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. (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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Byron Katie: Judge God, and find freedom

 

Judge God, and find freedom.

– Byron Katie

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

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

Changing the past

 

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

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

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

If a story is stressful, go deeper

 

If a story is stressful, go deeper.

We sometimes have initial stories about ourselves, others, or the world, that are stressful. And that’s a reminder to go deeper. To look again. To find an interpretation that’s as or more true, and more kind.

If we have a difficult time finding such a story, there is always inquiry. The Work of Byron Katie may be the best approach for this.

It’s interesting that in our culture, we tend to have a suspicious view of reality. We think it’s perhaps not kind. But by exploring this, over and over, we may get to see that the kind stories we find are as or more true as the unkind. In other words, to us, reality becomes kind.

I wrote a much longer initial draft on this topic which can be found below.

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The world becomes transparent

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samuel Bercholz: A guided tour of hell

 

I went to an excellent talk with Samuel Bercholz and Pema Namdol Thaye at the Asian Art Museum earlier today. They are the author and artist of A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir. I can highly recommend the book. (Samuel Bercholz also happens to be the founder of the Shambala publishing company. I must have read hundreds of their books.)

A few things about hell. It’s created by our own mind, and more specifically by our beliefs and identifications. Beliefs and identifications are at odds with reality, and create unease and sometimes suffering. This hell is with us as long as we have these beliefs and identifications, whether in this human life or between incarnations. We create our own hell.

What’s the remedy? It’s partly to heal our very human trauma and wounds. And more to the point, to heal our relationship with our experience. To befriend our experience, independent of it’s content. To find kindness and even love for it. And to recognize our experience as awakeness and even love. And this goes for all of our experience, including other people, the world, ourselves, different parts of ourselves, and our own discomfort, pain, and suffering.

My own experience with hellish states. It’s a good reminder for myself. As I have written about before, I have gone through a difficult few years. Following a nondual opening that lasted a few months, I was plunged into chronic fatigue (CFS) and later PTSD. Adyashanti talks about how an awakening or opening can “take the lid” off anything suppressed or avoided in our mind, and that’s what happened to me. There was no chance of holding it back or pushing it away.

A huge amount of unprocessed material surfaced over the following months and years, and it led to PTSD and several months where I hardly slept and all I could do was walk in the woods in Ski, Norway. (While listening to the audio version of the dark night chapter of Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill and Adyashanti talking about the dark night and other topics.) Fortunately, I had some guidance by someone who had gone through it himself and understood (Barry Snyder) and I also did The Work and found TRE, both of which helped me tremendously.

And still, a great part of this process was something I just had to ride out. Practices and healings helped in taking the edge off some of it, but the vast bulk of it just had to live its own life and was something I had to find a way to live with, even if it often felt indescribably unbearable and overwhelming.

As so many describe, it has gradually tapered off although I still feel I am in it to some extent. I am very grateful for having found Vortex Healing which has been and is a great support for me in the healing and continued awakening process.

Note: As I wrote the section above, I was aware that this is a good example of hellish states but not a good example of how we can work with it. The unprocessed material that surfaces is something I have worked with extensively and continue to work on healing and clearing – mainly through inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work), TRE, resting with it, and – these days – Vortex Healing. As the intensity has gradually decreased, it’s easier for me to work on it.

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

 

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

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

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

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

How the modalities I use work together

 

The different approaches I use all fit together nicely for me. Detailing how would take a long time since the parallels and interactions are very rich, although here is the start of an outline.

THE MODALITIES

Living Inquiries (LI). An exploration of how sensory experiences and imagination combine to create our reality and how we experience the world. Specifically, we look at how sensations and imagination (mental images, words) come together to create an experience of different selves (deficient and inflated), threats, and commands. Through noticing the elements and the presence it’s all happening within, there is a release of the “glue” holding them all together. Our relationship to it changes. The charge tends to soften and go out of it. We recognize it all as presence and what we already are.

There is a deep allowing of what’s here which helps us to recognize ourselves as presence and that which all happens within and as. (And also as the emptiness allowing all of that.) There is also an invitation for what creates suffering in us to soften and release, which supports us as who we are, as human beings who naturally wishes to reduce and be free of suffering. These two go hand in hand and are mutually supportive.

