Noticing is primary

Instagram gifted me this video from Mingyur Rinpoche (son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche) this morning. (Was he the young teacher-in-training I had tea with in Kathmandu in the mid-90s? I somehow think it was.)

NOTICING IS PRIMARY

Yes, when it comes to different forms of meditation and mindfulness, noticing is primary.

The content – what’s noticed – is not important in that context.

It can be dullness, agitation, sadness, frustration, anger, joy, contentment, bliss, and so on, anything within the always-changing content of experience.

TRAINING STABLE ATTENTION

When I train a more stable attention, my attention is on something specific within the content of experience. For me, it’s usually the sensations of the breath at my nostrils, but it can be any other sensation, a mental image, and so on. Training a more stable attention also happens through mindful movement like yoga, tai chi, qigong, Breema, and so on.

Whatever else is going on in the content of experience is less important. It’s literally peripheral. (Althought depending on how my personality responds to it, it can trigger distractions.)

NOTICE & ALLOW

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and really to notice it’s all already noticed and allowed and rest in and as that noticing.

The content of experience comes and goes and specifically what it is, or whether my personality happens to like it or not, is less important.

The coming and going, in itself, is worth noticing since it shows me that I am not fundamentally any of it.

NOTICING WHAT I AM

I may find myself as what content of experience happens within and as, perhaps amplified by pointers from Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and so on.

Here too, the specific content of experience is not so important. It’s all what I not fundamentally am. It’s what my nature happens to form itself into.

AT DIFFERENT TIMES

Of course, this will look a bit different at different times of our exploration.

In the beginning, it’s often easier to explore these things if the content is generally more calm and our personality is generally OK with it. It makes it easier to not create distractions for ourselves. Mindful movement can be a great lead-in to meditation and inquiry for that reason.

After a while, it becomes more important to keep noticing through the changing content of experience, and through the metaphorical changing weather and occasional storms, and even if our personality doesn’t like it very much. It’s part of the exploration. It helps us do the same in daily life when storms happen. This often requires a more clear intention and resolve.

NOTICING WHAT IN ME DOESN’T WANT TO

A part of this is to notice the parts of me that don’t want to do this. The parts of me that are scared of it.

Notice and acknowledge they are here. Welcome them. Get to know them. Understand where they are coming from. See what they really need, and if I can give it to them here and now. See they are innocent, and are here to try to protect us. Make friends with them. Find appreciation for them, because they are here to help me and come from love for me, even if it’s confused love.

ONGOING EXPLORATION

Here too, there doesn’t seem to be any finishing line. It’s an ongoing exploration.

It happens here and now, or it doesn’t happen. (Until it does.) Ideas of past times it happened, or ideas of it happening in the future, are ideas and they don’t nourish any more than a menu of a delicious meal nourishes.

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The experience of center, movement, distance, time, physicality, and so on

If there is identification with and as this human self, or any object, there is – I imagine – a sense of a center and being that center, a sense of moving through the landscape, a sense of real distance, a sense of real time, and so on.

NO CENTER

For me, there is not really a center. I find myself as this field. As the field of consciousness taking the form of any appearances, of the world as it appears to me. At the same time, if there is a focus on a task, there is a sense of a center around this human self. The focus and attention create a sense of center. Also, when I get caught in wounds, hangups, and unquestioned thoughts, there is also a temporary sense of center in or around this human self.

THE LANDSCAPE MOVES THROUGH ME

When this human self moves through a room or landscape, the room or landscape and everything else moves through me. I am space for it all moving through me.

THERE IS NO DISTANCE

There is no distance. Whatever is here is happening within and as awake space, within and as this field of experience, the awake space that takes all of these forms. At the same time, there is distance in a conventional sense, although it takes a bit of conversion for that to happen and to work with it. Fortunately, that conversion happens mostly on its own!

NO TIME

There is no time. What’s here happens within and as this awake space, including any images and words related to past, future, and present. I can only find the past and future, and any ideas about the present, here and now. At the same time, I can work with ideas about the past, future, and present, and that’s a good thing for this human self.

THE DREAMLIKE NATURE OF REALITY

This physicality is like a dream I can put my dreamlike hand through. It’s all happening within and as awake space. This body consists of sensations, visuals, taste, smell, a sense of movement, and so on that happens within this awake space. When I touch something, it’s sensations – and sometimes visuals, sounds, smell, taste, and so on – happening within and as awake space.

INFINITY

To me, the world happens within and as awake space that has no end and no boundaries. It happens within and as what seems infinite. It’s made up of mental images, sensations, visuals, smells, tastes, and movements that happens within and as awake space with no end.

CAPACITY

More fundamentally than any of this, I find that my nature is capacity for all of this – the consciousness I am and all it forms itself into.

THE LIKELY UNIVERSALITY OF THIS

This is how it is, I imagine, for everyone, whether we notice or not. The question is exactly that: if we notice or not.

I am likely no different from anyone else. They too are awake space to themselves, and the world to them happens within and as that awake space. They too are consciousness to themselves, and their world – anything within the content of experience – happens within and as the consciousness they are.

They too are their field of experience, without any inherent center. They too are what their world moves through when their human self moves through the world. Their world is at zero distance from what they are. They too are what their ideas of time – past, future, present – happen within and as. To them too, the world appears as a dream, within and as the consciousness they are. They are the infinite that the finite happens within and as. They are capacity for all of it.

EXPLORING IT FOR OURSELVES

How can we explore this? How can we notice? How can we deepen into this noticing?

What seems to work the best for me is a combination of basic meditation and inquiry.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and that it’s already noticed and allowed, and rest in and as that noticing and allowing.

As for inquiry, I love the headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Training a more stable attention can help with this, as it helps with just about anything in life.

Heart-centered practices can also be a good support. I especially like tonglen, ho’oponopono, and similar practices. (Heart-centered practices are equally or more a support for our life in general. If I had to do just one practice, it would likely be a heart-centered practice like tonglen.)

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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Aware of the field & that it’s already allowed

In daily life, one of the things I like to keep noticing is the field of experience and that it’s already allowed.

That noticing is already here, so a more intentional noticing brings it more into the foreground1 which seems helpful.

FIELD OF EXPERIENCE

What does “field of experience” refer to?

It refers to any content of experience. Anything that happens in the sense fields, which we can label sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, and thought (mental images and words).

That means it refers to what conventionally is referred to as “outer” and “inner”, the wider world and what’s happening here which is “hidden” from others – the perceptions and thoughts of this human self.

This field is seamless and although what I am in a conventional sense (this human self) is found there, what I more fundamentally am to myself is not found there.

ALREADY ALLOWED

What’s happening in content of experience is already allowed. It’s allowed by space, mind, life, reality, existence, or whatever we want to call it.

If I try to allow it, it won’t work. My psyche won’t allow it since it’s often caught up in pushing and pulling with what’s here. It’s doomed to fail, which is very good since it’s a dead-end street anyway.

It’s much easier to notice it’s already allowed and align more consciously and intentionally with that allowing. It’s a relief. It’s like coming home.

SHIFTS THROUGH NOTICING

There are some shifts that happen from this intentional noticing. There is a kind of deepening and soaking in it.

When there is a noticing of the content of experience, there is a sense of distance to it and a softening of identification. This helps soften remaining habitual identification with certain stories and identities.

Parallel with this is my nature noticing itself. I find I more fundamentally am what it all happens within and as. Even more fundamentally, I am capacity for all of it – consciousness and what it forms itself into. That makes the noticing, and the sense of distance to whatever is here, easier.

The two are sides of the same coin.

BASIC MEDITATION

This noticing and allowing is the essence of basic meditation.

Formal meditation is a kind of laboratory to explore this intentionally without too many distractions.

As it becomes more of a habit, it’s easier to bring the noticing and allowing into daily life.

And even then, some meditation is helpful. It helps deepen the habit.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS

As I mentioned first, this intentional noticing – of the field and that it’s already allowed – is something I do at different times throughout the day. It seems to bring some shifts.

When I was fifteen, there was a sudden and strong shift. The world seemed very far away, and that included anything that has to do with this human self. All of it was far away. This human self operated in the world far away. Later, I understood that this was a kind of observer-observed shift. It was as if identification went out of everything except the mental construct of an observer.

I assume that shift made it easier for me to notice the field as a field.

A year later, there was a shift into oneness. I assume this was a release out of identification with and as an imagined observer, and it was clear that there is no inner and outer.

It was also clear that everything is allowed by life and existence. It’s already allowed, and it lives its own life.

And it’s possible to intentionally notice and align more consciously with that allowing and invite this human self to reorganize within it.

NOTES

(1) This is like other things. There is an awareness of what’s here in my sense fields whether there is a conscious noticing of it or not. When there is a more conscious noticing of something, it goes more into the foreground of awareness. For instance, a few moments ago, there was not an intentional noticing of the music in this room, but there was a low-grade awareness of the music since it was happening within the field of experience. Now there is a more intentional noticing of the music, so it’s more in the foreground.

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“I love you, but I love our ecocidal civilization more”

For decades, we have been in a global ecological overshoot.

If we continue, it can only end one way: A dramatic ecological collapse, and with it the collapse of our civilization. (We are in an escalating phase of that ecological collapse now.)

So why don’t more people take it seriously?

Why do so many, in effect, say to their children: “I love you, but I love our ecocidal and suicidal civilization more”?

THE CRUX OF THE SITUATION

The crux of this situation is not – as many think – greed, corporations, governments, lack of technology, or similar. These all exist within a system that’s out of alignment with ecological realities. People are just fulfilling their roles in this ecocidal and ultimately suicidal system.

The crux is the system itself and the worldview it comes out of.

We have a civilization out of alignment with ecological realities.

For instance, our economic system assumes unlimited natural resources and an unlimited ability of nature to absorb our waste and toxins. This system was developed at a time when we had few enough people and simple enough technology so we could make those assumptions. These days, with billions more people and far more advanced and effective technology, it’s ecocidal and suicidal.

What type of worldview does this come out of? We have a worldview that assumes separation. We don’t viscerally get that our own health and well-being is intimately related to the health and well-being of our larger social and ecological whole. We assume, as mentioned above, unlimited nature while we live as part of a limited planet.

Even more fundamentally, we have a civilization that reflects a power-over orientation. We seek power over ourselves (just look at the orientation in many self-help books), others, and nature. And one that assumes that divinity is a sky-god removed from us, nature, and the universe. By removing divinity from ourselves and nature, we open it all for abuse.

The alternative is a power-with orientation where we seek partnership and cooperation with ourselves, others, and nature. And seeing divinity in nature and the universe, which leads to relating to it all with more reverence, respect, and gratitude.

There are workable alternatives. It is fully possible to have an individual and collective worldview that treats ourselves, others, and nature with reverence. And it’s very possible to have a system where what’s easy and attractive to do, individually and collectively, is also what supports society, ecosystems, and the lives and well-being of other species and future generations of all species. It’s a matter of priorities and collective will.

WHY DON’T WE TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY?

So why do so many – through their words and actions – prioritize supporting this clearly suicidal civilization over the lives and well-being of their children and grandchildren? Why do they continue to vote for the same politicians? Why do they feed themselves and their children food grown with poison? Why do they clean their houses with toxins? Why do they use pesticides in their garden? Why do they have a sterile lawn instead of a natural garden that supports life? Why do they continue to live as if we are not in a massive ecological crisis?

As usual, there are many possible answers.

We live within this system so it’s difficult to break out of it and live very differently. Our system makes what’s easy and attractive to do also, often, damaging to our life-support systems.

Many have enough with their daily lives. We don’t feel we have the resources to deal with the bigger picture or long-term thinking.

It requires intention and effort to change our worldview, way of life, and who we vote for with our money and ballots. It’s easier to put it off.

The change required may go against our identity. We have built up an identity around a certain political orientation and way of life, changing it all requires us to go outside of that identity, and that seems difficult and scary.

We live in denial in different ways. We tell ourselves that…. nothing is happening, we have time, others will take care of it, we’ll find a technological solution. We distract ourselves (being busy, entertainment, scapegoating, going into harebrained conspiracy theories, and so on.)

Many misdiagnose the situation. As mentioned above, they think it’s about greed, human nature, corporations, governments, lack of technology, and similar things existing within the system. In reality, it’s about the system itself and the worldview it reflects. Some also seem to think our crisis is mostly about climate change while it’s far more fundamental than that. In theory, we can solve climate change, and we’ll still go into ecological collapse if we don’t solve the overshoot problem itself.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

I don’t know. We can just do our best and see how it unfolds.

Our current civilization will end, as they all do. In the best case, it will transform into a more ecologically sound civilization.

