Projecting sensations into space

 

I had a low-grade sense of sinking heaviness for a couple of days and decided to explore it in a Living Inquiry session yesterday. 

I started with resting with the sensation of slowly sinking heaviness filling my experience and going indefinitely far out in space in all directions.

Then, I rested with the sensations in my body that created this experience. It was a slightly vibrating sensation on my skin in the face, head, and upper body. After resting with this for a while, I brought attention to the image(s) of something sinking, and of something spread out infinitely out into space in all directions. 

As I have noticed before, when a feeling feels like its outside of the body, it’s created by a combination of bodily sensations and one or more images placing the sensations outside of the body. 

And as with any experience with a charge, it can only hold itself together and seem real as long as it’s uninvestigated. As soon as it is investigated, and we have taken time to rest with each of the components, the illusion falls apart.

In this case, the sensations are still here (although less) but they are recognized as sensations in particular places in the body, and the associated images are recognized as images. The magic trick cannot anymore be experienced as I initially experienced it.  

I also explored some of the associations with this slowly sinking all-encompassing heaviness, what triggered it a couple of days earlier, and some of the underlying issues (back to childhood). I won’t go into details here since I mainly wanted to share how sensations can be projected into space, and seem to fill our whole experience even if they are actually quite localized. 

Since I noticed some identification as someone sitting here (mostly with the head area), I took some time to rest with the sensations making up this experience, and also the images making it up. That allowed this identification to similarly fall apart as a convincing magic trick. 

Finding meaning, and freedom from meaning

 

We need a sense of meaning in our lives, and especially when we find ourselves in challenging life situations. 

We can find meaning in many different ways depending on the situation and what works for us. We can make a situation meaningful to us even if we at a very human level don’t like it. 

And if we want to take the next step, we can investigate meaning itself. Meaning is created by our own thoughts, and especially when we invest them with energy and hold them as at least partially true. This meaning typically tells us something we like or don’t like. In either case, it can be freeing to investigate these thoughts creating a sense of meaning. 

The word meaning is here used in two slightly different ways.

In the second paragraph, it refers to a sense of meaning in our lives or for a situation we find ourselves in. We can make our life or a situation meaningful to ourselves.

And meaning is also something that’s in any thought as long as it makes sense to us. We can invest a thought and meaning with energy, hold it as true, and identify with its viewpoint. And we can also examine this meaning and how our mind creates it for itself. 

The first sense of meaning gives us a meaningful way of viewing and approaching a situation. And investigating meaning itself, the ideas of meaning we have about the same situation, gives us freedom from these ideas. In my experience, both are valuable and helpful. 

How do we investigate meaning? The easiest is perhaps to take an example from my own life. With my current health problems (CFS) comes thoughts and ideas about how terrible it is and also in what ways I can make it meaningful (or life makes it meaningful for me).

So I can identify these thoughts, and then explore them in inquiry (for me, The Work + Living Inquiries). In The Work, I can identify some of these thoughts through the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, and other beliefs tend to come up in the inquiry process. In Living Inquiries, some are found in the initial exploration and most through the process. 

As I mentioned earlier, I find both of these approaches valuable and helpful. It helps me to find meaning in a life situation. And it helps me investigate any thought that gives me a sense of meaning – whether I like it or not – about the same life situation.

One helps me orient towards the life situation and find a productive approach. The other lightens the weight of any thought offering me an opinion about it. 

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Compulsions: two levels of what we escape

 

When we have a compulsion, there are usually two levels to what we try to escape. 

The compulsion could be any activity – eating, using alcohol or drugs, internet, work, upholding an image of ourselves, certain thought patterns, or just about anything else. Behind compulsions is a wish to avoid certain uncomfortable sensations and thoughts.

And those uncomfortable sensations and thoughts come in two layers

First are the immediate sensations in our body we wish to avoid. They seem frightening to us, so we use our compulsion as a strategy to avoid them. Sometimes, we may be conscious of uncomfortable or frightening thoughts associated with these sensations, but not always.

Then, there is a whole undergrowth of uncomfortable and frightening thoughts and additional sensations often in the form of chronic contractions. These can be quite entrenched, seem very real to us, and can stretch back to childhood experiences. 

Often, we would do almost anything to avoid consciously entering and meeting these. Including escaping into our compulsions, even if these come with their own unpleasant consequences. 

Several things may prevent us from consciously entering what we try to escape from. Mainly, it seems scary and frightening. We have our own beliefs telling us it’s scary and dangerous. Our society, at least traditionally, has told us these parts of us are dark and hide something terrifying. Our society makes it easy to escape through various addictions and compulsions. (We see others do it, and escape routes are easily available partly because some of them are profitable.) We may, wisely, think we would get lost if we enter these parts of ourselves, we may rock the boat, and we may take the lid off something we won’t know how to handle. (This may be true if we don’t have the right support, guidance, and skills.) 

The answer is to do exactly what we have avoided, do so with support and guidance, and eventually learn how to do it safely for ourselves. We need to meet and befriend these areas of ourselves. Become familiar with them, see the innocence behind it all, and perhaps invite these parts of us to heal. 

Over time, we get to see that it’s actually not so scary to enter these areas after all. It may be uncomfortable at first, but as we rest with the sensations and thoughts, and investigate what’s there, it tends to shift into an experience of relief and even of returning home. We are returning home to parts of ourselves we have shunned. 