The Work (TW). Identify and investigate beliefs. Beliefs means to take certain stories (imaginations) as true and real. It’s what happens when there is identification with the viewpoint of certain stories. We take ourselves to be that viewpoint, at least to some extent. The outcome is similar to the outcome of the Living Inquiries.

Breema. Mindfulness in movement. Finding ourselves as the whole that body and psyche is part of, and the presence it’s all happening within and as. This is also a very nurturing practice.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). Releasing muscle tension through the natural trembling and releasing mechanism of the body. Allowing our body and the innate wisdom of the body – created through evolution and the experiences of all our ancestors – to be in the driver seat. This also naturally and progressively helps release layers of trauma.

Vortex Healing (VH). My most recent exploration. Inviting and allowing divine energy and intelligence to work on us as a healing and awakening path. The framework for VH is very much aligned with the other modalities.

HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER

LI and TW. I sometimes will use TW within an LI session if I notice the client is more comfortable with thought than presence or feeling. It’s a stepping stone for them, and can be very helpful.

TW and LI. Within a TW session, I may include LI elements of resting with sensations, images or words.

Breema. Breema helps us bring noticing and allowing into movement. It can also be deeply nurturing. It helps us experience ourselves as the whole that body and psyche are part of. And it helps us find ourselves as the presence all happens within and as.

TRE and LI. TRE helps release the tension and body contractions that together with imagination makes up anxiety, depression, compulsion and general struggle and suffering. It speeds up the LI process, and LI helps speed up the TRE process.

VH and LI. VH can help bring the client into a more calm and present state, ready to do the looking required in LI. It can also help reveal and release whatever issues the client is exploring, and can help release and reveal the issues related to body contractions. VH can be used at any point before, during, or after an LI session.

LI and VH. LI can help us examine and find more clarity around issues revealed and softened through VH. It can help us see how the mind creates a sense of reality in anxiety, depression, and compulsions, and also help us find ourselves as the presence it all happens within and as.

HOW HEALING AND AWAKENING WORK TOGETHER

Healing and awakening. Beliefs, identification, and wounding are all words for the same. All creates the appearance of us being a separate self. All of it creates a contraction within mind and body which makes it difficult for what we are to recognize itself. It makes it difficult for the presence that we are to rest in itself as presence and as presence as the content of experience. When there is identification, beliefs, and wounds, we will inevitably identify as these whenever they are triggered. So healing is an essential part of a more stable awakening. Presence recognizing itself in a more stable and consistent way as that which all happens within and as, and then emptiness recognizing itself as that which all of that happens within and as.

It’s quite common for an opening or awakening to be followed by a “loss” of this awakening. That comes from mind identifying with stories again. And most (or all?) of the time, it’s because a wound is triggered leading to identification with painful stories. As these heal, which is a somewhat endless process (!), it’s easier for the awakening to be more stable and to deepen.

Awakening and healing. An opening or awakening can be very helpful for healing. It gives the mind a new context for any experiences, and this can make it easier to explore beliefs and identifications, and heal from wounds. At the very least, it gives a reference which can serve as a guide in this healing and exploration.

Awakening also can and will “take the lid off” of our trauma and wounds. At some point, these come to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and rested with in presence. They come up to be recognized as presence itself, as love itself, as the divine. They come up so the divine (presence, love) can recognize itself as that too, as wounds and identification. And that’s where the deeper healing happens.

Mutual support. Healing as who we are, this human being, supports a more stable and deepening awakening. And awakening as what we are, that which all happens within and as, supports the healing of who we are. They go hand in hand.

Meaning and purpose in life

 

Some folks in the non-dual world are skeptical to words such as meaning and purpose. They may say just do inquiry on it, or it’s all made up by the mind, or it doesn’t exist.

To me, that seems a little one-sided.

It is helpful to do inquiry on meaning or purpose. I get to see how my mind creates its own experience of meaning and purpose (Living Inquiries). I get to question stressful thoughts (The Work). The charge and stress tends to go out of it, or is at least softened.

At the same time, I find it equally helpful – and enriching – to have a sense of meaning and purpose in my life in a conventional sense. To have a direction, something I am passionate about, something that has meaning for me and is aligned with my values and interests.