Very likely, we’ll have to live through a massive ecological collapse first. It seems difficult to avoid, considering how far we already are into it, and how most people distract themselves with literally anything else.

And that means a massive loss of different types of species, and – again in the best case – a massive reduction in the size of humanity.

So what do we do individually?

SOME THINGS WE CAN DO

Here is some of what I have done.

I have educated myself about the situation. Early on in life, I learned about overshoot and ecological footprints, studied systems views, and so on.

I aim to orient myself to reality. I try to take a sober and informed view of our situation while also knowing I cannot know for certain how it all will unfold.

I find joy and meaning in my connection with the larger whole, through the Universe Story, the Great Story, the Epic of Evolution, Deep Ecology, and the Practices to Reconnect.

I am working on transforming my worldview – intellectually and viscerally – in the same way, and also through different forms of inquiry.

I have made myself somewhat familiar with what happens when civilizations decline and end. What we see in the world today is partly typical for our civilization, and partly what we would expect when it’s in decline. (That includes people distracting themselves with conspiracy theories, or attaching to super-optimistic views of a coming golden age, lots of people waking up, and so on.)

I take small actions in my daily life. I eat organic, local, low on the food chain, and with the seasons as far as possible. For many years, I only bought (very cool and high-quality) second-hand clothes. When it’s possible, I buy food from local farmers. And so on. Doing this helps me feel that it’s possible to change and that I am contributing, in a small way, to the solution.

I have also been involved in other ways. For several years, my self-created job was to coordinate a relatively large group of people with a passion for sustainability. We used a consistent partnership-oriented and solution-focused approach. These days, I am the steward of 15 hectares in the Andes mountains and we work on a long-term regeneration project there to help the land back to a more diverse and vibrant state.

I remind myself of what I am grateful for. At times, I have done a daily all-inclusive gratitude practice. (Write and send a list to a partner that includes what it’s easy to find gratitude for and what’s challenging, this helps open the mind to find the genuine gifts in anything that’s happening in my life.) Other times, it happens more spontaneously in daily life.

I know that endings, change, and death is what opens space for something new. The early relatively uniform state of the universe gave way for particles and matter. The death of stars provided more complex molecules that formed themselves into this planet and us. The death of species opens space for other species. The death of previous civilizations created space for ours. The death of individuals creates room for new individuals. Another civilization may come after ours. Eventually, after humanity is gone, other species may develop their own civilization. And so on. I know this intellectually and am deepening into a visceral knowing of it.

I have sought out communities of like-minded people. I was involved with an amazing sustainability organization in Madison, Wisconsin. I was active in natural building and permaculture groups. I did a work trade at an organic CSA farm in Wisconsin.

I notice my more fundamental nature. I bring my more fundamental nature to the foreground of attention. I find myself as what the world – to me – happens within and as. I find myself as capacity for it all. That helps to release some entrenched identification with this human self, a sense of doer or observer, and so on. I sometimes use Headless experiments or the Big Mind process to explore this further. In the past, I did a lot of basic meditation (notice and allow what’s here in the field of experience) to invite my more fundamental nature to notice itself and rest in and as that noticing. This too is something my system is viscerally deepening into.

I have done a lot of inquiry on stressful beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie), and on my sense fields to soften the charge in identifications (Kiloby Inquiries).

I use heart-centered practices to help shift how I relate to whatever is here – thoughts, emotions, sensations, others, situations – and so on. Mostly ho’oponopono and tonglen.

I have done a lot of body-centered practices like taichi, chigong, yoga, and Breema. This helps shift how I relate to my body and myself and life and helps me find more nourishment and grounding.

I have also done a lot of practice to train a more stable attention. Mostly, bringing attention to the sensations in the nose from the breath.

I have done and am doing healing and trauma work to help shift how I relate to whatever is here in experience and invite healing for issues in themselves. I find Trauma and tension Release Exercises (neurogenic tremors and movements) very helpful. And these days, I mostly use Vortex Healing.

I am sure there is a lot more that doesn’t come to mind right now.

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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Weeding the garden: Supporting the natural self-healing processes of the mind

To Turcich, the walk was a seven-year meditation, particularly the first two years, which were more solitary. As he walked, so much was going through his mind – his history, his values, his hopes. It all came to a head in the deserts of Peru and Chile. “I was on my own so much, just with my thoughts. The way I describe it is like weeding your garden. You don’t realise it, but your head is full of these weeds and when you’re walking, you’re on your knees pulling weeds. After about a year and a half, when I was down in south Peru, I felt like I’d thought all the thoughts, and the garden was clean. There was no more angst, no regrets, nothing I could pick through. I was in the Atacama desert, lying under a million stars, and it felt I was at the bottom of myself. All the doubts went.”

– The Guardian, The man who walked around the world: Tom Turcich on his seven-year search for the meaning of life

I haven’t walked around the world but love walking and I have noticed what he describes.

ALLOWING THE MIND TO SETTLE

If you put yourself in a situation where you don’t have too many (modern) distractions, the mind tends to settle on its own. This can be through walking, spending time in nature, doing art, playing music, meditation or mindful movement practice, or something else.

The shift can happen relatively quickly and may not last that long. Or it can gradually happen over time and be more lasting, for instance, through regular meditation practice, doing a meditation or mindful movement retreat, or walking for weeks or months.

SELF-HEALING PROCESS OF THE MIND

Just like our body, our mind is self-healing. Its dynamics are self-healing.

A part of that dynamic is to bring anything unresolved to the surface. What’s unfelt comes up to be felt, what’s unexamined to be examined, what’s unloved to be loved.

So although our mind, when less distracted, engages in a self-healing process, it’s not always pleasant.

Sometimes, when we start a period that’s more undistracted, it can be very uncomfortable. A lot of smaller issues and mental noise come to the surface and it takes time for the mind to naturally settle.

And sometimes, we can have long quiet periods, and then old issues activate and come to the surface.

(In my case, I found meditation very enjoyable in my teens and twenties and did it daily for hours at a time. More recently, at the onset of the dark night, a lot of deep trauma came to the surface which made it far more challenging for me to be with all of it.)

WHAT HAPPENS?

I am not exactly sure what’s happening, but here is my best guess:

Our mind has a natural self-healing tendency. When we are less distracted and mentally busy, this self-healing process is allowed to take place.

And that self-healing process takes a few forms.

As mentioned above, it involves feeling what’s unfelt (emotions, states), seeing what’s unseen (about ourselves, our role in situations), examining what’s unexamined (stressful stories), and finding love for what’s unloved (all of the above and more).

It involves shifting our relationship to stressful stories. We may identify stressful stories we were not aware of previously, which in itself is helpful. (If we are not aware of them, they run us. If we are aware of them, we can recognize them and relate to them more intentionally.)

We may come to recognize the stories for what they are. They are stories, questions about the world. They leave a lot out, and they are often not accurate. Holding onto them is stressful. And what’s genuinely more true for us is often more peaceful.

We may also learn to meet our experiences with more kindness. We may notice that a lot of our discomfort comes from struggling with our experience. And we may try out meeting it with more kindness and find it’s more comfortable and also helps us in our daily life. It’s more pleasant, kind, and wise.

We may also learn to meet our habitual patterns with more kindness. We recognize our mind and behavioral patterns. We may see that some were formed in response to difficult situations in our childhood. We may disidentify a little with these patterns, and find some compassion for ourselves. (And others, since they have their own.) And we may find a way to relate to these more consciously, even as they come up.

Something else may also happen through being with ourselves in a relatively undistracted manner and over time. And that is that we shift our relationship with our human self. We may notice that all content of experience comes and goes, including what we took ourselves to be. (This human self, these feelings, these thoughts, this name, these stories). If it all comes and goes, it can’t be what I most fundamentally am. So what am I, more fundamentally? What am I in my own first-person experience? Here, we may find ourselves as what any content of experience happens within and as. We find ourselves as the field that the world, to us, happens within and as.

All of this can happen naturally if we are undistracted over time. It seems part of the natural self-healing processes of the mind (and body). And it all either brings healing or supports healing.

SUPPORTING THE PROCESS

We can support this natural self-healing process in several ways.

The main one is to allow ourselves to be with ourselves in a relatively undistracted way, regularly and over time. This provides the condition for the self-healing process to take place. And we can do it in many ways, as outlined above. (Go for walks, knit, paint, play music, be in nature, play with children or animals, meditate, do mindful movement, go on a retreat, and so on.)

Receiving guidance for meditation is helpful. This can be basic meditation. (Notice and allow what’s here as it is, and notice it’s already allowed and noticed.) Heart-centered practices. (Tonglen, ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer, Christ meditation, etc.)

Training more stable attention helps this process, and just about anything else, enormously. (For instance, bring attention to the sensation of the breath at the nostrils. Rest in noticing those sensations. And gently bring attention back if it wanders.)

We can also be guided in more structured inquiry, and learn this for ourselves. We can learn to identify and examine stressful thoughts. (The Work of Byron Katie.) We can explore how the sense fields combine to create our experience. (Kiloby Inquiries, traditional Buddhist inquiry.) We can also find what we more fundamentally are, and get more familiar with noticing and living from (and as) it. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE

As usual, I find an evolutionary perspective helpful.

We evolved in nature and as part of nature, in relatively small groups, and to be active with our hands and body. We gathered food. Carried water. Chopped wood. Grew food. Sew and knitted clothes.

It’s only the recent generations that we have lived in a modern world with cities, apartments, a faster pace, and modern gadgets.

Our biology and mind evolved in nature, and many of us are living in a world that’s quite different.

I imagine that the natural self-healing process of our mind was allowed to unfold more freely for our ancestors. Even if they were active, they were typically less distracted and more focused on what was in front of them, so their mind had space to process and self-heal. (At least, to some extent.) In our modern life, we are typically so hurried and distracted (with the internet, news, podcasts, music, etc.) that our mind doesn’t have the same chance.

To give our mind that space, we need to recreate or mimic the life of our ancestors. It doesn’t necessarily mean living in nature and growing our own food. But it does mean engaging in more meditative activities, and perhaps arranging our life so these happen naturally as part of our daily life.

CAVEATS

Outlined like this, it all sounds relatively simple and straightforward.

But simple does not mean easy. It can still be challenging. (It is for me, with all the trauma that came up.) And that’s why it’s helpful to find support. It helps to find a group of people doing the same.

This process tends to bring up what’s buried. If we start on this process, for instance with meditation or mindful movement, and we know we have trauma, it’s good to have guidance from someone skilled in working with trauma, and ideally to have that support and guidance from the beginning before anything comes up.

And traumas and issues may come up that require more attention than just giving our mind space to heal. We may need more focused therapy, in whatever form is available to us and makes the most sense to us. (Talk therapy, somatic therapy, energy work, inquiry, and so on.)

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Impermanence – good to remember, the great cleanser, happening here and now & pointing to our nature

To the extinct, the lost and the forgotten. Everything that comes together is destined to fall apart.

– Yuval Noah Harari in the foreword to Spaiens, the Spanish graphic novel version

Everything that comes together falls apart.

REMEMBERING IMPERMANENCE

It’s good to remember.

It helps us appreciate what’s here even more. Anything in my life now, and anything in my direct experience, is a guest. It all comes and goes. And it will never be here in the same way again.

It can also help us find more peace with all that inevitably falls apart, which is everything. Everything and everyone we know will fall apart. All of what we know will be forgotten.

THE GREAT CLEANSER

Impermanence is the great cleanser.

Existence takes a certain form, and then another, and everything that went before is gone.

At most, it exists for a while in our imagination, but that will eventually be gone too. Impermanence wipes the slate clean to allow itself to take new forms.

Without death, there cannot be new life. Without the death of individuals, there would not be room for new individuals. Without the death of species, there would not be room for new species. Without the death of stars, none of what we know would be here. (Apart from stars and space.) Without the death of this moment, there would be no new moment.

HAPPENING HERE AND NOW

We can find impermanence in stories, as described above. We know from our life, history, and science that everything changes.

And we can also find impermanence in our immediate noticing, or at least in a combination of our immediate noticing and our mental representations.

What’s here is here. I can find the previous moment in my mental images and stories. And I notice that what’s here is different from what happened previously.

What’s here is here. What’s here is always fresh and new. It’s never been here before. It will never be here again. It’s different in kind from any idea about past or future since those are ideas. (1)

POINTING TO MY NATURE

Impermanence points to my more fundamental nature.

I assume that’s why impermanence is such a focus in Buddhism. It’s not just to help us appreciate what’s here or psychologically prepare for all falling apart, which is valuable in itself. It helps us find what we more fundamentally are.

