I can find the perceived threat. Meet it with kindness. Rest with it.

P.S. Sorry for the goofy 80s video! Even good songs can have less than amazing videos.

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Dark night of the soul: challenges & some remedies

 

The dark night of the soul has its own timing and its own life.

And yet, there are things we can do that can make it a little more bearable, and even align us more consciously with what the process seems to ask of us. (Also based on reports from people who have moved through it.)

Here are some common challenges for people in a dark night of the soul:

We feel that we did something wrong. Or that something is terribly wrong.

We feel that it will never end.

We don’t know what’s happening.

We struggle with and resist what’s happening.

We are caught in painful stories about what’s happening.

We are faced with painful stories surfacing to find liberation. These stories may be old stories recreating deficient selves, perceived threats, compulsions, wounds, trauma, and more. They are unquestioned and unloved.

We may have dread, terror, and trauma surfacing. (To find love and liberation.)

Our identities are “under siege”. Life may put us in situations where our familiar identities don’t fit anymore. (Sometimes, although not necessarily, through loss of relationships, health, work etc)

We experience periods of intense discomfort, perhaps without being able to put a label on it.

Shadow material tends to surface. Whatever is unhealed and unloved surfaces to heal and be loved.

It can feel overwhelming. Unbearable. We can’t take it anymore.

There may be losses – of relationships, health, work, and more.

We may have periods where we are unable to sleep, or get very little sleep.

 And some remedies:

Information. Talking with others who have gone through it.

Inquiry into the painful stories. The beliefs about what’s happening. The beliefs creating the painful experiences that may surface.

Meeting the pain or discomfort with kindness. Holding it in kind presence.

Resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow.

And some more things that may be supportive:

Spend time in nature. Walk. Garden.

Use your body. Swim. Walk. Do gentle physical activities that feels nurturing and supportive.

Eat well. Eat foods that work with your body. Drink plenty of water.

Nurture nurturing activities and relationships.

Receive sessions that are nurturing and supportive. Perhaps massage, acupuncture, craniosacral etc. Find practitioners who are OK with what you are going through, and don’t have a need to “fix” you. (Nothing needs to be fixed, but some activities and modalities can be supportive in this process.)

Find support from others who have gone through it, and are going through it.

Find a guide who has gone through it, and is experienced guiding people through it.

Rest. Get plenty or rest.

Be kind with yourself. Ask yourself what would someone who loves themselves do? (The answer may be very simple and for that moment.)

Be a good steward of your life, as much as you can.

Ask for guidance. Ask for support. Ask for your will be done. (Ask life, the universe, God.)

Let go of limiting ideologies, if they create stress and don’t seem to work for you anymore. (This includes ideologies about food, practices, world views, how you should live your life, and more.)

Ordinary human kindness. Ask for kindness. Be kind towards yourself and others, as much as you can.

See also previous posts on this topic, including for a list of helpful resources. (Adyashanti has talked and written about dark nights. Jeannie Zandi writes and speaks about it. There are several good books on spiritual emergencies, which includes a mentioning of dark nights. Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism has a good chapter on the Dark Night of the Soul, although colored by her tradition and times. There is a lot more information out there.)

Recipe for healing

 

What’s the recipe for healing?

There is probably not one recipe for healing, but many. Or many variations on similar themes.

Here are some I have found helpful, and it’s just the same as I keep writing about here.

Love. Finding love for my world. Myself. Parts of myself, and especially the suffering ones. Others, and especially those I may not like or who (I tell myself) have hurt me. Situations, and especially the painful ones. Life. Existence. God.

Practices such as loving kindness, ho’oponopono, tonglen and similar ones can be very helpful here, along with natural rest, inquiry, parts work, and most of the other ones on this list.

Natural Rest. Notice. Allow. Resting with what’s here. Resting with images, words, sensations. Notice it’s all already allowed.

Inquiry. Questioning my stressful beliefs. (The Work.) See if I can find a threat, deficient self, or command. (Living Inquiries.) Examine the unquestioned beliefs and assumptions that creates stress and suffering in your life. Rest with the unloved images, thoughts, and sensations. Perhaps even find love for the unloved images, words, and sensations.

Contractions. Working with body contractions. Examining beliefs about the contraction. Inquire into the images and words associated with the contraction. Perhaps tapping on it or massaging. Releasing through neurogenic tremors.

Parts work. Dialog with the suffering parts of you and your experience. This can be done using any of the parts-oriented practices, such as Voice Dialog or the Big Mind process. Or something more simple, such as: You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really? (Pamela Wilson.)

Gratitude. Create gratitude lists. Either conventional ones where you only include what’s easy to be grateful for. Or all-inclusive lists that includes everything in your life, what you appreciate and don’t. (This helps shift out of our habitual ways of dividing the world into good and bad, likes and dislikes, and also opens us for the possible gifts and grace in whatever is happening.)

Body connections. (Re)connecting with the body. Yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema etc.

Eat well. Eat food that works with your body. Perhaps mostly low on the food chain, less or not processed, avoiding too much sugars and added chemicals. Drink plenty of water. (So the urine is pale or clear.)

Release tension from the body. Neurogenic tremors. (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, TRE)

(Re)connect to nature. Walks in nature. Practices to reconnect. (Joanna Macy.) Spending longer periods of time in nature, away from (most of) civilization. Gardening.

Nurture nurturing relationships. Nurture relationships that nurture and support you.

Happiness practices. Engage in happiness practices that works for you. Practices and activities that helps you (re)connect to a sense of meaning, engagement, aliveness, purpose, and satisfaction in life.

Find support. Find support from experienced and kind guides, and perhaps fellow travelers on this path.

Fear of meeting what’s here

 

It’s common and even sensible to fear meeting our more painful wounds and traumas.

And for good reasons.

We may not trust that we will know what to do. Or that our facilitator will know what to do. Or that the process we are using will work. And each of these is sometimes true. It’s possible to be exposed to our old traumas in an unskilled way and be retraumatized.

So what can we do? The best may be to find a process that works for us and that we trust based on our own experience. Work with a facilitator who knows what she or he is doing, and that we trust. And gain some experience and trust by first working on more peripheral material.

If we stay in the periphery, the wounds and hangups tend to recycle and keep coming up.

So at some point, we need to focus on the most painful and apparently most entrenched material.

We may not feel ready, and it’s not wise to try to push through.

So another option is to meet and examine our fears in meeting our wounds.

I can meet it with loving kindness. Perhaps ho’oponopono. Saying I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you to the fears, and the wound itself. This can help shift my relationship to the fear and the wound.

What do I fear? What’s the worst that can happen if I meet the traumas? (Some possibilities: It won’t work. It will make it worse. I’ll stay stuck in it. It will never end. My painful stories will turn out to be true. It will be too painful. I won’t be able to take it. The process won’t work. The facilitator won’t know what to do.)

What do I find when I examine these stories, one by one? For instance by asking is it true? What happens when I believe that story? Who I would be without it? What’s the validity in the turnarounds? (The Work.)

What do I find when I look for the threat? (Living Inquiries.) Can I find the threat in the images, words, and sensations that come up? Can I find the threat outside of these?

In my experience, if I stay with a process and examine my fears, there is a readiness and willingness to meet even the apparently darkest areas of me, the deepest wounds. And that can be enormously liberating.

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