The Matrix and our world

 

The Matrix – with its real and virtual worlds – is explicitly an allegory for our world.

In what way is our world like The Matrix?

In a literal sense, it’s theoretically possible – although probably unlikely – that this world is created by some beings like in The Matrix. And in a metaphorical sense, we all believe things others may want us to believe and we can wake up from those illusions.

There is also another way, and one I find equally or more interesting.

Our world is created through an overlay of thoughts, of mental images and words. This overlay is what makes sense of this world and also helps us visualize a past and future and a wider world beyond what’s here and now. It’s where all labels, assumptions, values, and so on come from.

This overlay is virtual. It’s imagined. It’s created from thoughts to help us orient and function in the world. It’s completely essential for our survival.

And it makes our world quite a bit like The Matrix.

How can we take the red pill?

The safest and most lasting and effective way may be through inquiry, and especially sincere inquiry over time.

Through headless inquiry, we may discover that we are capacity for our world. The world, as it appears to us, happens within and as what we are.

Through traditional Buddhist inquiry, and modern variations like the Living Inquiries, we may discover how our mind creates its own reality. How it associates sensations with thoughts… so the sensations lend a sense of solidity and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations.

Through The Work of Byron Katie, we may discover that the thoughts and assumptions we held as true are not as true as we thought, and not true in the way we thought.

Through basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here – we may come to hold our thoughts a little more lightly which supports these forms of inquiry.

And so on. There are innumerable forms of inquiry and supporting practices that can be helpful here.

I am personally not interested in the path of psychoactive drugs. Although they can give us a glimpse of this, it’s dependent on chemical, it’s often transient, it may come with side-effects, and there are other approaches that are more reliable and thorough.

Why would we want to take the red pill?

There is some inherent suffering, discomfort, and struggle in taking our virtual world as inherently true and real.

Taking the red pill may not remove the suffering, discomfort, and struggle, but it can make it much easier. It can help us not struggle with it, and that – in itself – is a big relief.

Also, some of us seem drawn to truth, or love, or returning home, no matter what the cost may be. In that case, it seems we don’t have that much choice.

The experience we fight, fights back

 

The essence of this is basic and simple, as so much here. And as so much here, it’s something I rediscover regularly, and I keep finding slightly new and different wrinkles to it.

When I fight my experience, it metaphorically fights back.

What specifically do I fight?

When I say “fight my experience” it usually means fighting sensations in my body and thoughts associated with it. These sensation-thoughts may be triggered by a situation, but what I react to is these sensations and the thoughts my mind associate them with.

How do I try to fight it?

I can use a range of different strategies to fight it, including wanting to push the sensation away, distract myself from it, go into compulsions (the fighting itself is a compulsion), deny it’s here, try to intellectualize it away, try to transcend it, try to fix it through healing, and so on.

What happens when I try to fight my experience?

I act on and reinforce the idea that the story behind the sensation is true. By fighting it, I tell myself the scary story behind it is true and needs to be taken seriously and fought.

I reinforce the belief in me that it is scary. I reinforce the belief that I cannot co-exist with it, and that it’s dangerous to get to know it, allow it to be here, and befriend it. I reinforce the view in me that it is “other” and I keep it other.

And it doesn’t go away. It’s still here no matter how much I try to distract myself from it or change it or transcend it.

In what way does it fight back?

It fights back by remaining here. When I fight something that doesn’t go away, it easily appears to me that it fights back.

More importantly, when I struggle with it – and tell myself it’s strong and important and true and real and worth struggling with – it’s reinforced. and by being reinforced through my own struggle with it. The scary stories behind it and about it are reinforced.

What’s the alternative?

The alternative is to befriend my experience, whatever it is – even the impulse to fight it.

How can I learn to do this? It can help to use pointers and a more structured approach to get into it, at least until it becomes more familiar and second nature. And even when it is more familiar, a more structureed approach is sometimes helpful, especially when we get caught up in something strong.

Basic meditation is a way to get familiar with noticing and allowing what’s here, whatever it is. Doing this in the “labarotory” of meditation sessions makes it a little easier to do the same – notice and allow – when uncomfortable things come up in us in daily life situations.

Natural Rest is a variation of this basic meditation, and it has some pointers that helps bring it into daily life situations.

We can also dialog with whatever comes up, listen to what it has to tell us, get to know it, and find some empathy with it. This helps befriending it and shifting out of the struggle.

Heart-centered approaches like tonglen and ho’oponopono helps us reoritent towards our experiences in general, and we can also use them specifically with our own discomfort and ourselves in that situation.

We can identify and examine the stressful and scary thoughts behind the uncomfortable sensations, the situation triggering it, and about it all. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

It’s especially helpful to look at the fear of befriending our experience as it is. What do I fear would happen? What’s the worst that can happen?

We can examine how our mind creates its experience of the disocmfort, of it as scary and something we need to struggle with, the struggle itself, and any fears, compulsions, and identities connected with it. (Living Inquiries.)

We can find what we are – that which this and any experience happens within and as – which, in turn, helps notice and allow it all. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

For me, it also really helps to have “wastness buddies” as a friend of mine calls it. Someone we can call when something strong comes up in us, and who can help us shift out of the struggle and into br

What’s the benefit of befriending our experience?

When we fight our experience, it ties up a lot of energy and attention, and it also tends to lead us to make life decisions out of reacivity rather than a more open receptivity. It’s uncomfortable and tiring to chronically struggle.

When we shift out of the struggle, we shift out of the battle and can find a different peace. A peace that allows what’s here, in my experience, to be here. It’s a sense of coming home. It opens for love for what’s here, as it is. It opens for a whole new way – one that’s fuller, rof being in the world.

What’s this not about?

It’s not about not fighting in life. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to fight – or fight for – things in life. It’s appropriate to fight for what’s kind and benefits life. (As we see it, from our limited perspective.)

Why do I write about this now?

The virus behind the chronic fatigue seems to get activated through physical exertion and/or stress, and that happened a few days ago. When it happens, it creates a toxic and very uncomfortable feeling through my whole system, and it also impacts my emotions. And I sometimes struggle with it and try to fight it. When I notice what’s happening, an I have struggled enough, there is a shift into allowing what’s here. And that changes everything. It’s like returning to my home and lover after an absence.

Universal themes: finding a better way, and learning to love

As I wrote this article, there were a couple of minor song-synchronicites. When I wrote about the alternative, the song said “You can learn to love me, given time”. (Sting, A Practical Arrangement.) And when I wrote about the benefits of befriending our experience, “While fighting was useful…. there has to be a better way than this.” (Sting, The Pugalist.)

I don’t really take these as a synchronicities, more a reminder that this – the dynamic of learning to love and finding a better way than fighting – are universal themes.

And, of course, that I gravitate to musicians and song writers who have a general similar orientation to life as me.

Byron Katie: All thoughts are recycled

 

All thoughts are recycled.

– Byron Katie

Our stressful thoughts are recycled. They may seem very personal as long as we hold them as true. But they are variations of very old and familiar stressful thoughts for humanity. They are variations on universally stressful thoughts.

Any thought is stressful when it is believed. No thought is absolutely true and life will remind us of that, as will our mind which already knows. Believing a thought creates a position that’s not completely aligned with reality, and that’s inherently stressful.