Apart from some types of inquiry, basic meditation may be the most direct and effective way to explore impermanence.

We notice and allow what’s here. (We fail. And notice that what’s here in our field of experience is already noticed and allowed.)

Over time, we notice that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including whatever we assume we are. Everything related to this human self comes and goes in experience. Everything related to anything we can take ourselves to be – a doer, an observer, etc. – comes and goes in experience.

I cannot most fundamentally be any of that since all of it comes and goes in experience. Anything within the content of experience comes and goes.

We have discovered what we are not, and out of habit we may still look for what we are within the content of experience. Finding what we more fundamentally are requires a figure-ground shift. And this can be guided by some forms of inquiry. (Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and so on.)

I find I more fundamentally am (what a thought may call) capacity. I am capacity for the whole field of experience. I am what the field of experience happens within and as.

And any ideas of that happens within the content of experience, come and go, and is not what I more fundamentally am.

Notes

(1) Really… What’s here is here. Anything else is a mental image. I cannot find the past or future outside of my mental representations. I cannot even find the idea of “present” outside of my mental representations.

I cannot find impermanence in my immediate noticing. I can only find when I compare my mental representations of what’s here with my mental images of what was just here. And that’s often very helpful. It gives us a more visceral sense of impermanence and that it’s ongoing.

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Does all time happen now? Yes, to us it does

I remember having this experience in my teens, following the oneness shift. It was as if I could see, for my inner eye, all of time happening now, and I imagined that’s how time is to God. This was one of the early side effects of the shift, and it changed as I found more clarity about what was going on.

Since then, I occasionally talk with people who share a similar experience, often relatively early in the awakening process.

Is this topic important? Why do people experience it this way? And how can we explore it for ourselves?

IS IT IMPORTANT?

At a philosophical level, it’s about as important as other abstract philosophical topics. For most of us, it’s not very important in our daily life.

If it’s an experience – or a sense or intuition, then it’s often important for the ones having it.

And as a topic to explore in our own direct noticing, it can lead us to notice our nature. It can lead us home, to the home we already are whether we notice it or not. And for us, nothing may be more important than that.

WHY DO SOME HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE?

Where does the “all time is happening now” experience come from?

It comes from noticing reality. Not necessarily some absolute reality out there but the reality of our own experience.

To us, any content of experience happens within our sense fields. Any experience happens within one or more sense field – sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, mental representations, and so on.

And that includes our experience of time. Any ideas of past, present, and future, and any ideas of what’s in each of these, happen within our mental field. It all happens here and now.

Any sense of all time happening now also happens within our sense fields. It happens as a combination of certain mental representations (of a timeline and past, future, and present) and certain sensations in the body. Our mind associates the two so the sensations seem to lend a sense of solidity and reality to the mental representations, and the mental representations give a sense of meaning to the sensations.

That means that to us, all time happens now. It’s inevitable. It’s always been that way.

So if we experience that all time happens now, it’s because it does – to us. It was always that way. It cannot be any other way. It’s just that we don’t always notice.

And that doesn’t mean that this is how reality itself is. It’s just our inevitable experience because of how our mind works.

DIFFERENTIATING OUR OWN EXPERIENCE FROM REALITY “OUT THERE”

It’s important to differentiate the two.

To me, all time happens now. I cannot find the past or future, or even the idea of the present, outside of my mental representations. And they all happen here and now.

And that doesn’t say anything about reality itself. It doesn’t tell me how existence in itself is. What we call “time” is a mental overlay on (our mental overlays of) existence.

It says something about my own experience.

A POINTER TO MY OWN NATURE

More importantly, it says something about my own nature.

It’s a pointer to what I more fundamentally am, in my own first-person experience.

If I notice a sense of all time happening now, it’s an invitation for me to take a closer look. How does my mind create this experience?

This can be an invitation to explore our sense fields. To explore what’s happening in each, and how the mental field combines with physical sensations to create a sense of solidity and reality out of imaginations and sensations. (These imaginations are essential for us to orient and function in the world so there is nothing wrong with them, it’s just good to notice what’s happening.)

And this may lead me to find what I more fundamentally am. I may find that I more fundamentally am capacity for anything appearing in the sense fields. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?

How can we investigate this for ourselves?

There are many approaches out there and what works depends on the person and situation. Here are a few I have found helpful.

Traditional Buddhist sense field explorations. For instance, pay attention to one sense field at a time and what happens there. Notice what happens in the mental field. Notice how the mental field interprets what happens in the other sense fields, how it interprets what’s not here in any other sense field, and perhaps even how certain sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to some mental representations (give them a charge) and how certain mental representations give a sense of meaning to certain sensations.

The Kiloby Inquiries is a modern take on this traditional Buddhist inquiry. This inquiry usually requires a facilitator, at least unless we are trained and have some experience with it for ourselves.

The Work of Byron Katie can be helpful, especially if we explore this specifically.

Apart from sense field explorations, the most direct ways to explore this may be the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments. Here, we get a direct taste of any ideas of past, future, and present as happening here now, and happening within and as what we are.

Basic Meditation can do the same, although it tends to be a slightly slower process. Notice and allow what’s here. Notice that it’s already noticed and allowed. Notice how any content of experience comes and goes, including any ideas of past, future, and present. So what am I more fundamentally?

ALL OF TIME DOES HAPPEN NOW

So yes, all of time does happen simultaneously. To us, it does. It’s inevitable since time can only be found in our mental representations, and these happen here and now. I cannot find time outside of my present experience.

That doesn’t tell me how reality itself is.

And it’s an invitation for me to take a closer look, which may lead me to find my own nature.

Although much is important in life, we may find there is no greater treasure than that.

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My meditation history

I thought I would write a few words about my meditation history, and I’ll include a brief mention of other spiritual practices since they go hand-in-hand.

CHILDHOOD INTEREST

In my childhood, I was fascinated by yoga and meditation and wished to explore both but I couldn’t find anyone who could guide me. Not much was going on in my little town in Norway at the time. (These days, it’s easy to find.) The closest I came was doing yoga from a book I found in the library.

INITIAL EXPLORATIONS

During the observer-observed shift when I was fifteen, I remember trying some forms of meditation based on what I picked up from a movie I watched, but it didn’t make much sense and wasn’t very satisfying. (I think it had to do with focusing on a candle flame.)

TAOIST, CHRISTIAN, AND BUDDHIST PRACTICES

When I was sixteen, there was a shift into oneness that turned everything upside-down and inside-out. This sparked a more intentional exploration of my nature and the nature of existence. (And also of healing since my human self was still quite messy and with lots of trauma.)

It led to first engaging in the Taoist practices described by Mantak Chia, which felt natural to me and I could sense the energies moving. It led to getting involved with a local Tibetan Buddhist center in Oslo and the Ngöndro practices. It led to exploring Christian practices like the Heart/Jesus prayer and the Christ meditation (visualizing Christ in the six directions and the heart). And I also did Tai Chi and Chigong.

I had a passion for these practices and did them for at least two hours daily and often longer. Just like drawing and painting, it didn’t require discipline. Something in me wanted to do it more than anything else.

I should say that the Taoist and Christian practices felt very familiar and natural to me, and I loved them completely. I also loved the Tibetan practice of Tonglen and did it daily for long periods of time.

Some of the other Tibetan practices were more challenging since they seemed to encourage the energy and attention to go “up” and made me feel more ungrounded, and the teachers I talked with about this didn’t seem able to relate to it and didn’t give me helpful pointers.

During this time, I also discovered the books by Jes Bertelsen, which I deeply loved since they incorporated Depth Psychology, Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity, and I did also explore and engage in the practices described in some of these books.

ZEN PRACTICE

When I was twenty-four, I went to Salt Lake City to study psychology, moved into the Zen center there (Kanzeon Zen Center, Genpo Roshi), and lived there for about three years. Here, I obviously engaged in basic Zen practice. (Training more stable attention, Shikantaza, Koan practice.) If I remember correctly, I think the official meditation practice was 3-4 hours a day during quiet periods and double or triple during more intensive periods. Although I loved my time there and the practice, the more formal practice did feel constricted and constricting compared to the previous Taoist and Christian practices. It felt less alive.

THE BIG MIND PROCESS

After a while, Genpo Roshi developed the Big Mind process which I also loved since it incorporated what had revealed itself during the initial oneness shift and my passion for psychology and parts/subpersonality work. (I was there when I first came upon it and started developing it.)

MORE FOCUSED ON COMMUNITY

After my marriage and moving to another state, it was difficult for me to engage in my inner exploration as I had before. Instead, I got far more involved in community projects – mostly related to sustainability. This lasted for about five years and was deeply rewarding in its own way. (We used a solution-focused and partnership-oriented approach, and I was the coordinator for the organization.)

RETURN TO PRACTICE

In my early- to mid-thirties, my passion for exploration returned.

I trained in Breema, practiced Breema daily for years, and also instructed.

I got back into training a more stable attention.

I found and loved the Headless experiments.

I continued exploring the Big Mind process for myself and with others.

After a few years (2-4?) of these explorations, there was another shift. This time, into a sense of complete absence of any separate self. It was all just existence experiencing and living itself, and this human self somehow living its own life as a small part of that. (The shift itself was triggered by doing one of the Headless experiments, likely supported by all the other practices.)

And this was followed by a collapse of my health and a dark night of the soul that has lasted years. (I have written about this in other articles so won’t go into it here.)

A NECESSARY SHIFT

After my health took a dramatic turn for the worse (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome later combined with Lyme disease), I had to shift how I engaged in these explorations.

Before this, I had relied on my passion and fire. And now, I had to find a more gentle and effortless way of exploring and noticing. (Which is a blessing.)

For instance, I had to use a distinction in basic meditation more intentionally. Basic meditation is to notice what’s here in my field of experience and allow it as it is. And really, it’s to notice it’s already allowed and already noticed. Noticing what’s already here is more effortless and easier, and it’s also a bit closer to reality.

I continued with The Work of Byron Katie, did two “Schools” for The Work, and did most of the certification process. I continued with Ho’oponopono. I got certified in Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and the Living/Kiloby Inquiries. I did each of these daily or close to daily for some years, with some overlap. (The Work, Ho’o, and TRE during the same time, then Kiloby Inquiries and TRE.)

HUMBLING

I had taken some pride in my practice, ability to keep a stable focus almost indefinitely, and ability to meet my experiences with some intention and equanimity. All that went out the window when the dark night started several years ago. (It came following my health crash.)

My ability to meet my experiences with intention and equanimity went out the window, and a huge amount of unprocessed psychological material came to the surface. It was the most difficult period in my life, and it’s still here to some extent.

THESE DAYS

How do my exploration and noticing look these days?

It’s more a natural part of daily life. I rarely sit down with the intention to practice. I also know that sitting meditation has many benefits and wish and hope to get back into it.

I notice that what’s here in the field of experience is already allowed (by life, existence, mind) and that it’s already noticed (by mind and before consciously reflected upon).

I notice that the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as what I am.

I notice that my more fundamental nature is as capacity for any experience, for anything appearing in my sense fields.

When I notice it would be a helpful medicine, I engage in ho’oponopono, prayer, TRE, and similar practices.

WHAT’S THE EFFECT OF THESE PRACTICES?

I am honestly not sure.

I notice some are quick and eager to point to all the beneficial effects their practices have had in their life. As for me, I cannot say I know. I only have this one life. There is no control group or comparison. I don’t know how my life would be without it.

What I can say is that training more stable attention certainly seemed to have an effect. I had laser attention during the time I practiced this daily, and that supported many activities and my life in general. (The stable attention also came with the initial oneness shift and the transformations that followed.)

The heart-centered practices certainly seem to have an effect when I do them. My orientation shifts.

I have discovered a lot through the different forms of inquiry.

The essence of the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments, combined with the oneness shift in my teens, makes noticing my nature close at hand and effortless.

Have I somehow transformed through these explorations? I don’t know. With the dark night, my capacity to relate intentionally to what’s here was reduced and a lot of unprocessed material has come to the surface. It’s easy to think of this as a backward step, although it’s equally an invitation for deeper healing.

A FEW WORDS ON MEDITATION AND OTHER SPIRITUAL PRACTICES

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

The word is used to refer to several different explorations.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s already here in the field of experience, notice it’s already noticed and allowed, and rest in and as that noticing and allow it to do whatever it does with us. Here, there are also some insights that tend to come over time. For instance, we may notice that attention tends to get distracted, and it does so whenever thoughts have “glue” on them and what they tell us seem real and important. And that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including who or what we think we are. If that too comes and goes, what are we more fundamentally? What are we in our own first-person experience?

