A simple exploration for finding trust in the wisdom of our human self

Byron Katie has a simple exercise: When you wake up in the morning, don’t get up. Wait and see what happens, and find some curiosity about it. (Paraphrased.)

When I do this, I find that my human self gets out of bed on its own, and at the right time. It has an innate wisdom that makes it get up when the time is ripe. It happens without any conscious planning or effort or use of will. And it’s often surprising. One moment I was in bed, the next standing on the floor, and there was no planning or effort or will involved.

This helps me see that my human self lives its own life and that it has innate wisdom and kindness.

And I can do this in other areas of life as well. I can wait, notice with curiosity, and see what my human self does on its own.

When I get out of my own way, my human self is more free to live from wisdom and heart.

There is, as usual, a lot more to say about this.

For instance, our human self is always living its own life. It’s just that our mind adds a layer of identification so we think and feel that “I” did it. When we find what we more fundamentally are, it’s more obvious that our human self is living its own life. Words happen. Actions happen. And there is no involvement of an “I”.

The only difference is that the strange loop that creates a sense of “I” or “doer” goes away, or at least is not invested with a sense of reality. The charge goes out of it.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 40

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Some talk as if awakening is somehow “permanent”.

I understand why.

When the noticing is here and stable, it seems obvious and unmissable. It seems it will never go away.

Time happens within and as what we are, so how could this go away?

Also, some may go into the thought that it’s permanent to find comfort. They want it to stay, so they tell themselves it will.

And yet, is it true?

Permanence is the story of a future.

I cannot know.

So for me, it’s more peaceful to hold it lightly and keep it open.

Also, I know that there is often an awakening shift, then it goes away (which can be experienced as one kind of dark night), and then it’s refound in a different and more thorough way.

[Made into a regular article]

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Meat, health, and ecology

The Norwegian government released new dietary guidelines with the health of humans and the ecosystems in mind.

In short, they recommend eating whole foods, eating low on the food chain, avoiding processed foods, and avoiding alcohol (there is no safe lower limit to alcohol intake). (This is the way I have mostly eaten since my teens.)

To me, this seems like basic common sense. It’s what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. It’s the type of food our ancestors lived on and our bodies are designed for.

And, predictably, to some, it seems highly offensive. Are you telling us we can’t eat meat anymore? That we shouldn’t enjoy alcohol? That I can’t have my snacks and pizza?

There is also a discussion specifically about meat. The guidelines recommend reducing the meat intake as much as possible. Some point out that there is disagreement among scientists about whether red meat is problematic for our health. And although that’s an important point, it’s also missing the point.

Meat production is one of the biggest causes of deforestation, and it generally has a huge impact on our ecosystems. Our obsession with eating meat is one of the largest contributors to our collective and individual ecological footprint.

The guidelines explicitly take both health and ecological sustainability into account. Reducing our meat intake won’t harm our health. And it will help us reduce our ecological footprint. That’s more than enough reason to recommend reducing our meat consumption.

And in the bigger picture, our meat intake is intimately connected with our health. Without healthy ecosystems, we cannot be healthy. What happens with the Earth happens with us.

Although the finer points may be up for discussion, the bigger picture is not that complicated.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

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A cat looks male and then female: mental field overlays

A neighbor cat has been visiting for the last few weeks, and I assumed he was a male at first. It now looks more likely that she is a female.

I notice very clearly the mental field overlays here. When I thought he was a male, he looked male. My mind created a male overlay on the cat, and that made him look male to me. My mind interpreted his features as male. And now that I think she is a female, she looks female. My mental field overlay makes her look female to me. My mind interprets her features as female.

This is, of course, in addition to all the other mental field overlays my mind creates: Cat, boundary between cat and what’s not-cat, ideas about this particular cat, ideas about me and my relationship with cats, and so on.

Update: I learned that he is actually male and is called, very appropriately, Simba. So now he looks male again, through some of the cultural associations I have with being a male and a male cat.

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What would I do if I was on my own?

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and that means I need to be extra diligent in following my inner guidance, especially with resting, drinking, eating, and so on.

When I am on my own, I notice and follow my inner guidance and take care of myself. My energy level becomes more stable, I can do more, and I don’t tend to crash.

And when I am with others, I sometimes forget or ignore my own signals and what I need to do, and I tend to crash more often.

So I have a task when I am with others. I can ask myself: What would I do if I was on my own? Would I rest? Drink? Eat something? What would I do? And then do it, even if it’s not what the others are doing, and even if a part of me may be afraid of judgment or that they will feel rejected. (The best is usually to explain to them beforehand that I have a chronic illness and need to take care with resting, eating, and drinking.)

This reminds me of a guideline from Jes Bertelsen: When you are with others, be as if you are alone. And when you are alone, be as if you are with others.

Sometimes, we do things while alone we wouldn’t do with others. (Often, quite innocent things.) For instance, I may eat a whole bag of tortilla chips or several dessert servings at once. And sometimes, we do things with others we wouldn’t do if alone. In my case, I may ignore my inner guidance when it comes to rest, water, and food.

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Dream: dead people appearing

I am with my cousin Knut Johan. We are in nature, he is dying, and we both know. We are having a quiet and peaceful conversation. I hold his hand. After a while, my father and brother arrive and it changes the intimate conversation I had with my cousin. (Which is OK.) I then see two or three people there who are dead. They stand upright, are pale, and stare out in front of them. I know who they are, they are family members and friends who died many years ago. It feels peaceful. Then more dead people start arriving. More and more. Including a friend from high school I lost contact with some years ago, and my best friend from elementary school who moved away back then. I feel the appearance of dead people start going out of control, it brings up fear in me, and I wake up.

This was a strong dream, and it had striking visual elements like a Tarkovski or Kurosawa movie.

My cousin did die a few years ago, and we did have these types of conversations while he was alive – deep, meaningful, and peaceful conversations. When I got very sick about fifteen years ago, I didn’t have so much contact with him, and I felt he was disappointed by it. He loved nature and biology, and was a “deep thinker” and explorer. (Waking life.)

When my father and brother arrived, the conversation changed character, as it has in real life.

And it was peaceful when the dead people started arriving. They were family and friends who have died in real life. They were standing in a line, looking out in front of them. Then there was a second line of dead people, with my friend from high school and my other friend from elementary school. (I don’t know if either of them is dead in waking life.)

My friend from high school was someone I spent quite a bit of time with after high school. We were both interested in spirituality, and did tai chi and some events together. I felt that he took a more new-age approach and was more into the fantasy side of it, while I saw myself as taking a more sober approach. We haven’t been in contact for about ten years, and in one of our last conversations, he said “awakening will solve all problems” and I said “maybe it’s not exactly like that”, and I could see that he got upset. (This is all waking life.)

On Friday, I felt his presence strongly, and it was as if he was communicating with me and showing me something. I could see that he felt I had been arrogant, and he felt hurt. And it did something with me. I could see my own arrogance in a deeper way and take it in more deeply. (It comes from fear and insecurity, as it does.) This was also waking life.

More and more dead people started arriving, and it started to feel like it was going out of control.

Waking life and dream life were woven together in a very interesting way in this dream.

There are several aspects to this dream. The process on Friday helped me take in my arrogance more deeply and shifted something in me. Something around family and friends who have died. The loss of my best friend in elementary school when he and his family moved. (He had been on my mind two or three days ago when I walked by the apartment building where he had lived.) And something about death in general, and also ancestors.

It’s not a stretch to imagine that the dead ones in the dream represent parts of me that have metaphorically died. Parts of me that don’t have so much charge anymore.

Maybe the dream reflects a processing in me around this, especially as I – in waking life – am at my childhood home getting it ready for sale, and am sorting through a lifetime of things.

A few more notes:

Why was the dream set in nature? My cousin and his parents loved nature, which is perhaps why. The dream was set in a forest in the mountains in Norway.

Why was my mother not there? I am not sure. I have had some recent slight disagreements with my father and brother around the process with the house, perhaps that’s why.

Why did the increasing number of dead trigger fear in me? It was peaceful at first, and then it felt like it was going a bit out of control. There were exponentially more dead appearing. I didn’t know what was happening.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 39

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


One of the things I am most grateful for on my path is that I lived the essence of what I am writing about here before I read or heard about it. The initial oneness shift happened when I was sixteen, an atheist, and just before World Wide Web (the Internet is older), so it took several years for me to find someone talking or writing about it. And when I did, there was a kind of distance there from the culture and times of the people I found. (It wasn’t until I discovered Adyashanti, Byron Katie, and Douglas Harding many years later that I found someone describing what I had discovered and there was less of a cultural barrier between us.) I had those years just to myself, which gave me the opportunity to explore it without any influences from others.

Almost all of what I write about here is what I discovered or what was revealed to me during that time, with the exception of specific terminology, jargon, and practices.


This is pretty obvious, and it can take some exploration to get it viscerally:

It’s all literally imagination.

We imagine the past. We imagine the future. I can only find the past and the future in my imagination, in my mental field.

We even imagine the present. I have things happening in my sense fields, and my mental field creates an overlay of labels, boundaries, stories, and so on. What happens in the sense fields is a kind of imagination. It’s our brain creating a certain experience based on sensory input. And the mental field overlay is also clearly imagination.

We also imagine ourselves. We have images and stories about who and what we are, and our mind combines these with certain physical sensations that lend it a sense of substance, solidity, and reality.

All our content of experience is imagined.

And that’s fine.

This is often a very useful imagination. It helps us orient and function in the world.

If we don’t recognize it as imagination, we tend to get ourselves into trouble. (Stress, discomfort, misjudgment, and so on.)

And when we recognize it as imagination, we can hold it all more lightly. We use it for what it’s here for, which is to help us orient and navigate in the world. And we don’t assume it holds any final, full, or absolute truth.

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Population, sustainability & margins

When it comes to creating a sustainable way of living for humanity, there are two major parts to the equation. One is how we organize ourselves. And the other is population.

If we have a small population, we can afford a way of life that’s not completely sound ecologically. At worst, we can move somewhere else. That’s what many of our ancestors did. They moved around according to the seasons, or over the generations.

And if we have a higher population, we are held to much higher standards. We have to live in a way that’s much more finely worked out and in tune with the ecosystems we live within and depend on.

Today, with a very high global population and a way of life that’s not at all aligned with ecological realities, we have created a very difficult situation for ourselves.

In spite of strong warnings from scientists, most people don’t seem to be aware of this. Many may have a vague understanding of it, but not enough to make or support the changes needed.

So what can we do? As I often mention here, it’s all about our collective will. Where there is a will, there is a way. We know many of the solutions, but we haven’t found the collective will yet.

