There is a simple and relatively direct way of inviting in healing. And that is to befriend our contractions, notice their nature, and invite them to notice their nature and rest in that noticing.
INVITING CONTRACTIONS TO FIND WHAT THEY ARE
What’s the essence of healing and awakening?
One answer is supporting our conscious view, and different parts of us, to align more with reality. That’s where real healing happens, and also where we notice what we are.
And one way to do this with parts of us is to invite contractions to find what they are. Contractions are created from separation consciousness and operate from separation consciousness. They are created and maintained by (painful) beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and trauma. (All words pointing to the same dynamic.)
These are some elements of the process, and some or all can be used at different parts of the process. They are not in a strict sequence. We may visit each of these several times in any one session.
ORIENTATION. Respect, allowing, welcoming, kindness, curiosity, patience.
CONTRACTION. I can explore any contraction already here, and I can use elements of the process to get to know it. I can notice the sensations, welcome it, invite it to notice what it is, ask it what it needs and wants. In this way, I get a sense of what it’s about, and there may be layers to this until I find something more essential.
I can also evoke a contraction, by reminding myself of a situation triggering it, or using words and sentences. For instance, I can remember a time I felt alone, and I can use the words “I am alone”.
SENSATIONS. Contractions consist of physical sensations and mental representations, and I find it helpful to ground the process by bringing attention to the physical sensations. Where in the body do I feel it? How are the sensations? I find some curiosity about it.
ALLOWING. Since my old tendency likely is to struggle with the contractions, I can intentionally do the reverse to shift out of this habit, create a new one, and allow the contraction some space.
I can notice it’s already allowed, by life, space, mind. I can notice the (endless) space it’s happening within. I can explore how it is to intentionally allow it to be as it is, and give it space to change in its own time and in its own way.
I can say to the contraction: You are welcome here. Make yourself as big as you want. Thank you for protecting me. (They are all here to protect me and the separate self.) I love you.
NEED/WANT: I can ask the contraction: What do you need and want? What would make you content and happy? This is usually something essential and universal we all need and want, at a human level.
I can also explore this more in detail, and ask: How does P. (me) relate to you? What would you like from him? What advice do you have for him?
INVITE TO FIND WHAT IT IS. I can then invite the contraction to find what it is. What are you really? Do you know what you are?
These contractions have the same nature as what I am. They are capacity for themselves, they are oneness, love, stillness and silence.
When they find themselves as this, they can rest in and as it. They can sink into what they are, rest, unravel, realign, and align with their own nature.
To do this, I first notice my own nature. I find myself as capacity for my experiences, as what my experiences happen within and as, as love, oneness, stillness and silence. And then, notice the nature of the contractions – same as mine, and I invite the contraction to find their own nature and sink into it.
RESISTANCE: In this process, there is likely some resistance. It’s good to notice and do this process with the resistance first. This is also a contraction, and meeting this first can, in itself, release a lot from the initial issue and contraction.
The resistance can be in the form of discomfort, anger, frustration, distractions, and so on. And the essence is typically fear. A natural and innocent fear, here to protect us and the separate self. It’s confused love.
FINDING WHAT THEY ARE
This is about finding what the contractions are in more than one sense.
We find what at a human level, y these contractions need and want. What do they need and want? What’s the sense of lack they come from? What do they need and want from me? (In this process, through how I meet them, they are given what they want, and that’s part of how they are able to relax.)
We find their nature, and help them find their nature – as capacity for themselves, oneness, love, stillness, and silence.
And yet another is to recognize their role in this human self. They were created to protect this human self, often from a child’s view of the world. They are an expression of confused love.
This is a very intimate process, and it can be difficult at first since we are used to avoiding our uncomfortable experiences. We distract ourselves from them and go into stories as a distraction or some activity that distracts us. We try to make them go away. We try to fix them. And so on.
So it helps to either be familiar with more of the “training wheel” approaches that may be a bit more formal and clunky, but help us get a bit closer to what’s happening in us and approach it in a way that invites healing.
