I love biographies in general, and I am also fascinated by the awakening process and how it unfolds in each case.
So why not write briefly about my own process?
I was born and grew up in Ski, Norway, and have since then lived in Oslo, Utah, Oregon, California, and most recently Colombia.
In terms of notable events and shifts, I had flashbacks to the time before this life when I was little. I became an atheist in elementary school although was fascinated by parapsychology. When I was fifteen, there was an observer-observed shift. A year later, a shift into oneness which didn’t go away. I was in a honeymoon phase for about a decade, which shifted into a kind of dark night when I went against my inner guidance on a major life decision. About ten years later, there were more shifts and deepenings, including a few months in a strong no-self state. This led to a much darker dark night with a lot of losses in many areas of life and deep survival fear and old traumas surfacing, and am still in this to some extent, although it is lightening up.
My earliest memory is of seeing my parents and brother walking on the sidewalk toward our house. I see it from above, perhaps 15-20 meters up. They have a pram and I suspect I am in it. It’s a beautiful sunny day, although a little chilly judging from the clothes. They walk up the short gravel road to the house, and in front of the house is something large and rectangular. I then float around inside, following my parents and brother. I see old yellowish flowery wallpaper in the large bedroom, and parts of it are torn off.
I had this memory throughout my childhood and eventually asked my parents about it later in my teens. (And again just a couple of weeks ago.) This was the day we moved from our old house to this one, and they did walk between the houses since it was just a ten-minute walk. The white rectangle in front of the house was the moving van. And the wallpaper in the large bedroom did look like that and they put a kind of burlap on the wall and painted it white in the days after we moved.
I assume this was an out-of-body experience, perhaps triggered by some anxiety about moving house.
Otherwise, I relatively quickly learned to walk, run, and speak, and I was an active child curious about everything like most others.
I still remember being four or five, sitting in a chair by the western window in the living room, looking at a Donald Duck comic (I didn’t know how to read yet), and suddenly becoming conscious that I was conscious. Somehow, that was a deeply impactful and moving experience.
This all happened in my parent’s house in Ski, Norway. I lived there until I was 18 or 19 when I moved to Oslo. And I am writing this in the log cabin on their property since I am here on a summer visit.
BEFORE SCHOOL AGE: FLASHBACKS
Before school age, I repeatedly had a kind of flashback.
I remember being outside on a warm day, in the garden on the southwestern side of the house, under some beautiful tall birch trees, and the bright sunlight filtered through the moving leaves.
Suddenly, there is a shift and I remember how it was before this life. I am brought back to that life.
All is golden light. I am consciousness without any body. There is a profound sense of being home. All is love and consciousness. There are occasionally some other consciousnesses that seem infinitely loving wise communicating with me. There is a sense of timelessness or of time moving very faintly in the distance. The strongest part of this is that profound sense of home and infinite love.
It’s impossible to put this into words even now. As a child, it never occurred to me to mention this to anyone. And I definitely didn’t make any connection between this and what I heard about religion or God. (What they talked about seemed dry and abstract, and these flashbacks were anything but.)
Looking back, I assume this is an actual memory of life between lives. It closely fits what people report from near-death experiences. And it was more of a flashback – being brought back there – than a regular memory.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ATHEIST & SCIENCE
In elementary school, I had to take one hour of Christianity classes a week and immediately disliked it and how it was presented. To me, it seemed silly or impossible to pretend to believe something just because someone else said it was so. Why rely on second or third-hand info? Also, religion to me seemed mostly a crutch for people who had trouble dealing with life. So at some point, I decided I was an atheist.
I had no interest in religion or spirituality, although I was fascinated by the paranormal. I loved reading about research into mind-reading and telekinesis, about ghosts, and so on, and I engaged in my own experiments with mind-reading and telekinesis. (With very limited results, although the mind reading – using the classic cards with symbols – sometimes seemed to work.)
In general, I was most fascinated by nature and science and I wanted to be a zoologist and ideally work with animals in Africa. I loved the nature documentaries by Sverre M. Fjelstad and David Attenborough and I was profoundly impacted and moved by Cosmos by Carl Sagan.
