Liberating parts of me: Recognize it as what I am & awake space

There is a quite simple exploration I have been drawn to for a while.

It feels like the right medicine for me, and it’s a variation of befriending & waking up.

THE ESSENCE

This is the simple version:

(1) Notice one of two things: (a) Something that feels like “other” or my personality doesn’t like. (b) Something that feels more like I or me. (Both come from a mental overlay and are “extra”.)

(2) Recognize it as what I am. It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s happening within and as my sense fields. To me, it’s happening within and as the consciousness I am. There is no I or Other inherent in my field of experience.

(3) Subtly shift into finding myself as that. This is not a big shift, just a shift in emphasis. I am that physical discomfort. I am the anxiety. I am the anger. I am the noise from the leaf blower or the loud music at 3am. I am my images of Trump and Putin. I am this sensation in the back of my mouth that somehow feels more like me. I am the sensations in the head area that feels a bit like me. Take on the that role, shift into being that.

(4) As that noise, what is my nature? As this discomfort, what am I made of? As this image of Putin, what’s my essence? As these sensations in my head area, what am I really?

IN REAL LIFE

In real life, it’s often more fluid and I use whatever seems a good medicine.

I notice something that either seems other or undesirable to this personality, or more like I or me.

I notice I have no head, the world as it appears to me happens within and as what I am, and I am even more fundamentally capacity for all of it. Am I also capacity for Trump? For this bodily discomfort? For these sensations in the back of my mouth? For the sense of being a victim? (This helps me go out of any habitual responses to it.)

How is it to shift into being it? How is it to be the noise? Trump? The anxiety? (This helps me go against the habitual pattern of seeing it as other or to try to push it away.)

As that, what am I made of? (Here, I notice that as the object, I am also awake space. I am what everything else is.)

I like to rest in and as these two. (Noticing that it’s part of the field of experience, and happens within and as what I am, is much more familiar to me. The last two seem more interesting these days.)

Depending on what it is, I may also…

Ask: Is it – whatever it is – an object in experience? Is it an object like any other object? (This helps soften or release identification with it, so it’s especially helpful with what seems more like I or me.)

If it’s a reaction from this human self – anxiety, anger, sadness, attraction, aversion, a compulsion – I may say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

And it usually ends where it began: Notice it’s all happening within and as what I am. What I am is capacity for all of it.

A FEW VARIATIONS

There are a few variations to this.

As mentioned, I tend to explore two types of things: (a) What seems “other” or my personality doesn’t like. And (b) what seems more like I or me. (Both come from a mental overlay and are “extra”.)

There are also two ways to do it: (a) I explore what’s here now. Or I (b) scan and take time with what seems to need this exploration. I scan through what my personality doesn’t like – people, situations, emotions, sensations, etc., or what seems like “other”, or what seems more like I or me.

There are two general approaches: (a) I sometimes use dialog and elements from the Big Mind process. (b) Or, more often, I just notice and shift in a more natural way. The first can be a little more clear and can bring out more, but also can feel slightly structured and artificial. The second is sometimes less clear but feels more natural.

MAY NEED FAMILIARITY WITH OTHER EXPLORATIONS

This is what I am drawn to these days.

Why? Because it feels like medicine. It feels like medicine for the subtle tendency – from old habits of this personality – to see something or someone as other, or undesirable, or more like I or me. It’s one step further than just noticing all as happening within and as what I am. It’s a slightly more thorough exploration. It invites more of me – more of my psyche – onboard with oneness.

I assume it may not work for everyone. It seems like an exploration for a particular phase of the path, one where our nature recognizes itself and parts of our human self are not quite aligned with it.

It rests on familiarity with our nature, and it also helps to have experience with some forms of inquiry and dialog.

And it is very similar to what others talk about. For instance, Pamela Wilson uses the welcome/thank you and notice it’s nature approach. Genpo Roshi with his Big Mind process, helps us shift into different aspects of what we are and explore ourselves as that – and Big Mind. I love both approaches. There is nothing new in the way I explore it these days, although it’s also inevitably always new and different.

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Shift into and notice what I am made of: a variation of befriend & awaken

I woke up noticing anxiety this morning. That has happened for some days now, and my sense is that this is old anxiety, perhaps triggered by things now.1

Through grace, I started exploring it.2

Thank you for protecting me. This is a reminder that it is protecting me. It is here to take care of me. It comes from love. It’s my psyche trying to protect me.

What are you made of?

I notice it’s made of the same as everything else in my world, consciousness. It’s easy to notice it consciously and “globally”, but not all parts of me know it (yet) so I take time noticing. I invite more parts of me to join in with the noticing.

This feels slightly, “outside in”, so I shift more intentionally into the anxiety. I feel it, become it, notice I already am it. Then I ask the question again. What are you made of? As anxiety, I notice what I am made of and rest in and as that noticing.3

This is just a subtle shift4, and it can make a lot of difference. It makes it more visceral. In the visceral is where the magic happens.

A VARIATION OF BEFRIEND & AWAKEN

It’s a slight variation of the befriend & awaken process.

I notice something come up, parts of me my habitual patterns may wish to push away.

I shift into and find myself as it.

I notice what I am made of.

I rest in and as that noticing.

I revisit it as those parts come up in daily life. It may be just a brief moment while I am doing something else, or it may be through setting aside one or a few minutes to explore.

NOTES

(1) When something comes up – anxiety, sadness, grief, anger, reactivity, compulsions of any kind – it’s worth exploring if it’s rooted in something old. Often, it is.

(2) Grace is what allows it to happen. Even habits come from grace. Remembering that it’s a possibility, and actually doing it, are both grace.

Distracting myself from it is more uncomfortable for a few different reasons: It doesn’t make it go away, it just stays in the background. I know what I am doing, and that it doesn’t really make sense. Going into distractions usually means I am doing something I otherwise wouldn’t, so I do something less meaningful and fulfilling and less in line with what’s more deeply rewarding to me. So I am always grateful when grace allows me to explore and be with it instead.

(3) The two first parts – thank you and what are you made of – is what Pamela Wilson and others talk about. The second part, shifting into being it, comes from certain approaches to parts work, including the Big Mind process and Genpo Roshi. Really, it’s just very natural and comes from the wisdom in each of us.

(4) The shift is a shift in emphasis and it intentionally goes against old habits. My old habits wish to push the anxiety away, so instead, I go into it and find myself as the anxiety.

This is a very simple practice, and it comes from a lot of time spent in other kinds of explorations: Basic meditation, headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and parts work and dialog in general. I am not sure if that’s necessary for this much simpler exploration. It probably isn’t. But it’s been part of my journey.

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Exploring depression – tonglen, dialog, notice as awake space etc.

After receiving a three-hour (!) Vortex Healing session for my liver three weeks ago, I have not felt very good. I feel wiped out. My energy level is low. A lot of emotional things are surfacing1.

This morning, I woke up feeling depressed. (I am not sure if it’s actual depression since it comes and goes quickly. It’s probably more of a mix of hopelessness, sadness, and grief. It could also be bubbles of old depression in my system dislodged and surfacing from the healing.)

THOUGHTS

When these things come up, it’s easy for the mind to go into thought patterns to fit what’s coming up. Thoughts that are not helpful in a practical sense, and only amplify the sadness and hopelessness.

Fortunately, my mind also noticed what was happening and recognized the pattern.

The thoughts are not true. In another state, the thought pattern is different. There is no need to go into or fuel those thoughts.

FOOD

I know that certain foods would also amplify it (dairy, sugar, wheat, refined foods) so I had a good salad for breakfast (spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, sunflower seeds, olive oil) with an herbal tea to help my kidneys.

I took electrolytes in water and my body felt more alive and lighter.

MOVEMENT

I did some Self-Breema exercises which shifted something in me. My system lightened up a bit and there was more sense of space and also space around what’s coming up.

Just about any movement can be helpful: dance, yoga, tai chi, chigong, going for a walk or run, and so on.

TONGLEN

I did some tonglen with myself by visualizing myself in front of me.

This definitely shifted something in me.

WRITING

I decided to write this, which helps me notice more what’s going on and serves as a reminder to myself for the future.

NOTICE & ALLOW

As I write this, it reminds me of another exploration…

I sit down and notice what’s here. I notice it’s already noticed and allowed. I rest with and as that. I allow myself to soak in it and more viscerally get it. As I do that, I notice more space around it and it’s easier to notice it all as space and awake space. That noticing goes more into the foreground.

THANK YOU

After some minutes, and within that noticing, I say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. Stay as long as you want. (I say it to the areas of space where the sensations associated with sadness, grief, and hopelessness are.)

NOTICE WHAT IT’S MADE OF

I ask these parts of me – the sadness, grief, hopelessness – what are you really? What are you made of? I notice they are made of awake space and rest in and as that noticing, allowing myself to soak in it and take it in.

EXPLORING PARTS OF ME REACTING TO THE SADNESS

I notice any parts of me reacting to these other parts of me (the sadness, grief, hopelessness). I find it mostly in sensations in my forehead. I do the same with these. (Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. Stay as long as you want. What are you made of? And resting in and as that.)

A FEW MORE WORDS

As usual, there is a a lot to say about this, and really, it’s just about exploring it for ourselves and see what works for us and what shifts.

I did the easiest things first: Food and water, then some light movement, then tonglen and more quiet exploration. I helped my body first, which help me as a whole and makes the rest easier.

A lot of this has to do with aligning with reality, with what’s already here.

Of these things, tonglen, notice & allow, and the brief dialog seem to shift things the most. Tonglen and dialog help shift my relationship with it and soften any struggle with it. Noticing that it’s already noticed and allowed helps me consciously align with what’s already here. It’s all already happening within and as awake space. Allowing my system to rest in that noticing feels deeply nourishing and healing.

I also notice that I am fascinated by noticing it all as awake space. There is something more there for me.

In a conventional sense, it’s not new at all. It’s something I explored since my teens. And yet, it feels completely fresh and new. It is fresh and new since the other times this noticing happened are in the past, they can only be found in imagination. And I am sure there is a lot more for me to explore, especially in terms of allowing more of my human self to soak in it and align with it.

Note: I took some time to do just that now, and it feels deeply right. I can see how I have not allowed myself to fully do it consistently. I have, almost without noticing, been caught up in fearful parts of me telling me it’s dangerous. It can seem dangerous, and those parts of me only want to protect me and come from love. I also know, from experience, that it’s not dangerous. It’s a relief. What’s “dangerous” is actually to keep not doing it when my system keeps inviting me to do it more fully. That’s what maintains the discomfort. (And the sense of danger.)

NOTES

(1) It’s not uncommon for things to surface during or in the days after a healing session, but my system seems especially eager to release a lot which sometimes can be challenging. It didn’t use to be that way, but after I asked the divine to “show me what’s left” about thirteen (?) years ago, it seems to be that way.

I suspect my system needs much shorter sessions and far more time spent on integration. I may also need several follow-up sessions with integration in the following days.

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Wanting to be saved, waiting to be saved

Hindus have been waiting for Kalki for 3,700 years.
Buddhists have been waiting for Maitreya for 2,600 years.
The Jews have been waiting for the Messiah for 2,500 years.
Christians have been waiting for Jesus for 2,000 years.
The Sunnah has been waiting for Prophet Issa for 1,400 years.
Muslims have been waiting for a Messiah from the line of Muhammad for 1,300 years.
The Shiites have been waiting for the Mahdi for 1,080 years.
Druze have been waiting for Hamza Ibn Ali for 1,000 years.

Most embrace the idea of a “savior” and claim that the world will remain full of wickedness until this savior comes and fills it with goodness and justice.

Maybe our problem on this planet is that people are waiting for someone else to come and solve their problems, rather than doing it themselves.

– Imtiaz Mahmood

Why do we feel a need to be saved? It must be because what’s here is uncomfortable, sometimes even apparently unbearable. If we envision something as big as divinity saving us, it must be because our discomfort appears equally big. (I am obviously talking very generally here.)

SAVED BY SOMETHING OUT THERE

It’s also interesting how our human mind often wants to be saved by something “out there” – somewhere else and/or in the future. It’s understandable, of course. It would be nice. And most of us did experience something similar in infancy so it is perhaps deeply ingrained in us.

There is some truth to it too. We may find something or someone that makes us feel better for a while. We may find some comfort, love, safety, and so on. That’s wonderful.

And yet, it comes with some inherent drawbacks. It won’t last. It’s dependent on circumstances. It doesn’t go quite as deep as we really wish for. And it may not happen in the first place.

SAVING MYSELF HERE AND NOW

So what’s the solution?

I can only speak for myself and as it looks to me now, and as so often, the answer may appear a bit boring and sobering.

The answer is that I am my own savior. I am the one I have been looking for. My mind is projecting this part of myself out there in space or time, while it’s here all along.

Why can it seem like a disappointing answer? It may not seem true to us. We may think there is some truth to it, but we don’t know how to do it. We try and it doesn’t seem to do much. Or perhaps our mind has invested so much energy into images of saviors out there that anything else seems pale in comparison.

Yet, it is true in my limited experience. (Our experience is always limited, no matter how much we have explored something.) And it’s also what others report.

HOW DO I SAVE MYSELF?

How do I save myself?

It depends on the situation, to some extent.

In some situations, action is required to make a change. In this case, I can (partially) save myself by taking action or asking someone to take action on my behalf. Sometimes, I save myself by asking for help.

And parallel with that, it’s in how I meet my own experience.

When I experience distress, I often ask myself: How would a good – wise, kind – parent comfort a child in this situation? What would she or he say? How would he or she meet the child? And then relate to the suffering parts of myself in that way.

These parts of us are here to try to protect me. So I say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. You are allowed to be here. Stay as long as you want.

I sometimes dialog with these parts of me. How do they see me? What function do they have? How would they like me to treat them? What do they need from me? The Big Mind process is very good for this.

I have done a lot of heart-centered practices, including towards myself and these painful parts of me. Two of my favorites are ho’o and tonglen.

What I am trying to be saved from is typically stressful thoughts and associated unpleasant sensations, so I can identify and investigate these thoughts (The Work of Byron Katie) and notice and allow the sensations. I can also investigate more thoroughly how thoughts and sensations combine, and how the mind creates identifications out of it, for instance through the Kiloby Inquiries.