Training a more stable attention is also often categorized as a meditation practice.

Inquiry is an exploration of what’s already here, and is often done as a meditation. As is several forms of body-oriented practices like Tai Chi and Breema.

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF MEDITATION AND OTHER SPIRITUAL PRACTICES?

That’s a good question. Mainly, it depends on the practice and the person.

Heart-centered practices help us shift our orientation and relationship with our experiences. (AKA ourselves, others, life, situations, and parts of ourselves.)

Training more stable attention supports a wide range of activities, our life in general, and also other spiritual or healing practices.

Inquiry helps us see how our mind creates its experience, and it can help us see through the misleading quality of many of our mental representations.

Some forms of inquiry can also help us notice our nature. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

The purpose of basic meditation is especially interesting here. On the one hand, the purpose is to notice the changing nature of our experience, find ourselves as what it all happens within and as, and also allow that noticing to work on our human self and psychology. On the other hand, there is no purpose. It’s just resting in and as what we are.

WHY WRITE ABOUT THIS?

Why did I write about this here?

It’s partly because I may find helpful insights, pointers, or reminders for myself now.

And it’s partly because it may be helpful to others on a similar path. I have often learned a lot from others. (That includes reminders of what doesn’t resonate with me which clarifies my own path.)

Failing in basic meditation and finding what’s already here

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here in the field of experience.

FAILING IN BASIC MEDITATION

I try to notice and allow what’s here.

I notice I am unable to do it through intention or effort. At best, it’s a kind of approximation. My attention gets distracted, and I am unable to consciously allow every experience without sometimes go into struggle, avoidance, or reactivity.

As some meditation instructors will point out, that’s the point of that practice. We are meant to fail. Our human self cannot do it. Failure is built into it.

And through that failure, we may find another way.

NOTICING WHAT’S ALREADY HERE

We may notice that what’s here in our field of experience is already noticed and allowed.

It’s already noticed by consciousness even before it’s consciously noticed and reflected in thought. It happens within and as consciousness, so is inherently noticed.

It’s also already allowed – by space, mind, life, and existence. Whatever is here is already allowed. Putting effort into allowing is like trying to artificially create something that’s already here.

We can then rest in noticing that what’s here is already noticed and allowed. That’s much more simple. It’s closer to reality. It’s a noticing of what’s here and nothing needs to be fabricated. And since it’s already here, it’s something we can always return to. (When grace allows us to remember.)

SHIFT IN CENTER OF GRAVITY

Through this, we may find ourselves as what already notices and allows what’s here. We may find ourselves as capacity for anything that happens in our field of experience. We may find ourselves as what it all happens within and as.

Over time, there may be a shift from noticing and seeing it to finding ourselves as it, both during these explorations in daily life.

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Keith Jarrett on CFS & music creation

I was saying to the disease: I know you are here and I have accepted your presence, but I am still going ahead with this work. To start it I have to make it as intimate as possible.

As soon as it got complex, I stopped. I wanted to stay close to the song, to sing it. So I was turning my disease into a song.

The disease taught me a lot. The greater the experience, the deeper the simplicity. Time is the most complex part of that simplicity.

– Keith Jarrett from the documentary “The Art of Improvisation”, 2005

In this quote, Keith Jarrett talks about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and how it helped him simplify and become more intimate with the music. He didn’t stop making music, he changed his relationship with making music.

I love what he says here. It mirrors how my relationship with spiritual practice shifted when my CFS dramatically worsened some years ago. I also had to simplify and become more intimate with it.

For instance, basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here. Instead of intentionally noticing and allowing, I shifted into something more simple and intimate. I notice that what’s here in my field of experience is already noticed and allowed. It’s already allowed. (By space, mind, life, existence.) It’s already noticed by consciousness before any conscious noticing. I align with what is already here instead of trying to manufacture anything or achieve something through effort. It may not look like a very big shift, and yet it makes all the difference. And it is more closely aligned with reality.

I was aware of and explored this difference long before this happened, but the CFS motivated me to be more simple and intimate in this noticing, and more diligent in finding the most simple and effortless way to notice.

And that’s happened in other areas of life as well, including in my connections with others. I have had to drop a lot of pretense and facades and be simple and more intimate, especially in my more close relationships.

The logic of what we are (awakening)

There is a logical inevitability to what we are.

There is a logic to what we are in our own first-person experience.

There is a logic to what we find when we are guided, and when we set aside thoughts telling us what we are.

THE CONVENTIONAL VIEW & WHAT I FIND

The conventional view is that we are this human self in the world. I am a human being in the world that has consciousness. That’s not entirely wrong. It’s an assumption that works relatively well in daily life.

But is this what I find when we take a closer look in my own immediate experience? Here, I find I more fundamentally am something else.

I find I more fundamentally am capacity for any and all experience. I find am what any experience happens within and as. And I find there is a logical inevitability to this.

THE LOGIC OF OUR WHAT WE ARE: THE SIMPLE VERSION

Why is there a logical inevitability to what we are?

The simple version is that if we “have” consciousness, then to ourselves we have to BE consciousness.

The world, as it appears to us, then has to happen within the consciousness we are.

And we and the world, as it appears to us, have to have the characteristics of consciousness.

THE LOGIC OF WHAT WE ARE IN MORE DETAIL

I’ll go into this in a little more detail.

(1) If we “have” consciousness, then to ourselves we have to BE consciousness.

Consciousness is not some appendix we happen to have. (The only way it can look that way is if we: (a) Assume we most fundamentally are an object in the world with consciousness somehow attached to it. And (b) don’t examine it very closely.)

If we “have” consciousness, it means that we perceive “through” that consciousness. It means that all our experiences happen within and as that consciousness. It means that what receives any and all experiences is that consciousness. And that means that, to ourselves, we have to BE that consciousness. There is no other option.

(2) The world, as it appears to us, then has to happen within the consciousness we are.

The world, to us, happens within and as consciousness. We are that consciousness.

That means that the world, to us, happens within and as the consciousness we are.

And by “the world” I mean any and all content of experience including the wider, this human self, thoughts, feelings, states, and so on.

Anything that appears in any sense field – sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought – happens within and as the consciousness we are.

(3) And we and the world, as it appears to us, have to have the characteristics of consciousness.

Here are some of these characteristics:

Oneness. The consciousness we are is one. And the world as it appears to us happens within and as the oneness we are. Our experience of anything and everything inevitably happens within the oneness we are. (If our system is invested in a perception of separation, we may not notice that oneness, but that’s another matter.)

Timeless. To ourselves, our nature is timeless. It just is. And since the world happens within and as what we are, that too is timeless to us. Time happens within and as what we are. It’s not fundamental to what we are.

Spaceless. Similarly, to ourselves, our nature is spaceless and the world appears spaceless. Any sense of space happens within and as what we are, it’s not fundamental to our nature.

Love. We can also say that our nature is love. Love is a natural expression of the oneness we are recognizing itself. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right. It’s a love that’s not dependent on feelings or states. (It’s always here but it’s dependent on not being too obscured by our separation-consciousness hangups to be expressed.)

Not a thing. As consciousness, we are not a thing. And since the world, to us, happens within and as the consciousness we are, that too – to us – is not a thing. It’s all happening more like a dream, within and as consciousness, than anything else. (Again, being caught up in separation consciousness can make the world appear very much as a thing, and there is some truth to that too.)

Ephemeral. Any and all experience is ephemeral. It’s gone before we consciously realize we have noticed it. In this way too, everything is dreamlike. (Any sense of permanence is created by the overlay of our mental field.)

Capacity. As consciousness, our more fundamental nature is capacity. We are capacity for any and all experiences. We are what allows it all. We are what all happens within and as.

Always here. Our nature is, inevitably, always here. It may not recognize itself, but it’s here. It’s what we already are.

NO IDEOLOGY OR SPIRITUALITY REQUIRED

No ideology or spirituality is required to explore this. It’s just what we find (or not) when we look.

What we find is what mystics throughout history and from any tradition have described. And yet, it’s not dependent on any religion, spirituality, or ideology.

If anything, it reveals that any religion, spirituality, and ideology is human-created, it’s created by our mental field. At most, and in this context, it reflects a direct noticing and can offer some pointers for how to explore it for ourselves.

HOW CAN WE EXAMINE IT FOR OURSELVES?

So how can we examine it for ourselves?

I’ll mention a few approaches I have found especially helpful.

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process are two of the most simple, direct, and effective approaches I have found so far.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here and notice it’s already noticed and allowed. Over time, we realize that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including what we may take ourselves to be. So what are we more fundamentally? Are we what it all comes and goes within and as? How is it to notice that? How is it to explore living from that noticing?

And there are also many approaches that support this noticing or support living from it, including other forms of inquiry (sense field explorations, Kiloby inquiries), heart-centered practices (prayer, tonglen, ho’oponpono, metta), training more stable attention (including body-centered practices), and ethical guidelines (reduces distractions, highlights what in us operates from separation consciousness).

WHY IS IT COVERED UP?

If this is our nature, why don’t we notice? Why is it covered up?

The simple answer is that as we grow up, we do as others do. We see others operate from separation consciousness, assuming they most fundamentally are an object in the world, so we do the same. And we don’t find a good reason to question or examine it. Or we don’t have access to good tools and guidance to examine it.

HOW IS IT COVERED UP?

How is it covered up? What are some of the mechanisms?

In short, it’s covered up when our mind holds onto mental representations – mental images and words – as accurately reflecting reality.

As soon as consciousness holds a story as true, it identifies with the viewpoint of that story. It becomes an “I” with an “other”. To itself, it becomes something within the content of experience. (1)

It temporarily takes itself to be one part within itself, and everything else as “other”.

That’s how separation consciousness is created, and it can seem very real.

If we grow up with separation consciousness, as most of us do, then many parts of our psyche are formed and operate from separation consciousness. That’s how emotional issues, traumas, hangups, ideologies, and so on are created.

Even when the oneness we are recognizes itself, it can still have many parts operating from separation consciousness, and it can take time to get all of these onboard with a more conscious noticing of oneness.

WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THIS?

Why don’t more people talk about this?

Well, some do. Many Asian spiritual traditions talk about this. Mystics from all traditions and times talk about it. Many spiritual coaches and teachers talk about it. Some psychologists and philosophers talk about it.

And yet, most psychologists and philosophers don’t talk about it, and few in academia explore it in any serious way.

Why do they ignore it even if it has logic to it? Why do they ignore it even if this has profound practical implications? Even if it can be profoundly transforming for anyone engaging in these kinds of explorations?

I am not sure.

Perhaps some lack curiosity or interest? (Which is fine. Our fascination is our calling, and there is no lack of things to be fascinated by.) Perhaps they haven’t investigated the conventional “have consciousness as an appendix” idea? Perhaps they are concerned to get lumped in with mystics, spiritual people, and weirdos?

I assume it’s not because this is not an important topic, because it is. It’s not for lack of information or guidance, because that can be found. It’s not because they cannot explore it for themselves, because they can. And it’s not because there is no logic to it, because there is.

IS OUR NATURE THE SAME AS THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE?

Is our nature the same as the nature of all of existence?

If we find our own more fundamental nature, it’s natural to assume that the nature of existence is the same. After all, the world to us happens within and as what we are, so it will appear that way.

And yet, do we know? Not really.

I cannot know for certain. I can find what appears as my more fundamental nature, I can explore how to live from that noticing, and so on. And yet, I cannot honestly say I know for certain that’s the nature of everything.

THE SMALL AND BIG INTERPRETATIONS OF AWAKENING

This is where I differentiate between the small and big interpretations of awakening.

This article is written from the small interpretation of awakening. It doesn’t rely on spirituality or religion. It’s about what we can find for ourselves through direct noticing.

It’s about our own nature, in our own first-person experience, not the nature of reality or existence.

From here, we can go one step further and say that our nature IS the nature of existence and reality. Reality IS consciousness. It is what we traditionally think of as the divine, as Spirit, as God.

Each of these interpretations has its place and value.

The small interpretation is more accessible to more people, it points more directly to what we can find for ourselves, and it goes to the heart of what mystics from different times and traditions describe. As I see it, it’s also more intellectually honest. And it may appear a bit dry and boring.

The big interpretation fits more what the main religions and spiritual traditions describe, it can be more inspiring, and it can open us up more. In some cases, it’s also a bit intellectually dishonest (presenting fantasy or speculation as reality), fanciful, and misleading. And there are several hints that the essence of it is more accurate in the bigger picture.

LILA – THE PLAY OF REALITY

All of this can be seen as play.

