My neighbors the Pentecostals

My neighbors here in Norway are Pentecostals. It’s a Pentecostal meeting house with one or two caretakers living there, and they have a gathering in their garden as I write this.

A part of me likes to think I am somehow “better” or “more advanced” than them. They are there believing whatever they are told, and I am here doing these advanced practices. They are maybe at red or blue in Spiral Dynamics, I am perhaps at the integral level. And so on.

A few things stand out to me: (a) This part of me that likes to think I am somehow “better” does so to make me feel better about myself. It tries to compensate for feeling less than, which has been a part of me since early in life. (b) There is a lot more to life than what spirituality or practices we do, or where we happen to be on the Spiral Dynamics model. (c) I cannot know. I cannot know any of this. Any ideas about better or more advanced are just that, ideas. They are ideas made up by this feeble mind having lots of questions about the world, and those ideas are questions too.

I really don’t know anything about them. Some of them may be doing far more good practical things in the world than me. Some may help others far more than I do. Some ar likely far more kind than I am. Some are likely more wise in a practical sense than I am. Some are likely far more human and genuinely humble than I am. Some may have healed far more than I have. Some likely have far more open hearts than I do. This is very likely true.

I am not better than them. The idea of “better” is created by this human mind, it’s not inherent in reality. And if I were to have ideas about better and worse, many of them would likely be far better than me in many very important areas of life.

It’s a burden to have ideas about being better, just like it’s a burden to have ideas about being worse. It’s a burden because it’s not aligned with reality. It’s an idea invested with a sense of being true.

When I find what’s more true for me, it’s a relief.

It relieves me from having to remind myself about the ideas of being better and trying to prop those up and defend them. It relieves me from having to mentally put on a mask created by ideas to try to feel better about myself. It relieves me from the separation created by holding these ideas as reality itself.

It helps me see myself in them. It helps me see we are all fellow humans and fellow creatures that essentially want the same. It helps me find love for them.

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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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Food forests & revolution disguised as gardening

Over the last few months, we have been working to establish a food forest on our land in the Andes mountains. So far, it’s mostly close to the house, and it will likely expand in time and as we get more experience.

To me, food forests make a lot of sense. If I have a piece of land, I cannot see any reason not to establish a food forest. I would do the same even if I lived in another climate. (It would be different, of course, but it’s still fully possible to establish a nature garden that produces a good amount of food.)

THE HISTORY OF THE LAND

The land was owned by the same family for several generations and was used mainly for grazing (cows and goats) and small-scale food production (tobacco, yucca, etc.). Only the area close to the main pond has a relatively mature and healthy forest. The rest is eroded, has a young forest of pioneer trees, and/or has grass.

Before then, in pre-Columbian times, it was part of the land of the indigenous people in the area, the Guane. I am not exactly sure how they used it, but I assume they may have had a kind of food forest there. They may have cultivated food plants, likely mostly perennials, inside of the existing native forest.

THE TWO MAIN ZONES

The plan is to have a food forest in the area close to the houses, starting next to the houses and expanding out, and also to have a food forest along the main path through the land. This food forest will consist of native trees, bushes, and flowers to support the local ecosystem, and a variety of food-producing trees and plants to feed insects, birds, animals, and us, and to provide income in the future.

The rest of the land will be a kind of nature preserve, and an organization will plant a mix of native trees throughout the land over the next several months and years. (They sell the carbon credits to big international corporations, and our land gets to be reforested.)

OTHER THINGS WE ARE DOING

We are also doing other things to minimize our impact on the land and our life-support systems in general.

We are building using traditional techniques and local materials. These are rammed-earth buildings that stay cooler during the day and can last for centuries with a little maintenance.

We are in the process of setting up rainwater collection systems for watering the plants. We can get 1 liter for each millimeter of rain for each square meter of roof surface, so that adds up quickly.

We will install a solar power system. Since we are close to the equator, there is a lot of solar radiation, and it’s not more expensive than buying and installing a transformer which would be the alternative.

The big house that’s being built now will have a vermicomposting system. Inside the house is a regular flush toilet, the water goes to a worm composting bin where the solids stays and is eaten happily by worms, and the water continues and is deposited underground to nourish parts of the food forest. It’s a simple and low-maintenance system with a lot of benefits.

I will most likely replace the conventional flush toilet in the current small house with a compost toilet 10-15 meters away.

In addition, we are getting to know and create connections with neighbors and like-minded people in the region with similar projects. That’s crucial for several reasons, including sharing of knowledge and some material resources. For instance, we are right now buying high-quality compost from permaculture friends in the area. (After a while, we will have our own.)

WHY A FOOD FOREST?

For me, the question is more: Why not a food forest?

It just makes sense all around. It’s fun and rewarding. It provides habitat and food for insects, birds, and animals. It helps revitalize and feed the soil. It will provide food for us as well as income in the future. It takes a little effort in the beginning, but when it’s established, there is much less effort required and mostly just harvesting the rewards. It’s an example to others and may motivate others in the area to do the same.

PLANTING & HELPING THE SOIL

The area around the first small house has poor and compacted soil, so we are using a lot of mulch – combined with compost and some organic goat manure – to help it. The mulch helps retain moisture, and it also provides nutrients and microbes to the soil.

Since the soil is so compacted, it’s important to dig relatively large and deep holes for the trees and mix the soil with a good amount of compost and a little bit of manure. That helps retain moisture in the soil, it provides better drainage for the rainwater, it makes it easier for the roots to spread out, and it gives nutrients for the plants.

We also plant a lot of different things around these trees: peanuts, peas, flowers, vegetables, and so on. These provide more variety which helps keep pests and diseases at bay, the plants support each other, they help the soil, and the variety and liveliness is fun and enjoyable.

As you can see from the photos, we are just getting started, and the photos were taken well into the dry season so it’s not nearly as lush as it will be now that the rain has returned.

We are trying to plant as much as possible now at the beginning of the rain season, so they can get a good foothold while the rain is here. Some will likely need some watering during the dry season, but we are focusing on plants that will survive a period of drought once they are established and have deeper roots.

RAINWATER COLLECTION AND EROSION CONTROL

We are in an area that gets a lot of rain most of the year and has a dry period over a few months during the northern hemisphere winter.

Because of deforestation, rainwater runs off quickly and brings the soil with it. The erosion is worse along the ridge that goes across the land.

We are doing several things to slow down the water and help it absorb into the ground. The main project is to plant a large variety of native trees, bushes, and flowers. That takes time, so in the meantime, and in especially exposed areas, we are building dams using rocks found on the surface, and we are planting agave, mata ratón, and other plants that help keep the soil in place.

We are also channeling rainwater into a pond, and will – as mentioned above – collect rainwater from the roofs of the houses.

There is a dry river going through the land. With reforestation on our land, and hopefully also on the land higher up the side of the canyon, we may bring water back to this river.

THE LAYERS OF A FOOD FOREST

A food forest has several layers, just like a mature natural forest.

It has everything from tall to medium to small trees, bushes, flowers, and vines. This helps us make full use of the vertical space.

All of this vegetation and water – in the soil and the plants – also helps regulate the temperature. It changes the microclimate significantly, and this allows other species to grow and makes it more comfortable for us.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE & FOOD FORESTS

Many or most of the indigenous people in the Americas created food forests.

They planted food-producing plants in the forests to have better and more regular access to food.

When I am doing the same here, I feel a kind of kinship across times and cultures. We want much of the same. We want to work with nature. We want to support the native forest and our four-legged, winged and crawling relatives and friends. We want to provide for our own needs in a way that also enhances the life around us.

THE MANY BENEFITS OF A FOREST GARDEN

So there are many benefits to a food forest, or a forest garden as it’s also called.

It requires some work in the beginning – in terms of planning, gaining knowledge and experience, and planting and maintenance. As soon as it’s established, it’s largely self-maintaining and we can reap the rewards without much input.

It provides habitat – shelter & food – for a wide range of insects, birds, and animals, especially when native trees, bushes, and flowers are included.

It’s densely planted, and it makes use of horizontal and vertical space. It works in 3D.

The diversity reduces problems with insects and diseases.

It helps nourish and build healthy soil.

It’s a project that will provide enjoyment, food, and possibly income for decades and even centuries into the future.

It will provide income in the future. We can sell food, compost, seeds and seedlings, knowledge and experience, and so on.

It’s profoundly alive, lush, and productive.

It’s fun and deeply rewarding and meaningful, at least for me.

It nourishes the soil and the soul. What can be better than that?

It creates connections with like-minded people working on similar projects. It creates a community.

THE PROBLEMS WITH MONOCULTURES

This is in contrast to the many problems with conventional monocultures.

They are deserts. They don’t provide much of a habitat for insects, birds, or animals.

They rely on chemicals: Pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides are designed to kill insects, so that’s what they do, and it has led to a dramatic general loss of insects even far away from the growing areas. It’s ecocidal and suicidal. Chemical fertilizers require a lot of energy to produce.

They set the stage for pests and diseases. Having a big area of one plant allows pests and diseases to flourish, which then requires pesticides. Monocultures create a big problem and create another big problem by trying to fix it.

They require a lot of work each year. They often start from scratch each year.

They don’t build soil. Often, through disturbing the soil, laying the soil bare, and using a lot of space between each plant, there is a loss of valuable topsoil. (Which eventually goes into and pollutes the oceans.)

They are inefficient. They often use a big space between each plant, and they only make use of horizontal space.

They are boring. They don’t nourish the soil or the soul.

REVOLUTION DISGUISED AS GARDENING

Permaculture is sometimes called revolution disguised as gardening.

That’s how I feel about this project.

It’s profoundly subversive in the best possible way. It goes against so much of the destructiveness of our civilization (monocultures, pesticides, soil depletion, destruction of ecosystems) and provides an attractive and productive alternative.

Social anxiety & tonglen

I have some social anxiety, and I notice it’s stronger now than what’s usual. Maybe because I am more on my own these days (out of practice) and I am in Norway where I grew up. (I am reminded of situations that my system responded to by creating social anxiety in order to protect me.)

I find that doing tonglen – for others and myself – helps me a lot. I do it with specific groups and locations where I experience social anxiety, and then expand it to all of humanity and all beings. (If I visualize a group, I often include myself in the group.)

It’s a new discovery each time, even if I know I have discovered it many times before.

It feels new and it is new since the other times only exist in my mental images, in imagination a thought may call memory.

Thank you to my body

I started with the basic Taoist inner yoga practices again, including the inner smile. These were important for me in my late teens and early twenties and may have been one reason I got much better from CFS during that time.

When I do the inner smile these days, I notice that it naturally moves to saying thank you to my body. Thank you to my body as a whole, to the cells, mitochondria, the organs one at a time, and so on.

Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for your work. Thank you for keeping me alive. Thank you for doing your best. Thank you for your love and care for me.

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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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Awake without knowing it

I was at a Buddhist center1 in Oslo yesterday for meditation. A couple of times, I looked at the energy field of some of the people there2.

The teacher’s system was somewhere between awake and not awake. There was a lot of awakeness around and near the body, and it faded out further away from the body3.

