When in a funk, careful about drawing big conclusions

 

A funk or any strong emotional state tends to color our experience of everything. And that goes for our thoughts as well. Our thoughts tend to reflect whatever emotional state we are in. It’s as if our mind wants to be helpful, so it creates or brings up thoughts aligned with the emotional state.

It’s good to notice this pattern.

I notice I am in a funk or an emotional state. I notice my mind creating certain stories that goes with that funk or emotion. And I notice that as the funk or emotional state passes, as it does, then those thoughts pass as well. They were linked to the emotional state. They were not as true as they seemed when they were supported by the emotional state.

As I notice this pattern over time, a part of me also recognizes and knows what’s happening and not to believe those thoughts. A part of me knows they are fueled by the funk or the emotions, and as the funk or emotions pass, the thoughts will not seem as true or real.

And that helps me avoid fueling the thoughts further, draw big conclusions (about life, others myself, situations) based on them, and especially to act on those conclusions.

This is kindness towards myself.

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Seeking a feeling or state 

 

It’s very common to seek a certain feeling or state. It’s also very understandable.

Most of us are very familiar with changing the content of experience and are less familiar with changing the context of experience. So we set out trying to change the content of experience. We try to avoid certain experiences and seek other experiences. We seek a feeling or a state. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s natural. It’s good to be a good steward of our life in an ordinary sense. And yet, to compulsively attempt to change the content of our experience is in itself suffering. It creates an additional layer of suffering. It creates an ongoing struggle with our experience.

The alternative is to change the context of experience. To notice what’s here: sensory input and imagination, and how they combine to create certain experiences. Notice that this experience is already noticed and allowed. Notice what it happens within and as (AKA awareness, presence).

I can explore this in different ways:

What would I have to feel if I didn’t try to change my experience now? Feel that. Stay with it for a while. Notice any resistance, fear, impulse to change experience, and feel that too. Include that too in the noticing and allowing.

How does my mind create the experience of something lacking or missing here and now? (UI on this lacking state or a deficient self.)

How does my mind create the experience of something else that’s better? (UI on the desired state.)

How does my mind create the experience of a threat in what’s here now? (AI on threat.)

How does my mind create the experience of a command to change my experience? Or not change it? (CI to change / not change.)

This impulse to change the content of our experience has an evolutionary function. It is, in a sense, built into us. And yet, it’s possible to examine it and shift focus to the context of our experience as described above. We may seek to change the content of our experience through food, entertainment, being loved, sex, status, being right, and also through trying to hold ideas as true. These ideas can be any ideas at all, including ideas about ourselves, others, life, politics, religion, and spirituality.

As usual, this exploration intertwines in how we ordinarily do things in ways that are simple and also complex. It’s simple in that (a) I continue to be the best steward of my life as I know in a very ordinary way while also (b) explore the things mentioned above. It’s complex in that this exploration will shift how I go about being a good steward of my life. It shifts the emphasis on changing the context of my experience rather than the content. It removes a layer of struggle and suffering, which brings more of a sense of ease into my everyday life. I go about being a good steward in a slightly more effortless way. And there is an ongoing deepening here.

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From states, to insights, to recognizing it through changing states

 

Some states of consciousness highlight an aspect of reality. For instance, a state may turn the volume of bliss, love, oneness or selflessness up so it’s unmissable. States can also highlight and turn the volume up on aspects of delusion, such as suffering, or even how suffering is created.

Combined with curiosity, this turned up volume of an aspect of reality can give insights.

And the invitation is to take these insights as a question and starting point for inquiry in any state, and through changing states.

Here are some examples:

There is a state of bliss. An insight that consciousness is bliss, it’s inherent in reality. And an invitation to find this in any state of consciousness, including those that at first look anything but blissful.

There is a state of love. An insight that consciousness is love too. And an invitation to find love through other states, including those that do not appear particularly love-filled from a conventional view.

There is a state of oneness. An insight that reality is one, always. And an invitation to notice this oneness, perhaps especially when mind makes reality not appear one.

There is a state of selflessness. An insight that there is no I here. And again an invitation to notice this through changing states and experiences.

There is a state where the dynamics of identification, delusion and suffering is particularly clear. There is an insight into these dynamics. And an invitation to recognize this as it happens through the changing states and experiences.

 These states of consciousness are a gift in that they highlight aspects of reality. They offer insight. And this insight is then an invitation for inquiry through the changing states and content of experience. It’s a starting point for inquiry, and this inquiry may lead to further insights.

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Supported by a state vs not

 

I notice I am curious about this, partly because it’s not very clear to me yet.