As usual, the two are not mutually exclusive or opposed to each other. They work together.

Examining my ideas of meaning and purpose tends to soften or release the stress in it. And finding meaning and purpose in an ordinary everyday sense gives me a sense of direction life.

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Mirroring in two ways 

 

When we use mirroring in inquiry, it can be done in at least two ways.

For instance, say I see someone as lazy, trying to get away with minimum effort, just going through the motions. How does he mirror me?

I can find what I see in himself in me. The easiest is perhaps to write down what I see in him, turn it around to myself, and then find specific examples of how it applies to me – in that situation, and other situations.

I am lazy. Ex1: I am lazy in the same way as him. I too sometimes go on the internet instead of doing my task. Ex2: I am lazy in how I see him and me. I put a label on both of us, and didn’t initially question it. Ex3: I am sometimes lazy when I do inquiry. I go to familiar answers, instead of looking afresh and seeing what’s really there. I sometimes am satisfied by just casually and intellectually finding answers, instead of letting it really sink in and change me.

What does it say about me? He is lazy, just going through the motions. What does it say about me? What person am I in relation to him, when he is that way? I am better. I am conscientious. I do the right thing. I am more likeable. More dependable. In this case, these may be inflated selves, and I can explore these in inquiry.

The first is a reversal of what I tell myself about him. It may help me see myself as the same boat as him. This is one element of The Work.

The second is exploring how I see myself in relation to him. This is an exploration of deficient or inflated selves. This is an element in the Living Inquiries. (A boomerang, used to find a self we can then look for through the Unfindable Inquiry.)

In both cases, I use how I see him – and me in relation to him – to find what’s more true than my initial assumptions. I get to see how I create these assumptions out of unquestioned and unloved fears.

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Uncomfortable feelings

 

Why are some feelings uncomfortable?

It can seem that it’s because the feeling is inherently uncomfortable.

But if we take a closer look, we may find that if we feel the sensations as sensations, they are not inherently uncomfortable, or perhaps even very strong.

So why do they seem uncomfortable?

It’s because of the stories attached to them. The stories telling us what they mean, and that they mean something scary and uncomfortable.

It’s because the sensation apparently has images and words “stuck” onto it.

There are several ways to explore this.

Feel the sensation as a sensation. See how it is to be curious about it. Allow it. This may reveal that the sensation in itself is not scary, and perhaps that it doesn’t inherently mean anything.

Feel the sensation. Notice any images or words that come up. Look at these, one at a time. Ask simple questions about each. (Is it X? A threat? A particular deficient self? A command?) This tends to soften or release the connection between the sensation and these associated images and words, making it easier to recognize the sensation as a sensation, and feel it, resting with it.

To notice these images and words, we can ask simple questions, such as: What does the sensation mean? If it could speak, what would it say? What would it say to you? What does it want from you? What would make it satisfied forever?

We can also identify the stories about the sensation, and take these to an inquiry such as The Work. Is it true? What happens when I take it as true? Who would I be without it? What’s the validity in the turnarounds?

What’s the outcome of this? Why would we want to do this?

Because feeling sensations as they are, as sensations, can be a huge relief. It feels like coming home.

And the alternative is to continue to avoid certain feelings, and avoid looking at the images and words connected to them. This is tiring, stressful, and uncomfortable. And it’s also behind any number of things that make our lives rocky, including reactivity, reactive emotions and behaviors, getting caught in stories, overthinking, compulsions, addictions, and more. It’s how hangups, wounds, and trauma stay unhealed. It’s how parts of us and our experience stay unloved, unquestioned, and unhealed.

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Inquiry: He shouldn’t have put my clothes in the dryer

 

Situation: Temporarily renting a room in a house, shared with the host. (A retired guy.) I washed my clothes, and he put them in the dryer without asking me, knowing very well that I always air dry my clothes. (He has commented on it several times, apparently unable to comprehend why I don’t use the dryer.)

Statement: He shouldn’t have put my clothes in the dryer.