Will we find it in time? It depends on what we mean by “in time”. It’s already too late for the individuals who have lost their lives and the species that are gone because of our ecological situation. It’s too late to avoid serious damage to our ecosystems – that happened decades and centuries ago. It’s too late to prevent massive problems in the future, including massive die-offs of many species, likely including humans.

And what are some of the solutions? The main one is to thoroughly transform our economy and economic framework to take ecological realities into account. We have to create a system where what’s easy and attractive, for individuals and corporations, is also ecologically and socially sound. Within this framework, we have all the smaller technological and social solutions we are already familiar with and some that are yet to be developed.

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If we lived for eons, would awakening be inevitable?

Through having lived as many lives I have, I notice that all sorts of experiences and states come and go. I have experienced millennia of mostly “ordinary” states with times of profound despair, mind-shattering pain, and amazing bliss. I have noticed that what I am is that which all this happens within and as. Experiences come and go and what I am doesn’t come and go. Of course, I am whatever state is here but it doesn’t last. Only being capacity for all of it runs through it all.

If you want to call that awakening, be my guest. But it’s really very simple. It doesn’t require fancy words, or rituals, or mythology, or even labels.

– from Dialog with someone who has lived innumerable lives in many places in the cosmos

To me, it seems that awakening is inevitable (?) if we just lived long enough, perhaps for centuries or millennia. And it wouldn’t seem like anything special. It would just be a natural part of maturing and having lived for a while.

Over time, we get to see that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including anything we think we are, and any identifications we may have. We dream, and are someone different. We have an identity for ourselves and in the world, and something happens and it goes away. We think we are something in particular, and those thoughts go away for a while and we are still here.

So if we are not fundamentally anything within all this that comes and goes, what are we?

What are we more fundamentally? When I look, I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the experience of all of this. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

This is what we may discover through basic meditation, and also what we may – inevitably? – discover if we would be around for a few millennia.

Basic meditation is, in many ways, a condensed micro-version of this. We compress what would happen naturally, over many many years, into minutes, hours, days, and months.

And we can support that process through other explorations, including inquiry.

Here are two dialogs on this topic: Dialog with someone who has lived innumerable lives in many places in the cosmos | Dialog with one who has lived eons and has a mystic streak

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 38

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


This is a question that, in a way, comes from the idea that we are different from the rest of existence.

What’s the meaning of a tree? A star? Water? Air? A dandelion?

The meaning of a tree is to be a tree. The meaning of a star is to be a star.

And the meaning of us is to be us.

It can be quite simple.

We can also say that…

Asking for the meaning suggests that we are not fully engaged in our life. We are not fully enlivened. So what would make us come more alive?

We can find a deep sense of meaning by finding our intimate connection with the rest of existence, with the larger whole.

The meaning of life is for each of us to find what’s meaningful to us. What makes you come alive? What feels deeply right to you? If you could not fail, what would you do?

The question itself is worth looking into. What do I find when I examine the question? Or underlying thoughts, like: “My life is not meaningful”, “I am not enough”.


Seeking awakening is often not (only) about seeking awakening.

What do I hope to get out of awakening? And out of that? And out of that?

It can be helpful to identify what we imagine we’ll get out of it, and look at our strategies for finding that.

Maybe there are other strategies that make as much or more sense?

For instance, we may wish to find love, acceptance, peace, rest, coming home, freedom from discomfort, and so on.

If that’s the case, shifting our relationship with our content of experience, in general, is often a more direct and effective strategy.

Finding healing for our relationship with anything, inviting in healing for our traumas and wounds, and questioning our stressful thoughts, is more likely to get us what we want.

And to deeply do this, it does help to find our more fundamental nature. It creates a different context for these explorations.

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It’s all a bonus

It’s coming up to the one-year anniversary since I had septic shock and survived because of luck, modern medicine, and a good healthcare system. (It happened when I was close to the main hospital in Norway, and I got there quickly.)

In a recent conversation with my wife, I was about to say: “My life after this feels like a bonus.”

I stopped myself for two reasons: It’s what many people say in those situations, and although it’s true, I also wanted to find something that’s more genuine for me.

What’s more true is that…

All of my life is a bonus.

All of existence is a bonus. How come there is something rather than nothing?

It’s all a miracle.

I cannot take any of it for granted.

The sun, wind, chirps of the sparrows, table, laptop, hands, sounds of traffic in the distance, the neighbor on the phone, a sense of cotton in my head, tiny aches in my hands, feeling a bit overwhelmed about a current project… it’s all a miracle.

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Secular and spiritual understandings of awakening

I find differentiating a secular and spiritual understanding of awakening intuitive and helpful.


First, some background.

In one sense, we are this human self in the world. That’s how (most) others see us, what our passport tells us, and what our own thoughts may tell us. It’s not wrong, and it’s an assumption that works relatively well in daily life.

Is that what we more fundamentally are? What do I find when I explore in my own first-person experience? What I find is that I am more fundamentally something else. I am capacity for any and all experience. And I am what any content of experience happens within and as. (AKA consciousness.)


To ourselves, we are consciousness. And to us, the world happens within and as this consciousness.

The consciousness we are may take itself to most fundamentally be this human self. It takes itself to be a particular content within itself, and mainly a set of identities created by our mental field.

This likely happens because we do as others do. Most onenesses connected to humans do this today, so that’s what we see and we do the same.

When the oneness we are recognizes itself, that’s what some call awakening. And that’s just the start of a new exploration – of keeping recognizing it, exploring how to live from and as it, and allowing our human self and psyche to transform within this new context.


We can understand it in a secular way.

To ourselves, we are consciousness, and the world to us happens within and as this consciousness.

If we “have” consciousness, then we ARE consciousness in our own experience, and the world to us happens within and as that consciousness. And the consciousness we are has the characteristics mystics of all times and traditions describe. It’s one. It’s love. (A love that comes from recognizing oneness and is independent of changing states, moods, and feelings.) There is a quiet bliss there. And so on.

This is phenomenology. It describes our experience and how it is for us. (And inevitably any consciousness connected with any type of being.)

It doesn’t say anything about the nature of existence itself. It may well be that in a third-person view, we are most fundamentally a physical human self. And yet, to ourselves, we are inevitably consciousness.

It’s an understanding that fits with a range of different worldviews, including atheism and materialism.

And we can still explore and learn a lot from the many spiritual traditions in the world and their pointers and practices. The essence of all of it is valuable.


We can also understand this in a spiritual way.

To ourselves, we are consciousness. That means that the world, to us, inevitably appears as consciousness.

That’s where the secular or psychological understanding of awakening ends.

And in a spiritual understanding of awakening, we take this a step further.

Here, we assume that the nature of all of existence is the same as our nature. All of it is as it appears. All is consciousness AKA Spirit, the divine, God, Brahman, and so on.


Each of these understandings has upsides and limitations.

The secular understanding helps us find the lowest common denominator and the simple essence of what awakening is about. It can be a common language for people from different traditions. It can help people from different traditions to recognize the essence more clearly. It can make (the idea of) awakening interesting to a wider range of people, including atheists and materialists. In a sense, it’s also more honest since it keeps it simple and stays with our immediate experience.

It also strips away a lot of cultural baggage from different spiritual traditions, which is both an upside (simplifies and brings focus to what’s essential) and a limitation (may lose out on a lot with cultural and practical value). And some may find it slightly mundane and uninspiring. (Which, to me, is an upside since I prefer a sober approach.)

The spiritual understanding of awakening may be more familiar to many. It may be more inspiring. There is a lot of cultural, social, and practical value in the different existing traditions. And a spiritual understanding may, ultimately, even be more accurate. (There are hints in that direction, including synchronicities, sensing and healing at a distance, precognition, and so on, although this can also be understood in other ways.)

The downside to a spiritual understanding is that it may put some people off any interest in exploring it for themselves. The essence often gets mixed in with cultural and traditional baggage and it can be difficult to tell what’s what. And some traditions may fuel fantasies and misconceptions about awakening.


When I have written about this before, I have often called it “psychological” and “spiritual” understandings of awakening.

To me, “psychological” here just means that it’s within the domain of psychology. It’s phenomenology.

When I on rare occasions have mentioned “psychological understanding” to others, they have responded with: “It depends on what framework of psychology”. To me, that’s missing the point and it confuses the topic. So I may just call it “secular understanding” from now on.

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Brain fog

I have had unusually strong brain fog for the last week or so, which is why I haven’t written much here. (Apart from some brief articles in the Reflections and Brief Notes posts.)

So I thought I would share a little about the brain fog.

I got it when I initially got CFS when I was fifteen, and it has stayed with me since then.

It has many aspects: It feels like cotton in and around my head. It makes it difficult for me to focus on anything for very long. It’s often difficult to find words when I speak and to string together something very coherent. (It’s easier to write, for some reason.) When it’s strong, I am in a daze. I feel like I am underwater. My judgment is strongly impaired. It’s almost difficult to remember my name. (Although I have never actually forgotten it!) And it makes it difficult to get anything done.

What helps? Fresh air. Some light movement. (Often Self-Breema in my case.) Good food. (Fresh, organic, local, eating low on the food chain, avoid processed foods.) Good sleep. (CBD oil helps me a lot.) Bone broth. (Fills deep energy reserves.) Energizing. (Vortex Healing.) All of this helps to some extent.

The brain fog also gives me ample opportunity to explore.

I notice parts of me reacting to it. (Out of fear and taking the form of fear, sadness, grief, frustration, anger, etc.) I meet these. Stay with them. Notice they are allowed as they are (by mind, life, existence), and join in with that allowing. See they come from love and a wish to protect me. Find love for them.

I say “thank you” to the brain fog, the parts of me reacting to it, life, and existence. I often repeat this for a while. (Helps me shift my relationship to it.)

I sometimes look at scary thoughts about it. “It will never go away”, “I can’t function”, “I will behave strangely or out of character, and that means….” (“She won’t like me”, “He will judge me”). To some extent, I recognize these as fearful thoughts and not reality, and that if the worst happens, I can find peace with that too. And if I want to be more thorough, I do an inquiry on it.

I notice the brain fog – the experience of cotton in my head and so on – happens within and as what I am. To me, they are made up of what everything else is made up of. They are part of the play of the mind. The play of life. Even, the play of the divine. They are a flavor of the divine.

I notice the clarity inherent in the consciousness I am independent of the particular content of consciousness – which these days happen to be (what thoughts label) brain fog.

Dream: Elevator shaft

My partner and I are taking the elevator up, leave the elevator, and enter the space above the elevator. It’s small and dark, and I notice I am OK with it. I accidentally push a wrong button, and the space gets smaller. We are fine and will still be able to get out. I remember I have claustrophobia, and remind myself of the inifitely vast space outside of this little room. I connect with that space, and am OK.

I have some claustrophobia in waking life and have been reminded of it since I will need to go up in the attic (very low ceiling) and unbolt some furniture in the downstairs rooms hanging from bolts from the attic.