I invite in healing for these parts of me – the wounded, scared, traumatized parts – in whatever ways work for me.

I notice my nature and rest in and as it. I can notice that these parts of me, the scary thoughts and uncomfortable sensations, have the same nature as me. It’s consciousness, the consciousness I am, forming itself into all of it. What happens if I rest in and as that noticing?

There is usually an immediate shift from these explorations. And my experience is that it also takes time. My system mirrors a culture and family that trained me to look outside myself for solutions and did not always show me how to meet myself and my experience with kindness. So it takes time to turn the ship. It’s ongoing. But it does get fuller, deeper, and richer over time.

SAVING MYSELF IN A VARIETY OF WAYS

None of these are mutually exclusive. I can save myself in a variety of ways.

If I find some of what I am looking for in someone or something, I can enjoy that. (Knowing it depends on circumstances and may not last.)

And I can also give myself more directly what I need and be my own savior in that way. I can take action, and I can be a better friend and parent to myself and my own experience.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Waking up parts of our psyche: Become & wake up

I have written about a “befriend & wake up” process in other articles, to help different parts of our psyche wake up and align with reality and our nature.

A variation of this is a “become & wake up” process where we take on the role of a part of us, notice our nature from the view of the part, and rest in and as that noticing to allow that part of us to align with reality.

WHY IS THIS NEEDED?

Even if we generally and “globally” recognize our nature, that doesn’t mean that all the different parts of our psyche are on board with it.

Most of these were formed within separation consciousness, and many of them will still operate from separation consciousness.

They color our perception and life in the world and sometimes get triggered more strongly.

That’s natural and there is nothing wrong with it, but it is uncomfortable and there seems to be an equally natural process in us to have these parts of us surface so they can join in with the awakening.

BECOME & AWAKEN

So how does this work?

I assume there is any number of specific ways to explore this, but the essence is the same.

Preliminary step 1: Identify a part of the psyche. Notice a part that’s operating from separation consciousness. A part that we can call a wound, hangup, or emotional issue, and is operating on an unexamined belief. A part that has taken on, and even been created by, a story. A part that goes into reactivity, defense, and contraction. A confused and stressed subpersonality. Many parts of us are, to some extent, like this. They are suffering and wish for liberation.

Optional step: Get to know the part. Examine this, if you like. Dialog with this part. Take on its perspective and get a sense of how it is to perceive and live from this view. Identify and examine its painful stories and find what’s more genuinely true for you. Thank it for protecting you. Thank it for its love for you. And so on. This can be a helpful preliminary step but is not necessary for this particular process.

Preliminary step 2: Notice your nature. Notice your nature. Find what you more fundamentally am. (Capacity for the word, what the world happens within and as.) Use headless experiments or the Big Mind process to shift into this, if needed. This is so noticing our nature comes more into the foreground.

Main step: Become & awaken: Shift into and become the part. Take on its view. And notice your nature as that part of you. Notice your nature as capacity and what the world happens within and as. Rest in and as this noticing. Allow you – as this part – to realign and shift within this noticing. Take your time. Allow it to sink in.

IDENTIFYING PARTS WITH A CHARGE

When it comes to identifying parts of me with a charge, I have a couple of favorite approaches.

One is to scan my timeline.

I go through the timeline of my life and find situations that light up, that still have a charge on them, where there is still something unresolved. Then I shift into that role, I become myself as I was then, and explore from there.

In this case, I explore awakening – noticing my nature – as the one I was then, rest in that noticing, and allow it to work on that part of me.

The past me in these situations is still a part of me. They are still here. And I find that scanning the timeline is an effective way to identify subpersonalities that still suffer and wish to join in with the awakening.

The other approach is to use others as a mirror.

Others are a mirror for me, as is anything “out there” in the world.

Whatever I see in them is something I can find in myself. I can take whatever story I have about someone or something “out there”, turn it to myself, and find genuine and specific examples of how it’s true. (It may not look the same as what I see in the world, but the essence is the same.)

I identify someone that has a charge for me, whether this is a real or fictional person or someone from a night dream. (The charge shows me that there is something unresolved there for me.) I then take on the role of that person. I imagine myself as that person.

As that person, I find what I more fundamentally am. And I rest in that noticing, allowing that part of me to align more closely with reality.

A COMPONENT OF MANY APPROACHES

I assume the “become & awaken” approach is a component of many approaches to awakening, whether it’s directly and explicitly or indirectly and implicitly.

When we do tonglen or ho’oponopno, we invite parts of us to heal. (The world is my mirror.) And, in the process, we invite them to wake up, at least if there is a general and global noticing of our nature here. We invite them to join in with the awakening.

When we do Basic Meditation, parts of us not aligned with the awakening will naturally surface. If given space, they will be recognized as having the same nature as ourselves and align with that noticing.

It’s definitely implied in the Big Mind process, and it happens indirectly as part of that process. (Some may also do it explicitly, I am not completely updated.)

In the most recent Vortex Healing class, the main teacher used a similar approach: Become the confused part of you. Do a mantra to prepare it to wake up. And as that part, ask yourself the question “What am I?” Stay with the question until something shifts and the place where the question makes sense falls away.

Using therapy as part of our process also supports this. The more we heal as human beings, the more parts of us are available to align with the oneness we are noticing itself.

Also, when we talk about embodiment in this context, it typically means to live from noticing our nature, or from the oneness we are noticing itself. And the more parts of us are on board with the awakening, the more we have the possibility to do this – more thoroughly and in more situations and areas of life.

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Nicolette Sowder: May we raise children who love the unloved things

May we raise children who love the unloved things

May we raise children who love the unloved things-the dandelion, the worms and spiderlings.

Children who sense the rose needs the thorn

& run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards sun…

And when they’re grown & someone has to speak for those who have no voice

may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things

and be the ones.

– Nicolette Sowder, May we raise children who love the unloved things

Nicolette Sowder is the creator of Wilder Child and Wildschooling.

And yes, I love this poem.

I love anyone who loves the unloved things.

I love finding love for the unloved things in nature, in people, and in myself.

FINDING LOVE FOR MY OWN EXPERIENCE

For instance, it seems that any part of me that experiences stress, unease, discomfort, and so on, and goes into reactivity, does so because it’s unseen, unfelt, and unloved. Meeting it with love makes all the difference. I can meet it as I would like to be met when I feel that way. (When I identify with those parts of me.)

And to really meet it with love, I can do a bit more. I can dialog with it, listen to it, hear what it has to say, and see how I can shift my relationship with it to be more helpful. I can also find what’s more true than its familiar stressful stories, and help it find it for itself. And we can both notice that my nature is the same as its nature. We share nature. (AKA consciousness, we are both consciousness, we are the same, it happens within an as what I am.)

FINDING LOVE FOR THE UNLOVED

Finding love for the unloved – in people, nature, and ourselves – is crucial for our own well-being.

It’s crucial for creating a society that works better for everyone and especially those less fortunate.

And it’s crucial for the survival of our species and civilization. We are now facing the consequences of not doing this, and not speaking up for those without a voice, and life is showing us that our own survival depends on it.

Life is giving us a masterclass in finding love for the unloved and giving a voice to the voiceless.

It’s up to us if we realize what this class is about, and whether we learn and change and transform as needed.

Taking refuge in a story to make ourselves feel better

Am I going into a story in order to feel better? To distract myself from an uncomfortable story and associated feelings?

Do I notice any of the telltale symptoms of doing this?

This is an ongoing exploration for me.

TAKING REFUGE IN A STORY

When I hold a story as true, I do it to find a sense of safety in it. At some level, it feels safer to hold a story as true than admitting I don’t know for certain.

This is a habitual pattern, and learned from others as we grow up. We do as we see.

These can be any story. They may tell me I am better or worse than others. They may tell me I know how I am or the world is. They may assign blame. They may take the form of ideologies, whether polticial, spiritual, psychological, or anything else.

When I hold a story as true, I identify with the viewpoint of the story and the identity created by it. I take myself as that, and not as what’s left out even if that’s also here.

The safety I seek is the safety from being faced with one of more of my uncomfortable stories and their associated feelings.

Seeking refuge in stories has many consequences. I need to remember, prop up, defend, and elaborate on the stories. They are always at risk of being disproven and shot down by my own mind or others or both. It creates contractions of body and mind. It limits the ways I have for exploring the world in my imagination and life.

There is no real safety in taking refuge in stories. The stories can be disputed. They are literally imaginations. And uncomfortable stories and feelings are still here.

THE ALTERNATIVE: BEFRIEND AND FIND PEACE WITH

There is another way to find refuge that’s more aligned with truth and reality.

And that is to explore the stories with some sincerity.

To examine the specific stories and find what’s more genuinly true for me. (That I cannot know for certain, and the limited validity in the story and its reversals.)

And to recognize the inherent characteristics of stories. (They are pointers and here to help me to orient in the world. They are different in nature from what they point to. They cannot hold any final, full, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than and different from any story about it.)

And befriend and find peace with the stories and experiences that are here, as they are. (For instance, through inquiry, dialog, heart-centered practices, noticing that stories and feelings happen within and as what I am, and that their nature is the same as my nature.)

IN DAILY LIFE

Knowing about this is a first step, and its real value is in exploring it in daily life.

I notice the symptoms of holding onto a story. (Defense, rejection of views, reactivity, contractions, obsession with ideologies, any form of compulsion, and so on.)

I identify the story I find refuge in.

I examine it and find what’s more true for me.

I explore how it is to hold it more lightly.

I find the validity in other views and its reversals.

I find in myself what I see in others.

I find in myself the reverse of the identity created by the initial story.

Perhaps most importantly, I find the discomfort in me I used the initial story as a defense against.

I explore the uncomfortable stories and their associated sensations.

Here, I often use some version of the befriend and awaken process.

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The Scarlet Witch and how we relate to our trauma

I watched Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness which is one of many trauma-informed stories in pop culture these days.

In it, Wanda experiences immense pain from losing the love of her life, her (imagined) children, and more. And she deals with it by reacting to this pain.

She goes into an obsessive pursuit of being with her children in a parallel universe, no matter what the cost is to herself and others, and without considering if the children of another Wanda would accept her. In her obsession, she is unable to consider and take in the real consequences of her strategy.

REACTING TO OUR PAIN

We all sometimes do this.

We go into reactivity to our pain.

And when we do, it always has an obsessive and compulsive quality.

We may compulsively do just about anything to distract ourselves from the pain, or try to find a resolution to the pain.

We may compulsively eat, work, have sex, or go into relationships. We may obsessively seek something spiritual and engage in spiritual practices. We may compulsively go into ideologies about politics, religion, or just general ideas about how life should be. We may go into blame, hatred, biotry. We may go into shame and self-loathing. We may go into depression or anxity. We may go into pursuing perfection. We may seek fame and success. We may hide from the world. And so on.

Whenever anything has a compulsive quality, it’s a good guess that it’s an attempt to escape pain.

This is not inherently wrong. It’s our mind creating this in an attempt to protect us. At the same time, it’s not the most skillful way of dealing with our pain, and it inevitably perpetuates the cycle of pain and creates more pain.

It doesn’t deal with the real issue so it’s not a real solution.

RELATING TO OUR PAIN MORE CONSCIOUSLY

Is there another option?

Yes, we can relate to our pain more consciously and with a bit more skill and insight.

We can learn to genuinely befriend our pain.

We can meet our pain with love. And this is often easier, at first, when we use a structured approach like metta, tonglen, or ho’oponopono.

We can feel the physical sensation aspect of the pain and rest in noticing and allowing it.

We can dialog with the part(s) of us experiencing the pain. We can listen to how it experiences itself and the world. We can ask what it needs to experience a deep resolution and relaxation. We can ask how we relate to it, and how it would like us to relate to it. We can ask what it would like from us. We can find the painful story it operates from, and help it examine this story and find what’s more genuinely true. (And often more peaceful.) We can find a way to work together more in partnership. And so on.

Through this, we may come to realize that the pain is here to help us, and even our reactivity to the pain is here to help us. It’s our psyche trying to help us. It comes from a wish to protect us, and it’s ultimately a form of love. And it often reflects a slightly immature way of dealing with pain. It’s the way a child deals with pain when they don’t have another option. And that’s no coincidence since these parts of us were often formed in childhood when we didn’t know about or have experience with other options.

We can also find our own nature – as capacity for the content of our experiences and what the world, to us, happens within and as. Notice that the nature of this suffering part of us is the same. (It happens within and as what we are.) Rest in that noticing. And invite the part of us to notice the same and rest in that noticing. This allows for a shift in how we relate to the suffering part of us, and it invites the part itself to untie some tight knots and reorganize.

MYTHOLOGY OF OUR TIME

Whether we like it or not, big Hollywood blockbusters are the mythology of our times – at least for large parts of the world.

So it’s wonderful to see that some of these stories are trauma-informed.

They help us notice patterns in ourselves, at least if we are receptive to it.

Yes, I am like Wanda. I sometimes go into reactivity to my pain and become compulsive about something. That can create even more pain for myself and others, and it doesn’t really resolve anything. And there is another way.

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Waking up issues, parts, and subpersonalities

I enjoy using the befriend & awaken process these days, as I have written about in other articles. (It’s a process that draws on elements from a range of approaches, others have come up with similar processes, this one is one I have developed for myself since it seems to work the best for me, and I don’t think anyone else calls it “befriend & awaken”.)

One of the last steps in that process is to awaken issues or parts and subpersonalities.

What does it mean to awaken issues? Or awaken parts and subpersonalities?

THE PROCESS

When I do this part of the process, I go through a few steps.

I connect with the issue or subpersonality through the previous steps, feel the sensation aspect of it, connect with the painful story behind it, and so on.

I notice my own nature and that I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, and that the world as it appears to me happens within and as what I am. (I find myself as what a thought may call consciousness, and that the world to me happens within and as consciousness.)

I notice that the nature of the issue or part is the same as mine. It happens within and as what I am, so it – by necessity – has the same nature as me.

I rest in that noticing.

I invite the issue or part to recognize its own nature and rest in that noticing.

I invite whatever shifts to shift, to reorganize within this conscious noticing of what’s already here.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

How does this work? What is it that happens?

As mentioned, this is all already happening within and as what I am. Any issue, part, and subpersonality – and any content of experience – already happens within and as what I am. It already has the same nature as I do.