I should also mention that, in a strict and literal sense, it’s not true that all thoughts are recycled. There are some new thoughts within science, philosophy, and art, although these too are usually variations on familiar themes. From what I know about Byron Katie, this is not what she refers to in her quote.

How my meditation practice changed when the CFS got stronger

 

I had a long meditation practice before the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome got significantly worse some years ago. I found I couldn’t continue my practice as before, and struggled with it for a while, until I started to find my way.

So how does it look now?

I do a very simple basic meditation of noticing and allowing. Notice what’s here. Allow it as it is. Notice it’s already allowed as it is. Adyashanti has some very good guided meditations on this, and Natural Rest is another way into it that works well. It’s also the basic meditation found in Buddhism.

I find heart-centered practices very helpful, including tonglen and ho’oponopno. This helps shift how I relate to myself, others, situations, parts of myself, and existence in general.

Pointers for noticing what I am are helpful, especially Headless experiments and (a simple version of) the Big Mind process.

Sometimes, I also do some inquiry, especially simple pointers like the ones from Adyashanti. How would I treat myself right now if I was someone I deeply care about? How would truth and love view this situation? And so on.

Beyond this, I sometimes do more in-depth inquiry, for instance through The Work of Byron Katie and Living Inquiries. And I do some somatic work, especially Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and Breema.

In general, I have found a more relaxed way of doing these practices. And it’s more about noticing what’s already here than creating anything or going somewhere.

Iceberg of thought

 

Most of us are aware of our conscious verbal self-talk. Many of us are also aware that we have other thoughts and assumptions that are less conscious, and for the most part, we only have a rough idea of what they are. For instance, we may have been in a situation that showed us that our assumptions about someone or something was wrong, and we were initially not even aware of having and operating from those assumptions.

The iceberg analogy works well for thoughts. We are aware of our conscious self-talk, which is the tip of the iceberg. And we also have and operate from a large number of other thoughts that influence – and to a large extent determine – how we experience life and what choices we make.

They form our most basic assumptions about ourselves, others, and life. They color our perceptions and choices. And they color our life as a whole.

Knowing this, it makes sense to explore and make some of these conscious, especially if they don’t serve our life as we would like it to be.

What does this iceberg look like?

As mentioned above, the tip of the iceberg is our conscious self-talk.

The part of the iceberg that’s under the metaphorical water consist of verbal self-talk and visualizations, words and images.

Some of these are about more peripheral things in our daily life and the world.

And some make up our most basic assumptions – about ourselves, others, the world, and life in general.

What are some examples of the below-the-water thoughts?

The particular combination of thoughts are individual. But there are more universal themes – especially for people within the same culture and subcultures.

I have images and stories about specific people in my life. She is my partner and have these qualities and relationships with me. This is my father and he is a certain way. And so on.

I have images and stories about countries and groups of people – including cultural and political groups. My images and stories determine what I think about them, how I see myself in relation to them, and who I like and don’t like so much.

I have images and stories about who and how I am. I have these qualities, roles, and identities, and not so much these others ones. I like these and don’t like those, and wish I had more of these.

I have images and stories about situations, how I am in relation to them, and what they mean about me and for me. One I am exploring right now is noise (the closest neighbor building is going to be torn down and rebuilt), and I see stories in me about being a victim, not being in control, and somehow being damaged by noise. Behind these are some early childhood memories.

Then we have our most basic assumptions about ourselves, others, and the world. These are, at least in my experience, mostly in the form of images, although it’s usually easy enough to set words to and elaborate on these images.

For instance, I find I have images of time – in the form of a timeline separated into present, future, and past. And I fit specific images (aka memories, scenarios) into each of these categories. I also have an image of me as a human being, a man, and so on. And of the world – the universe, planet, humanity, myself – both as separate objects (from my culture) and as a seamless whole (from my own conscious explorations).

How can we make these thoughts and assumptions more conscious?

The best way I have found is through different forms of inquiry, for instance The Work of Byron Katie and Living Inquiries which is a modern version of Buddhist inquiry.

The Work helps us be more conscious about our verbal thoughts, and – depending on the skill of the facilitator – can helps us go very deep in exploring both verbal and visual thoughts.

Living Inquiries more explicitly helps us explore both images and words, and also how they combine with sensations. We get to see how sensations lend a sense of substance, solidity, and truth to the thoughts, and how thoughts give a sense of meaning to their associated sensations.

Some additional reflections

I have seen people saying “I am not a racist” as a response to the recent focus on racism in the US and around the world. For me, this is an example of not being aware of what’s below the water. Just by living in our culture, we adopt racist thoughts – and for most of us, these are below the water. Even black people have these racist stereotypes, and probably reverse ones to compensate, just from living in this culture.

The One experiencing itself as many

 

Through noticing what’s here in immediacy, we can find a few things….

We may notice that the One experiences itself as many.

No-thing experiences itself as something.

Consciousness experiences itself as matter.

And sometimes….

The One experiences itself as separation.

Love as not-love.

Clarity as confusion.

It can help to use a more structured form of inquiry to notice this, for instance Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, or The Work of Byron Katie.

This is all what we can notice for ourselves here and now.

COSMOLOGY

And we can also see it in the universe as a whole. We can make it into a cosmology. (After all, any cosmology mirror us here and now.)

Existence is oneness experiencing itself as many. No-thing as something. Consciousness as matter.

And sometimes – locally and through us and other beings – oneness experiencing itself as separation, love as not-love, clarity as confusion.

MORE DETAIL

There is easily one or several books worth of material here if we want to go into more detail. I’ll just say a few words.

I find that I am capacity for the world as it appears to me – including this human self and any me or I or observer or doer. That’s the oneness. It all happens within and as what the mind may label consciousness. Within this oneness is immense diversity. The world is many. (It’s an overlay of thought that divides the world up in this way, and it’s a very useful function of thought.)

I find that no-thing experiences itself as something. What I am is no-thing full of the world as it appears to me. No-thing full of somethings. (Again, the somethings are separated from each other through an overlay of thought.)

Similarly, consciousness experiences itself as matter. What I am – and I assume what you are to yourself – can be labeled consciousness. The world as it appears to me happens within and as consciousness. And when thoughts label some things in the world matter, and sensations come in to lend a sense of substance to those thoughts, then consciousness experiences itself as matter.

Also, when these dividing lines created by thoughts – often in the form of mental images – are held as true, there is an experience of separation. So the One experiences itself as separate, as an I here and others out there.

When thoughts are held as true, the mind can tell itself that this human has been wronged, is a victim, and so on. And then love – which is another word for oneness – experiences itself as not-love.

And when the mind takes thoughts as true, clarity – which is yet another word for oneness – can experience itself as confusion.

STRUCTURED FORMS OF INQUIRY

We can all (?) find this for ourselves, and structured forms of noticing – AKA inquiry – can help here.

Headless experiments can help us find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us – including anything connected with this human self and any I or me or observer or doer.

The Big Mind process can help us find ourselves as Big Mind (AKA capacity full of the world), Big Heart, and a variety of other aspects of what and who we are.