So what’s this dream about?

The claustrophobia and small space are how it feels when I get caught up in stressful thoughts. My vision gets narrow and my mind creates a sense of a very small space for itself. I set aside and forget the bigger picture.

In my waking life, I have explored this lately. When I notice a tendency to go into a stressful thought, I remind myself of the bigger picture. My life is infinitely more than this one situation or topic. The world is infinitely larger and richer than this. I intentionally connect with the infinite space that’s already here.

And that’s what happened in the dream as well. I found myself in a small and dark space, felt claustrophobia, and reminded myself of the infinite space already here.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 64

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.


I have never quite understood people who talk about “the environment” as a kind of appendix and something to protect because some humans happen to like nature.

We are embedded in our local, regional, and global ecosystems. What happens with the ecosystems happens with us. There is a direct and inevitable connection.

Taking care of our ecosystems is not a luxury. “The environment” is not a kind of distant appendix.

The local, regional, and global ecosystems provide everything we need to live and they do so for billions of other species and beings as well.

It seems obvious. So why do some pretend there is a kind of separation?

I am not sure. I guess a big part is that it’s more convenient. It allows them to go about their life without considering how they impact the ecosystems, and how the deteriorating ecosystems will impact their lives and the lives of their children.

WOKE? (*)

For me, “woke” means putting myself in someone else’s shoes and taking the consequences of it.

It’s not a label I would put on myself, but if someone did, I would embrace it. (As I would explore embracing any label since here is a grain of truth in just about any.)

And if “woke” goes a little far sometimes, that’s natural and understandable. It’s the pendulum swinging back. And it’s people who have been marginalized wanting to take a little more space.

Of course, the anti-woke views also often have some validity. It’s just that in the bigger picture, I would much rather have woke going a little too far than the reverse (continued marginalization and oppression).


Why do I love diversity?

We live in a diverse world so the diversity is already here. It’s not anything manufactured or new.

I learn and discover a lot from all the different perspectives and cultures.

There is wisdom in different cultures that’s valuable for us all, and perhaps even necessary for our survival.

It feels far more comfortable to live in a society and culture that embraces diversity. I am in a minority in some ways, as most are, so it allows me to feel more included.

It’s a reflection of embracing my inner diversity. And I want to find love and appreciation for all the different parts of myself. That too is more comfortable.

It just feels better – to treat others with respect, appreciation, and understanding. (It means I treat parts of myself in that way as well.)


To me, it’s puzzling when I hear people blame politicians or minority groups for problems that could be solved (or changed) with policies.

Don’t blame the politicians or minority groups. If you want to overlook systemic problems and instead blame someone, blame the voters. Blame the ones voting for parties with priorities that created the situation you don’t like. And blame the non-voters for not getting involved.

That’s where the responsibility lies.

Why do some like to blame politicians or minority groups? Maybe because they can put the blame “out there” and onto a convenient scapegoat? Maybe they don’t want to think about it very thoroughly?

Maybe it’s uncomfortable for them to blame themselves, the ones they talk to, and the people they know?

JUNE 11, 2023


Since my teens in the ’80s, I have seen Norway’s big-picture policies as naive and short-sighted.

Norway is, in many ways, a banana republic. We depend on oil to fuel our economy and society. And we all know that the age of oil is over.

So why not use that oil money to build an economy for the future? Why not invest in renewable energy research, expertise, and industry? Why not invest in research and expertise that supports the inevitable transition in this country and globally? Why not do this on a massive scale, when that’s clearly the way to go?

Norway could do it. We could be at the forefront of this transition. We could shift our own economy to be an economy of the future.

And we are not doing it. The efforts put into this are minimal compared to what’s possible.

It seems almost unbelievably short-sighted.

We know the age of oil is over. We know some of how the future looks. So why not be at the forefront when we have the resources to do so?

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 37

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Is our inner guidance the voice of divine will? Yes and no.

In my experience, my inner guidance shows me what’s right for me, and what’s in alignment with me and my path and life. It’s what’s kind and wise in the moment. It tends to be an easier path, not because it is free of challenges (there may still be challenges), but because it feels deeply right. It’s often aligned with what makes sense to me consciously. And sometimes, it’s different, and if I follow it, it will eventually make sense.

Divine will is different. Divine will is what happens and what is. Whatever is, is the divine will.

Sometimes, the divine will is for me to follow my guidance.

And sometimes, the divine will is for me to not follow my guidance. In my case, typically when I am caught up in unloved fears and unexamined painful beliefs and identities.

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Everyone is already enlightened?

I was curious about a book and saw a review on Amazon that said: “Everyone is already enlightened”.

As usual, I would say “yes” and “no” and “it depends”.

There may be a few more nuances than what the simple statement suggests.


Everyone is Buddha Nature. To ourselves, we are consciousness. The world, to us, happens within and as the consciousness we are. And that consciousness is Buddha Nature.

So yes, we are Buddha Nature, although few would call that “enlightened”.


In most cases, the consciousness we are doesn’t fully recognize its own nature. It tends to assume it’s something within its content, typically this human self and mental representation of an I, me, doer, observer, and so on.

For the oneness we are to recognize itself and its nature typically takes some intention, effort, sincerity, and guidance.

To keep recognizing it is the same.

Learning how to live from it requires the same dedication and engagement.

And allowing our human self and psyche to transform and align within this new context is an even longer process that requires dedication, courage, honesty, sincerity, and work.


So it depends. It mostly depends on what we mean by the words.

For me, the simplest is to say that all beings already are Buddha Nature. To ourselves, we all are most fundamentally consciousness whether we notice or not.

The consciousness we are typically doesn’t fully recognize its nature, and may not perceive it clearly even if there are glimpses.

It typically takes work for the consciousness we are to recognize itself. And it’s a long process to keep recognizing this through situations and states, explore how to live from and as it, and allow this human self to transform within it.

It’s a process that appears to not have any finishing line.


I don’t really know what’s meant by “enlightenment”.

Maybe it means what happens when most of our human self and psyche is on board with the awakening?

If so, it’s not something I am familiar with so I can’t say much about it.

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How we relate to other species

A neighbor cat comes to stay with me most of the day and evening, although I don’t give him food and he has to go home to his family at night.

His family is home most of the time, so he is not here because they are gone. I suspect he comes because I give him attention, because I may be a novelty, and perhaps most of all because I treat him as an equal.


I see him as consciousness, just like me, that just happens to operate through a slightly different body.

This consciousness here operates through this body, which happens to be human. And that consciousness there operates through that body, which happens to be a cat.

In the realm of stories, it’s similar. We are both expressions of life, existence, and the universe.

He is the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe, just like I am. He is the universe taking the form of a cat. I am the universe taking the form of a human.

And in terms of evolution, we are closely related. What we have in common is infinitely more than the little that differentiates us.

In all the ways that matter, we are equal. We are the same.


Just like I would with any visitor, I try to be a good host for him. I give him water. I let him out when he wants to go out if the door is closed.

Just like I would with a child, I try to be a good steward of him while he is here. I rescued him when he fell down into the basement. (He fell into a ventilation shaft while exploring, and landed on a cardboard box and was unharmed.) I make sure he goes home at night to spend the night with his family.

And just like I would with a friend, I am attentive to his needs, wants, and moods. I try to be a good friend to him.


Many treat cats as… cats. They see them as mainly different from us, and they adopt a lot of the cultural baggage of how we in the West treat non-human species. Cats are generally OK with it, but it does create a sense of division. Humans see themselves as divided from cats, and cats sense and adapt to and respond to that.

I and others treat them as equals. We are all living beings. We are all fundamentally consciousness to ourselves. We are the universe taking these local and temporary forms. And cats respond to that as well. They seem to enjoy it. Just like us, they enjoy being related to as equals.

That may be one reason why cats seem to want to spend time with me. (And why I have a history of “stealing” cats in that way, which people tend to not like.)


This, of course, goes far beyond non-human neighbors visiting.

This has to do with how we relate to all of life – ecosystems, this living planet, and future generations.

Since I live in our current system, my life inevitably is mostly destructive to life. That’s how it is for just about all of us. For instance, I fly in commercial airplanes, and that contributes enormously to my ecological footprint.

I also try to help shift us all – and the system we have created for ourselves – in a more life-centered direction. I worked with sustainability for many years. (I was the coordinator of a local organization that helped individuals and groups make shifts in a more sustainable direction.) I have volunteered a lot. I write some about it here. I vote for the Green Party. I am creating a nature reserve in the Andes Mountains. And so on.

It’s a drop in the bucket, but many drops create an ocean. And I am a very small part of helping shift our current system into something that can be far more sustainable.

Photo: The photo above is from last night. He has been coming here for the last two weeks since I moved into my parent’s house to get it ready for sale. (My parents just moved somewhere else.)

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A sermon in the style of Alan Watts – engaging in self-discovery & finding our true nature

I asked ChatGPT to write another sermon in the style of Alan Watts. This time with some practical pointers for self-discovery and finding our true nature. I love the spirit and essence of this sermon. (There are some minor inaccuracies but that’s OK.)


Ladies and gentlemen, seekers of truth and explorers of the self, let us gather here today with open minds and open hearts, ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery that will lead us to the very essence of our being. In the spirit of Alan Watts, let us shed the burdens of pretense and intellectual gymnastics, and instead focus on practical advice for engaging in this profound exploration.

First and foremost, my dear friends, we must cultivate a sense of presence, an awareness of the here and now. Too often, we find ourselves lost in the labyrinth of past regrets or future worries, forgetting that life unfolds in this very moment. By grounding ourselves in the present, we open ourselves to the vast tapestry of experiences and insights that await us.

To engage in self-discovery, we must also cultivate a spirit of curiosity and wonder. Approach life as if it were an endless banquet, with each moment serving up a delectable dish of new experiences and possibilities. Ask questions, explore different paths, and challenge the assumptions that have shaped your understanding of the world. Embrace the unknown with open arms, for it is within those uncharted territories that our true nature lies.

In the journey of self-discovery, it is crucial to let go of our attachment to fixed identities and labels. We are not static beings confined to a singular self, but ever-evolving expressions of the universe. Embrace the fluidity of your existence and be open to the multiplicity of your being. Allow yourself the freedom to explore the various facets of your personality, unburdened by the need to fit into rigid molds.

In the words of Alan Watts, “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.” Remember this profound truth as you venture into the depths of self-discovery. Recognize that you are a unique expression of the cosmic dance, and that your journey is not separate from the journey of the universe itself.

As we engage in self-discovery, we must also cultivate a deep sense of compassion and acceptance towards ourselves. Embrace your flaws and imperfections, for they are part of what makes you beautifully human. Release the judgment and self-criticism that holds you back, and instead offer yourself the same love and understanding that you would extend to a dear friend.