1. Is it true? Yes.

2. Can you know for sure it’s true? No.

3. What happens, how do you react, when you have that thought?

I feel frustrated, angry, sad. My clothes shrunk so they don’t fit anymore. They stink of chemicals (dryer sheets). I have to wash them again. I feel disrespected. He did it without asking. (more…)

Doing inquiry along with the client

 

When I facilitate someone in The Work, I often do it with them. And I remember I had the same question when I first learned the Living Inquiries. Do people who are more experienced tend to do their own inquiry along with the client?

At the time, it seemed too difficult. But now, I find myself sometimes naturally doing the Living Inquiries with the client. They tell me what shows up for them, I sometimes feel it in my own body, or I look at the image that comes up for me, or the words they are looking at. And I do it with them.

It helps me stay with them in their process. And it also helps me in my own process. I get to do my own resting and looking along with the client.

Sometimes this happens, sometimes not. And either is OK.

Fear of meeting what’s here

 

It’s common and even sensible to fear meeting our more painful wounds and traumas.

And for good reasons.

We may not trust that we will know what to do. Or that our facilitator will know what to do. Or that the process we are using will work. And each of these is sometimes true. It’s possible to be exposed to our old traumas in an unskilled way and be retraumatized.

So what can we do? The best may be to find a process that works for us and that we trust based on our own experience. Work with a facilitator who knows what she or he is doing, and that we trust. And gain some experience and trust by first working on more peripheral material.

If we stay in the periphery, the wounds and hangups tend to recycle and keep coming up.

So at some point, we need to focus on the most painful and apparently most entrenched material.

We may not feel ready, and it’s not wise to try to push through.

So another option is to meet and examine our fears in meeting our wounds.

I can meet it with loving kindness. Perhaps ho’oponopono. Saying I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you to the fears, and the wound itself. This can help shift my relationship to the fear and the wound.

What do I fear? What’s the worst that can happen if I meet the traumas? (Some possibilities: It won’t work. It will make it worse. I’ll stay stuck in it. It will never end. My painful stories will turn out to be true. It will be too painful. I won’t be able to take it. The process won’t work. The facilitator won’t know what to do.)

What do I find when I examine these stories, one by one? For instance by asking is it true? What happens when I believe that story? Who I would be without it? What’s the validity in the turnarounds? (The Work.)

What do I find when I look for the threat? (Living Inquiries.) Can I find the threat in the images, words, and sensations that come up? Can I find the threat outside of these?

In my experience, if I stay with a process and examine my fears, there is a readiness and willingness to meet even the apparently darkest areas of me, the deepest wounds. And that can be enormously liberating.

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Body contractions

 

It seems that body contractions are created by beliefs, and also hold beliefs in place. There is a “mutual support” between identifications and unquestioned beliefs and fears, and body contractions. And these contractions and identifications also fuel compulsions and reactiveness, and create traumas and wounds.

This contraction-identification “knot” can be explored in different ways.

I can release the physical tension through, for instance, Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). This may also soften the identifications, although they will still be there as long as they are unquestioned.

I can explore the body contractions through the Living Inquiries, looking at the different words and images associated with a specific contraction, so the sensations can be felt as sensations.

I can examine and question the beliefs and identifications creating the contractions, through – for instance – the Living Inquiries or The Work.

There are also other options, such as…..

Exploring the beliefs and identifications as subpersonalities, through – for instance – Voice Dialog or the Big Mind Process.

Finding love for the identifications, fears and contractions, through loving kindness, tonglen, ho’oponopono, placing it in the heart flame or similar.

Holding Satsang with what’s there – any subpersonalities, beliefs, identities, fears, contractions.

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Wounds and trauma

 

What is a wound, or trauma?

As far as I can tell, a wound or trauma is created through identification, beliefs and velcro. It’s created and maintained by taking hurtful stories to be true, sometimes even without being consciously aware of it. And it’s really created here and now, and can be loved and seen through here and now.

Finding love for these wounds in us can be deeply healing. And so can seeing through how the wounds are created in my mind (Living Inquiry) and seeing through the stories creating the wounds (The Work).

The love is a love for the wound as it is, without it needing to change. And we can find that love in different ways. One way to find love for the wound is from recognizing that the wound is created innocently, as a way to protect the imagined self, and is from confused love. Another is through heart-centered activities such as tonglen, ho’oponopono, tonglen, Heart Prayer, and prayer in general. Yet another is through inquiry. For instance, is it true it’s unloved by life?

