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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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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All-inclusive practices for healing and awakening

 

Another revisit:

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

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

Here are some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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The world becomes transparent

 

When there is a spiritual opening, a more thorough awakening, or just an in-depth exploration of the mind, it’s as if the world becomes transparent.

Spirit. One way the world can appear transparent is when all is revealed as Spirit. Spirit reveals itself to itself as all there is, including the world of matter, this human self, and anything else. All is revealed as Spirit, including what this is revealed to, so there is a sense of anything else – any appearances and labels – are transparent. They are ephemeral and “thin” compared to all as Spirit.

Exploration. Another way the world can appear transparent is through exploration. Specifically, an exploration of how the mind creates it’s own experience of the world and itself. As we become more familiar with these dynamics – for instance how thoughts and sensations combine to create identification and the appearance of something real – it’s as if the world becomes more transparent.

More about all as Spirit. When Spirit reveals itself to itself as all there is, it may happen in different ways. In a spiritual opening, Spirit may reveal itself as all there is as a glimpse which stays for a while and then fades. It won’t be forgotten, but the immediacy of it may fade. Often, it becomes a guide and inspiration for further exploration and awakening.  That may lead to Spirit recognizing itself as all there is in a more stable way. And that happens partly through embodiment. The different parts of us become more aligned with this reality of all as Spirit, and we live from it with more ease in more and more situations.

When there is identification with ideas about ourselves and the world, there is a “forgetting” of all as Spirit. And that impacts and shapes our psyche including through additional identifications, wounds, and trauma. These parts of us are no longer aligned with the reality of all as Spirit. So when Spirit reveals itself to itself, these parts are invited to heal and realign. They are invited to more closely align with all as Spirit. And this looks like quite ordinary healing, maturing, and kindness.

I should also mention that when Spirit reveals itself as all there is, that includes anything that can be labelled me or I. Nothing is excluded. This human self is still here. A soul may still be here. And so on. And it’s all Spirit. There is no actual separate me or I anywhere in it.

More about exploration. I have written about this form of exploration in other posts on this blog. See, for instance, any posts tagged inquiry, living inquiries, the work, or identification.

Talking about the healing modalities I use

 

It can be challenging to talk about healing modalities that are quite different from what most people are familiar with.

Most of the approaches I use fall into this category:

Breema bodywork looks similar to Thai massage or partner yoga, but the experience of and intention behind is markedly different. It’s deeply nourishing and helps us find ourselves as the fullness and wholeness that’s always here and always healthy, even as our body and mind may have ailments.

Inquiry can look similar to cognitive therapy, but it goes far deeper is far more all-inclusive than typical cognitive therapy. Living Inquiries is an exploration of how our mind creates its own experiences, including the stressful and painful ones. We get to explore the basic building blocks (images, words, sensations), and through separating and spending time with each one, it’s difficult for the mind to put it together again in a believable way. We also go back in time to the origins and roots of the issue, and we look at the different branches holding it in place.

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) involves trembling and shaking, rocking and stretching, and sometimes also sounds. This is something we are all familiar with, but in TRE these all happen spontaneously and are initiated and guided by the body. We are just along for the ride. (Although we can stop it at any time, if we wish.) There is also a deepening, and a deep relaxation and sense of nourishment that happens as we do TRE regularly over time.

Vortex Healing may look similar to energy healing modalities such as Reiki, acupuncture, or chigong. It’s true it’s an energy healing modality, and yet it’s different to most other approaches in that it uses divine energy guided by divine intelligence. This is the intelligence of life or Spirit itself, so it already knows the problems and the way out of them. As a practitioner, I use my intention to support the healing, I partially guide and partially am guided through the healing session, and I allow my system to be used as a channel for the energy needed for the healing. Where other modalities often work more in a general way, Vortex Healing is especially effective when we work on very specific issues – sometimes the more specific and detailed the better. As a practitioner, Vortex Healing also speeds up and guides my own awakening and embodiment process. It’s very much an intimate partnership with the divine.

And, of course, most people are interested in if and how they can be helped, not the specific modalities. The modalities are just tools. While it’s easy to become fascinated with the tools as a practitioner, clients have a different priority. And rightly so. They are interested in what can be done for them. Can you help me with what I need help with?

In my experience, any issue can be helped by using these tools: Physical and mental health. Psychological and behavioral issues. Relationships. Awakening and embodiment. If there is a problem, there is a way out of it. And as usual, the degree we can be helped depends on many factors, mainly the willingness for change and the energy and time put into it.