It’s important to do this befriending in a skillful way, and that often means to initially be facilitated by someone experienced. These parts of ourselves are best met and explored in a way that’s respectful, patient, allows these parts to be as they are, see the innocence behind and in them, and invites them to heal in their own time. 

For me, the most helpful ways I have found of doing this include natural rest (notice, allow, rest with), inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries, Big Mind process), heart-centered practices (ho’oponopono, tonglen – towards these parts of ourselves), and releasing associated body contractions (TRE, massaging the contractions etc.). I won’t go into the details here since I have written about it in other articles. 

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Everything that happens has a meaning?

 

Does everything that happens have a meaning?

When something apparently unfortunate happens in our life, does it have a meaning?

Yes. We can give it a meaning. We can use it to learn, grown, mature, be of service and so on.

No. Nothing has an inherent meaning in a conventional sense. Any meaning comes from an overlay of thoughts. (And a felt sense of meaning comes when these thoughts are associated with certain sensations in the body.)

Yes. If everything is the play of the divine, then that’s the underlying meaning of everything. The play itself is the meaning. The divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

So we can give what happens a meaning for us. We can notice that it’s inherently free from meaning since any meaning comes from an overlay of thought, sometimes connected with certain body sensations that make it a felt sense of meaning. And, in some ways, the meaning of anything is that it’s the play of the divine.

The first helps us orient. The second helps us hold any ideas of meaning lightly. The third is something we may find for ourselves through our own exploration and it can give us a sense of the underlying OKness of what’s happening.

Note: The third one can be talked about in two different ways. One is that everything happens within and as what we are. It’s the play of awakeness as form. The other is what I wrote above, that this can be seen as the play of the divine.

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How does The Work work?

 

How does The Work of Byron Katie work?

As with anything else in life, it’s ultimately a mystery. But we can also say a few things about it.

Here is some things I have noticed:

It’s a confession, and we are seen by another without (or with less) judgment. And that, in itself, is somewhat healing.

And then there are some elements nearly explicit in the process itself.

We get to identify our stressful beliefs about a situation, someone else, life, or ourselves. We get to pinpoint the close (proximal) cause of our stress and suffering.

We get to see that our thoughts about it may not be as true as we initially thought. Our mind opens a bit to other possibilities, and to hold it a bit lighter.

We get to see what happens when we hold onto the thought as true. We get to see the stress and suffering it creates for ourselves, and what it does to our life and our relationship to others.

We get to imagine how it would be if we didn’t hold onto it as true. We get to imagine feeling it.

We get to consider and see the validity in the reversals of the thought, and that the initial thought, as well as its reversals, all have some limited validity to them. This also helps soften our grip on the initial thought.

We get to pick one reversal and see how it is to bring it into our life and how it is to live from it in daily life.

So we get to identify and question our initial stressful thought. Our mind is invited to soften its grip on it, and consider the validity in the reversals. And, as mentioned above, we – in the best case, if we work with an experienced facilitator – feel seen, met, understood, and not judged by another human being, and that in itself is healing, and shows us that we can do the same towards ourselves.

Another way The Work works is that it can give us clarity to act on something in our life that requires our action, and to do so with more clarity, kindness, and hopefully wisdom.

Low energy, its consequences, and how to bring it up

 

With my chronic fatigue (CFS), I have had plenty of opportunities to notice what happens as my energy level goes up and down. When I am more fatigued, it’s as if the light is dimmed so I get to see more of the things in me lurking in the darkness. In general, I tend to become more sensitive to sounds and activity around me, and I sometimes get to see some of my stressful beliefs more clearly. Fatigue can also look a bit like depression since I don’t have the energy to engage in emotions very much.

For most of us, when our energy level is lower, hangups, stressful beliefs, anxiety, depression, compulsion and more become more noticeable.

So we can find benefits to low energy when it’s here anyway. It makes it easier to notice what normally is under the surface. We can notice, allow, notice how parts of us respond to it, allow that too, and perhaps meet it more intentionally, with patience, curiosity, presence, and so on. Or not. And then notice and allow that. Or not.

It’s obviously good to bring the energy up, for a few different reasons. It supports our bodymind system in healing itself. It reduces many symptoms so our quality of life is higher. And it makes it easier for us to take care of what we have seen – find a different relationship to it, invite in resolution or healing for it, or simply being with it with patience and respect.

How can we bring up the energy? I am sure there are many approaches out there I am not familiar with. Of the ones I personally have tried, herbal medicine and energy work (Vortex Healing) have been the most effective, in addition to rest, moderate activity (within the limits of what I can do without crashing), and improving my diet (low on the food chain, mostly avoiding dairy, yeast, refined sugar, and the most common grains). It also helps, over time, to release tension out of the body (therapeutic tremoring, TRE), resolve and clear up stressful beliefs and trauma (inquiry, parts work, Vortex healing), and reoirent in how I relate to myself, others, and the world (heart practices such as heart prayer, ho’oponopono, tonglen).

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Physical tension to maintain beliefs, wounds, and trauma

 

It’s common to see physical tension as created by stressful beliefs and trauma. At the level of our regular everyday experience, that’s true enough. We have stressful thoughts and with that comes physical tension. It can be stressful thoughts that are recurrent and comes with recurrent tension, it can be more chronic and ongoing, or it can be something that happens rarely.