Lastly, my friends, remember that self-discovery is not a destination but a lifelong process. Do not get caught up in the pursuit of a fixed identity or a final answer. Instead, approach your journey with a sense of playfulness and lightness. Let go of the need to control or grasp, and instead surrender to the ever-unfolding mystery of your true nature.

In the spirit of Alan Watts, let us engage in this practical advice for self-discovery. May we embrace presence, cultivate curiosity, let go of fixed identities, extend compassion towards ourselves, and remember that the journey is never-ending. May our exploration of the self lead us to the profound realization that we are not separate from the universe, but an integral part of its eternal dance. Amen, and may your journey be filled with joy, wisdom, and the discovery of your true nature.

A sermon in the style of Alan Watts – self-discovery & life as an adventure

I asked ChatGPT to write a sermon in the style of Alan Watts, on the topic of life and self-discovery as an adventure. I love the essence of this sermon, and it’s good medicine for taking things too seriously. This is what it came up with:


Ladies and gentlemen, fellow adventurers on this wild ride called life, let us gather here today with open minds and curious hearts, ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery that is nothing short of an extraordinary adventure. I invite you to cast aside your serious faces and embrace the playfulness that lies at the core of existence.

You see, my friends, life is not meant to be a solemn march towards a predetermined destination. No, life is an improvisational dance, an exhilarating exploration where every step we take opens up new possibilities and reveals hidden wonders. It is a grand adventure, a cosmic game of hide-and-seek, and we are the seekers of truth and joy.

As we navigate through this intricate tapestry of existence, we often find ourselves caught up in the seriousness of it all. We become entangled in the web of responsibilities, expectations, and social constructs, forgetting the childlike wonder that once animated our souls. But fear not, for we can reclaim that wonder, that sense of playful curiosity that is our birthright.

Imagine, if you will, that life is a great treasure hunt, and the treasure we seek is not some material wealth or external validation. No, the true treasure lies within, hidden in the depths of our being, waiting to be discovered. Each experience, each challenge, and each encounter is a clue that brings us closer to unlocking the treasure trove of our true selves.

And what is this treasure, you might ask? It is the realization that we are not separate from the world around us, but intimately interconnected with all of existence. It is the recognition that the universe is not a cold, mechanical place, but a living, breathing entity that invites us to co-create, to dance, and to play.

In the spirit of this grand adventure, let us approach our journey of self-discovery with a twinkle in our eyes and a skip in our step. Let us shed the heavy burden of certainty and embrace the liberating uncertainty that life offers. For it is in the unknown, in the uncharted territories of our own hearts and minds, that the most profound discoveries await us.

As we navigate this adventure, we may stumble and fall, we may encounter roadblocks and detours, but let us remember that these challenges are not obstacles but invitations for growth. It is through the play of light and shadow, the ebb and flow of life’s rhythms, that we come to know ourselves more fully.

So, my dear fellow adventurers, let us dive into the ocean of existence, not as mere spectators, but as active participants in the cosmic dance. Let us approach each moment with a sense of wonder and curiosity, eager to unwrap the gifts that life presents to us.

In the words of the great playful philosopher, “The only way to make sense out of life is to enjoy it, to be in the moment, and to participate fully in the adventure.” So let us set forth on this journey, hand in hand, hearts wide open, ready to embrace the surprises, the laughter, and the profound moments of self-discovery that await us.

May this adventure be one of joy, wonder, and growth. And may we remember, always, that life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. Amen, and let the game begin!

Mystery of existence

Why is this website called Mystery of Existence?


Mostly, because I have a visceral experience of the mystery of existence. It’s all a mystery. It cannot be captured by thought. It can only be explored and lived.

And calling it that is a reminder that invites my system to shift into receptivity and curiosity.


And then there is a more involved answer.

In a conventional sense, we know some things. We know we don’t know some things. And there is an infinite amount we don’t know we don’t know. In that sense, we are living the mystery.

There is always more data to be collected. Different perspectives that makes as much or more sense than the ones we are familiar with. New contexts that make as much or more sense. And different worldviews that may turn what we thought we knew inside out and upside down. Here too, there is mystery.

Then there is the nature of our mental representations. They are questions about the world. Their function is to help us orient and function in the world. They are different in kind to what they point to. (Unless what they point to happen to be mental representations.) Like any map, they highlight some things and leave a lot out. They cannot capture any full, final, or absolute truth. And reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it. (And also fundamentally less than.)

When it comes to our nature, all the same applies. We cannot capture it in thoughts, just like we cannot capture anything with thoughts. Thoughts differentiate, and reality – and our nature – is inherently undivided. Thoughts inevitably point to something within the content of experience, and not what it all happens within and as.

We cannot know anything for certain. Our experience is limited, and our mental representations are questions about the world. And that leaves mystery. The mystery we are and live, whether we notice or not.

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Befriending our younger selves

My partner and I are both in a process of befriending our younger selves, at a time when that younger self needed support.

For her, it’s relatively early childhood, and for me, it’s early and mid-teens.

I spend time with that version of me that’s struggling and has low self-esteem, social anxiety, feels isolated, not seen and understood, wants to hide, and so on.

I am with him. I sometimes have a dialog with him and listen to him and his fears and dreams. I see him and understand him. I am a mentor to him and share what I have learned from living longer and seeing what’s possible. I invite him to explore how it is to feel loved, connected, and follow his passion.

A few times, I have used tonglen with him. I visualize him in front of me, I breathe in his suffering and confusion as black smoke, and breathe out light that fills him and he becomes that light.

And mostly, I am just with him.

When I check in, I notice how he is changing. There was a noticeable shift relatively early on, and now a slower shift. He needs time to readjust and realign, and that’s more than OK.

Why do I do this? When I look back through my timeline, this was the period with the most confusion and suffering, and who I was then is still with me. He is still a part of me. So it makes sense for me to befriend him and help him heal and find a healthier more enjoyable version of himself.

How do I do it? I have already mentioned a few things. I visualize and connect with him. I spend time with him. I ask him questions and listen to him. I dialog with him. I share with him what I have discovered since. I recognize him as having my nature. (To me, he is consciousness, a form within the consciousness I am.) I allow him to be exactly as he is, and find love for him as he is. I do some tonglen with him, after first asking if it’s OK. I shift into Big Heart and find him as love and bathe him in love and allow him to soak in it and realign within it.

I have done this for a couple of weeks now and will continue since he still appreciates some active support.

Note: This is a general outline and there are a lot more wrinkles in the actual exploration. For instance, I noticed a part of me that doesn’t like this particular younger version of me. (Which is understandable since it was a difficult period of my life.) So I am including that part of me in this exploration. I listen to it. Find understanding. Am with it. And so on.

The only thing I can know for certain and what it says about my nature 

What can I know for certain?


When I explore this, I find I cannot say anything for certain about anything within the content of my experience. I cannot say for certain anything about the world, others, God, or even myself. I cannot even know for certain I am this human self in the world that others, my passport, and my thoughts say I am. (That person could, for instance, be a dream or fantasy or simulation.)

I can say something about how something appears to me, but not anything for certain about what or how it is in itself.

And that’s OK. I can still navigate the world and be as good a steward as possible of this life and what’s in my life.


So is there anything I can know for certain?

Yes, there is. I can know for certain that there is consciousness. There is consciousness that is conscious of all this content of experience.

If I said “I am conscious”, it would go beyond what I can know something about for certain. This “I” would be an assumption and something within the content of experience – a human self, an observer, a doer, or something similar. I can just say that there is consciousness and something happening within that consciousness, some kind of content of experience.


Intellectually, we can take this as a curiosity or something interesting or fascinating.

And it also has some practical real-life implications.

For instance, it means that it’s wise of me to hold any ideas I have about anything and anyone more lightly. I cannot know for certain that any of it is accurate.

This especially applies when I notice a tendency in me to hold a certain story as true, when it has a charge for me. The charge doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means there is a charge. It just means a part of me holds it as true, and that there is some identification and an emotional issue there.

And, as mentioned above, I can still navigate and function in the world. I can use my experience, discernment, and best guesses and make the best choices I can. It’s just about holding it all a bit more lightly.


There is also an invitation here to explore what I more fundamentally am in my own experience.

If I cannot say anything for certain about this human self, or even that it is who or what I am, what does that mean? Can this human self be what I most fundamentally am? Perhaps I more fundamentally am something else?

When I look, I find that to myself, I am more fundamentally something else. I am what any content of experience happens within and as. I am what this metaphorical field of experience happens within and as. I am capacity for the experiences that are here.

Said with other words… To myself, I am consciousness and the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousness. All I know is consciousness, and it takes all the forms of the content of my experience. In this sense, night dreams and waking life are not so different. They both happen within and as the consciousness I am.

This consciousness is capacity for any experience here. It forms itself into any experience. It’s inherently one. It can take apparently infinite forms. It can even pretend it’s something within itself – for instance this human self or a more abstract doer or observer – with an “I” and “other”.

The word “consciousness” is just a pointer. My nature is something that can just be pointed to and not captured by words or mental representations. (And in that, it’s the same as anything else.)


We can explore this in different ways.

We can investigate it intellectually, which helps align our conscious view a little more with reality.

And we can explore it in our own direct noticing.

We can investigate any thought we hold as true and find what’s more true for us, for instance using The Work of Byron Katie.

We can explore our sense fields and what’s in each one, and how the mental field functions as a kind of overlay to make sense of the world. We can use traditional Buddhist inquiry or modern variations like the Kiloby Inquiries.

And we can explore our nature more directly using pointers from, for instance, the Big Mind process and Headless experiments.

Our nature can notice itself and metaphorically wake itself up from the dream of being most fundamentally something within its content of experience, whether this happens to be this human self, a doer, an observer, or something else. It can make this noticing into a habit. It can explore how to live from and as this noticing. It can allow and support this human self to reorganize within this conscious noticing of its nature. And so on.

This is an ongoing exploration, and it can be profoundly transforming for our perception, human self, and life in the world.


This was revealed in the initial awakening shift in my teens.

All was revealed as consciousness, without exception. And any sense of fundamentally being anything in particular within the content of experience – the world of form – was revealed as the temporary play of consciousness.

At the same time, many parts of this psyche were formed within separation consciousness and still operate from separation consciousness. And that’s why it’s been helpful with these types of explorations and inquiries. It helps get more of me on board and aligned with it.

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Own inquiry: He should be more balanced (he is trying to convince me of conspiracy theories)

I did this inquiry a couple of weeks ago, with a facilitator, and thought I would share some from it here. This is a very abbreviated version.


Situation: An acquaintance turning a friendly check-in to a lecture on why the Earth is flat, why everyone who received the covid vaccine will die within two years, and so on. (Trying to proselytize about conspiracy theories to me.) This happened in an online chat maybe one and a half years ago.