I also looked at the field of a young woman who happened to sit in front of me. Her energy field was much more mellow and the whole field, going far out from the body, was awake. It seemed to be awake without being consciously aware it was awake. She was new to meditation, as she said and as the mellowness showed. At the same time, there seemed to be a natural low-grade awakeness going infinitely far out.

I assume she may not be consciously aware of it as that or have a label for it. It may just be the water she swims in, and it’s likely also why she is drawn to meditation and Buddhism. It may be familiar to her since it’s about what she is already – to some extent – living4.

There is a caveat here and that is that it can be tricky to isolate the energy field of different people when there are several in the room (it is possible to focus on the energy field at particular locations in space, as we do with physical objects), and there is an enhancement of the energies from meditation.

NOTES

(1) It’s a new place for me and I love being a complete beginner there.

(2) Since my teens, I have – for whatever reason – been able to see and sense energies. What’s most easy for me to see is the degree of awakeness in a system.

I remember one time at the center in Oregon (CSS) where a student was promoted to teacher because he had an awakening shift. (That change in role is, in itself, questionable. It takes a lot more to be a good and responsible teacher.) I could see in his system that, yes, there had been an awakening glimpse or shift, but it was unstable and not very thorough. A few weeks later, the main teacher announced that this student would step back from a teaching role since the awakening wasn’t as stable as they had thought.

(3) The lack of awareness through her whole system doesn’t prevent her from being a good and capable teacher. She seemed to be doing a very good job.

(4) It’s the first time I have noticed this so it was new and also seemed very familiar to me. I wonder if more young people are like that today? Maybe not. In the past, she would likely “just” be seen as a kind-hearted person in the community. Today, with meditation being more available, she can more easily find a kind of fellowship. She may even develop it further if there is a drive to it, although if she doesn’t that’s fine too.

The notes are longer than the actual article today. It’s because I wanted to keep the main story simple, and also realized I wanted to add a few more details.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Daily life decision-making

It’s Wednesday morning. In Norway, they have movies at half price in the early afternoon on Wednesdays1, and I did consider going today. It’s only a five-minute walk.

How do I decide whether to go or not?

If there is a movie I really want to see and I have the schedule open, I usually go. An easy decision was, for instance, Asteroid City last summer.

This time, I checked the movies with the pendulum last night. (I just use my fingers as if I hold a pendulum.) The five movies all got between six and seven out of ten. Usually, I don’t do something unless it’s eight or higher.

This morning, I still wasn’t quite sure so I used another test. I tell myself: I can do it if I want, and I want to do it. And then: I can do it if I want and I don’t want to do it. For each of these, I check in with the response in my body. My body felt alive and excited with the second, and less so with the first.

The combined pendulum and the “I can do it if I want” test made the decision easy. I decided not to go. So far, I am content with the decision. The upside is that I get to do a few more things at home and my body gets more rest so it can recharge more.

Of course, this is a trivial example. It likely doesn’t matter much whether I go or not. But it is an example of decision-making, and that’s important.

NOTES

(1) It’s mainly for retired people although it’s open to anyone. It’s the only time I go to see movies in the movie theater since most of the people going are older and quiet. Other times, there is often too much talking and noisy eating of popcorn and sweets. The distractions make it not worth it.

The image is from Asteroid City

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The timing of drinking and eating

For me, the timing of drinking and eating seems to make a big difference.

I drink a lot of water – usually in the form of herbal and spice infusions – in the morning and early afternoon, and then taper off. I usually don’t drink much in the evening. This helps me avoid waking up to have to go to the bathroom. My general aim is to have pale to clear urine, which is an indication that I have been drinking enough. (I notice I feel and function much better when I have enough to drink.)

Similarly, I mostly eat during the third of the day between morning and mid to late afternoon. When I wake up, I usually have herbal infusion first and maybe some fruit, followed by breakfast one or two hours later. The main meal is around mid-day or early afternoon. I may have something light later in the afternoon. And that’s about it. That feels natural and in rhythm with my body. It means that I don’t eat, or occasionally eat something small like a fruit, around two-thirds of the time.

Of course, none of this is fixed. It depends on what my body seems to need and the situation, but this is how it generally looks.

I know a lot of people and traditions have ideas about this. For me, it’s more important to explore, see how my system responds, go with what seems to work the best and keep exploring since that may and will change with situations and over time.

I can add a few things: If I don’t drink enough water, my system feels contracted and can get grumpy. I usually eat low on the food chain since that feels better in my body. (Even as a child, I generally didn’t like meat very much.) I mix up and vary the herbal teas I drink so it’s not the same all the time. When it comes to food, I don’t eat more than I need and try to leave 1/4 to 1/3 space in my stomach. Although all of this is how it generally looks, I also don’t follow any fixed rules. I follow what my body seems to need in the moment and what makes sense in the situation. Sometimes, it’s also good to go against the common pattern.

Image by me and Midjourney. I like those teacups even if they are not the types I usually use!

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Be it & what happens when I notice I already am this field of experience

When I wake up these days, there is a lot of discomfort in my system. I suspect it has to do with having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have had this experience in the morning to varying degrees for decades now. I don’t feel at all refreshed when waking up, the body feels full of toxins, the brain fog is strong, and so on. That’s all quite typical for CFS.

A helpful reminder for myself is to be it.

ALREADY HERE

It’s simple, and in some ways, it’s obvious and inevitable. I already am my whole field of experience. It cannot be any other way. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it.

HELPS SOMETHING SHIFT

At the same time, the reminder is useful. When the noticing is a little more intentional and has a little more energy, something shifts. It shifts how I relate to what’s here, and that makes all the difference.

My old separation conditioning is to try to avoid an unpleasant experience that’s already here. I try to separate myself from it, in whatever way seems to work the best, which is usually some variation of distraction, compulsion, and so on. This is still in my system, so it helps to notice I already am all of it since it goes against this conditioning. It’s an antidote. It creates another pattern, another conditioning that’s a little more aligned with reality.

It does not necessarily shift the content of what’s here, and it doesn’t have to.

As usual, there is a lot more to say about this.

CAN STILL EXPLORE WHAT’S BEHIND THE DISCOMFORT

It can also be useful to explore the content of experience.

The discomfort may come from going against my inner guidance or knowing, or from not taking care of myself and my life in a situation where the kind and wise thing would be to do so. In that case, it’s good to notice and see if I can find a way to follow and act on my guidance. At the very least, I would be more in integrity which gives a kind of peace in itself.

If there is anxiety, depression, compulsion, or something similar here, it’s worth exploring these experiences and what may be behind them. For instance, what stressful beliefs do I have? What’s more true for me?

In the case of CFS and waking up with this discomfort, I know that some supplements and herbs can help, for instance, magnesium, so I can take that and see what happens.

AMPLIFYING IT

As mentioned, we – or parts of us – can seek separation from discomfort. We can notice we already are it and rest in and as that noticing. And there is a third way.

We can intentionally amplify the discomfort. Make it stronger for 2-3 seconds, then release and relax. Repeat after a few seconds. Notice what happens.

When I do this, I notice that how I relate to the experience shifts. There is less struggle.

This too goes against the old pattern of seeking separation and creates a new pattern of less struggle.

IN MY CASE

Although there was a oneness shift in my teens and I have explored it since, there are still many parts of me that are not quite on board with it. They still live in and operate from separation consciousness.

That’s why noticing I already AM it is helpful. It’s a reminder of what’s already here, and noticing and living from it goes against old patterns.

In addition to this, I have done a lot of inquiry on many aspects of this, from exploring stressful beliefs (which are also identities) to exploring how the discomfort and the reaction to it show up in the sense fields, to dialog with these parts of me, to how it all is here to protect me and was created early in life for that purpose.

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Getting closer to 10,000 articles

This website is coming up to 10,000 articles. There are 9,374 published articles. 4,4476 unpublished articles of various stages of completion from finished to notes. And about 100 “collection” posts with perhaps 10-20 shorter articles in each. Including the shorter articles, it’s very approximately 10,000 published articles. (The first post was in 2002. On average, that’s about 850 published regular articles each year or 2.3 articles per day. Of course, quantity is not quality!)

For some years, I wrote about three articles a day. That has slowed down over the last several years. I write when the “spirit” comes over me, when I am unable to not write something. I write mostly just to get it out. (I used to write about these things in my old fashioned paper journals, and decided to write it here instead in case others would find some of it interesting, useful, entertaining, or even annoying which is also useful in its own way.)

Although I have experience with what I write about, I am far from an expert in any of it. There are always others with more experience, clarity, maturity, and so on. Personally, I love the reports of “ordinary” people, including when they share from their healing, awakening, and maturing process.

So why not share some of my process here? Not because it’s special or from an expert, but because it’s ordinary. It’s one person’s story and journey.

What will unfold on this website in the future? I am watching it unfold as anyone else.

Beloved friend and companion Merlina

Our beloved Merlina died this morning. We loved her deeply. We loved each other.

A lot of things come up around this.

It happened very suddenly, and in a very unexpected way, so it feels like a dream. It doesn’t feel real. It can’t be true.

How will life be without her? She was such a center in our lives. It feels like having lost a best friend and daughter.

Billions of people and beings of all species have experienced this. We all lost someone we love. It’s a deeply personal and profoundly universal experience.

She would want us to have a good life. She would want the best for us.

When we tuned in with her after she died, she felt happy. A little later, very curious about this new existence for her. We feel her as whole, curious, content, and in transition.

We buried her next to the terrace where Ale does yoga in the mornings. Merlina was always there with us when we were there, often looking at the birds. The three of us were together there yesterday morning.

Over the last few days, Ale and I both had images come up. I saw myself posting on social media that she had died. I saw us here without her and the emptiness without her.

Two or three days ago, Ale said “I don’t know what I would do without her” and I responded “she will be gone one day, so you may take the opportunity now to find some peace with.”

I feel raw and naked. I want to reach out to friends I haven’t been in touch with for a while. These experiences show me what’s important in life.

I have a sense that I will lose more in my life in the time ahead. My parents are old. My brother is quite a bit older than me. How can I find a good life with all the losses? Can I find deep gratitude? Aliveness? Can I get my visceral priorities more in line with what’s actually important?

I know the grief will come in waves. I know it will be mixed with a lot of emotions and images – gratitude, sadness, guilt, what ifs, and more.

She had a long and good life. Ale adopted her when she was just a few months old and very sick, and helped her back to health. She was thirteen years old but everyone thought she was just a few years old.

When we brought her to Finca Milagros, she was scared at first with the new environment and all the smells and animals here. The last few weeks, she got more and more comfortable. She climbed trees. She found several ways up and down from the roof. She would come with us when we did things outside. She would go for walks with us on the land. She loved to watch birds and didn’t try to catch them. Yesterday, I mentioned how happy she seemed to be here. She seemed comfortable and content. We had our own little paradise together.

The three of us, and maybe especially Ale and I, have had lots of challenges over the last few years. Finally, it started feeling like things were falling a bit more in place. We have found solutions to things we were not happy about. We have our own place. We have dreams and visions for this place. We resolved some things between us, even if we still have challenges. We had a small and good family. Then, these things happen out of the blue, as they do.

That seems to be a pattern in my life. Just as something seems to fall into place, something happens.