Living Inquiry – which is based on traditional Buddhist inquiry – can help us explore in detail how thoughts (words and mental images) combine with sensations to create our experience. Specifically, it’s helpful to notice how the mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, and these thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations, and the sensation give the thoughts a sense of substance, reality, and even truth.

The Work of Byron Katie is a great help in exploring thoughts we take as true, and in finding what’s more true for us in our own direct experience.

There are many other forms of inquiry out there as well, which may work as well or better for you. These are just the ones I happen to be familiar with.

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Byron Katie: Life will bring us everything we need

 

Life will bring us everything we need, to show us what we haven’t undone yet.

– Byron Katie

What does Byron Katie mean by “what we haven’t undone yet”? I assume she specifically means stressful beliefs we haven’t examined and seen through. And indirectly, she means any unresolved emotional issues, traumas, wounds, and hangups.

How does this work? How does life brings us what we need to shows us what we haven’t undone yet?

I can find a few different ways.

We tend to perceive and act on what we haven’t undone, life responds and gives us feedback on this, and this is life’s invitation to us to notice what’s left in us and undo it.

Our mind tends to go to what’s not yet undone in us, and what’s not yet undone also tends to bubble up on its own. In a sense, our mind seeks to understand and resolve what’s not yet undone, and what’s not yet undone seeks to be met, understood, loved, and resolved.

And equally important, life is rich and brings us a lot of different things, and most of us have a lot we haven’t undone yet. So some of what life brings us will inevitably show us some of what we haven’t undone yet. If we pay attention, we may notice this daily and even in just about every situation we are in.

Is there something even beyond this? Yes, I am sure I can find more concrete examples. And I am sure there is more outside of what I am aware of.

Wanting what’s here

 

I just (re)listened to the audiobook version of On Having No Head by Douglas Harding, mostly because it’s a relief to listen to someone taking such a simple, grounded, sane, and pragmatic approach to awakening (!)

Towards the end, he talks about actively wanting what’s here.

Why would we want what’s here?

We are capacity for what’s here – our human self and the wider world as it appears to us. It happens within and as what we are. It’s us in whatever form it happens to take here and now. So why not welcome it?

What’s here is here. It’s too late to do something about it. So why struggle with it? Struggle only creates suffering. It makes more sense to actively want what’s here. This also frees us up to be engaged and work on changing situations as needed.

The wanting-what’s-here pointer is a touchstone. It shows us how we relate to what’s coming up in us. Is it easy for us to genuinely welcome it? Or is there an impulse in us to avoid it or make it go away? And do we join in with that impulse or do we notice that it too happens within what we are capacity for? Having the pointer in the back of our mind can help us notice when suffering – unawake and unhealed – parts of us are triggered, and also whether we join in with it or notice ourselves as what it happens within and as – just like anything else.

How does it look in practice?

It’s a welcoming of what’s already here because we can’t do anything about it and struggling with it doesn’t help or make any sense. What’s coming up for our human self is already here. The situation our human self is in is already here. So why not join in with it and actively want it? Also, it’s what we already are so why not welcome it as another expression of the creativity of what we are?

It does not mean to be passive or resigned. We can still actively work to change the situation and circumstances we are in – or someone else is in. Often, wanting what’s here frees up our response. Instead of reacting we can respond a little more intentionally. There is access to more kindness, clarity, wisdom, and creativity.

How can we find this active welcoming?

When we notice ourselves as capacity for what’s here, including anything coming up in our human self, it’s easier to notice it all as happening within and as what we are and find a genuine and active welcoming and wanting of what’s here.

Said another way, the welcoming and actively wanting it is already here. It’s what we already are. So when we find ourselves as capacity for what’s here, we also find this welcoming and wanting.

Why don’t we always notice what we are?

Perhaps we haven’t noticed. Or we have noticed but don’t take it seriously. Or we don’t see any practical use of it.

Or we do notice and we take it seriously, and yet sometimes get pulled into old beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas, and “forget” for a while.

How can we notice what we are?

To have an initial glimpse of what we are, and to keep noticing in daily life, it helps to have some pointers. For me, the most effective one has been the Headless Way, Big Mind process (based on Voice Dialog and Zen), and Living Inquiries (a modern version of traditional Buddhist inquiry).

How can we train this noticing even when emotional issues come up?

There are two elements that stands out to me.

One is how we relate to what’s coming up in this human self. Do we get caught in it or do we notice it as happening within and as what we are?

The other is inviting in healing and awakening for any suffering parts of us surfacing, the one still operating from separation consciousness.

These two mutually support each other.

Noticing what we are while bringing presence into the suffering parts helps them relax and feel seen and loved. They receive what they need and want.

And inviting these suffering parts of us to heal and awaken makes it easier to notice what we are even when they are triggered. Some or most of the charge goes out of them.

I have written a lot about this in other articles so won’t go into it here.

What if we notice the shift is close?

If we are in a situation where we notice that the shift into actively welcoming what’s here is close, then a small pointer or question may be helpful. For instance:

How would it be to want what’s here?

Even if there are things coming up in my human self, I can often find this shift. And I can still notice what’s coming up in me and later get to know it better and invite in healing and awakening for it.

How does the overall process look?

Douglas Harding talks about seven stages or phases. I’ll just mention a very simplified version here.

First, there is an initial glimpse or noticing. This is always spontaneous although it can come without any apparent preparation or through inquiry or other spiritual practices.

Then, there is taking this seriously and wishing to continue exploring it and how to live from it in our daily life.

A part of this exploration is to investigate what happens when the mind gets pulled into old separation consciousness. We get more experience in noticing ourselves as capacity through more and more experiences, states, and life situations. And we invite in healing and awakening for the parts of us still stuck in suffering and separation consciousness.

As we keep doing this, the noticing becomes more stable and continues more often even when emotional issues surface.

Is Douglas Harding the only one talking about this?

Not at all, it’s common for mystics from all times and traditions to talk about it. Christian mystics may talk about God’s and my will becoming one. Byron Katie talks about loving what is. And so on.

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Byron Katie: Happiness may look entirely different from the way you imagine it

 

Happiness may look entirely different from the way you imagine it.

– Byron Katie

We have ideas of how a happy life looks. We have ideas about what life situations we need to be happy. Perhaps it’s health, money, a loving relationship or something else.

And yet, life may surprise us.

We may find ourselves in a very different situation than we imagined and find happiness there. We may live in a different place than we imagined. Do different type of work. Be in a relationship with someone we didn’t imagine. And find that we are very happy in that situation.

We may also find that happiness is less dependent on specific circumstances than we thoughts. We may find ourselves with an illness and perhaps without money or a partner. And still find happiness. We may find happiness in situations we imagined would be terrible and didn’t want at all, and perhaps still wish were different.

How is that possible? It’s possible through questioning our stressful beliefs about what is and what should be. Through questioning our stressful beliefs about anything in our life. And through questioning our most basic assumptions about ourselves and life.

Sometimes, this questioning is a natural and organic process and happens as part of our life. Sometimes, we can fuel it a bit through more structured inquiry and perhaps with the assistance of others who know the process.

The Work of Byron Katie is one way to do this.

Inquiries as a structured reflection of how a clear and awake mind naturally functions

 

I love inquiries like headless experiments, the Big Mind process, The Work of Byron Katie, and the Living Inquiries.