Sometimes, shifts in perception is supported by a state. There may be a state that makes it easier to notice (what a thought may say is) all as one, all absent of any “self”, all as Spirit, all as love, meeting all as love etc.

So there is a shift in state, which invites a shift in perception, which in turn invites a shift in insight, and a shift in noticing.

When the state shifts again, perhaps into something (apparently) very ordinary again, the invitation is to keep noticing and questioning. Is it true it – the noticing, all as Spirit/love etc. – went away? Is it true this is not one, Spirit, love?

This noticing throughout changing states and experiences is in itself (sort of) a state, a state of noticing.

And it is also a shift from something that may appear extraordinary, an extraordinary state, to something very ordinary, noticing what’s already here in (and as) any state, any content of experience.

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Two forms of peace

 

I have received a few biodynamic craniosacral sessions lately, and notice that they seem to put me in some form of trance for about three days. It’s peaceful, and yet something feels a little strange about it. I realize it’s because it’s a peaceful state, one that keeps me from going “down” into shadow material and personal material, and also from going “up”. It feels a bit artificial, almost like, from what I hear, a tranquilizer or drug aimed at stabilizing the emotions. I am not sure if this is typical for bcs or is more from the therapist. (Whom I like and respect very much.)

It’s also a reminder that one form of peace is a state, which I appreciate when it’s here. And another is the peace of finding that which already allows what’s here, that which allows any and all states. Finding it, noticing it, and perhaps finding myself as that – and the deep rest that comes with it.

As I have noticed after these sessions, the first form of peace allows less activity. And the second allows any and all activities.

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Supported by states, independent of states

 

As life brings itself more into awareness, shedding beliefs and assumptions and revealing to itself what’s here, it seems to often go through certain phases. Many have outlined these, including Evelyn Underhill and Ken Wilber, and I am by no means an expert on these maps and models. (In any case, life is kind enough to show up outside of and independent of any maps, reminding us they are imagined.)

What I know from my own experience, and have heard from others, is a simple shift from (a) knowing to being, and from (b) love and insight supported by certain states to independent of states.

From knowing to being

During the initial opening in my teens, there was a clear recognition that everything – with no exception – is God. God – life, reality – woke up to itself out of the dream of being identified as a human being. The sense of I did return to some extent, and the identification with/as this I also returned to some extent, although even here there was a recognition that all is God or Spirit. Then, there was (is!) a dark night which invited remaining beliefs to wear out and be seen through, and these tend to be quite primal and deep seated beliefs with a strong emotional component. The shift to being what was initially seen involves a deep healing at a human level, a clearing up of these primal beliefs and their emotional components, and alignment of more of the human self with reality, with what was initially seen.This is an ongoing process, and I assume it will continue as long as there is a human self here.

From supported by states to independent of states

Initially, love and insight was supported by certain states. There was a very strong experience and feeling of love – for everyone and everything. And there was a clarity which allowed for a great deal of insights, typically mirroring what I later read by Taoists, Buddhists and mystics from Islam and Christianity. These states were so strong it seemed “I” couldn’t fall out of love or this clarity. Then, during the dark night, these states did shift – as life always does. They went away in my experience, and there was an invitation to see my remaining beliefs about these states and reality. There were a few basic sets of beliefs here for me: (a) I lost something wonderful. I made a mistake. I lost my course. I got off track. I am a disappointment to God. (b) Awakening has to do with these states of love and clarity. (c) There is an I here this is happening to. (Although this was seen through initially, there was still a more deep seated belief in an I here and this one had/has a quite strong emotional component.) Another invitation is to recognize this love and clarity in any situation and state. This is the next phase. Can I recognize anyone and anything as the Divine, just as it is, independent of particular states? Can I notice this clarity – specifically that it’s all the Divine, the play of life – no matter what’s here, independent of particular states?

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Even keel through shifts

 

I notice shifts between three different states.

The first is into wounds, beliefs and hangups. A belief surfaces to be seen, felt, loved.

Another is into what I am, into Big mind. The veils are thinner. It’s easier for what I am to notice itself.

And yet another is a release from either, just ordinary life.

Each of these is an invitation to see, feel and find appreciation for what’s here. An invitation to befriend experience and stories, notice I am what happens and inquire into stories.

These shifts are also an invitation to find a more even keel throughout states, and one way to do that is to befriend experience and inquire into stories – especially those saying something is not OK.

And these shifts is an invitation to notice what I am throughout states. Content of experience changes – what is it that does not change?

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Keep noticing within any state

 

Keep noticing within any state.

That’s one of the reminders for myself these days.

