Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things VIII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

HO’OPNOPNO: HEALING HOW I RELATE

When I do ho’oponopono, I do it to heal my relationship with whatever I am doing it for. Whether it’s myself as a whole, a part of me or my my experience, someone else, a situation, the world or Earth as a whole, Life or God, or anything else.

In this sense, ho’o is similar to any other form of prayer or meditation. I do with the invitation for it to work on me and shift something in me.

If I did it in order to change whatever I am doing it for, as I sometimes see referenced in the context of ho’o, it would feel like a distraction.

When I imagine doing it with this intention, I notice tension in me. I notice being alert to what effects, if any, the practice has on whatever I am doing it for. I notice I inadvertently reinforce the idea that the world should conform to how I – from my conditioning, fears, sense of lack and so on – want the world to be. I do it from less receptivity and sincerity.

So if I do it for myself and to allow it to work on me, I am more aligned with reality (as it appears to me). It feels more peaceful. I can still do whatever I can, in a conventional sense, to change situations that seem harmful or less than optimal. And if whatever I do it for changes without any obvious input from my side, that will happen anyway.

HO’OPONOPONO: HEALING MY WORLD

There is another reason why I do ho’o, beyond that it helps me heal my relationships with myself, others, situations, and the world.

And that is that my world, the world as it appears to me, happens within and as me. Through ho’o, I help heal my world. I heal my images of myself, others, situations, Earth, and whatever else it may be.

I heal my mental field overlay of my world, and also whatever beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and traumas are connected with it. It’s not necessarily a quick or easy process. But, if I am honest, ho’o is one of the quickest and easiest – and most effective.

So through ho’o, I heal my relationship to whatever I do it for, whether it’s myself, someone else, a situation, a part of me or my experience, Earth, Life, God or something else. And I also heal these as they appear in my world. I heal my images of them and whatever in me is connected to these images.

It’s a profound practice. I will certainly be different in my relationship with myself, others, situations and so on. And whether something else changes in consensus reality is God’s or Life’s business.

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Ho’oponopono

 

What is ho’oponopono?

Ho’oponopno comes from an ancient healing practice from Hawaii and other south Pacific islands. It’s a powerful practice that can transform and heal our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world.

In its modern version, it consists of four sentences:

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

How can I explore it for myself?

Say the four sentences to anything or anyone you wish to heal your relationship with. Visualize them in front of you. Say it out loud or silently.

(This practice is for yourself so if you are doing it for someone in your life, you don’t need to mention to them that you are doing this.)

You can say it during a time set aside for this, before falling asleep or after waking up, or any time during the day. Repeat several times.

Over time, it can become a continuous and mostly wordless prayer.

You can do it for people in your life, both the ones you like and dislike. For yourself as a whole. For parts of you like physical issues, your body, emotions, emotional issues, or a repeating behavior. For challenging situations, whether they are personal or in the wider world. For Earth as a whole and all life. And for anyone suffering.

It may be easier to first do it for someone in your life you easily like and love, and when you are familiar with the process do it for yourself and anything and anyone else. It can be especially powerful and transformative to do it for anyone suffering and for whatever in your world you dislike or have trouble with.

If you wish, take it as an experiment. Try it and see what happens.

What do I do if I notice resistance?

We may notice some resistance when we do this for someone or something we have a troubled relationship with. It’s natural and part of the process. It shows us that healing is needed and – likely – happening as part of doing ho’o for it.

If the resistance is strong, you can shift and do ho’o for this resistance. When you notice your relationship to the resistance has healed a bit and feels softer, you can go back to what you initially did ho’o for.

What’s the effect?

In my experience, it helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for. It feels right. There is a sense of peace. It’s easier to have some understanding for myself and/or the other.

I can still take action when and as needed. I can still act to prevent harm. We don’t need to condone any harmful behavior. It’s about me finding more peace with what is and this helps me take more clear and decisive actions.

It helps me, and it also helps the world. I become less of a nuisance. I may show that there is another way of being. I may act in ways helpful to others.

Ho’o is something I do for myself and the world.

How does ho’oponopno work?

It’s mainly about trying it for ourselves and see what happens. So the question of how it works is perhaps less important but I’ll mention a few things.

It helps me shift into forgiveness and love. It opens that possibility. And that, in itself, is healing.

It helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for, and that feels right and healing.

As a human being, the world as it appears to me is a mirror of me. So it makes sense to take responsibility for it all and find healing in how I relate to it.

If I find healing for my relationship to someone or something in the wider world, it tends to heal my relationship to whatever is similar in myself. And the other way around.

As capacity for the world, the world – as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. So it makes sense to ask for forgiveness when I see suffering and let these parts of my world know I love them.

How do you see ho’oponopno in relation to other practices?

Ho’oponopono is one of several heart-practices – similar to tonglen, metta, heart prayer, and more.

For me, these heart practices are central. They can be profoundly transforming, and they support healing, awakening, embodiment, and being a slightly more helpful part of the world.

How do you use it?

I have gone through periods where I use it a lot through the day and other periods where I use it now and then. When I use it a lot, it tends to become an ongoing and often silent prayer. These days, I tend to use it when I notice I have an unease relationship with someone or something.

It doesn’t mean all my relationships are healed. There is always more. And it certainly doesn’t mean I am perfect, whatever that means. But it does mean that I have a tool that can be very helpful in challenging situations. And it means I am working on a lot of what’s coming up in my life.

When something uncomfortable comes up, it helps to acknowledge any fear about it and wanting it to be different

 

When something uncomfortable is coming up – a suffering bubble, an emotional issue, a sensation that seems to mean something, fearful thoughts – it helps to acknowledge any fear it brings up in us and any impulse in us wanting it to be different.

This fear is often there, and it’s completely natural and understandable. A part of us is suffering and caught in separation consciousness. Another part is afraid of that first part. And there is often a wanting of one or both to be different.

Where do I feel it in the body? Notice and allow those sensations. Rest with them. Notice the space they happen within. (It may be good to explore the fear first, and then the impulse for it to be different since the two are often in different locations in the body and take different forms.)

See what happens if you let it know one or more of these…

You are welcome here. I love you. Thank you for protecting me.

Stay for as long as you want. Get as big as you want. Spread out as much as you want.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. (Ho’oponopno.)

If it could speak, what would it say? Listen to it. Examine the stories. See they come from a fearful part of us. For each story, ask is it true?

Perhaps remind yourself that none of this is what we are. All of this is coming from the same place. It’s more layers of the mind.

After this, and when it feels right, we can go back to the initial issue.

Tools for emotional emergencies

 

When we feel overwhelmed, it can be helpful to have some emergency tools to help us deal with it.

We may can feel overwhelmed when a strong emotional issue or trauma is triggered in us. And this can happen from daily life situations. Or it can come up as part of an ongoing healing or awakening process.

I have selected a few tools for this article that I have found helpful for myself.

These are emergency tools. They won’t solve the issue themselves but they can help us relate to them differently and help us through the strongest parts of the storm.

If you are currently overwhelmed, just do something simple that helps you here and now. Ask for help. And if something in this list resonates with you, try it and see if it helps. Don’t force yourself to do anything. Be kind with yourself.

If you are currently in a more calm place, I suggest you try each tool out for yourself, see which one or ones resonate with you, and get comfortable using it so it’s easier to apply when you need it.

AMPLIFY / RELEASE

Make whatever goes on for you stronger for a few seconds. Then release, let it all go, and rest for a few seconds. Notice the difference before and after. Repeat a few times if necessary.

See if you can make the uncomfortable sensations stronger. Make the scary thoughts and images stronger. Do it for perhaps five seconds. Then release. Relax. Let it all go. Do this for a few seconds. Notice the difference before and after and repeat once or a few times if necessary.

Don’t worry if you are unable to actually make the sensations etc. stronger. It’s the intention and engaging in the trying that it’s important.

I love this tool and it can help reduce the strength of what’s going on. I assume it works because our resistance to uncomfortable experiences makes it stronger and tends to hold it in place. Using this tool, we go against this resistance and intentionally try to make it stronger. That helps us release the resistance and it also shows us that the sensations, thoughts and so on are not as scary as they seemed.

BE KIND WITH YOURSELF

Place your hands on your chest and belly. Breathe slowly and intentionally.

Say kind and soothing words to yourself, as you would to a child or a good friend. For instance: I love you. I love you just as you are. This will pass. You are stronger and more resilient than you realize. Everything you are feeling is OK as it is. This is part of the universal human suffering we all sometimes experience.

You can also say to what’s coming up – the pain, fear, panic, loneliness, anger: Thank you for protecting me. You are safe here. I love you. Repeat.

Say: I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. Repeat several times. Say it to yourself. Or the suffering part of you. Or who or what triggered the reaction in you. (This is a beautiful Hawaiian practice called Ho’oponopno.)