I know everything thinks their non-human companion is special, but Merlina really was special. She was a profoundly good friend. She was deeply in tune with us. She understood what we said to her. She was kind and unusually intelligent. If there was friction between Ale and me, she would meow and show her unhappiness about it and give us love to encourage us to find a better way to be together. She had pure love and we had pure love for her.

Yesterday, she followed me around everywhere I went.

I also notice something about my heart. During the initial awakening process in my teens and early twenties, my heart was open. It was completely open and nothing seemed to be able to lose it. Then, with a lot of challenges in my life and feeling deeply off track, it gradually closed. These days, it takes strong experiences to open my heart – like this, or the experience with Amma some weeks ago, or being very close to dying the summer two years ago.

UPDATE SAME DAY

It’s now later in the day. I am profoundly grateful for the time we had together. I also see even more how deeply I loved her, and how much she likely loved me. As Ale said: “You were one”. Everything brings up memories of her. I experience a deep grief.

One of my core issues is to feel unlovable, and yet, that seems to apply to humans. Something in me doesn’t trust that another human can love me. And if they do, it’s just until they discover whatever it is that makes me unlovable. That doesn’t seem to apply to non-humans. I deeply experienced and trusted that Merlina loved me. She showed it throughout the day. I never felt alone when I was with her. My life felt full when I was with her. Now that she is gone, a deep sense of aloneness is coming up, even if I am with Ale. My life doesn’t feel as full. I feel incomplete.

I notice an impulse in me to seek community. The Zen Center in The Netherlands. Vækstsenteret in Denmark. Findhorn. If this impulse comes up when I have a great loss in my life, when I feel more raw and my heart is more open, maybe that’s something I should take more seriously. Maybe I should do it anyway. I profoundly loved my time at Kanzen Zen Center in Salt Lake City in the ’90s. I enjoyed living in a conscious and intentional housing co-op. I loved living in monasteries in Nepal. Since I discovered Jes Bertelsen and Vækstsenteret in the late ’80s, I have never felt as much resonance with anything else and I loved visiting that one time in the early ’90s. Why didn’t I go there? Why did I live in other places doing other things while feeling somewhat adrift?

I seem to experience emotions and states “globally”. For me, it’s as if the whole world is grief. Nothing is not grief. I can still function relatively normally. (Although we both canceled our appointments today.) But I am living in and as it while I can still relate to it as an object. I guess it’s both at the same time – all is grief, and I can relate to it more intentionally.

On that topic, I also notice it helps to notice I am grief when grief is here. I am whatever is in experience. It’s easier to be it than see it as something other than what I am.

UPDATE NEXT DAY

We notice there seem to be more birds around the house now. Maybe they sense she is no longer here. When we came back to the house yesterday morning, a bird was sitting on a pole in the terrace. We have not seen that before.

I didn’t sleep much last night. A lot of grief and tears, and it feels empty in and around the house. She was so full of life, curiosity, and a pure kind of love. Now, we have to find it in ourselves more and – hopefully – give it to each other more.

We can be as invested and in love with non-human beings as we can with humans. It’s easier, in some ways, since the love is more pure and less mixed up with our human (thought-created) messiness. The grief can be as strong.

She used to be with us in whatever we did. Sitting on our lap or another chair, being with Ale when she did yoga on the terrace, taking a nap on the bed or – if it was hot – on the floor next to the bed, coming with us when we were in the garden, and sometimes even going for walks with us up the hill. We would give her ghee in the morning, and she would ask for it if she thought it took too long.

UPDATE THREE DAYS LATER

What comes together falls apart. That’s how this world is. That’s how existence is. It’s not wrong. It’s not a mistake. It’s what allows anything to be at all. It’s what creates space for something new.

I wonder if not this grief – and allowing it and being what comes up – heals past grief. It heals parts of past grief that weren’t fully felt, allowed, and expressed. It helps clean up things from the past. We don’t just grieve one thing, we grieve everything.

I suspect this includes grief over my own unlived life. Grief over the lost dreams. Grief over what didn’t happen.

This has also helped me notice that my heart is not as open as it can be, as it used to be. It is more closed down. I have done heart-centered practices to help it open again. (Tonglen, Ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer.)

Grief comes in waves and has different flavors. When I can be it, when I notice I am it, it’s easier.

It rained this morning. She loved rain. She loved watching it.

I am reminded of all the rituals we had. She would be with Ale on the terrace in the mornings when Ale did yoga. She would wait for me outside of the bathroom door. She would snuggle with us in the morning. She slept at the end of the bed on Ale’s side. (Ale is shorter.) She asked for ghee in the morning when we made breakfast. She slept on the table when I worked on the computer. She came with us when we went out in the garden. She would meow if we walked further away, and she would come if we invited her to come with us. She would sit outside looking at everything at dusk. She would come and greet visitors. (Or hide if they seemed scary, mostly with workers and people we didn’t know.) She would take a nap in the afternoon, either on the bed or – if it was hot – on the cooler floor next to the bed. If I took a nap, she loved to come to take a nap with me.

She wanted Ale and me to be good together. If there was a conflict between us, Merlina would come and meow and look me in my eyes for a long time. When I connect with her now, the only thing she wants is for us to be good together.

UPDATE A FEW DAYS LATER

I seem to largely rest in the reality of not knowing in this situation. For whatever reason, my system seems to fall into a visceral noticing that I AM this experience – of grief and pain and love and more. It seems that it allows the mind to settle. (All of this can change, of course.)

I also remember that in times when it’s been more difficult to notice this, the mind is more unsettled and wants answers. It seeks an explanation. It seeks comfort in knowing. Why did it happen? Where is she now? Will I ever meet her again? Will she reincarnate? Is my sensing about her accurate? Is it wishful (or fearful) imagination? All of that is painful mental gymnastics since there are no final or absolute answers. There is nowhere for the mind to settle. It’s all stories and imaginations. I cannot know for certain.

The only place to find rest is in noticing that I AM what’s here. I am this experience. I am taking the form of this experience. There is a fullness here, a wholeness. It’s a return to a home that never went away, and it’s a home that I, in my imagination, have left many times.

The photo is of Ale and Merlina at the terrace not long ago

A day at Finca Milagros

This is a record of a relatively typical day at Finca Milagros:

I slept in the hammock under the trees and the stars, woke up at sunrise, and had breakfast. (Hot chocolate and oatmeal with fruits and local jam.)

Two people who have a rain gutter business came around 6:30am, looked at the roof, talked with us, and we made an agreement for what type of gutter and the price. They’ll have it ready by mid-February.

We will also install one or two tanks to collect the rainwater. The roof is a little less than 100m2 which means that each millimeter of rain will give us 100 liters of water. A good rain may give us 5cm which means 5,000 liters of water1. We may have at least one 15,000-liter tank to collect the water, maybe more.

Just after 7am, José brought Spanish plum trees from his farm and planted them here for us. (Arbol de cocotas / jocota / Spanish plum / Jamaican plum / spondias purpurea.) He showed us how to plant them at an angle so they shade themselves from the sun. He is one of the workers on Roberto’s house up the hill (the father of my wife) and has helped us with a few other projects.

At 9am, Moncho the carpenter came. (Who we already know since this is a small community.) He looked at the doors and windows, and we made a list of several things for him to fix and improve. He’ll come next week to do the work.

Later in the morning, we planted a diversity of seeds and seedlings in a couple of areas close to the house. We added a lot of mulch to help keep the moisture in the ground. I also put some spiny branches on the stone fence so the neighbor’s cows won’t get to a papaya plant growing too close to the fence.

I contacted several neighbors for advice about the size of the rainwater tanks. I also contacted several people about sources for native flowering bushes and trees since we want more of those close to the house. (The local nurseries don’t have many native plants.)

I was in conversation with the architect about the rainwater collection for Roberto’s house (Ale’s father). We’ll likely use two tanks and place them close to the swimming pool. The roof area is a little over 200m2 which means that 1mm of rain gives 200 liters of water. That also means that a couple of days of good rain will give at least 20,000 liters of water. We may use two tanks of at least 15,000 liters each to collect the water. I am thinking that we actually need more since we need to store water for the dry season.

We also talked about the possible swimming pool, and especially the size. We decided on 11×2.5 meters for now, although it may change. (I wonder if we just need a cooling pool and can use the local public swimming pool for actual swimming. It seems a better use of resources, but I don’t know and I am not the only one making the decisions here.)

I called a friend of mine for her birthday. I know her from Oregon and she is now in Sweden at a weawing school.

I took a nap (siesta) in the afternoon with Merlina, who also takes a nap in the early afternoon.

At 5pm, my wife’s uncle and aunt came to visit. They went for a short walk to look at Roberto’s house that’s being built up the hill and see the sunset over the canyon. We then had a delicious dinner with wine outside.

I should mention that it sounds like I am doing a lot here. That’s not the case. I had all the info ready for the rain gutter people and the carpenter so they knew the situation and what to do. The online communications were brief and to the point. The seed planting took only a few minutes. I left the sunset walk to my wife and her uncle and aunt. I rested throughout and most of the day. I would love to do a lot more and have a long list of things I want to do, but I have to limit my activities to the essentials and rest most of the time for health reasons.

(1) I updated the calculations a few days later based on a good rain that gave us 5cm of water. I initially used a lower estimate.

The image is the view from the hammock during the day. At night, the sky is filled with stars.

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Back to something very human

I am grateful for life bringing me into something very human and out of spiritual ideals and fantasies and what I can do when I feel better 

This was the last item I wrote for my all-inclusive gratitude list today.

I am not feeling very well these days, likely due to a CFS-related crash about three weeks ago. I haven’t been able to recover, and I keep having mini-crashes. My body feels uncomfortable. My energy system disorganized. It’s bringing up underlying anxiety, emotional issues, and traumas. I don’t always deal with it gracefully. I don’t sleep very well. I am unable to function very well in daily life. I can’t think very clearly. I can’t do most of the things on my (simple) to-do list. I haven’t been following up on conversations. And so on.

Life is bringing me back into something very human. A part of me doesn’t like it at all and would like to just continue as I do when I feel a little better and have more resources. A part of me is genuinely grateful for it.

It’s like a mini version of one type of dark night, the one that brings us back into our human messiness and out of spiritual ideals and personas and how we are when we have more resources. The one I have been living for the good part of the last 10-15 years. A part of me feels I am failing even that: failing to become more thoroughly human with messiness and all which seems it would be the easiest of all but is not when we use personas and ideals to try to find safety.

It also helps me notice something very basic: When I identify with just one part and one perspective within this field of experience, it’s uncomfortable. It’s struggle. It’s discomfort. When I allow it all – when I consciously align with what already allows it all – it’s easier. As Leonard Cohen said, if you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick all the time.

Image by me and Midjourney. I am sleeping in a hammock under a tree and a dark starry sky these days, so that view is with me and connected with shifting into allowing it all, and really just noticing that my nature already allows it all.

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Viscerally getting others as consciousness

In a very general way, how we perceive ourselves is how we see others.

If I perceive myself as primarily consciousness, I tend to perceive others as primarily consciousness. I tend to see others as consciousness and the world, to them, as happening within and as that consciousness. We are all primarily subjects and a world to ourselves. (We subjectify.)

If I perceive myself as fundamentally this human self, or anything else within the content of experience, I tend to perceive others as fundamentally the same. We are all objects within the world. (We objectify.)