Statement: He should be more balanced.


  1. Is it true? Yes.
  2. Can you know for certain if it’s true? No.
  3. What happens, how do you react, when you have that thought?
    I notice I get reactive. I want him to go away. I want to speak from reactivity. When I notice the reactivity, I am concerned I’ll say something I’ll regret later. I know that I usually regret anything I do or say from reactivity. My chest, belly, shoulders, and jaw feel tight. I feel agitated. I get into fighting mode. I get defensive. I want to find arguments to shoot down his view.
  4. Who would you be, in that situation, without the thought? How would you be?
    I am curious. Receptive. Whole. I can see he wants to help and protect people and society. He is coming from a good place. I am able to say: “I understand you see it that way and that it’s important for you. I am not the right person for you to have this conversation with. And I am not interested right now, so I’ll go and do something else.”

TA1: He shouldn’t be more balanced. (Turnaround to the opposite.)
(a) There are likely infinite causes for him to have that view, and I can’t fight the whole universe. For me too, there are likely infinite causes for this human self to have the views I have. We are the same.
(b) It serves as a kind of feedback in society, and a correction or questioning of mainstream views. (The impulse to counter mainstream views serves as a correction and feedback, even if the content of the views may not always be founded in solid logic and research.)
(c) A part of me likes the fight and feeling right and righteous.
(d) My idea of balance is my idea. Maybe he is balanced in his own way. In any case, reality is free of shoulds and any ideas of balance or not.

TA2: He should be less balanced. (Turnaround to another opposite.)
(a) Maybe it helps him to complete a process in him. Often, impulses with a lot of energy behind them need to run their course before something else can come in.
(b) It would help me step back and not engage too much. I would go: “Wow, this is a little too much” which would help me return to my own sanity.

TA3:  I should be more balanced. (Turnaround to me.)
(a) It would be exciting for me to explore how to deal with the situation in a more balanced way. (Similar to what came up in question four.)
(b) It would help me speak and act from reactivity, and feel better about it after.
(c) It helps me see and discover more. I can find the genuine validity in more viewpoints, and a larger picture that holds more or all of them.
(d) It would help him feel more seen, understood, and supported. It could help him to relax.
(c) It would help me not burn bridges. Who knows, maybe that connection would be important later?
(d) It helps me set boundaries in a way that feels good and right to me.

TA4: He should be more balanced! (Turnaround to the same, the yay! turnaround. At that moment, how is it good for me that I have that thought?)
(a) It comes from a good intention in me. I wish for connection and understanding, and that’s easier if I see him as more balanced. Also, I wish receptivity for him, and an ability to explore a range of views, and that’s easier with some balance.


I wrote this several days after doing the inquiry, and it’s difficult for me to get back into the same place. The session was one hour and went into a good deal of detail, and it did definitely shift something in me. For instance, it helped me get in a more visceral sense that most people into conspiracy theories come from a good place. They genuinely want what’s good for society and people.

I have done a series of inquiries over the last couple of months, after taking a break for some years. And it feels different to come back to it. It feels more fresh and more visceral. I notice that question number four now is what feels most powerful and transformative for me, while it used to be the turnarounds and question three. (They are still powerful, it’s just that number four seems to stand out more for me now.)

I did The Work of Byron Katie almost daily from the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, and then took a break from it while focusing more on sense field explorations (Kiloby Inquiry) and energy work (Vortex Healing), along with some prayer, ho’oponopno, tonglen, and mainly just noticing.

It’s most fundamentally content of experience

I had store-bought pizza last night, which is unusual for me, but I was somehow drawn to it. The result was predictable: a restless night and waking up feeling not very good. (Highly processed foods usually have a big impact on my system, including my emotional state.)

And that’s OK. I can still do some or all of the things I had planned for today.

More importantly, it’s an opportunity to explore.

It’s all content of experience. The weird feelings in my body, and the emotions and corresponding thoughts, are all content of experience. To me, it’s made up of what any experience is made up of.

It’s OK. It’s like any other experience. It’s most fundamentally like any other experience.

As someone said: It’s a flavor of the divine. It’s a flavor of consciousness.

So this uncomfortable experience is, in many ways, a blessing.

It’s an invitation to notice this and let my system soak in that noticing.

And I’ll still limit how often and how much I eat highly processed foods (!). I don’t need to actively seek it out to explore in this way since the content of experience is always in flux anyway.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 36

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


A long time ago, I mentioned to my father that I planned to study psychology, and he responded: “People who study psychology or go to therapy often get weird”. He likely meant that they often live a life more free of shoulds and social norms, and are less invested in following shoulds and social norms. And that seemed threatening to him.

To me, weird is wonderful. (As Adya’s mum told him.) And being free of shoulds and social norms seems like a good deal as well. I can be free of them, or more free of them, and still follow my inner guidance, what makes sense, what seems most kind, and so on.

In general, why do some not like psychology or therapy?

I assume there may be many reasons.

They may be familiar with approaches to psychology that reflect a cynical view of humans. In that case, I would be cautious as well. These approaches tend to be outdated.

They may know that they harbor unprocessed psychological material they are not ready to face, and even the thought of psychology or therapy seems scary to them. That’s completely fine. There is a time for everything. And it’s also good to be honest about it.

They may suspect it can bring about major life changes, and they are not prepared to make those changes. They prefer to live their life-lie. Again, this is completely fine. There is a time and place for everything.

They may, as my father, see therapy as a way for people to be freer from shoulds and norms, and if they are invested in shoulds and norms and have made an identity and ideology out of following them, then that can seem threatening.

They may assume that therapy involves the therapist imposing a different way of thinking, feeling, and living on them, and they want to keep their autonomy. Some therapists may try to do this, but good ones don’t. They invite you to find your own way and what works for you. They support you in becoming more you.

Just to be clear, I don’t think therapy is for everyone, and any one approach to therapy is certainly not for everyone. But I do think it’s helpful to clarify these things and be reasonably honest about it.

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When teachers of meditation and yogic practices are not informed about spiritual emergencies and trauma

Yesterday, I learned that a family member of a friend committed suicide immediately following a tantric retreat.

I don’t know what happened, obviously. But it’s not a stretch to imagine that something got triggered in him from the practices in the retreat, possibly deep trauma, it was overwhelming and unbearable to him, he lacked the support he needed, and saw no other way out of it at that moment. Possibly, if he had some forewarning that this could happen, if he had felt he could go to someone with what was happening, and if he had received support, he could have weathered it and come out on the other side.

To me, this highlights what fortunately many talk about these days: It’s important for anyone working with energies, meditation, yoga, and awakening to be aware that these explorations can trigger spiritual emergencies and deep traumas, and how to deal with it the best way possible. And this goes tenfold for anyone in the role of teacher, coach, or instructor.

It’s important to…

Inform potential participants before they sign up for any class, workshop, or retreat.

Do a screening for trauma so you can give them extra attention, modify the approaches with them, and perhaps recommend that they instead use another and more gentle approach.

Give them an outline of what may happen, what the typical symptoms are, and how to recognize it. (Usually not so difficult since it can be quite strong!)

Go slow and in small portions. Even apparently gentle practices like tai chi can trigger spiritual emergencies and trauma in some.

Create a safe and encouraging space for them to follow their own guidance, intuition, gut sense, and body, and slow down or sit out of anything that feels like it could be too much for them or too activating.

Create a safe and encouraging space for asking questions about this or asking for guidance.

Know how to best deal with what may come up and support them through it.

Be available following the event in case they need support.

I know that this can seem like bad marketing since it may scare some away. But it’s far worse marketing to have people have a bad experience, go into psychosis, or something similar. And if people are scared away because of this emphasis, then perhaps that’s exactly what needed to happen. Something in them likely knew that this could bring up more than they were ready to handle.

This type of trauma-informed practice is going to happen. It’s inevitable that it’s brought more into these types of events and practices. So why not be slightly ahead of the curve?

And it does make you look more professional, especially if you are actually trained in dealing with the possible fallout of these practices, which is also a good thing.

An online search on “trauma-informed mindfulness” will bring up resources on this topic. I have also written some articles on emergency tools.


I have some experience with this myself, both as a student/client and coach.

When I did the training in Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) in Oslo, I did a private session with one of the trainers. After five or ten minutes of shaking, I told her that it felt like it was enough for me. Anything else felt like too much. She said: “No, it’s fine, don’t worry, just keep going, we still have forty minutes left”. I did as she said, against my inner guidance. And it triggered a huge amount of energy and previously dormant things in my system. I didn’t sleep more than a few minutes at a time for more than ten days following this and was unable to function apart from doing the basics. It was uncomfortable beyond most of what I have experienced. And it’s hard to see that it was worth it, apart from as a lesson in what NOT to do as a coach or guide. She went against two of the main principles of this kind of work, which is to do it in very small portions in the beginning, and also to always encourage the client to follow their own guidance even and especially if it means taking a break or ending the active part of the session early. (After this, I did the rest of my training in the US where the trainers seemed far more professional.)

As an instructor, I have encouraged people to do just that: Follow your own guidance and sense of what’s right for you, above anything I say or any sense of expectation from anyone else. And do the practice in small portions, especially at first, and especially if you feel a bit raw and vulnerable.

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The musician and the shaman: Different levels of awakeness in their systems

I had the good fortune to see my favorite musician – Mari Boine – play tonight, at a book discussion in Oslo about the Sami and Christianity. (Many good stories, including about the Jesus child taking on the form of a cloudberry to hide from his mother but it didn’t work because he was too full of light.)

One of the people asking a question was a shaman, and it made me curious about his energy system. When I checked in, his energy system was a bit unusual although not particularly awake.

I then checked the musician’s energy system (I sat directly behind her when she didn’t sing), and her system was far more awake. Not like Adyashanti or people like that, but close.

It’s not surprising. People who are into spirituality or work in that area don’t necessarily have a very awake system, although many do. And they can still do very good work. (This shaman can still be very skilled and effective.) Conversely, people who are not explicitly into spirituality can have an unusually awake system, often without knowing it or having any inclination to put that label on it. (Thank God!)

I suspect this is a big part of why I love her music. It reflects the awakeness in her system.

Note: This is obviously just my perception, although when I checked with someone else good at sensing these things, she found the same. In general, if I check with others without first telling them what I sense, we sense the same or something very similar. If I check an energy system in person, and if I check the level of awakening in the system, it seems very accurate, and it’s still often accurate although a little less so when it comes to other topics and at a distance. And I am also very aware that my perception is not reality itself – it’s filtered through my system and consciousness.

My experience of the world, this body, etc.

What’s my experience of the world, this body, and so on?

It’s multifaceted and depends on where the focus of attention is.