ATTENTION TO PHYSICAL SENSATIONS

Pay attention to the sensations in your body connected with the emotions. See if you can set aside any thoughts and mental images for a little while.

Stay with the physical sensations. Find some curiosity about them. Where do you feel it? Do they have a boundary? If you close your eyes, can you also notice the boundless space they happen within? Can you notice the space and the sensations at the same time? Do the sensations get stronger? Weaker? Do you notice sensations other places in the body?

It can really help to learn to pay attention to the physical sensations and set aside related thoughts and mental images. It helps us ground. It helps us notice that the charge of emotions come from body sensations. And we may notice that it’s often OK to set aside stressful thoughts for a while. We don’t need to actively fuel them.

BREATH

Slow and intentional breathing helps calm our system. There are several ways to explore this.

One is the alternate nostril breathing from yoga. Use a finger to block one nostril and take a relaxed and full in-and-out breath with the other. Switch. Repeat several times. Notice any differences before and after.

Another is to breathe out as much air as you can and allow your lungs to fill up again naturally. Repeat a few times.

And and yet another is to lie down, place one hand on the chest and another on the belly, and breathe slowly and intentionally. This can be combined with breathing as much air out as possible and then allowing the air to fill up the lungs naturally.

NATURE & PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES

Spend time in nature. We belong to and evolved in nature so this can be soothing and nurturing. Walk barefoot if conditions allow.

Walk. Run. Scream. Sing. Jump up and down while landing on your heels. Do strength training. Swim. Do yoga. Shake. Use your body. Take a good bath.

Put your face in cold water or splash cold water on your face. This can help calm down your system.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

Identify your stressful thoughts. Write them down. Be gently and brutally honest with yourself. What’s more true than these stressful thoughts? If your life dependent on being brutally honest with yourself, what would you tell yourself? Finding what’s more true for us is often a relief.

For instance, my mind may tell itself it’s too much, I can’t handle it. Is that true? What’s the reality? The reality is that I am still here. I seem to know how to handle it, somehow.

This one may depend on some practice with inquiry. As with the other tools here, only use it if it works for you.

MORE STRUCTURED APPROACHES

The Work of Byron Katie can be great for dealing with stressful and overwhelming thoughts and corresponding emotions. Look up the free helpline where a facilitator will help you through the process.

Another form of inquiry, the Living Inquiries, can also be of great help although it does require some ability to rest and notice.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) helps release tension out of the body through the natural and in-built tremoring mechanism.

And Vortex Healing can help your system relax relatively quickly. This can be done at a distance.

Common for all of these is that you’ll need an experienced practitioner to help you unless you have some experience with it (The Work and TRE) or gone through the training yourself (Living Inquiries, Vortex Healing).

NOTES

There are a lot of other tools out there. Find the ones that work for you and practice when your system is more calm so you get familiar with using them.

You may notice that many of these tools have to do with the body, nature, and our physical world. That’s not coincidence. When we go into overwhelm, it’s usually because we actively fuel stressful thoughts and mental images. This can happen more or less consciously. In either case, it helps to bring attention to something physical and here-and-now.

I have written more in-depth about some of these tools. Follow the tags to find these articles. I also have a small booklet on the back-burner with these and more tools.

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

Trauma and awakening

 

These days, there seems to more awareness of the different connections between trauma and awakening.

There are people more experienced with this than me. But I have some experience in working with people with trauma and from exploring the connections between trauma and awakening in my own life, so I’ll say a few words about it here.

What are some types of trauma?

Trauma comes in different forms. Acute trauma is what most of us think of when we hear the word – from violence, catastrophes, war, loss. There is trauma from witnessing others experience and living with trauma. There is developmental trauma which comes from being in an ongoing challenging situation, often in childhood.

We can also expand the definition and say that any emotional issue is a form of trauma, and any belief and identification is a form of trauma. It comes from and – depending on how we relate to it – may create more trauma.

What is trauma?

It’s often explained as how our system deals with a scary and overwhelming experience we feel we cannot deal with. The basic elements of trauma are strong stressful beliefs and identities and corresponding muscle contractions (to hold the beliefs and identities in place). And trauma behavior span a wide range including anger, anxiety, hopelessness, and compulsions and addictions.

What role does trauma play before awakening?

Trauma can be part of our drive for healing and awakening. We may wish for healing and/or awakening to find relief from the pain of trauma. Whether we chose mainly a healing or awakening path, or a combination, depends on our inclinations and what we have available.

If we already are on an awakening path, it can be very helpful to include an emphasis on emotional healing.

If we are on an exclusive healing path and are happy with it, there is not really any need to include an emphasis on awakening. Although some of the tools for awakening can help deepen the healing, and glimpses and tastes of awakening can certainly help with the healing.

What about trauma following – or within – awakening?

Awakening involves an opening of our heart and mind – and even the body. And at some point, this can include an opening to whatever unprocessed emotional material is in us.

This often happens in smaller doses and over time. We have emotional issues triggered, are unable to ignore it as before, and have to find a way to relate to what comes up that’s healing in itself and allows what surfaces to find healing.

Sometimes – and perhaps especially if there is stronger trauma in the system – it happens in a more dramatic way. When this happens, it can feel confusing, overwhelming, and unbearable. (We can see this as a certain type of dark night in the awakening process.)

How do we deal with overwhelming trauma?

The best is to get help from someone experienced in working with trauma. Find someone you trust, are comfortable with, and respect where you are and don’t push you. If the person also understands awakening, then it’s even better.

The main guideline is patience, kindness, working with the body, and using nature.

I have written other articles on this topic so won’t go into it too much here.

How do healing and awakening go together?

Emotional healing helps living from the awakening. The fewer and lighter emotional issues, the less likely we are to be hijacked back into separation consciousness when they are triggered. (Although if it happens, it shows us what’s left in us to explore and find healing for.)

Awakening gives a new context for healing emotional issues. The healing can go deeper and the process may be a little easier.

What are some tools that invite in both healing and awakening?

There are several. Some of the ones I have found helpful – and that I keep mentioning here – are different forms of inquiry like The Work, Living Inquiries, and the Big Mind process. Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). Heart-centered practices like ho’oponopono, tonglen, and Metta. And energy work like Vortex Healing.

Note: As usual, take anything you read – anywhere – with a pinch of salt. It may be different for you.

Photo by Adrien Aletti on Unsplash

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How do we find peace?

 

There are many ways to find peace. Here are some approaches I have found helpful.

We can create a certain life. A life that feels right, nurturing, and meaningful. A life where we have nurturing relationships. Meaningful work and activities. A life aligned with our values and what’s important to us. A part of this is to heal and mend – as far as possible – any challenging relationships.

We can invite in healing. We can invite in healing for parts of us not in peace. We can invite in healing for trauma and emotional issues.

We can reorient. We can learn to befriend our experience as it is, including the experience of lack of peace (!). In this process, we also learn to befriend (more of) the world as it is.

We can find ourselves (more) as our human wholeness. As we find ourselves as the wholeness of who we are as a human being, there is a sense of groundedness and peace even as life and thoughts and emotions goes on. This is an ongoing process, perhaps including body-centered mindfulness and projection work, and the peace is of a different kind.

We can explore our need for peace. If we feel a neediness around peace, what’s going on? Do we have stressful beliefs about living without peace? Do we have identities rubbing up against the reality of sometimes lack of peace? Is there a trauma or emotional issue telling us we need peace? Examining this and find some resolution for whatever may be behind a need for peace can, in itself, help us find more peace.

It’s stressful to feel we need peace and fight with a world that doesn’t always give us the conditions we may think we need for peace. And it is, perhaps ironically, more peaceful to find peace with life as it is.

We can live with (more) integrity. Living with integrity gives us a sense of peace, even when life is challenging. Living with integrity means to clarify and follow what’s important to us, and to live with some sincerity and honesty – especially towards ourselves.

We can follow our own inner guidance. Following our inner guidance – in smaller and bigger things – connects us with an inner quiet and peace, even when life is stormy. We can learn to follow our inner guidance through experience. And it’s also helpful to notice when we connect with our inner guidance and don’t follow it, and examine what fears and stressful beliefs in us made it difficult for us to follow it.

We can connect with the larger whole. This larger whole comes in three related forms. One is the larger whole of who we are as a human being (mentioned above). Another is the larger whole of the Earth and the universe. We can connect with this through Earth-centered practices, the Universe Story, and more. The third is what we are.

We can explore and get to know what we are. What we are is what our experience happens within and as. As we learn to find ourselves as that, there is a different kind of peace. The peace of being like the sky that clouds, storms, clear weather and anything else passes through.

Each of these is an ongoing process and exploration. It’s not a place we arrive at for good and don’t have to pay attention to again.