TRANSFORMING OURSELVES

As usual, it’s that simple, and also not.

One question is: How can I deepen into noticing my nature? How can I deepen into living from and as it? How can I invite more of me – this bodymind and psyche – to be more onboard with it? How do I relate to this whole process?

The other question is: How can I deepen into imagining others as consciousness? How can I allow that to work on me and transform this bodymind and life?

Both of these are ongoing explorations. There is no finishing line. (As far as I can tell.)

And there is a difference between these two. The first recognition is an immediate noticing. The second requires some intention and imagination.

HOW THIS IS FOR ME

I have written more about this below, in another version of this article.

This is an ongoing exploration for me, and it makes a huge difference in how I perceive and relate to other beings.

Here at Finca Milagros, I see any living being as consciousness and a world to themselves. To themselves, they are consciousness just like me. The only difference is the particular body and nervous system they operate through and as.

That gives me a natural reverence for all life. If I kill one of them – inadvertently or intentionally – I snuff out a whole universe. I snuff out their particular universe.

That’s not something I take lightly.

That’s one side of it. The other side is that this bodymind was formed within separation consciousness as is the case for most of us. It has a lot of hangups, wounds, and traumas, as many of us do. And all of that also color how I perceive and live in the world. I eat some meat. I sometimes get scared, angry, and reactive. I sometimes feel exhausted and care less. And so on. That’s part of the process too.

Images by me and Midjourney.

This is a simplified version of a longer article. See below for the first version of this article which gives more details.

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Talking with the ants

Here at Finca Milagros, we have a lot of ants.

It’s wonderful. There are several different species of different sizes, from big to tiny, and they are a very important part of this ecosystem. They clean up dead animals and dead and dying plant parts. They bring nutrients into the soil. They are essential to clean-up and soil health, which is vital for the whole ecosystem.

When we first moved in here, we had ants in the house. They loved to clean up every little crumb or tiny piece of food they could find. We aimed to keep everything clean and put all food away in sealed containers, but they still found enough to stay interested. (To mention a couple of recent examples of what they discover: an delicious bar of lotion wrapped in paper, and a caramel in the wallet in my mochilla.)

This lasted until I communicated with them. I tuned into them and told them they had plenty of food outside the house, and that the whole outside area is completely available to them. Our area is inside the house, and they need to stay out. If not, it would not be good for them. We can easily and happily co-exist if we only have that agreement.

Almost immediately, they vanished from inside the house and they stayed outside.

This summer and fall, we were away for several months and someone else stayed in the house. When we returned a few weeks ago, the house was overrun with ants, far worse than it had ever been. Again, we did the common-sense things. We kept everything clean. We sprayed with citronella. And it didn’t work that well.

Four days ago, I sat down to communicate with them again. I proposed the same deal as before, and I could sense it was sinking in. Since then, we have hardly seen any ants inside the house. We’ll see how it goes.

This is not anything I would normally mention here or to anyone in person, but something has shifted. If I cannot feel free to write about what’s happening in my life, what’s the point? It feels better to just put it out there. Some will resonate with it. To some, it may be important and support their own process. Others will think it’s weird. And all of that is OK.

On the topic of ants, I should mention that we had some problems in the beginning with ants eating what we planted outside. They like new and weak plants. As soon as these plants got stronger, we didn’t have any problems anymore.

Note: My wife mentioned this to some friends here, and they said: “Yes, of course. We have a local man talking with the ants for us and it works.” (Paraphrased)

Image by me and Midjourney

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Working with the flow

We are starting to develop a garden with native trees, bushes, and flowers, food plants for us and the animals and birds, and a few non-native plants that serve a function.

I have intentionally left paths to develop on their own. We walk through the garden where it’s natural to walk, and that creates the paths.

It’s not until today, several months after we moved in here, that we are solidifying these paths created naturally by us walking where it makes sense to walk.

This is something I aim to do in life in general. I would rather support and guide what’s here and what naturally happens than try to work against it.

It makes sense to work against something sometimes if it seems destructive. But most of the time, it makes more sense to join and guide.

Instead of fighting with impulses or needs that seem a bit immature, I prefer to explore what’s really going on. What’s the essential need behind it? I find it’s something essential and universal like love, safety, being seen, and so on. Is there another way I can find that? Can I give it to myself? Can I find it in the world in another way?

To take another gardening and regeneration example: We have invasive grass in some areas, and we could remove it. It would require a lot of work, it opens up for erosion, and it’s futile since the grass grows back. The alternative is to plant and support native trees which, in a few years, creates an environment that’s too shady for the grass. That way, the grass holds the soil in place for a while and then goes away when the forest starts to regrow.

Of course, it’s not always straightforward in real life. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to do. In those cases, I prefer to slow down and wait and let life guide me if I can. (This often involves gathering more information and talking with more people, exploring options, and also connecting with my inner knowing and guidance.) Sometimes, a scared and wounded part of me is triggered and it wants a quick solution that lacks nuance. In that case, I prefer to slow down and wait until the storm has passed.

Image by me and Midjourney

A story about ears & earbuds and really about the mind

For the last few weeks, I have thought I was losing hearing in my left ear. I haven’t noticed it in daily life, but when I use earbuds, and specifically when my head is on the pillow and I use only one, I notice that I need to turn the volume on the left ear up two steps.

I made a plan to set up an appointment with an ear doctor, and yesterday while in the car, I also had a thought: Maybe I should check the earbuds first? I did, and it turned out that the problem was with the earbuds and not my ears.

It was comical, and it’s a story about the mind.

One of the functions and gifts of the mind is to make assumptions, to create a connection between A and B. It helps me function in daily life and the wast majority of these assumptions are innocent and turn out to be correct. (Assumptions about physics etc.)

At the same time, it’s good to check out some of those assumptions when I can, especially the ones about myself and others that may not be correct and have consequences for how I live my life.

Image by me and Midjourney

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A typical day these days – a visiting bird, meetings, insect bites, delicious lunch

Yesterday was a more-or-less typical day these days, and slightly crazy in mostly a good way. We have these days and then fortunately more quiet days mixed in.

In the morning, we discovered that our car had a flat tire. We got it replaced with the emergency tire and got the original tire fixed this morning.

The guacharaca resting in the brush outside the house

We also discovered a guacharaca outside that seemed tame and followed my wife around. We realized it was likely the guacharaca from our neighbor to the west. They adopted her last year as a young orphan and she has lived with them since. A phone call confirmed that theirs was missing. She had gone on an adventure with some hens, got lost, and had been missing for a couple of days.

I gave her pieces of a ripe banana to eat. Our cat was very interested and started stalking her, so I had to keep an eye on both of them to make sure they didn’t get into trouble. The guacharaca spent the morning variously in a tree next to the house and eating small pieces of banana.

At this point, my wife got bitten twice by an (invisible) insect. The bites were strong and she developed a strong allergic reaction.

I received an email from Anthony, one of the Vortex Healing teachers. He responded to a question I had about my lungs and what I can do to make it easier for me to do pranic breathing, which is necessary for some things in Vortex Healing. My system tends to react strongly to that type of breathing – it may release trauma – so I have minimized it. (I also don’t need to do it for regular healing sessions, I need it mostly for future EarthWorks classes.) What he said makes a lot of sense to me, including the need for extra integration and catch-ups after the sessions.

I communicated briefly on Whatsapp about visiting a regeneration project on the other side of town (postponed because of the flat tire) and a meeting here on Saturday for garden design. The garden design will focus on supporting a vibrant and diverse native ecosystem which will provide a habitat for the local fauna. We will also focus on soil regeneration and long-term planning for where to plant larger native trees.)

A few of the sample photos from Maria, the architect, showing options for the house. Personally, I like a balance between the refined and the rustic, and I would like it to be slightly more rustic than these photos since this is a house in rugged nature and for a bull of a man who is both refined and rustic. The second photo shows the stone walls that will be used in some areas, the third a door detail, the fourth shows how the wood columns can be cone-shaped at the bottom with a metal casing, and the fifth is a lighting option for the outside walls. Everything is traditional except the columns ending in a metal cone, which I love since it’s good to include one or two unusual and slightly eccentric things.

At 9am, we had a Zoom meeting with the architect to decide on materials for my wife’s father’s house that will be built soon. The materials and techniques are all local and traditional. (Rammed earth, reclaimed wood, locally made tiles, and so on.) We had the usual connection problems but were able to get through it to the satisfaction (mostly) of everyone. This meeting lasted at least three hours, including interruptions for technical reasons.

During the meeting, I had to keep an eye on our visitor and cat and prevent possible trouble. We also noticed that our cat seemed jealous and complained if we paid attention to or fed the guaracha.

We made a delicious lunch together. This consisted of sausages, scrambled eggs, and a salad. The sausages are made by a woman in town and are possibly the best either of us has ever tasted. The eggs are fresh and local. The salad was made of greens and herbs from our garden mixed with olive oil, local organic cherry tomatoes, pieces of oranges from our neighbor Francisco, and more. I cooked the sausages in water in a cast iron pan and then let them brown after the water evaporated, and also made the scrambled eggs. She made the salad.

One of the filtration engineers with the guacharaca

As we finished the lunch, two young engineers arrived. We talked about the different options for water purification systems, both for our small house and for the coming two or three houses here. The guacharaca fell in love with one of them and spent the meeting with him. It seemed that she wanted company and affection. This meeting lasted a couple of hours.

The guacharaca making herself at home

As they left, the guacharaca was flying around, knocking over a few things and breaking a plate. (Which is fine, it was just a generic plate and we can get handmade local ones that we like more.) She then followed my wife around for a bit, flew up in a tree, and then sat on the roof for a while. Eventually, she ended up in the storage room. I tried to help her out of that room but she seemed happy to be there.

Our neighbors came at dusk to get her. I assume they were all happy to be reunited, as we were on their behalf. It was fun to have her here, but also a bit challenging.

At this point, my wife’s insect bites had gotten hot, big, and inflamed. She had fear come up since her body sometimes has strong allergic reactions to these types of bites. We debated whether we should take her to the hospital, and we probably would if the car didn’t have a flat tire. We called a local taxi but they didn’t answer. We decided to wait and see how things unfolded. This morning, the red area was bigger but less inflamed. I encouraged her to see an allergy specialist so she can be better prepared for the next time something like this happens, including with medications and possibly an Epipen. These types of strong allergic reactions can suddenly get worse, and it’s best to be prepared.

After being away for some months, the house has a lot of ants exploring and looking for food. There seem to be three types of ants – a tiny one (1mm), a big one (7-10mm), and a medium (3-4mm). I sprayed some non-toxic locally made mosquito repellent in these areas to discourage them. It doesn’t hurt them but they don’t like it, and they are mostly gone this morning. We love ants. They have a very important function in this ecosystem and are valuable partners in regenerating the soil and land. We just don’t need them in the house, and they don’t need to be here either. They have plenty of food outside.

In the evening, I felt fried and cooked. Some of that may be the healing Anthony had done for me earlier in the day. It had that feeling.

The sunset yesterday seen from the terrace

I fell asleep quickly and briefly woke up a few times, noticing some old trauma surfacing in my system. (Survival fear, sadness, grief, and so on.) Because of a long day yesterday, I slept longer than usual and didn’t wake up for real until 6 or 7am.