When they were formed, they were typically formed within separation consciousness. They were formed when the whole of me, or most of what I am, operated from separation consciousness. And they still function and operate within separation consciousness. That’s why they are issues. That’s why they seek some form of resolution.

By consciously noticing their nature, and resting in and as that noticing, I – as a whole – recognize their nature. This shifts how I relate to them. I recognize them as myself. I recognize them as having the same nature as I do. This is part of the befriending. This helps me shift out of reactivity and reacting to them from habitual patterns, which also come from separation consciousness.

I then invite these parts of me to notice their own nature and rest in that noticing. This shifts how this part of consciousness relates to itself. It wakes up to its own nature. It wakes up to itself having taken the form of the issue or the part and subpersonality. And that sets something in motion. The part tends to reorganize and align with a more conscious noticing of itself as oneness. (AKA healing.)

On the one hand, it all happens here and now, and any ideas of past, future and present happen here and now. And on the other hand, this is a process. The more time I spend resting in this noticing, and resting in inviting these parts of me to notice their nature, the more there is a realignment.

Exactly what happens is always a bit of a surprise. It lives its own life. I – as the whole – just notice it shift, unravel, and realign.

And, as so often, the way this is presented makes it sound like a clean and orderly process. It’s often not. It’s often messy. These parts of us are tied up in knots, and the unknotting process isn’t always so tidy or clean.

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The essence of the dark night: Viscerally getting any experience as the divine

I have written about dark nights in other articles, and some of the different types of dark nights. And I have written about the dark night I have gone through over the last several years.

There is an important question here: What’s the essence of the dark night I went through? If I were to pick out one thing, what would it be?

One answer is the general one: Life – in the form of life situations and inner processes – rubbed up against some deep identifications in me, rooted in unexamined, unfelt, and unloved fear.

And another is more specific: It’s about viscerally recognizing whatever is here, including and especially what my personality doesn’t like, as happening within the same field.

What my personality struggles with, this human self, how this human self relates to it, and so on, are all happening within and as the same field. (And what my personality struggles with is typically a contraction that comes up in me.)

Said with other words: It’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s all having the same nature and the same nature as me. It’s all part of the oneness I am. It’s all the oneness I am taking the form of the contraction, this human self, how this human self relates to it, and so on. And thought can label this consciousness. Or a love that’s inherent in my nature and oneness and not dependent on any particular feelings or states. Or even Spirit or the divine or synonyms for this.

It’s not about seeing it as that, because that’s not new. It’s about viscerally getting it. And that’s a process. It’s an ongoing process for, I assume, at least as long as this human self is alive and it may go on far beyond that.

What are some of these things I have been invited to viscerally get as the divine? Deep primal fear. Traumas. Painful beliefs and identifications. Losses. Painful reaction to losses. And much more.

And am I finished with it? Not at all. But there have been shifts, and the dark night seems to gradually lighten and trail off, although much of it is still here. And it’s not about getting out of it. (This is, after all, what I am making itself conscious and befriending itself.) It’s about befriending what’s here and my nature viscerally sinking into it as itself.

And what’s the difference between seeing something as the divine (or having the same nature as me) and viscerally getting it as the divine? We can see it, and our human self may still go through its habitual responses to it. It may be caught up in and operate from reactivity. When we viscerally get it, our human response tends to change. There is more of a befriending of whatever is triggered in us. And over time, that tends to allow what’s triggered to transform as well.

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The more you feel your feelings….

The more you feel your feelings, the easier it is to understand them.

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

What do we mean with feelings? For me, it’s anything with a sensation component – what we call physical sensations, emotions, emotional and physical pain, and also states and contractions.

Crucially, beliefs and identifications also have a physical sensation component and a story component, and may be called feelings, pain, states, a contraction, and so on.

I assume the quote mainly refer to sensations and emotions we experience as uncomfortable or undesirable, although it goes for anything with a sensation component.

WHEN IT DOESN’T HELP TO FEEL OUR FEELINGS

We may feel our feelings and emotions in a quick and somewhat reactive way, and that won’t help us understand them. (Or anything else.)

We may feel our feelings and emotions without identifying the painful stories behind them. This won’t help us understand where the feelings come from or what keeps fueling them.

We may feel our feelings and emotionsand get caught up in and actively fuel (some of) the painful stories behind or elated to them, and that won’t necessarily help us examine these painful stories to find what’s more true for us.

BEFRIENDING AND EXAMINING IN A MORE SKILLFUL WAY

And we may feel our feelings and examine what’s going on in a more skillful way.

We can feel the feelings as physical sensations. Notice where in our body we feel it. Notice that they are physical sensations. Rest in that noticing. Notice the (infinite) space they are happening within. And so on.

We can welcome them. Allow them. Notice they are already allowed. (By mind, space, life, existence.)

We can shift how we relate to them through heart-centered practices like ho’oponopono and tonglen. (We can do ho’o towards the emotions or us experiencing them, and we can do tonglen towards ourselves experiencing them.)

We can dialog with the feeling or emotion. How does it experience the world? How does it experience me? How does it see me relating to it? What function does it have? What’s the deepest intention behind it? How can it genuine help and support me? How can I relate to it differently so we can have a more beneficial partnership?

Through dialog – and evoltionary psychology and our own experience – we can come to find the value in the energies of feelings and emotions. Anger, when used in a less reactive way, has energy that helps us get things done and change situations. Sadness helps us contemplate and examine past situations and our painful stories around it, and if used wisely, it may help us find a deeper resolution. Happiness shows us what our personality likes and encourages us to do more of it, and we may also discover that gratitude gives us a deeper sense of contentment and happiness independent of situations. And so on.

We may identify the story components associated with the feeling, see if it’s a painful story, and examine it and find what’s more true for us. (Which is typically far more peaceful.) .We may identify and explore different kinds of stories. For instance, the story which labels the physical sensation creating the appearance of an emotion or physical contraction. The stressful stories creating the contraction. And the stories that create a reaction to the emotion or contraction.

Through these story-level explorations, we may find that the emotions and feelings are here to protect us. They come, ultimately, from love and are an expression of love. And that may make it easier for us to meet them with kindness, befriend them, and get to know them. It makes it easier for us to genuinely thank them for protecting us and for their love for us. And it makes it easier to identify and explore the painful stories they often operate from, which are an expression of confused love, and find what’s more true for us.

We can sit with the feelings and emotions in basic meditation, noticing and allowing them as any other experience. We notice them. Feel the physical sensations. Notice they are already allowed. Notice they come and go as any other content of experience. And perhaps even use it to find ourselves as what doesn’t come and go, as the no-thing that it all happens within and as.

It’s not wrong that I am a human being in the world. That’s what the world, my passport, and my own mind may tell me, and it works relatively well in a practical sense. And yet, is it what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience? What I find is that I more fundamentally, to myself, am capacity for the world as it appears to me and what the world happens within and as. I find I am consciousness and the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousenss. That seems to be my nature. And when I explore feelings and emotions, I find that they are the same. They have the same nature as I do. They happen within and as what I am, so we share nature. This too shifts how I relate to these feelings and sensations.

In all of these ways, and many more, I can explore and get to know feelings and emotions. I can recognize them as physical sensations with a story component. I can identify and examine the story, and find what’s more true for me. I can make use of the energy within the emotion. I can notice it’s content of experience and comes and goes and changes as any other content of experience. I can use that to find myself as what they happen within and as and find my more essential nature. And I can notice that the nature of the feelings and sensations is the same as my own nature, and rest in that noticing and allowing it to work on me.

This may sound simple when written out this way, and it is simple in a way, but it can also be challenging since most of us learn to avoid certain feelings and emotions from an early age. We learn to ignore them. Pretend they aren’t there. Distract ourselves from them. React to them so we won’t need to feel them or acknowledge them. And so on. The way we react to them can take a wide range of forms, but it’s always compulsive. It can take the form of compulsive work, entertainment, relationships, sex, food, talking, thinking, going into ideologies, going into blame, shame, and victimhood, and much more.

How have I explored sensations and emotions and how I relate to them? Through all of these ways and more over a few decades – basic meditation, evolutionary psychology, Process Work, Big Mind dialog, the work of Byron Katie, Kiloby / Living inquiries, and more recently through the Befriend & Awaken process which is a combination of these.

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Awakening doesn’t change our life?

I have been reading The Triune Self: Confessions of a Ruthless Seeker by Mike Snider and love it as I loved the two talks he gave on request from Adyashanti.

He is clear. He follows his own path. He is unfraid to call out what he sees as bullshit often found in nondual and spiritual communities.

In general, I feel a deep resonance with what he talks and writes about and his process, and he has been unfailingly kind and wise in the few interactions I have had with him.

At the same time, there is one thing I am curious about. He says that his nature recognizing itself – AKA awakening – didn’t change who he is in the world. (This is based on memory since it’s a few weeks since I read it, and my memory is not so good these days due to CFS and post-covid brain.)

Why does he emphasize this point? And does awakening lead to a transformation of our human self and life in the world or not?

AWAKENING IS ITS OWN THING

It’s true that awakening doesn’t neccesarily lead to an immediate transformation at the human level.

Oneness recognizing itself doesn’t depend on anything in particular within the content of experience. It doesn’t require our human self or life to be any particular way. (Apart from having the basic psychological makeup to allow for awakening.)

And the noticing itself doesn’t neccesarily transform our human self or life in the world. At least not right away.

AWAKENING AND TRANSFORMATION

And it’s also not the full picture.

In my experience, there is an ongoing and lifelong process of transformation that happens at many levels and in many areas.

One is transformation in perception. This is a shift from oneness viscerally taking itself as something within itself (this human self and ideas about this human self) to noticing itself to viscerally finding itself as oneness to different layers of its nature (oneness, love, capacity etc.) revealing itself to itself in new ways.

An aspect of this is transformation of identity, of what oneness viscerally takes itself to be.

And then there is the transformation of our human self – of our psychology and life in the world.

Many parts of our psyche were formed within and still operate from separation consciousness and these will inevitably color our perception and life in the world. If they are not actively triggered, they still color our perception and life. And if they are triggered, oneness may get more strongly caught up in them and more obviously perceive and live from them.

That’s inherently uncomfortable. And it gets even more uncomfortable when the oneness we are recognizes itself.

And it seems that awakening sets in motion a process of transforming our human self so more of it is gradually more aligned with oneness recognizing itself.

Some of that transformation may happen through various practices before our nature recognizes itself. Some may happen in the moment the recognition happens. And in many or most cases (?), most of that transformation happens after and within oneness recognizing itself.

We may intentionally support that process through various practices and our attention, receptivity, and sincerity.

And, in my experience, most of it happens through unprocessed psychological material surfacing on its own. Often, as a trickle. And sometimes, uninvited and to an extent that can be overwhelming, disorienting, and scary to our human self. (When that happens, we may label it as a kind of dark night.) This may be triggered or amplified by life events and loss – of willpower, health, friends, family, belongings, status, reputation, and so on.

This process happens whether we consciously want it or not, and it often happens in ways that our personality doesn’t like. It’s happens by necessity in that way since it’s a process of our old patterns and conditioning wearing off and something different and more authentic emerging instead. And then that may be worn off so something new and more authentic can emerge. And so on.

WHY THE EMPHASIS ON THE FIRST?

So why did Mike Snider emphasize that his human life didn’t change?

There may be several reasons.

One is that his life didn’t change to any significant degree. Perhaps his life already is relatively authentic and loving? (It seems that way.)

Another may be that he wants to emphasize that awakening is not about getting anything or getting anything from it. It’s about our nature noticing itself, not really about any secondary transformations. If it happens, fine. But it’s secondary and a side-effect.

THE VALIDITY IN BOTH

That’s true. And it’s especially true, in my experience, that a too strong focus on getting something out of it distracts from a simple noticing of our nature and living from that noticing.

At the same time, the transformation does happen and it’s important. Our human life is important. How we live our life is important. It’s important for our human self. And it’s important for others.

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Meeting my reactions with kindness

Or I can meet how I respond to anyone and anything with kindness and love, which shifts me into love for myself, others, and the world. It invites in love for myself, others, and the world. It helps me notice my nature as love.

Why would we want to do that? Because it feels good. It certainly feels better than the alternatives. And a clear heart supports a clear mind and clear actions. (We may find the three are the same.) And we may also find it’s coming home. It’s our nature when it’s unfiltered by being caught up in reactions.

How do we do it? There are training wheels. Here are some I find helpful: tonglen, ho’oponopono, the heart / Jesus prayer, inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby / Living inquiries), and the befriend & awaken process.

And what if I can’t always do it? Meet what comes up, the reaction to it, with kindness, and see what happens.

Dune and fascination with saviors

I watched the recent Dune movie and although it seemed technically flawless, I also wasn’t too moved or captured by it. (Although I will certainly watch part two when it comes out.)

I was reminded of the fascination with saviors we collectively have, some more than others. And, in this case, a predestined and prophesized savior.

WHY ARE WE FASCINATED BY THE SAVIOR?

Why are we fascinated with saviors and the savior archetype?

One answer is obvious. We may feel we need to be saved, sometimes and in some areas of life. Life seems too difficult. We may experience a lack of direction or meaning. We may want someone else, or life, to save us instead of doing it ourselves.

Another answer is that outer saviors mirror ourselves. We have that savior in ourselves. And a fascination with saviors in the world, stories, or in the past or future, is an invitation to find that savior in ourselves. A fascination with saviors “out there” is, in the best case, a stepping stone for shifting into saving ourselves. We are the predestined savior of ourselves and this may or may not come to fruition here and now.

BEING OUR OWN SAVIOR

How do we save ourselves?

We can save ourselves in the way we wish to be saved by someone else. If I had a magic wand and could be saved by someone else in exactly the way I wish and long for, how would it look? And how would it be for me to give that to myself?

Here are some possibilities I find for myself when I explore this:

I can give myself advice as I would a good friend. I can ask for help when I need it. I can notice and follow my inner guidance, the small inner voice. I can learn to befriend myself through the kind of self-talk a good parent or friend would give me. I can learn to meet my experiences with allowing, kindness, and curiosity. I can be a good steward of my life. I can find healing for how I relate to my world – whether I call it myself, my experiences, others, situations, or life in general. I can give myself the chance to do what I have always wanted to do, or have a calling to do. And so on.