Inquiry mimics how we look at things when we are more awake

 

Formalized inquiry mimics how we look at things when we are more awake.

It’s a stepping stone. If we are drawn to it, and it works for us, it’s a wonderful tool.

And as any tool, it’s helpful for some things and in some situations.

It may seem especially helpful in a certain phase in our exploration and development, but even later, it’s good to return to inquiry to discover more and free certain sticky thoughts.

Willing to experience discomfort in healing & awakening

 

Healing and awakening – and life in general – requires some willingness to experience discomfort.

And this willingness comes with experience, skills, and trust.

It comes from experience with moving through discomfort. It comes, it’s familiar, it passes.

It comes from skills in how to relate to it. For instance, notice and allow. Rest with it. Notice the space around and within it. Notice it’s already awakeness.

It comes from trust in the process, in all as awakeness (the divine), in all as lila (the play of the divine).

We can also explore the fear of discomfort more directly, for instance, through inquiry or Vortex Healing. We can meet it, explore it, and see what’s there and where it’s coming from.

For me, I notice this most clearly in inquiry and Vortex Healing. Inquiry requires me to meet and dive into the scariest and “darkest” areas of my experience. And over and over, I get to see that it’s not as scary as it first appears. In Vortex Healing, after going deeply into something that needs healing or awakening, there is often a kind of healing crisis which can be uncomfortable. (This can be reduced or avoided by doing it more gently and doing more integration and catch-up, and I typically do this with a client. But when I do it for myself, I often choose to dive into it with less restraint.)

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The approaches I find especially helpful, their unique contributions, and how they work together

 

I have found a few approaches especially helpful to me: Breema, inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), and Vortex Healing. I am also certified in Breema, Living Inquiries, TRE, and Vortex Healing.

It doesn’t mean that I think these are the best approaches out there in any general sense, or that they are right for everyone in all situations (they obviously are not). But they are the ones I am most familiar with, and they do work well for me.

Here are some of the unique contributions of each, and some of the ways I notice they are in mutual support of each other.

Breema. Receiving and giving Breema gives a deep sense of nurturing and wholeness. We find the health that’s always here, and within which conventional illness and health exist. As a practitioner, it also helps me explore the wholeness of who I am as a human being, what it all happens within and as (presence, awakeness), and how to shift back into noticing and living from that noticing. In general, Breema has a full and nurturing quality.

TRE. TRE helps me release tension out of the muscles, and that reduces anxiety, depression, and compulsions. It helps the body and mind heal and operate from a more healthy and dynamic state. It can also help us be less afraid of trauma since we know there is a through it to health.

Living inquiries. Living Inquiries helps release the charge out of charged thoughts (fears, identities, compulsions). Through exploring how thoughts (images, words) and sensations combine, and how thoughts give meaning to sensations, and sensations give charge and substance to thought, the association between these loses its strength. Sensations are more easily recognized as sensations and thoughts as thoughts. The sense of substance and reality of fears, identities, and compulsions is reduced or falls away more thoroughly. This form of inquiry also gives a variety of insights, both into general dynamics and patterns of the mind, and into specific issues (e.g. their roots, how they relate to early experiences and identities).

Vortex Healing. Vortex Healing can be used for general or very specific issues, from energizing or healing physical issues to working on specific traumas or identities.

Mutualities. There is a great deal of mutualities between these.

Breema offers an important sense of nourishment and wholeness.

TRE releases the charge out of anxiety, depression, and compulsions (especially when used over time). TRE can also bring up emotions or memories which then can be explored in inquiry or Vortex Healing.

Living Inquiries can bring insight into issues and identities, and help us recognize the healing qualities of presence and resting with (and as) any content of experience.

Vortex Healing can be used on body contractions identified through TRE or Living Inquiries, or any issues or identities that surface through the other approaches.

Very simplified, I find that Breema offers nourishment and a sense of wholeness. TRE releases tension deeply and quite thoroughly (over time). Living Inquiries offers insights and takes a sense of substance and solidity out of stressful patterns, thoughts, and identities. And Vortex Healing can work on just about any issue and identity.

Healing and awakening. Each of these approaches also acknowledges the connection between healing (as who we are) and awakening (as what we are). They each support healing and awakening in their own way.