Merlina sleeping next to me in the early morning a couple of days ago

Our cat is often very loving in the mornings and was especially so this morning. She slept close to me and on top of me most of the early morning.

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Adapting to climate: Warm weather construction and lifestyle

We live in a warm climate (dry tropical forest) where day temperatures typically are between 25 and 30 degrees.

So what do we do to stay comfortable?

We built using rammed earth (tapia pisada) construction, which is traditional here. The thick walls evens out the temperatures and cools down the house during the day.

We built among trees which provide shade. We are also planting a lot around the house and in layers to lower the temperature further.

We have ceiling fans.

We can open up large sections of the wall (AKA large doors) on both sides of the house to create an easy flow of air and wind through the house if we wish.

We have an outdoor shower so we can cool down that way if necessary. (We may also construct a small swimming pool in the future.)

I drink a lot of liquids. During the day, it’s mostly water with hydration salts (electrolytes). In the morning and evening, often herbal teas.

I also find that I take on more of a crepuscular lifestyle here. I typically get up around dawn and am active for a few hours. During the hot time of day, from around mid-day to mid-afternoon, I rest. In the late afternoon, I am more active again until I go to bed early. If we have meetings or activities, we usually schedule them for early morning or late afternoon. It’s not uncommon for me to go to bed around 8pm and get up at 4 or 5am, and then rest from 11am or noon to 3 or 4pm.

None of this is new or something I came up with. The house construction is traditional here because it works well in this climate. The stores close from noon to 3pm because that’s the hot time of day and it makes sense to rest during that time. The locals get up at dawn just like me.

The image shows the thickness of the rammed earth wall (about 50cm), and also how we have used reclaimed and natural wood.

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I love tonglen

Tonglen has been one of my favorite practices since my late teens.

I use it towards myself, my parents, my brother, my partner, the people behind the neighborhood hotel project (which is so destructive in so many ways), the neighbors playing loud music the whole day, politicians, soldiers, humanity as a whole, animals suffering, all beings, and so on.

I visualize the person or group of people in front of me. I visualize their suffering as black smoke. I breathe in that black smoke. I see it transform into light. I breathe out that light and into the person. I repeat until there is a real shift in how I relate to and perceive the person. And I return to it2.

It’s a beautiful practice. I remember reading – way back in my teens or twenties – that some traditions within Tibetan Buddhism say it’s the only practice we need. That seems true enough to me.

In a way, it’s beside the point how it works1. It’s about the effect, and that’s something for each of us to explore and notice.

(1) That said, here are some things I notice: (a) It helps me recognize that my world is created within and by my own mind. It’s the consciousness I am forming itself into all of it, whether I imagine something or tell myself I experience it directly. (b) It helps me recognize what I see in the other also in myself, at a human level. I can find it here as well. That reduces any sense of separation or of being better/worse than the other. (c) It helps me see the potential in the other (and myself). (d) It helps me find genuine well-wishing and compassion for the other (and myself).

(2) Sometimes, I do tonglen with a series of people or groups. I do one breath with one and move on if it feels relatively open and without too much charge. After a while, I may return to whatever I feel needs more work. I wouldn’t recommend this more causal approach to someone new to tonglen. If you are new, it’s best to stick with the traditional approach and stay with one person or group for a while and deepen into it.

Image by me and Midjourney

Allowing the weirdness

I often feel weird in different ways – brain fog, energies moving, old issues surfacing, feeling like I am on drugs or psychedelics, and so on. Even normal food often makes me feel like I am on drugs, with a different effect on my mind and system from each type of food.

When that happens and I am with others, a part of me wants to push it away. It struggles with it and doesn’t want it to be there. This comes from a fear that others will see me as weird, reject me, and say and do terrible things to me. (My psyche internalized this fear from my parents, and it was reinforced through elementary and middle school.)

I become more weird if I join in with that resistance and fear. If I get caught up in the struggle, I inevitably start to act more weird. I become reclusive. I don’t say much. I want to hide. I become self-conscious.

When I notice and allow it all, and find some compassion for the part of me that feels scared, it’s easier to find space to relate to it with more intention. I can relate to the weirdness and the part of me struggling with it in a more conscious way.

I have explored these dynamics since my teens, and it always feels new and fresh. Even today, I had an opportunity to notice. I felt weird this morning. A part of me was scared that my wife would reject me. I partly joined in with the resistance to and fear of the weirdness, without consciously noticing. She asked me, I noticed what was happening, and was able to shift more into noticing and allowing it all. I found a more conscious way of noticing and relating to it all. Instead of creating division between us, it led to more understanding, connection, and intimacy. More to the point, the same happens in how I relate to myself – to the different parts of me and my experience.

A FEW MORE WORDS

There is always more to say about these things.

For instance, I have many different parts of my psyche that relate to this weirdness in different ways.

The one that resists out of fear is a relatively prominent and familiar one for me, and it was – as mentioned above – created in my childhood.

I can join in with it and take on its beliefs, perspective, and orientation. I can, in a sense, become it for a while.

And when I notice what’s happening and shift into allowing it, there is a shift in identification. Identification shifts out of this part of me and either into another part (allowing) or into what I more fundamentally am, which is what it all happens within and as.

I remember Adyashanti talking about how his mother used to tell him: Weird is wonderful. That’s a good pointer for me. I can be a good parent to myself and remind myself of that. Weird is wonderful.

It’s worth questioning my ideas about weirdness. Do parts of me see it as bad or wrong? Does the label really fit? What do I find when I identify and examine thoughts about it that parts of me hold as true?

I’ll do a quick inquiry now and make some notes here:

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Another Amma experience – let there be light

I wanted to share another Amma experience that happened just now. 

I used to invite Amma to help when I do group healings, and I have thought of visiting her ashram, but I have not felt a deep and personal connection. That all changed with what happened Monday night and I feel her with me all the time. 

This morning, I was working on a flashlight/headlamp that wouldn’t turn on. I tried everything without result, had given up, and was ready to order another one. As a last resort, I asked Amma for help. A part of me thought it was too small to bother her, but I then reminded myself that it’s more about deepening the connection. After asking Amma, I clicked the “on” button and – through a miracle – it turned on! It seems to be back to normal working order now.

It’s small and it’s not small at all. It’s not small to me.

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More intentionally using Non-Violent Communication

My wife and I are using the essence of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) more these days.

I learned it 15-20 years ago in Oregon – read books, went to workshops, and also a weekly practice group.

It’s amazing what it does. Situations that could escalate because of poor communication, hurt, and fear, now lead to closer connection and intimacy.

It seems so simple. It is simple when we do it.

THE ESSENCE OF NVC LANGUAGE

What’s the essence of NVC?

It’s been a while since I heard or read anything about it so it’s filtered by time and what I find interesting.

To me, it’s to use some version of “I feel… because…” and to be as sincere as possible.

For me, I find fear under almost anything – anger, frustration, sadness, and so on. So I may say “I feel angry because… and really, I feel fear, I am scared because….”.

Similarly, when I say “because….” I can mention a trigger in the situation, and I may also add what’s really going on which is a painful belief I have or an old emotional issue.

So for me, it often takes the form of: “I feel X because of Y, and it’s really fear because of this painful belief and this old issue from childhood”.

This is not about a specific language or formula. It’s more about being aware of (a) what I feel and (b) some things about why, and then communicating it in whatever way is real and seems helpful in the situation. The “I feel… because…” formula may be a good support at first and in more charged situations, and as we get more used to it, it becomes more organic and we find our own way with it.

This tends to defuse the situation. The other may say “thank you” and share what they feel and what triggered it.

NEEDS AND STRATEGIES

The other essence of NVC for me is to differentiate needs and strategies to meet those needs. We can get overly focused (and obsessed) with a particular strategy without recognizing or exploring other strategies that may work as well or better. We may also not be very aware of what the need is.

So I can first identify my need and then explore a range of strategies to meet that need. That makes it easier for two or more to find strategies that work for both or everyone.

I find that my needs are usually quite essential and universal. At one level, it may be food, water, shelter, rest. And at another level, safety, love, being seen and understood, and so on.

Image by me and Midjourney

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An Amma experience: no words

This is one of the more remarkable experiences so far in my process. Below is what I wrote just after it happened, and I’ll leave it as it is since it is quite raw and naked. I may write a more organized summary at some point. I’ll also add updates.

ORIGINAL POST

I have experienced quite a lot of distress today, from coming face-to-face again with the pattern of something very good happening in my life, and then it falls apart. I felt I was brought to my knees.

I wrote the main Vortex Healing teacher (Ric) about this pattern to see if he had any insights or pointers. (His pointers and insights are usually very helpful to me.) His response was that he could not find an emotional issue behind it, that it was likely karmic, and to pray for support.

My wife and I then asked Amma for help, while laying in bed.

First, I saw Amma in the distance. There were several light grey cutouts between me and Amma, so I asked her to remove all the obstacles.

She did, and was here in energetic form through and in and around my system, working on it.

She was no longer human. She showed herself in an energy form.

It shifted, and there was no division between Amma and my system. Amma was my system, my system was Amma. It was as if my system was made up of small diamonds.

There were many shifts for the next two hours or so.

I saw my system in infinite space and made up of small diamonds.

There were tears for most of the time and periods of strong breathing.

I saw and experienced what seemed like the real yantras that the drawings try to depict. My system was these yantras, and they were my system.

There was a cosmic phase. Infinite space. Stars.

There was a phase with the presence of aliens (!).

There was a softening and the aliveness and presence of this land was strong, along with infinite space, stars, and the center of the earth.

A lot of the time, I think I sounded like Ellie from Contact when she was going through the wormhole (!).

No words. I don’t know anything. Everything. Nothing. So beautiful.

During the cosmic phase and the stars: This is home.

I took a photo of myself after this was over, to send to Ric, and the photo looks very different from any other of me. During the process, Amma and I were no longer human. We were energies, space, and consciousness, and that shows in the photo.

My wife sensed the same as me throughout this process. She would report what I experienced.

Apart from the first few minutes, I experienced all as energies and infinite space.

This lasted from about 10 pm when I read Ric’s email to close to midnight.

It took some minutes for my human presence to return, and it’s mostly but not quite back an hour later.

It was as if everything that happened today led to this, including channeling into water to clear and protect the land, and sprinkling it along the edges of Finca Milagros. (The road and Camino Real.)

THE FOLLOWING DAY

A few words in the morning: I woke up with some sadness, maybe because of what’s happening in this neighborhood. My system feels quite different and familiar at the same time. Spacious and cosmic, in a way. I still have no idea what it was about. Was it a healing for this land? Was karma removed from my system? My wife says she feels it was a lineage that was created.

I remember that early in the process last night, I asked Amma if this was for me. After all, I have a lot of trauma and struggles at a human level. She waved it away as if she waved away a fly. It felt as if it was determined a long time ago.

From the middle of the process, or earlier, it was all very cosmic. It was as if the whole of the cosmos was here with stars, planets, beings from other places in the cosmos. Later, they were here with this land and the spirit and spirits of this land and the beings here.

Everything happened within and as energy and consciousness – the whole process, Amma, space, cosmos, stars, this land, this (“my”) system, the little diamonds making up this system.