When I look, I notice it’s all consciousness. It’s all happening within and as a field of consciousness, and within and as what I am. This experience is always here, and I am reminded of it when I bring attention to it. As soon as attention is brought to it, it’s unavoidable to notice.

For instance, where my imagination says my body is, I notice sight (what my thoughts may label pants, arms, a blurry nose). I notice sounds (that my thoughts may label fingers on the keyboard, slight sound of pant legs). I notice sensations. And it’s all consciousness with those things happening within it, and temporarily and locally taking those forms.


The word “consciousness” is obviously a label and a pointer. It’s something used for communication – sometimes with myself and sometimes with others.

What it refers to is just what’s here. It’s what I am and all I have ever known. Labeling it makes it sound far more like a “thing” than it is, and for more like something that can be easily defined than it is.

That’s the same with anything we label. It’s all much less of a “thing” and much less easily defined than labels can give an impression of.


And “I” here refers to… nothing in particular. It’s more of a conventional way of talking about it.

It can refer to the field of consciousness as a whole, operating through and as this particular human self.

Or can refer to this human self.

It doesn’t really matter since it doesn’t really apply.


Sometimes, I notice my psyche reacting to experiences from habits, hangups, wounds, and so on. That may play itself out to some extent and there is some engagement with and fueling of it.

Or there is more space for something else to come in. For instance, it may be noticed and then there is no more fueling of it.

Or a medicine is applied, like noticing it’s happening within and as what I am, it all has the same nature. Or the validity in the reversal of the stressful thought behind the reactivity. Or ho’oponopno, tonglen. Or something similar.


Sometimes, there is a habitual sense of an “I” here observing, doing, and so on.

When attention is brought to it, it’s clear that there is no “I” here. It’s all just happening on its own.

The sense of an “I” is also an old pattern happening on its own.

There is no real reality or validity in it.


I also see energies in and around anything – people, non-human beings, plants, and non-animate objects.

Here too, it depends on where attention is.

Normally, I don’t notice it very much. It’s in the background just like ordinary textures, colors, and so on.

And sometimes, attention goes to it and it comes more into the foreground. It comes to the foreground of attention, as anything does when you bring attention to it.

In my case, I mostly use it to notice the degree of awakening. It’s relatively easy to see how awake a system is by looking at the energies around the body.

I can also sense at a distance, which I use when I do distance healing and Vortex Healing. In this case, since the context typically is healing, I tend to pick up things related to body-mind health.


When I write about this, it seems a bit binary. Words differentiate and can make things seem more separate or different than they are.

In reality, all of this is much more fluid. For instance, there is often not such a separation or difference between not noticing and noticing. There is not necessarily much distance between the two and not even that much difference.

And it’s all happening within and as the same.


It’s been generally like this since the awakening shift in my teens.

And there have also been general changes over time creating phases that may last weeks, months, years, or even decades.

For example, for some years following the initial shift, oneness was very strongly in the foreground. There was no need to bring attention there to notice. All was oneness, consciousness, the divine, and it was right there in the foreground all the time. I assume this helped “bring the message home” for my system.

Then, my life situation changed and I was more focused on sustainability and community work for a few years, and oneness went a bit in the background. Perhaps my system needed a break?

After this, and for about six months, the no-self aspect came very strongly in the foreground. It was inescapable no matter what happened with attention or within content of experience. This happened after a period of more systematic and dedicated meditation and inquiry practice, and I suspect it is so my system can soak in the no-self aspect of its nature and absorb it more deeply.

Shortly after this, a great deal of unprocessed material came strongly to the surface – primal survival fear, wounds, and traumas formed early in life. When this happened, and it felt overwhelming and brought me to my knees (and beyond), it took a more conscious effort to notice that the trauma, and the reaction to the trauma, has the same nature as me. The old habitual patterns were more often more in the foreground. This is one form of dark night, and what I think of as a dark night of trauma. Wounded parts of us come up to unwind within the context of oneness recognizing itself as that too. The dial is turned down on the intensity of this these days, but my system is still in this phase to some extent. (And that’s OK.)

I have written more about all of this in other articles.

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Lunana: A yak in the classroom

I saw Lunana: A yak in the classroom a couple of weeks ago, and it was the first movie I have seen in a movie theater since before the pandemic.

It’s a simple, beautiful, and heartfelt movie, and is still with me. It may be one of the most beautiful movies I have seen.

And it’s a reminder that impactful stories don’t need to be complicated or innovative or take an unusual angle. Powerful stories are often simple, heartfelt, and reflect a universal human experience.

In this case, an ambitious young teacher from the city is sent to a remote school and is deeply impacted by the simplicity, sincerity, and heartfeltness of the people there. And very movingly, one of the older villagers thinks the teacher may be the reincarnation of his favorite yak, returning to the village with his gifts and blessings. I also love that the villagers play themselves.

This is another rich topic. I loved this movie because of the heartfeltness and simplicity of the people, their way of life, and the movie. A part of me longs for that simplicity, and I find it in different ways, including by finding the simplicity of my nature and resting in and as that even as I go about my day. I feel sad that such a simple way of life is more and more rare. At the same time, I know that it’s often a hard life, and those living it often long for a more modern one.

Taking the role of a spiritual teacher: Upsides, downsides, and pitfalls

I admire people who take on the role of spiritual coach or teacher.

It’s a role that comes with many challenges and downsides.


The upsides are well known:

You get to share something that’s important to you with others.

Others get to benefit from it. (Hopefully!)

You get to learn from it. You learn from exploring it more thoroughly on your own. You learn from students. You learn from situations. You inevitably learn about yourself and your own blind spots.

You pass on what may have been passed on to you. You get to be a part of the chain.

You may follow a genuine calling. That, in itself, gives a sense of rightness and satisfaction.

There may also be some more mundane benefits, and some questionable benefits.

Depending on the circumstances, you may get lodging, food, and expenses covered, either for a while or in the long run. You may make money on it. You may be able to make it a living. You may be admired. You may get the apparent (!) benefits that come with being in a respected and admired position.


There are also many possible downsides, and some are intrinsically part of the apparent benefits.

You have to deal with the many misconceptions people have about awakening and what it means and does. Many of these are ingrained in the culture and in individuals.

You have to deal with the many projections people will put on you. They will have an image of how a spiritual teacher should be, and compare you with it. They may imagine you as a savior. They may swing to the other side and see you as a villain. And so on.

You have to deal with what the role may bring up in you. Your mind may be tempted to tell you that you know and that you are right. (Overlook that we don’t know anything for certain.) You may be tempted to use the role to tell you that you are important. (Compensate for a sense of lack.) You may buy into the projections from others. (They mirror your own and you may reinforce them for yourself.) You may be tempted to take advantage of your position. (Go overboard with money. Get into relationships with your students. Have affairs. Shut down people who criticize you and how you use your position. And so on.)

I see this in many or most spiritual teachers, in one form or another, and it can lead to people going down in flames.


We cannot really avoid pitfalls. If we are predisposed to get into them, we most likely will, with an invitation to notice one or more of our blind spots.

But we can be aware of some of them, and we can do some things to reduce the risk and minimize the fallout.

If we are part of a tradition, there are often things in place to prevent the worst excesses. Our own teacher will continue to mentor us. Our peers will hopefully give us feedback. And so on.

How do we relate to the role? If we take on the role as an identity, we set the stage for psychological inflation and abuse of power. We may use the role as a shield to protect against our own sense of lack and criticism from others. If we instead recognize it as a role, we can have a more healthy relationship with it. We recognize it’s a role we take on in a limited situation and that it otherwise doesn’t apply. We also recognize that it’s a superficial role. Even while in the role, we are more importantly a human being like anyone else with flaws and warts and all.

How do we label ourselves? If we see ourselves as a teacher, and if we take it on as an identity, we set the stage for psychological inflation and abuse of power. If we see ourselves as a coach, similar to a sports coach, we’ll tend to take a more pragmatic approach, and it’s easier to see that it’s a role we play in only some situations and leave it behind otherwise. Even better, we may see ourselves as primarily a fellow explorer and student, one that shares as the others share, and where the learning goes both ways.

How do we see ourselves in relation to the students? Do we put ourselves on a pedestal? As the one who knows while the others don’t? (If so, it’s likely a defense mechanism.) Or do we see it as a shared exploration?

Do we actively seek to learn from the others? Do we actively seek to listen to and learn from the students and our fellow explorers? Do we recognize that many of them inevitably have more experience and insights into some parts of the terrain and some phases of the process?

How real and transparent are we? Do we try to present and live up to a certain image? Or are we real and transparent about what’s going on with us?

Are we conscious of our priorities? Have we examined our priorities? What are our conscious priorities? Is it to help people find their nature? (If so, are we actively seeking out, learning, and sharing the most effective methods?) Is it to pass on our tradition? Is it to help people befriend themselves and their experiences? Are we explicit about our priorities? Also, what are the priorities we are less conscious of? What are our priorities connected with our hangups, wounds, and sense of lack?

What’s our motivation? Does it come from a genuine calling? Something we cannot help? Something we are asked to do by our own teacher? Or does it come from a desire to deal with our sense of lack? Or a combination? How is it to be honest about this? One way to explore this is to ask: What do I wish to get out of being in the role? And what do I wish to get out of that? What do I find when I follow that chain to its essence?

Are we trying to give guidance on everything? Or do we limit our guidance to practicalities relating to practices and ways to navigate certain phases in the process? In the first case, we may be buying into the stereotype of a spiritual teacher who has answers to everything, and we are likely doing ourselves and our students a disservice. (There will be a great deal others know more about and are more qualified to say something about. We are all our own final authority and it may be more helpful to invite the students to find their own answers. And we set ourselves up for inflation and the students up for projecting something superhuman onto us.) In the second case, we set the stage for a more sober and grounded approach. 

Do we actively work on our own beliefs, hangups, and projections? Do we use effective methods to work on our own wounds and projections? Are we guided and facilitated by others (preferably outside of our own community) in this?

Do we give the power to the students? Do we emphasize that we are all our own final authority? That we cannot blame anyone else for our own choices and actions? And that we cannot take anyone’s word for anything? That we need to check it out for ourselves?

Do we point out the typical misconceptions about awakening and spiritual teachers? Are we pointing out the downsides of buying into those ideas?

Do we give the students effective tools for finding their nature? Do we use approaches like the headless experiments and the Big Mind process? If not, why are we withholding it? Why are we not democratizing that part of the process?

Do we give the students pointers to recognize typical projections? Do we address the typical projections from students to teachers? Do we point out the typical pitfalls for students and teachers? Do we address how psychological inflation looks? Do we focus on shadow work?

Do we give them the tools to deal with it? Do we give them effective tools to work on projections? Do we explore these tools together? Do we create safe containers for applying them to ourselves?