They are all structured forms of a noticing that happens naturally when there is more awakening and more clarity. They reflect how a more awake and clear mind functions. They function as training wheels and stepping stones until we find that clarity for ourselves and it happens more naturally and fluidly here too. And no matter what clarity and awakeness are there, they can show us more.

Headless experiments reflect how an awake mind notices itself and the world, as capacity for the world.

The Big Mind process does the same while including a dialog with and among sub-personalitites. This dialog is something that happens more naturally in a mind that’s clear, healed, and used to working with parts of our human self.

The Work examines what happens when our mind holds a thought as true, how it would be without holding it as true, and the genuine validity in the reversals of the initial thought. This reflects a natural examination of thoughts that happen in a more clear and awake mind.

Living Inquiries helps us explore how the mind associated thoughts and sensations, and how sensations lend a sense of solidity to thoughts so they seem more true, and thoughts lend a story to sensations so they seem to mean something. This allows the “glue” binding them together to soften and perhaps even fall away. This reflects what happens more naturally in a mind that’s clear and awake and used to examine these things in a more finely-grained way.

So these inquiries – in their essence – reflect natural processes in a more awake and clear mind. And for anyone of us, I imagine they can help us explore certain things in an even more finely-grained way.

Tools for emotional emergencies

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMPLIFY / RELEASE

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

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

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

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

BE KIND WITH YOURSELF

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

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

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

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

ATTENTION TO PHYSICAL SENSATIONS

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

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

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

BREATH

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

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

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

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

NATURE & PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

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

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

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

MORE STRUCTURED APPROACHES

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

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

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

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

The Treachery of Images

 
The Treachery of Images by René Magritte, 1929

To our conscious mind, it’s obvious. It’s not a pipe. It’s a painting of a pipe. We know that an image of something is not the thing itself.

And yet, at some level, we often don’t understand this. Somewhere in us, we tend to hold certain mental images and thoughts as not only telling us something true about reality, but what they tell us as reality itself.

We are confused. We may not even notice what’s happening. And we create a lot of stress and suffering for ourselves that way.

What’s the solution? The first may be to be aware of what’s happening. Identify stressful thoughts. Notice they are thoughts and not reality. Investigate the thoughts.

How do we investigate thoughts? It may be easiest to start with a slightly structured process, for instance The Work of Byron Katie or Living Inquiries.

The Work helps us see what happens when we hold a thought as true, how it would be to not, and to find the validity in the reversals of the thought.

Living Inquires helps us see how our mind combined thoughts with sensations. Sensations lend a sense of substance, truth, and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations. Through this examination the “glue” holding thoughts and sensations together softens and there is more space to notice what’s going on.

If we want to go one step further, identify and investigate your most basic assumptions about yourself, others, and the world. Question what seems the most true and obvious. What do you find?

Questioning our most basic assumptions may seem like a luxury or something we do mostly out of curiosity. But we may find it’s surprisingly liberating.

Trauma and awakening

 

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

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

What are some types of trauma?

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

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

What is trauma?

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

What role does trauma play before awakening?

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

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

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

What about trauma following – or within – awakening?

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

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

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

How do we deal with overwhelming trauma?

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

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

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

How do healing and awakening go together?

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Adrien Aletti on Unsplash

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Awakening is differentiation

 

Awakening is not just oneness. It’s also differentiation.

Without differentiation, there is no awakening. At least, if we start out from separation consciousness and wish to see what awakening is about. And if we wish to actively support clarification, deepening, and embodiment of the awakening.

So what is it we need to differentiate?

Mainly, the difference between thoughts and reality. Obviously, a thought is as real – or unreal – as anything else. But what it says about reality has varying degrees of truth to it, and even the most accurate thought has no final or ultimate truth to it.

We may know this at a superficial conscious level. We may hear it and tell ourselves I know that. But the reality is often different. At some level, we – our system – takes several thoughts as true even if we consciously may know it isn’t. It requires a much deeper exploration to see this and see through it so the “glue” making these thoughts seem real weakens. (Our mind’s magical truth-glue that makes something that’s not completely true seem true.)

How is this connected to awakening?

When we – at any level – hold a thought as true, there is automatically identification with the thought’s viewpoint. We experience ourselves as the viewpoint of the thought. And that creates a sense of being something within the content of experience – within the world, and an I with the rest of existence as Other.

What the thought is about doesn’t really matter. Taking any thought as ultimately true – somewhere in our system – creates this dynamic. Although some of the core ones are thoughts saying we are a human being, a me, an I, a doer, an observer, and so on.

How can I explore this differentiation?

Through inquiry, whether natural, organic, and unstructured or more structured.

Structured inquiry can be a good way to start, and can help us go deeper wherever we are in the process. And the more natural and unstructured inquiry helps us trust our own wisdom and guidance. (Especially when we already are somewhat familiar with the terrain, perhaps with the help of structured inquiry.)

For me, a combination of Headless experiments (Douglas Harding), the Big Mind process (Genpo Roshi), The Work of Byron Katie, and Living Inquiries (modern version of traditional Buddhist inquiry) has been helpful. But there are many other approaches out there.

What about other forms of differentiation?

Yes, there is the conventional form of differentiation and discernment we need in daily life, to function in the world.

The differentiation I wrote about above is helpful for awakening and also healing for our human self. The daily life differentiation and discernment is essential for us to function in the world.

Just as what and who we are – oneness and this human self – these two forms of differentiation are two sides of the same coin.

Conspiracy theory literacy

 

I thought I would write a few words about conspiracy theories.

What’s my personal relationship with conspiracy theories?

In general, I don’t have much time for them. But I am interested in the psychology behind conspiracy theories.

How do I see the bigger picture around conspiracy theories?

Historically, actually conspiracies have been uncovered by investigative reporters or government officials. Not by smallish online communities.

What we know is going on in the world is far more serious than the topic of most or all conspiracy theories. We know we are in the middle of an ecological crisis. We know huge portions of humanity lives in poverty while others have more than they need. We know large corporations influence policies to benefit themselves at the cost of nearly everyone else. We know we live within an economic system that doesn’t take ecological realities into account. All of this deserve our attention far more than most or all conspiracy theories.

How do I see them reflecting us?

I wonder if not conspiracy theories serve emotional needs.

For instance….

Does it feel better to think I know something others don’t? That I am a part of a small select group that knows?

Does it feel better to blame someone?

Does it feel better to think that a small group of people have done something instead of social and economic structures? (For instance, economic inequality, poverty, lack of political power.)

Does it feel better to think a few humans have done something instead of the randomness of nature? (For instance, the C19 virus.)

Does it feel better to think we know instead of not knowing? (Even if we cannot know anything for certain.)

Do the scary conspiracy stories feed into a familiar identity or set of beliefs? For instance, that I am a victim? Powerless? Abused? That those in authority always abuse their power. That important things happen that I don’t know about?

And I wonder if conspiracy theories mirror something in us that deserve attention.

For instance….

What are my stressful beliefs connected with conspiracy theories, or a particular theory? Whether I believe it, fear it, or am frustrated that people seem to believe it. What do I find when I investigate these thoughts? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

What does it say about me? That I am a victim? Powerless? Abused by those in power? Smarter than those who go into conspiracy theories? What do I find when I explore how my mind creates these identities? What do I find when I explore fears around this? What do I find when I explore compulsions in relation to this? (Living Inquiries.)

