Exploring knots

 

Some ways of working with knots (sets of beliefs), such as the mother wound:

(a) Connect with and ask the divine/Christ for healing, clarity, resolution. Ask to be shown what I need to see about it.

(b) The Work on beliefs relating to the knot. In the case of the mother wound, about my mother in specific situations in childhood.

(c) Satsang with anything that comes up around it (feelings, sensations, thoughts, images).

(d) Ho’oponopono on me, the other, what comes up in me around it.

(e) Neurogenic tremors (TRE) in combination with any of these, when the impulse to move/tremble comes up. And also do TRE while bringing these situations/patterns to mind to help release tension and trauma associated with it.

 

Attention goes to knots

 

Something else I keep rediscovering:

Attention goes to knots. It goes to wounds and hangups, and beliefs when reality rubs up against them.

It goes to whatever is still unresolved in my stories about the past, future or present, and this takes the form of recurrent thoughts, rumination and day- or night dreams.

I don’t always appreciate it, but I find that reality is kinder than my preferences. Reality invites me to clarity and a more complete resolution, while my beliefs often would rather avoid it.

Whenever attention goes to a knot, it is an invitation for clarity. And for me, it is an invitation to allow, be with and be the emotions it brings up. To find and inquire into the beliefs behind it and find what’s more true. And to see how it is to life from this – including doing my part to resolve whatever needs to be resolved in my relationship with others.

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Allowing knots to untie so there is room for God

 

Some aspects of knots and wounds:

The source of knots and wounds are beliefs, getting caught up in a story and it’s corresponding fear, and go into a victim role. Of course, there are many ways to look at this, and I tend to use beliefs as a focus right now.

There are gifts in wounds. They open for empathy with ourselves and others, and allows us to recognize ourselves in others. We are all in the same boat here. Wounds can also help us explore ways of healing, including allowing experience as is and examining beliefs to find what’s more true for us. And they can provide a temporary drive for us in life, perhaps to escape or compensate, which – although stressful – can be helpful in many ways.

There is a ground of wounds and knots, the awake no-thing which is the ground of anything happening. Wounds and knots are the play of the divine, one of the innumerable ways life, the universe, existence expresses, explores and experiences itself.

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Ghost patterns

 

This seems to be a common experience: Following a period of inquiry into a particular theme, the mental patterns may still be there but without the emotionality, and then the habitual mental patterns fade as well.

The familiar and habitual mental patterns are triggered as before, and they often take the form of I/they/life should/shouldn’t… But they are “cold”, the familiar emotional component – of frustration, sadness, anger, hope, hopelessness etc. – is not there anymore. The patterns have been examined sufficiently so there is no “hook” there anymore. It is not possible to act and react as if the thoughts are true. And with time, even the habitual mental patterns fade or are replaced with a little more sanity.

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Knots and reimagination

 

stringbagdiagrams

There are many ways to work with knots.

I can allow the experience that comes up, as is, with kindness. I can inquire into stories around it and find what is more honest for me. I can act with more integrity in the world.

And if the knot is particularly sore, I can also reimagine my response in situations that triggered the knot. I can imagine myself in the situation, now acting from more clarity, wisdom and kindness.  (This is similar to revisiting a dream through active imagination). When I do that, I notice a further shift into a sense of clarity, honesty, relief, and alignment with what is more true for me.

What is a knot?

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Glue for attention

 

Scientific American has an interesting article on depression’s evolutionary roots.

Depression brings attention to a particular topic while reducing distractions, allowing it to be examined and processed more thoroughly. And that investigation can help us function better in daily life.

The idea is of course not new, and it goes well beyond just depression.

When I explore for myself, I find that any hangups, any reactivity, is a glue for attention. It brings attention to the apparent topic of the hangup, and also to the hangup itself.

Whenever there is friction between shoulds and is/may be, there is a knot. A hangup. A tantrum, as Byron Katie calls it.

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Tightening and loosening knots

 

Knots happen whenever a story is taken as true, and they include the effects of taking a story as true such as reactive emotions, and also whatever actions come out of both.

Knots tighten when I fuel stories as true, and also resist experience and take it as “other”.

And knots loosen when there is receptivity, curiosity and allowing experience as is. When there is a shift into don’t know. Curiosity about the stories and the truth in their reversals. And allowing experience as is, with heart and kindness.