FINDING WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

And we can save ourselves by finding what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience.

In the world, I am this human self. And if that’s all I am aware of, it will feel incomplete since it is. It will feel like something is off because it is. I haven’t noticed most of what I am.

More fundamentally, I am something else in my own immediate experience. I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. And I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

And here, I find that I am – in a sense – already and always saved. Oneness doesn’t need to be saved. Anything related to being saved or not happens within and as oneness. To me, the world is already saved since it happens within and as oneness. (And that’s just one part of the picture since there is always saving to be done in a more conventional sense.)

I find the wholeness that my apparently broken self happens within and as. I find the inherent health that my illnesses happen within and as. I find the wholeness our apparently broken world happens within and as. And so on. And that doesn’t mean I won’t seek healing for my broken self, or treatment for my illness, or – as mentioned – seek healing for our society and ecosystems.

EXPLORING THE SAVIOR DYNAMIC

So I may notice our collective fascination with the savior archetype, even if it happens in a story like in Dune.

I can find this fascination in myself. I find examples of when and how I wish to be saved. When I dream of a savior to come and rescue me. (In periods of distress, I certainly notice it.)

I can identify more specifically how I wish to be saved, in specific situations when this comes up.

I can find ways to give it to myself.

I can find my more fundamental nature and where the ideas of saved or not don’t apply.

And I can still engage in support and metaphorical saving in a more conventional sense, as needed.

This is not about “doing it all myself”. This is more about finding my savior in myself, and sometimes that savior will ask others to help me.

THE BEFRIEND & AWAKEN PROCESS

These days, I find myself drawn to what I call the befriend & awaken process.

I notice a contraction in me. Contractions are uncomfortable, so these parts inherently wish to be saved and some other parts of me wish to save them.

I notice the physical contraction and where it is in my body. I rest with it. I notice it’s already allowed.

I notice it’s here to protect me. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

I find what the contraction wishes for, what it more deeply wants. I may try out a few possibilities, give each one to it, and see how it responds. For instance, love, a sense of safety, support, being seen, and so on.

I notice my nature, and that the nature of the contraction is the same. It happens within and as what I am. In another language, I see it as a flavor of the divine.

I invite the contraction to notice its own nature and rest in and as that noticing.

I take time with each of these explorations. I rest with it. I notice how the contraction responds and how it relaxes and unwinds when I find something that resonates with it.

This is one way to deeply “save” the parts of us that may feel they need saving.

Note: There will always be parts of me that don’t want to save these other parts of me, and they themselves are contractions that can be explored in this way.

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Adapting to our more real identity vs attaching to a familiar mistaken one

I was rewatching a couple of Star Trek: Voyager episodes, including Course: Oblivion.

We follow the crew and ship, strange things start happening, and they discover that they are not who they thought they were. They are a substance that can mimic living beings and objects and that formed itself into the Voyager crew and starship. Some embrace their real identity and want to go back to the planet they came from. Others cling to their more familiar and mistaken identity and try to live out that life, even if it means the end of them.

It’s a great idea for a story, although not so well executed. (The buildup is brief. Most of them immediately accept what they really are, which seems unlikely. And it’s not explained so well why some insist on living according to their mistaken identity even if they also accept their real one.)

And as with any story, it can be fun and helpful to use it as a mirror for ourselves.

EXPLORING IT AS I WOULD A DREAM

If this was my dream, how would I explore it? What do I find?

The essence of this story is: A group of people live from mistaken identity. They realize what they really are. Some adapt and want to live according to their real identity. Others want to continue living according to their familiar and mistaken identity, even if it means their destruction.

SOME PARTS LIVE FROM MY TRUE IDENTITY, OTHER PARTS FROM MY OLD MISTAKEN IDENTITY

I can find that in myself.

At some level, I notice and accept my real identity. In my own first-person experience, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. That’s my moe fundamental identity.

And at another level, I am used to my familiar human identity. This identity is not wrong, it’s just limited and not what I more fundamentally am in my first-person experience.

Sometimes, I perceive and function more from my true identity. And other times, I revert back to following my mistaken identity. (Especially when unhealed parts of me are triggered.)

Said another way, and just as with the Voyager crew, some parts of me accept and live according to my true identity. And other parts still operate from my old familiar mistaken identity.

CLARIFICATION & TRANSFORMATION

This points to an important part of the awakening process.

It’s relatively easy to notice our nature, especially if we have some pointers and a guide familiar with the terrain.

The challenge is in keeping noticing our nature through daily life – through different states, through different situations, in different areas of life, and even when unhealed parts of us are triggered.

The challenge is in recognizing any content of experience, including that which is unpleasant and our old patterns don’t like, as flavors of the divine. As happening within and as what we are, and having the same nature as we do.

The challenge is in inviting our human self to transform within a more conscious noticing of oneness, and inviting all the different parts of us still operating from separation consciousness to realign with a more conscious noticing of oneness.

How do we do this? We all have to find our own way, and I have written about it in more detail in other articles. These days, I am most drawn to the befriend & awaken process.

NOT EXACTLY MISTAKEN IDENTITY

I should mention that I don’t feel completely comfortable talking about mistaken identity. It works in this context, with this TV episode, but is not competely accurate.

It’s not wrong that we are this human self. It’s just not what we more fundamentally are in our own first person experience.

The two already co-exist (they are aspects of the same), and we can notice the validity in both and live from and as both.

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What is authenticity?

I listened to an interview from a few years ago about an unrelated topic, and someone said: Trump is authentic. That’s what people like about him.

I have heard this argument several times before. Is it true that Trump is authentic?

IS TRUMP AUTHENTIC?

Yes and no and not really.

If with authentic you mean reactive, then yes. He is certainly authentic with his reactivity.

If with authentic you mean receptive, honest, and speaking truth about oneself as a confession, then he is not very authentic. He seems to avoid this like the plague.

Why does he avoid it? Most likely for the same reason as everyone else, including sometimes me: It can feel threatening. It can feel easier to react to our pain than to welcome and acknowledge it, especially when reactivity to our own pain has become a habit and what we are most familiar with.

IS IT EASIER TO REACT TO OUR PAIN THAN TO BEFRIEND IT?

Again, yes and no.

On the surface, it can seem easier. It’s the easy way out.

And when we look more closely, it’s more complicated and creates a lot more stress and suffering.

When we realize and take this in, that’s when a shift can happen into committing to meeting our own pain in a more mature way.

WHAT DOES REAL AUTHENTICITY LOOK LIKE?

It looks like receptivity, vulnerability, honesty about ourselves as a confession, taking responsibility for our own life and reactions, and so on.

And what does reactivity look like?

It can look like defensiveness, anger out of proportion to the situation, chronic fear, chronic depression, blame, victimhood, addictions, and even racism, bigotry and fundamentalist ideologies. Mainly, it looks like a compulsion to something, whether it’s a behavior, emotion, state, or ideology.

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Befriend & Awaken: The essence of many healing and awakening traditions

The befriend and awaken process is what I use the most these days as a practice.

It’s simple, direct, and effective. It includes essential elements from traditional psychological and spiritual approaches.

And it goes straight to the heart of emotional healing, awakening, and embodiment.

It allows for healing and relaxation of parts of me caught up in painful separation consciousness. It allows more part of me to align with a conscious noticing of my nature. And it makes it easier for me to live from this noticing in more areas of my life and situations in my life.

Here is a very brief outline.

NOTICE THE CONTRACTION

I notice a contraction.

I recognize it through one or more of the telltale signs: reactivity, defensiveness, one-sided views, feeling like a victim, being paralyzed, and so on.

I notice the contraction in the body. I notice the sensations. Feel the sensations. Recognize them as physical bodily sensations.

I rest with this noticing.

A PART OF ME

I recognize the contraction as a part of me.

It’s a part caught up in painful separation consciousness. It’s caught up in and operates from painful beliefs, identifications. It’s wounded.

Although it may seem big and overwhelming when I am caught up in it or a struggle with it, it’s not even close to all of who and what I am.

THANK YOU FOR PROTECTING ME

I thank the contraction for protecting me.

Thank you for protecting me.

Thank you for your love for me.

I repeat this and rest in this noticing.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

I explore what the essential need of this part of me may be.

Is it being seen and understood? Love? Safety? Support?

I give it these in turn and notice which ones allow it to relax and rest, and I rest with the ones that resonate.

WHAT’S THE PAINFUL STORY YOU OPERATE FROM?

What’s the painful story this part of me is operating from?

What’s the essence of it?

What are some of the underlying and more essential stories?

Is it true? What’s more true?

What happens when you believe it’s true? Is there validity in the reversals? Can I find specific examples of how they are as or more true?

WHAT’S YOUR NATURE?

I notice the contraction as a flavor of the divine.

And in more detail:

I recognize my nature as capacity for the world as it appears to me.

I am capacity for this contraction. It happens within and as what I am.

I notice that my nature is the same as its nature, and rest in and as that noticing.

IN PRACTICE

In daily life, I may not go through all of these steps in one go.

If I have time, I typically notice the contraction, thank it, notice what it needs and give that to it, get a sense of the painful story, and rest in noticing the nature of the contraction. Later, I may investigate the painful story more thoroughly, although I have done a lot of inquiry so it tends to happen more automatically.

And if I don’t have so much time, or am in the middle of an activity, I may just notice the physical sensations and thank it for protecting me. And then explore it more thoroughly later (or not).

The sequence is not set in stone, and the particular steps are not set in stone. I use whatever works.

ADVANCED PRACTICE?

Is this an advanced practice? Yes and no.

Anyone can benefit from exploring several of these steps.

And for me, I notice they rest on a lot of practice that I have done in the past.

Noticing the contractions come mostly from Living Inquiries / Kiloby inquiry.

Noticing it as a part comes from parts work.

Thanking it for protecting me comes from parts work and dialogue explorations, and it has elements of ho’oponopono.

Giving it what it needs comes from… I am not sure. It seems a part of a lot of other explorations, including Non-Violent Communication.

Identifying and exploring the painful story comes from The Work of Byron KAtie.

Recognizing its nature and resting in this noticing comes from any exploration of my own nature, including the Big Mind process and Headless experiments, along with basic meditation.

For me, this, simple befriend & awaken process rests on decades of other explorations. So I am honestly not sure how suited it is for people who are not so familiar with these other approaches. I would tend to recommend these more basic ones first, and then this one as people get more familiar with the terrain.

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Dream: Jaques Vallée & befriending the alien(ated) parts of ourselves

I am spending some time with Jaque Vallée and we are going for a walk while talking.

At some point, we get to the question of what motivates our desire to find or know about alien life.

I say that since my background is in psychology, I am biased. So for me, the question is not: “Are we alone”. The question is: “am I alone”.

For this, finding aliens is not the solution. The solutions is something we can only do for ourselves. By being with ourselves, by befriending the different part of ourselves, and especially the lonely and alien-ated parts of ourselves.

The day residue for this dream is seeing that the long-awaited documentary about the Ariel school incident (Ariel Phenomenon) is coming out later this month.

Of the different people talking about these things, Jaques Vallée is one of my favorites, not the least because of his interests in patterns and archetypes, and in looking at similarities between UFO stories and fairy tales, and so on.

The conversation is initially about the phenomena in general, and then switches to why we are interested in the topic. What are some of the motivations? A part is obviously a general curiosity and wanting to know about the world.

And for me, with a background in psychology, I am also interested in another motivation: The wish to not be alone. A wish for connection. If that’s a drive for us, it points to that we feel alone. And apart from the conventional solutions to this (making friends etc.), a root solution is to get to know and befriend the exiled, alienated, and alone parts of ourselves.

Finding aliens is not the solution to feeling alone. Befriending ourselves is. And it’s far easier and closer at hand than finding aliens.

Another side to this dream is that in waking life, I would likely not have this conversation with Jaques Vallée. I wouldn’t feel confident enough. I am much more free in my conversations in my dreams than I am in waking life.

Image: From Close Encounter of the Third Kind where the main scientist is modeled on Jaques Vallée.

Labeling emotions

How do we relate to our emotions?

And do we need to differentiate a wide range of emotions to have a healthy relationship to them?

I sometimes ask myself that question when I see people who seem a bit obsessive in differentiating and mapping out a huge number of different emotions.

LABELING EMOTIONS

It can obviously be helpful to name emotions or emotional states.

It helps communication with ourselves and others.

Labeling the emotions for myself helps me see them as an object within my experience, and that helps me disidentify from them a bit.

And when I communicate it to others, it helps them understand a bit more what’s going on with me.

HOW MUCH DIFFERENTIATION IS NEEDED?

For myself, I find just a few general labels necessary.

For instance… I feel sadness. Anger. Joy. Elation. Hopelessness. Grief. Frustration.

In order to label an emotional state, I really just need the word “emotion” or “state”. That’s enough to recognize it more easily as an object happening within and as what I am. It’s a guest. Something passing through.

And if I want to differentiate a bit further, just a few categories are necessary.

THE STORIES THAT CREATE EMOTIONS

What’s more important for me is to identify the stressful stories that create certain emotions and emotional states when something in me holds them as true. This is where I personally find differentiating and precision helpful.

Pinpointing these stories helps me recognize why I feel a certain way. And it helps me explore them further. It helps me inquiry into them and find what’s more true for me, and it helps me see how my mind creates its own experience by associating certain sensations and stories.

MORE IMMEDIATELY: BEFRIENDING EMOTIONS

For me, the most helpful way of relating to emotions doesn’t require any labeling at all.

And that is to befriend them. Get to know them. Spend time with them. Be with them as I would a frightened animal or child. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them how they would like me to relate to them. Find the stories behind them. And perhaps even notice their nature (which is the same as my nature, and the nature of the world as it appears to me.)

THE ROLE OF LABELING EMOTIONS

For me, labeling emotions in a simple way is helpful, as outlined above.

What’s more important is to befriend and get to know them, whatever label they have. And identify and explore possible stressful stories creating them.

And I am completely open for discovering that labeling emotions themselves in a more precise and differentiated way can be helpful. It’s just that I haven’t seen it yet, in my 35 years of exploring these things.

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What we avoid pursues us and what we face transforms us 

What we avoid pursues us and what we face transforms us 

– attributed to D. Kessler

If we compulsively avoid something, what we really avoid is a sensation combined with a scary story.