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Darkest before the dawn in inquiry and Vortex Healing

 

When I facilitate a client in inquiry, and also when I give someone a Vortex Healing session, I often notice the “darkest before the dawn” pattern. In a Living Inquiry session, we may enter a neglected area and nothing seems to move for a while. Then suddenly there is a shift and resolution. And the same sometimes happens in a Vortex session.

It’s a reminder that I don’t really know what’s happening. The surface signs do not tell the whole story. So trust the process. Do the facilitation or healing to the best of your abilities. Follow the process and be prepared to be surprised.

Fear of resolution

 

It’s common to fear resolution, even of what we deeply wish would resolve. It could be a long-standing illness, emotional issue, painful identities or beliefs, or being unenlightened.

So it’s good to look at that fear. Notice it. Allow it. Befriend it. Look at how the mind creates its experience – using sensations and imaginations – of the fear, what it fears, and the one threatened.

What do I fear would happen if this resolves? What’s the worst that can happen? Is there something desirable I won’t have anymore?

Do I experience a threat or a problem with it resolving?

If I could push a button and have it resolve completely and immediately, what would stop me from pushing it? What would make me hesitate?

And to make sure we look at both sides:

Is there a problem if it stays? What’s the worst that can happen if it stays?

Imagine you know it will stay forever. What emotions, feelings, and thoughts come up?

And then explore the components of this sense of threat and anything related to it. The sensations, mental images, and words making it up.

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The purpose of the Living Inquiries

 

What’s the purpose of the Living Inquiries?

There are many answers to that question, and the answer will usually be tailored to the person asking.

Here are two whys:

It’s about reducing suffering and living a better life.

It will help clarify and ground a spiritual opening or awakening.

And the hows:

It helps us investigate how the mind creates its experience of anything, and especially that which is painful and creates discomfort for us.

And that, in turn, tends to reduce its charge. With a reduced charge, it has less of a hold over us. We can relate to it more intentionally and it doesn’t control us as much as before.

In this way, the Living Inquiries – along with Natural Rest – can quite effectively help with anxiety, depression, cravings, and stabilizing an opening or awakening. It can help us heal, grow up, and even wake up.

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Resting with and investigating an uncomfortable feeling

 

I woke up from a slightly uncomfortable dream and with an uncomfortable feeling in my body. I know from experience that discomfort is created by my own mind, so I can explore it and see what’s really there.

So I rest with the sensations. I notice where I feel the uncomfortable feeling, and notice the sensations making them up. I notice these sensations are already allowed. I take time feeling them. I say “welcome home” to them. I continue resting with them – noticing and allowing.

Then I see if there are any images connected with it. I notice a dark texture overlaid on an image of my upper body. I notice and rest with that image.

I check for words, but none come.

I check for resistance to the uncomfortable feeling, or any other experience that’s here now. Do I want it to go away or change? Where in my body do I feel that want? I do find some resistance to the uncomfortable feelings, a wish for it to change or go away. I notice it in my upper chest and face, and especially the jaw. I notice, allow, and rest with those sensations.

Rest and inquiry can be used throughout the day, in just about any situation. And it can be quite simple, and doesn’t need to take a long time. (Although watch for the tendency to want to shorten it to avoid feeling or meeting an experience.)

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Slow it down 

 

When we do inquiry or any exploration of our own experience, the impulse is often to speed it up. And when we do, it’s often to avoid something, and that comes from unmet fear. We are acting on a compulsion to avoid resting with our own experience. And that, in turn, comes from a fear of meeting and resting with our own experience.

When we notice this impulse to speed it up, we can take it as a reminder to slow it down, and also look at our own fears. Where in my body do I feel the fear of slowing down? What happens when I slow it down and rest with the sensations of that fear?

I can also ask myself some simple questions to see what’s there. What do I fear would happen if I slow down? If I rest with my experience as it is now? What’s the worst that can happen?

And I can also explore….. What sensations and imaginations (images, words) create this fear? What happens when I take time and rest with each of these? 

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Testimonials

 

A selection of testimonials from clients.

 

Inquiry

 

Hi Per, I just wanted to say thank you for everything. Thank you for the difference you made my life and my recovery. I will never forget you. You were one of the greatest and most influential. You always thought of me and kept me calm when I wanted to jump out of my skin and run for the border.

– Thank you, keep in touch. Breana K.