Whenever any story is taken as true, it creates a sense of a separate I and creates this core knot. And at the same time, these stories flesh out the viewpoints and identities of this separate I.

So taking any story as true tightens the core knot of taking a separate I as true. Meeting it with an attitude of receptivity, curiosity and kindness makes it possible for it to loosen. And inquiring into it to find what is more true for me may untie the knot entirely, to the point where it cannot so easily form again.

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Examining contractions

 

Whenever a contraction comes up – of any flavor – it can be helpful to explore it.

I can ask myself the usual Big Mind questions. What color has it? Shape? Texture? Can I find a beginning or end?

I can explore how it appears in each sense field. How does it appear in the sensation field? The thought field? (Images?)

Is it content of experience? Does it come and go?

What is it made up of? (What is its substance?)

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Fascination with doomsday scenarios

 

It is always fascinating to me to hear what others are facilitated by, and then find it in myself. We went to a potluck tonight, and the topic – for a while – were different doomsday scenarios. Economic collapse. Collapse of the US empire. Ecological collapse. And so on.

How likely is it that disaster will strike at a collective level? What are the ways it may happen? What are the dynamics leading up to it? How may it unfold? How serious may it be? What can we do? How will it impact us? How can we prepare?

The first thing I find when I look at this for myself is that any emotional fascination (draw, attachment) I may have towards doomsday scenarios is proportional to the extent I resist certain emotions in daily life. If I resist experiencing fear, terror, dread, anger and so on in daily life, there is an emotional component to imagining and exploring doomsday scenarios, and also an emotional fascination with it – whether I seek it out or try to avoid it, or do both.

Likewise, if I allow, welcome and am with those emotions, in a kindhearted way, there is a release of the charge around them. They are welcomed, as they are, for what they are, even if they would stay forever. They are seen. Felt. Loved. And as the charge around them is released, the emotional draw and fascination with doomsday scenarios goes out as well.

What is left is more clarity. A choice to explore these scenarios or not, depending on what seems appropriate and useful in the situation. And a very practical approach if I chose to explore them. It boils down to what can I do, and how? And stays at the practical.

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Attention as a guide

 

I notice that my attention naturally goes to knots. To beliefs and their consequences (drama, tension, a sense of separation, supporting stories and so on).

And I also see that I can work against or with this natural tendency.

In some specific situations, it seems appropriate to work against it. For instance, when I do a stable attention practice, I can work against that tendency by noticing when attention goes away from its practice object (breath or something else), and gently bring it back.

But in most situations, it seems to make more sense to work with it. To notice that attention naturally goes to knots, and take this as an opportunity to find the belief behind the knot (creating the knot), inquire into this belief, and also allow and be with whatever experiences are associated with the knot (mostly emotions).

If I get stuck in seeing distractions as a problem, I continue to battle with it, and also miss out of the valuable guidance in the wanderings of attention, naturally going to knots.

If I take the wanderings of attention as a valuable guidance, I am led to knots and have an opportunity to work with the beliefs creating them.

If I am free to do both, in different situations, it may be even more valuable. I get to practice a stable attention, gently notice and bringing it back whenever it wanders. And, at other times, I get to use attention as a guide.

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Blocks to the path, as the path itself

 

Draft…

Blocks may appear as obstacles to my path – whether that path is in the world or a path of growing/waking up. But if I take these blocks a certain way, they themselves become my temporary path.

Blocks appear either in the wider world – as situations or people), or in our human self – as knots, hangups, compulsiveness, stuckness.

In either case, they are something my personality doesn’t like. Otherwise they wouldn’t appear as blocks.

And in either case, they tend to trigger knots in me. Hangups. Complexes of beliefs, reactive emotions, and habitual behaviors.

Blocks bring attention to knots, inviting me to work with them.

They invite me to inquire into my beliefs, finding what is more true for me than the initial belief. And they invite me to fully allow experience, including those my personality doesn’t immediately like. And from here, there is often a genuine appreciation – for the knot, the block, the process of working with it, and whatever else may be going on.

So whether I see my path in terms of how my human self lives in the world, or as a process of growing or waking up, blocks temporarily become my path.