The infinity and space was dark through the process, happening as energies and consciousness, with stars and the cosmos and what else was happening through the process.

Tears ran for just about the whole process. (And also this morning.)

Here is a summary I wrote for one of the Vortex teachers, asking if she could sense what happened: I am writing mainly because we asked Amma for help last night, and it started a two-hour profound process for me. A. sensed it too, and she sensed what was happening as it was happening. It was as if the whole cosmos was here, and everything was energies and consciousness. Anything human was left behind.

TWO DAYS LATER

Update two days later: I was very tired yesterday and rested and slept the whole afternoon and evening and slept through the night.

When I noticed some old personality patterns, they didn’t seem to fit so much anymore.

Looking back to the two-hour Amma process, what stands out is that Amma is not most fundamentally human and I am also not. (We are consciousness and energies, and Amma also revealed herself and me as emptiness and more.)

I remember the complete impossibility of living from what was revealed. (And the impossibility of not living as it since it’s what we are).

And also that there are no words. No words can even get close to describing any of it.

A thought can say that none of that is really “new”. I wrote the same in my teens from direct experience and noticing. And yet, it’s always new. And this version and packaging of it was also new to me.

THREE DAYS LATER

This is a reminder of why I am not so interested in psychedelics. This cosmic journey was as strong and profound as I imagine just about any psychedelic journey. Variations of these kinds of shifts and journeys have been part of my life since early childhood.

ONE WEEK LATER

It’s now one week later, and Amma is still here. In my experience, she appears within and as my system and within and as everything. She is also here in healing sessions and when I ask for healing and transformation for myself.

I find I like to rest in and as this noticing and giving everything that’s here, my whole field and system, to Amma and the divine. This is not so different from what I have done since my teens, but it is different in that the Amma quality is here everywhere now. It’s a different flavor of the divine.

When I do healing now, it also has a different flavor. A more cosmic flavor and all as Amma. It’s also happening from emptiness, which again is not so different from how it was even in my teens, but that emptiness somehow also has an Amma flavor now.

During the cosmic journey a week ago, Amma revealed herself in energetic form, as all of Cosmos and existence, and as the emptiness all comes from and which forms itself into all of it. It makes sense since everything is all of this, and she knows she is all of it.

ELEVEN DAYS LATER

I spent the day yesterday giving everything to Amma – this system, this life, anything in my system that still holds onto an experience of separation and being a doer or observer, and so on. Really, it’s just a noticing that that’s how it already is, and rest in and as that noticing.

In the evening, I started feeling very cooked and a lot of old trauma came up in my system. It was very uncomfortable. When that happens, I usually try to be on my own and not make any decisions. (Against my better judgment, I did send a message – saying something true – which created some trouble, partly because I didn’t have the full picture of the situation. That too is bringing up things in me. Including a family pattern of speaking up about something real and being met with anger.)

It’s now the morning after, and my system still feels very cooked, raw, and in turmoil.

It’s OK. I assume it’s part of a healing process. And it also impacts my daily life, of course.

TWO WEEKS LATER

It’s now two weeks later. What’s easier than anything else is to notice Amma as everything. I notice Amma as all there is without exception, including the most terrible things.

I pick something my personality doesn’t like – an experience, something in me, someone else, a situation – notice it as Amma, rest in and as that noticing, and allow it to work on me and transform me in whatever way it wants.

Of course, Amma here is equal to the divine, and this has very little to do with her human form or even her energetic form. This is Amma as the nothing that forms itself into everything. And I notice the Amma flavor in it all now, after what happened two weeks ago.

THREE WEEKS LATER

I find myself using “Amma healing” now instead of anything else. It seems far more powerful and that’s also what I hear from others. It seems I can quite easily connect with Amma – as cosmic emptiness, energy, and form – and ask her with healing for individuals, situations, and places.

I’ll keep exploring it. Or it will keep exploring itself with a tiny input from me.

Since that evening three weeks ago, my sleep pattern has been different. I used to get up at 4 or 5am and often remembered dreams. Now, I sleep until 7 or 8am and although I know there has been a lot of processing-kind of dreams, I don’t remember any.

I should also mention that since then, a lot has been coming up in my system. A lot of old energies and likely old traumas. It’s been very difficult, and it did shift two days ago. My system feels more open again now.

TWO MONTHS LATER

A couple of notes two months later:

I haven’t remembered dreams (apart from fragments from one night) since this experience. That’s very unusual for me. I feel it has to do with this experience since it shifted on that day.

I wonder if I went into a kind of “opening-closing” dynamic here. That’s something that happened often in my teens and early twenties. At a human level, I would open quite fully to the divine, and then there would be a phase where my system would go into a contraction and unprocessed things would come up. A few days ago, my system went into a kind of contraction, perhaps as a response to old unprocessed pain and anger surfacing.

Another way to talk about is that that “ups” are followed by “downs”. Our system opens to the divine, and then unprocessed material comes up to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as consciousness and/or a flavor of the divine. It seems to be a natural dynamic. It all happens within and as what I am, and sometimes my center of gravity is in that noticing and sometimes caught up in what’s coming up.

Rural challenges

We all live within an ecocidal civilization, and we all notice and are marked by it in different ways.

SNAKES IN PARADISE

In my case, I have a regeneration project in the Andes mountains. We built our tiny house here. We will plant nearly a thousand native trees in the next few weeks. We wish to make this land into even more of a paradise than it is. We live in a peaceful and magical neighborhood with just a few small farmers and people like us with regeneration and rewilding projects.

There are snakes in paradise, as so often. In this case, the main snake is a huge hotel project being built right across from where we are, in full sight of our house, and where we had more buildings imagined. They are planning an open party and event building right there, which will likely produce a lot of noise. They are also planning the hotel with three-digit rooms, swimming pools, a replica of a traditional town, and a shopping center with chain stores.

To me, this is all madness in this neighborhood. It will create a lot of noise. It will increase the traffic here, on a tiny road where two cars already have trouble meeting. It will take business from innumerable small family-owned businesses. They will deplete the groundwater which will impact all of us in the neighborhood and the ecosystem here. (The trees and vegetation are dependent on a good groundwater level.) Almost nobody wants them here. And the project was approved through what people say was a not-so-transparent process.

These kinds of destructive projects are symptoms of our ecocidal civilization. None of us can escape it. (Unless we are apparently very lucky or have enough money to buy our own island, and even then we are impacted.)

HOW AM I DEALING WITH IT?

How am I dealing with it?

It’s not just one way.

We are in conversation with lawyers, community organizers, and the new mayor.

We are looking at our own personal options and a range of options. (Including at our land.)

I know that this, to me, is all happening within and as the consciousness I am. The consciousness I am is forming itself into it. I am doing ho’oponopono for the hotel project and the ones behind it, and also the distressed parts of myself. (Of course, that it’s happening within the consciousness I am doesn’t mean it isn’t also happening in an outer world in a conventional sense. I have to assume that’s the case. And I am open to the possibility that it’s all happening within and as the divine. No matter what, it’s lila. It’s the play of the consciousness I am. It’s the play of life and the evolution of this living planet and the universe. It’s the play within the divine forming itself into all of this, whether we call the universe the divine or assume all of existence is divine consciousness.)

I am also using tonglen with the people behind the hotel project.

We are using a lot using different Vortex Healing tools and approaches to move the situation in a direction better for the neighborhood and nature here.

I am working on the issues in me that reflect and mirror these kinds of situations. Since the dark part of the dark night started 10-15 years ago, projects and my life in general have repeatedly fallen apart in amazing ways. Something happens that’s a dream for me, it’s starting, and then it falls apart. That has happened over and over in many areas of life. (I lost my health. I lost my dream job. I lost my house and all my belongings. I lost the opportunity to do an amazing PhD in exactly the area I wanted. I lost an amazing relationship that looked perfect. I lost the opportunity to become a US citizen and even lost my residency due to a weird combination of a vital project I needed to finish in Norway, the pandemic, and because Norway was one of the last countries in the world to allow dual citizenship. If I buy something I really like, it often gets destroyed almost immediately. (For reasons outside of my control.) And so on and so on. It seems endless. What parts in me have a charge around this drama and loss? How is it to invite in healing or those parts of me?

How do I see these people? The people behind the destructive project? Can I find it in myself? Can I take the stories I have about them, turn it to myself, and find specific and genuine examples for how it’s true? Can I relate to it with kindness and understanding in myself? Can I find peace with it in myself? Can I relate to it more intentionally in myself?

LILA & MORE

As mentioned above, I see this as lila. The play of the consciousness I am. The play of this evolving living planet and universe. The play of the divine, in whatever way we understand that. (As the universe, as a consciousness that forms itself into all there is.) It’s an opportunity to deepen into that recognition.

It’s also an opportunity to ground even more in my nature as consciousness and all of this happening within and as what I am, and temporarily forming itself into all of this.

It’s an opportunity to find genuine love for the parts of me coming up (reactivity, sadness, grief, anger) that want to protect me and are forms of love.

It’s an opportunity to take action in my personal life and the community.

It’s an opportunity to invite in healing for issues in me mirrored in what’s happening. (Anything in me that has a charge around and connects with loss and drama.)

It’s an opportunity to find in myself what I see in them and relate to it with more kindness and more intentionally.

EVERYTHING IS INVOLVED

Everything is involved in this situation – our ecocidal civilization, the worldview behind it of separation and power-over orientation, politics, corruption, sustainability, community, emotional issues, taking action, prayer, divine support, and it’s even a small part in how our civilization and how humanity unfolds.

The question is: How do I deal with it? How do I wish to deal with it?

UPDATE A FEW DAYS LATER

We have received amazing support from the Vortex Healing community in working with the land and situation here energetically. I am very grateful and curious to see how it unfolds. Amma has also been involved in an amazing way.

All-inclusive gratitude practice

I am doing an all-inclusive gratitude practice again these days. It’s based on Make Miracles in 40 Days by Melody Beattie, and I am doing it with a friend in Oregon. (We don’t know each other that well but we have a similar orientation, so it’s a good match for this.) I have done this a few times before with other people, and it’s always been meaningful and rewarding.

It’s quite simple. Each day, we write a list and send it to each other. Each item starts with “I am grateful for..” and then something in my life my personality easily is grateful for or not. Everything is included.

Why would I write “I am grateful for…” and then something my personality doesn’t like? Because it opens my mind. It opens my mind and heart to the possibility that there is something there to find genuine gratitude for. It opens my heart and mind to look for genuine gifts in it.

I love the simplicity of it. I love that I can include everything, including what’s most difficult for me in my life. I love that I don’t need to try to figure out what I am supposed to be grateful for or not…! I love that the lists can be short or long depending on what comes up as I write. I love the shifts that happen over time through this daily practice. I love I have the opportunity to do this with others in an unfiltered way.

Image created by me and Midjourney

Regeneration update – Nov. 2023

We have started a regeneration partnership with Fundación Guayacanal. They are doing amazing work and seem to have a very good approach to regeneration – pragmatic, informed, grounded, and effective. Milagros is part of a larger initiative in the area that involves several properties.

