Civilization and its discontents

 

A friend of mine’s profile picture on Facebook is of her snuggling with her cat. It’s very cute. And, knowing something about her background, it also reminded me of our human situation.

We have created a civilization that harms us and the Earth in some significant ways. It harms all life. And because of it, we seek comfort and healing in myriad of ways. My friend does it, partly, through reconnecting with nature and animals.

There is a lot more to say about this topic. But the main thing that struck me was just the image of her snuggling with her cat. And how that, in some ways, is such a good image of the trauma we have created for ourselves through our civilization and how we all seek comfort and healing from it in different ways.

Our civilization is partly built on an imagined disconnect from nature. That hurts us and all life. And we try to compensate for that hurt in so many ways, including seeking love, acceptance, money, power, healing, awakening, connection, and a great deal more that we see all around us and in ourselves. From our experience of disconnection comes a sense of lack and something missing, and we try to fill that hole in many different ways.

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Why do these approaches work on so many issues?

 

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

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

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

Here are some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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Tree metaphor for healing and awakening work

 

In many types of healing work, we work with branches, trunks, and roots of issues.

We may start with an everyday issue as it’s presented. One that makes sense from our conventional experience of the world. We then refine it into a central issue which is the metaphorical trunk. We find the underlying beliefs and identities, the roots. And then, whatever beliefs and identities that branch out from the central issue.

That’s the simplified version, and it leaves out some important parts: protection, supporting beliefs, deeper and additional roots, and additional trunks coming from the roots.

Fear and protection. There is often fear around approaching and releasing any cherished beliefs or identity, and we’ll often need to acknowledge and meet this fear. It may be good to start here, and do so with respect, patience, receptivity, and understanding that the fear has a purpose, is there to protect the self, and comes from a visceral sense of care and kindness.

Supporting beliefs. There are also related beliefs and identities that support the initial belief and the underlying beliefs. If we want to be thorough, we’ll identify and explore these.

Deeper and additional roots. And we can go deeper and broader in identifying underlying assumptions. What other underlying assumptions are there?

Additional trunks. We can also look at what other beliefs and identities come out of the root, which ones are fed by the underlying and more assumptions.

All this can take time, but with central emotional issues it’s worth it. And the release will often be felt broader in life than in just the initial issue.

Here is a simple example:

Presented issue: Feeling socially awkward at school. Unease.

Central issue: Feeling isolated and judged in school.

Underlying assumptions: I am unpopular. They don’t like me. I don’t have good friends.

Branches: I need to stay quiet in social settings. I need to hide away.

Fear in approaching: It’s painful. It’s overwhelming. I’ll get to see it’s true.

Supporting beliefs: I don’t have good social skills. It’s important to be popular.

Additional underlying beliefs: There is something wrong with me. I am unloved. Life is difficult. Life is a dangerous place.

Additional trunks from the roots: My life won’t go well. I need to stay safe. I shouldn’t take risks.

Of course, we’ll often discover branches, roots etc. naturally in the course of a session. And the issues don’t always fit so neatly into this outline. But sometimes, it can be good to keep this map in mind to see if we have overlooked something.

In theory, and if we are thorough enough, we can start anywhere and eventually get to just about any issue. And, in reality, we’ll be moderately thorough and then keep exploring issues as they show up in daily life.

In my case, I use this general approach mostly in inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work) and with Vortex Healing.

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Fear as the gatekeeper

 

Fear is often the gatekeeper to what needs to be healed or awakened.

It’s there for a reason. If we enter these areas of ourselves with insufficient skill, we risk retraumatizing and stir up things without much effective healing.

So if we trust we have sufficient skills, or work with someone who has, or we use an approach that’s less likely to retraumatize, then it’s good to address the gatekeeper along with what it protects.

If the fear is strong, we may start with the fear. We can meet it with kindness, respect, and patience.  Allow it to be there. See that it does have an important function. We can explore how it shows up in the different sense fields and see what’s associated with it (Living Inquiries). We may find a belief or identity behind it, and inquire into it (The Work). We may dialogue with it (Big Mind process).

And then we can explore what it protects, if that feels right.

This is a much gentler approach than diving right into the trauma or the emotional issue. If done well, it will feel – and be – much safer. We ease into it. We address the – genuine, understandable – fears first.

And we can do this no matter what approach we use. For me, it’s typically inquiry, subpersonality work, or energy work such as Vortex Healing. For someone else, it will probably be something else.

The more experience, skill, and understanding we have, the easier it is to approach the fear with respect, kindness, patience – and presence. It comes naturally the more we have done our own work, and the more insights we have into the dynamics. We see that the fear has a genuine and important function. We know it from ourselves. We know it comes from kindness, care for the self, and love. And that brings up a natural patience, respect, and kindness. It also tends to bring up a natural curiosity and wish to listen to it.

Note: When I write “what needs to be healed or awakened” I am aware it’s not very accurate. Another phrasing is probably better, such as “what we wish to invite in healing and awakening for”. Nothing “needs” to be healed or awakened. And we cannot “will” anything to heal or awaken. We can just invite it. We can create a situation where it’s easier for a part of us to heal and awaken. Also, when I say “healed or awakened” it’s because healing or awakening for any part of us means that it aligns more with reality. When it aligns more with reality, it tends to heal and – to the extent it aligns – awaken.

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Jeff Foster: Why you haven’t healed yet

 

Are you wondering why, after all these years, you still haven’t healed, awakened, transformed? Why your pain, confusion, doubts, sorrows, your deep longings for home, are “still here”?

“I should have found the answers by now. By now, my sorrow should have disappeared. By now, I should be free from fear. By now, I should be feeling more peaceful, clear, awakened. By now, joy should be consistent, my natural state. By now…”

Friends, ‘by now’ is the biggest damn lie of all!

There is no such thing as ‘by now’. There cannot be a ‘by now’.

There is only Now. Only this moment.

No ‘by’. No ‘still’. No ‘yet’. Healing is not a destination.

If we can drop the expectations and the false hopes around healing, drop the myth of ‘by now’ and instead bow to what is actually here, honour our present experience, see its sacredness and its intelligence, celebrate THE WAY WE ACTUALLY ARE TODAY, even if we feel sad, even if we experience doubt, or anger, or fear, then we may experience a total paradigm shift…

From:

“Pain, sadness, anger, fear, why are you still here? I hoped that you’d be gone by now!”

To:

“Ohhh! You ARE here! Yes! What an honour to meet you, here! You are life, too; a sacred wave of consciousness! There is no mind-made story that says you shouldn’t be here! No demand for you to have disappeared ‘by now’! You are not ‘still’ here, of course; there is no time. You are here, now, in this moment, only! Still here! I am still, here! And in the stillness that I Am, in this oceanic field of Presence, we can truly meet…”

A thought or feeling does not arise to be healed, friend; it arises to be HELD, lightly, in the loving arms of presence.

So that’s why you feel like you’re ‘not there yet’.

You are not there yet! You will never be there!

There is no ‘yet’. There is no ‘there’. There is no ‘by now’!

You are here. You are always here. You will always be here. Here is your home and your sanctuary.

This is true healing: the surrender into Presence. The sense of being held by something infinitely greater than yourself. No time required.

This is the great paradox of healing: You are already healed.

– Jeff Foster