When we explore this through some forms of inquiry (e.g. Buddhist, Living Inquiries) we may find another connection between beliefs and physical tension. We see how any one identification and belief is associated with tension or contraction somewhere in the body. The thoughts give meaning to the tension, and the tension and contractions give a sense of solidity, reality and even truth to the thoughts. The physical tension is required for the thought to seem true. In a certain way, the mind creates physical tension in order to be able to believe a thought.

This is an abstraction from what I notice regularly in inquiry. I explore an identification or belief. I notice it’s connected with a particular sensation, tension, or contraction in the body. I notice how the thought gives a sense of meaning to the sensation (it seems to mean something when it’s there), and the sensation gives a sense of substance and truth to the thought.

For instance, the thought may be I am not good enough (identity as someone not good enough). I feel it as sensations in the throat. When I feel the sensations, they seem to tell me I am not good enough. And when I look at the thought I am not good enough it seems substantiated by the feeling in the throat.

This all happens without too much conscious noticing. It happens relatively automatic and at the edge of what we are consciously aware of. When it is brought into conscious awareness, through inquiry, the mechanisms are revealed. The man behind the curtain is revealed. And through noticing and resting with what’s noticed, with patience, respect, and curiosity, the connections between these thoughts and sensations tend to weaken and eventually fall away. Thoughts are recognized as thoughts and not inherently true. Sensations are recognized as sensations and not inherently meaningful.

Also, it all seems a bit silly. The mind believes a thougth just because it’s connected with some sensations? It creates these sensations (through tension) just so the thoughts can seem substantial and true? And yet, that’s how it seems to work.

These dynamics can be explored and addressed in a wide range of ways. We can explore the thought-sensation connections through Living Inquiries. We can find what’s more true for us than our initial belief through The Work. Therapeutic tremoring (e.g. TRE) can, over time, release the physical tension giving substance to stressful beliefs and identifications. Vortex Healing can address both the mind (thought) and physical (contraction) side of the equation. We can help the relationship between these thought-sensation “beings” through parts and subpersonality work. We can change our overall relationship to them (allowing them to relax, reorient, and partially resolve themselves) through heart-centered practices. We may notice these dynamics and giving them space to resolve themselves through noticing, allowing, and giving it time (basic meditation).

Note: When I say “stressful beliefs” or “stressful thoughts” here it really refers to identifications. When the mind identifies with the viewpoint of a thought, it takes it as true and make it into a belief. And any identification (or belief) is inherently stressful.

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Sending back projections?

 

A friend of mine talked about sending back projections. Other people put their projections on us, so we can notice and send them back (visualizing?).

First, what happens when we take on other people’s projections on us? We make it into a belief about ourselves. So although it may make sense to try to “send it back” we can’t really. We can’t send back a belief we have about ourselves because we made it ourselves. And we cannot will it away.

To me, it makes more sense to work with these beliefs about myself the same way I would work with any thoughts with a charge.

First, what’s an example of this projection-made-into-belief dynamic? Someone may have low self-esteem. They identify with beliefs and identities telling them they are not good enough and so on. So they project that onto us to feel better about themselves. And we may take on that projection through making it into a belief about ourselves. There is nothing inherently wrong or bad about this. It’s natural and understandable. Although as with any belief, these beliefs about ourselves may be stressful and limit how we live our lives.

And how would I work with it? One way is to examine these beliefs more thoroughly, for instance through The Work or the Living Inquiries.

Using The Work, I may examine thoughts such as: He is a jerk. He tries to put me down. He is insecure. I am not good enough. I am less than others. They will see me as not good enough. They won’t like me. They won’t accept me. They won’t love me. All of these, and whatever other thoughts I have, are gateways to really get to see the dynamics of the mind around this issue for me and find what’s more true for me. The thoughts become a valuable gift rather than a threat.

Using Living Inquiries, I may ask myself what the triggering situation says about me. For instance, I am not good enough. I am unlovable. I am less than others. I can explore how my mind creates these identities by combining thoughts and sensations. I can find the earliest memory I have of feeling that way and look at the thoughts and sensations creating that memory and anything associated with it. And in this way, the charge goes out of the identities and painful beliefs.

And although neither of these approaches explicitly talks about projections, that’s exactly what’s going on. Through either of these approaches, we identify, explore, and own projections, and the charge goes out of them. They are not only rendered harmless, they become a valuable asset and genuine gift.

Mild synchronicity: When I wrote this, I happened to listen to Michal Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.

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What do I do if I am interested in awakening but have had no success so far?

 

What do we do if we have an interested in spirituality and awakening but have had no success so far? Perhaps more to the point, what do we do if that weighs us down and we feel hopeless about it?

Here are some possibilities:

Explore forms of inquiry that can give you an immediate taste of what it’s about. Some I have found effective are the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, and – to some extent – Living Inquiries. This taste can give you a pointer for what it’s about, it can help you see that what you are seeking is already here, and it can serve as a needed disillusionment for the ideas you may have about what awakening entails. (Sometimes, people get an actual taste but dismiss it since it seems too simple and ordinary, and they continue to seek something more highfalutin and with more bells and whistles, and the disillusionment comes later.)

Inquire into beliefs you have about awakening and what not having it says about you. For instance, fill out these sentences and inquiry into them using The Work: Awakening is…. If I awaken, it will… Not being awakening means…. What I fear the most about not being awakened is…. Or use Living Inquiries to see if you can find the one who is unawakened, or awakening itself, or the drive to awakening, or anything else related to awakening and you in relation to awakening.