The kind of peace we find in each of these ways is somewhat different. In a sense, they complement each other.

As for how to find these types of peace, there are many approaches and I’ll mention a few here.

To heal, I have found parts (subpersonality) work, inquiry, heart-centered practices, TRE, Vortex Healing and more to be helpful. To reorient, I have found ho’oponopno, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practice to be helpful. To find myself as my human wholeness, I have found body-centered mindfulness (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema) and projection work (inquiry, shadow work) helpful. To explore any neediness around peace, I have found inquiry to be helpful. To live more with integrity, it’s helpful to explore what in me (usually a fear, stressful belief, trauma) takes me away from living with integrity in any specific situation. To follow my inner guidance, it’s helpful to practice in smaller situations and likewise explore what in me (fears etc.) takes me away from it. To connect with the larger whole of the Earth and Universe, it’s helpful to use the Practices to Reconnect (Joanna Macy), Universe Story, and similar approaches. To explore what we are, I have found Headless experiments, Living Inquiries, and the Big Mind process to be helpful.

Photo: Flowers from Zürich ca. 2013.

A hole in us: filling it, seeing it’s not there, and living the opposite

 

Many of us experience that there is a hole in us. Something is lacking or missing. We are not quite enough. Not quite OK.

This is created by beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, and identifications. And it’s rooted in our culture, our family patterns, and our own journey through life.

We can approach this in a few different ways. Tracing the sense of lack back to a belief and identity, and seeing how it (most likely) was created early in life, can be helpful in itself. It helps us see it more as an object (a part of us) than a subject (what we are). Being honest about it with ourselves and others helps for the same reason, and it helps us see it’s a universal experience.

We can dialogue with these parts of us. Get to know them. Befriend them. Listen to what they want to say to us. Be a friend to them. Give them our kindness, wisdom, and love. (Parts work.)

We can give these parts of ourselves love through heart-centered practices such as ho’oponopno and tonglen. And we can do the same towards ourselves as a whole, and towards those who trigger these parts of us now and in the past.

We can seek out situations where we feel loved and cared for, by ourselves and others. We can seek out people and communities that genuinely love and care for us.

We can increase our overall sense of well being. For instance through mindful movement (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema etc.). Training a more stable attention (e.g. by bringing attention to the sensations of the breath). Find gratitude for our life, both what we like and perhaps what we don’t so much like (all-inclusive gratitude practices). This creates a different context that makes it easier for the not-enough parts of us to reorient and heal. (Although the healing may require one or more of the other approaches as well.)

We can identify and investigate the beliefs creating a sense of lack and not-OKness, including underlying and related beliefs. We can come to find what’s more true for us (and more peacefully true) than these stressful beliefs. (The Work.)

We can explore how our mind creates its own experience of these beliefs, identities, and stressful situations triggering them. We can see how they appear in each of our sense fields (sensations, thoughts, images, sounds, taste, smell etc.), and how the sense fields combine to make them seem solid and real to us. And through this investigation, the “glue” looses its strength and the sensations appears more as sensations without (stressful) meaning, and the thoughts appears more as thoughts without (stressful) substance and reality. (Living Inquiries.)

We can use energy work (often combined with some insights or simple inquiry) to release these beliefs, emotional issues, and identifications. (For me, Vortex Healing.)

We can even shift into what we are (that which these experiences happens within and as), and notice that it’s all what a thought may call consciousness. It’s all happening within and as what we are. Sometimes, we call it the divine or the One. (Big Mind process, headless experiments.)

So when we experience a hole in ourselves, we can fill it through befriending this part of ourselves and giving it care and love, and we can see through it and see it’s ultimately not real in the way it seemed to be. And we can also live in a way that helps us reorient and rewire and shows that these parts of us are not who we are. (Living turnarounds in The Work of Byron Katie.)

Finally, we must all find our own way through this. The examples I gave above are just examples based on what am familiar with and have found helpful. And finding our own way often includes finding someone who has gone through it themselves and can guide us through it.

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Using Ho’oponopono as a test

 

I find myself often using ho’o as a test. 

I wonder how my relationship to something is, and then use ho’o towards it to see what it may rub up against.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. Said with heart and repeated many times, perhaps even through the day. 

If there is anything left – of lack of clarity or emotional issues – I keep doing it until I notice a deeper shift. And I may also take it to inquiry or explore it further using Vortex Healing. 

And “something” may be another person, myself as a whole, parts of myself, someone or a situation from my past, an imagined future situation, or anything else. 

This is one of the benefits of heart-centered practices in general. They  tend to show us what’s left. 

Brené Brown: We’re hungry for more joy because we are starving from a lack of gratitude

 

We’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.

– Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Yes, this is very true in my experience. Gratitude fills me up. It makes me content. And when there is less gratitude and contentment, I crave a variety of things including joy. 

I think this is craving is widespread in contemporary societies, and perhaps especially in the US. Modern media and advertisement intentionally instill a sense of lack and entitlement. I don’t have what I need, and I am entitled to it. And this creates a hole that needs to be filled with products, status, and experiences – including joy. Gratitude is the antidote. And not only an antidote, it’s what we really wish for. It’s what creates a more satisfying and real sense of contentment and being filled up. 

We can’t fake gratitude, and we can’t tell ourselves to be grateful. But it’s close by, and we can invite it in and more in the foreground of our experience. Some of my favorite ways are ho’oponopono, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practices. Natural rest or basic meditation is another way to invite in gratitude, and really… we are “just” noticing the gratitude that’s already here and that we are. (Which is huge.) 

How it works: heart-centered practices

 
How do heart-centered practices work? It depends on the particular practice, but here are some general things I have noticed.

They help me reorient. To shift from seeing something as a problem (an enemy, wrong, bad) or neutral, to befriending it, finding kindness towards it, and seeing it as a support. And this goes for anything from a situation, to another person, to myself and parts of myself, to life in general, and God.

My energy systems comes more alive and brightens.

It’s experienced as an opening of the heart. And with that comes an opening of the mind. There is more receptivity, sincerity, curiosity, and interest. (And less rigid, defensive, and fixed views.)

It helps me notice what in me is not quite on board. It helps me notice parts of me where there is still wounding, trauma, identifications, and unfelt feelings, unloved lovables, and unexamined beliefs. I can meet these, allow, rest with. Relate to them with respect, patience, and light curiosity. If it feels right, I can do the heart-centered practice for these scared and unloved parts of me. Or I can explore them through inquiry. Or invite in healing through whatever healing practices are available to me.

These shifts are naturally reflected in my life. I notice when and how this happens. And if it doesn’t, that’s OK and also an invitation to see what’s going on. Something in me may be triggered that temporarily clouds over a more clear and kind way of being.

What are some examples of heart-centered practices? The ones I am most familiar with are ho’oponopno (Hawaii), tonglen (Tibet), heart or Jesus prayer (Christianity), and perhaps also the Christ meditation. (See other articles for descriptions of these.) And there are many more from many different traditions. Heart-centered practices can be profoundly transformative, and that’s something people from all cultures and times have paid attention to. And what’s the main reason heart-centered practices are so transformative, healing, and central to most spiritual traditions? It’s because they help us align with reality. If all is the divine, then holding onto enemy images brings us out of alignment with that reality. It creates discomfort, stress, and suffering at an individual level, and also social and even ecological problems. Reorienting helps us align with reality, which brings a sense of peace, clarity, kindness, aliveness, and a natural engagement. Note: I have deliberately used a more conventional language some places here. For instance, everything described here is part of the divine play. It’s the divine temporarily and locally taking itself to be a separate being, and a being that sees parts of the world as an enemy (a problem, bad, wrong etc.). There is nothing inherently wrong in it, but it does create distress and suffering. And that’s the call back to a more conscious alignment with all as the divine. Read More

Basic forms of meditation: attention, notice, insights, heart, body

 

Here are a few basic forms of meditation. All of them are reasonably universal and they are – in their essential form – found in several different traditions. As with any skill, it’s helpful to be guided by someone who are experienced, and our own skills and understanding will develop with experience.

Training a more stable attention. This is helpful for just about anything in life, whether it’s work, studying, hobbies, relationships, or any inner or spiritual practice. It helps us bring our attention to something in a more stable way and for as long as we wish. It makes our attention a more useful and pliable tool for us. As a bonus, a more stable attention tends to bring in a sense of well being and grounding.

The easiest way of training this is to bring attention to the sensations of the breath (chest, nose, tip of nose), notice when it goes to something else, and then gently bring it back to the sensations. We can also use other objects: sounds, imagined or visual imagery etc.