And when we avoid a part of ourselves, it will pursue us. It seeks to join in. It seeks to be loved and understood.

When we face what we have avoided, when we befriend it and perhaps invite it to wake up, it will transform us.

Exploring my struggle with silence

When we are in silence, without our usual distractions, we may notice a part of us struggling with this silence.

This is a current topic for me. In my twenties, I seemed very comfortable with silence and loved sitting in meditation on my own or with others. I would do it at least one or two hours a day, and often longer.

Later, when several layers of trauma surfaced, this got more difficult. Instead of a peaceful and quietly blissful silence, silence meant a meeting with very deep pain.

So my practice now, when I go into silence and absence of distractions, is to notice and meet the parts of me struggling with the silence and the pain. How is it to notice and befriend these parts of me? How is it to notice their nature?

How is it to notice the stillness and silence in my nature? How is it to notice it taking the form of contractions, discomfort, and so on?

The essence of this exploration is very simple, and it can also have several different aspects:

Notice the parts of me struggling with the pain, and associating silence and absence of distractions with this pain. Notice they are parts and objects within consciousness.

Befriending them. Getting to know them. Listen to their views and stories.

Find their needs, wants, and sense of lack, and give what they lack and want to them. (Often love, safety, support, and so on.)

Notice their nature. Rest in that noticing. Inviting them to notice their own nature and rest in that noticing.

And do the same with whatever contractions come up, both the ones reacting to the trauma and pain and the ones in trauma and pain. (Not that they are very different from each other.)

Befriending and awakening contractions: How it works

I am enjoying the befriend & awaken process these days.

It’s simple. Direct. Intimate. And supports healing, awakening, and embodiment.

I have written about this before, directly and indirectly, and thought I would revisit the topic here.

How does the befriend and awaken process work?

WHAT IS A CONTRACTION?

A contraction typically has several aspects. The mind aspect can be labeled a stressful and unexamined belief, an emotional issue, trauma, an unloved part of us, and so on. The physical component is a bodily contraction or tension. And this is reflected in blocks in our energy system as well.

BEFRIENDING A CONTRACTION

The process can be as simple or complex as I wish – depending on what seems needed.

I notice the signs of a contraction. The signs of a contraction may be stress, tension, unease, discomfort, struggle, defensiveness, reactivity, and so on.

I bring attention to the physical sensations. This helps ground the attention, and it serves as an anchor so it’s easier to notice the fearful images and words without getting caught up in them. If I notice my attention wandering, or getting caught in stressful images and words, I can bring attention back to the physical sensations of the contraction. (These may and usually will shift over time.)

I thank the contraction for protecting me. Thank you for protecting me. When I have a contraction, I may not be aware that it’s here to protect me. It was formed to protect this human self and an apparent separate self. Also, I may not be very thankful for the contraction. I may see it as a problem.

Thanking it makes me more receptive to seeing if or that it’s here to protect me. Over time, as I befriend and get to know the contraction, I may find genuine gratitude for the contraction. This easier my relationship with it. I find more peace with it. I shift out of my previous struggle with it.

Also, noticing it as a contraction, noticing the physical components of it, and thanking it, helps me see it as an object. It’s a part of my experience here and now. It’s not all of what I am. It’s an object, not a subject. This helps recognize it if or when it comes up later, and it helps release identification with it.

I keep thanking it until I notice a significant shift in how I relate to the contraction, and I can return to the thanking at any point within a session or at a later time. The more I do it, with sincerity, the more shifts tend to happen.

I allow it to get as big as it wants and stay for as long as it wants. Again, I am often in a struggle with the contraction, and this struggle can be more or less conscious. I may try to contain it. I may try to make it go away. And this struggle is part of what keeps the contraction here, and the struggle dynamic is itself uncomfortable. By intentionally allowing it to get as big as it wants and stay for as long as it wants, I go against this old pattern in me. It helps me recognize the old pattern, and that something else is possible. It also helps the contraction itself to unwind and relax.

I notice the space it’s happening within. I cannot find an end to this space. I notice the space and the contraction at the same time. (I may also notice that the contraction has space within it, and perhaps that it is space.) Noticing it as something happening within (and as) infinite space helps “giving it” more space. It helps in recognizing it as an object and disidentifying with it.

I welcome it. At any point in the process, I may intentionally welcome the contraction. Parts of me typically see the contraction as a problem, and it’s not always welcome. When I intentionally welcome it, it goes against this tendency, shows me there is another way, helps me recognize that parts of me do not welcome it, and helps the contraction itself to relax.

I say I love you to the contraction. The more I see it’s here to protect me and comes from love, the easier it is to find genuine love for it. Love is the antidote to the previous struggle with the contraction.

I explore what it wants and needs, and the lack it is coming from. What do you want and need? What sense of lack do you come from? How is it to give it what it needs and wants? How is it to give it what it perceives it lacks? Here, I may explore a few universal needs and lacks.

Typically, I may try to fulfill the needs and wants through the world – people, situations, roles, labels, and so on. That works to some extent, but it doesn’t really work. It never fills the real and deeper needs, wants, and sense of lack.

The only one who can resolve this deeply, and give the contraction what it really needs and wants, is me. I am the only one in the position to do it. I am the only one who can get intimate enough with it since it’s part of me. I am the only one who can touch it.

If external pieces fall into place, I sometimes allow myself to give to the contraction what it needs and wants. I may give it love, safety, support, and so on. This gives temporary relief, but as soon as my external situation changes my relationship to these contractions may change. I may cut off my own love, support, and so on.

So why not do it directly? Why not, as Byron Katie says, cut out the middleman? Why not give to the contraction what it needs without waiting for external situations to change?

I may notice stressful beliefs and examine them. Contractions are created from stressful and unexamined beliefs, so one remedy is to notice these stories and examine them. I may do this informally as part of this process, or I write them down and examine them more thoroughly later. (For instance, using The Work of Byron Katie.)

GENERAL ORIENTATIONS

I approach the contraction with respect. This helps me allow it as it is, welcome it, find curiosity about it, and so on.

I find curiosity about the contraction. Curiosity is part of the whole befriending and awakening process. As long as I react to or act on the contraction, there isn’t much curiosity about it. Intentionally finding curiosity about it shifts my relationship to it. It helps me recognize it as an object, and it helps me explore and get to know it.

I take my time. I stay with and rest with each of these steps. I notice shifts. I notice what else may be needed. I return to some to see what happens. I may return to the whole process at another time.

This is an antidote to the typical quickness of reacting to or acting on the contraction, and the tendency to wish to not stay with it since it may seem uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

Through this process, I may find genuine love for the contraction. I see it’s here to protect me. It comes from love. And this makes it easier for me to find genuine love for it.

I allow this process to transform me. I allow the noticing and resting in the noticing to transform whatever is naturally transformed.

NOTICING THE NATURE OF THE CONTRACTION

After this, I may explore the nature of the contraction.

First, I notice my own nature. I find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me. I find myself as capacity for any content of experience, whether a thought may label it body, thoughts, emotions, the wider world, and so on. I notice I am what the content of my experience happens within and as. (If I need the help of some structured pointers, I can use Headless Experiments or the Big Mind process, or whatever else works.)

I notice how the contraction relates to what I am. I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what I am. I rest with this noticing.

I notice the contraction is, in a sense, capacity for itself. I invite the contraction to notice its own nature and rest in that noticing and allow whatever needs to shift to shift.

Typically, I may see the contraction as an object and a thing. This noticing process helps me recognize its nature, and it invites it to notice its own nature. It’s easier the more familiar I am with noticing my own nature, and it’s much more simple and direct than it may seem from these words.

This noticing helps shift how I relate to the contraction. I notice its nature. It’s part of the field noticing itself. (There is no I or Other inherent in any of it.)

THE BENEFITS OF NAMING IT CONTRACTION

There are several benefits to calling it a contraction rather than some of the other possible labels. (Issue, belief, trauma, etc.)

It’s simple.

It points to something immediate in our experience.

It’s free of the many associations the other labels may have for us.

It doesn’t require or rest on any particular worldview or ideology.

The process itself supports psychological healing, awakening, and living from this awakening, without needing to use any of those words.

SUPPORTS HEALING, AWAKENING, AND EMBODIMENT

This process supports and invites in healing, awakening, and living from the awakening. And it does so without us having to use any of those words or even having that intention or aim.

All that’s required is a wish to notice and befriend contractions, notice its nature, and rest in that noticing and allowing it to transform me.

Emotional issues come from a stressful belief, identification with painful and unexamined stories, unloved parts of us, and so on.

If there is no noticing of what I am, it comes from holding stories as true, which in turn creates a sense of I and Other and fundamental separation.

If I don’t live from noticing what I am, it’s because I get caught up in unresolved emotional issues, beliefs, trauma, and so on.

And this process supports healing of all of that.

SHIFT FROM SEPARATION CONSCIOUSNESS TO ONENESS

The essence of this process is a shift in how I relate to the contraction.

When I operate from separation consciousness, I identify with the contraction (act on it) or react to it or both, and this creates struggle.

The befriending & waking up process helps shift out of this old pattern and into one that’s more aligned with oneness. It mimicks how I would relate to the contraction from noticing oneness, and it makes it easier to notice the oneness of it all.

ESSENTIAL AND INTIMATE PROCESS

For me, this is a very intimate process, and it goes to essence a wide range of spiritual practices.

When I look at the essence of other spiritual or healing practices, I find it’s typically something included in this befriending & waking up process.

It’s often about finding love for our experience. Examine stressful beliefs. Welcome what’s here. Notice what we are and the nature of our experiences. And so on.

And that’s what this process does in a simple, direct, and intimate way.

It doesn’t mean the other practices are not helpful. It just means that I have a simple and direct way of exploring it, and I can supplement it with any number of other practices.

Note: As I have mentioned in other posts, I have relatively strong brain fog these days (CFS) so these articles are often not as clear or well organized as I would have liked. A part of me wants to rewrite this to make it more clear and to the point, and another part of me knows that’s likely not to happen. So I decided to publish this version instead, with all its warts and imperfections. As someone said, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Or, in this case, the good-enough.

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His unresolved anger made me angry!

A while back, a friend told me how she had been chronically angry in a past relationship, and she eventually realized it was because of his unresolved anger.

Yes, that can happen, and it’s not the whole picture.

We pick up what’s going on in others, whether it’s on the surface or more hidden. We respond to it. And we may well respond to unresolved anger in someone else with our own anger.

For me, this is life inviting us to see and explore our own anger.

How do I relate to my own anger?

How would it be to befriend it? Invite it to wake up to its nature?

If I make genuine friends with my own anger, how do my relationships change? How does my relationship with angry people change?

In the case of my friend, how would her relationship have been different if she had found more resolution with her relationship with her own anger? Maybe the relationship would have ended, if the unresolved anger was a major tie or if he wasn’t able to change with her? Maybe he would have been able to shift his relationship with his own anger?

And, yes, I know it’s not always so easy. Sometimes, we have the space and availability to explore these things only long after a situation is over that brought our own issue up for us.

Note: How may it look if we genuinely befriend our anger? We’ll have an easier relationship with it. We are not caught up in fear about it. We trust we can relate to it in a more healthy and conscious manner. We allow ourselves to more consciously feel it. We may even allow ourselves to speak and act from it in some situations where it may be helpful, and use it as an energy to cut through certain situations. We continue to explore our relationship with it since there is always more to discover. We know our relationship with it still has unhealed parts and that we still have blindspots.

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Nowhere to go?

On the path of self-exploration, one of the basic insights is that there is nowhere to go.

What does it mean?

It’s something we each have to explore for ourselves.

The essence may be that to us, the world happens within and as what we are, so there is nowhere to go.

And this has a few different aspects.

TIME

In my own first-person experience, the three times – past, future, and present – happen here and now.

My images and stories of past and future, and any images and stories I have about specific past and futures, happen here and now.

I cannot find it anywhere else.

In terms of time, there is nowhere else to go.

SPACE

I find the same with space.

Whatever happens in my experience – of this human self or the wider world or anything else – happens within my sense fields. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

There is nowhere to go, because to me, whatever I am experiencing happens within and as what I am.

I CANNOT ESCAPE THIS EXPERIENCE

I cannot escape the experience I have here and now.

It’s already allwed and already here.

Whatever I do is too late. I cannot escape it. There is nowhere to go.

I CANNOT ESCAPE WHAT’S UNRESOLVED IN ME

Similarly, I cannot escape whatever is unresolved in me.

It’s here. Whether it’s dormant or activated, it colors my perception, choices, and life.

And life will activate it and bring it to the surface.

If it is unresolved, it’s here, colors my life, and will be activated.

There is nowhere to go.

PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES

I can recognize this, in an immediate and visceral way, through different forms of inquiry.

And it has a few practical consequences.

If there is nowhere to go, what does that mean?

For me, it mainly means to befriend what’s here. If there is nowhere to go, it doesn’t make sense to continue to actively fight with what’s here. It makes more sense, in the long run, to befriend it.

These days, I tend to do this by exploring contractions in me. A life situation may trigger a contraction. I notice where I feel it in the body and ground my attention in the sensations. I thank it for protecting me and stay with that thankfulness until I notice a good shift. I check for what universals it may need or want, and what lack it’s coming from, and notice my system giving it to this part of me and rest with it. I notice its nature, and rest in that noticing. I invite it to notice its own nature, and allow it to rest in that noticing.

This supports awakening (it helps the contraction to awaken to its nature). It supports healing. (Contractions are unhealed and unresolved parts of us.) And it supports living from awakening. (The more healed, the easier it is to live from noticing our nature in more situations.)

All of this fits with ordinary approaches to our experiences and life. If something needs to be taken care of, I take care of it. And if a contraction comes up in me, I can befriend it and help it recognize its own nature.

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The miracle of love

The miracle of love
Will take away your pain

– Eurythmics, the miracle of love

Yes, the miracle of love will take away your pain.

And this is the love we give the hurting parts of ourselves.

It’s the love we meet our own hurt with.

That’s the only love that can heal.

That’s the only love that can touch these parts of us.

We are the only one who is in the position to give this to us.

It may seem it’s the love from others that does this – whether it’s a person or divine – but that love only reminds us of our own love. When we receive that love, we give ourselves permission to love these hurting parts of ourselves.

Do you trust in God?