How can we relate to conspiracy theories in a way that makes more sense?

Media literacy is crucial here, along with awareness of cognitive biases and emotional reasoning.

Also, as mentioned above, if conspiracy theories trigger something in us – whether we get caught in them or react to them as nonsense – it’s good to take a look at what they trigger.

What’s the even bigger picture?

The even bigger picture is that all of this is the play of life, the universe, or the divine. It’s all part of life, the universe, or the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself – also as conspiracy theories and how we relate to them.

Reminding ourselves of this can help us shift out of us vs them thinking and into all of us thinking. It can give us a slightly different context that can make all the difference – whether we chose to pursue conspiracy theories or not and whatever we think about them.

See below….

For my initial and more detailed drafts of this article. I chose to make this version simpler where the essence isn’t buried in details.

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Adyashanti: You are the recipient, not the creator, of experiences

 

You are the recipient, not the creator, of experiences

– Adyashanti

Everything happens on its own. And then there may be a thought saying “I did that”.

This is an ongoing exploration and noticing for me.

Within stories, I see that everything – including feelings, thoughts, actions, identification and so on – has innumerable causes. I take one thing, find a cause, and can find one more, and one more. Everything that happens is a local expression of movements within the whole. Everything that happens has causes stretching back to the beginning of the universe (if there is one) and to the greatest extent of the universe.

In immediacy, I notice a thought happen, an emotion happen, an action happen. They happen within and as awakeness. (The normal awakeness everyone experiences.) They happen on their own.

I may also notice a thought saying “I did it” and a sensation that seems connected with it. And that happens on its own too.

I can pay attention to one sense field at a time – physical sensations, sounds, sight, smell, taste, thought – and notice how things appear in each one. They appear and vanish without a trace. (Apart from perhaps reflected in thought.)

With Living Inquiries (based on traditional Buddhist inquiry), I explore identities – the thinker, the doer, the observer, and so on.

With The Work of Byron Katie, I can explore thoughts – I did that, I am the one creating this feeling, I am the one creating this thought, I am the one who created this action.

I can also explore the thought that “everything happens on its own” and see what I find. Is there something in me that want to hold onto the thought? Rehearse it? That get more attached to the thought than noticing what it refers to? Does that thought too happen on its own?

Why projections are essential

 

In daily life language, projections are sometimes referred to as slightly out of the ordinary and undesirable. You are projecting often means you are seeing something in me / them that’s really in you.

That’s not wrong. But there is a lot more to projections and they are a lot more rich and interesting – and even valuable.

The most basic form of projection is an overlay of thought on the world. We add labels, associations, stories and so on to a lot of things in the world, including ourselves. And that’s a projection. We “project” out the thoughts and ideas onto the world, and that’s essential for us to orient and navigate in the world. We wouldn’t function without it.

Sometimes, we are aware of what’s going on and we hold our projected thoughts and ideas lightly and as questions. (As they are.) And sometimes we mistakenly take our projected thoughts as true and inherent in the world “out there”. (And that creates stress and a lot of other things.)

When I say “overlay of thoughts on the world”, it’s a shortcut since “the world” is part of the overlay. It’s really an overlay of thought on the (other) sense fields – on sensations, sight, sounds, taste, smell, movement, and so on.

The other form of projections is charged projections. This is the one often referred to in daily life and pop culture. I see something “out there” in the wider world and not in myself, or the other way around.

That, in itself, can be without much or any charge. And when there is a charge around it, it’s because it’s part of the dynamic of an emotional issue, belief, or identification. (The charge comes from our mind associating certain sensations with the thought or story. The sensations lend charge and a sense of truth and solidity to the thoughts, and the thoughts give the sensations a sense of meaning.)

Why are charged projections essential?

They are essential to the emotional issue they are connected with. For instance, when we have a belief or identity saying that we are not this or that, then we have to see it in others and the world and not in ourselves. We create a mental filter that sets it up that way. These projections are typically integral parts of beliefs, identifications, and emotional issues.

And they are essential because when we project something out in this way, we can get familiar with it “out there”. We get to see it and explore it as if it’s (only) in another person or in the world somewhere. And in that is an invitation for us to see it in ourselves.

We have something in ourselves – a quality or characteristic – that we are not admitting to. We get to see it out there in others and the world. And though that, and perhaps feedback from others and the world, we have the possibility to get to know it in ourselves.

The projection is a necessary stepping stone and part of the process.

How can we explore our charged projections?

The first step is perhaps to be aware of this dynamic and explore it through specific examples in our own life or what we see in others. (Trump does it frequently and shamelessly so he is perhaps a good example.)

We can also learn to recognize the signs of charged projections. For instance, defensiveness, blame, annoyance, and any time a topic feels charged to us.

And we can use more structured approaches like parts work (subpersonalities), The Work of Byron Katie (very effective), and Living Inquiries (based on traditional Buddhist inquiry).

How can we explore the basic projections?

We can again be aware of the dynamic and see if we can notice it in daily life. For instance, look around where you are now. Close your eyes. Notice the mental images you have of your surroundings. These are created by your mind and are imaginations. Open your eyes again and see if you can notice the difference between the sensory impressions and this mental overlay that organizes and makes sense of your surroundings.

Two of the best structured approaches to explore this that I have found are Living Inquiries and The Work of Byron Katie.

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Supporting the natural healing and awakening process

 

Most approaches to healing and awakening support the natural processes of healing and awakening that seem inherent to us and life.

What are some of the characteristics of the natural healing and awakening process?

For healing emotional issues, one essential is to be brutally honest about our stressful and emotional-issue creating thoughts. Is it really true? What’s the grain of truth in it? What’s more true than the initial thought? Another is to meet the feelings, allow them, perhaps befriend them, perhaps notice them as physical sensations.

For awakening, the essence is perhaps to notice that all content of experience comes and goes, and yet something doesn’t come and go. What experiences happens within and as doesn’t come and go. Perhaps that’s more what we are than any content of experience – like this human self, or any me or I?

These processes often happen organically, although it can take time and the process can get stuck for a while. That’s why some people have developed more structured ways to support these processes.

If the structured approaches are done with sincerity and under guidance of someone with experience, skills, insights, and experience in working through things on their own, then they often work. (If we try to “push” our system to conform to whatever ideas we have about healing or awakening, it can – in the worst case – create more emotional issues and stronger separation consciousness.)

In general, structural approaches to emotional healing mimic the natural processes of a mind that’s already relatively healed – and one that operates from some sincerity, clarity, insight, and experience – when it relates to and invites in healing for parts of itself.

For awakening, they mimic the processes of an already mostly awake mind to awaken less awake parts of itself.

Here are a few examples:

Emotional healing often involves a shift in how we relate to ourselves and the world. It involves coming to terms with, find peace with, and befriending different aspects of reality. Inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries) helps us see through stressful beliefs and consciously be a little more aligned with reality. Heart-centered practices like all-inclusive gratitude practices helps us reorient and befriend. Therapeutic tremoring (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) releases tension out of the body which makes befriending a little easier. Inquiry practices (Big Mind process, Headless experiments) that gives us a glimpse of what we are also invites a shift and reorientation in how we relate to the different aspects of reality.