Along the same lines, clarify your motivation for awakening. What do you hope to get out of it? And what do you hope to get out of that? Continue until you find something very basic – and typically, universal – that you hope to get out of it. This, in itself, can be helpful, and it can also help you find other strategies to meet that need. As with any inquiry, take time with the question. Stay with it. Let it percolate. Allow the answer to surface on its own time.

Often, parts of our motivation for awakening is really a wish for healing. Identify what in you need healing, and may drive the desire for awakening, and invite in healing for those parts of you. Use whatever approach you are drawn to and that works for you.

If you have engaged in a particular spiritual path and don’t notice much results, consider revising your approach. Look at revising both your orientation and the tools and approaches you use. (a) Clarify your motivation for awakening. Inquire into your beliefs and identities connected with awakening and spirituality. Find healing for the parts of you that need healing and (partly) drive your wish for awakening. All of this can help you find a more helpful orientation to spirituality and awakening. (b) And you may consider trying out approaches or tools that may be more effective for you. If something doesn’t work in other areas of life, wouldn’t you try a different approach? So why not also when it comes to spirituality?

Awakening has a consciousness side and an energy side, and – for me – Vortex Healing is the most effective way to work with the energy side of awakening. Energetic structures hold consciousness in certain patterns and progressively undoing these will open for awakening. This won’t be the bells and whistles type of awakening some look for, but it will open a window to authentic awakening.

The approaches and tools I mention here are particular to me and what I am familiar with and have found especially helpful. As with anything I write here, this list is mostly meant as inspiration and to give some ideas for how to approach it. You’ll have to find what works for you. You have to make it your own.

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No preferences?

 

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.

– quoted in archival footage by a young Ram Dass in Ram Dass: Going Home, from Hsin Hsin Ming by Sengcan

I assume this may be a translation mistake. Preferences are natural, inevitable, and required for us to live a life as a human being. I prefer a lot of things from a society that works for everyone to strawberry ice cream. We need preferences to create the society and life that makes sense to us, and they also add up to the unique expressions of life that we all are.

What’s equally natural, but not inevitable or required, is identifications with these preferences. Beliving they are needed for our survival or happiness. Having sensations associated with these preference-thoughts that the mind then interprets as meaning that they are solid, true, and perhaps final.

I see there is another translation saying “The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences” and that makes more sense. That’s what I wrote about above, although I prefer (!) to not use the word attachment. It comes with a bit too much baggage. 

This is not something we can will into (or out of) existence. At most, we can notice what’s happening. Notice the dynamics of the mind. Invite the association between certain thoughts and sensation to fall away. Inquire into beliefs and find what’s more true for us. Rest as that which all of this happens within, and then within and as. Shift our relationship with these dynamics (from seeing them as a problem to befriending them). And so on.

Byron Katie: When you free yourself

 

When you free yourself, you free us.

– Byron Katie

In the context of The Work of Byron Katie: When I free myself from a particular belief, I free others from me perceiving, acting, and living from that belief.

Belief here means taking a story, any story, as solid, true, and final. When we do so, we inevitably create suffering for ourselves, and we tend to become a nuisance to others. Most of us have learned – from parents and culture – to do so, and undoing it takes time. It’s an ongoing process, one belief at a time.

Also, these beliefs operate at different levels. Some, we may take as real and final in our conscious view and we may not be motivated to question them until life clearly and painfully pushes up against these beliefs. In other cases, our conscious view may be quite different from a deeper belief that still color our perceptions, actions, and life. And there are combinations of these. (more…)

Resolving misophonia: my case

 

Misophonia is a bit of a mystery. At least in the mainstream, and when it comes to explaining what causes it and how to best resolve it.

I have had it for as long as I can remember. Certain sounds – especially chewing and turning newspaper pages – create a good deal of discomfort in me. And, perhaps related, I also have sensitivity to certain forms of noise. Especially loud talking and machines, and especially machine sound I experience as aggressive.

It’s clearly selective. The sounds of children and animals are OK and even enjoyable. I can listen to animals eat loudly and be completely fine with it. I can listen to a loud waterfall or a storm and enjoy it very much. And there is a clue right there. Most likely, there is something about my thoughts about and associations with certain sounds that create the distress in me.

When I first encountered The Work about fifteen years ago, I used it on my reactivity to certain sounds. I found my thoughts about it (she is loud, she disrespectful, she is mindless, he is crude, he is inconsiderate, he takes her anger out through being noisy etc.), questioned these thoughts, and found what is more true for me. That helped. But it didn’t completely resolve it.

Now that I have Vortex Healing, I have begun exploring how to best resolve it through this (very efficient and thorough) healing modality. Since it’s a long-standing issue for me, I need to address it from several different angles to be more thorough.

The obvious is the surface examples of sound irritability. I am addressing specific themes and instances, for instance, chewing, newspaper rustling, loud talking, loud machines (lawn movers, construction near my house etc.). Addressing this takes care of the surface layer.

Then, I asked myself, what’s my earliest memory / memories of being annoyed or distressed by sound? Or – when I feel distressed by certain sounds today, what’s an early memory of feeling like that? The answer is, not surprisingly to me, the sound of my mother nagging my father. I remember this from early in on life, and it was quite distressing to me as a kid (and later). So this is another one to address as a theme and through specific instances.