We can see it as the play of consciousness, reality, or even of the divine.

In the big interpretation of awakening…

It’s the divine exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

It’s the one experiencing itself as many. It’s oneness experiencing itself as separate. It’s love experiencing itself as what looks like anything but love. It’s consciousnes experiencing itself as an object in the world. And so on.

It’s the dance of reality or Spirit.

In the small interpretation of awakening…

It’s much the same. It’s the oneness we are experiencing itself as separate. It’s the love we are experiencing itself as anything but love. It’s consciousness taking itself to be an object in the world.

And here, we can see it as play or something that’s just happening.

In either case, we can see it as the dance of consciousness, reality, or the divine.

And any ideas of purpose or meaning are ideas and not inherent in reality itself.

(1) Said another way, the consciousness we are creates a lot of identities for itself and identifies with these. It takes itself as a human, a gender, an age, someone with certain characteristics, and so on. None of this is necessarily wrong, but it is limiting and it’s not accurate in a more real sense.

If we look more closely we may find another mechanism. The consciousness we are associates certain thoughts with certain sensations. The sensations lend a sense of solidity, substance, and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations. And the consciousness we are may create chronic tension in the physical body in order to have ready access to sensations lending substance to certain thoughts.

If we have chronic beliefs, about anything, it’s a good bet that these are connected with chronic tension somewhere in the physical body.

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Finding an easier way: chronic illness as a guide

Some years ago, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) shifted into a more severe phase. That meant I had to find an easier way to do many things in life.

How can I do this in a way that’s more comfortable? Require less energy? Take my situation into consideration? Is kind to me and hopefully others?

Here are some examples.

FINDING MY VALUE

I have explored and found my value independent of my actions and activities in the world. Before this happened, I put at least some of my value on my actions and what I produced. (After all, I am a child of the western culture where this is a feature.) Where is my value if all I can do is rest? If I cannot produce or do much?

One answer is that we see a baby as having value, and they mostly eat, poop, and make sounds. If a baby has value, why is that not the case with me and anyone else independent of age and production?

Another answer is in noticing my nature, and that the world to me happens within and as what I am. Here, nothing is missing. It’s complete as it is.

And yet another answer lies in examining any stressful thoughts around lack and finding what’s genuinely more true for me. (As I did for several years through The Work of Byron Katie.)

ASKING FOR HELP

I learned to ask for help.

Before this, I took pride in not asking much for help and created an identity around it.

After this happened, I had to ask for help. And it helped me soften that identification and see the value and beauty both in receiving and giving and in allowing others to give. (Especially as long as they feel free to say no.)

I am not doing this perfectly, whatever that means, but I am exploring and learning.

FINDING A YES OR NO BY NOTICING MY BODY’S RESPONSE

I have learned to find a more genuine yes and no, not only through inquiry but also by noticing my body’s response.

For instance, if I am wondering whether to do an activity or not, I can say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I chose to do it. And then notice my body’s response. Does it relax? Does it sigh in relief? Then I say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I choose not to. And again notice my body’s response.

The genuine yes is reflected in my body relaxing, in a sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s a yes to the activity, and sometimes it’s a no to the activity.

(How does this work? It may be because the more unfiltered and honest part of my mind is intimately connected with my physical body. Or more accurately, because any tension in my mind is reflected in tension in my physical body, and tension always happens when we are not completely honest with ourselves.)

FINDING ESSENTIAL NEEDS AND MOTIVATIONS

What are some of my surface wishes and motivations? Taking one of them, what do I hope to get out of it? And what do I hope to get out of that? And that? What’s the most essential wish and motivation behind it? How can I give that to myself? In life? How is it to give it to that part of me here and now, within myself? (From Adyashanti.)

This is another way to simplify my life. On the surface, I have innumerable wishes and motivations. And when I trace them back to their essence, I find just a few and perhaps really just one.

This helps me prioritize and find and give myself what I really wish for and need.

It also helps me differentiate my genuine needs and motivations, and the strategies I use to find and give it to myself. It helps me explore a variety of ways to give it to myself. (NVC.)

For instance, I may have a surface wish for money. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for safety. Can I offer a sense of safety to the part(s) of me that wish for safety? Can I find ways to feel safer in life? (I can also explore ways to be a good steward of my life in terms of finances. What are some ways to have more stable finances? What are some ways to have a little more money in my life?)

I may have a surface wish for ice cream. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for love, comfort, and enjoyment, and even more essentially love. Can I give love to those parts of me wishing for love? Can I give comfort to the parts wishing for comfort? Can I give enjoyment to my inner community? Can I find ways to give this to myself in life? (And I can, of course, still eat ice cream if I wish.)

SIMPLIFYING MY LIFE

I have always loved simple living, and leading simple living groups was part of my actual job for a while. CFS has encouraged me to simplify even more.

What can I prune in my life? What can I say no to? (Which is a yes to me.) What drains energy? What do I really enjoy? What gives me a boost? What’s worth spending energy on, even if it has a cost?

What has life pruned for me? And can I join in with it? Can I find where it’s a genuine gift?

FINDING PEACE WITH SAYING NO

Like many in my culture, I have been programmed to think I should say “no” as little as possible. A part of me wants to please others to avoid discomfort. I should answer calls. I should say “yes” if I am invited somewhere.

So I have had to explore this and find more peace with saying no, and sometimes really enjoy saying no.

As Byron Katie says, a genuine “no” is a yes to me. Right there, I find more peace with it and even joy.

I see the benefits of learning to say no. It helps me take care of myself and my health. It helps me prune away activities (and sometimes people) that don’t feel right to have in my life. It leaves room for what’s more enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful. I find that the space itself is enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful (!).

Feeling free to say a genuine yes or no is easier through good communication and some education. I am working on being better at explaining my situation to people in my life. The more they understand, the easier it is for all of us to have our needs met. We can more easily find strategies that work.

FINDING AND GIVING TO MYSELF WHAT’S NOURISHING

What’s deeply nourishing for me?

In my case, I find it’s a wide range of things and activities.

Bone broth (!) is deeply nourishing for my body and thus for all of me. Whole food low on the food chain is typically the same. (I find refined foods draining.) Warm herbal tea, and sometimes spice tea, is often nourishing, along with dark miso broth.

Nature and being in nature is deeply nourishing for me. (It can be just sitting in a garden, enjoying the sun, clouds, wind, chirping birds, the sound of the wind in the trees, and so on.)

Some relationships are deeply nourishing, especially at certain times.

This type of exploration is nourishing to me, when I have the energy.

Some input – podcasts, interviews, articles, videos, movies, and music – is nourishing for me, at the right time.

Breema is deeply nourishing for me, whether it’s receiving, giving (when I have enough energy), or doing Self-Breema.

Receiving Vortex Healing for energizing is deeply nourishing for my system. It especially helps if I feel very drained or in a crash.

MORE EASE IN THE EXPLORATIONS: BASIC MEDITATION AND MORE

I used to put extra effort into my meditation practice, whether it was training a more stable attention, noticing my nature, or something else. In my teens and twenties, I would often meditate or hours at a time. I would go fully into the Tibetan Ngöndro practice. I would practice as if my hair was on fire, as they say in Buddhism. I found I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to find an easier and simpler way.

What was this easier way? I have mostly focused on basic meditation, noticing and allowing what’s here, and noticing that any content of experience is already noticed and allowed. By noticing what’s already here, I scale back the effort to the essentials.

I found that the essence of the Headless experiments is also helpful since that too is about noticing what’s already here.

Also, I kept some simple heart-centered practices like tonglen and ho’oponopono.

And I have, in periods, done simple forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process, and The Work of Byron Katie, the Kiloby/Living inquiries.

INQUIRY AND HEART-CENTERED PRACTICES

Inquiry and heart-centered practices help me find more ease.

Stressful stories are only partially true and my system is spending a lot of energy maintaining them and reacting to them. Identifying and examining these stories, and finding what’s more genuinely true for me, opens up space for more ease and presence. I find The Work of Byron Katie and the Kiloby/Living inquiries most helpful for this.

Heart-centered practices shift how I relate to anything – discomfort, myself, others, situations, life, and more. (And really, my images of all of these.) They help me shift from seeing them as enemies, struggling with them, and so on, to genuinely befriending them and perhaps even finding genuine gratitude for them. This too opens up space and opens up for more ease and peace with what is. The practices I am most familiar with are tonglen, ho’oponopono, and the Jesus/Heart prayer.

FINDING WHAT I AM

Finding what I am helps me find an essential simplicity.

In the world, I am this human self in the world. That’s not wrong.

Is that also what I am in my own first-person experience? I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the word as it appears to me, for any and all content of experience. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

And here, there is an essential simplicity. It’s the simplicity that allows and takes the form of all the richness of experience. It’s what’s free of tension and stress, and is free to take the form of what a thought may label tension and stress.

THE NATURE OF MY EXPERIENCES IS THE SAME AS MY OWN NATURE

This is perhaps a bit obscure and marginal for most but important to me.

When I experience discomfort, the habitual response in my system is to react to it. To try to push it away. Distract myself from it, often by going into compulsions. Make it go away, sometimes by healing and transforming it away. And so on.

My system responds as if it’s “other”. As if it’s a kind of enemy or problem. As if is a foreign element.

In reality, I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what I am.

Noticing this, and resting in that noticing, helps to shift out of this pattern. And that too gives more of a sense of ease and peace. It initially takes a bit of effort, and it really frees up a lot of energy tied up in the struggle from the old habitual response.

How do I do that? The easiest for me is to remind myself of my headlessness, notice my nature directly, and then notice and rest in the noticing of the nature of (what my thoughts label) the discomfort.

INVITED TO BE MORE SINCERE AND THOROUGH

Very little of this was new to me. These were all things I have explored since my teens or twenties. But the more severe phase of the CFS invited me to be more sincere and thorough in the exploration of all of it. Life created a kind of boundary for me and I needed to go deeper within that boundary. I could get away with less. I couldn’t so easily get away with being approximate and sloppy. I needed to be more sincere and precise.

It almost goes without saying, but a part of this sincerity is to find what’s genuinely true for me. Tricking myself doesn’t work since a part of me (all parts, really) know what’s going on. It has to be genuine to have any value.

OFTEN MESSY

By writing it like this, it can look as if I have it all sorted.

The reality is far more messy and human. I am not by any means perfect in any of this, whatever we imagine “perfect” means. I am winging it. I am learning a few things as I go along, often slowly. I forget and then remember again. I have a lot of issues and traumas that sometimes obscure and confuse any clarity that’s here. I don’t have any final or full answers. And as with most of these posts, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. As an invitation to myself to bring it alive here and now and explore it further.

It’s all very much a work in progress. And an adventure.

Note: What I have written here applies to some extent to many forms of chronic illness. This includes different forms of long-covid, some of which are similar to CFS. Long-covid is a post-viral disease and CFS is often a post-viral disease.

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What is it that doesn’t come and go?

In basic meditation, we notice and allow any experience that’s here.

We notice it’s already allowed and noticed.

And we may notice that any and all experience comes and goes, including what we take ourselves to be.

So what is it that doesn’t come and go?

If we are asked that question, our mind will likely look for something within the content of experience. After all, that’s what we are used to looking for, and the word “what” may also suggest we are looking for a kind of thing.

But this what doesn’t refer to a thing. It refers to what our experiences – the world as it appears to us – happens within and as.

And although it’s what we inevitably are most familiar with, it’s also ephemeral and unpinnable. It cannot be pinned down by thoughts or concepts.

Our mind will create mental representations of this and call it oneness, love, consciousness, or something else. Our mind may also mistake these mental representations for what they point to. So it’s helpful to be aware of these mental representations and examine them and notice that these too happen within and as what we are.

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Byron Katie: If the voice in your head is you, who is the one listening to it?

If the voice in your head is you, who is the one listening to it?

— Byron Katie

This is a very good question, and it can be difficult to explore without some guidance.

Most people would answer “me” without examining very closely what that actually means.

If we explore it, we may find that we refer to an image of ourselves, and often a set of different images, and often images connected with certain words and sentences and that these images and words are associated with sensations in the body.

What the question points to is what all of this is already happening within and as. It refers to what the world to us – any content of experience – happens within and as. To ourselves, that’s what we more fundamentally are. That’s our nature.

And to find that, we typically need more guided pointers and explorations.

Byron Katie, of course, gives people these pointers in the form of The Work.

We can also do other forms of guided and structured inquiry like the Kiloby (Living) Inquiries, based on traditional Buddhist inquiry.

We can use Headless experiments or the Big Mind process.