 

After months of you guiding me through the Living Inquiries, TRE and Breema I notice I am able to continue to embrace experience as it unfolds in a curious and loving way. You first provided me with a wonderfully balanced foundation and then allowed space for me to experientially learn how to continue to provide it for myself. Your intuitive  presence helped me enter places and memories I was too scared to be with on my own. Places I thought would follow me forever. Now I continue to sit in experience, pleasant or not and provide myself with the same nurturing patience you shared with me over the months. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.

– Kindly, Brittney C.

 

Thank you for facilitating inquiry with me with such exquisite skill, precision, and gentleness. I was often surprised at what came up in sessions, but no matter what it was, you provided a space of complete acceptance and deep respect. I felt held, and safe to unfold layers of painful stories that have been with me for years.

As a result, I would leave each time feeling lighter and more alive. I also gained confidence in my ability to sit with any feeling that might arise, which in turn has greatly reduced the compulsions that used to rule my life. I am feeling more and more free as a result of working with you, and for this I am truly grateful.

You have a profound gift for this work. Thank you for sharing it with me, and I hope many more can receive the gift of this powerfully transformative work as well.

– With deep gratitude, Ara Jo

 

Vortex Healing

 

Foxy Muffin had lost all signs of happiness and vitality over the past 6 months. I often thought of plans for her last days and when would be the right time to end her life so she would not suffer.  Per asked if he could do a Vortex  Healing session for her and I agreed hoping for any positive change. I was not expecting to see the energy and excitement that appeared the same day.  Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the happy, playful, and fun little Pomeranian that I knew was there all along. Foxy eats better, her tail is high in the air and she appears to have experienced a healing of sorts.  I can see a difference with every session Per does for her.

– Paul C., Rancho Mirage, CA

 

I asked Per to do a Vortex Healing series with me on long-standing chronic pain in my abdomen.  I felt immediate relief after the session.  Although the pain returned for a short period of time after the first session, within a week, the pain never returned.  More than that, the series of sessions appeared to have opened up some deep emotional/energetic blockages for me that were associated with this pain.  It feels as though energy moves much more freely up and down my spine now.  I highly recommend Per to anyone with such blockages.  I don’t know exactly how Vortex Healing works, but it does!

– Scott K., Palm Springs, CA

 

I just wanted to thank you for the great vortex healing sessions you have given me so far. I have experienced many different healing modalities in the past but nothing comes close to the vortex sessions with you. I found myself having big changes in one session that would normally take many sessions in any other healing work. I also thought your ability to tune in and fine tune so to speak what was going on for me was very helpful. Your natural ability as a healer is clear to me and I look forward to working with you again in the near future.

– Mike C., Palm Desert, CA

 

Our cat Cosmos struggles with anxiety. After two sessions with Per, everyone in the family noticed a difference. Now she sleeps next to her sister on the bed, whereas before they wouldn’t go near each other!

– Tom. A, Eugene, OR

 

Breema

 

I wanted to say thank you for the Breema sessions. You bring calming and sweet energy to your work. In my personal experience Breema seems very sensual, as well as loving. What a great way to help heal humanity.

– Barbara R., Eugene, OR

 

I so appreciate your Breema sessions! You are able to create a wonderful atmosphere of nurturing, comfort and something more that I find hard to define! Afterwards, I always feel renewed, relaxed and rebalanced. And it’s all so effortless on my part! Thank you for sharing this healing gift with me.

– Phyllis L, Eugene, OR

 

Thank you for your Breema sessions.  No matter what my state of mind going into them, I often find myself feeling present, relaxed and back in balance afterwards.  I especially appreciate your professional and focused approach, which has me feel at ease, trusting and open to the process.  I look forward to doing more Breema with you and have no doubt that what you are offering is a great gift!

– Robin R., Eugene, OR

 

A quick note to most deeply thank you for the wonderful relaxation you allowed for during the Breema session. This week is packed for me but I am wondering if you might consider giving me another round next week. Can I drop off some greens from my garden for you guys?

– Stephanie C., Eugene, OR

 

You are a gifted Breema practitioner.  Your presence and support gave me the feeling of deep peace, as if the whole of the universe were still.  It was so wonderfully relaxing!

– Tiffany M., Eugene, OR

 

Dear Per,

Thanks so much for letting me experience Breema. I had no previous exposure to the practice and came eager to see if it might help relieve my chronic problems with emotional anxiety and back stiffness.