And inquiry is a seeing of what’s there, again allowing it to be exactly as it is.

In both cases, any relief, release or healing is secondary and a possible side-effect. And any desire or wish for healing or resolution can also be met with love and inquiry. How is it to find love for this part of me that wishes for resolution and healing? What do I find when I explore how that part is created in my mind, and investigate the beliefs behind it?

In addition to the love (heart) and inquiry (head) aspects of this, there is the feeling (belly) aspect. Loving and inquiring into wounds include feeling it. And again, it’s a feeling of it as it is, without it needing to change. How is it to feel it? Drop into it? Feeling it as if it’s feeling itself? Is there any fear coming up around feeling it? How is it to feel that too, as it is? (And perhaps find love for it, and inquire into it?)

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Shinzen Young on the dark night

 

1. Accentuate the good parts of the Dark Night even though they may seem very subtle relative to the bad parts. You may be able to glean some sense of tranquility within the nothingness. There may be some sense of inside and outside becoming one (leading to expanded identity). There may be some soothing, vibratory energy massaging you. There may be a springy, expanding-contracting energy animating you.

2. Eliminate the negative parts of the dark night by deconstructing them through noting. Remember “Divide and Conquer”—if you can divide a negative reaction into its parts (mental image, mental talk, and emotional body sensation), you can conquer overwhelm. In other words, eliminate the negative parts by loving them to death.

3. Affirm positive emotions, behaviors, and cognitions in a sustained systematic way. By that I mean gradually, patiently reconstruct a new habitual self based on Loving Kindness and related practices.

– Shinzen Young about the Dark Night, from The Power of Gone

I see that this can be helpful, and it’s – in some ways – a distilled form of what I have discovered for myself. The pointers are practical and helpful, and easy to understand. At the same time, they are written in a way that – at first glance – may seem to feed into and reinforce our habitual ideas of “good” and “bad”. Since those are potentially stressful thoughts they will be included under no. 2., and can be taken to inquiry…!

Accentuate the good. Even in a dark night, there is what we may think of as good. One way to discover this is to ask the question, is it true that what I am looking for is not here? More specifically: Is it true that peace is not here? Is it true that love is not here? Is it true that contentment is not here? Is it true that allowing is not here? 

Eliminate the negative. Examine the apparent problems through how it appears in words, images and sensations. What happens when you see words as words, images as images, and sensations as sensations? What happens when you take time and feel sensations as sensations? (Living Inquiries.) What stressful thoughts do you have about what’s happening? What do you find when you examine these? (The Work.)

Affirm the positive. Find love through ho’oponopono, tonglen, metta and similar practices. (Do these practices also on the suffering parts of yourself.) Meet the suffering parts of yourself in satsang. Pray to the divine. Ask for guidance. Ask for surrender. Ask for support in meeting what’s apparently troublesome with love.

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Solidifying vs undoing

 

Pointers of any form may be very helpful. We wouldn’t function without them.

For instance, one of the fashionable labels is highly sensitive, and I see how it fits me too.

There are two ways to relate to these labels. We can take them as real and solid, identify with them, and use them to solidify an identity. This is who and how I am.

We can also use these labels as a starting point for inquiry. I am highly sensitive, is it true? What do I find when I look into this thought? (The Work.) Also, what do I find when I look at the words, images and sensations associated with this label for me? (Living Inquiries.) What if I find that the whole experience of being “highly sensitive”, and the discomfort associated with it, consists of nothing more than a collection of words, images and sensations, and that there is no threat in any of them when I look at each one separately? What if I find that what’s left is a sensation, and there is no threat in it?

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Currently

 

I thought I would give a brief update here. There is still a lot coming up for me, of previously unfelt, unloved, unseen material, and it’s sometimes challenging and sometimes quite moving. It’s all coming up with an invitation for it to be met, felt, loved, seen as what it is – in form and as the same as everything. Things keep falling apart in my outer life as well, perhaps as a reflection of a dismantling of inner patterns as Barry suggests. It’s also because I get caught in what surfaces and live it out, to some extent, and what surfaces is sometimes quite wounded and very young.