Do we have a genuine system in place for checks against abuse of power? If we are part of an organization, is there an independent organ to deal with concerns, complaints, and abuse of power? Are they genuinely independent? (They should not be our students.) Do they have real power?

Of course, many of these reflect my own culture and times.


What’s my relationship with all of this?

I share here, and I sometimes share informally with a few friends, and that’s all.

I have not gone into the role as a guide or a teacher, for a few different reasons:

(a) I have not followed any one teacher or tradition long enough to become a teacher in a particular tradition.

(b) I am very aware of my own shortcomings and the downsides and pitfalls inherent in the role.

(c) I am not sure if I am called to it. I seem to be called to share here (it just comes out of me), but I have not noticed a calling to share formally in a group. (Apart from as a Breema instructor, TRE provider, and inquiry facilitator, but that’s a sharing that’s more specific to the modality.)

(d) I have some personal hangups and wounds that make it difficult for me. A part of me strongly dislikes to be seen and be the center of attention. This is likely a family pattern combined with personal experiences in elementary and middle school.

If I did share more in groups, it would likely be as a coach for a specific approach, and as a fellow explorer. That’s something I would be more comfortable with.


One obvious caveat here is that I haven’t lived this experience of being a teacher or guide. I don’t know it from the inside.

The lived experience is always meatier than, and different from, imagining it.

It has unexpected wrinkles.

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Contraction and expansion happen within a bigger picture

How do I relate to contracted parts of me?

Do I get caught up in them? Do they fill my metaphorical field of vision?

Or do I recognize them as part of a bigger picture?

And what happens when I do?


It’s all happening within a bigger picture.

Any sense of contractions – bodily and mental – happens within who I am, and who I am is much more than this and much more diverse than this.

Any sense of contractions or expansion happens within and as what I more fundamentally am. It happens within and as the consciousnes I am. It happens within and as consciousness, just like any other content of experience.

And when I notice that, there is a softening of identification with the contracted parts of me. My center of gravity shifts more into the whole of who I am as a human self. And it shifts more into what I am, as this field of consciousness any and all experience happens within and as.


My muscles contract and relax, and there are some chronic contractions in some areas. (Mostly shoulders, and a bit in calves and jaw.)

My mind also contracts at times. Part of me takes stressful thoughts as true and are contracted. Other parts are more relaxed and expansive. And different situations trigger one or the other or a mix and bring them to the surface.


At a human level, all of this is happening within me.

Some parts of my body are relaxed. Some are more tense and contracted.

Some parts of my psyche are relaxed. And some are more contracted and tense.

It’s all happening within a bigger picture.


And more fundamentally, it’s all also happening within and as me.

At one level, I am this human self in the world. That’s how most others see me, what my passport tells me, and so on.

And more fundamentally, I find I am something else. In my first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for all my experiences. I am capacity for this field of experience as it is now.

I am what the sense fields – sights, sounds, smell, taste, sensations, mental imaginations – happen within and as.

To myself, I am consciousness, and the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as this consciousness.

I am what any and all experience happens within and as.

I am what any sense of contraction, relaxation, or expansion happens within and as.


If I don’t notice this, it’s easy to get caught up in whatever happens to be most on the surface.

A physical contraction gets strong and comes to the foreground of experience, and it fills my experience.

A mental contraction gets triggered and comes to the foreground, and I get caught up in it.

I get lost in what’s most salient and miss the bigger picture. I get caught up in it and perceive and live as if it’s all there is.


And when I notice the bigger picture, it’s different.

A contraction may be strong and in the foreground, and I notice it as part of a bigger field.

At my human level…

I notice it’s a part of my body, and other parts are more relaxed.

I notice it’s a part of my psyche, and other parts perceive things differently and are more relaxed.

I notice it happens as one of many parts of who I am as a human being.

This helps me not get so caught up in it. I notice it as an object within the content of experience. I can relate to it more intentionally.

As what I more fundamentally am…

I notice it’s happening within and as the consciousness I am.

I notice it’s happening within and as what I more fundamentally am.

I notice I am fundamentally capacity for it.

This too helps me not get so caught in it. It helps me recognize that its nature is the same as the nature of everything else in my field of experience. It helps soften and release identification out of it.


This is something we use in conventional psychology and therapy. It helps us when we are reminded of the bigger picture. When we notice that contracted parts of us are parts of us and not all of what we are. It gives us a mental distance to it, and it’s a little easier to not get caught up in it.

And it’s also something we explore when we investigate what we more fundamentally are. Here too, the bigger picture helps soften identification and shift our center of gravity into the bigger picture.

Exploring who we are (psychology) and what we are (spirituality) is not so different here. We find very similar dynamics.

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Marina Bajszár: Thoughts, just because you hear them, does it make them yours?

When I look, I find that words are imagined sounds. They are something I hear. Just like I hear the sound of birds, cars, and the wind, I imagine hearing words. They are all sounds.

I also find that words can be mental images. They are something I see. Just like I see a tree, the sky, and houses, I imagine seeing words. They are all images.

When I notice this – when I notice words as sounds and images – it’s easier to recognize them for what they are. They are imagined sounds. They are imagined images.

And this also helps me notice that they are imagined. They are imagination. This is often a useful imagination. It helps me orient and function in the world. And they are imagination. They are fantasies.

What happens when I notice this? What happens when I notice that thoughts that have a charge for me are sounds, images, and imagination? What happens when I rest in and as that noticing? There is a softening of the charge. There is less identification with their viewpoint. There is a curiosity that comes in. Maybe they are not as true as my mind, in its innocent confusion, took them as?

It can be helpful to use a structured exploration here, especially when it comes to thoughts with a strong charge. I have found the Kiloby Inquiries – a modern version of traditional Buddhist sense field explorations – to be the most effective for this. (Marina and I are both trained in that approach.)

And as usual, there is a lot more to explore here.

Why does my mind assume that some imaged sounds and images are actively created by me? It’s usually because they align with my conscious view. The sounds of cars, birds, and waves are obviously not created by me. Some random thoughts without much charge may also not appear to be created by me. But some familiar thoughts with a charge seem to be created by me. It feels like “I” am actively thinking them. And that feeling and assumption is created by the mind. When I explore it, I find it comes from another thought. It comes from mental sounds and images that tell me “I am actively creating those thoughts”. In reality, they are sounds and images like anything else.

I can also notice this more directly. I can notice thoughts – imagined sounds and images – as they appear. They come out of nothing and dissipate into nothing. (And are even made up of what a thought can label nothing.) They live their own life.

Who is that “I” thinking these thoughts? When I explore it, I find the same. I find a collection of mental images associated with certain physical sensations. I cannot find an “I” or “me” outside of this. It’s all happening within the sense fields. It only takes on the meaning of “I’ and “me” through thoughts telling me that’s how it is.

Even if I generally and “globally” get this, there will still be certain thoughts with a charge, and the charge means there is some identification there. A part of me hold those thoughts as true. So it’s worth exploring and investigating them and see what I find.

Dream: A couple that brings to life what they most wish to experience

I am visiting BH and his wife. Their house is beautiful, and it’s clear they enjoy beautiful, fascinating, and interesting objects. The house is next to a small river, and we dive from a part of the house overhanging the river. She starts kissing me while he is watching, and I participate without quite understanding what’s happening. In general, there is an atmosphere of enjoyment, freedom and that they have created a life where they bring their dreams into reality.

BH is a creator of short documentaries I follow on social media, and I know a little about his life through what he has shared. He is someone who does seem to bring his dreams, including the dreams of his boyish self, to life. He travels to exotic locations around the world, he collects fun and interesting things, they have created a beautiful home, and he is working on fun and interesting projects he is passionate about.

That seems to be the essence of this dream: Bringing what we wish to experience into life, in a playful and free atmosphere, and that includes both grown-up and childlike wishes.

Although I have followed and lived many of my dreams, at least for a while, I have also denied myself some essentials of what I wanted to experience and live. Often because of internalized shoulds from my family and culture, and also some hangups and limiting beliefs and identifications.

The dream may invite me to notice this and that I now have more freedom – inner and outer – to bring more of what I wish to experience to life.

What do I wish to experience? What are my deeper dreams and wishes? How can I bring it to life? What are the steps?

When I am at the end of my life, what kind of life do I wish to look back on? What’s in that life?

A few additions:

Why did I have this dream? Perhaps because my parents are moving out of my childhood home and I will live there for a few months getting it ready to be sold. (My mother already moved out, and my father moves out at noon today.) Also, I have the start of a new life at Finca Milagros in the Andes mountains, and I am considering if I also wish to live somewhere else. Costa Rica? Portugal? Who knows.

Why was I confused when she started kissing me? Because my mindset in the dream was a conventional and proper one, and she and they did something unconventional and “improper”. The dream showed me that my mindset is often less free than it needs to be.

What are some examples of what I haven’t allowed myself? (a) In the past, and especially in my teens and early twenties, I missed out on a series of possible relationships that I really wanted to experience. I wanted it, and the other too, but I was too shy (read: scared) and slow, the other assumed I wasn’t interested and moved on, and I deeply regretted it afterward. (b) I didn’t finish a degree I really wanted to finish, out of a misguided sense of loyalty to my then-spouse. I wanted to support her in her education, so I gave up my own. (That’s not the whole story, but an important part of it.) (c) I have hidden my history and fascination with awakening from most people in my life, including several spiritual coaches/teachers. I have possibly missed out on helpful interactions with fellow explorers. (d) I have not pursued further connections with spiritual guides/teachers I admire and feel a connection with, even if they saw me and wanted to have that connection. (Especially with teachers at Vækstsenteret in Denmark.) I have also not gotten involved with the Headless Way community even if I love that approach and how they do it, and they talk very clearly about what was revealed to me in the awakening shift in my teens.

Much of what I have regretted comes out of a dynamic in me of wanting to be hidden/seen. A fear of being seen and being visible (from family patterns and personal childhood experiences), and also wanting to be seen and being visible. There is a push and pull there, instead of a more healthy relationship with being seen, and more fluidity around it.

And what are some of the things I would like to bring into my life? (a) Being more real with people in my life. Be more open and transparent about my fascinations, interests, and history. (b) Pursue and nurture connections with people I really resonate with. Develop these connections further. (I sometimes let it go, even if I experience a deep resonance and/or curiosity.) (c) Enjoying the small things more fully. (I already do it but can nurture it even more.) (d) Travel and live in a few more places. (e) If possible, immerse myself in the regeneration and rewilding project at Finca Milagros. Share freely my experience with others. Create or support a local network of people doing the same. (f) Build one or more buildings on Finca Milagros, and design them mostly myself so I really love them. (g) Possibly write a book about what I explore in these articles. Instead of more articles, create more developed chapters for a book. That way, it may have a reach and lifespan beyond this website. (In some ways, it feels like each of these articles is a kind of rehearsal for book sections.) The nice thing about this list is that it’s all definitely doable. It’s more than possible. The main obstacle is within me. (h) Possibly get more involved in communities that deeply resonate with me, like Vækstsenteret in Denmark and the international Headless Way community.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 35

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Since early in life, I have suspected that what many attribute to age is really about lifestyle, whether it’s poor memory, bad physical shape, being set in one’s ways, or similar.