And even deeper is not just the sound of my mother nagging my father, but my own emotional issue around her nagging my father. This is an even deeper root of my sound sensitivity. And it’s an issue that, most likely, influences me and my life in a lot more ways than just reactivity to certain sounds.

This is an example of how addressing underlying causes of something that, on the surface, can seem quite trivial, can bring healing to many areas of life, and sometimes in surprising ways. I assume that when I have resolved these issues in me in a deeper way, some of the ways this healing shows up in my life may be quite unexpected.

I’ll report on how this goes later, when I have worked on it a bit more and have had opportunity to test it in a variety of real life situations.

Is misophonia completely, or in all cases, rooted in early sound-related distress? I don’t know. I assume there may be a genetic predisposition, as there is with most things. And some epigenetics at work. And perhaps something else. But I am pretty sure that addressing it through, for instance, a combination of inquiry and energetic healing can be quite helpful and effective in most cases.

Note: When I use Vortex Healing on this, I use – among other things – denetworking (to denetwork the issue from related, intertwined issues), clearing the energetic blueprints, and generally clearing the conditioning around it.

Update: As I have explored this in smaller chunks over a few days, I notice another branch of what may be behind the misophonia. I have a reaction to younger men who speak loudly and with (false) bravado. As a teenager, I strongly disliked teenage boys who behaved with this false bravado. I had value-laden judgments about them. I didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t want to be around it. And even now, I notice a reaction in me to hearing loud people with this kind of (apparently false) bravado. So that’s another branch to explore and invite to resolve. And it’s an example of an issue that is directly related to my reactivity to certain sounds, and probably impacts my life in other areas as well. So I get double benefit from working on it, and it may help my life in people I don’t expect. (Also, I will probably be less of a bother to others in these situations.)

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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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Sense of solidity

 

If all is awakeness or consciousness, why do we experience a sense of solidity? (We can also use modern science as a reference here since it tells us that even the most solid-appearing things are mostly space with some energy appearing in it here and there.)

This is something we can explore through different forms of inquiry. It can, for instance, be the traditional forms of Buddhist inquiry (exploring the sense fields) or modern versions such as the Living Inquiries.

When I have explored this for myself, I have taken something that seems quite solid to me. It can be my body or a part of the body, or something I am touching such as the floor or a cup. It can also be something I remember and imagine as solid, such as a car or a rock. I look at the mental images. Is that where I find the sense of solidity? Is that the thing itself? What about the words associated with it? Or the sensations? Or the imagination or memories of sensations? Or images of a past situation? Or any other associations? Can I find the sense of solidity anywhere in any of these?

Through this, I get to see how my mind creates a sense of solidity for itself. It’s created through a combination of imagination (images, words, memories of sensory experiences), perhaps some sensory experiences, and sensations in my body. In general, these sensations lend a sense of solidity to the thoughts, and the thoughts lend meaning to the sensations.

And more specifically, certain sensations in my body are associated with my memory of a rock, or my image of the floor my feet are resting on, or even how I sense my body. These sensations create a sense of solidity to my ideas about a rock or the floor or my body. They make them all seem solid, substantial, and real in a physical sense. And these sensations may be anywhere in the body. For me, right now, I notice them mostly in the mouth and head area.

After these explorations, the mind may say to itself “yes, I didn’t find the solidity there but I know it’s there”. So then we can explore that knowing. Is there a sensations that tells us we know the solidity is there? Where is it? Is that sensation the solidity we are looking for?

This doesn’t mean that the physical world doesn’t exist. It clearly does, in a conventional sense. We need to live our lives as if it does exist as it appears. At the same time, exploring how our minds create a sense of solidity can be very helpful. It opens it up. It gives us a different context for our physical lives in a physical world. It allows us to hold it all a little lighter.

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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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The upside of discomfort

 

Physical discomfort has obvious upsides and evolutionary reasons for being here. It motivates us to make changes that helps our body, whether it’s standing up to walk when we have sat for a long period, drinking water when thirsty, or seeking out a doctor when we have a persistent physical pain or problem.

It’s the same with mind discomfort. That too has evolutionary reasons for being here. That too motivates us to create change and get things done.

And, for those weird like me, it also points to what’s left. It helps us notice remaining beliefs, identifications, hangups, wounds, and trauma. And it motivates us to do something about it – to find healing in how we relate to it and the world, to examine and find clarity around beliefs and identifications, to invite release for our wounds and traumas.

In the bigger picture, discomfort motivates us – in the best case – to align more consciously with reality.

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Byron Katie: Judge God, and find freedom

 

Judge God, and find freedom.

– Byron Katie

This is one of the statements aimed at (a) generating curiosity about The Work, and (b) serve as a reminder or pointer for those already familiar with it.

Judge God and find freedom: Write down your judgments about God, AKA life, the world, situations and circumstances, other people. Honestly inquire into those judgments and find what’s more true for you. And find freedom. Find freedom from your own stressful beliefs. It does work.

How the mind creates its experience of space, time, solidity

 

Our perception of space, time, solid objects and a sense of reality to them all is central to our human experience.

It can be very interesting to explore this basic perception and how our minds create it, and inquiry – for instance the Living Inquiries – is a good way to do it.