Some practices I find helpful these days:

The Living Inquiries. I am in the LI training program, so do the LIs most days, and sometimes several times a day. I find it very helpful, and it’s an approach that makes it easy to explore what I previously have looked into through more traditional (Buddhist) sense field explorations.

Tonglen & Ho’oponopono. I use both of these on anything that my mind takes as an “enemy”, wherever in my world this apparent enemy appears – subpersonalities, physical symptoms, emotions, resistance, life circumstances, other people, a dream figure or anything else. It helps shift how I relate to and see these. There is a curiosity and a question in this. Is it really an enemy? Is my perception of it as an enemy as true as it first appears? What’s my perception of it as I continue exploring it through tonglen and ho’o? (Maybe it’s even revealed as – what a thought may call – awareness and love?)

Holding satsang. I also hold satsang with subpersonalities and whatever else is here (anything can be taken as a subpersonality). You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really? 

Heart flame. I find and fan the flame of the heart with my attention and gratitude. Then – in my mind – place my whole body and being inside of this flame, allowing it to burn away anything that’s not similar to itself (clarity, love). It burns away any trance, any illness.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). I continue inviting in neurogenic tremors, often throughout daily life – when I sit in a chair, stand waiting for the tea water to boil, lie in bed etc. Sometimes, I also bring something stressful to mind to invite tension around that to release through the tremors.

The Work. I sometimes use The Work too. Right now, I have to admit I am more drawn to the Living Inquiries, although I see them as equal and complementary. They are both forms of inquiry. They both invite beliefs to be seen through and soften or fall apart. And yet, the Living Inquiries work on images, body images, and sensations more specifically, which I find helpful now. It’s as if it more directly goes to a more primal part of the mind.

Rest. Whenever I remember, I intentionally rest, allowing any experience to be as it is. Noticing the sensations, allowing them as they are. Noticing the sounds, images and words coming and going. Noticing it’s all already allowed. This is an alert form of resting. More accurately, it’s a resting from being caught up in images and words. They come and go, and are noticed as objects instead of being identified with…. and taken as a subject, as what I am. This is also called Shikantaza, or natural meditation, and it’s part of the Living Inquiries.

Stable attention. I sometimes also take time to bring attention to the sensations of the breath at the nostrils, or at one nostril. This invites attention to stabilize, and it becomes more pliable and a support for any activity in life (and just being). I am just getting more back into this, and wish to do it more again.

Prayer. I pray for guidance. For seeing through the trance. (Victim etc.) For support seeing through the trance. For support in meeting what’s here with love. For support in any way that’s most helpful for me. For support in living from love and clarity. For support in giving my life over to God (Spirit, Christ, Buddha Mind) wholeheartedly. For support in meeting any fear in me with love and clarity. For my life being in service of life.

Additional. I have also done some EFT and TFT. I go for walks in nature.  I make sure to drink plenty of water, usually in the form of different types of herbals teas, so my urine is pale or almost clear. (This really helps with any sense of energetic stagnation in my system.) I take some herbs and similar things (chulen, rhodiola, eleuthero, echinacea). I get plenty or rest and sleep.  I do things that sparks my passion (photography, drawing, reading). I connect with friends. (As or more important than much else here.) And so on.

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Getting to know a knot: I can’t have what I want

 

I noticed a somewhat familiar background belief today:

I can’t have what I want.

And more specifically:

I can’t have a good education, job, house, family life.

There is also an early memory associated with this:

My father seems very competent (with work, house, family life) and it seems mysterious. I have no idea how he does it. It seems unreachable to me. My father didn’t include me in how he did it. He didn’t train me. He didn’t mentor me. I picked up (and have to deal with) his shadow.

That I have already had all of those don’t really impact the belief. It’s still there at a more wordless level, at the level of images and emotions. And I sense that there is something there that the verbal beliefs I have found so far don’t quite touch.

So I hold satsang with this part of me, and myself as a child thinking/feeling that my father’s competence seems mysterious and out of reach to me.

I can also do ho’oponopono with it, and shake (neurogenic tremors, TRE) on it, and plan to later today.