I was asked this question yesterday and couldn’t give an immediate answer.

As usual, it depends on a lot of things.

What do you mean by God?

What does it mean to trust God?

And what parts of me are you referring to?

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY GOD?

Do you mean life or all of existence?

Or do you mean a segment of all there is? Perhaps an image of a higher being? Light and love? Something wise and loving guiding our life? Something else?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TRUST GOD?

Does it mean to trust that everything, no matter what happens, is fundamentally OK?

That I can get what I ask for, or something better? (According to what definition?)

That something wise and loving is guiding my life or life in general?

WHAT PARTS OF ME ARE YOU REFERRING TO?

Do you mean my conscious view? (Which is just the tip of the iceberg, not always what I perceive and live from, and – in some ways – the least interesting.)

Do you mean all the different parts of me? (Some may trust life as it is, and many are likely caught up in fear and fearful stories and don’t trust life so much.)

A PRAGMATIC APPROACH

As usual, I tend to be overly sincere in trying to answer these questions, and a bit of a party pooper if you want a simple answer. Personally, I find these kinds of explorations more interesting.

I also like to take a pragmatic approach to these questions, so what’s the pragmatic approach here?

First, what do I mean by God? For me, it’s all of existence, life, what is as it is.

What do I mean by trust? A starting point may be to take it as trusting that life is OK as is.

How does it look to trust life? And how can I deepen into that trust?

HOW TO DEEPEN IN TRUST?

In my experience, parts of me don’t trust life when they are caught up in unloved fear and unexamined fearful stories. These are contractions that live their own life, perceive the world a particular way, and color how I – as a whole and as a human being in the world – perceive and live my life. They are always here coloring perceptions and decisions, and they are sometimes more obviously triggered – often by certain life situations and events.

So one answer is to find healing in my relationship to triggers in life and what’s triggered in me. Can I befriend the contractions in me? Get to know them? Give them what they want and need? Fulfill the sense of lack they are coming from? (This tends to happen naturally when I recognize what they need, the lack, and rest with it.)

What’s the unexamined stressful story (or stories) behind the contraction? What do I find if I examine this more in-depth and find what’s genuinely more true for me? (This may happen easily and naturally, and sometimes it helps to engage in a more structured inquiry.)

Can I recognize the nature of the contraction? What happens when I rest in that noticing? What happens when I invite the contraction to rest in noticing its own nature?

Exploring contractions & why the term is useful

These days, I mostly explore contractions – by making friends with them and rest in recognizing their nature.

Why? The simple and honest answer is that I am, for whatever reason, drawn to it.

Another answer is that it’s direct, intimate, simple, and effective. It draws on essential dynamics I am familiar with, including through a diverse set of practices. And it supports healing, awakening, and living from awakening.

A USEFUL TERM

I like the term contraction for several reasons.

Contraction seems an accurate description of what’s happening. It refers to a contraction in our system, which is reflected in our psyche (reactivity, defensiveness, etc.), body (muscle contractions), and perhaps even in the energy system.

For many, the word contraction has less baggage than related terms like emotional issue, trauma, hangup, and so on.

It’s direct and visceral. It’s often something we can find and connect with here and now, without too much difficulty.

It gets to what’s in the way of emotional and human healing, awakening, and living from awakening.

It captures more of the whole of what’s going on, while some other terms refer to aspects of the dynamic.

It doesn’t require any reference to healing or awakening.

SUPPORTS HEALING, AWAKENING, AND LIVING FROM AWAKENING

When we work with a contraction, we work on something that distracts us – and our system – from healing, awakening, and living from awakening.

Befriending contractions opens for healing as a human being. And resting in noticing its nature supports that healing, and also makes it easier for us to more consistently notice our nature in general and live from that noticing.

A contraction is a psychological issue. When contractions come up that we haven’t befriended, we tend to act on them or react to them, which means reinforcing the contraction. We tell ourselves its substantial, that the stressful story creating it is true, and so on. We get caught up in it, and go out of a more healthy way of responding and living. And if we generally notice our nature, we tend to “forget” that this contraction too has the same nature. We get distracted from noticing our nature and living from our nature.

SOME COMPONENTS OF CONTRACTIONS

Contractions in our system are expressed psychologically as reactivity, defensiveness, hangups, compulsions, persistent emotional states, and more. They are expressed as chronic or recurrent muscle contractions in our body. And if we work with energies, we may notice them as blocks in our energy system.

In a sense, contractions are created when we believe a thought. When we identify with the viewpoint of a thought. This creates a sense of I and Other, and a view and self that needs to be defended and protected. And that, in turn, creates a psychological, physical, and energetic contraction.

ONE WAY TO EXPLORE CONTRACTIONS

There are innumerable ways of working with contractions. Any healing modality that works, works with contractions. And anything that supports noticing what we are and living from it tends to directly or indirectly work with contractions.

These days, I am enjoying a simplified way of exploring my own contractions.

I notice the contraction – perhaps in the form of reactivity, stress, discomfort, defensiveness, compulsions, or similar.

This is a remedy for not noticing the contraction (!), and for getting caught up in it or in reactivity to it.

I notice the physical sensations making up the contraction. This helps “anchoring” my attention there, while also being aware of the other aspects of the contraction.

This is a remedy for getting caught up in the stressful stories related to the contraction, and getting caught up in reactivity.

I befriend it. I intentionally allow and welcome it, and notice it’s already allowed. (By life, mind, space.) I thank it for protecting me. I allow it to get as big as it wants. I rest with each of these as long as is needed for a shift to happen into genuinely welcome, thanking, and so on.

These are remedies for how we often respond to contractions – by wanting it to go away, seeing it as a problem, wanting to contain it, and so on.

I check out what it needs and wants. This comes from a sense of lack and is typically something essential and universal like love, safety, support, being seen, and so on. I do this by saying each word and noticing how the contraction responds. Does it relax? If so, I rest with it and allow it to receive what it needs. I do this for quite a while until I feel it has relaxed more deeply.

I notice its nature. I tend to first notice my own nature, perhaps with a dip into headless experiments or the big mind process. Then notice the nature of the contraction. And that its nature is my nature and the nature of everything in my world. I rest in this noticing until I notice a good shift. And then I invite the contraction to notice its own nature and rest in that noticing.

This is the simplified version, and there is a lot more to it depending on what seems helpful for the contraction in the moment. For instance, any contraction has a stressful belief within it creating and maintaining it, so I may find this belief and see if a more thorough inquiry into that belief is helpful. And when I notice the nature of the contraction, it seems that noticing and resting with the stillness and silence aspect of our / its nature is especially helpful.

I often explore contractions before falling asleep, if I wake up during the night, and after waking up in the morning. Sometimes, I take my time and go more in-depth. Other times, for instance in daily life situations, I just do the first two or three steps. I especially find “thank you for protecting me” helpful in shifting me out of getting caught in the contraction or in reacting to the contraction.

I find that this is an effective process, it’s intimate, and I can draw on a lot of what I am familiar with from having exploring these dynamics through a range of practices.

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Befriend & awaken contractions – a simplified version

I thought I would make a brief note of a simplified befriending & awakening process I find helpful these days.

  1. Contraction
    I notice a contraction. Any reactivity, tension, stress, defensiveness, and so on.
    I notice the physical sensations – where they are etc. – and ground my attention there while also being aware of any stories and images connected with it. (Any contraction is a mind-body contractions, it has mind and body components.)
  2. Allow and thanks
    I allow it as it is. Notice it’s already allowed as it is. (By mind, space, life.)
    I thank it for protecting me. I keep thanking it for protecting me for a while. (All contractions are here to protect me, to protect this human self and this imagined separate self.)
  3. What does it need?
    I try out a few universals to see what it needs and lacks. (Contractions all have needs, wants, and come from a sense of lack.) This may be love, safety, being seen, support, and so on.
    When I find one that resonates, I stay with it. I allow the contraction to receive it here and now. (Sometimes, it’s a combination of two or three, and I may do it first in series and then combined.)
  4. What is its nature?
    I can ask it: What is your nature?
    I notice my own nature – as capacity for all my experiences and the world as it appears to me now. I notice that the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as what I am. (What a thought may label consciousness, awakeness, space, and so on.)
    I notice that the nature of the contraction is the same, it’s part of the field. I rest in this noticing.
    I invite the contraction to notice its own nature, and rest in that noticing.

Although this is the simplified version I am drawn to right now, there are a lot more possible wrinkles and variations to this process. I may have a brief dialog with the contraction. I may notice the stressful story within the contraction needs more examination. It may lead me to other contractions. I may go back to situations early in life where I first remember experiencing a similar contraction. And so on.

I often do this with contractions up and activated right now. And sometimes, I go back in time and remember a contraction, connect with it here and now, and explore it. (It won’t be as strong, but it’s here in my system, and connecting with it is enough for this process to work.)

These days, I tend to do this before falling asleep at night, if I wake up at night, and after waking up in the morning. I may also do a briefer version during the day, for instance just thanking a contraction for protecting me if it comes up in a situation.

Dream: A black panther cub

I find and help a black panther (jaguar) cub, and we develop a deep bond. I adopt it and decide to be its protector. I realize the bond will only continue to deepen, and it will be painful when the panther grows to a size where I will have to let go and find another home for it. The jaguar has some white markings like a housecat. We are somewhere in the border zone of wilderness and civilization.

This dream echoes a strong childhood dream. I was in the jungle and had a very strong bond with a large adult black panther. We both deeply belonged to the jungle and each other.

In this dream, the jaguar is very young and I become its guardian. And I know we will part ways later.

Black panthers (jaguars), and large cats in general, have qualities I would like to get in touch with and develop a deeper bond with in myself. They are deeply in their bodies, gentle, fierce when needed, deeply belong to the place where they are, deeply in touch with their animal instincts and nature. There is a graceful primal power in large cats, and I especially associate it with black panthers.

In waking life, I love cats (and other animals), and had a strong bond with a black and white cat, with some of the same white markings as the cat in this dream.

Why a black panther and not another large cat? It lives in the jungle, which is lush and full of life. I associate blackness with depth, richness, and fertility.

Why is it so young? Perhaps this is a part of me I am starting to get in touch with (again) and develop a deeper connection with? Perhaps it is, in a sense, young and needs protection – or, at least, attention.

Why will I have to part ways with it? Because it will grow up and get too big and dangerous. Also, I live in civilization and it doesn’t fit or belong there.

Why on the edge zone of wilderness (jungle) and civilization? Because that’s where I metaphorically live.

Why this dream now? Perhaps because my partner is currently visiting a place in Latin America that is profoundly sacred and is infused with a deep, sensual, feminine, earthy sense of the divine. Last night, we talked about both visiting there soon and looking into possibly living there.

Also, in general, I am exploring befriending and awakening contractions, which helps me get in touch with this side of me.

What’s the main theme of the dream? What struck me the most was the anticipation of parting. I knew that the idea of having to part in the future came from what I have heard others say and convention. Perhaps we could find a way to be together? Perhaps I could live in the jungle? Perhaps I could live on the edge of the wilderness, and it could have its wilderness life, I could have my civilization life, and we could both have that edge existence together? There are other ways. It may be too wild for conventional civilization, but I don’t have to live that life. My calling may be different.

Update: Later the same morning, I went for a walk in the forest to spend more time with this jaguar. I imagined it growing up and we finding ways to stay together.

As we heard someone approaching us, the jaguar wanted to hide in the forest. This helped me see that my mind saw the jaguar as a physical flesh-and-blood jaguar with the same behavior as these. We then had a conversation about the jaguar not being a physical flesh-and-blood jaguar, so we didn’t have to follow conventions applying to the physical world. It’s a universal jaguar. It’s part of me. It can keep the helpful and primal characteristics of physical jaguars, and leave some of the ones less helpful – like running away when we meet other people.

Update 2: It’s a few days later and I thought I would add a few things. When I wrote this post, I searched for a photo of a black panther I could use, and that prompted YouTube to show me a video of a black panther. That video and that channel were, in many ways, the answer to the dilemma in the dream. The channel is about Luna the panther, which lives with a human, even if she is now adult.

Photo: Ron SInger

Our inner monsters need love too

I saw this and thought it was beautiful. Monsters need love too. Our inner monsters need and want our companionship, understanding, and love. They want to join in with the awakening.

How do I relate to my monsters?

I sometimes reject them. I pretend they are not here, I push them away, I distract myself from noticing them, I try to make them go away, I try to heal them with the intention of making them go away.

I sometimes become them and take on their role, views, and behavior.

And I sometimes relate to them more intentionally, typically through recognizing them as parts of me and as a contraction.

Usually, I do some or all of the following.

I notice the physical sensations of this contraction and ground my attention there.

I welcome them. I allow them to be as they are. (And notice they are already allowed to be as they are by mind, space, and life.)

I thank them for protecting me, and for their love for me.

I have a dialog with them and listen to what they have to say.

I explore their needs and wants. I explore the lack they come from. I see what I can give them that will be deeply satisfying for them. (Often love, acceptance, safety, support.)

I notice the stressful beliefs they operate from. If needed, I do an inquiry into those beliefs.

I notice their nature. (Same as the whole field of experience.) I rest in and as this noticing. I invite them to notice and rest this noticing.

Art: NanezillaNanezilla on Instagram

Contractions and dreams

I woke up this morning, having dreamt a man was about to kill me. The man was big, strong, heavily armed, and unyielding.

Obviously, that’s a part of me. It’s another part living from unloved fear and unexamined scary stories.

Unloved fear, unexamined stories, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, trauma, those are all names for the same dynamics.

Yet another name is contraction. This man in the dream is a contraction in me. A part of me that has contracted because of unloved fear, unexamined stories, and so on.

I can explore contractions showing up in dreams as I explore any other contraction.

After waking up, I took time with this man and the contraction he represents.

I noticed the physical sensations associated with him. (Very faint.)

I welcome the sensations and him. I notice all of it is already allowed, and join in with the allowing.

I allow it to get as big as it wants.

I thank it for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. (The contraction is here to protect me and comes from care for me, it’s confused love.)

I am curious about its needs and wants, and the lack it comes from. I give it love. Am a safe harbor for it. See it. Notice which one(s) resonates the most with the contraction.

I notice its nature and rest in that noticing.

I invite it to notice its own nature and rest in and as it.