We can explore Basic Meditation regularly over time, and find that any content of experience – including the images, words, and sensations we may take ourselves to be – come and go. And we may eventually find ourselves as what it all happens within and as.

And so on.

And here, when it’s noticed, there is an invitation to keep noticing and explore how it is to live from this noticing. And also keep exploring any hints of our mind continuing taking itself as images, words, and sensations in new and more “spiritual” or “awake” ways. (As “emptiness”, “consciousness”, “love”, “oneness” and so on.)

I don’t know the context for Byron Katie’s words, but they were probably said to someone ready to hear them and make use of them. Someone ripe for noticing.

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Basic meditation: Notice and allow what’s here, and notice it’s already noticed and allowed

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here – in the content of our experience – as it is.

We notice and allow whatever is here whether it’s sensations, sounds, sights, and so on.

This also and especially applies to noticing and allowing any resistance, discomfort, and any experience we tend to habitually reject.

TRYING AND FAILING

At first, this may seem like something we intentionally do, and that’s not wrong. We may intentionally notice what’s here and seek to allow it as it is.

And we’ll inevitably fail. We’ll notice we are not always noticing what’s here because we get caught up in stories. We cannot intentionally notice everything in our field of experience. And we sometimes struggle with allowing what’s here as it is and instead go into resistance and distractions.

All this is normal. It’s what humans do. It’s what the human mind does. It gets distracted. It struggles with its own content.

NOTICE IT’S ALREADY NOTICED AND ALLOWED

After a while of this trying and partial failing, we may notice that what’s here is already noticed and allowed.

Consciousness already notices what’s here before it’s reflected in any intentional and conscious noticing.

And what’s here is already allowed even before any intentional allowing. It is already allowed – by mind, life, and existence.

When we rest in this noticing, we can more consciously align with the noticing and allowing inherent in what we are, and we can allow the noticing to work on us and do its magic with us.

In our nature, there is no failing in basic meditation. Our nature inherently notices and allows.

A FEW MORE THINGS WE MAY NOTICE

This inherent noticing and allowing even allows apparent distraction and resistance.

This inherent noticing and allowing is our nature and, over time, we get familiar with it as our nature.

There is a kind of center of gravity for what we take ourselves to be, and this may gradually shift. (It shifts from something particular within the content of experience to what’s capacity for all of it and what it all happens within and as.)

Any sense of being anything within content of experience is part of what’s noticed and allowed and not what we must fundamentally are. 

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Adyashanti: If we’re not trying to control so much, a lot of the meditative experience is actually naturally occurring

If we’re not trying to control so much, a lot of the meditative experience is actually naturally occurring.

– Adyashanti, The Boundless Awakened Heart

What does Adya mean by meditative experience? I am not sure, but I assume it may be basic meditation – to notice and allow what’s here and rest in that noticing and allowing.

In general, the more we try to control our experience, the more we are distracted by that attempt at control, and the less available our attention is to notice what’s here.

And the less we try to control our experience, the more free and available our attention is to notice what’s already here.

So what may we notice if we relax trying to control our experience?

BASIC MEDITATION

As mentioned above, basic meditation is about noticing and allowing what’s here.

If we intentionally try to notice and allow, we may find it’s not really possible. Our attention is too distracted. We get caught up in efforts to control our experience.

After struggling with that for a while, we may find that the noticing and allowing is already happening. We may find that basic meditation is more essentially about noticing the noticing and allowing that’s already here.

The experience that’s here is already noticed by consciousness, effortlessly and naturally, and before any thought comes in commenting on it.

And it’s already allowed. It’s already here so it’s already allowed – by existence, space, mind.

Basic meditation is essentially about noticing that our experience is already noticed and allowed, rest in that noticing, and allow it to work on us. To shape and transform us.

And all of this is easier the less we engage in trying to control our experience. Trying to control binds our attention. Relaxing that effort frees our attention to notice what’s already here.

INQUIRY

What I mentioned above is already a basic form of inquiry, and it can lead to further insights.

We may consciously try to notice and allow, and find we cannot really do it, or can only do it very imperfectly.

We may then notice that the noticing and allowing is already happening, and we can invite that noticing to work on and transform us.

We are built conscious and open for the world. We cannot escape it.

This is already a form of inquiry. We notice certain basic things about what’s here and how the mind works.

As mentioned above, when we try to control our experience, our attention tends to be caught up in that effort. And the less we try to control, the more attention is available to notice what’s already here.

What are some of the things we may notice?

We may notice that trying to control our experience is ultimately futile. The content of our experience – thoughts, emotions, sensations, reactivity, and so on – lives its own life. It’s already here before we even consciously notice and can relate to it or make up a story about it.

We may notice the overlay of mental images and words that our mind puts on the world. The constant commentary. And how this commentary brings us into certain states. That it’s really just innocent questions about the world. That it’s not ultimately true. It’s different in nature from what it comments on. And even within the realm of stories, it’s not any final or complete story.

We may notice the changing nature of our experience. All content of our experience is always changing. Nothing stays the same. If all of this is always changing, including any experience of being this human self or an I or me, is that what I more fundamentally am?

We may find we more fundamentally are capacity for the world as it appears to us, including this changing experience of this human self and the world. We may find we more fundamentally are what all of this happens within and as. And that any attempt to give it a label or to pin it down is ultimately futile and misleading.

We may explore what happens when we keep noticing our more essential nature. Does it allow our human self to reorganize and transform within that noticing? We may find that this is an ongoing process with no finishing line.

All of this is a natural and essential form of inquiry, and it’s something built into us. We are naturally curious about these things, and we naturally notice if we allow that noticing to take place.

SUMMARY

By not trying to control so much, attention is more available to notice what’s already here. And what’s already here is the essence of basic meditation. It’s more a question of noticing that it’s already here and resting in and as that noticing.

Within this is a natural and simple inquiry. We may notice some of the dynamics of the mind. We may notice the noticing and allowing that’s already here. We may notice it’s built into the mind and what we are. We may notice the changing nature of all content of experience, including anything within the content of experience we may take ourselves to be. We may notice what we more fundamentally are, in our own first-person experience. We may explore what happens when we rest in that noticing and allow it to work on us. And so on.

We may find that all of this is an ongoing process with no apparent finish line.

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Adyashanti: When you welcome all of experience into your awareness, a certain type of stillness starts to emerge organically

When you welcome all of experience into your awareness, a certain type of stillness starts to emerge organically.

– Adyashanti

All of my experiences already happen within and as what I am. So when I welcome it all more consciously, I am more aligned with what I already am.

That, in itself, brings in stillness. It’s the end of my struggle, at least for now.

And equally important, what I am is stillness. It’s the stillness all activity happens within and as. So when I am more aligned with this, I more easily notice the inherent stillness of what I am.

Adyashanti: Simply rest in the felt sense of being

Simply rest in the felt sense of being. Don’t think about it. Do it. That is the key. Grasp at nothing, push nothing away. Simply rest in the felt sense of being. Practice it every day. By abiding in being you are taken beyond it to the absolute. It may sound simple but that is where its power lies, in its straightforward simplicity.

– Adyashanti in Experiencing No-Self online course

Imperfect practice and noticing what’s already here

Maezumi Roshi, and I am sure many others, pointed out that we can only do approximate shikantaza. We can only imperfectly do the basic meditation of noticing and allowing.

It’s that way with many practices. We can only do it imperfectly.

And there is a great blessing in this, in more than one way. It keeps us humble, and it invites us to find the nature of what we already are.

BASIC MEDITATION

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s already here in our experience. As a human being, this is something we can do only imperfectly.

Why can we only do it imperfectly?

The simple answer is that it’s not humanly possible. We’ll get distracted. We cannot intentionally notice everything happening in our field of experience. We cannot fully allow it all, or do so all the time. And we are always one step behind what’s already happened.

And the more real answer is that the premise is already out of alignment with reality. There is ultimately nobody doing it, and basic meditation cannot be “done” or manifactured.

So what’s the solution?

We can practice more. We can get more familiar with and fine-tune our practice. That is part of the answer and very valuable.

And the more real solution is to notice that basic meditation is already happening. What’s here in my experience is already allowed – by life, space, mind. I can notice it’s already allowed. And I can notice that what’s here in experience is already, in a sense, already noticed. It’s already happening within and as this (ordinary) awakeness.

Both of these perspectives have validity. In a sense, there is a human being here engaging in this practice, and perhaps fine-tuning it through experience. And ultimately, there is nobody doing it and the practice cannot be successfully done or manifactured. All we can do is notice it’s already happening. It’s our natural state.

The nature of what we are is to allow and notice what’s here, and it happens no matter what this human self is doing or distracted by.

When we do basic meditation, we mimic what our nature already does and is.

At first, it may seem unfortunate that we can only do approximate basic meditation. And, in reality, it’s a blessing since the only real solution is to notice the nature of what we already are.

FINDING WHAT WE ARE

Finding more directly what we are, through pointers and noticing, is similar. As someone doing it, we can only do it imperfectly.

When I find myself as capacity for the world, or oneness, or stillness & silence, do I actually notice this? Or do I notice my mental representations of being capacity, or oneness, or stillness & silence? Or is there a combination?

Also, when I find myself as this, is there some part of my sense field that’s not included in my noticing, and that there is still some identification with?

In my case, there is likely a yes to all of these questions. There is some actual noticing. There is some noticing of the mental representations, and these are partly mistaken for what they refer to, and they are partly used as pointers to notice what they refer to. And there is sometimes a part of the sense field that is identified with, and especially some sensations and mental images in the area where the head is.

For these reasons, and because my attention is not always stable or fully on, this noticing is imperfect.

Of course, practice helps, especially when combined with honesty and sincerity.

And what really helps is to go beyond what’s done and manifactured.

Can I notice the capacity that’s already here, and that allows all this doing and noticing?

Can I notice the stillness & silence that’s inherent in this field of experience, independent of any noticing and doing?

THE GIFTS IN THE IMPERFECTION

As I mentioned, there are real gifts in this imperfect practice.

One is that it keeps us humble at a human level. I cannot really do any of these practices. I can only do it imperfectly, and – in a sense – fake it.

And the other is that the only real solution to this is to notice what’s already here. To notice the allowing & noticing inherent in this field of experience. And notice the capacity, stillness & silence, and oneness inherent in this field of experience.

At first, we may assume that the practice is to do it and manufacture something. And after a while, we may find that it’s noticing what’s already here.

As so much, it seems obvious. And yet, for a mind used to complexify things, it’s so simple and natural that it’s easy to overlook.

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Om å finne flytsonen, og det vi egentlig er (oppvåkning på fint)

Man glemmer seg sjøl, man er bare.

– Lars Monsen: Mitt liv, s. 169 i uinbundet utgave

Lars Monsen beskriver en ganske vanlig opplevelse for mange. Vi glemmer oss selv. Vi bare er. Vi er fullstendig tilstede, fungerer bra og gjør det vi skal, er en i slags flytsone, og vi glemmer oss selv. Vi fungerer bra kanskje nettopp fordi vi glemmer oss selv.

Vi søker denne opplevelsen på ulike måter. Gjennom natur, fysisk trening, sport, dans, musikk, sex, meditasjon, yoga, fjellklatring, tegning og maling, og mer.

Vi ser at det meste har å gjøre med kroppen, og å ta oppmerksomheten ut av innholdet til tankene. Selv meditasjon er overraskende fysisk, og dreier seg å legge merke til tankene istedet for å gå (for mye) inn i det de forteller oss.

HVORFOR SØKER VI Å GLEMME OSS SELV?

Hvorfor søker vi denne opplevelsen?

Det er et par ulike grunner.

På den ene siden er det behagelig. Vi glemmer oss selv. Vi glemmer vårt liv og våre identiteter. Vi bare er. Vi er som en del av naturen og alt annet som er.

På den andre siden er dette det vi allerede er. Vi allerede er rom for verden som vi opplever den. Vi er den våkenheten som allerede er her, og som vi allerede kjenner svært godt. Vi er det som rommet dette mennesket og resten av verden. Vi er det våkne rommet alt dette skjer innen og som tar form som alt dette. Og alt lever sitt eget liv. Dette mennesket og resten av verden lever sitt eget liv.

Uten at vi kanskje gjenkjenner flytopplevelsen som dette, og uten at vi helt vet hvordan vi kan gjenskape det eller finne det mer permanent, så merker vi hva vi er. Vi kommer hjem. Vi oppdager at her hvor vi allerede er, er hjemmet vårt.

Vi glemmer oss selv som et spesielt individ med spesielle identiteter, ønsker, håp, og problemer. Og vi finner oss selv som det vi allerede er, som det våkne som rommer verden og dette mennesket.