And it also helps to be guided through this, and also have a small community of others for support as we do it and in general. (That community could be just one other person.)
SUPPORTS DEEP HEALING
This simple and essential process supports deep healing.
It supports healing of how we relate to our contractions, our human self, and ultimately all of existence. We find a more welcoming, kind, and respectful way of meeting it, and recognize that its nature is – to us – the same as our own nature.
It supports healing of the different parts of our human self. These contractions can be called painful beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and trauma. And the real healing comes from meeting them in a more kind way, find the essence of what the contraction is about (a universal need and want), and inviting these contractions to find their nature and rest in and as it.
It supports healing out of our painful separation consciousness. We find our nature and the nature of these contractions, and allow our human self to rest in and as it, and realign with it.
It supports living from noticing what we are. These contractions inevitably color our perception and life in the world, whether they are triggered or not. And when they are triggered, we can get caught in them and perceive and act from separation consciousness. Finding healing for these parts of us allows us to more easily, and in more situations in life, live more from noticing what we are.
If we want to use those labels, we can say that this process supports healing, awakening, and embodiment.
PRACTICES MIMIC WHAT NATURALLY HAPPENS WHEN THE MIND IS CLEAR AND KIND
Most practices for healing and awakening mimic what naturally and organically happens when our mind is clear and kind. They come from someone noticing and becoming familiar with these processes and then setting them in system so they could more easily share them with others.
So they are, inevitably, a bit clunky and rigid. They are training wheels, useful for a while until we find a more natural and organic approach for ourselves.
What I outlined here, and many talk about, is an example of how it can look when we find a more natural, organic, and intimate process for ourselves. And it can be even simpler and more essential.
Some of the practices I am familiar with, and that have elements of this process, are: Chigong in working directly with energies. Basic meditation, in practicing noticing and allowing whatever comes up, including contractions. Process Work, in following in a more organic and playful way, what’s coming up and allowing it to show itself, guide us, and unravel. The Big Mind process, in finding what we are and dialoguing with the different parts of us. The Work of Byron Katie, in gently inquiring into stressful beliefs. The Living Inquiries, in exploring what these contractions really are.
And then two people: Pamela Wilson, in using a process very similar to this. And Amy Harwood, who reminded me of all of this through a recent course. She is intimately familiar with this process and very clear on the essence and how to support this process in others.
This is not something that belongs to any particular practice, tradition, person, or group of people. It’s inherent in all of us. It’s a natural way to heal, and even to heal out of separation consciousness.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
All our experiences – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are.
We can also say that we are, most fundamentally, consciousness, and all our experiences happen within and as consciousness.
When we find this, we also notice that our sense field is a seamless whole. What we label inside – in the sense of being our private experience, and outside – in the sense of our shared world, happen as parts of the same seamless field. Any sense of boundaries comes from our overlay of mental images and labels and holding these as more true than they are.
To us, the world is one. We find ourselves as oneness. And from finding oneness, there is naturally a love for it all that’s independent of feelings or states. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.
Since all our experiences have the same nature, there is also inherently a stillness and silence as what we are. Everything is happening, and nothing is happening.
These contractions happen within and as consciousness, within and as what we are. They have the same nature as we do.
They were formed from separation consciousness, and operate from separation consciousness. They perceive and react from separation consciousness. And since they were often formed early in our life, they often operate the way a scared child sees the world.
There is nothing really magical in this process. It’s all pragmatic and understandable.
When we, as a whole, operate from separation consciousness, we tend to struggle with these contractions. We identify with some and take on their way of perceiving the world. We want to avoid others or try to fix them or make them go away. And this identification and struggle is a big part of what holds them in place.
So instead, we can notice them as objects (disidentification), and we can welcome and allow them.
We tend to either act on these contractions or react to them, without getting to know what they really are about. So we can get to know them. Listen to what they have to say. See what they are about. Get to know their needs and wants, and the sense of lack they operate from.