In general, the mind creates its experience of the world through (a) sensory input with (b) an overlay of thoughts (images and words) combined with sensations. And sometimes, just (b). And that’s how it is with its experience of space, time, and solid objects as well.

Space. As I am sitting in this room, there is (what my thoughts label as) sensory input about the – visual, sound, touch. On top of that, my thoughts put mental images and words to make sense of it and make it into a room with floor, walls, ceiling, table, chairs and so on. And physical sensations combine with those thoughts to make it seem more real and substantial. When I close my eyes and see images of the table, and hear the word “table”, sensations – for me now, in the front of my upper body – lend a sense of solidity to those thoughts of table.

Time. Similarly, I have the word “present” overlaid on top of this room as it appears to me now. And I see images of a timeline with past, present, and future, and certain other images and words in certain spots on this timeline. For instance, for the part of the timeline that represents “this evening” I see “6pm SETI talk with Dan Werthimer” and “8pm Tallis Scholars concert” along with “Oakland” and an image of going there with Lyft and a map of San Francisco (where I am right now) and Oakland. Wherever my attention goes, images and words pop up to create content and an impression of past, future, and present, and more generally of “time”, with a range of events placed on it.

Here too, certain sensations are associated with each image and word to lend a sense of substance and reality to them. Sometimes, it’s just enough for my mind to think to itself “this is real”, and sometimes there is more of an emotional charge to it. For instance, I remember first learning to ride my bike as a child, and see an image of my father supporting the bike, letting go, and me cycling for the first time without support. I feel sensations in the forehead and front of the belly that lends a sense of substance and reality to these memories. These sensations, along with some other images and words, tells my mind these memories are “real”, they represent – more or less – what happened.

Substance. I have my laptop on my lap as I sit on the sofa with my legs outstretched. When I close my eyes, I notice sensations on top of my thighs along with an image of my thighs with a laptop resting on top of them. These sensations and images, along with some other ones, creates an experience of “thighs” and “laptop” and thoughts that these are substantial and real. My mind creates an experience for itself of these are real physical objects.

Looking closer. When I look a bit closer, I see it’s all created by thoughts and sensations, and it’s all made up by awakeness. It’s all happening within and as awakeness. As is space and objects in space, time and events in time, and anything else – including any ideas of a body, mind, universe, life, and even Spirit and awakeness.

If we continue to explore this, with some skill and guidance, we come to see our experiences more as just that – as they happen. And that can be quite a relief. The heaviness goes out of it, and the sense of it being “real in itself”.

Notes. As usual, I have taken some shortcuts in writing about this and there is always a great deal more to say about it. Any of the ideas used here are made up in the same way, including the most basic ones and also including “mental images and words” and “sensations”.

Also, when I write about closing my eyes to investigate, it just because it helps me see my own mental images – and other imaginations – more easily. These are here also when my eyes are open, but the visual impressions tend to “override” them so they are easily noticed, at least at first, with the eyes closed.

And the mind uses a wide range of imaginations, not just images and sounds. The mind imagines all the senses and uses all of it to create its own experience of the world. It takes sensory impressions, puts an overlay of imaginations, and combine these with sensations to create a sense of reality and solidity for itself, and sometimes also an emotional charge.

This is all lila – the play of life (or the divine). This is how we can explore lila in immediacy – right here now. This is one layer in how life creates its experience of itself here and now, and it’s the layer it’s most easy for us to notice and explore, and that has the most practical effects when we do so.

There is nothing new here. Individuals from all cultures and times must have been aware of this, in their own way, with their own take on and flavor to it. These are sometimes called mystics, but that makes it sound too special and far away. This is very simple, ordinary, and immediate.

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Changing the past

 

In the A Christmas Carol episode of Doctor Who, the doctor rewrites the past of the Scrooge character, which changes his personality. Different memories, different personality.

That’s how it is with inquiry as well, and perhaps especially The Work. As Byron Katie says (paraphrased), forgiveness is what happens when we see that what we thought happened didn’t.

Through questioning our thoughts about our past, we change ourselves.

Healing as a motivation for awakening?

 

People who express a desire for awakening typically have a range of motivations, some of which they are conscious of and some not.

One of these is healing. We wish for healing. It may seem a tall order. So we wish for something as apparently dramatic as awakening to cure us. And, again, this may be conscious or not.

How do we identify our deeper or original reasons for wishing for awakening, or anything else? One is to follow the chain of “what do you hope to get out of X”. What do you hope to get out of awakening? Peace. What do you hope to get out of peace? etc.

And what if healing is a central motivation for wishing for awakening? If we identify that motivation, it can help us reorient in a couple of different ways.

One is to find and use approaches that invite in healing and awakening. I tend to take this approach, which is why I have spent time exploring inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), heart centered practices (ho’oponopono, tonglen), therapeutic trembling (TRE for healing and embodiment), Breema, training a more stable attention, natural meditation (notice and allow), and more recently Vortex Healing.

If we find that healing is our main motivation, we may change our focus to healing and leave the awakening aside for a while. It may be more likely to give us what we really want, and perhaps the awakening interest returns at some point or not. Either way is fine.

In either case, it’s helpful to clarify our motivations and reorient accordingly. What do we really want? How do we most effectively invite it in? And that’s an ongoing process.

Also, we may find that some of our motivations for awakening come from fear or a sense of lack. If so, we can explore these and invite in healing for these parts of us. In my case, I have used the approaches listed above, but there are many helpful approaches out there.