Emotional healing also involves finding healing for specific emotional issues, and much of what I wrote in the previous section also applies here. Emotional issues are held in place by – among other things – beliefs and identifications, and inquiry can help us see through these. Heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopono) can help us shift out of the fear-based core of many emotional issues. Therapeutic tremoring helps release the tension out of the body that otherwise fuels emotional issues and stress. Noticing what we are (Big Mind, Headless experiments) can support emotional issues in resolving within this new context.

Awakening is a natural process, although one that doesn’t come to conscious fruition in most people’s lives. It’s supported by most of the traditional spiritual practices. Basic meditation (notice + allow) helps us notice what we are, and helps what we are notice itself. Heart-centered approaches helps us reorient in the way we naturally do in the context of awakening. Inquiry helps us see what’s already more true for us and align more consciously with reality. Inquiry practices like the Big Mind process and Headless experiments gives us a taste of what we are, helps what we are notice itself, and help us explore how to live from this context.

Since divine or energy healing is the approach I mostly explore these days, I’ll say a few words about it separately, and focusing on Vortex Healing which I am most familiar with:

Vortex Healing (VH) also supports the natural healing and awakening processes. Although it’s one of the approaches I have found that’s the most versatile and powerful, and I know very well it works from many experiences channeling for others and receiving, I still don’t have a clear sense of exactly how it works apart from the basics. It uses divine energy and consciousness to invite the body and mind to heal, and to remove energetic structures that allows the divine to temporarily and locally take itself to be separate – and this opens for awakening.

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Ordinary wisdom

 

One of the things we tend to notice when we do inquiry – for instance The Work of Byron Katie – is that everyone has a lot of wisdom. It’s not reserved for a privileged few. It’s something we all have in us and can tap into and apply in our everyday life.

These pandemic days reminds me of this. I see a lot of amazing, kind, real, wisdom from very ordinary people. In challenging times, we can go into reactivity to fear, or we can tap into the wisdom that’s already here in all of us.

The Work of Byron Katie Helpline

 

A few years ago, when I was in the middle of a difficult time in my own life, I found the The Work of Byron Katie helpline very helpful.

These days, a lot of things come up for people for a variety of reasons, so I thought I would share this resource here.

It’s free and you don’t need any experience with The Work or other forms of inquiry. The facilitator you work with will help you with each step in the process. It’s a gentle process and can be – especially if you are very sincere – profoundly transformative.

How does it work? Select a stressful situation. Fill out a Judge Your Neighbor (JYN) worksheet. And take each stressful thought through the four questions and the turnarounds.

This helps us identify the stressful thoughts which, in itself, can be helpful. Sometimes, these thoughts can simmer in us without us being aware of exactly what they say or are about. It helps us see that the initial stressful thoughts may not be true or true in the way we took them. It helps us find other angles that may be as or more true for us. And through this, there is typically a sense of relief and quieting down. (If there isn’t, it’s often because there may be other stressful thoughts we haven’t identified yet.)

Through this process, we may also identify underlying – more basic – stressful thoughts, which we can then take through the inquiry.

As most or all (?) catalysts for healing and awakening, the formal steps of The Work mimics how our mind works when it is more awake and healed. It helps us find our own wisdom, answers, and what’s true for us. And if we do it regularly over time, it comes alive in us in daily life.

The Work of Byron Katie as shadow work

 

In a Facebook group for The Work of Byron Katie, someone asked for recommendations for how to do shadow work. For me, the most obvious answer is to do The Work! It’s a direct and powerful approach to working with projections in general and the shadow in particular.

In The Work we….

(a) Project out on someone or something else, and do so with pettiness and without much if any filter. (This is the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.)

(b) Examine what happens when we believe the thought(s). In this process, we also get a more detailed sense of what we see in the other. (Step three in TW.)

(c) Turn the initial thought around in several different ways. This includes finding in ourselves what we see in the other, with several specific and genuine examples. (Turnarounds.)

The process helps us (a) project without holding back, (b) examine this projection, and (c) find what we see in the other (also) in ourselves.

Each step helps make the process gentler and together they make it easier to find in ourselves what we see in the other, recognize it, own it, and – often – experience relief from (finally) finding it in ourselves.

After a while, after doing this process many times, it also becomes easier to do this spontaneously in daily life. The inquiry lives in us.

What is the shadow? It’s whatever qualities and characteristics in us we deny, reject, or overlook, and see more in others (and the world in general) than in ourselves. It’s whatever doesn’t fit the image we have of ourselves or want to have of ourselves. It’s whatever it’s easier for us to recognize in others than in ourselves.

It’s often what we and our culture sees as undesirable, although – depending on our image of ourselves – it can also be qualities our culture generally see as desirable qualities. (In some cases, our own gentleness, kindness, wisdom and so on may become our shadow.)

As we work on our own shadow, the ideas of desirable and undesirable tend to soften and are recognized as our own ideas and culturally created. Even the apparently undesirable qualities and characteristics have something of value in them. By recognizing them in ourselves we become more whole and real human beings. We have a far greater repertoire. We learn to relate to these parts of us in a more conscious way and make use of these parts of us in a more conscious and constructive way. And we realize – in a more visceral sense – that we are all in the same boat.

What I see in you is also in me. And – if you are like me – what you see in me is also in you.

And that’s perhaps more important than holding onto rigid ideas of me as inherently better or worse than you.

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All our thoughts: A human invention

 

This Christmas, a Norwegian author (Ari Behn) committed suicide. A close friend of him said he was tormented by feeling that his work was not good enough. I don’t know if that was the reason for his suicide, or how large part it played, but it was a reminder for me.

All our ideas are a human invention. All our shoulds. All our ideas about how our life should be. All our ideas of not living up to an ideal. All our “standards” that we live up to or not.

Why do we take it so seriously when it’s all a human invention?

These ideas and shoulds are not inherent in life. They are not prescribed by life or God or anything at all apart from the human mind. All our thoughts – all our words, ideas, world views, ideals, values and so on – were once created by an ordinary human being like you and me.

They are a human invention. Why take it so seriously? Why torment yourself with these human inventions?

Why take what thoughts say so seriously? They are just questions about the world. They are innocent. None of them reflect any absolute or final truth.

Of course, we are trained to believe our thoughts. For some reason, our society and culture encourages us to believe certain thoughts. I see how it’s a useful way to control people. But it also creates a lot of (unnecessary) suffering.

Why not instead teach people how to question their thoughts? Why not teach this as a Life 101 theme in school?

The most useful approach I have found to do this is inquiry. For instance, The Work of Byron Kate and the Living Inquiries.

Note: The family of Ari Behn were were open about it being suicide. The idea that it’s shameful or something to hide is another human invention, and a very old-fashioned one at that. It seems far better to be open about it. It reduces speculation. And it can generate very helpful conversations about suicide and how to support people who are going through difficult times.

Note 2: When I say that our thoughts are a human invention, it’s not entirely accurate. Yes, the content of our thoughts and what’s held as true and not was invented by someone, and reinvented each time someone decided to take it on for themselves. And yet, this is all the processes of life. Life came up with thoughts, and life came up with what thoughts to take as true and not. Ultimately, it’s all the play of life or the universe or the divine.