Generally I have a hard time keeping my mind focused and not wandering off into distraction, which is very frustrating. I found the gentle, rhythmic motions of Breema helped me keep my attention on my breath without drifting away (except the couple of times I was so relaxed I dozed off!).

I felt you were transmitting peace into me, sending a peaceful signal directly to the core of my being. A kind of floaty and ethereal sensation—very nice. I definitely felt mentally and emotionally calmed, and at the same time I came away from each session also feeling enlivened and much more present in my body, more attuned to the moment.

I appreciate the special accommodations you made for my back problem by using knee pillows and adding an extra stretch at the end of the session. My back is bothering me a lot less in the mornings now, which I attribute to the Breema treatments.

Your firm gentleness, your strong hands, your accepting and caring approach, all helped me let go and relax. I found you to be very warm, respectful, unobtrusive, and caring. I especially appreciated your nonjudgmental attitude about my size and weight, something I’ve learned can’t always be expected.

Thanks very much.

– Sally S., Eugene, OR

 

I really appreciated the Breema experience.  You have opened whole new possibilities for me in terms of healing and questioning my current world view.

– Molly M., Eugene, OR

 

Per’s gentle, rhythmic movements using Breema techniques, gradually shifted my awareness from my physical body to the wider world of nature.  My ability to hear grew more acute and my sense of smell returned, something I had lost over the course of the last five years, as the movements progressed [As the movements progressed, my ability to hear grew more acute and my sense of smell returned.]  Each new movement seemed to shift me internally and in so doing, stretch my consciousness externally.  Per’s sensitivity, openness to where I was energetically, and his deep sense of caring for all of life, made the experience profoundly harmonizing for me.  I highly recommend P. as a Breema practitioner. His work facilitated me in shifting my awareness of pain, as I have experienced it in my body, into a new state of awareness of what it means to be well and at peace.  Thank you P. for sharing your gifts!!!

– Molly M. , Eugene, OR

 

The Breema session you provided for me was profoundly relaxing.  The experience has stayed with me.  I would recommend you and Breema to anyone!  Thanks and Be Well.  It’s a good service you are providing in the world.

– Jon B., Eugene, OR

 

Dear Per,

I want to let you know how much I appreciate attending Breema sessions with you. I find it an exquisitely relaxing experience. Without fail my mind and body fall into a quiet stillness, a stillness in which the Breema spontaneously unfolds. I find that we are together participating in that stillness. As the receiver of Breema my part is

a very restful one, and I find that that rest deepens over the course of the session. By the end I am often in a state in which the ‘I’ has disappeared, and what remains is a sublimely refreshing peace. Thank you so much for facilitating this meditative art.

– Best, Damien P., Eugene, OR

 

Per’s strong and earthy touch, coupled with his calm presence and innate healing ability, radiate gentle warmth, wisdom, and loving-kindness. He moves deftly and gracefully through the sequences, and his work brings me to a place of deep meditation. Important insights often result. He is well-studied in the field of esoteric arts, and in his humility and graciousness is always curious to hear about my experiences and to offer his own suggestions and insights.

Here is an excerpt from my journal about a particularly transformative session I had with Per:

“…I felt his hands molding and shaping me as if I were clay, and I realized that that’s how Life is…Life, or Soul, is constantly molding and shaping us. And so often, we are resistant until we learn to love and accept what is happening…He put his hands over my eyes, and I saw only darkness and quit breathing. It was if I, for some moments, had died. I opened my eyes onto the light from the windows and returned with gratitude to life and to living. In the session, I took increasingly deep, and deeper, breaths. I felt my heart beating strongly in my naval point, bringing life energy into my lower chakras.

…Allow beauty and goodness to come and to flow into you. And, it’ll be coming next by way of the lower chakras. I began coughing. I coughed up the limiting belief that I’d been carrying in my shoulders, mainly~~that I must do it all alone, in order to survive. The belief I replaced it with is, living can be a true joy. Accept the goodness and the bounty of the earth, and with gratitude and thanks accept her gifts to you in whatever form they take.

– Rachael W. , Eugene, OR

A story but no feeling

 

Sometimes, an inquiry client is aware of a charged story but not where they feel it.

In that case, some pointers can be helpful.

Does the client feel it all over the body? (They may look for it in a more limited area.)

Do they feel it in the face or head? (They may look for it in the torso.)

Do they feel it somewhere, but dismiss it as something else? (Stomach ache, headache, itching, pressure that they think is due to something else.)