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Fearless

 

A snowboarder, Ester Ledecka, won gold in women’s Super G in the winter Olympics earlier today. As I watched her run, my mind thought fearless – that’s why she won. (In addition to technical skills and lots of practice, of course.)

What does fearless mean?

Does it mean without fear? Not really. We can act fearlessly even if there is fear. As some say, courage is to do something in spite of fear.

Does it mean not being stopped by fear? Yes, certainly. That’s a pretty good definition.

And how do we get there? How do we get to a place where we don’t stop ourselves when we experience fear? Here are some ways:

Inquire into the beliefs around fear. What are my stressful beliefs about fear, or situations triggering fear? What do I find when I investigate these beliefs? (The Work.)

Inquire into how the mind creates its experience of the fear, and the threat within the fear. Allow the bond between the sensations and thoughts (images, words) making up these charged experiences to soften and fall away. (Living Inquiries.)

Change my relationship to the fear. Dialogue with the fear. Explore how it’s here to protect me, and how it has a function and comes from care and love. (Voice Dialogue, Big Mind Process.) Use heart centered practices to befriend fear and what the fear trigger in me. (Ho’oponopono, tonglen.)

Rest with the fear. Notice and allow the sensations. Notice and allow the images and words. Rest with noticing it all. Allow it as is. Allow it as it’s changing. Notice the space it’s all happening within and as.

Use therapeutic trembling (TRE) to release tension and trauma related to fear and the fear-triggering situations.

If we have access to effective energy healing, like Vortex Healing, we can use that as well. We can invite emotional issues around fear, and reactivity to it, to clear.

And, of course, it helps to not have (too strong) expecations and something to live up to. In other words, to have investigated beliefs and identifications around that too, release the charges, hold it more lightly, and invite our relationship to it to change.

Fear has a function. It’s put into us through evolution to make us appropriately cautious. And when emotional issues and reactivity to it is released, that’s when we can relate to it with more clarity. That’s when it won’t hinder us inappropriately yet still serves the function of making us take appropriate action. It helps us not take too much of a risk. In the case of Super G, it may motivate us to develop the skills needed, and make sure we have the right equipment, to give it all on the way down.

If there were no other humans

 

For a long time, I have used a simple test to see where my motivations come from. If I feel embarrased, or that I am missing out, or that I want something or to do something, I sometimes ask myself:

What if there were no other humans? How would I experience this then?

Do I still feel X? Do I still want Y? Do I still want to do Z?

Often, I find that my motivations come from wanting love, approval, or appreciation from others. And when I see that, something shifts. It eases up. I am more free to chose what makes sense to me. It may be something different, or the same but it’s coming from a slightly different place.

I was reminded of this when I watched the documentary Sherpa last night. Why are some westerners drawn to summitting Everest? Is it for social reasons, or something more intrinsic to them?

A kind universe?

 

The universe is a friendly place.

That’s something Byron Katie says, and it’s sometimes repeated by her followers.

It can be understood in a few different ways.

Life unfolds as we like it. When life unfolds as our personality and human self (conditioning) likes it, it’s easy to see it as kind and feel that the universe – in this case – was friendly.

Life is challenging. When life is challenging, we can see it as an invitation for clarity, healing, maturing, and awakening. Specifically, we can question our stressful – and unkind – beliefs and find what’s already more true – and kind – to us. We discover that when we go deeper, we find more true and kind stories. Here too, we can see how the universe is friendly even when life goes against our very human preferences.

Anything at all. Independent of what happens, it all happens within and as Spirit. When we see this, we see that the universe is inherently kind no matter what happens. The universe is inherently friendly.

The first opens us up to gratitude in an ordinary way. The second is a path to deeper seeing and deeper healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment. And the third is revealed to the extent the “veils” have gone, the identifications with and as particular content of experience creating a belief in stressful stories (any story is stressful when believed) and sense of being a separate being.

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Unknown: I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened

 

I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

unknown origin, (mis)attributed to Mark Twain

It’s a good quote even if Mark Twain probably never said it.

For most of us, most of the terrible things we live through never actually happen. They happen in our minds, and we may relive it in our minds, but it never actually happened.

Whether we tell ourselves it happened in the past, that it will happen in the future, or it does happen in the present, it never actually happened.

Some terrible things may have happened in the past. We then relive it in our mind, perhaps with added painful stories and interpretations, and it doesn’t happen anywhere else than our mind.

Some terrible things may appear to be in future, and that future isn’t here yet. Again, we live it in our minds and it’s not actually happening.

It may or may not come to pass, more or less as we imagined it.

If it doesn’t, then it clearly didn’t actually happen.

If it does happen, as it is happening, our imaginations about it are still imaginations. Our stories are stories. It’s all mind-made. It doesn’t actually happen as we imagine it. (I realize this one may require more investigation but it’s worth it.)

As with any of these explorations, understanding it intellectually or intuiting it is a good start. And for it to become a lived experience, we need more investigation. In this case, inquiry such as The Work or the Living Inquiries can be very helpful. Especially if we investigate the stories that seem the most true, and keep going with yet another story that seems true. Until, perhaps, they don’t anymore.

Dark forces or something much simpler?

 

Our stories about ourselves and the world has a big impact on us and our life.