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Adyashanti: As soon as you move out of truth

 

As soon as you move out of truth, you feel it, kinesthetically; you feel it in your body when you’ve disconnected.

– Adyashanti, Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic, chapter 6

One of my current favorite ways of exploring this is the “I can if I want” test.

I can […] if I want, and I want. I can […[ if I want, and I don’t want.

Say each one to yourself and see how your body responds. Does it tense? Does it relax? (Tension is a “no”, relaxation and relief is a “yes”.)

In the last few days, I have had a slight dilemma on whether to use antibiotics or not. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but I have had an infection over several days that didn’t get better. So I said to myself I can take antibiotics if I want, and I want and noticed how my body responded, and then checked I can take antibiotics if I want, and I don’t want. The first one felt like a relief in my body, and the second tension and stress. So I went with my body, got the antibiotics, took it and it felt like a relief. (Of course, my doctor’s advice is primary in this case, but he had left it open for me to decide so I did.)

This is obviously a much bigger topic. It’s not just about everyday or life decisions. It’s also – and perhaps mainly – about the stories we tell ourselves and how we take them. Whenever we tell ourselves an untrue story – a stressful or painful story – our body tenses up. And when we find what’s truer for us, our body relaxes and it’s a relief.

And yes, I know that can sound a bit naive. Most of us would say that some true stories are stressful. And yet, this is what I have found over and over through – for instance – inquiry. The more true stories and interpretations feel like a relief. Something falls into place. My body can relax.

I have written a lot about this in other articles so I won’t go into it much here. But I’ll say that one relief-giving insight is that no story reflects an absolute or final truth. I can hold all of them lightly, as a question. And there is always some validity in the reversals of any story, and seeing that is also a relief. And we have to discover this for ourselves, by examining one specific stressful story at a time.

Why does the body respond in this way? My take on it is that somewhere, we always know when we tell ourselves something not (entirely) true, and when we take it as more true and final than it is, and that is reflected in the body. Our mind tenses up, and so does the body.

We know what we tell ourselves is not true in the way we tell it to ourselves, the seamless whole of our mind-body tenses up, and that’s a sign we are telling an untruth to ourselves and an invitation to find what’s genuinely more true for us.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Own inquiry: The Universe doesn’t love me

 

These are brief notes from a three+ hour juicy, rich, and powerful inquiry session.

The situation was Monday when I “crashed” (due to CFS) after shoveling snow in the morning, and also was disappointed because a humidifier I had bought didn’t work. As I did the work, I noticed the original situation was from when I was a baby so I included that as a second situation.

I realize these notes will mostly make sense for those who are familiar with The Work of Byron Katie. And inquiry is only juicy and rich if you do it yourself, ideally with an experienced and skilled facilitator. You can do it for free on the The Work Helpline with experienced facilitators.

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Summary of Main Insights / Living Turnarounds

There are a lot of notes here so I’ll summarize some of the main insights and guidelines I am bringing into daily life. These are turnarounds to the initial stressful thoughts that especially hit home and felt juicy to me, and that I am bringing into daily life as reminders and guidelines.

  • If the universe is neutral, I am the one who has to give me what I want – safety, love, support.
  • I am cruel and unloving. Any time I believe stressful thoughts, I am cruel and unloving to myself. I can stop the reactivity and the pain.
  • I need me to allow things to fall into place for me. To not hinder it, as I have done many times in life, because of my own scary thoughts about it.
  • The universe gives me what I want. I notice that often, it does eventually. And it gives me what I want deeper down, which is to be shown reality so I can align with it more consciously.
  • The universe shouldn’t love me – more than it already does. It’s already giving me a lot. Family, friends, partners, shelter, food, travels, the opportunity to explore myself and life, living in a wealthy country, delicious food, nourishing cups of herbal and spice teas, and much more.
  • The Universe shouldn’t give me what I feel I need. Because I don’t need it. It shows me I don’t need it. And it invites me to explore my beliefs about needing it, and – if it still seems like something I would like – any beliefs that may stop me from having it in my life.

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Until the mind is completely satisfied

 

When it comes to aligning the mind more consciously with reality, the mind won’t rest until it’s completely satisfied.

Why would we want to align the mind more consciously with reality? Aligning our mind more consciously with reality is the essence of emotional healing, and it’s the essence of befriending life (aka awakening). It’s what we are drawn to beneath all our surface desires, wants, and perceived needs.

What does it mean that the mind is not completely satisfied? As long as we are consciously out of alignment with reality, in one or more areas of life, or parts of our human psyche is out of alignment with reality, our mind will be dissatisfied. It will be restless, uneasy, caught up in perceived neediness, and more.

It will keep showing itself what’s left, what’s still unaligned.

It seems like an impossibly tall order to have our conscious view and the orientation of all parts of our human psychology aligned with reality. And, yes, it is. It’s a direction more than a goal. It’s a journey that’s endlessly fascinating (at least for me), challenging, and rewarding.

When I do The Work of Byron Katie, I notice this in miniature. If there is something important I haven’t discovered yet in the inquiry session, I feel it. My mind and body is still tense. There is unease. There is a sense of missing something. So I keep going until I find it, often with the help of an experienced, skilled, and patient facilitator.

How does our mind, in general, show itself what’s left? It does so any time anything is triggered in us, any time we are reactive, any time there is a sense of stress, unease, and discomfort.

Note: I noticed I wrote “my mind and body is” even though I know it’s grammatically incorrect. I decided to keep it. It’s accurate in that the mind and body are just labels of aspects of the same seamless system. It’s singular and not really plural. Of course, all of existence is singular in that sense.

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The benefits of knowing it’s all selfish

 

There are many benefits to knowing that what I am doing is selfish, even when it also seems kind.

It aligns me with reality and truth and I avoid the stress of pretending something else.

It’s easier for me to take care of my own needs so I am in a better position to live the life I want.

I am less prone to burnout. I am less likely to tell me I am doing it for someone else so there is less chance of resentment.

It’s easier for me to stay in my own business. I am less likely to go into blame, victimhood and so on.

There is less sense of self-importance. I know I am doing it for myself so I can’t so easily use it to boost a false sense of self-importance or tell myself I am better than others. 

If I don’t immediately see how what I am doing is selfish, how can I explore or find it? Here are a couple of suggestions.

If I tell myself I am doing something because I need to, I can write down the “need” statement first (“I need to drive the kids to school bc there are no busses”) and then change it to a “want” statement (“I want to drive the kids to school because I want them to have a good education, and I enjoy spending the extra time with them”).

If I tell myself I am doing something noble or altruistic or for someone else, I can ask myself what I get out of it. Here is an example: I moved to Wisconsin to support my wife in her education. What did I get out of it? In what ways did I do it for myself, for my own reasons? It made me feel good to support her. I wanted the best for her. I got to be with her. I got to apply for US residency which I wanted. I got to be a good husband and see myself that way. All of that was selfish, and some of it selfish in the best way.

The Work of Byron Katie is also a great way to explore if what I am doing is selfish, and to find that it is, in the best way, and that it’s completely innocent. (At least, that’s what I have found so far. I am open to discover something else.)