This practice also gives us some insights into how the mind works. We notice that attention tends to go somewhere else, almost always to thoughts that have a charge, and it seems to go there on its own. We can also notice which thoughts attention tends to go to, notice the charge and that there may be something unresolved around it, and then explore it through inquiry or a healing approach, perhaps allowing it to resolve and the charge goes out of it. In a small way, this may give a greater sense of well being, allow us to function better in life, and make it easier for attention to stably rest on whatever we intend.

Notice and allow. The basic form is to notice and allow. Notice what’s here in the sense fields (sight, sound, sensations, smell, taste, thoughts). Allow it to be as it is.

Again, this can give us some simple insights. We may notice that what’s here is already allowed – by life, mind, space – to be here as is, and that it’s more restful to notice this. As before, we may notice attention going to thoughts with a charge. We can also explore noticing the space it all happens within and as.

We may notice the effects of this noticing and allowing. We may notice that it creates a sense of space around whatever happens. Attention may not be immediately caught up and drawn into thoughts with a charge. And that this becomes easier and more of a habit the more we do it.

As with training a more stable attention, we may also find that this noticing and allowing helps us in everyday life and that it brings with it a sense of well-being and grounding. (When attention is less caught up in charged thoughts, there is often a sense of well being and grounding.)

Insights. Insights can come as a byproduct of any of these explorations. When we over time notice how we function, insights are almost inevitable. Insights can also come through inquiry, and especially through more structured forms of inquiry such as The Work, Living Inquiries, or just noticing what’s happening in the sense fields (including thoughts).

These structured forms of inquiry are like training wheels, and although we may never outgrow them (or wish to do so), becoming familiar with them tends to lead to more spontaneous helpful noticing and simple forms on inquiry in everyday situations.

The main insights we may get from these inquiries is how thoughts combine with sensations, so sensations lend a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations. This is how thoughts get a charge, and how beliefs, identifications, reactivity, compulsions, and more are created.

Heart-centered. Heart-centered practices help us change our relationship to ourselves, others, the world, life, situations, and parts of ourselves. They help us shift from seeing (some of) them as a problem, mistake, or something that needs to go away, to genuinely befriending them. As with the explorations above, this tends to bring in a greater sense of well-being, ease, and grounding. And as my old Zen teacher used to say, we tend to become less of a nuisance to others….!

Some of my favorites here are tonglen (from Tibetan Buddhism), ho’oponopono (Hawaii), and all-inclusive gratitude practices. (See other articles for more on these.)

Continuous prayer. I’ll add this since it’s found in many traditions and can be a powerful and transformative practice. Say a brief prayer along with the in- and out-breath and the heart beats. Do it as often as you remember, and set aside time to do this exclusively. Over time, this will become a continuous prayer. You will even have a sense of it happening while you sleep.

The Christian version is the Jesus prayer or heart prayer: Lord Jesus Christ (on in-breath), have mercy on me (on outbreath). And synchronize the words with the heart beat (for instance, one heart beat for the three first words, then another, then one on “have mercy”, another for “on”, and then one on “me”).

Body-centered. These are the familiar ones, including yoga, chi gong, tai chi, Breema, and many others. Ordinary forms of physical activity can also be included here, if we bring our noticing and allowing to the sensations and movements of the body.

I won’t say too much about these since they are reasonably well known in our society today. We bring our noticing to the sensations and movements of the body, and what’s described above under training attention and noticing applies here too. And these explorations too tend to bring in a deeper sense of well-being and grounding, and we may also experience ourselves – at a human level – more as a whole.

These are all practical approaches to exploring ourselves and our relationship with ourselves and the world. They tend to bring in a sense of well being, ease, and grounding, perhaps first as we engage in these and then more stably in our life in general. They tend to invite in healing and a noticing of what we really are.

An important aspect of any spiritual practice is what it may bring up in us that needs meeting, clarity, or healing.

At times, these practices may rub up against our beliefs, identifications, and habits. So we notice these, and can take them to inquiry, heart practices, or whatever healing work we are doing. This is an important aspect of any spiritual practice, at least if we wish to be thorough.

Healing work in general is an important complement to any of these practices. We will, inevitably, encounter parts of us that needs healing, so it’s helpful we are are familiar with effective forms of healing work, or can go to someone who are.

These practices may also bring up old wounds and trauma. Any good guide or coach will inform about this in advance, keep an eye on our practice to minimize the chances of it happening in a traumatic way, and offer guidance through it should it happen.

The last part is, unfortunately, often overlooked or not mentioned by people offering these practices to the public. I assume there will be a greater understanding of and transparency about it with time as it is an aspect of spiritual practice it’s important to be aware of.

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Finding healing: three basic ways

 

In my experience, I can find healing in three ways.

I can find healing for the issue itself, whether it’s physical, emotional, a relationship, or something else. This is the conventional approach and obviously an important one.

I can change my relationship to it. From seeing it as a problem and an enemy, I can befriend it and what it triggers in me. This, in itself, changes a great deal and is often experienced as a great relief.

I can find that which is already whole beyond the issue. This may be my wholeness as a human being, which is always here and goes far beyond any issues. It can be being part of the wholeness of the Earth or the Universe or all life. It can be being what I am, that which any experience happens within and as.

How do I go about finding these forms of healing?

Since the first is the conventional approach, the world is full of advice and opportunities for this one. I have written about my own experiences in healing from CFS and Lyme, and also in finding healing emotionally and for parts of me (using inquiry, heart-centered approaches, TRE, Vortex Healing, and other approaches).

I can change my relationship to anything that seems problematic through, for instance, inquiry or heart-centered practices. Inquiry for me is often The Work, Living Inquiries, Big Mind process, parts/subpersonality work, and dialogue with a part or actual person. Heart-centered approaches may be ho’oponopno, tonglen, prayer, gratitude explorations, or whatever else works for us.

Finding what’s already whole depends on what level of wholeness we wish to explore. In periods when I have done meditation and yoga daily, I have found an amazing sense of my wholeness as a mind-body whole. I have also found it, slightly differently, through receiving and giving Breema and especially when I have been immersed in the atmosphere through an intensive or when I gave daily sessions. The connection with (or as) the wholeness of the Earth and Universe can come through being in nature or any number of practices, for instance, the Practices to Reconnect. Finding myself as that which already allows and is any experience can happen through meditation, inquiry, heart-centered practices, and many other ways.

And really, it all depends on grace.

Getting to the point where we are able to have issues and discomfort is grace. It required this amazing universe and Earth and us as temporary parts of it. That’s an amazing grace if there ever was one.

Getting to get to the point where we are interested in finding healing, in any of these forms, is grace.

Having a glimpse of the possibility of these forms of healing is grace.

Inviting it in, through intention and exploration, is grace.

When it happens, it’s grace.

What we call grace is really just the universe or life coming together a certain way locally. Sometimes, we may see just some things (the ones our mind tells us are good) as grace. Sometimes, we may see everything as grace (because it is).

Note: In the “finding wholeness beyond the issue” section, I lumped together things I normally would keep in separate categories. Finding mind-body wholeness is quite different from finding the Earth/Universe wholeness, and those are again quite different from finding what I am, that which allows and is any experience. But that’s OK. In this context, and especially in a brief article like this, it seemed OK to group them together. And it’s a reminder that this should really be a book rather than just a set of brief articles.

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All-inclusive practices for healing and awakening

 

Another revisit:

I tend to be drawn to practices that invite in healing and awakening. It seems a more efficient approach since my time and energy is limited. And the two go hand in hand, one supports the other.

I also tend to be drawn to practices that are all-inclusive in different ways.

Here are some examples:

All-inclusive gratitude practice. Write a (daily) list of things in your life you are easily grateful for, or not, and start each sentence with: I am grateful for… This opens the mind for that possibility, and there is a natural curiosity for what there may be to be grateful for in situations we don’t particularly like or enjoy. (See the book “Make Miracles in Forty Days”.)

Ho’oponopono and tonglen. Helps me change my relationship to myself, others, situations, and life in general. It helps me befriend reality and life. Nothing is left out.

Notice and allow. Notice what’s here in experience, whatever it is (sensations, thoughts, sounds, smells, taste), allow it as it is, notice it’s already allowed as is, and rest with it. (Natural rest, shikantaza, just sitting.)

Inquire into anything. Any stressful belief or identity. Anything you are curious about. Anything that seems real. Anything that seems solid and substantial. (I tend to use The Work, Living Inquiries, or the Big Mind process.)

And a couple of other approaches that also have their way of being all-inclusive

Vortex Healing can be used for emotional issues, identifications, physical issues, relationships, situations, and places. As a practitioner, it works for healing and awakening. (And is the most effective approach to both I have found so far, although I still value and use the other approaches mentioned here and some more.)

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) can be used to release any tension and trauma out of the body. Over time, this can have profound effects for our well-being and healing.