Eller, ihvertfall, det våkne som rommer vår opplevelse av dette mennesket og resten av verden.

HVORDAN KAN VI FINNE DETTE PÅ EN MER FORUTSIGBAR MÅTE?

Vi kan sette oss selv i en situasjon hvor vi kan komme i flytsonen, men det er uforutsigbart og varer ofte ikke så lenge. Så hvordan kan vi finne dette på en mer forutsigbar måte?

Det dreier seg om å legge merke til det vi allerede er. Det som allerede er svært kjent for oss, men som vi kanskje overser, ikke ser på som så viktig, som er i bakgrunnen i vår opplevelse, og som vi kanskje ser på som ikke oss selv.

Og det er nettop det vi opplever i flytsonen: et våkent rom som vår opplevelse av dette mennesket og resten av verden skjer innen og som tar form av disse opplevelsene.

Når vi finner oss selv som dette, så merker vi at dette mennesket og resten av verden lever sitt eget liv. Ingenting innen var opplevelse – dette mennesket, resten av verden, den som gjør eller observerer – er det vi dypest sett er. Vi er dypest sett kapasitet for vår opplevelse av alt dette.

Det finnes metoder og pekepinner som kan hjelpe oss til å finne hva vi allerede er.

Grunnleggende meditasjon er å legge merke til og å tillate opplevelsene våre som de er, inkludert de sidene av oss som vil noe annet, og å se at alle våre opplevelser allerede er tillatt (siden de er her) og allerede er lagt merke til (siden de skjer innen bevisstheten). Vi legger merke til tankene istedet for å gå inn i de og de historiene de forteller oss. Dette hjelper oss til å finne oss selv som det som rommer alt, og som tar form av alle disse opplevelsene.

Vi kan også utforske hva vi er gjennom å følge pekepinner fra, for eksempel, Big Mind prosessen og Headless eksperimenter. Dette er ofte den mest direkte or raskeste veien til a få en smak av det, og finne det igjen når vi ønsker det eller husker på det.

Og vi kan utforske det gjennom Buddhistisk gransking av sanseområdene våre og hvordan de kombineres for å danne våre opplevelser, eller moderne varianter av dette som Living Inquiries.

DETTE ER BEGYNNELSEN

Selv om ryktene sier dette er vanskelig, er det ofte ikke så veldig vanskelig å oppdage hva vi er, særlig om vi bruker metoder som de jeg nevnte ovenfor, og om vi blir veiledet av en som er kjent med terrenget og som har erfaring og riktig lynne for å veilede andre på den måten.

Hovedprosessen er å finne ut av hvordan vi lever utifra fra dette. Om jeg finner meg selv som kapasitet for min verden, hva betyr det for hvordan jeg lever livet mitt og forholder meg til den situasjonen jeg finner meg i her og nå?

Når vi finner oss selv som kapasitet på denne maten, så oppdager vi også at verden – alt som er i vare sanser og tanker – skjer innen hva vi er og at det vi er tar form av alt dette, og at enhver adskillelse kommer kun fra vare mentale forestillinger. For oss er alt ett, og vi er den enheten. (Dette er en direkte og klar opplevelse og ikke bare en ide eller floskler.) Så hvordan lever vi fra dette? Hvordan forholder vi oss til livet og den situasjonen vi funnet oss i utifra enhet?

Dette er stort sett ikke bevisste tanker eller spørsmål, men det er underliggende spørsmål vi lever med og utforsker i hverdagen og livet vårt. Og om vi tar det alvorlig kan det føre til en dyp omgjøring av hvordan vi ser verden, hvordan vi lever i hverdagen, og hvordan vi er som menneske.

LITT OM ORDBRUK

Alt dette kalles ofte oppvåkning og, på engelsk, embodiment (vet ikke helt hva det kalles på norsk). Jeg bruker innimellom de ordene siden de er korte og greie og folk har en viss forståelse for hva det dreier seg om.

Men jeg liker helst å unngå de, siden vi alle har en del assosiasjoner som ikke er gunstige og som kan være misvisende.

Dette dreier seg om noe som er mye mer vanlig, nært, og hverdagslig enn det oppvåkning og lignende ord kan få det til å virke som.

Befriending life… through befriending our contractions

How do we respond to and meet contractions in ourselves? Do we struggle with them? (Avoid, join in, try go make go away.) Or do we befriend them? (Notice, allow, welcome, get to know.)

And what are these contractions? They are body-mind contractions. They are muscle contractions and have a physical component. And they are mind contractions, in the form of beliefs, identifications, hangups, wounds, and trauma. (All names for the same dynamics.) The two go together and come from the same overall contractions.

THE STRUGGLE

If we struggle with these when they surface, they tend to be reinforced. We relate to them as if the stressful stories within them are real and true and possibly threatening, so we reinforce the impression that they are real, true, and threatening.

And we can struggle with them in many different ways. We try to avoid them, distract ourselves from them, pretend they are not there, and so on. We join in with them and their stressful stories, and fuel and elaborate on the stressful stories and see the world from their view. We try to make it go away by fixing and healing it, and do from a compulsive place.

We meet contractions from a contracted place, and that reinforces the contractions all around.

THE BEFRIENDING

If we befriend these contractions, they have the opportunity to relax and unwind.

How do we befriend them? By noticing, allowing, welcoming, and meeting them with respect, patience, and a gentle curiosity, as we would a suffering friend, child, or animal.

We notice they are here. We accept they are here, since they already are here. We allow them to be as they are, and notice they are already here as they are. We can actively welcome them. (“You are welcome here”.) We can treat them with respect. We can honor them as they are. We have patience with them. They have their own processes and life.

We can have a gentle curiosity about them. We can listen to what they have to tell us. (“If it could speak, what would it say?”) We can listen for their advice. (“What advice does it have for X? (X=this human self.)) We can find the stressful story or stories behind it, and find what’s genuinely more true for us.

We can recognize that they are here to protect us, to protect this human self. Many of them were created in childhood, to protect us, and they were created from that child’s way of looking at the world. They come from innocence. And they come from care and love. In a very real way, they are confused love.

Through seeing they come from love, we may more easily meet them with genuine love.

We may notice they are created by sensations and mental images and words. The sensations give a sense of solidity and even truth to the stories, and the stories give a sense of meaning to the sensations. If we pay attention to one side of this at a time, we learn to differentiate the two and the “glue” holding them together tends to weaken and soften.

We may notice they happpen within and as our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are. They have the same true nature as ourselves. (They are capacity for themselves, they are awake space.)

LIKE CREATES LIKE

When contractions are met from a contracted place, they are reinforced. We reinforce their scary nature for ourselves.

And when they are befriended, they are allowed to relax and unravel.

WHAT A CLEAR AND KIND MIND NATURALLY DOES

When we befriend our experiences, and especially the contractions in our system, we meet them as a good friend, as a good parent meets a scared child, as we would meet a frightened animal.

We also meet our experiences as awakening naturally does. As we do when we notice what we are, and notice these contractions as happening within and as what we are. We are mimicking something that naturally happens within awakening.

This is all a very natural process, and since most of us don’t always do this naturally – for instance, when especially scary contractions come up in us – it’s often something we need to explore more intentionally.

We need to get familiar with how to befriend our experiences, and especially the more (apparently) scary ones.

We may even need some training wheels, in the form of specific practices. And then, as we get more familiar with it, it gets simpler and more natural. It gets more intimate.

HEALING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LIFE

This is a very simple process (although not always easy!) that heals our relationship with our experiences, and it invites in healing for our human self.

And if we are interested in noticing what we are, it helps us notice that even these contractions are what we are. They happen within and as our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are, and we share the same true nature. And this makes it easier to notice what we are even when these contractions surface.

Befriending our experiences, and in particular our contractions, in this way… is simple, natural, heals our relationship with our experiences, invites in healing for our human self, and supports noticing what we are.

We find healing for our relationship with life, all around.

Life finds healing for its relationship with itself.

Read More

How it works: Basic meditation

I have an informal series of articles called “how it works”. These are my own experiences with different practices.

So what about basic meditation? How does basic meditation work?

THE ESSENCE

The essence of basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here in our experience.

We notice. Allow. Notice the space it all happens within. And so on.

When attention gets caught up in the content of thoughts, we may – through grace – notice and go back to noticing and allowing. We again notice the thoughts as thoughts.

NOTICE IT’S ALREADY ALLOWED AND NOTICED

After a while, we may notice that what’s here in our experience is already allowed. It’s already here. It’s allowed by life, the mind, and the space it happens within.

We may also notice that it is, in a sense, already noticed since it’s already happening within consciousness.

If we assume we notice and allow, we are one step behind. So we can instead notice it’s all already allowed and noticed. We notice what’s already here.

INSIGHTS INTO THE DYNAMICS OF THE MIND

Noticing and allowing can give us innumerable insights into the dynamics of the mind.

For instance, we may find that the essence of this practice is, in a sense, to notice thoughts instead of getting caught in the content of thought. That’s what allows the magic to happen.

We may notice that when we get distracted, we get distracted by the content of a thought. Our attention gets fascinated by and goes into the stories the thoughts tell us. Our attention gets drawn to it because the stories seem real and important one way or another. And that happens when they have a charge for us.

During this practice, we may notice that our attention is distracted and we bring our attention back to noticing and allowing. This is grace. We didn’t make this happened. It just happened.

We may find that noticing and allowing is ultimately what’s most comfortable, even if our impulse is to get caught up in what’s surfacing. We can notice and allow even those impulses.

We may notice that as we get more used to noticing and allowing, it gradually becomes a new habit. It becomes easier. Our mind deepens a new groove. We can train our mind. Life trains itself.

TRAINING A MORE STABLE ATTENTION

We can train a more stable attention by placing our attention on anything, notice when our attention gets distracted, and then bringing attention back to the object. In Buddhism, this object is often the sensations of the breath in the nose.

Most (all?) spiritual practices involve some discipline and will inherently train a more stable attention, and basic meditation is no exception.

When it comes to basic meditation, this doesn’t come from placing attention on something specific. But it comes from the discipline inherent in noticing what’s here in our experience rather than having our attention to get caught up in the content of thoughts.

NOTICING WHAT WE ARE

Through noticing and allowing, we may notice that all our content of experience comes and goes and lives its own life. Thoughts come and go. Emotions come and go. Sounds come and go. Sensations come and go. And so on. Nothing stays. It all lives its own life.

We may then find that what we most fundamentally are is what all of this happens within and as. We are capacity for it all.

We may have taken ourselves to most fundamentally be this human self, and we find that we more fundamentally are what it all – our whole field of experience – happens within and as.

Here, we also find that our field of experience – which includes this human self and the wider world – is a seamless whole. It’s one. Any boundaries come from an overlay of mental images and words and are, quite literally, imagined.

UNPROCESSED MATERIAL

When we notice and allow, we’ll notice unprocessed psychological material coming to the surface. Old memories come up. Old emotions. Old painful thought patterns.

These always surface, and while in daily life we can often distract ourselves, that’s less easy during a noticing and allowing practice. We may try to distract ourselves, but we are – at the very least – more aware of what’s going on.

If we can sit with this, and we do this over time, we may discover a few things.

We may notice that we shift between several different ways of relating to what’s surfacing. We’ll get caught up in it. Try to distract ourselves from it. Try to push it away. Get curious about it. Befriend it. And we’ll likely keep shifting between these and more ways of relating to it.

We may gradually viscerally get that struggling with what’s surfacing isn’t really working. What we struggle with will keep coming back. And getting caught in the struggle only adds to the discomfort.

We may find that noticing and allowing even this unprocessed material is what’s ultimately most comfortable, even if our instinct is to struggle with it. And that we can notice and allow even our impulse to struggle with it.

We can find a yes to the no in us that comes up in relation to this.

This helps us befriend and find healing for how we relate to uncomfortable experiences. And it helps this unprocessed material to find healing – through it surfacing and us noticing, feeling, befriending, allowing it, and allowing its transformation. (Additional practices and work can help and deepen this process.)

BRINGING INTO DAILY LIFE

As we get more used to noticing and allowing, it becomes a new habit.

And that means we may find ourselves more often doing it in our daily life, outside of any more formal practice. It becomes a new way of being.

Sometimes, we need to get engaged in the content of thought in our work, when we talk with people, and so on. We may sometimes still get caught up in the stories of stressful thoughts. And more often, we may find we relate to stressful thoughts as thoughts instead of getting caught up in their stories.

BASIC MEDITATION

Why is it called basic meditation?

I assume it’s for several reasons.

It’s an essential and simple practice.