I remember walking out into the garden after a Cosmos episode, looking up at the starry sky, and viscerally feeling that I was the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local ears, eyes, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. Even now, that’s a visceral experience and gives me shivers down the spine.
During this time, I was also up in the mountains in Norway with my father and brother. We slept outside during the night, under the dark starry sky, and could see for perhaps hundreds of miles and get a sense of the curvature of the planet. Here too, I had a profound sense of being part of the universe. I was the universe being conscious of itself.
I would also often wake up in the morning with a profound longing. I tried the things I enjoyed the most – being with family or friends, eating strawberry jam sandwiches, drinking hot chocolate, reading Donald Duck comics, and so on, and nothing helped. I had no idea what the longing was for.
MID-TEENS: MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS AND DISTANCE TO THE WORLD
I was a socially awkward teenager (still somewhat socially awkward) with a lot of teenage angst.
One day when I was fifteen, something shifted. It was as if the world went infinitely far away, and that included this human self. And I also had fatigue and other symptoms. The doctors and specialists couldn’t find anything, and it was a difficult and scary period in my life.
Later, I realized that two things happened here.
At a health level, I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome following mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr) a few months earlier. In Norway at the time, nobody seemed to know about this diagnosis or illness.
And at a mind level, there was a neat split between the observed (any content of experience) and the observer. The oneness I am was identified with the observer and the rest – the world and this human self – seemed infinitely far away.
MID-TEENS: ONENESS SHIFT
One year later, when I was sixteen, another shift happened.
I walked on the small gravel road to the house. It was between Christmas and New Year. A big wind went through the landscape. The night sky was dark and littered with stars. And suddenly – perhaps triggered by the expansiveness of it all – there was a shift.
There was a shift from taking myself as most fundamentally this awkward angsty teenager to finding myself as everything without exception. God woke up to itself as all there is – the stars, wind, trees, this awkward teenager, and everything.
My psychology responded to this with awe and amazement. There were no words that could even begin to describe it.
This shift didn’t go away. I lived the following years in continued amazement, awe, gratitude, and even pain because this was so immensely beautiful and there was no way to share it and I couldn’t find anyone who seemed even remotely interested or had any taste of it for themselves.
Why did it happen? Looking back, I see that the year of observer-observed duality may have prepared the ground for it. I wonder it may have happened partly as a kind of safety valve for my teenage angst and stress. And the processes in me that otherwise prepared the ground for it are probably hidden from me.
MID-TO-LATE TEENS: PROCESSING THE SHIFT
For several years, and even now, there is a processing of all of this at a human level.
I remember at some point sitting down with a sheet of paper, making a dot on the paper, and realizing that was way too much. (And too little.) This may have been a few months after the shift.
I knew nobody who was even remotely interested in this. And since this happened a few years before the internet took off, I tried to find books written by someone who had experienced a similar shift.
I found several books that touched on it, but they seemed to be written through a lot of veils at the same time. Later in my teens, I was in the main library in Oslo, looked at a collection of sermons from Meister Eckhart, and finally found someone who seemed to understand. Although even here, there were filters – in this case, Christian theology and the difference between our times.
There was a recognition of the irony of this happening to someone who had been a self-described atheist for years. That wasn’t a big deal, but it was slightly amusing.
At a human level, I felt very lonely in all of this. The first person I met who understood this from her own experience was Birgitte H.. We did a tai chi class together when I was nineteen, she stood behind me and saw my energy system and aura, and knew what had happened. We started talking and became good friends, and she was an immense support for me. (She was eight years older and had a bit more experience living with and from it.) The next I met was the then-wife of Jes Bertelsen, who similarly recognized it immediately through looking at my energy system, and she too became an important part of my life for a while.
MID-TO-LATE TEENS AND EARLY TWENTIES: STRONG ENERGIES AND CONTINUED SHIFTS
Along with the two major shifts mentioned above, there were many smaller ones.