Why am I drawn to these all-inclusive practices? Mainly because reality is one. So it makes sense to find some gratitude to all experiences, or shift my relationship to everything (befriending), or inquire into any stressful belief, or question anything that seems real and true, or notice and rest with whatever experience is here whatever it may be.

Note: See other articles on this site for more detailed descriptions of these practices, or do an online search.

Inquiry, TRE, Vortex Healing etc. vs talk therapy

 

Talk therapy can be helpful in some situations, depending on the client, issue, therapist, and timing. In the best case, it can give us some sense of being seen and understood. That what we experience is normal. And it can give us some helpful insights and pointers.

For me, I generally find other approaches far more helpful.

In my case, it’s the ones I tend to write about here: Ho’oponopno to change my relationship to myself, others, a situation, or the world. Tonglen for the same. Inquiry for releasing beliefs (The Work) or charges out of an issue (Living Inquiries). Therapeutic trembling to release tension and trauma out of the body, and even out of specific issues (TRE). Vortex Healing for a current situation, emotional issues or identifications, and even for physical issues. All supported by training a more stable attention (samatha), and also noticing and allowing what’s here (Natural Rest, Shikantaza).

And for me, all of that supported by nature. A relatively healthy diet. Some physical activity. Nurturing of nurturing relationships and activities. And whatever else seems helpful.

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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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All inclusive practices

 

I tend to be drawn to all-inclusive practices. For instance, ho’oponopono or tonglen where we open the heart to everyone and everything, gratitude practices where nothing is left out, or inquiry where we “leave no stone unturned”.

It makes sense for two reasons. First, all is Spirit. And second, it allows for a more thorough healing, awakening, and embodiment.

Of course, it’s more an orientation than something we can completely do. But it does seem to be a helpful orientation and guideline.

Taking responsibility for what shows up in my life

 

In the ho’oponopno world, they talk about taking complete responsibility for what shows up in our life.

It seems radical and perhaps nonsensical or even ill advised or dangerous. And yet, when we take full responsibility – for instance through ho’oponopono or tonglen – we may discover something else. We may find that it’s deeply healing and frees us up to engage in life with more clarity and heart.

Whatever is here that’s stressful, painful, or uncomfortable, it’s something I can do ho’oponopono or tonglen with.

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.

Say this to the person, situation, or part of yourself you experience as troubling. Repeat over and over until something shifts, and do it some more. Notice any fears that come up, and say the words to these fears before returning to the initial object. I sometimes stay with one sentence for a while and then move on to another. They don’t have to be in sequence.

Alternately, visualize the person you experience as troubling sitting in front of you. When you breathe in, visualize their pain and suffering as dark smoke and breathe it in. When you breathe out, visualize clarity, peace, and love coming out of you and entering the person. (I like to imagine the pain transforming into clarity and love in me, moving over and entering the other person, and filling the other person completely and so it pours and radiates out of the person.) Repeat many times.

In both cases, say it until you feel it more deeply and it gradually becomes a sweet experience. Eventually, it will feel sweet and natural. There will be ease. (When there is a deeply ingrained pattern of seeing someone or something as an enemy, this may take time but it does eventually happen.)

My world is my world. My world is happening within and as this mind, within and as this presence. My world is my images of the world. It’s created by this mind. My experience of my relationship to anyone (including myself) and anything is happening within and created by my mind. My experience of anyone and anything is happening within and is created by my mind.

So using ho’o or tonglen is taking responsibility for how my mind creates its experience of the world. And it’s a healing of my own images and experiences of the world. It’s a deep healing. A deep reconciliation. A deep release of stressful and painful images and stories. A deep alignment with my heart, presence, and reality.

Sometimes, it’s easy to do this. Sometimes, it takes time to get to the point when I am ready to do it. And sometimes, I do it even when something in me fears it – and first with this very natural and understandable fear.

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Welcome home

 

This came up in a conversation with a client today.

When we welcome shunned parts of our experience, it’s a welcome home.

We can support this welcome through ho’oponopono, I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you. Or saying things like thank you for protecting me, thank you for your love for me. (We ask for forgiveness for how we have treated these shunned parts of our experience, we love them since they are us, and we thank them for still being around and for showing us these dynamics. Also, these parts are here to protect us, and they come from love in a very real sense.)

What I was reminded of with this client today is another phrase: Welcome home. And even, welcome to the family. We welcome the shunned part home. We welcome it to our internal family.

How does ho’oponopono work?

 

Ho’oponopno is one of my favorite practices. It’s simple, easy to do in daily life, and it works.

Here are the brief instructions for how to do ho’oponopno:

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.

Say this to anyone or anything in your world that bothers you or seems like a problem or an enemy. Repeat until there is a softening and the sense of separation dissolves. Then continue a little more and see how it deepens.

It’s more important that it works than how. And yet, exploring and noticing how it seems to work can be helpful. It can give us insights into how the mind works.

I find is that ho’opono invites a healing of my world. I heal my experience of the world. I heal my relationship to my the imaginations that makes up my experience of the world. And that’s a big deal. That has ripple effects through my life and beyond.

Most or all of the tools I explore seems to work through healing my world. They heal my relationship to my imaginations that makes up my experience of the world.

Dark nights of the soul & trauma

 

There are different varieties of dark nights in a spiritual process. In some ways, there are as many varieties as there are dark nights since each one is somewhat unique.

Still, there seems to be some general categories or facets of dark nights. One category or facet is a dryness or lack of meaning and enthusiasm. Another is an experience of loss of God’s presence or an expansive state. And one is where the lid is taken off of our unprocessed stuff and it emerges to heal and be recognized as spirit itself.

I imagine that each dark night is really an adaption to a new emerging phase, and it’s difficult to the extent we struggle against it and try to hold onto beliefs and identities not compatible with this new phase.

The type where the lid is taken off our unprocessed stuff is especially interesting to me. It seems that it’s mainly connected with trauma. A lifetime of trauma surfaces to be seen, felt, loved, healed, and for spirit to recognize it as itself. And it’s not only one lifetime of trauma, but several. Trauma from our ancestors is passed on through the generations (behavior and epigenetics) and our culture. Trauma may even be passed on from past lives. No wonder such a process can be intense and feel unbearable.

I find it helpful to think of it in a trauma perspective. It makes it more grounded and concrete and points to some ways we can work on it and ease some of the pain inherent in it.

It does seem that the process needs to run its course and lives its own life. And it also seems that we can work on certain elements of what’s happening and make the process a little easier on ourselves.

I have found the following helpful for myself:

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) to release tension and trauma out of the body.

Inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries) to support release of beliefs and identifications. (These create a struggle with what’s happening, and they are also what hold trauma in place.)

Natural rest. Notice and allow.

Heart centered practices. Ho’oponopono. Tonglen. Metta. Towards myself, suffering parts of myself, and others.

Service and work, as I am able to. (There has been times when all I could do was survive, and other times when service and work has been possible and very helpful for my own process.)

Body-inclusive practices such as Breema, yoga, tai chi, and chi gong.

Nature. Good diet. Herbal medicine. Supportive friends. Gentle exercise.

Understanding of the process. Guidance from someone who has gone through it themselves.

More recently, I have found Vortex Healing to be helpful for me in this process and in general.

Why does the trauma surface in this way, and sometimes in such a dramatic fashion? To me, it seems that life is impatient in clearing us and making us better vessels for whatever awakening is here. Any trauma in our system will prevent a deepening and stable awakening, and an expression of the clarity and love that’s recognized in the awakening. It’s also a very humbling process, which means that identifications are stripped off and we become a little more aligned with reality.

Note: When I wrote “categories or facets of dark nights” it’s because these characteristics sometimes seem to appear one at a time (categories) and sometimes several at once (facets).

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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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Love your enemy

 

Love your enemy.

I don’t see this as a commandment or even primarily morals.
It has more to do with healing my relationship to what I perceive as an enemy, whether it’s a person, a situation, an illness, a state of experience, or something else.
More accurately, it’s my mind healing it’s own relationship to it’s own imaginations.
When my mind perceives an enemy, there is an imagined separate self and an imagined “other” made into an enemy. And this is painful. My mind is in a futile struggle with itself. (I am not saying that “it’s all in the mind”, I am just focusing on how my mind creates its own experience.)
The alternative is for the mind to find love for it’s own imaginations, independent of what these imaginations are. This allows for reduced struggle and suffering, and relating to life in a more intentional, kind, and even more effective way.
So how can I love my enemy? Or rather, how can I remove the obstacles to love? How can I look through the appearance of an enemy?
I have found different forms of inquiry helpful (The Work, Living Inquiries). Along with releasing trauma from the body through therapeutic trembling (trauma can fuel anxiety and enemy images). And heart-centered practices such as ho’oponopono and tonglen.