It’s useful at any phase in our process, from the beginning to the end (death).

It’s a central practice in several spiritual traditions. (In Zen, which I am most familiar with, it’s called Shikantaza.)

Some say that the purpose of basic meditation is for us to find and become familiar with our true nature, and that’s not wrong.

And whether or not we notice what we are, it does a lot more. We gain insights into the dynamics of the mind. It trains a more stable attention. It allows unprocessed material to surface, be befriended, and find healing. Noticing and allowing can become a new habit we bring with us into daily life, and this helps us more often notice thoughts as thoughts without getting caught up in the content of their stories.

NOTES

As with anything else, this reflects my own experiences, biases, and limitations. It’s also inevitably informed by what I have heard others say about this and other spiritual practices, although I have only included what I have found in my own experience.

Zen teachers like to just give the basic instructions, and this allows us to discover for ourselves without being too colored by expectations. There is a lot of wisdom in that approach. The other side of this is that us westerners like transparency, which is why I am writing this.

Basic meditation: Notice & allow is one step behind

Over time, basic meditation will also help us notice what we are. Here, we notice and allow whatever is here in our experience, and notice that when we intentionally notice and allow, we are one step behind since it’s already noticed and allowed. 

– from The experience of no-self

I thought I would say a few more words about this.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow whatever experience is here. We notice, allow, get distracted, and – through grace – notice again. Over time, we get more familiar with noticing and allowing, and it can become a new habit.

At first, the noticing and allowing can seem quite intentional. It’s something we feel we actively do and make happen.

After a while, we may notice that what’s here is already allowed. This experience is already allowed by mind, space, and existence. “I” don’t need to intentionally allow it. All I need to do is notice what’s here is already allowed, and this tends to invite my conscious orientation to join with this allowing.

We may also notice that what’s here is already noticed. It’s already happening within this awake space, even before it’s more intentionally noticed.

This may lead us to see that our intentional noticing and allowing is one step behind. We are intentionally trying to create something that’s already here.

And here, we may find that it’s enough to notice that what’s here is already noticed and allowed.

It becomes a bit more relaxed and effortless. We are more consciously aligned with what’s already here.

This is similar to noticing that our mental representations of our experience is always one step behind. It’s about the past, what’s already gone.

I have to admit I hesitate in writing about this. It’s something we naturally discover as we explore these practices. And hearing about this too soon can just get the mind jumbled and make a simple practice of noticing and allowing more effortful and confused. At the same time, it’s OK to say something about it and invite people to do the practice in a simple way and see what they find over time. And who knows, for someone reading this it may be just the right timing for this pointer.

How spiritual practices become ongoing

We can bring any prayer with us throughout the day. Prayers tend to become automatic over time and run in the background even if we are focused on daily life activities. They live their own life after a while. The Jesus or Heart prayer is an example, as is ho’oponopono and metta. The words may come and go, but the orientation and energy – for lack of a better word – continues. 

– from A tantric approach to spirituality

I thought I would say a few more words about this.

HOW DO PRACTICES BECOME ONGOING?

This is not a big secret. They become ongoing if they are conducive to become ongoing, and we do them enough so they become very familiar and a new habit. Our system creates and goes into a new groove.

Depending on the practice, they can become ongoing as a new habit, or as something in the background of our awareness, or they can become ongoing in that we can easily access them when needed.

HOW DOES IT LOOK WHEN THEY ARE ONGOING?

This depends on the practice. I’ll give some examples I am familiar with.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow our experience as it is. And to notice it’s already allowed, and even already noticed. This helps soften identification with what we notice, including our thoughts. And this, in turn, helps us notice what we are, which is what all our experiences happen within and as. As we get more familiar with this noticing and allowing, it become a new habit and easier to bring to daily life, and more situations in daily life.

Training a more stable attention is helpful for just about any activity. We can do this by bringing and keeping attention on something, for instance, the sensations of the breath at the nostrils, and bring attention back when we notice our attention got distracted. (The distraction is usually or always a thought with some charge to it, a thought that seems at least a bit true to us.) Over time, this becomes a new habit that benefits us through the day.

We can notice what we are, for instance, guided by some simple inquiries (Headless experiments, Big Mind process). We find ourselves as capacity for the world, as what all our experiences – the world as it appears to us – happens within and as. As we get more used to and familiar with this noticing, it’s easier to notice it through the day and in different situations.

We can examine our thoughts, for instance, guided by the structure and pointers in The Work of Byron Katie. We explore if we can know for certain it’s true, see what happens when we hold a thought as true, how it would be to not have the belief, and find the genuine validity in the reversals using examples from our own life and experience. As we get more familiar with this over time, this too becomes a new habit. We may find that our mind naturally starts examining thoughts this way in daily life. (Using the structure is still helpful, especially if we notice an especially ingrained and stressful belief. It helps us explore it more thoroughly.)

Exploring our sense fields is a traditional Buddhist form of inquiry. (Living Inquiries is a modern version.) Here, we get to see how our mind combines the sense fields – sight, sound, sensation, smell, taste, and thoughts – into our experience of the world, ourselves, and anything. We get to see that what may, at first, see very solid and real, is actually created by the mind through combining sense fields. It’s not as solid and real as it seemed. We also get to see how the mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, and that sensations lend a sense of solidity, substance, and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts make the sensation appear to mean something. This helps us see that thoughts are thoughts, and sensations are sensations, which softens identification with these thoughts. As we become more familiar with this, this too becomes a habit and something we bring with us into daily life. We may not be able to do a thorough inquiry, but we notice how the sense fields combine, and we are more easily see a thought as a thought and a sensation as a sensation.

Heart-centered approaches help us shift how we relate to others, situations, the world, and ourselves. We learn to befriend the images of these in our own mind, which helps us shift how we relate to all of this in our daily life. (The ones I am most familiar with are tonglen, ho’oponopno, and a Christian version of metta.)

Prayer is a certain form of heart-centered practice. When we engage regularly in prayer – for instance, the Jesus or Heart prayer – it tends to become ongoing. It runs in the background as a kind of orientation and energy. (Sorry, don’t know how to better describe it.) It’s often a combination of periods of intentional prayer with words and noticing it running in the background – through the day and even night.

A COMBINATION: INTENTIONAL PRACTICE & ONGOING

In real life, there is often a combination of intentional practice, a new ongoing habit, and intentionally bringing in the practice as needed. We have periods of intentional practice, at set times or when we find time, and on our own or in groups. We notice how these practices become ongoing in daily life. And if we notice that we get caught in an old habit in a situation in daily life, we can bring in the practice to help shift into the new pattern.

If we don’t engage in a somewhat regular intentional practice, the habit created by the practice tends to fade over time. As we engage in intentional practice again, the habit comes back and often more easily than the first time. Our system remembers.

It can be especially helpful to notice when our old habitual patterns override a practice that has become more ongoing. This usually points to a belief, identification, emotional issue, hangup, or trauma. And we can explore this further.

OLD AND NEW HABITUAL PATTERNS

Why is all this important?

It’s because our old habitual patterns often come from separation consciousness. They may create unhappiness and discomfort for ourselves, messiness in our life, and may trigger discomfort and suffering in others.

Spiritual practices are typically designed to create new patterns for our mind and life that help us in a variety of ways. These patterns mimic awakening and how it is to live from awakening. And as we keep exploring these practices and we get more familiar with them, they become more and more a new habit.

This helps us in our life. It helps us notice where we still operate from separation consciousness (beliefs, identifications, emotional issues etc.). It makes it easier for us to notice what we are. And it helps us live from noticing what we are.

Shifting our relationship with ourselves

What does it mean to shift our relationship with ourselves?

At first, it can seem it has to do with shifting our relationship with ourselves as a whole and the different parts and subpersonalities in us. But it goes beyond that. It includes all our experiences, as they are, and that includes the whole world.

Ways to shift our relationship with ourselves / our experience / existence

How do we shift our relationship with our experience, as it is?

At the risk of repeating myself to a ridiculous degree, for me, the most effective approaches have been…

Curiosity and sincerity in the exploration. Our orientation to the exploration is essential and includes honesty with ourselves.

Inquiry into beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries). Beliefs and identifications are innocent and natural, and they also split our world and split what’s inherently whole.

Imagined dialog with subpersonalities, experiences, and so on.

Working with projections, using the world as a mirror. For me, inquiry is one of the most effective ways to work on projections.

Body-centered approaches (tai chi, chigong, yoga, etc.). This helps me get a visceral experience of the wholeness of who I am as a human being, including body and psyche.

Heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’o). This helps me befriend myself, the different parts of me, others, and the world as it is.

Inquiry to notice what I am (Headless experiments, Big Mind process). Here, my relationship to all my experiences naturally shifts. I notice all my experiences happen within and as what I am.

Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here. This too helps soften identification with the content of experience (really, the viewpoint of thoughts saying I am this or that, or the world is this or that), and it makes it easier to find myself as what my experiences happen within and as.

When we notice what we are, there are also some variations of this. For instance, when an experience comes up and I notice my personality reacts to it and wants it to go away, I can ask… Is this too the divine/ What is the true nature of this experience? Is its true nature the same as what I find for myself? I can also ask it, what is your true nature?

The same remedies for everything?

Why do I tend to suggest the same tools for a variety of hangups, issues, and identifications?

It’s because what I write about is a limited range of topics – mainly emotional healing and awakening.

It’s because I have limited experience and knowledge, from just a few decades of exploration.

It’s because the tools I write about tend to work universally within a certain category of things we may want to work on.

Also, it’s because the tools I write about tend to be helpful from the beginning to wherever we are on the path, whether we (in our own experience) move to or within Spirit.

Some of my favorite tools

The Work of Byron Katie can be very effective for working on beliefs, identifications, and all the issues that come from these – emotional issues, trauma, stress, and so on.

Living Inquiries can be used for the same, and also to get a better insight into how the mind creates its experience of anything. Living Inquiries is a modernized form of traditional Buddhist practice for noticing how the sense fields come together to create our experience of the world.

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process is an effective way for us to notice what we are.

Heart-centered practices (ho’o, tonglen, metta) are amazing for shifting how we relate to the world – to specific people, situations, and ourselves.

Practices to Reconnect work very well for deepening our connection with Earth and past and future generations.

Vortex Healing works better than just about anything I have found for physical and emotional issues, and also for supporting awakening and embodiment. (Although I would still use it with inquiry.)

Heart/Jesus prayer and Christ meditation help us open up to Spirit as everything, they tend to help us shift our relationship with the world and ourselves, they help us notice what we already are, and they help support embodiment.

Practicing a more stable attention (samatha) helps us in just about any area of life.

Noticing and allowing what’s here, and notice it’s already allowed, helps us notice what we are and soften identification with thoughts (shikantaza, basic meditation).

Remedies for certain conditions

The approaches mentioned above can be seen as tools for certain types of tasks, or remedies for certain conditions. If applied when appropriate, and with a bit of experience and skill, they work well.

We all have limited experience, insights, and knowledge. I am sure there are tools out there I would love if I only knew about them. And there is an infinite potential for developing new and equally or more effective tools than we humans currently know about.

Within my limited experience and knowledge, the tools above are the best ones I have found, and I am very open for finding new ones that are as or more effective.

How my meditation practice changed when the CFS got stronger

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

So how does it look now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adyashanti: our greatest emphasis should be on our actual spiritual practice

Far and away our greatest emphasis should be on our actual spiritual practice – committed time to abiding in the stillness and silence of our being. Nothing can take the place of this.

– Adyashanti

Dedicated time for basic meditation is a kind of laboratory. We get to explore notice and allow, and finding ourselves as capacity for our experiences.

We may notice how attention sometimes gets absorbed into thoughts with a charge on them, making them seem true and important. We may notice that any sense of an I or me or observer or doer happens within and as what we are, as any other experience.

We may notice that our experiences are already noticed by awakeness and what we are, even if our attention is somewhere else. We may notice that our experience is already allowed, even if our attention is caught in thoughts struggling with it.

And this noticing and laboratory work makes it easier to bring this noticing into daily life and daily life activities. It can become a noticing through our activities.

Sometimes, it will go more in the background, especially if our activities requires our attention. Sometimes, it may go more into the foreground. Sometimes, it may even be “forgotten” if our attention gets caught into the drama of our issues.

Through it all is the inherent noticing and allowing as what we are. And our laboratory work allows us to notice that consciously more often.

Any other forms of spiritual explorations are a support for this, whether it’s inquiry, heart-centered practices, body-inclusive practices, or anything else.

As Adyashanti suggests, the most important thing is to notice what we are and keep clarifying this and bringing the noticing into our daily life.