It’s a ten-year project where they will be responsible for the planting and maintenance of the plants. Each tree will need three years of follow-up. As I write this, we are in the design and planning phase and they will do the first plantings in a couple of weeks. This first phase is in the most degraded areas and will consist of nearly one thousand (!) trees. The second phase will be adding diversity to less degraded areas.

The main focus is on planting a native forest, with a couple of additions. We have a main path going through the land – from the big pond along the ridge to the peak and down to Camino Real. That may be made into a kind of food forest corridor, and we will plant flowering bushes along it as well. It may eventually be part of an ecotourism experience, for instance, a self-guided tour along different ecosystems at different levels of regeneration with information and viewpoints along the way.

Receiving this kind of expert help feels like a miracle. It will transform the land over the coming years. As mentioned above, their focus is on naive tree planting, with some food-producing trees and flowering perennials. That will provide an amazing context for us to add plants here and there. I would love to add to the food forest with nut-producing bushes and more, and add more flowering plants.

We obviously won’t recreate the original natural ecosystem here (1). That’s gone. But we will help the land back to a diverse and vibrant state, and it will hopefully become an even better habitat for a large number of insects, birds, and animals. The second phase of plantings will include currently grassy areas, and as the trees grow and create shade, the grass will hopefully mostly go away.

I have used the terms regeneration and rewilding to talk about this before and I’ll probably differentiate a bit more going forward. What we are doing now is regeneration, helping bring the land back to a more vibrant and healthy state. That includes a natural rewilding since it will bring back more insects, birds, and animals. I also love the term rewilding to refer to our own internal rewilding. And, who knows, perhaps we’ll do some actual rewilding in the future and bring back some animals. For now, I’ll probably use regeneration mostly when talking about this project.

I am very aware that this neighborhood will change over the coming years. Already, they are building a large hotel down the hillside and on the other side of the main road. I suspect many more people will move here, gradually displacing the local farmers who have lived here for generations. (This is sad and has its own problems and downsides, and we very much are part of that dynamic – we bought from a family that had owned the land for generations.) Hopefully, we’ll also see more neighbors engaging in regeneration projects.

Images: [1-3] The three first are from a survey of the more degraded areas. The people from FG geolocated the boundaries of these areas and calculated how many trees to plant there in the first phase. [4] Then a view of Cañon del Chicamocha from one of the viewpoints. [5] A large tree by the main pond, and [6] a giant cactus close to the house. [7-8] Two examples of erosion from the more degraded areas. [9] A hat. And [10] silvery leaves found on the ground. Nature made these, maybe through some kind of chemical reaction? Click on any image for a larger version.

(1) There are many reasons for that. It would be difficult to know what time period we are trying to recreate, and even how it looked back then. What was is gone, always. It would also be very difficult to try to recreate something from the past and impossible to actually do. So it’s much better to focus on supporting a vibrant ecosystem that includes mostly native plants and some non-natives already here that fit well into the ecosystem.

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

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

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

So why don’t more people take it seriously?

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

THE CRUX OF THE SITUATION

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

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

We have a civilization out of alignment with ecological realities.

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

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

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

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

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

WHY DON’T WE TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY?

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

As usual, there are many possible answers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

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

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

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

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

So what do we do individually?

SOME THINGS WE CAN DO

Here is some of what I have done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patterns in misophonia & sound sensitivity: humans vs nature

Since I was little, I have had misophonia and sensitivity to sounds. The misophonia is mostly triggered by chewing and paper and plastic rustling, and the sound sensitivity mostly to loud sounds and noise.

GENERAL PATTERNS

I have noticed some general patterns.

My system is more sensitive when I am exhausted or stressed, and it’s much easier if I am rested and relaxed.

The misophonia and sound sensitivity is triggered more easily when the sound is ongoing. The reaction builds up over time.

And I get more stressed if I think I am unable to do something about it. If I cannot do anything about the source, if I don’t have anything to put in my ears (often tight earbuds with music), or if I cannot remove myself from the sound. (That’s why traveling with others in a car, bus, train, or plane can be stressful for me.)

If I am more resourced, the sound doesn’t last too long, and I can do something about it, it’s much easier to deal with.

THE SOURCE OF THE SOUND

And there is also a difference depending on the source of the sound.

If the source of the sound (for instance, chewing sound) is a non-human being or a baby, it’s usually completely fine with me. I may notice a small reaction far in the background, but it’s OK.

If the source is a human that’s not a baby, that’s when the misophonia is triggered.

And it’s the same with noise sensitivity. If the source is humans, it can feel overwhelming. If the source is nature, it’s typically fine.

For instance, I am currently in the countryside in the Andes mountains (El Caucho outside of Barichara). Yesterday, there was construction noise nearby which I noticed bothered me. This morning, a neighbor had the radio on loud, which bothered me. (Especially since it’s Sunday at 5:30 am), while the guacharacas loudly crowing much earlier didn’t bother me at all.

WHAT THIS SUGGESTS

This suggests that my reaction is mediated by my mental field.

If the source is “innocent” as my mind sees it, there is less reaction.

And if I have stressful thoughts about the source, the reaction is stronger. Some of the thoughts I have identified and explored are “they should know better”, “the sound is aggressive” and “this is a symptom of our destructive civilization” (loud machines, chain saws, leaf blowers), “he is inconsiderate”, and so on.

WHAT I CAN DO ABOUT IT

These patterns give me several cues for what I can do about it.

I can continue to support my system to rest and build up energy. (I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so this is important for me in general.) I can make sure to get good sleep. Eat well. Rest before, during, and after any activity, and extra. Take my vitamins and herbs. (Vitamin D, Siberian Ginseng, and Echinacea seem especially helpful.) Receive energization with Vortex Healing. (Amazingly helpful.)

I can continue to find ways to manage the situation when it happens. I have earbuds with me. For longer travels, I bring noise-canceling earphones. If I am about to travel with people in a car, let them know in advance. If I am in a public space and people close to me are loud, I go somewhere else. And so on.

I have found it helpful to ask myself some questions. Is this too the voice of the divine? (I notice it directly so it’s not a “trick” and I’ll still do the other things.) How I would respond if the source was a baby or non-human being? Are not humans and human civilization also nature?

I can also explore mental representations triggered by these sounds, what they mean to me (underlying assumptions, associations), how I relate to them, and what’s more true for me. I have already done this with The Work of Byron Katie and the Kiloby Inuiries, and it has helped a lot, and there is more to discover.

WHAT’S THE CAUSE?

What’s the cause of misophonia and sound sensitivity?

I am not sure. It’s likely a combination of several things:

My stressful thoughts about the sounds and what they mean.

How resourced my system is.

We evolved in a generally much more quiet environment than many of us live in today, and this likely puts a lot of stress on our system. It’s not surprising if some of us are extra sensitive to sounds and noise.

And it doesn’t matter so much. I have some ways to work with it anyway.

Image by me and Midjourney. And, no, I won’t keep going on with black-and-white woodcuts forever! It’s just what I am drawn to right now.

My personal relationship with AI-generated images

What are some of my personal relationships with AI-generated images (text to image)?

I LOVE IT

I love it. I apparently find it endlessly fascinating to see what comes out of it.

I also love it because it allows me to generate images similar to the ones I wanted to make back when I did art full-time – in my late teens and early twenties. (The sacred portraits – sculptures and paintings – are one example.)

I love it because it allows me to create something that I want to see now.

I love it because it feels like tapping into the collective image production of humanity and seeing what comes out of it. To me, it’s very much a collaborative process between me, Midjourney, the people across cultures and times that created the images it’s trained on, all of humanity since the totality of humanity is necessary for all of this to happen, and really Earth and existence as a whole – in its fullest extent and going back to the beginning of time – since all of it is necessary for any of this to happen.

SADNESS AND HOLLOWNESS

There is also another side to this.

I am hoping it will help me get back into a more old-fashioned and hands-on image-making. I would love to get back into drawing and perhaps painting or even ceramics.

It taps into some sadness of having abandoned something I loved so much and was so passionate about. I used to be unable to not draw daily and would draw for hours at a time and often through the night. It helped me come alive and connect with something deep and full in myself.

There is also a kind of hollowness in it. I love what comes out of it. I tap into my knowledge of art and art history when I make the images. I typically spend a lot of time refining the prompts. I create a lot of images and select the ones I like the most. And so on. So there is work going into it. But it also feels a bit hollow. It’s “just” a digital image and not something you can touch, hold and smell. It’s not something I created with my own hands. And that makes a difference.

THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AI

And there is more, which has a personal component since I live in this world.

I don’t like the term “artificial intelligence“. The program can mimic intelligence to a certain extent but it’s not intelligent. It’s based on statistics. When it comes to image generation, it predicts what elements typically go together. To me, AI is a misnomer.

It’s trained on a huge amount of images, so what it produces is a kind of average based on that material. The images are, at best, solid and good but not exceptional.

AI will take the job from some people, but not those very skilled at what they do. And AI will also make a lot of new kinds of jobs. I imagine that what we’ll see is similar to CGI in movie-making. It’s one tool among many others. And we’ll see a mix of AI and more traditional approaches, and interesting processes and dynamics between the two.

As with so much, it will likely not be as good as we hope and not as bad as we fear.

Image: An example of what I make with Midjourney that I would like to see. In this case, an imagined bronze sculpture with a certain expression and light.

Why doesn’t what I put out in the world receive more responses?

When I put something out in the world, it typically receives very little or no response. For instance, when I posted some of the bronze portrait sculptures yesterday, I got three likes and no likes when I posted them to AI groups with tens of thousands of members.

That’s OK, of course. There may be many reasons for it, and that’s life. Also, I share for the sake of sharing. I offer something, and people respond in a way authentic for them.

It also makes me curious. Why doesn’t it receive more response?

When I post articles I see as exceptional and on important topics on social media, or my own photos or AI images, or post something here, why does it typically receive no response?

SOMETHING ABOUT ME

I’ll start with what seems most obvious to me, and that is that it has to do with my own fears and traumas.

I know how to do promotion. I know how to present something so people feel more engaged and are more likely to respond. And I don’t do it when it comes to my own things.

A part of me is deeply scared of attention. This comes from internalized family patterns and childhood experiences. So while I would like attention to the things important to me and share in the fascination of it, a part of me also really doesn’t want it.

I know what to do to get something out in the world and receive attention. And I don’t do it and sometimes do the exact opposite.

What would bring more attention is to… Share more widely. Get involved in groups, interact, and create personal connections. Make it more personal. Make it more catchy. So I tend to do exactly the opposite.

Also, everything in us colors our perception and life in the world, and it also colors what we produce. In my case, I suspect that what I produce has an element of “I am sharing it but am scared of responses” that comes from some traumatized parts of me.

Then there are the more superficial reasons…

SOCIAL MEDIA

There are some answers that mostly apply to social media…

On social media, most people won’t see it. They may not be on there very much. They may not be presented with it in their feed.

Some may enjoy it without liking or commenting.

I don’t know many in person and most are just social media “friends”. There is no personal connection.

I typically post things – articles and images – that require some energy and time to get into. Many don’t have that energy or time. Or they use social media to relax.

I don’t have that many friends who share my interests. My fascinations are definitely on the margin of what most people are into.

THESE ARTICLES

When it comes to these articles…

I don’t do anything to promote them. I don’t share them anywhere.