If they were to point to where they feel it, where would they point? (Without thinking about it in advance.) Do they notice feeling it there?

Less charge

 

Through inquiry, the charge in what we explore often lessens or goes away.

And that makes it easier to relate to it in a more intentional and sane way. We are less caught by the charge, and less caught in a struggle with the charge.

That is a very practical and sensible reason for doing inquiry, for exploring how my mind creates its experience of something charged – whether it’s an emotion, craving, threat, identity, discomfort, or something else.

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Fear about meeting something scary in ourselves

 

Most of us have fear about meeting in ourselves something that seems scary.

It’s worth exploring both the physical sensations making up this fear, and also the story component.

Some stories I have found for myself:

I’ll see it’s true. I’ll see that the scary story – about myself, life – is true.

It will be overwhelming. Too much. I won’t be able to handle it.

It won’t work.

I won’t do it right. I don’t have what it takes to do it right. (The skills, experience, capacity etc.)

The facilitator won’t do it right. He/she don’t have what it takes to do it right.

It won’t go away even if it’s done right.

It’s not the right time. I am not in the right space.

It will get worse. Facing it will make it worse.

I’ll be judged…. by myself and/or the facilitator. It will trigger guilt and shame. I won’t be able to deal with this guilt and shame.

It’s often helpful to identify and explore these scary stories at some point, typically before entering what we have the scary story about.

The symptoms of this fear can come in the form of avoidance, resistance, restlessness, distraction, frustration, anger and more. And when we look a little closer, there may be a very understandable fear there that can be met and explored.

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Translate knowing into words

 

Some inquiry clients report a knowing but no words or images. They know that a feeling is X (a threat, the one who isn’t good enough, a craving for sugar), but are not aware of any images or words connected with it.

There are words or images there, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a knowing. Without a story, a feeling would just be sensations.

One way to help the client explore this is to ask them to translate the knowing into words.

If the feeling could speak, what would it say?

What words fit the feeling?

What does the feeling mean?

This gives the client something to work on. He or she can look at or listen to the words, and in that way begin to separate the story from the sensations.

The reverse of this is when a client is aware of the story, but say they don’t feel it anywhere. In that case, some other pointers can be helpful. For instance, does the client feel it all over the body? (They may look for it in a more limited area.) Do they feel it in the face or head? (They may look for it in the torso.) Do they feel it somewhere, but dismiss it as something else? (Stomach ache, headache, itching, pressure that they think is due to something else.) If they were to point to where they feel it, where would they point? (Without thinking about it in advance.)

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Inquiry and intimacy

 

A client mentioned that she had done inquiry on her dog. She explored how her mind creates its experience of the dog, which allows her to hold her perceptions about her dog more lightly. Some of the sense of solidity had gone out of it. I asked her if her relationship with her dog had changed, and she said it’s more intimate.

That’s my experience as well. As I continue to explore how my mind creates its experience of me, others, life, and more, there is a deepening sense of intimacy with myself, others, and life.

The boundaries created by the mind has less charge and seem less real and solid, so there is naturally a sense of intimacy.

 

Resting with surface experience vs each component

 

Resting with the surface experience can help it rest but it doesn’t get to the root of how the distress or discomfort is created. Isolating out and resting with each of the components is the next step and goes further. And adding in some inquiry questions can help clarify and release even more. I tend to use the questions sparingly, but they are very helpful.

– from a previous post

I am writing a separate post on this topic this since it is essential to inquiry.

Resting with the surface experience of discomfort can make a big difference when what we are used to is fleeing from it. By surface experience, I mean how the combination of sensations and imaginations making it up appears to us before we differentiate and separate out the different components.

Resting with each component, one at a time, helps clarify and release further. We rest with the sensations. Notice an image or words associated with it, and rest with that image or those words. Rest until they fade on their own, if they do. Then, return to resting with the sensations, wait, and see if any images or words surface. Repeat.

Adding in simple questions can further help with the clarification and release. I can ask if the image I am resting with is a problem or a threat. If it is, then rest with the sensations making it feel that way. If I rest with an image of the future, I can ask if that image is the actual future. I can ask if certain words (the images or sounds) is a threat. And so on. I can also ask

I can also ask mining questions to see what additional images or words are connected with a sensation. If the sensation (body contraction) could speak, what would it say? What does it mean? What’s my earliest memory of feeling that way? What does it need from me?