As kids, we learn every day and are physically active every day. (At least most are, biking, running, climbing trees, and so on.) We train ourselves to learn, and we stay physically fit. We try out new things and seek out new experiences.

Later in life, many don’t learn as much and are less physically active, so there is no wonder if this is reflected in our mind and body.

Also, I suspect much of what we think of as typical for older age has to do with the weight of wound-conditioning that’s been with us for decades – traumas, emotional issues, unquestioned painful beliefs, limiting identities, and so on. (These are all names for essentially the same dynamics.)The longer we carry these with us, the more strongly they impact our mind and body.


Since early in life, I have noticed that my sleep patterns are quite different in nature versus in the city.

If I am in nature, for instance at the cabin in Norway or at Finca Milagros, I naturally go to sleep early and wake up early. I tend to wake up around 5am. (This is even more pronounced the times I sleep in nature in a tent or outside.)

If I am in a more urban environment, it’s more tempting for me to stay up late and wake up later. (It’s a tendency, and one I often intentionally counter since I feel better if I wake up early after a good night’s sleep.)

This is not a very profound insight, and it’s probably something many have noticed. But it is interesting.

I imagine our ancestors slowed down and slept when it got dark, and woke up when it got light to make full use of daylight hours. That pattern kicks in when we live in nature, even if we live indoors in nature.

And it gets skewed by city living and a stronger disconnect from nature.

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“I am tired”?

In a previous post, I wrote “I am rested” and “I am tired” even if it’s not really accurate.

It’s more accurate to say that my body is tired, my brain is tired, my system is tired. Or even that this human self is tired.

It’s something happening within the content of experience, within the sense fields.

It’s happening within and as the consciousness I am. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

In daily life and writing, I tend to switch between a more conventional and a more accurate way of talking about it. It just depends on the situation.

The first way of talking about it eases communication since it’s more familiar, and it also tends to reflect and invite identification. If I say “I am tired” I present it as if I – what I more fundamentally am – is tired.

The second way is more accurate and it invites curiosity, exploration, and perhaps even a softening or release of identification. It’s happening to something within my content of experience. It refers to something happening within and as the consciousness I am.

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Eyesight and CFS

This is one of the many things I suspected was connected with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and I later realized is a common symptom.


My eyesight is strongly affected by how my system is doing in general.

If I am rested, my eyesight is good. I see relatively well both at a distance and close up.

And if my system is tired, my eyesight can be dramatically worse. I see double. I have trouble seeing clearly at a distance, and sometimes even closer up.

On a typical day, my eyesight may be good in the morning, and noticeably worse in the late afternoon and evening.

This means that if my sight is checked by an eye doctor, they may get dramatically different results depending on how I am doing when they do the tests.


I am also reminded of an eye-related story.

I used reading glasses in my teens and early twenties. In my mid-twenties, I started doing weekly Feldenkrais classes. And in one class, focusing on the eyes, I had a moment of strong discomfort in and around my eyes. (Some may call it an emotional or energetic release, but I don’t know.) A couple of weeks later, I sat on my glasses. When I went to the eye doctor to have my eyes checked for new glasses, she said: “Your sight is perfect, you don’t need glasses”. I asked if eyesight can improve over time, and she said: “No, that never happens”.

After this, I explored different approaches to training the eyes, including the Bates method. (I especially enjoyed “Natural Vision Improvement” by Janet Goodrich.) I did the eye exercises daily for a while, and have done them on and off for many years now.

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Dream: I will inherit a house important for the extended family

I marry into a large and social family where most of them get together almost daily in a large house. I am told they have chosen me to one day inherit that house, and say I am honored and will continue the tradition of hosting the gatherings in the house. The family is of all ages, the interactions are free and healthy, and I love being part of it. (Although also feel a bit like an outsider since I am not used to it from my own birth family.)

This dream mirrors my previous one of soul friends. In this case, it’s a large and warm extended family getting together informally daily in a large house. I love it and feel grateful to be part of it.

Why was I chosen to inherit the house?

In the dream and now, my sense is that it was their way to show me that they trust and love me and want me to feel included. They hand over the responsibility to me, knowing I will continue the tradition and do what’s best for the family as a whole.

Why did I dream this now?

Maybe because I am with my birth family in Norway, and wish it had been more like this. (And loved it at the times it was more like this.)

Maybe also because I love my extended family in Norway, and have a lot in common with most of my cousins.

And definitely also because I did marry into a family like this, a year and a half ago in Latin America. The dream reflects my waking life there, and I wish to be far more part of it. (Especially as I learn better Spanish.)

In waking life, I was responsible for us buying a large piece of land where my wife’s father and mother will build their houses, and perhaps also others. I have always wanted to be part of an intentional community like that, where we live on a large piece of land and have separate houses.

In general, the dream may nudge me to host gatherings more and bring this more into my life. (I used to do it a lot more than I have over the last few years, and the change has mostly to do with my health.)

What does it mirror in me?

Dreams often mirror waking life and more directly my inner life.

The dream may reflect a wish to be that kind of house and host. To have the inner environment to host these types of warm and social gatherings of many different parts of me.

It may reflect that this is already happening and that my system is moving in that direction.

How can I be a better host for my inner community?

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The beauty of common expressions (AKA “thought-terminating cliches”)

I saw this quote posted on social media, and thought I would explore it and see what I find.

What the quote calls “thought-terminating cliches” I prefer to call “common expressions”.


In general, I love taking idea fragments – from quotes, book titles, or common expressions – and using them as a pointer for my own exploration.

I assume it’s like that for many of us, and for most or all of us sometimes.

I hear or think of a common phrase, and see what I find. Typically, I find the validity in it, in the reversals, in other ways to look at it and the bigger picture, and also that all of that are questions about the world here to help us orient and navigate in the world.


What do I find if I explore the phrases in the quote?

It is what it is. For me, this is a beautiful expression. It reminds me that reality is what it is, and my experience of it and ideas about it are very limited. It is what it is, and I cannot know for certain anything about it. My thoughts are questions.

It’s in God’s hands. Yes, in a way everything is in God’s hands. Everything happening locally is the expression of movements in the larger whole. Everything has innumerable causes stretching back to the beginning of time and the widest extent of the universe. It’s good to be reminded of this now and then. (And not use it as an excuse for inactivity or harmful actions.)

YOLO. This too is a wonderful expression. I only live once. This moment will never return. What’s here in my experience is something I will never experience again. It’s something nobody has ever experienced before and nobody will ever experience it in the future. This moment, as it is, is infinitely precious. And it’s also all I have. My world is all I know, and I can only find the past, future, and somewhere else in my fantasies (sometimes very useful fantasies) happening here and now.


What do I find when I explore the idea of “thought-terminating cliches”?

There is a valuable reminder in the idea of “thought-terminating cliches”, and that is that reality is always different from and more than our ideas about it. Reality is always far richer.

At the same time, the idea of a “thought-terminating cliche” can in itself become a thought-terminating cliche. We can agree with it and overlook the value and beauty of common expressions. We can overlook or reject the wisdom in them. We can overlook their value as a short hand to ease communication. We can overlook their value as a pointer and seed for our own exploration.

Perhaps most importantly, if someone hears or thinks of a common expression and doesn’t explore it further, then it says something about them. Not the common expression itself.

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Own inquiry: My body shouldn’t be so tired

It’s been a while since I have shared formal inquiry explorations here, including The Work of Byron Katie, so I thought I would restart that. (I used to write a lot more explorations.)


Statement: My body shouldn’t be so tired.

Situation: Lying on the sofa five minutes before an inquiry session. (The Work on Zoom.)


1. Is it true? Yes, in that situation it feels true.

2. Can you know for certain if it’s true? No, I cannot know for certain.

3. What happens when you believe that thought?

I feel extra tired. I notice the symptoms of tiredness. The tiredness comes to the forefront. It feels overwhelming. A part me of wants to cancel. I imagine others judging me. I judge myself. I see myself in the session unable to follow the question and inquiry. I see myself not being able to talk clearly and coherently. I see images of the facilitator judging me. I feel ashamed. I feel I am to blame. I tell myself I could have prevented it (through more resting, different food, taking more herbs). I blame myself for not being “more perfect” in how I take care of myself, especially the last days. I compare myself with others and how I used to be, and how I imagined I would be. I see them as energetic and active, and myself lying here unable to even do inquiry.

4. Who would you be without that thought? How would you be if you were unable to think that thought in that situation?

I notice myself as whole. I am curious about the inquiry and what will come out of it. I am looking forward to the inquiry. I notice excitement. I notice my thoughts and words come from more clarity. I feel lighter.


TA1: My body should be so tired.

(a) It is. That’s how life unfolds. There are likely innumerable causes for it, and I am aware of only a tiny fraction. It’s how the whole of the universe moves locally here.

(b) It helped me do this inquiry. I had initially planned to do another one, and noticing the tiredness and this thought shifted me to do this inquiry.

(c) It has helped me do a lot of inquiry into identities, identifications, beliefs, and so on. It’s helped me examine the beliefs in my culture around this, as they are here in my own mind.

(d) It has helped me be more real with others.

(e) It has helped me understand and accept others as they are, especially if they have health challenges, and also more in general.

TA2: My thinking shouldn’t be so tired.

(a) I notice that unexamined thinking makes me feel tired, and when I examine and find what’s more true for me, I feel more clear, lighter, and engaged. I often find energy.

(b) The “should” thoughts are old and worn out. They are old and tired, in that sense.

TA3: My body shouldn’t be so energetic.

(a) I had sorted and organized earlier in the day and got into a slight adrenaline rush. I surfed on adrenaline, which is likely why I felt tired in the hour before the session. I am aware of this, and counteract it with rest and slowing down, but there is room for improvement.

(b) Also, looking at this thought makes it even more clear that the two complementary thoughts – my body shouldn’t be so tired / my body shouldn’t be so energetic – are both thoughts. They are literally imaginations.


I did this inquiry during the session, and it was very helpful. I found a lot more than I wrote down here.

In the past, question three and the turnarounds were the most interesting to me, and I often couldn’t find so much with question four. These days, it seems that question four is the most powerful one. In this case, sitting in it felt rich and transforming.

I haven’t done The Work in a structured way for a while, and with a facilitator, so it feels good to come back to it. It feels more fresh and real, and something has shifted. (Especially really enjoying question four and what comes up there.)