I’ll add a few examples I have found for myself. When I do something that seems kind, for someone else, and in the interest of the larger whole, I do it because it feels good. I am aligned with my guidance. I know all is interconnected so I am really doing it for myself, for the whole I am intrinsic part of. I notice it’s all happening within and as what I am, so it is – as they say in Zen – like the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

Sometimes, I may do something because it makes me look good. It feeds into a desired self-image or how I want others and myself to see me. It can make someone like me. All of that is also selfish and when I look I find it’s innocent. It’s what we humans do when we are caught up in stressful thoughts and neediness.

So yes, when I have looked, I have found that what I do – even when my mind tells me I need to do it or what I do out of kindness – is selfish. It’s often selfish in the best way. It’s innocent. And it’s a huge relief to admit to myself it’s selfish and it comes with many benefits to see it.

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Does The Work only work at the thought level?

 

Does The Work of Byron Katie only work at the thought level?

That’s one of the concerns I have heard from people new to The Work, and it was one of my initial concerns as well.

In my experience, The Work can go very deep and can be life-changing. Especially when I follow the simple instructions and I am facilitated by someone trained in and experienced with The Work. When I stay with the situation, get close, use some of the subquestions (for number 3), feel what’s happening in my body, go back in time to my earliest experiences with the stressful thought, and also look at my scary images of the future. When I am still, get close, and take time to find genuine examples for each turnaround. And when I select a juicy living turnaround and bring it into and apply it in my daily life.

In addition to the obvious cognitive shifts, I often feel energetic and emotional shifts when I do The Work, and I do notice how my life changes when I bring the living turnarounds into my daily life.

The Work can be “just” a cognitive exercise if we take it that way, and it often stays at that level if we don’t follow the simple instructions or don’t have a skilled and experienced facilitator. And it can be profoundly life transforming if we do.

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Faking that it is a problem

 

I have noticed a low-grade fear that others will think I am faking illness (CFS). Since it’s a stressor in my life, I wanted to explore it through inquiry, and in this case The Work. Even before getting into the more structured inquiry, my facilitator suggested a perspective that made something fall into place for me.

I am faking that it’s a problem.

It is true that I am faking it. I am faking that it’s a problem.

It’s a huge relief to admit to the truth. Yes, I am faking it. Not that it’s an illness. (I know it is from the history, symptoms etc.). But that it’s a problem.

How am I faking it’s a problem? As soon as I believe thoughts saying it’s a problem, I am faking it. I pretend to believe stressful thoughts before even investigating them. And when I do investigate them, I – at least so far – find something peaceful that’s as or more true for me than the initial stressful thought.

I also notice an additional benefit. From that more peaceful place, I am more able to take kind actions to help my life and situation.

And how can I use this as a guideline or reminder for my daily life? A living turnaround? Whenever I notice a thought that my health is a problem, I can notice it’s my mind making it into a problem, I can identify the thought, and then explore it through inquiry. That’s the kind and sane approach, and what I want for myself.

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The effects of The Work (inquiry) on daily life

 

Spiritual practices has their effects on us. That’s why we engage in them.

Heart practices opens for love and gratitude for what our human personality likes and doesn’t like. Inquiry helps undo the charge on thoughts and reveal thoughts as questions about the world and not the final word on anything. Breema bodywork allows us to find ourselves as the whole that any unease or discomfort happens within, and that makes the unease and discomfort much easier to relate to and live with. Vortex Healing as a practice, as something I do for myself on a daily basis, helps undo decades and lifetimes of conditioning. Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) helps release tension out of the body, which in turn lessens the charge on thoughts. And so on.

Each of these – at least if we engage with it with sincerity and over time – has a certain effect on our daily life.

When I talk with people, and it may be people who for a while have engaged in different forms of spiritual practice, I tend to notice relatively quickly whether or not they seem to be informed by The Work.

In general, people who have done The Work for a while, and have lived and breathed it, tend to recognize beliefs. They may still be caught in them, and they may still feel true, but they know – from experience – that they are not. They know the stress is created from holding a thought as more true than it is. That no thought is the final word on anything. That there is as much or more validity in the turnarounds as the initial stressful thought.

And through that knowing, there is some space around the thought. We don’t get as caught in it. We are open for finding what’s more true. We may even see the humor in the stressful thought. And all that before even taking it formally to inquiry.

When I talk with people who may have a long spiritual practice but have not immersed themselves in The Work, I often notice that they seem to hold some thoughts as the final or absolute truth without having the same awareness of what’s happening. Of course, there are exceptions. But I have noticed this as a general trend.

The thoughts they hold as true may be anything, and often – if they are spiritual practitioners – they may be thoughts about spirituality or reality.

As usual, this is OK and more than OK. It’s natural and understandable. It’s how life manifests locally and temporarily through and as us. It’s part of the play of life and the divine. It’s how the divine experiences itself, here and for a short while, as separate and finite.

And, of course, this – as everything – is a projection. I am describing myself. I sometimes hold thoughts as the final truth without noticing, and often these are thoughts about spirituality or reality. Including the ones in the previous paragraphs…! Although I am generally aware these are thoughts and questions and not the final word on anything.

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Ariana Grande: thank u, next

 

I know they say I move on too fast
But this one gon’ last
‘Cause her name is Ari
And I’m so good with that (so good with that)
She taught me love (love)
She taught me patience (patience)
How she handles pain (pain)
That shit’s amazing (yeah, she’s amazing)
I’ve loved and I’ve lost (yeah, yeah)
But that’s not what I see (yeah, yeah)
‘Cause look what I’ve found (yeah, yeah)

There isn’t too much to say about this song because it’s all there in the lyrics.

It’s about gratitude, impermanence, and self-love. 

Everything passes – all our relationships to anything in the world, to people, things, situations. And all we can do is learn from it and say thank u, next. 

Except, one relationship doesn’t pass and that’s to myself. I can find a good relationship to myself. I can treat myself as I would want to be treated by someone important in my life. I can treat myself – and anything coming up in me, all my experiences – with love, kindness, respect, as a good friend or lover. 

It’s an important pointer. In some ways, it’s the secret to life. And it’s beautiful to see it in pop culture, and especially when aimed at younger women as I assume this one is. Although the pointer is equally valid and essential independent of our gender or age. 

This song is completely aligned with the insights we find through The Work. I won’t be surprised if this will be a regular song at future Schools. 

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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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How does The Work work?

 
How does The Work of Byron Katie work? As with anything else in life, it’s ultimately a mystery. But we can also say a few things about it. Here is some things I have noticed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we get to identify and question our initial stressful thought. Our mind is invited to soften its grip on it, and consider the validity in the reversals. And, as mentioned above, we – in the best case, if we work with an experienced facilitator – feel seen, met, understood, and not judged by another human being, and that in itself is healing, and shows us that we can do the same towards ourselves. Another way The Work works is that it can give us clarity to act on something in our life that requires our action, and to do so with more clarity, kindness, and hopefully wisdom.

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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Byron Katie: When you free yourself

 

When you free yourself, you free us.

– Byron Katie

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

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

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

Resolving misophonia: my case

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All-inclusive practices for healing and awakening

 

Another revisit:

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

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

Here are some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inquiry, TRE, Vortex Healing etc. vs talk therapy

 

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

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

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

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

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