Keep noticing (a) all as awareness and (b) how appearances are created, within any content of experience.

This is very useful before and within an awakening, and perhaps especially so if there has been a glimpse or genuine recognition of what we are.

Why is this so tricky, at least for some of us?

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State independent

 

What we are is of course state independent, and that is a great pointer for practice.

Independent of what is happening in content of awareness – dullness, bliss, clarity, tension, relaxation, anger, joy, confusion – can I notice what I already and always am? Can I find myself as that which all this happens within, to and as?

Having this as a basic practice throughout the day makes it all into an adventure, no matter what is going on.

And it also helps us release identification with whatever within form we tend to identify with, all these things that come and go.

Having worked with tension/stress as a pointer to when I believe a story, it is easy to think that when there is tension/stress, I can’t notice what I really am. But that is of course not true. That tension and stress is also just happening within, as and to what I am, and I can notice that as it happens. (And still inquire into those beliefs of course, the two are not at all mutually exclusive.)

Ground awakening – state or not?

 

It is often said that the Ground awakening, as opposed to everything else, is not a state.

And as usual, it seems to be a truth with modifications.

It is not a state as it is only the void awakening to itself, and then to itself as awake void and form, allowing any forms to come and go as they do anyway. The only difference is that now, as the void is awake to itself, any thought is seen as just a thought, and there is an absence of identification with any stories, including the one of a separate self, of an I with an Other, and any other identities used to elaborate this sense of a separate self.

(There is an absence of identification with any stories, and so with any particular content, since the void is absence, and also since thoughts and everything else are recognized as nothing other than the void itself taking temporary forms.)

It is the Ground awakening to itself, allowing any state, any form, any change in content of awareness, to come and go on their own, living their own life on their own schedule, as they already and always do.

Said another way, it is the bottom dropping out, leaving all form suspended in space with no identification. The bottom – the sense of I with an Other, falls out, leaving form – the content of awareness, absent of identification. No change in states, only a change from identification to a an absence of identification and a realization that there was never any I with an Other there in the first place.

Yet, it also is a state, in a couple of different ways.

First, it is the state of void awake to itself, and all forms as nothing other than void itself. This is not a conventional state in the sense of a change in content of awareness (bliss, absorption, clarity, oneness, etc.), but it can certainly be called a state.

Then, it can also appear as a state as seen from within time. When there is a story of time, it happens at a particular (often well defined) point in time, and it may even go away in a particular point in time (and then it is called kensho instead of daikensho).

It is really the timeless now awakening to itself, always fresh, new and fluid in its form aspect, and from here time is recognized as only coming from a story overlaid on what is. Past, future and continuity is recognized as only appearing when what is is filtered through stories.

Yet, when this gets clouded over, a sense of a separate self, an identification with content of awareness, and with this a sense of the reality of time and space, reappears. And from here, the Ground awakening appears as having happened within time and space, so also as a state.

The gifts of states

 

Here are a few of the gifts of states, of shifting contents of experience…

Over time, they invite us to recognize and realize impermanence… inherent in anything that comes is its going. Sadness, joy, oneness, bliss, suffering, a particular insight, different types of samadhi… they are all temporary visitors.

They also invite a noticing and differentiation of different areas of the terrain… in my own experience, I can see how different states has allowed me to discover and differentiate aspects of the terrain… the void (allowing identities to fall away), alive presence (soul level), endarkenment (feminine divine), luminous emptiness (masculine divine), the three centers (head, heart and belly, each one in the foreground at different times), oneness (a vague sense of an I one with God), suffering (being caught up on the inside of beliefs), and so on. Each of these are noticed, clarified and differentiated from the other ones by dipping into them through various states.

As Ken Wilber would point out, the states and what they reveal are interpreted through our psychograph… our lines of development and where they are at (their stages) and in particular through the conscious framework we operate from (cognitive line).

Some states offer their particular gifts. For instance, the state of unusual clarity and stability of attention invites us to inquire with more differentiation into what is… including the mechanisms of samsara.

Finally (?), they also offer glimpses of what is ahead on the path, and what we thought was behind us but wasn’t…! For instance, void temporarily wakes up to itself, and is then covered up by a sense of a separate self, which offer a new context to the path and our life… it offers a glimpse of how it is when all identifications are vaporized, and a direction for our continued practice. And dipping into being caught up in particular beliefs, and their accompanying drama and suffering, shows us that more work is required, we were not quite done with that one.

States are visitors which come on their own time, whether invited or not… and they can also be explored in a more systematic way through for instance the Big Mind process (filtered in a limited way through the head center).