In the summer about half a year after the initial observer-observed shift, I was sitting outside (in the same area as where the flashbacks often happened) reading a book.
I remember looking up at the beautiful birch trees, and seeing a kind of light around the leaves as they contrasted with the sky. I wrote it off as an optical illusion having to do with the eye and brain. The next day, I saw it again. It kept getting stronger over the next several days, and I noticed I saw the light around not only leaves contrasting the sky but everything – people, animals, plants, and even inanimate objects, especially when they contrasted an even surface.
The light around inanimate objects was slightly fainter and not very differentiated. Around plants, a little stronger and with more layers. And around animals – including humans – even stronger and more differentiated around the different body parts and as it extends out away from the body.
This light around everything went out indefinitely far and got fainter further out from the body or object.
I am still seeing this light, and it’s especially helpful to see how awake the system of different people is. With some, it’s awake to itself indefinitely far out. And in most cases, most of the system is not very awake to itself or not at all awake to itself. In an early awakening, the light tends to be very bright. As the awakening matures, the light becomes finer and more – for lack of a better word – subtle. Even closer to the body, it becomes subtle like the faintest light further away from the body.
If people engage in body-oriented practices, like tai chi or chi gong, the light closest to their body – perhaps one or two centimeters out – tends to be strong and bright.
STRONG ENERGIES RUNNING THROUGH MY SYSTEM
Following the oneness shift, I experienced what seemed like enormous amounts of energy running through my system. This went on for many years, almost a decade. It felt like high voltage running through regular housing wires.
INSIGHTS AND INSPIRATIONS
During this time, there was also an enormous among of insights coming through. Most of what I write about here initially came to me in my mid-to-late teens. (Apart from specific names and approaches from different traditions, which I was not aware of at the time.) I would write down whatever came to me, often just minutes apart.
There was also an enormous amount of inspiration that came through in terms of visual art and music. Often, it would come through fully formed but my technical skill wasn’t always up to translating it into something in the world. (A self-portrait in charcoal I made when I was sixteen was admitted to Høstutstillingen, a prestigious annual exhibit in Norway.)
Here is some music I made when I was fifteen, during the observer-observed phase. For a week, I borrowed a sound module I connected to my Amiga computer and I composed one a day. I didn’t have any music training so I just did what came to me. (Here too, what I heard was far richer than what came out due to my limited technical knowledge.)
CYCLES OF UPS AND DOWNS
During this time, there were also strong cycles of ups and downs. I would “join in” with the euphoria that came from what was revealed to me, and then there would be similar downs. (I don’t quite remember the exact nature of those downs, just that it was unpleasant.)
The oneness I am became caught up in the euphoria from the initial awakening shift, and then swung into the opposite for a while to balance it out. This wore off after a while. It becomes tiresome to swing like this. And what it’s about is what it all happens within and as, not any particular content of experience. The swings invited me to find myself as what it all happens within and as even more clearly, and find a more neutral approach to whatever content of experience is here.
TEENS AND EARLY TWENTIES: INFLUENCES
I had many inspirations and passions during my teens and early twenties.
As mentioned earlier, when I was about ten, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – both the TV series and the book – had a profound influence on me.
In middle school, Erik Damman’s Bak Tid og Rom had a similar profound influence on me. I was already fascinated by parapsychology, and this rooted it in science.
This led to a voracious reading of anything by Fritjof Carpa.
And later in my teens, books by Carl Jung. (I must have read most of what was published by him, and later started reading anything I could find from his close students.)
During my teens, I also read a large number of other books. This eclectic and somewhat random selection ranged from Shirley MacLaine to Edward Bach, Richard Bach, Viktor Frankl, Erich Fromm, and Lin Yutan, to Gregory Bateson.
When I was 17 or 18, I got into Taoist literature. I read my copy of I Ching until it started to fall apart, and read any of the Taoist classics I could get my hands on.