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Practices = experiments

 

What people call “practices” I like to think of as experiments.

What happens if I do this? If I stay with it for a while? What do I notice?

This helps me have a more open mind and also approach it with interest and curiosity.

It becomes more open, interesting, fun, and enjoyable.

For instance, what happens if I do ho’oponopno towards (images of) myself at different ages? How is it if I start at birth (or before) and go along the timeline to today (or even later), staying with each age for a while – perhaps even days – until there is a shift towards genuine love towards myself at that age. How is it to include others in my life at the different ages? How is it to include my parents, friends, teachers, and others? How is it to include even those my mind has made into an “enemy”, however subtly?

Natural Rest, Love, and Healing

 

I am healing – from CFS, brain fog, (what looks like) PTSD, and many losses – and see that the next step for me is to meet what’s here with love. Meet the symptoms with love. And meet my reactions to it – mainly fear – with love.

I can do that through natural rest. Resting with the sensations, and the images and words. Allow and notice. And notice it’s all already allowed. This is a form of love. I can also ask simple questions about the sensations, images, and words, to clarify that that’s what they are, and clarify what they are not. This may support resting with what’s here.

I can do it through ho’oponopono with the symptoms and the fears.

I can do it through holding satsang with them. 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? 

Finding love for what’s here

 

Some things that come to mind about finding love for what’s here:

It’s about finding love for my experience, as it is here and now. For sensations, images, words, sounds and more.

When it’s resisted, it resists back. It wants to be seen, loved, met, recognized for what it really is. If it’s not met and loved it will ask for my attention, in whatever ways it can. And when it asks for my attention, there is often synchronicities at play (it seems), outer circumstances tend to play along inviting me to meet and find love for my experience. It will even, at times, “run the show” with an invitation for me to meet it, understand it, and find love for it.

When it’s met and loved, it relaxes. Softens. It joins the team. It doesn’t run the show as it may have before.

How can I find love for it? I can…..

Use loving kindness towards these parts of me and my experience. I wish you ease. I wish you love.

Do the same using tonglen, ho’oponopono, any other similar practices.

Dialog with it. Get to know how it experiences me and the world. See how it’s there to protect (the imagined) me. See how it’s coming from love. (Even when it takes a form that, at first, may not seem loving.) When I see it comes from love for me, it’s natural for me to find love for it.

Why would I find love for it? I would find love for it because……

It’s awareness. It’s already love. It is part of what I already am. It is not “other”. (What I am.)

It wishes to protect me (the imagined me). It comes from love. (Who I am.)

It feels good. There is a softening. A deepening. A maturing. An alignment with who and what I really am. It helps me live a life less or not run by a disowned part of me. (Pragmatic.)

And if a part of me wants to find love for it for a reason, as a strategy to get something, that too is very understandable. That too comes from love, and I can find love for that too.

This is an all-inclusive practice or exploration or way of life. Nothing is left out.

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All inclusive gratitude, prayer, inquiry

 

I notice how helpful I find all-inclusive practices.

An all-inclusive gratitude practice helps me shift out of a split perception. I write or say I am grateful for….. [anything in my life, what I initially like and don’t like]. It helps me open up for the grace in it all. It invites me to gently and quietly question my assumptions about what went right and wrong, what’s good and bad fortune. It invites me to find the gold in whatever is here.

An all-inclusive prayer helps me find love for my enemies, whether these are things I at first don’t like in myself or the wider world. I pray for the health and well-being of myself, suffering parts of me, others, all beings in the three times, and the Earth, and especially those I have closed down my heart to. This helps me open my heart to all of me and all of life. It helps me open my heart to my whole field of experience, finding love for it. Loving kindness (metta), tonglen, ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer, placing myself and others in the heart flame, and other practices can also be very helpful here.

An all-inclusive inquiry practice helps me leave no stone unturned. I examine even my most basic and cherished assumptions about myself, the world, life and reality. I can use The Work to question any stressful story in my life. I can use the Living Inquiries to question anything that seems real and solid to me. And there are many other forms of inquiry as well.

The reason these practices can be helpful and powerful is that they reflect reality. Reality is one. It’s Spirit. It’s love. It’s aliveness. It’s life. And all-inclusive practices, such as these, invite this seamless whole that we are to recognize itself more fully. It helps shed assumptions about reality, especially about separation, and notice what’s already here and what we already are.

Note: Whatever these practices brings up of wounds, fear, apparent resistance etc. can be brought into the practice. If a wound or fear comes up during the gratitude practice, include it. If it comes up during prayer, pray for that too. If it comes up during inquiry, look at what it is.

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Love is the universal healer

 

Love is the universal healer.

If it doesn’t heal the situation (an illness, circumstances), it heals our relationship to it. And that’s the healing we all deeply crave.

Love can be a feeling, and this can be found through practices such as prayer, loving kindness, tonglen, ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer, Christ meditation, heart flame visualization, and more.

Love can also be independent of feeling, through a falling away of delusion, and Spirit recognizing itself as all there is. This love is a lived love, independent of fleeting feelings.

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Purgatory and love

 

A dark night is a form of purgatory, a cleansing out.

And it’s as much or more about love.

What’s surfacing seeks to be recognized as love, and met with love. It seeks a loving presence.

It seeks to be seen, felt and loved.

It seeks for the believed stories that created it and maintains it to be seen through.

It seeks to be felt as is, and for it’s sensation component to be felt as sensations.

It seeks to be recognized as love, coming from confused love and a wish to protect the apparent separate self, and to be met with love.

It seeks it’s own liberation.

What’s triggering these wounded parts of us also seeks love.

Any situation in the world bringing these parts up in us also seeks love. It seeks to be recognized as love, and met with love.

Any person bringing this up in me comes with an invitation to be met with love.

Any perceived challenging situation is a potential purgatory, in this sense. It comes with an invitation for us to see through our stories about it, feel it, and find love for it.

It comes with an invitation for me to see through any of my stories about it. (Head center.) Recognize it as love, and find love for it. (Heart center.) And feel it. (Belly center.)

And for the heart facet of this, simple practices can be very helpful.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. Prayer for the well being of myself and others. Prayer for love for me, suffering parts of me, and others. Prayer for receptivity. Prayer for support in meeting what’s here with love.

A simple loving kindness practice. I wish you love. I wish you ease. Said to myself or parts of me (my heart, pain), and others.

Tonglen. Ho’oponopono. (With me, parts of me, others.)

All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for….. (anything, what’s its easy to be grateful for, and especially what it’s less easy to find gratitude for.)

Seeing myself in the heart flame. Seeing others, and the world, in the heart flame. (Fanning the heart flame with my attention and devotion. Then seeing myself – body and mind – inside of it, allowing it to burn away anything not like itself, anything not real, anything not like clarity and love.)

Christ meditation, visualizing Christ in my heart, above and below me, in front and behind me, and on either side of me.

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The simplest self-love

 

I see that what I seek from (some) others is love. And that I have a sense of not being filled up enough with love. So why not give it to myself?

I can visualize myself, or a suffering part of me, or my heart, and…..

I wish you love. I wish you ease. (Metta, loving kindness.)

Breathe in my suffering. Breathe out love and clarity to myself. (Tonglen.)

I love you. Please forgive me. I am sorry. (Ho’oponopono.)

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Currently

 

I thought I would give a brief update here. There is still a lot coming up for me, of previously unfelt, unloved, unseen material, and it’s sometimes challenging and sometimes quite moving. It’s all coming up with an invitation for it to be met, felt, loved, seen as what it is – in form and as the same as everything. Things keep falling apart in my outer life as well, perhaps as a reflection of a dismantling of inner patterns as Barry suggests. It’s also because I get caught in what surfaces and live it out, to some extent, and what surfaces is sometimes quite wounded and very young.

Some practices I find helpful these days:

The Living Inquiries. I am in the LI training program, so do the LIs most days, and sometimes several times a day. I find it very helpful, and it’s an approach that makes it easy to explore what I previously have looked into through more traditional (Buddhist) sense field explorations.

Tonglen & Ho’oponopono. I use both of these on anything that my mind takes as an “enemy”, wherever in my world this apparent enemy appears – subpersonalities, physical symptoms, emotions, resistance, life circumstances, other people, a dream figure or anything else. It helps shift how I relate to and see these. There is a curiosity and a question in this. Is it really an enemy? Is my perception of it as an enemy as true as it first appears? What’s my perception of it as I continue exploring it through tonglen and ho’o? (Maybe it’s even revealed as – what a thought may call – awareness and love?)

Holding satsang. I also hold satsang with subpersonalities and whatever else is here (anything can be taken as a subpersonality). 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? 