When I shared something about the “dark night” phase I seem to have gone through, and how it has been a period of repeated losses and things going “wrong”, a psychic friend of mine said that “dark forces” want to prevent me from living my potential. It was meant well, and it was also a reminder of the power of stories.

At least on the surface, the “dark forces” story puts the responsibility “out there” in the world, into something mysterious and intangible, and it makes the person – in this case, me – into a victim. It’s a story that easily can trigger passivity and hopelessness.

I prefer stories that are closer to what’s here, that are about something I can check from my own experience and that trigger engagement.

The story that makes more sense to me, at least right now, is that I went against my clear inner knowing and guidance on a major and lasting life decision. It brought a sense of getting off track in life. It led into a “dark night” phase that gradually got stronger.

And although I wish I had been clear and healed enough to follow my guidance rather than my fears back then, I also see the tremendous and very real gifts in what happened. The “dark night” phase has brought what’s left in me to the surface. It has brought up remaining beliefs and identifications, and unhealed parts of me, and made it very visible to me. It has given me an opportunity for deep healing.

I created it. There is a valuable and real gift in it.

No “dark force” story is needed to explain what happened.

Although if I wanted to include the “dark forces” story, how would it look in this context? It may look like this: If there are “dark forces” at play, the reason they are at play is because they mirror what’s already in me. They mirror unhealed parts of me, and perhaps enhance dynamics already created by these unhealed parts of me. If anything, they are – really – part of the gift.

I should also mention that the content of the story has an impact on our life. And equally much, or perhaps even more so, does the extent we see through it. If we have examined the story, and it has lost much or all of its charge, the story is a much more useful tool for us. We hold it lightly and use it to the extent and in the situations it seems practically useful.

That often takes some work and investigation. For me, what seems most effective is a combination of inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work) and Vortex Healing, approaching the story and how I hold it from the consciousness and energy sides.

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Why do these approaches work on so many issues?

 

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

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

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

Here are some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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Tree metaphor for healing and awakening work

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a simple example:

Presented issue: Feeling socially awkward at school. Unease.

Central issue: Feeling isolated and judged in school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

The fear behind spiritual practices

 

For many of us engaged in spiritual practices, or any form of healing work, there is an element of fear in our motivation. That’s usually not the whole story, and sometimes not a very large part of the story, but there may still be an element of fear there.

As usual, it’s normal, very understandable, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The downside is that it can be stressful, and it can

It’s good to notice and be honest about any fears so we can relate to them more intentionally.

One way to explore the fear is to ask ourselves: What do I fear if I don’t do these spiritual practices? If I don’t heal? If I don’t awaken? What’s the worst that can happen?

Meet the fear with some kindness and love. With gentle curiosity. And inquire into those fears and whatever identities are threatened. How does the mind creates its own experience of the fears? What’s associated with them? How does the mind relate to it? (Living Inquiries.) What are the beliefs? And what do I find when I examine them? (The Work.)

Unless we are mainly driven by fear, this type of examination won’t remove our motivation for engaging in these practices or healing work. We’ll still do it. We’ll just experience a bit more ease in how we relate to it.

Equally important, we may be more aware of the deeper, kinder, and more genuine motivations behind it.

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Shifting center of gravity into more universal identities

 

In some ways, any challenging life situation is an invitation to release identification with more superficial identities (roles, work, gender, preferences etc.) and shift the center of gravity into more universal ones.

– from a previous post

This is a part of healing and awakening, and – to some extent- sustainability and creating a society that works better for all, including future generations and ecosystems.

We all have a mix of different identities. Some set us apart and some are more universal. Some are conscious and some are less so. Some have strong identifications and some not so much. And they come from culture, family, and personal experience (sometimes reactivity).

Life tends to challenge the identities that set us apart, and the more strongly we are identified with them the more stressful and dramatic we may experience those challenges. For instance, we may be identified with being young but we inevitably get older. We may be identified with being healthy, strong, and active, but get sick. We are identified with a political orientation but realize something else makes more sense. And so on. The identities that set us apart typically have to do with roles we play in life, whether it’s relationships, work, age, gender, or different political, religious, or other orientations.

There is nothing wrong with these identities. They all serve a function. We couldn’t live without them. But when life challenges them, as it tends to do, it is painful to have invested them with too much energy.

And that’s an invitation to notice and question these identities, and perhaps shift our center of gravity into more universal identities. These more universal identities include being human, part of life, part of the Universe, being awareness, that which all happens within and as, and so on.

As usual with these type of things, we cannot consciously shift the center of gravity into more universal ones. Any shift requires a ripening that largely operates outside of our conscious awareness and largely comes from influences far outside of us as individuals. And yet, we can invite it to happen through various practices or explorations.

We can identify and question identities through inquiry (Living Inquiry, The Work). We can engage in practices that come from and help us shift into more universal orientations such as heart centered practices (ho’o, jesus prayer, all-inclusive gratitude practice). We can help more universal identities come alive for us through Epic of Evolution type experiences and practices (Practices to Reconnect). We can do energy work that tends to, over time, shift identifications into more universal ones (yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Vortex Healing etc.). And there is a great number of other approaches that similarly helps us shift our center of gravity to more universal identities.

Note: When I say “influences far outside of us as individuals” I mean influences from the past and from the wider social and ecological wholes. Anything that happens has innumerable causes, and these stretch back to beginning of time and out to the furthest reaches of the universe. And that includes any ripening that happens in us and any shifts in identifications.