In my late teens, I discovered the books by Jes Bertelsen and was very grateful to find a fellow Scandinavian who was into the same as me and approached it with unusual clarity, thoroughness, and grounded discernment. He even combined the different areas I was most passionate about – Jung, Taoist practices, Christian prayer and meditation, and Buddhism.
I also devoured anything I could find about the history and philosophy of science, logic and valid arguments, and scientific methods. And I loved Arne Næss and his writings on philosophy, deep ecology, and simple living.
In general, in my teens, twenties, and thirties, I read a good amount of books, often two or three a week.
EARLY ADULTHOOD: HONEYMOON AND CONTINUED EXPLORATION
Moving to Oslo after high school, I started more formal practices to continue the exploration.
I practiced Tai Chi daily for a few years and also did some Chi Gong.
I started the Ngöndro practice at the local Tibetan Buddhist Center.
And on my own, I also practiced Christian prayer and meditation daily, often for an hour or more. This was mostly the Heart Prayer (Jesus Prayer), which became an ongoing practice through the day. And also the Christ meditation where I visualized Christ a couple of meters above, below, in front, behind, and on each side of me, and also in my heart.
I explored the practices Jes Bertelsen outlined in some of his books, which seemed similar to Taoist practices. And I explored several practices from Mantak Chia which all were powerful for me.
During this time, I studied art (for a time with Odd Nerdrum) and later psychology at the University of Oslo.
When I was 24, I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, to continue my psychology studies there. (I went there partly because they had professors focusing on a systems approach to psychology and also health and environmental psychology.)
Within a few months, I became a resident at Kanzeon Zen Center and followed the daily practice and the retreats there. I loved this practice and Utah and my time there in general.
My late teens and early twenties were filled with synchronicities of all kinds. (One of the early ones happened when I was in a tram in Oslo, reading Jung’s book on synchronicities where he described a series of fish synchronicities. Someone sat down in the seat opposite me and put down a plastic bag with the painting of a big fish on it.)
This was a kind of honeymoon for me. And it did transition, mainly because I went against my clear inner guidance as described next.
I have gone through different kinds of dark nights.
In my teens, I experienced a strong version of the usual teenage angst, and also a great deal of social anxiety. At a human level, I felt very alone for the first several years after the oneness shift. This is a kind of dark night, or at least something challenging.
The cycles of ups and downs for the first few years after the shift is another kind of challenge. In a way, this was a thread of a dark night during a period that was anything but a dark night.
In my late twenties, I got married (which seemed OK) and decided to abandon my own life to support my wife in her continued education. (We moved geographically.) By doing this, I went against a very clear inner guidance. My guidance told me to not move there. And we did. This was the beginning of a long period where I lost my passion, I felt I lost my direction in life, I felt profoundly off track, and so on. This was the beginning of a long dark night.
After a geographical move and renewed passion for these explorations, there were new shifts. (I’ll write about those in the next session.) And about six months after a deep no-self shift, the dark night returned and took a much stronger form. The Chronic Fatigue from my teens (which had never completely gone away) returned very strongly, and I ended up in a dark room for months unable to function. (It came after strong pneumonia a few months earlier, and was likely also triggered from living in a house with a mold problem.)
This dark night has gone through many different phases, and I am still somewhat in it. I have written about some elements of it in articles here as it happened.
For a few months, I experienced a huge amount of different archetypes moving through me. At one point, I saw evil characters from human mythologies – from all times and cultures – moving in a parade in front of me. As each one arrived, I found myself as that character, as if seeing through a mask with their face. Then, the next one came and I found myself as that character. This went on for a few hours.
I got a little better, moved back to Norway, and things seemed to get easier.
I remember asking the divine to “show me what’s left” (AKA dangerous prayer), and within a week, I was plunged into another phase of this dark night. A profound primal survival fear surfaced, along with old traumas. It felt absolutely overwhelming and unbearable, and it went on like this for about nine months before it lessened slightly in intensity. During this time, I was only able to sleep for perhaps one or two hours a night. And during the day, all I could do was walk for hours in the nearby forest (Hebekkskogen) while listening to Adyashanti.