We tend to not give these contractions what they want. Again, we act on them or react to them, and that’s not giving them what they want. We may also try to get what they want from the world – from others, situations, positions, and so on. And that’s also not what they want. It’s too distant and it doesn’t last. We are the only one in the perfect position to give them what they want.
We often try to contain these contractions. By identifying with and acting on them, we make them contract further. And by reacting to them, we also make them contract further. The remedy here is to allow them as they are and allow them to take up as much space as they want and for as long as they want. That too helps them relax and soften.
Contractions are made up of sensations and stories, and we tend to get caught up in that mix of sensations and stories. The sensations lend a sense of substance and reality to the stories, and the stories give the sensations a meaning. So instead, we can focus on the physical sensations. We bring our attention out of the drama created when sensations and stories mix together. And we get to see that these are sensations in the body. Eventually, we get in a visceral way that the sensations, in themselves, don’t mean anything, and the stories, without the sensations, are stories.
Even if we notice our own nature, we may still react to our contractions as if they are real, solid, and scary. One remedy here is to notice that the nature of these contractions is the same as our own, and to rest in that noticing.
In a sense, these contractions operate the way they do because they too don’t notice their true nature. They themselves take their scary stories as true and the final word, and they take their form as all there is to them. By noticing their nature, and resting with them and that noticing, and by asking them what they are, we invite them to notice for themselves. We invite this part of our consciousness to notice for itself, find a deep rest there and unwind and realign within that noticing.
These are a lot of words to describe something far more simple.
MY OWN STORY
The essence of this process happened naturally following the initial awakening shift in my teens. It was generally effortless to recognize the nature of my experiences, and it was a period of flow.
Then, about ten years ago, I asked life (the divine) to show me what’s left in me. Show me what I haven’t seen yet. And within days, a huge amount of primal fear came up. This lasted at a very high level of intensity for about nine months, and at a generally less level for years.
It was so overwhelming for me that something in me shattered. Before this, meditation and intimacy with my experience was my refuge and what I enjoyed more than almost anything. And now, going inside in a very intimate way was difficult because what I met was this dread and terror.
I had to relearn all of this, in a sense. Or, perhaps more accurately, I had to learn what previously had been given to me and that I hadn’t really had to learn.
And that’s where the gifts here are for me. I get to experience how it is to flail and struggle with all of this. I get to learn how to relate to all of this in a more detailed and thorough way, including some of the steps in the process.
Note: I am writing this on my phone while at the cabin, so it’s not very well edited.
SUPPORTS HEALING, AWAKENING, AND EMBODIMENT
This simple and essential process supports healing, awakening, and embodiment. It’s so simple and essential that even those words – healing, awakening, and embodiment – is a movement away from what’s actually happening. It’s simpler and more intimate than that.
These contractions can be called painful beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and trauma. And there is a deep healing that happens in this process. It heals unhealed parts of our human self.
This process supports awakening. It gets us into the practice of noticing our own nature. And it helps us notice contractions – and anything in our experience – as having the same nature.
And it supports embodiment, living from noticing what we are. These contractions inevitably color our perception and life in the world, whether they are triggered or not. And when they are triggered, we can get caught in them and perceive and act from separation consciousness. Finding healing for these parts of us allows us to more easily, and in more situations in life, live more from noticing what we are.
Note: When I said “invite the contractions to find what they are”, it has two sides. One is to help them find what they are at a human level. What do they need and want? What’s the sense of lack they come from? What do they need and want from me? The other is to help them find their nature, as capacity for themselves, oneness, love, stillness and silence. This is how it is for us as a whole as well. We can find who we are as a human self, and we can find our nature. And both are part of who and what we are.
This is how it is for us, as a human self, as well. We find our needs and wants and sense of lack, and can give ourselves what we need and want. (Including through this process.) We can find our nature and explore how it is to live from it. And we can explore our role in the larger whole.
All our experiences – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are. Said another way, to us, we are – most fundamentally, consciousness, and all our experiences happen within and as consciousness.