Heart flame. I find and fan the flame of the heart with my attention and gratitude. Then – in my mind – place my whole body and being inside of this flame, allowing it to burn away anything that’s not similar to itself (clarity, love). It burns away any trance, any illness.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). I continue inviting in neurogenic tremors, often throughout daily life – when I sit in a chair, stand waiting for the tea water to boil, lie in bed etc. Sometimes, I also bring something stressful to mind to invite tension around that to release through the tremors.

The Work. I sometimes use The Work too. Right now, I have to admit I am more drawn to the Living Inquiries, although I see them as equal and complementary. They are both forms of inquiry. They both invite beliefs to be seen through and soften or fall apart. And yet, the Living Inquiries work on images, body images, and sensations more specifically, which I find helpful now. It’s as if it more directly goes to a more primal part of the mind.

Rest. Whenever I remember, I intentionally rest, allowing any experience to be as it is. Noticing the sensations, allowing them as they are. Noticing the sounds, images and words coming and going. Noticing it’s all already allowed. This is an alert form of resting. More accurately, it’s a resting from being caught up in images and words. They come and go, and are noticed as objects instead of being identified with…. and taken as a subject, as what I am. This is also called Shikantaza, or natural meditation, and it’s part of the Living Inquiries.

Stable attention. I sometimes also take time to bring attention to the sensations of the breath at the nostrils, or at one nostril. This invites attention to stabilize, and it becomes more pliable and a support for any activity in life (and just being). I am just getting more back into this, and wish to do it more again.

Prayer. I pray for guidance. For seeing through the trance. (Victim etc.) For support seeing through the trance. For support in meeting what’s here with love. For support in any way that’s most helpful for me. For support in living from love and clarity. For support in giving my life over to God (Spirit, Christ, Buddha Mind) wholeheartedly. For support in meeting any fear in me with love and clarity. For my life being in service of life.

Additional. I have also done some EFT and TFT. I go for walks in nature.  I make sure to drink plenty of water, usually in the form of different types of herbals teas, so my urine is pale or almost clear. (This really helps with any sense of energetic stagnation in my system.) I take some herbs and similar things (chulen, rhodiola, eleuthero, echinacea). I get plenty or rest and sleep.  I do things that sparks my passion (photography, drawing, reading). I connect with friends. (As or more important than much else here.) And so on.

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Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver

 

Simplified terribly, there are three ways of dealing with apparent evil:

(a) Let it have its way. Stay passive.

(b) Kill it off. Get rid of it.

(c) Treat it with respect and kindness, and contain it, prevent it from doing harm.

Most stories – whether fairy tales, mythology or contemporary movies, take the second approach. Some describe the first as a cautionary tale. And a few take the third approach, the more wise and mature (?) one.

One of the stories that take the third approach is Jim Button and Luke the Engine driver.

Instead of killing the evil dragon, as is described in so many other stories, they capture the dragon. They treat her with respect, contain her fury, and prevent her from doing harm. And she turns into a golden wisdom dragon. If they had let her have her way, or if they had killed her, she and they would never have benefited from her transformation.

For me, doing The Work and other forms of inquiry, and also holding satsang, doing ho’oponopono and tonglen, are all examples of capturing the dragon, treating it with respect and curiosity, prevent it from doing harm, and giving it space to transform into a golden wisdom dragon – if that’s what will happen.

It’s interesting to note that in western cultures (at least in western Europe), we generally take the third approach at the social level. We are, after all, civilized. And yet, when it comes to things in ourselves a thought may label “bad”, “undesirable”, or even “evil”, we are often trained to take the second approach. We try to get rid of it, or at least put a lid on it. That’s why simple processes such as The Work, holding satsang, and ho’oponopono may seem revolutionary. They are very simple and even natural ways of relating to what’s here in us, and yet they go against – to some extent – what we have been trained to do.

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Welcome the numbness

 

The dark night of the soul started when I moved to Wisconsin (for relationship reasons), and I stayed there even if my inner voice and guidance clearly told me to leave. After a while, my inner guidance shut down and my heart did as well. Now, there is a sense of numbness there, a numbness in my heart area. How is it to welcome it?

You are welcome here. You are already allowed, and I wish to intentionally welcome you as well.

I am sorry for having pushed you away. I am sorry for having made you into an enemy in my mind.

Please forgive me.

Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for your devotion for me. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love.

I love you. I love you as you are. I love you for being love. I love you for your devotion to me.

Also, how is it to meet it, welcome it, feel it? Where in my body is the numbness the densest? What happens when I meet it, stay with it, welcome it? Does it stay? Change into something else? Where does the trail of breadcrumbs lead me?

Ho’oponopono as inquiry

 

Ho’oponopono can be used straight, as is.

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

After having explored this for a while, I notice I am more drawn to use it as pointers for inquiry. Can I find where each of these are true for me, in the situation? I also notice I am drawn to adding one or two facets to this exploration.

First, I notice something arising in me (in the wide sense), either an emotion, contraction, discomfort, a stressful image or thought, or something in the wider world triggering a reaction in me.

Can I find where it’s already allowed? Where it’s already welcomed by life, awareness? Can I find where I wish to consciously align with this reality? If so, then….

You are welcome here. You are allowed to stay, as you are.

Can I find where I have pushed it away? Where I have made it into an enemy in mind? If so, then….

Please forgive me for having pushed you away for so long. Please forgive me for having made you into an enemy in my mind.

Can I find where it’s devoted to me? Where it’s love? Where it’s worried love? If so, then….

Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for your devotion to me. Thank you for your love.

Can I find where it’s from love? Where it’s love? Can I find my love for it? If so, then….

I love you. I love you for being there for me. I love you for your devotion for me. I love you, for no reason.

Doing ho’o straight, as is, can be very helpful. I  have found that for myself. And yet, it may give the sense that I am “creating” something that’s not already here. And using it as pointers for inquiry can also be very helpful. It helps me explore if what it points to is already here.

Reflections on inviting in healing

 

Since I have been graced with the gift of inviting in healing for others, and it seems to be quite effective, I have been curious about what’s going on here.

What’s been clear from the beginning is that it’s God that allows for the healing.

This can be done believing that there is a me and I here inviting in healing for another. Or it can be clear that it’s all happening within and as my own world of images, and as awakeness. (Some folks would say it’s God inviting in healing for itself, through the appearance of a human being here asking for healing for another human being.) It’s all happening within my world of images, it’s all happening within and as awakeness: The perceived problem, the asking, one person asking on behalf of another, the perceived healing.

Also, what’s the focus for the healing? One way is to invite the illness itself to heal. When I did this, it felt off. It rests on a series of assumptions, and these may not be as true as they initially appear. Another is to invite in healing for my relationship with the illness or perceived problem. Right now, this feels more comfortable.

When emotions or images surface in me, and I notice a tendency to push them away, I see that something else is more true for me.

(Can I find where it’s already allowed? Where it’s already welcomed by life, awareness? Can I find where I wish to consciously align with this reality? If so, then….)

You are welcome here. You are allowed to stay, as you are.

(Can I find where I have pushed it away? Where I have made it into an enemy in mind? If so, then….)

Please forgive me for having pushed you away for so long. Please forgive me for having made you into an enemy in my mind.

(Can I find where it’s devoted to me? Where it’s love? Where it’s worried love? If so, then….)

Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for your devotion to me. Thank you for your love.

(Can I find where it’s from love? Where it’s love? Can I find my love for it? If so, then….)

I love you. I love you for being there for me. I love you for your devotion for me. I love you, for no reason.

When I do this for what surfaces in me, I find that this is the love these parts of me seek. The welcome and love I find for what surfaces is the love I seek for myself. Something falls into place. And it’s all from seeing what’s already here.

So why not see if I can find the same when I see discomfort, suffering or illness in others? Why not meet that the same way?

Whether a thought says this is emotion or image is mine, or that illness and suffering is his or hers, why not see what happens if I welcome it. If I find where I am genuinely sorry for having pushed it away, made it into an enemy. If I thank it. If I find my genuine love for it.

The “old” way of doing healing – perceiving separate beings and a problem out there to be fixed – doesn’t seem to work for me anymore. It’s not true for me, and never was. This approach feels much more peaceful for me, it seems to be the next step for me. And – so far – it even seems to “work” in terms of inviting in healing in a conventional sense. And it happens in a much more peaceful way, a way that feels more honest for me.

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Exploring the little things

 

I enjoy exploring the apparently little things. It may be a minor annoyance, a small physical pain, slight tiredness, or a quietly nagging sense of discomfort.

What are some of the benefits of exploring the little things?

When I explore an apparently small thing, I get to….

Explore the label minor and major. Is it true it’s minor? Is it true this other situation is major?

Explore it in relative peace, free from the drama and turmoil that’s sometimes here around situations I see as major.