Each of these three are in themselves very helpful. And the second and third tend to allow for a deeper release.

Resting with an experience allows it to rest

 

Resting with an experience allows it to rest. It may be discomfort, distress, or suffering in any form. For instance restlessness, fear, anger, sadness, grief, emotional pain, physical pain, or a compulsion.

Resting with the surface experience of it helps a bit. Resting with the combination of sensations and imaginations making up an experience.

Resting with each of the components helps more. Resting with the sensations, images, and words, one at a time. Isolating them out, noticing what’s there, resting with it.

Resting with each component and at times ask a few gentle inquiry questions about it may help even more. We can ask simple inquiry questions to see more clearly what’s there, and we can ask mining questions to see what more is there.

Resting with the surface experience can help it rest but it doesn’t get to the root of how the distress or discomfort is created. Isolating out and resting with each of the components is the next step and goes further. And adding in some inquiry questions can help clarify and release even more. I tend to use the questions sparingly, but they are very helpful.

Resting here means noticing and allowing, whether it’s the surface experience or each of the components making it up. Notice it’s already allowed (by mind, awareness, space, life). Notice the (boundless) space it’s happening within. And it comes with an orientation of kindness, rest, and patience.

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The command for it to be different 

 

I have experienced the primal fear again off and on for the last several weeks. The sensations themselves are fine, it’s the stories associated with them that make it seem uncomfortable and sometimes overwhelming. And since it sometimes feels overwhelming, there is also a want here for it to change and for the discomfort – and the primal fear – to go away.

Here are the notes from a brief inquiry on this want for it to be different, or go away.

Where do you feel the primal fear? In the face, chest, and some in throat and belly.

Feel those sensations. Rest with them. Are any images or words coming up? Yes, an image of me with something dark in me (the dread and fear), and next to it me clear (lighter, without that experience).

Look at that image. Rest with it. Notice the space around it, and between the image and you. Is that image a want or command for it to be different? (Q1) Yes, I feel it in my face, throat, and chest.

Feel those sensations. Rest with the physical sensations. (I did some amplify/release here too.) The words “I want it to be different” come up.

Look at those words. Q1? Yes, belly, face, forehead, throat.

Rest with those sensations. (I am saying these words a few times to the sensations until I feel it: You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.) (I am then resting with the sensations for quite a while.)

Are those sensations a want or command for it (the fear) to be different? No. They are here but I experience them quite differently, and as physical sensations.

The want for the fear to go away is a big part of the discomfort and suffering around this. That’s why it can be very helpful to explore it in inquiry, to befriend it, to see how the mind creates its experience of this want through sensations, mental images, and words, and to rest with the sensations for quite a while after most or all of the images and words have been sifted through.

Note: With a client, I would typically start with an image or words, perhaps the words they used such as I want this fear to go away, I want my experience to be different. When I ask the inquiry question about images or words, the client will see if there are any bodily reactions to the questions. When the client then rests with sensations, just wait and see if images or words surface on their own and then look at them. Asking the inquiry question about a sensation is sometimes too direct, and it can be difficult for the client to find what gave them a “yes”, so it’s often gentler and easier to just rest with the sensations, see if any images or words surface on their own, and then look at them.

Let it run its course

 

When I rest with an energy or body contraction, I sometimes remind myself let it run its course.

Here are some things I notice subtly happening.

It invites patience.

It’s a reminder that it’s temporary. It will pass as any experience does.

It’s a reminder that it may just need to run its course. If it has been shunned in the past, what it needs is partly to be rested with in presence and with patience.

Sometimes, a gentle pointer like this invites a small shift, and that’s all that’s needed to support me in resting more wholeheartedly with the energy or body contraction.

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Fewer dreams after inquiry

 

Since my teens, I have worked with dreams using mainly Jungian approaches such as active imagination. It’s been an important part of my process, and I used to remember dreams quite regularly. Since I started with the Living Inquiries a couple of years back, I have remembered far fewer dreams.

I wonder if it is because dreams convey information from what’s going on outside of conscious awareness to my conscious awareness, and especially if I remember them and work on them. Using the Living Inquiries, I am accessing that or similar information anyway, so there may be less need to remember dreams. An even simpler explanation is that my conscious attention is more on inquiry than dreams right now, and my mind responds by reducing the number of remembered dreams. One or both of those seem to be the most likely reason and they also make most intuitive sense.