Working with contractions: a puzzle where we find the shapes that fit

When we work more initmately with our contractions, it’s a kind of puzzle where we try out and find the right shapes.

I experience a contraction. I bring attention to the physical sensations of the contraction for grounding, while being aware of the images and stories connected with it.

From here, it’s really quite open. What holds the contraction in place, will be a little different for each contraction. And that means that the remedy, the puzzle piece that fits, will be a little different for each contraction.

At the same time, there are some universals, and it may be good to go through a set of universals to see what the contraction responds to and what’s needed.

A FEW UNIVERSAL REMEDIES TO TRY OUT

When there is a contraction, there is usually a part of me not welcoming it. The remedy here is to intentionally welcome it. To help shift into this, I can say to the contraction: You are welcome here.

A variation of this is that parts of me likely don’t want to allow the contraction. So here, I can intentionally allow it. And I can also notice that the contraction is already allowed. It’s allowed by mind, space, life, and I can more consciously align with the allowing that’s already here.

Parts of me likely wish to contain the contraction. So I can allow the contraction to uncontain itself. I can say to it: Get as big as you want.

Parts of me may see the contraction as a problem and up to no good. The remedy here is to recognize that it’s here to protect me, to protect the imagined separate self. It’s innocent. It’s a bit confused. It comes from care and love. It’s confused love. (This step may require some additional exploration first, unless we are very familiar with this terrain and have explored a lot of other contractions before and regularly found this.) To help connect with this, I can say: Thank you for protecting me.

Similarly, several parts of me may not genuinely love the contraction. When I see it’s innocent, here to protect me, and comes from love, it’s easier to find genuine love for the contraction. Thank you for your love for me.

The contraction has an unexamined stressful story. It’s created and maintained by one or a set of stressful stories. It can be helpful to identify and examine these, either in the moment or more thoroughly through structured inquiry.

The contraction has needs and wants, and comes from a sense of lack. What are those needs and wants? What is the lack it comes from? Can I give it to the contraction here and now? If it needs and lacks love, how is it to give it love? If it wants and lacks a sense of safety, how is it to be a safe harbour for it? If it wants and lacks a sense of acknowledgment and being seen, how is it to see it here and now?

Typically, there is a part of me that resists contractions. This part wants it to go away in any way possible, through distraction, pushing it away, trying to fix it, pretend it’s not there, and so on. This resistance is innocent, comes from unexamined and unloved fear, and is another contraction. So it makes sense to explore this contraction in the ways described above, and to do this relatively early in the process.

In general, it makes sense to check if I come from a contraction when I explore a contraction, and explore this contraction first.

Even if there is a general or global kind of recognition of our nature, I may not recognize the nature of the contraction. So how is it to recognize its nature? What happens if I notice its nature? What happens when I notice the different aspects of its nature? That it happens within and as what I am? That it’s part of the seamless whole of the field? That it has no real substance? That it happens within and as what a thought may label consciousness? That it is stillness and silence taking that particular form? That it is love taking that particular form? How is it to rest with and as this noticing?

Similarly, the contraction may not notice its own nature. How is it to invite it to notice its nature? How is it to invite it to rest in and as that noticing? What are you really? Do you know your nature? Do you know what you are made of?

EXPLORING AND FINDING EVEN MORE INTIMACY

Trying these and more out is like trying out puzzle pieces. Which one fits in this spot? And usually, it’s a set of different pieces.

There are also some orientations that are helpful here. For instance, sincerity, respect, curiosity, receptivity, playfulness, and a sense of adventrue.

It may also be that what worked in the past, doesn’t seem to work anymore. Perhaps life is asking us to become even more intimate? To explore a bit more closely? To find another angle that’s a bit different from what we are used to?

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Tuning the string of allowing and inviting in shifts

A traditional meditation instruction in Buddhism is to tune our attention as we would tune a string on a music instrument.

If it’s too lose, our attention wander, and if it’s too tight, we effort too much and the efforting itself becomes distracting.

This general instrument-string pointer applies to a lot of different practices.

I notice it these days in the dynamic between allowing contractions to be as it is, and inviting it to realign with reality.

I can rest in the allowing, and that in itself is healing in many ways. It helps me heal my relationship with the contraction and see it’s OK for it to be here, and it does help the contraction relax. And yet, if that’s all I do, not much more may change.

I can invite the contraction to align with reality (oneness, stillness and silence, love), and if that’s all I do, it can become a bit heavy handed. It can become, or come from, another contraction, which reinforces the whole contraction dynamic.

So it’s helpful to tune this string too, not too lose (onesided allowing) and not too tight (onesided encouragement to change).

When there is more clarity, both are here. I notice the contraction is already allowed, and consciously align with that allowing.

At the same time, I notice the distortions and confusion within the contraction, and in how I may have habitually related to it, I notice what’s more real and true, and I invite the contraction to align with reality, and also intend for it to align with reality.

In practice, I emphasize one more than the other, while both are here.

And in reality, all of this is a bit more messy and approximate, and an exploration, experiment, and learning.

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Dissolving into the field

This is one of my more common explorations, and also something I don’t write much about.

I notice myself as this field of experience, this field that has no end in space, that time happens within, and so on.

I notice what “sticks out” of this field. What seems more dense. What’s seems a bit like “other”. What’s perhaps not so easily recognized as having the same nature as the rest of the field.

I notice it’s nature, the same as the rest of the field. I rest in that noticing. I invite it, the contraction, to find itself as that, and rest and sink into that noticing.

This allows the contractions to, in a sense, “dissolve” into the field. They are more easily seen as having the same nature as anything else, and they relax and reorganize in that noticing.

As usual, there is more to say about it.

For instance, if it’s a strong contraction and one my system is used to struggling with, some earlier steps may be needed. I may need to befriend it before I can notice it’s nature and rest in that noticing. I may need to intentionally welcome it, allow it, see what it’s needs and wants are, notice the lack it’s coming from, give it what it needs and wants, see it’s innocence and is here to protect this separat self, find genuine love and appreciation for it, and so on.

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The different parts of us have real needs, and we are the one in position to give them what they need

We all have many subpersonalitites or parts, and these are often operating from a need, want, and sense of lack.

When we identify with them, we feel that we have those needs, wants, and lack, which is not wrong since these are parts of us.

We often try to fulfill the needs and wants through something in the wider world – love and acceptance from others, success and status, and so on. This is also not wrong, ahough it’s precarious and doesn’t really give these parts of what what they need and want. And it doesn’t resolve the sense of lack.

We are the only one in the position to really give these parts of us what they need and want, and help them find a deeper resolution for the sense of lack.

ONE WAY TO EXPLORE THIS

How do we find these parts of us, identify what they need, and give it to them? And how do we help them resolve the sense of lack?

Finding the contraction

I notice a sense of unease, a contraction, or a need, want, or sense or lack. I can also bring this up by reminding myself of a situation that triggered it in the past, or through words resonating with something less than peaceful in us – for instance, “I am alone”, “I won’t have what I need”, and so on.

This is how I find the contraction.

Noticing the physical sensations

Where do I feel it in my body? What are the physical sensations? How do I experience it? (How is it to find some curiosity about it?)

In this way, I anchor my attention in the bodily sensations, while still being aware of the mental images and words connected with it.

Allowing and welcoming

I can say: You are welcome here. Stay as long as you want. Get as big as you want.

I can also notice it’s already allowe – by life, mind, space. It’s already here. All I am doing is more consciously joining with that allowing.

This helps shift out of any habitual pattern of wanting to push it away.

Finding the need and want

I can ask: What do you want? What do you need? What would make you content?

I can also explore some of the triggering situations to find what it wants and needs.

And I can go through some of the universals – love, safety, acceptance, and so on – and see which one resonates and helps it relax.

Giving it what it needs and wants

I then give it what it wants and needs.

How is it to…. Give it love? Be a safe harbor for it? Welcome and allow it? Accept it as it is? Or whatever else it may want and need?

How is it to give it to it, as I would like to receive it? As I would give it to a frightened animal? A scared child?

Finding the lack

What’s behing the need and want? What’s the sense of lack?

What’s the story in that sense of lack? What’s the painful story?

What’s my first memory of feeling that? Of having that story?

Is it true? (We can also take this to a more thorough inquiry.)

Seeing it’s here to protect me

At some point in this process, perhaps here, I notice it’s here to protect me. It’s innocent. It’s often from a child’s view on the world. It was created to protect me.

This helps me welcome it more genuinely, and it also helps me find more genuine love for it, wish to be a safe harbor for it, and so on.

Finding its nature

I notice the nature of what I am. I find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me. I find myself as what my sense fields – including this human self, the contraction, and the wider world – happens within and as. I notice it’s seamless. I notice the inherent stillness and silence in it, and how that stillness and silence takes all these forms.

What’s the nature of the contraction? How is it to notice it? Rest in that noticing?

I can also ask the contraction: Do you know your nature?

I can allow the contraction notice it’s nature and unravel and rest in and as that noticing.

This part of the process can be supported by headless experiments (Headless Way, Douglas Harding) or a quick dip into the Big Mind process.

A NEW ORIENTATION

This process helps us find healing for our different human wounds, and it can also help us heal out of separation consciousness.

And the magic happens in doing it and exploring it. These are just pointers and medicines for specific conditions. What works for me may not be what works for you. And what works will change a bit with each process, and we’ll discover more as we keep exploring it.

It’s something we do here and now, whenever these suffering parts of us come up. (Or as soon as we have the opportunity.)

And over time, it becomes a new orientation and a new habit. It becomes a new way of being with ourselves and these facets of life. It becomes second nature, although it will always require some attention – especially when more ingrained suffering comes up.

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Full circle: back to what’s more simple and natural

During the initial awakening shift in my teens, everything was very clearly the divine (the label I put on it then). If a contraction came up – a belief, hangup, emotional issue – that too was recognized as the divine, the divine taking that particular form.

That shifted how I, as this field, related to it. And, in a sense, it allowed the contraction to notice itself as the divine, to unwind and to relax into and as it.

It’s very simple and natural. This happened long before I found books about spirituality or started any formal spiritual practice. It was the naive approach of the novice.

Some years later, I did get into spiritual practice. Tai chi and chigong were completely compatible with this, as was prayer (Christ meditation and heart prayer), and basic meditation. As time went on, I got more into different traditions and practices, and it all got more complex and complicated.

I lost trust in the initial naive, simple, and natural approach I had found early on in the awakening. None of the teachers or traditions seemed to speak about this very simple approach, and they instead said I should do all sorts of more complex practices, apparently often aimed at people operating more from separation consciousness.

I felt I lost my way, in a sense, and remember talking about it with friends. At the same time, I wanted to trust these teachers and that they knew what they were talking about.

My “mistake” in it all was to not trust what worked for me, and what seemed to obvious and so simple.

Of course, I learned a lot from all these practices. I got to investigate some of the dynamics of the mind more in detail. And I got to see that one of my hangups is to not trust myself, and instead just do what teachers and traditions say even if it doesn’t always make much sense to me. (And often still don’t, seen with the benefit of hindsight. It often seems as if they applied remedies and medicines without first checking that they are appropriate for the person and where they are in the process.)

Now, I seem to find back to the wonderful simplicity of the first years. Back then, the noticing of all as the divine (I mostly use different words now) was unavoidable. The noticing was turned up to 11. These days, it’s still easy to notice although it requires a little more intention.

I notice my nature – as what a thought may label capacity (for my field of experience), oneness, stillness & silence, love, or consciousness, or even the divine.

A contraction comes up, and I “anchor” my attention in the physical sensations of the contractions while being aware of the rest (the mental images and words).

I notice the nature of this contraction and see it’s the same as what I am. (It can’t be anything else since it’s happening within and as what I am.)

I rest with this noticing.

I invite the contraction to notice its own nature. I may even focus this through a simple question: Do you know what you are? Do you know what your nature is? Do you know what you are made of? How is it to notice your nature?

I allow that noticing to clarify, and the contraction to unravel and rest in and as that noticing.

It has a wonderful simplicity. It’s natural, intimate, and has a feeling of essence. It’s what many of the more complex practices seem to circle around.

Why don’t more teachers and traditions talk about this? Some do, of course, and the ones I know about are outside of any tradition. And some essential practices, like basic meditation (notice and allow), do invite and allow this noticing and natural transformation and unwinding. It’s rarely if ever talked about, but it’s what often happens.

In general, spiritual traditions seem more aimed at bringing people from strong separation consciousness to perhaps a little milder version of this, and generally not so much more. And that’s fine, of course. That’s their function, and it is helpful for many.

Note: I know this is not about a feeling. At the same time, when I do this again now and rest in and as it, there is often a sweet feeling. A feeling I remember from this time in my teens and twenties when I did this naturally. When it seemed the most obvious thing to do. (It’s even a bit blissful, although I typically don’t use those words since this is certainly not about bliss.)

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Waking up issues: medicines for a condition

In the process of healing from separation consciousness, we use medicines for particular conditions. We use pointers and approaches to help us unstick from stuck places.

We use certain medicines to heal from separation consciousness as a whole and in general, through noticing what we are and exploring how to live from it. The main medicine may be basic meditation combined with certain forms of inquiry, supported with a range of other practices (prayer, other forms of inquiry, heart-centered practices, and so on.)

And we use medicine to help different parts of us to join in with this general noticing, and helping them heal from the separation consciousness they operate from and are stuck in.

Even if we generally notice what we are, we likely still have parts of us operating from separation consciousness – parts that don’t notice their nature and are caught in painful beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, traumas, and so on.

I’ll here focus on the second part: awakening issues.

REMEDIES AND CONDITIONS

What are some of the conditions that keep parts of us operating from separation consciousness? And what are the remedies for these conditions?

I have gone into this more in detail in other articles, so will just give an overview here.

BEFRIENDING & ALLOWING TO RELAX

The first several ones help us befriend the issue, get to know it, allows it to relax, and make it easier for us to notice that it has the same nature as we do.

Rejecting and struggling with an issue holds it in place, so instead, we welcome it.

Instead of trying to make it go away, we allow it.

Instead of trying to contain it, we invite it to get as big as it wants.

Instead of getting caught up in the sensation-thought mix, we bring attention to the physical sensations.

Instead of avoiding or joining the stressful thoughts within it, we examine them.