During this time – and during this dark night in general – there were a large number of losses. Of health, dreams, friends, property, and more. My life got stripped bare. (I also ended up in a small log cabin on my parent’s property, which I realize is pretty classic.)
For a few years, I also had a strong discomfort in my heart. I heard someone else describing her experience, during a dark night, as a shard of glass in the heart. That’s how it felt for me. This went away when I did the Core Veil class in Vortex Healing, and I suspect that the “shard of glass” experience may have been a fragment of the core veil that was still there and then went during the class. The class was a big relief for me.
Over these years, and less now than when it started, I also felt very disorganized and fragmented. It was as if something in me was shattered. And I acted and made choices from this confused state, often in amazement seeing myself behaving out of character.
For a few years in the beginning of the darkest part of this dark night, I would have a sense of losing all anchor points when I turned the light off in the evening. It was as if there was nothing to hold onto.
A lot more happened during this period. It started when I went against my guidance on a major life decision. It was punctuated by six months of very clear no-self, and then plunged into much stronger darkness with illness, losses in all areas of life, a deep primal fear and trauma surfacing, and so on. And it has tapered off gradually over the last few years. The darkest phase started about eleven years ago.
THE THIRTIES: RENEWED EXPLORATIONS AND NEW SHIFTS
In my thirties, we moved again, this time to an area that felt right to me. (Oregon.) And here, I refound my passion for these explorations. I started meditating regularly again. I got into The Work of Byron Katie. I discovered the Headless experiments from Douglas Harding. I started offering informal Big Mind sessions for friends and whoever was interested. I got deeply into Breema and gave Breema bodywork sessions almost daily for many years. (And also started instructing with an amazing group of other instructors.)
After getting into more serious meditation practice again, several things started shifting.
My focus had always been very stable. (I could easily follow my breath for several hundreds of breaths.) And now, my focus became far more laser-like.
I remember sitting in meditation, and any sense of continuity fell away. The part of my mind creating a sense of continuity was set aside or disabled. There were still sounds, sensations, and so on, but no sense of continuity. It was just what was here now and nothing else. This showed me, in a visceral way, that my mind creates a sense of continuity.
This is just one of many similar experiences that highlighted different aspects of my nature and the function of my mind to me.
I also noticed that my ability to see energies got much stronger, to the point that I could see the energy of people, plants, and things in the pitch dark. I started tasting amazing tastes independent of having eaten or drinking anything. I had periods of a strong taste of the dark feminine divine within and as everything. And much more.
At some point, I did one of the Headless experiments. (Make a circular hole in a sheet of paper, look through it and notice it’s full of the world and also empty and both at the same time, bring the hole up to your face, and notice you are full of the world and empty.) This shifted something dramatically in me and led to six months in a very clear and strong no-self state.
And this, in turn, shifted into a much darker period of the dark night, as outlined above.
I am not sure what to say about what’s happening currently.
I am relatively focused on my life in the world these days. I got married last year to an amazing woman with whom there is deep resonance and similar life paths. We bought fifteen beautiful hectares in the Andes mountain and are building a house there designed with the sun and climate in mind, and using traditional methods (rammed earth) and local materials. We wish to help bring the land back to a more vibrant state. (It’s already pretty good, but has been grazed in some areas.) And so on.
In terms of my explorations, the current ones are reflected in what I write about here. It’s a big relief for me that noticing my nature feels ordinary and effortless. I have lived with it for long enough so it’s not new or amazing in that sense. It feels more like old comfortable shoes.
And there is of course always further to go, especially in terms of inviting more parts of me to join in with this noticing.
ABOUT THIS WRITING
This website is mostly about healing and awakening so that’s the context and filter for what I have included and left out.
What I write is inevitably colored by my own history, culture, and experiences. And what I write about my past is inevitably colored by how I see things these days, and also what I happen to remember and forget.
Still, writing this down is somewhat helpful for me since it reminds me of what’s left to explore. (Some unhealed traumas, especially from early in life.). And since my process is a human process, someone else may find something that resonates with their own experiences. Read More