A block appears on my path, and this invites me to work with the knot that comes up, which clarifies for me my path in the wider world, and also supports growing and waking up.

A more anthropomorphic way of putting it is that my knots wants to be seen, felt and loved. They throw up blocks in my path, so I will notice them (the knots) and as an invitation to see, feel and love them.

And in the process clarify my path in the world, and also grow and wake up a little more.

Illness and knots

 

Several of my friends- myself included – were as sick as we had ever been this winter and spring, typically with some form of pnemonia. It turns out that there was a surprising number of shared experiences among us.

For instance, we all felt death very close and got to see how we relate to our mortality.

Another thing that happened is something I have seen for while. When the body-mind gets exhausted, for whatever reason, there is less energy for resisting experience. Whatever is habitually resisted in daily life tends to come up.

Knots line up and come through wanting to be seen, felt and loved. Knots made up of shoulds clashing with my stories of what is, and their associated emotions and supporting stories.

For me, it is an invitation to see it, feel it, and this may gradually shift into a sense of appreciation.

Illness and exhaustion is an opportunity for knots to surface. If I continue to resist them, the discomfort only deepens. But if I welcome them, as long lost relatives, it all shifts.

It is easier to inquire into the beliefs behind the knots, and fully allow and be with the emotions and experiences associated with them, inviting in a healing and softening of the knots and my relationship with them.

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Excitement in noticing hangups

 

As we get familiar with working with hangups in different ways, there is naturally an excitement when one shows up, especially when it is strong and juicy.

There is an excitement because we know ways to work with it, and we know there is gold in in it – in the content of the hangup and in exploring the dynamics around it.

Even if none of our old ways of working with it work anymore, as usually happens at some point, there is gold there too. We get to see our beliefs around it, such as I know, I want it to go away, I want to find gold within it, and so on.

Since none of our ways of working with it work anymore, and that is the whole point, we just have to allow these to wear off over time. Working with it is the intro class, and this is the intermediate one.

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Layers of release and harvesting of nutrients

 

In working on knots, I notice two layers.

First, it is the release from being blindly caught up in it. It is a release from beliefs, identifications, shoulds, and the war created by these. I find more peace with whatever is going on, I befriend it. I shift into that part of my that naturally allows it, which is myself as awareness.

Then it is the layer of accepting the gifts and harvesting the nutrients inside of it. I do this through The Work, in exploring the truths in the turnarounds of the initial belief, and then bringing these turnarounds into my daily life. I do it through voice dialog and the Big Mind process, when I investigate what the disowned voice has to offer to this human self, and how I can find a more nourishing relationship with it. I do it through Process Work, when I become the Other and that which holds both what I previously identified with and the Other. And there are innumerable other ways of finding the gifts and harvesting the nutrients inside of the knot and the (previous) disturbance.

The release is a transcending of blindly identifying with it, and the harvesting of nutrients is an active embrace of its content.

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Beliefs, knots and orphans

 

What are the relationships among beliefs, identities, knots and disowned parts or orphans?

Here is a quick sequence…

  1. We believe a story. It is taken as real, substantial, somehow reflecting something inherent in the world. The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored, and the grain of truth in the initial story is blown up and bolstered, made to appear as more than just a relative truth of practical value only.
  2. This belief creates an identity. We form an identity as someone who takes that story as true. And the content of the story may also form an identity for us. For instance, if I believe that people should be considerate, my own identity is as someone who either is, or at least want to be, considerate.
  3. Whenever there is an identification with a story or an identity, there is friction between this story/identity and how the world shows up. There is a gap between our stories of how things should be, and how they are or can be. And from here, a whole cascade of things happens, including fueling of resistance and certain emotions and behaviors. And since there is an identification with the story and identity fueling it, there will also be an identification with (most of) its effects. It is all taken as I, as intimately personal, as who I am.
  4. The belief creates friction, which in turn has certain effects, and together they all form a knot. This knot is the whole conglomerate of beliefs and identities, and the patterns of resistance, emotions and behaviors associated with it.
  5. This is where the orphans come into the picture. The obvious orphans are for instance the emotions created by the friction, which are usually resisted and disowned to a certain extent. Resistance itself may also be resisted, so this too becomes an orphan. And other orphans include the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. Each of their reversals have a grain of truth in them, and this grain of truth it also resisted and disowned.