Instead of secretly hating the issue, we find genuine love for it. We notice it is here to protect us, and typically was created early in life and from a child’s view on the world.

The issue has neediness and comes from a sense of lack, so instead of trying to feed it through other people and life situations, we directly give it what it needs (love, attention, safety, etc.).

Instead of getting caught up in resistance, we notice and examine the resistance. We may find we sometimes, without noticing, identify with and act on the scary stories within it. And we may find that behind the surface form of the resistance – distraction, frustration, anger, hopelessness – is unexamined and unloved fear. We meet it as another contraction and scared part of us.

NOTICING THE NATURE OF THE CONTRACTION, AND INVITING IT TO NOTICE THE SAME

And then a couple more directly about noticing the nature of the contraction, and inviting it to find it for itself.

Instead of distracting ourselves from noticing the nature of the contraction, we notice the nature of the contraction. We notice it has the same nature as we have – capacity, oneness, love, stillness and silence. We rest in this noticing.

The contraction doesn’t notice its own nature, so we invite it to notice its own nature. We allow it to notice and find peace and rest in it, and unravel and realign.

NOT JUST ISSUES

We can do this with any part of us, not just issues.

For instance, I have symptoms from the CFS (and possibly past Lyme), so I do the same with these symptoms. I notice the physical sensations. Welcome and allow them. Notice they have the same nature as me, and invite them to notice and rest in that noticing.

We can do this with any part of our body, energy system, or anything else.

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Why don’t more people and traditions talk about waking up issues?

When we find our own nature, it seems that one of the most natural things is to invite our issues to wake up.

WAKING UP ISSUES

I notice an issue in me, a contraction that has psychological, physical, and energetic components. I may notice the contraction in any of those areas: as a psychological contraction (defensiveness, reactivity, obsession, going into ideologies, etc.), as a physical contraction, or as an energetic contraction.

I notice it operates from separation consciousness. I may also notice that although I notice my own nature, and all of my experiences – in general – as having that nature, I may not notice that this contraction as having the same nature. I still struggle with it. I tend to join with it and identify with it, or I struggle against it.

The remedy here is to notice it has the same nature as me and everything in my experience, and to rest with and as this.

I may also notice that the contraction itself is not aware of its nature. It operates as if separation consciousness is all there is. So I invite the contraction to find its own nature. I notice its nature, have a gentle invitation for it to find it too and rest with it.

It can take some time, although there is movement. And typically within some minutes, there is a shift. I find it’s helpful to stay with it longer so it can deeper further. And sometimes, it’s good to revisit it, especially if it’s a deeper and more central issue.

There is also several other things we can do here to ease and support the process. Basically, we notice how the issue is kept in place and do the reverse. Instead of rejecting and struggling with it, we welcome it. Instead of trying to make it go away, we allow it. Instead of trying to contain it, we invite it to get as big as it wants. Instead of avoiding or joining the stressful thoughts within it, we examine them. Instead of secretly hating the issue, we find genuine love for it. Instead of getting caught up in the sensation-thought mix, we bring attention to the physical sensations. The issue has neediness and comes from a sense of lack, so instead of trying to feed it through other people and life situations, we can give it what it needs directly (love, attention, safety, etc.).

SEEMS NATURAL, SO WHY IS IT NOT TALKED ABOUT MORE?

This seems very natural, so why isn’t it talked about more?

It may be that some who discover who they are, don’t have a heavy issue load. They may have cleared much of it up through years of different types of spiritual practices, or they never had a very heavy load.

Many teachers and traditions may reserve these types of instructions and pointers for close students who clearly notice their nature. It may not be part of their public information.

Some traditions and teachers, for instance within Zen, may wait for the students to find it for themselves.

Some traditions and teachers may rely on the more standard practices – basic meditation, prayer, heart-centered practices, service and so on – to do the heavy lifting. They don’t see the need to emphasize this approach.

TODAY AND IN OUR CULTURE

Today, and in our culture, it may be different. We like to have it all out in the open. We like to give people any information, pointers, and tools they may need.

We also have access to tools and pointers that can give people a relatively quick access to noticing their true nature, and these are also out in the open. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, and so on.)

So we are seeing more transparency about this. More people are talking about this and exploring it for themselves.

Inviting contractions to find what they are / waking up issues

There is a simple and relatively direct way of inviting in healing. And that is to befriend our contractions, notice their nature, and invite them to notice their nature and rest in that noticing.

INVITING CONTRACTIONS TO FIND WHAT THEY ARE

What’s the essence of healing and awakening?

One answer is supporting our conscious view, and different parts of us, to align more with reality. That’s where real healing happens, and also where we notice what we are.

And one way to do this with parts of us is to invite contractions to find what they are. Contractions are created from separation consciousness and operate from separation consciousness. They are created and maintained by (painful) beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and trauma. (All words pointing to the same dynamic.)

THE PROCESS

These are some elements of the process, and some or all can be used at different parts of the process. They are not in a strict sequence. We may visit each of these several times in any one session.

ORIENTATION. Respect, allowing, welcoming, kindness, curiosity, patience.

CONTRACTION. I can explore any contraction already here, and I can use elements of the process to get to know it. I can notice the sensations, welcome it, invite it to notice what it is, ask it what it needs and wants. In this way, I get a sense of what it’s about, and there may be layers to this until I find something more essential.

I can also evoke a contraction, by reminding myself of a situation triggering it, or using words and sentences. For instance, I can remember a time I felt alone, and I can use the words “I am alone”.

SENSATIONS. Contractions consist of physical sensations and mental representations, and I find it helpful to ground the process by bringing attention to the physical sensations. Where in the body do I feel it? How are the sensations? I find some curiosity about it.

ALLOWING. Since my old tendency likely is to struggle with the contractions, I can intentionally do the reverse to shift out of this habit, create a new one, and allow the contraction some space.

I can notice it’s already allowed, by life, space, mind. I can notice the (endless) space it’s happening within. I can explore how it is to intentionally allow it to be as it is, and give it space to change in its own time and in its own way.

I can say to the contraction: You are welcome here. Make yourself as big as you want. Thank you for protecting me. (They are all here to protect me and the separate self.) I love you.

NEED/WANT: I can ask the contraction: What do you need and want? What would make you content and happy? This is usually something essential and universal we all need and want, at a human level.

I can also explore this more in detail, and ask: How does P. (me) relate to you? What would you like from him? What advice do you have for him?

INVITE TO FIND WHAT IT IS. I can then invite the contraction to find what it is. What are you really? Do you know what you are?

These contractions have the same nature as what I am. They are capacity for themselves, they are oneness, love, stillness and silence.

When they find themselves as this, they can rest in and as it. They can sink into what they are, rest, unravel, realign, and align with their own nature.

To do this, I first notice my own nature. I find myself as capacity for my experiences, as what my experiences happen within and as, as love, oneness, stillness and silence. And then, notice the nature of the contractions – same as mine, and I invite the contraction to find their own nature and sink into it.

RESISTANCE: In this process, there is likely some resistance. It’s good to notice and do this process with the resistance first. This is also a contraction, and meeting this first can, in itself, release a lot from the initial issue and contraction.

The resistance can be in the form of discomfort, anger, frustration, distractions, and so on. And the essence is typically fear. A natural and innocent fear, here to protect us and the separate self. It’s confused love.

FINDING WHAT THEY ARE

This is about finding what the contractions are in more than one sense.

We find what at a human level, y these contractions need and want. What do they need and want? What’s the sense of lack they come from? What do they need and want from me? (In this process, through how I meet them, they are given what they want, and that’s part of how they are able to relax.)

We find their nature, and help them find their nature – as capacity for themselves, oneness, love, stillness, and silence.

And yet another is to recognize their role in this human self. They were created to protect this human self, often from a child’s view of the world. They are an expression of confused love.

INTIMACY

This is a very intimate process, and it can be difficult at first since we are used to avoiding our uncomfortable experiences. We distract ourselves from them and go into stories as a distraction or some activity that distracts us. We try to make them go away. We try to fix them. And so on.

So it helps to either be familiar with more of the “training wheel” approaches that may be a bit more formal and clunky, but help us get a bit closer to what’s happening in us and approach it in a way that invites healing.

And it also helps to be guided through this, and also have a small community of others for support as we do it and in general. (That community could be just one other person.)

SUPPORTS DEEP HEALING

This simple and essential process supports deep healing.

It supports healing of how we relate to our contractions, our human self, and ultimately all of existence. We find a more welcoming, kind, and respectful way of meeting it, and recognize that its nature is – to us – the same as our own nature.

It supports healing of the different parts of our human self. These contractions can be called painful beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and trauma. And the real healing comes from meeting them in a more kind way, find the essence of what the contraction is about (a universal need and want), and inviting these contractions to find their nature and rest in and as it.

It supports healing out of our painful separation consciousness. We find our nature and the nature of these contractions, and allow our human self to rest in and as it, and realign with it.

It supports living from noticing what we are. These contractions inevitably color our perception and life in the world, whether they are triggered or not. And when they are triggered, we can get caught in them and perceive and act from separation consciousness. Finding healing for these parts of us allows us to more easily, and in more situations in life, live more from noticing what we are.

If we want to use those labels, we can say that this process supports healing, awakening, and embodiment.

PRACTICES MIMIC WHAT NATURALLY HAPPENS WHEN THE MIND IS CLEAR AND KIND

Most practices for healing and awakening mimic what naturally and organically happens when our mind is clear and kind. They come from someone noticing and becoming familiar with these processes and then setting them in system so they could more easily share them with others.

So they are, inevitably, a bit clunky and rigid. They are training wheels, useful for a while until we find a more natural and organic approach for ourselves.

What I outlined here, and many talk about, is an example of how it can look when we find a more natural, organic, and intimate process for ourselves. And it can be even simpler and more essential.

Some of the practices I am familiar with, and that have elements of this process, are: Chigong in working directly with energies. Basic meditation, in practicing noticing and allowing whatever comes up, including contractions. Process Work, in following in a more organic and playful way, what’s coming up and allowing it to show itself, guide us, and unravel. The Big Mind process, in finding what we are and dialoguing with the different parts of us. The Work of Byron Katie, in gently inquiring into stressful beliefs. The Living Inquiries, in exploring what these contractions really are.

And then two people: Pamela Wilson, in using a process very similar to this. And Amy Harwood, who reminded me of all of this through a recent course. She is intimately familiar with this process and very clear on the essence and how to support this process in others.

This is not something that belongs to any particular practice, tradition, person, or group of people. It’s inherent in all of us. It’s a natural way to heal, and even to heal out of separation consciousness.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

All our experiences – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are.

We can also say that we are, most fundamentally, consciousness, and all our experiences happen within and as consciousness.

When we find this, we also notice that our sense field is a seamless whole. What we label inside – in the sense of being our private experience, and outside – in the sense of our shared world, happen as parts of the same seamless field. Any sense of boundaries comes from our overlay of mental images and labels and holding these as more true than they are.

To us, the world is one. We find ourselves as oneness. And from finding oneness, there is naturally a love for it all that’s independent of feelings or states. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

Since all our experiences have the same nature, there is also inherently a stillness and silence as what we are. Everything is happening, and nothing is happening.

These contractions happen within and as consciousness, within and as what we are. They have the same nature as we do.

They were formed from separation consciousness, and operate from separation consciousness. They perceive and react from separation consciousness. And since they were often formed early in our life, they often operate the way a scared child sees the world.

There is nothing really magical in this process. It’s all pragmatic and understandable.

When we, as a whole, operate from separation consciousness, we tend to struggle with these contractions. We identify with some and take on their way of perceiving the world. We want to avoid others or try to fix them or make them go away. And this identification and struggle is a big part of what holds them in place.

So instead, we can notice them as objects (disidentification), and we can welcome and allow them.

We tend to either act on these contractions or react to them, without getting to know what they really are about. So we can get to know them. Listen to what they have to say. See what they are about. Get to know their needs and wants, and the sense of lack they operate from.

We tend to not give these contractions what they want. Again, we act on them or react to them, and that’s not giving them what they want. We may also try to get what they want from the world – from others, situations, positions, and so on. And that’s also not what they want. It’s too distant and it doesn’t last. We are the only one in the perfect position to give them what they want.

We often try to contain these contractions. By identifying with and acting on them, we make them contract further. And by reacting to them, we also make them contract further. The remedy here is to allow them as they are and allow them to take up as much space as they want and for as long as they want. That too helps them relax and soften.

Contractions are made up of sensations and stories, and we tend to get caught up in that mix of sensations and stories. The sensations lend a sense of substance and reality to the stories, and the stories give the sensations a meaning. So instead, we can focus on the physical sensations. We bring our attention out of the drama created when sensations and stories mix together. And we get to see that these are sensations in the body. Eventually, we get in a visceral way that the sensations, in themselves, don’t mean anything, and the stories, without the sensations, are stories.

Even if we notice our own nature, we may still react to our contractions as if they are real, solid, and scary. One remedy here is to notice that the nature of these contractions is the same as our own, and to rest in that noticing.

In a sense, these contractions operate the way they do because they too don’t notice their true nature. They themselves take their scary stories as true and the final word, and they take their form as all there is to them. By noticing their nature, and resting with them and that noticing, and by asking them what they are, we invite them to notice for themselves. We invite this part of our consciousness to notice for itself, find a deep rest there and unwind and realign within that noticing.

These are a lot of words to describe something far more simple.

MY OWN STORY

The essence of this process happened naturally following the initial awakening shift in my teens. It was generally effortless to recognize the nature of my experiences, and it was a period of flow.

Then, about ten years ago, I asked life (the divine) to show me what’s left in me. Show me what I haven’t seen yet. And within days, a huge amount of primal fear came up. This lasted at a very high level of intensity for about nine months, and at a generally less level for years.

It was so overwhelming for me that something in me shattered. Before this, meditation and intimacy with my experience was my refuge and what I enjoyed more than almost anything. And now, going inside in a very intimate way was difficult because what I met was this dread and terror.

I had to relearn all of this, in a sense. Or, perhaps more accurately, I had to learn what previously had been given to me and that I hadn’t really had to learn.

And that’s where the gifts here are for me. I get to experience how it is to flail and struggle with all of this. I get to learn how to relate to all of this in a more detailed and thorough way, including some of the steps in the process.

Note: I am writing this on my phone while at the cabin, so it’s not very well edited.

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