Identify and investigate thoughts I put on this minor situation, and see that I may put the same thoughts on other situations as well, including the ones I see as major. When I take a thought as true, I put it on any situation, whether thoughts label it minor or major, and the dynamics are similar or the same.

Invite in a shift in how I relate to it, which may shift how I relate to other people, states or situations in my life.

Become more familiar with the process, deepen the groove of relating to it in a different way. This may make it easier when minor and major things come up in the future.

Explore what’s here now, no matter what it is, free from thinking I need to wait for something major to appear.

And what are some of the ways I can explore these little things?

I can….

Inquire into my stressful thoughts about it, and find what’s more true for me than the initial thought.

Explore it through the sense fields. What’s there in sensation, in sight, in taste, in smell, in sound? What’s there in the mental field, in the form of images, thoughts? How is it when these images and thoughts are taken as “real” and solid, representing reality? How is it to differentiate the mental sense field from the others, and see images and thoughts as mental field activities?

Pray for my “enemies” – whether it’s a person, a state or a situation, which includes shifting into well wishing for it, as it is, and recognizing it as already God, Spirit, awareness, love.

Do tonglen or ho’o on the person, state or situation, including myself.

Confess to myself, and perhaps another, about what’s happening for me around this.

Shake (neurogenic tremors, TRE) with the situation in mind.

And in each of these cases, I can be open to whatever images or memories come up. For instance, what are some of the early situations where I remember having the same stressful thought?

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This is not God, is it true?

 

The truth is that until we love cancer, we can’t love God. It doesn’t matter what symbols we use—poverty, loneliness, loss—it’s the concepts of good and bad that we attach to them that make us suffer.
– Byron Katie

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:43-44

Anything thoughts tell me is wrong, bad, not God, becomes an enemy for me, in my mind, when those thoughts are taken as true.

It’s uncomfortable, painful, it’s how I create suffering for myself.

So what can I do? Here are a few approaches I find interesting and helpful: Prayer for he/she/it, ho’o, tonglen, The Work, sense field explorations, the Big Mind Process, Headless experiments, and more. And all are supported by inviting in a more stable attention, perhaps by bringing attention to the breath, or through body-centered practices such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, or Breema.

All of this helps me shift into finding genuine love for he/she/it, and it may even help me notice it’s already love. It never was anything but love.

And I do it for my own sake. It’s a relief. I function from more clarity. I function from more kindness. There is a sense of coming home.

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Mini-inquiry: I need them to see me as OK

 

I did an inquiry yesterday on I need them to see me as OK. The situation was a group in Oregon where I spoke up and felt misunderstood, and also in elementary school where I raised my hand and got “the look” from a couple of class mates.

Here is the first turnaround:

I need me to see me as OK.

I found several examples of how this is as or more true than the initial statement (I need them to see me as OK).

It’s more peaceful, I am available to take care of myself, I am more friendly to myself and others, I find love for myself, I am more engaged, there is a sense of connection (with myself, others, life), there is more receptivity, there is a sense of coming home.

And how can I do it?

(a) When I come from honesty, I see myself as OK. When I am honest with myself and others, and live in integrity. In this particular inquiry situation, when I speak honestly and respond honestly.

(b) When I find love for others (my “enemy”), there is a relief and I experience myself as OK. When I pray for others – especially those I tell myself am not giving me what I want – and myself. When I do ho’o or tonglen. When I inquire into my thoughts about others, and find what’s more true for me. In these ways, I find or shift into love for others and myself. I may also see it’s all already love.

(c) When I inquire into a belief and find what’s more true for me, I see – through simple, real, and honest examples – I am OK, and that others and life is OK. At least, that’s been my experience so far.

(d) In the specific situation I did inquiry on, I see that we like each other, he seemed to have the best of intentions, and it was most likely an innocent misunderstanding. Also, we are all there to explore together, so whatever I say from honesty is completely fine. It’s where I am at. That’s why we are there.

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Staying with sensations

 

It’s easy to say open to the emotion, welcome it, be with it. 

And yet, the question is, how can I do it?

Here are some ways I find helpful:

1. Find fears and resistant thoughts that come up when I consider opening to an intense emotion, and inquire into these. Some beliefs may be: It’s too much. I’ll be overwhelmed. This emotions means something terrible has happened/will happen. This emotion reflects reality. The thought behind it is true. 

2. As I open to the emotion, I can ask myself: Is it true, it’s too much? Is it true, it’s overwhelming? Is it true, I cannot do it? Is it true, it’s not already allowed?

3. Find where in the body I experience the emotion, and bring attention to the sensations there. Bringing attention to the sensation side of the emotion feels more manageable, and it’s also inquiry. I notice how it is to bring attention to the sensation side of the emotion. It may show me the distinction between the sensation side of an emotion, and the image/thought side. And the automatic coupling between those two may lessen and fall away over time. As an emotion arises, I may notice it’s a sensation, and some stories about it – it’s fear, it means something terrible will happen – are simply just thoughts, innocent questions about the world, not necessarily true.

4. When I bring attention to the sensations, notice how the sensations/emotions change over time, how new emerge – perhaps with their own stories, and so on. As Brandon Bays points out, this may eventually lead into the void.

5. As attention is distracted, bring it back to the sensations. Also, notice the thought attention is distracted by/into, and perhaps thoughts about distraction itself. Make a note of it and take this thought to inquiry later. The thoughts attention is distracted by may be the same as under #1 above, and the thoughts about distraction itself may be of the self-judgment kind.

6. As in TRE and other explorations, touch can be very helpful here. Someone holding my hand, or putting his/her hands on my shoulder, or the belly, or feet, may be a great support in staying with intense emotions as they surface. It’s a reminder that someone else is here in the world, and of kindness.

7. I can also do ho’oponopono on the situation: On the person or situation the emotion appears to be about, here and now.  On the emotion itself, seen as an enemy and struggled against. On myself, struggling with how to relate to the intense emotion. And perhaps, if I trace the wound/fear/belief back, on an early childhood situation relating to what’s surfacing now.

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What can be trained: previous blind spots in mainstream western culture

 

Mainstream western culture has had some blind spots about what can be trained and what cannot, and that’s already changing.

For instance, from spiritual traditions from around the world, including western ones, we know that we can train (a) a stable attention (supports almost any activity), (b) empathy and an open heart (tonglen, prayer, ho’o), (c) opening to the experience that’s here (inquiry, true meditation, tonglen, prayer, ho’o), (d) what we are recognizing itself (true meditation, inquiry, prayer), and (e) that we can inquire into our most basic assumptions and find what’s more true for us. Many newer versions of these practices are also available now, including headless experiments and the Big Mind process (what we are noticing itself), and The Work (inquiry into our beliefs, including our most basic assumptions).

And some traditions also shows us that we can train more “mundane” things such as our eyes and sight (sometimes recover from or prevent eye problems), our body so it has a good chance of staying supple and healthy throughout life (yoga, tai chi, Breema), and even our ability to notice and support a flow of subtle energy in and around our body for ourselves (chi gong) and sometimes others.

This is a training and a practice, although it’s equally much an exploration and investigation. What happens when I engage in these activities?

Like and love

 

There is a big difference between like and love, and perhaps also not such a difference.

Love

With love, I can (a) develop or find love for anyone/thing, and (b) notice it’s already loved, it’s already love. The first may happen through prayer, tonglen, ho’o and other practices. The second may happen through any of the previous ones, and also inquiry. And I don’t really “develop” love, of course. I may invite in a feeling or state of love, which comes and goes as a guest as any other feelings and states, and that may be very helpful. It may even be helpful in noticing that I am and everyone/thing already is love. In my experience, beliefs is what stops me from noticing my love for everyone/thing, and noticing I and it all is already love. So inquiry is a good tool to invite beliefs to unravel, revealing all as already love. This is a love that’s not a feeling, not a state, although recognizing it can – in a sense – be called a state, a state of recognition.

Like

In terms of liking, I may (a) initially like someone or not, (b) then like the person because I find love, and (c) still want or not want to spend time with that person, and like or not in that sense. Initially, I like someone, something or a situation, or not, and that may come (partly, mostly?) from personality and/or beliefs. Then, as I develop or find love for him/her/it, I like because of that love. And if it’s a person, I notice I still am free to be with that person or not, and like or not in that sense.

He/she/it

When I write someone/thing or he/she/it here, it’s because the “object” is just about anything in the world. It can be a person. An emotion, pain, memory, wound. A thought, including my images of the world, others, and myself. A situation. Taking a thought as true. Or anything else.

Summary

So I can be oblivious to my love for someone. I can develop love for that person, including through different practices. I can notice my love that’s already here, and that the person and I already are love.

I may initially like that person or not. I may then like the person because of finding my love for him or her. And I will still chose to spend time with that person, or not, and in that sense like him or her, or not.

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