I believe I should be healthy, so form an identity as someone who is – or at least want to – be healthy. I am not healthy, so there is a friction between what is and what should be. This creates various emotions, such as frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness, grief, and so on. It also fuels behaviors to avoid triggering a noticing of the discrepancy between what is and what should be, and the emotions created by this discrepancy. All of this creates a knot, and much of it is resisted to a certain extent. I try to escape it, avoid it, disown it. So the orphans here are the resistance itself, the emotions triggered, and also the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. To welcome these orphans back into the warmth, I can be with the resistance and emotions in a heartfelt way, as if they would never change. And I can investigate the truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity.

Breathwork and mutuality

 

I have done two transformational breathwork sessions with a friend so far, with another one scheduled in a couple of days.

It is pretty obvious how breathing patterns reflect emotions and beliefs. As soon as there is a clash between how life is and how it should be, according to my stories about it, muscles tense up, there is a change in breathing patterns (for me, often more shallow) and emotions come up as well. There is a whole system of beliefs, emotions, muscle tension, breathing and behavior which all contribute to maintain a particular pattern. They are all mutually supporting of each other. It is their job, and they do it beautifully.

That also means that we can unravel that ball from any of those sides. We can investigate beliefs, be with emotions, allow muscles to relax, change behaviors, and we can also work with the breath. If a shallow and held breath contributes to those knots, then a more free, open and full breath allows the knot to begin unravel.

While those promoting transformation breathwork often have quite elaborate models of what is happening, what seems clear – even from my own limited experience so far – is that knots unravel. In a way, that is all I need to know. Breathe, and knots unravel.

Attention going to knots

 

Another revisited theme: attention going to knots.

Knots are made up of beliefs and their corresponding emotions and habitual patterns, including behavioral ones. There is a belief in a story, a friction between the story of what is (or was, or may be) and this story, corresponding emotions, and certain behaviors.

And attention tends to go to these knots, which makes it more difficult for awareness to notice itself, and its content as awareness too. We notice it in everyday life, and also during sitting practice.

Why does attention go to knots?

There may be several ways of talking about it…

First, there is discomfort in several ways.

  • Whenever there is a belief, there is a discrepancy between what we are (awake void and form) and what we take ourselves to be (as defined by the belief and its corresponding identity), which brings a sense of uneasiness.
  • Whenever there is friction between our stories of what is and what should be, there is discomfort.
  • Whenever there is a belief, there is resistance to experience, which gives discomfort.

Then, an impulse to change the situation to relieve the discomfort.

  • We can narrow the gap between the story of what is and what should be, by changing what is or what should be.
  • We can change our relationship to the stories themselves, for instance by inquiring into them allowing a release of identification from them.
  • Or we can ignore the discomfort and the impulse to change one or both of the above, in which case the misery is likely to deepen. Also, if we only work on the first one, we are caught in the ongoing drama of what is and what should be, which is fine but also somewhat stressful.

And to change it, attention needs to go there.

Right here now, I can see these patterns play themselves out.

In one sense, it is all an invitation for awakening, for beliefs to be examined and unravel and Ground to notice itself. It is how Big Mind first “loses itself” by identifying with just an aspect of itself, how it gives itself an impulse and motivation for awakening, and also guides itself to awakening – back to noticing itself as Big Mind. These dynamics are three in one: forgetting, motivation for change, and a guide for awakening.

And in anther sense, it is an evolutionary mechanism which increases the chances of survival for the individual and the species. There is a discrepancy between what is (circumstances) and what should be (health and well-being of this individual and its group, so then an impulse to reduce this discrepancy, which in many cases – and appropriately so – means to change things in the world to create more favorable circumstances for this human self and its group.

So this simple dynamic has a beautiful complexity to it all around. Here and now, there is an infinite number of aspects and processes to explore. And in the bigger picture, we see how it is Big Mind forgetting about itself, seeking itself, and guiding itself to notice itself again. And also how it is a mechanism that increases the chances of survival for the individual and the species.

And exploring the two last ones, we also see that the survival aspect has (mostly) to do with changing circumstances, and the awakening aspect has to do with examining these dynamics themselves and also beliefs.

Both are essential in their own way, also in our own life.

Attention going to knots

 

Draft only:

Whenever there is a belief in a story, it creates a knot.