Holding satsang and ho’o helps me become more familiar with it. It helps me befriend it, soften my relationship with it. It goes from being an apparent enemy, something I wish to push away and see as wrong, to something I can befriend. It’s less of an “other”, or not at all an other anymore.

Neurogenic tremors – while bringing this part of me to mind, and also the childhood situation – helps release tension associated with this, which in turn helps me befriend it, and meet it with curiosity.

All of this prepares the ground for inquiry. It feels helpful for me now, it takes some of the charge out of it which makes it easier for my mind to find curiosity and stability for the inquiry. And I also know I could very well go straight to inquiry.

First, I explore it with the Living Inquiry:

I can’t have what I want. (A good education, job, house, family life.)

Look at the words and letters. Put them, in your mind’s eye, up on a large billboard. Notice they are words and letters. Is there a real, not imagined, threat in those words and letters?

If yes, where do you feel it in the body. What are the images associated with those sensations? Put those images, in your mind’s eye, in a frame and up on a wall. Make it big. Is there a real, not imagined, threat in that image? (Then repeat the previous step.)

What are the images associated with this fear? [There is an image of me as a kid looking at my father. An image of me unable to arrive at or reach a good education, a good job, a good house, a good family life.] Look at each of those images. Put them in a frame up on the wall. Is there a real, not imagined, threat in each of the images?

Where do you feel it in the body? Look at the sensations that lends a sense of validity and truth to the previous images and words. What images do you have of those sensations? Is there a real, not imagined, threat in those images?

Bring attention to the sensations. Allow them to be there, and notice they are already allowed to be here. Is there a real, not imagined, threat in those sensations?

 Later on, I can also take specific beliefs to The Work.

For instance, I can’t have a good job and house. Is it true? What happens when you believe that thought? Who would you be without it? What is the validity in each of the turnarounds?

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Neurogenic tremors during inquiry

 

Since I have some familiarity with inquiry and TRE (neurogenic tremors), it’s natural that neurogenic tremors come up during inquiry. It helps release tension, and it also helps thaw frozen patterns, it bring what’s frozen and numb come alive.

Yesterday, I did a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet (The Work) on my mother not coming when was in a crib and cried as a baby. I was wrapped in a blanket and on the floor while doing the inquiry, and – under question 3, what happens when you believe that thought? – I noticed I became physically very still, my breath was held, and I felt frozen, numb and paralyzed. And under question 4, who would you be without that belief, I started trembling, and it helped thaw the frozenness I created from the belief. The trembling showed me the answer to question 4. I felt alive, free, was able to enjoy what’s here – the warm blanket, the movements and aliveness of this warm body, a deeper and fuller breath.

Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver

 

Simplified terribly, there are three ways of dealing with apparent evil:

(a) Let it have its way. Stay passive.

(b) Kill it off. Get rid of it.

(c) Treat it with respect and kindness, and contain it, prevent it from doing harm.

Most stories – whether fairy tales, mythology or contemporary movies, take the second approach. Some describe the first as a cautionary tale. And a few take the third approach, the more wise and mature (?) one.

One of the stories that take the third approach is Jim Button and Luke the Engine driver.

Instead of killing the evil dragon, as is described in so many other stories, they capture the dragon. They treat her with respect, contain her fury, and prevent her from doing harm. And she turns into a golden wisdom dragon. If they had let her have her way, or if they had killed her, she and they would never have benefited from her transformation.

For me, doing The Work and other forms of inquiry, and also holding satsang, doing ho’oponopono and tonglen, are all examples of capturing the dragon, treating it with respect and curiosity, prevent it from doing harm, and giving it space to transform into a golden wisdom dragon – if that’s what will happen.

It’s interesting to note that in western cultures (at least in western Europe), we generally take the third approach at the social level. We are, after all, civilized. And yet, when it comes to things in ourselves a thought may label “bad”, “undesirable”, or even “evil”, we are often trained to take the second approach. We try to get rid of it, or at least put a lid on it. That’s why simple processes such as The Work, holding satsang, and ho’oponopono may seem revolutionary. They are very simple and even natural ways of relating to what’s here in us, and yet they go against – to some extent – what we have been trained to do.

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Exploring knots

 

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

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

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

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

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

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