The belief prevents us from seeing the truth in the reversals of the initial story, it creates a sense of friction or discrepancy between life as it is and as it should be, and it creates a wide range of emotions which all have fear as their kernel (fear of not having what we want, and of having what we don’t want).

All of this forms a metaphorical knot which binds our views into rigid patterns, closes our hearts down to whatever does not conform to what should be (including situations, other people, and ourselves), creates blind emotions and reactivity, and habitual behavior patterns fueled by the beliefs and corresponding emotions.

And when there is a knot, attention tends to go there. Life shows up in ways that do not correspond to the should created by the beliefs, so attention goes to the discrepancy. Or something in us is uneasy about the discrepancy or even potential discrepancy, so attention goes there even in the absence of an obvious (current) clash.

At the pragmatic level, we see that attention going to a discrepancy between what is and should be is very helpful. It helps us figure out how to deal with the situation, either by modifying our strategies for making what is closer to how it should be, or by modifying our stories of what is or what should be. If we take ourselves as an object in the world, dependent on certain circumstances in the wider world, this is very useful. Even if we don’t, it is still useful at a practical human (individual and species) level.

Swinging to the other extreme, we can say that all is God, so if something is seen as not God (not good), then God naturally brings attention there so that too can be seen/felt/loved as God (and good).

Or we can say that there is a discrepancy between what we are and what we take ourselves to be, and something in us knows or intuits this discrepancy, so brings attention to the cause of this discrepancy. We are the field of awareness and its content, absent of an I with an Other. And we take ourselves to be what stories tells us we are, such as an object in the world. So attention goes to those beliefs, with an invitation for us to explore those beliefs more thoroughly… including their effects, and what is already more true for us.

In either case, attention going to knots is similar to a trail of bread crumbs, showing us the way home.

If there is resistance to what is, we’ll get lost in the drama it creates and not notice or being able to follow the trail. If there is a release from (identification with) resistance, there is clarity enough to notice and being led by the trail.

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Looking at knots from the emptiness and form sides

 

Knots are the whole complex of a belief in a story (as absolutely true), and the accompanying emotional and behavioral patterns. It brings identification into the content of awareness, and comes from and props up a sense of a separate self.

To see what is already more true for us, we can explore these knots from the emptiness side and the form side.

Exploring from the emptiness side

From the emptiness side, we find ourselves as awake emptiness, and see that all of it – the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors – are nothing other than this awake emptiness. We can explore and become more familiar with this through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or other forms of inquiry.

Exploring from the form side

From the form side, we can look at the effects of holding onto a particular story as absolutely true, what would happen if it was not attached to in this way, and finding the grains of truth in the reversals of the initial story. Through this, we discover that what we held as an absolute truth is really only a relative truth, which allows the grip on it to relax and identification go out of form and back into the field of awake emptiness (often just experienced as more spaciousness and a sense of peace.) The Work and different (other) forms of shadow work are good ways to explore the form side.

Differentiating the relative and the absolute

Another way to put it is that knots come from taking the relative (stories) as absolute (absolutely true), and the resolution is to differentiate the relative and absolute, seeing the stories as only relative truths, and finding ourselves as the absolute – as awake emptiness, and form as no other than awake emptiness itself.

The experience of the absolute changing over time

In real life, it doesn’t always look exactly like this of course. The exploration of the form side of the knots may not change so much over time, although it may become more clear and differentiated over time. But the experience of ourselves as the awake emptiness and form may change over time. Initially, just as a sense of release, spaciousness, ease and peace. As we go along, more as a clear noticing of the awake void that all forms dances within, to and as – a field inherently absent of any separate self anywhere.

Working at three levels of being, and their mutual influences

 

Working on our three levels of being, we notice that they influence each other in different ways. An opening or clarification at one level tends to invite an opening and clarification at the other two levels.

There is also an important shared pattern among all of the levels: releasing identification with form makes it easier to allow any content of awareness, which in turn allows for a deepening into the fullness of who we are as soul and human, and a noticing of what we are as Spirit – awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate self.

Spirit level

Noticing ourselves as awake emptiness reduces (an exclusive) identification with form, which means a more full allowing of any content of awareness, which in turn means a deepening into who we are at soul and human levels.

When there is a reduced or no belief in a separate self, and all the identities that comes with it, there is an easier embrace of whatever emerges at our individual level.

Soul level

Finding ourselves as the alive presence, or fertile darkness, or luminous blackness, or even the indwelling God, gives a sense of coming home and of nurturing which also allows us to relax our grip on identities. This in turn makes it easier to find ourselves as awake emptiness, and also to deepen into who we are as a human being (and soul.)

Human level

At our human level, there is the same pattern of releasing identification with identities and beliefs. Our hangups, drama, struggle and reactiveness all comes from identification with form, including a belief in stories and ideas, taking what has only a relative and limited truth as an absolute truth, and living as if it was so.

Releasing our grip on these stories, and seeing the relative truth in a wide range of stories including the reversals of the initial one, is also a release of a blind identification with particular identities, and with form in general.

And this allows for a wider embrace of our fullness as a human being and as soul, and for noticing ourselves also as awake emptiness.

Each level contributing

Any system is a whole, and changes in a system can occur through many access points.

Working on ourselves exclusively at either one of our three levels may be sufficient to shift the whole system – allowing for an awakening to what we are (awake emptiness and form, with no separate self) and a deepening into the fullness of who we are, as soul and human beings.

But a more comprehensive approach is easier in many ways.

All (?) knots are at our human level, coming from an identification with form and a belief in stories and ideas. These are the ones that limit who we find ourselves as, on human and soul levels, and distracts us from noticing what we are at the Spirit level.

Some of these knots are more easily untied when we work with our human level, others by bringing in the soul level, and other again by noticing ourselves as awake emptiness.

The path of untying knots: guided by daily life

 

One thing I forgot to mention about the path of untying knots is that it is guided by daily life.

Something comes up that is stressful, revealing the knot that life invites us to become more familiar with, here and now, by being with the experience (feelings) and by inquiring into it (view.)

Daily life is our guru, in a very real way, showing us the next knot to explore, to befriend, to become so intimately familiar with that it on its own is untied.

This is especially clear in The Work, where we after a while start looking forward to stressful situations, because we know they reveal more knots – and what has been obscured by these knots (the sense of freedom, clarity, connection, intimacy and so on that surfaces when the knots are intimately explored, and untie on their own.)

The path of untying knots

 

Broadly speaking, there seems to be two paths of awakening to who (individual) and what (Spirit) we are. One is of focusing on – and noticing or invoking – what we are seeking, the other is of focusing – and working – on what is blocking what we are seeking. And most paths of course include both, in different ways, and with different emphasis.

Only noticing or invoking who and what we are

If we only do the first – going for noticing or invoking what we are seeking – the pitfalls seems to include missing out of, or ignoring, some knots that needs to be untied and some healing that needs to occur. It can for instance lead to a (partial or more full) awakening to what we are (awake emptiness and form absent of a separate I), functioning through an individual that still has a lot to work through, and who may not be aware of everything that needs to be worked through.

Some forms of self-inquiry fall into this category, such as noticing that we are not the content of awareness but awareness itself (and that the content is no other than awareness), and also the headless experiments.

Only untying knots

If we only do the second – untying knots – we may miss out of noticing who we are at a soul level, and what we are at a Spirit level. We may pass right through it, because we don’t know what we are looking for.

Together

Using both together, we reap the benefits of working through knots and stuck places, which naturally reveal who and what we are, and also noticing who and what we are when it is revealed, and then deepening into it.

The Work is a great example of an approach that includes both the untying of knots (the whole process), and noticing who and what we are behind the clouds created by the knots (question #4 and turnarounds.) And the same is the case with the Big Mind process, allowing knots to unravel at our human level, revealing what we are as Spirit (Big Mind.)

Untying knots works at all levels

One of the great benefits of the second approach, of working with knots, is that it helps us at all levels. It unties knots at our individual human level, allowing for a healing and maturing there, and for less stress and discomfort. And it reveals (more of) who we are, in our evolving wholeness as a human individual, who we are as soul (alive presence), and what we are as Spirit (this field of awake emptiness and form absent of center.)

We don’t have to choose among developing as individuals or awakening as Spirit, and we don’t need to deny the importance or validity of either. Both are an integral part of the process, and the path benefits and works on both areas equally.