They are on topics very few people are interested in. And the ones who are interested typically go to the big-name teachers. (For good reasons.)

I don’t explicitly invite comments or feedback within most of the articles. (The most recent comment is almost three years old.)

There are a few hundred visitors here each day, but I assume most are looking for something else than what they find here.

Some may enjoy something here but don’t feel a need to comment or contact me.

AI IMAGES

When it comes to AI images…

Again, when I put them on social media, most people will likely not see them. Some may like it without liking or commenting. Most of it takes some time and attention to get into and doesn’t fit a scrolling environment. I don’t know many who are into visual art.

Also, I suspect that those who are into art may disapprove of AI-generated images. For me, they are fun experiments but they may see it differently.

Some may disapprove of AI in general, which is fair.

Some may be confused and not understand what’s going on.

When I post some images to AI groups with tens of thousands of members, I typically get no likes or comments. That may partly be because my aesthetic is quite different from most there.

IN PERSON

I thought I would add a few words about in-person interactions…

I typically don’t share too much about my background or interests when I interact with people in person. I tend to ask more questions about them, if anything, and share whatever seems to fit their interests. People can know me for years or decades without knowing about most of my passions or most of my background.

Also, I tend to give up relatively quickly. For instance, I started to share my experiences in a spiritual group (CSS) I was involved with in Oregon, often from slightly different angles than what I noticed was mainstream there. (I like to offer different angles and a bigger picture when I notice groups seem stuck in a particular way of looking at things.) This was typically met with a lecture about basics as if they assumed I was a beginner and didn’t understand even the basics. After a while of this, I gave up sharing anything.

QUALITY

There is also a question of quality here. I know that what I produce is generally good and sometimes has unique perspectives, but it’s not exactly consistently world-class.

And yet, that doesn’t explain the lack of response. A lot of mediocre things in the world get a lot of attention, and a lot of amazing and excellent things receive almost none.

Images: Some of my AI experiments over the last few months

Read More

Life unfolds as me taking charge

Yes, life unfolds and what’s happening locally – including through and as this human self – is an expression of movements within the infinitely larger whole. At the same time, that unfolding can take the form of this human self taking charge and taking the steering wheel in an ordinary and healthy way.

– from Why I have written less lately & a medicine for me

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a tendency to fold* and it comes from some issues that are still in me. I have an issue of not wanting to be here. Of not wanting to be visible and seen. (Fear of what may happen if I am visible and seen, which is both a family pattern and something I learned as a survival strategy in school.) And of not speaking and standing up for myself. (Fear of what may happen if I do, again as a survival strategy learned in childhood, mostly in response to unhealthy family dynamics.)

So what’s the medicine?

FINDING HEALING AND RELATING TO IT MORE CONSCIOUSLY

One aspect is obviously to explore and find healing for these issues in me, and especially in how I relate to them. Just relating to them more consciously and with more understanding, kindness, and firmness, makes a big difference.

ACT CONTRARY TO THE OLD PATTERNS

Another is to act contrary to these patterns in me. When I notice them come up, I can relate to them more consciously and with kindness and firmness, and also choose to act contrary to them even if it’s uncomfortable and maybe a bit clumsy.

SUPPORT FROM WORLDVIEWS

And yet another aspect of this is seeing how it ties into my worldviews and how I relate to them.

I notice that life and this human self lives its own life. Thoughts, emotions, choices, words, actions, is happening on its own. It lives its own life. That’s accurate enough.

My mind then reflects it into mental representations, which is natural and, in many ways, useful.

Then there is a tendency for a part of me to take that and hijack it. It uses it as an excuse to follow and act as those issues in me tell me to act to stay safe. (Stay invisible, don’t speak up for yourself, don’t stand up for yourself.)

So what’s the remedy at that level? One part of the remedy is to see that yes, life unfolds locally as this human self and it is, in a sense, all happening on its own. It lives its own life.

And, crucially, the WAY life unfolds locally can be this human self taking charge and standing and speaking up for himself.

NOTE

* I initially called it “passivity” and it’s passivity in a very specific context. It’s a passivity that happens when I meet resistance from others. It’s more of a folding. Giving up. Even if I know the other person may be coming from their own issue, mistaken assumptions, or missing information. I have done it repeatedly in life, and the consequences have not been pleasant to me.

Why I have written less lately & a caveat about not knowing

Why have I written less here recently?

There may be many reasons.

WHY I WROTE LESS

I spent half a year in Norway getting my parent’s house ready for sale, and since I have limited energy, I chose to focus on that task – and also take the opportunity to enjoy Norway – and do less of other activities.

I have written more in the two “brief notes” categories – Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasionally personal things and Reflections on society, politics, and nature. Sometimes, it’s easier and quicker to put something there rather than make it into a regular article.

I have had stronger brain fog lately. Some of it is from covid last year. Some is from CFS. And some is from my diet. (Which is generally good and occasionally fun but not optimal.)

A part of me got slightly bored from feeling that I tend to repeat myself here. It started to feel less fresh. Maybe the break can be a kind of gear change?

In any case, I am now back in the Andes so it may be that I’ll find myself writing more again. We’ll see.

I DON’T REALLY KNOW

The honest answer is that I may guess why I have written less and if I’ll write more (and also if I’ll channel the writing energy into a book instead of articles), and I don’t know any of it. I find myself doing one thing more, and then another.

Even if I have guesses about why, I don’t really know, it’s life locally unfolding and taking all these forms.

DON’T KNOW IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR PASSIVITY

In writing this, I notice a tendency in me. Something in me likes to use “don’t know” as an excuse for passivity, something in me has that tendency. (It may tie into issues of not wanting to be here, of not wanting to be visible, and also not speaking up and standing up for myself.)

I would like to not do that. I don’t want to use it as an excuse for passivity and allow life to unfold without, in an ordinary sense, taking charge and steering things.

DON’T KNOW & TAKING CHARGE

Yes, life unfolds and what’s happening locally – including through and as this human self – is an expression of movements within the infinitely larger whole.

At the same time, that unfolding can take the form of this human self taking charge and taking the steering wheel in an ordinary and healthy way.

The divine is also me taking charge of my life.

The divine is also me learning to be an even better steward of my life.

That’s the medicine for me right now.

How CFS feels

This perfectly captures how it feels to live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

I may look fine or OK to others. I am often able to mobilize for short periods and appear relatively normal. And my experience of myself is very different.

HOW IS IT TO LIVE WITH CFS?

How does it feel? It’s almost impossible to describe, but here are some attempts:

It feels like having severe influenza minus the congestion and fever. It’s equally difficult to think and get up from bed and do things.

I have strong brain fog: It feels like cotton in and around my head. It’s difficult to remember things. It’s difficult to make good decisions. (Sometimes, it’s difficult to make even the simplest decisions.) It’s difficult to take in information. It’s difficult to stay focused for more than five or ten minutes. (I typically have to watch movies in short segments over several days.) It’s difficult to string together words. (which is why these writings are short, choppy, and feel like a list of points.) It’s often difficult to find words. In bad periods, it’s difficult to relate to life and what comes up in the way I do when I have more energy. In short, the executive functions are impaired and it gets worse the worse the CFS is.

I get worse after just about any activity, and sometimes a lot worse. Any type of “explosive” activity (walking fast, heavy lifting, etc.) is just about impossible since it causes a severe crash. And any type of activity at all worsens the symptoms and requires a period of recovery. Simple and essential daily life activities are often all I can do. And, in periods, even that’s very difficult.

I have to schedule extra rest before, during, and after any planned activity. If I am meeting someone, or if I have an appointment of any type, I typically have to rest for days before and after. I have learned to do things slowly.

It takes a long time to recover from infections and other illnesses.

In short, my system lacks resources. It lacks the resources to do things. To have conversations. To take in information. To process. To think. To consciously and intentionally relate to life and what’s coming up in me. To recover after other illnesses. And so on.

At an energetic level, I and others have found a pattern: My system seems very disorganized when I have a crash. That’s perhaps not surprising. It takes energy to keep a mind-body system organized. When it’s energized (using Vortex Healing), my system again becomes more organized.

SOCIAL, MEDICAL & POLITICAL ASPECTS

This is challenging enough in itself. On top of this are the social, medical, and political aspects.

Most people don’t understand it very well and may assume it’s just mild tiredness. They typically see me when I am able to mobilize for a few hours, or in the better periods, and they don’t see what’s happening the rest of the time. Some get upset that I have to cancel appointments, and don’t realize how much effort I put into trying to make it happen. Or they think that my long periods of not staying in touch mean I don’t value the connection.

CFS is a kind of “pariah” illness. It’s poorly understood. There isn’t much research. Politicians and policymakers don’t take it very seriously. Many doctors don’t know much about it. There is no mainstream medical treatment. (In Norway, the largest newspaper – Dagbladet – seems to have a campaign to show that CFS is just a matter of “pulling yourself together”.)

This will very likely change. I am sure they will understand the mechanisms better. (The trigger seems to often be a combination of physical and/or psychological stress, often involving a viral infection.) They may even find an effective treatment or cure. If or when that happens, CFS will be included among the acknowledged and understood diseases. (There will still be diseases in the pariah category going through a similar process.)

HOW I HAVE EXPLORED IT

I have lived with this since my teens, and I have tried a wide range of approaches.

I have found a diet that works for me. (Eating low on the food chain. Reduce or avoid sugar, wheat, and dairy. Drink lots of water / herbal teas. Have bone broth daily. And so on.)

I have found that sun and moderate to warm climate work well for me. (Cold weather impacts my system strongly, as does very hot weather. Both place an extra demand on the very limited resources of my system.)

I have learned to rest before, during, and after activities. I have learned to portion out tasks over time and move slowly.

I have used a wide range of herbal medicines. For instance, a combination of Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) and echinacea seems to work well. (I fill my own capsules and have around five large ones daily. Siberian ginseng gives energy and echinacea helps my immune system. I have used this for long periods, and am now taking a break.)

I discovered that hyperthermia treatment seemed to help me greatly for several months. (I would like to try it again but it’s expensive and I need to travel quite a distance for it.)

I have tried a wide range of alternative treatments. What seems to work the best is Five Element Acupuncture. (Helps for a day or a few days.) Breema. (Gives an amazing sense of health and wholeness beyond the struggles of this human self). And Vortex Healing. (Energization and removing pathogens.)

And I have also found different forms of inquiry to be very helpful. (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby inquiry, Headless experiments, Big Mind process, and so on.)

UPSIDES

There are also upsides. It has been an invitation for exploration and transformation. It’s an invitation to find my value independent of my resume or activities in the world. To be more authentic and transparent. To find value in rest. To find the gift in asking for and receiving help. And so on.

In many ways, CFS is an invitation to examine and see through many of the assumptions in our society and find what’s more true for us.

It can bring a correction to some of the lopsidedness of our current civilization. (Including valuing people according to their resume or activities, valuing doing over resting, and so on.)

Working on infections with Vortex Healing

Vortex Healing is surprisingly effective for a range of things: energization, emotional issues (can take time if it’s deep and woven into networks of related issues), clearing spaces, and more.

One of the things it’s often very effective for is infections.

When I had just started on my Vortex Healing journey, there were a couple of times when I got a strong influenza at very inconvenient times. (Once, the day before my flight from London to Oslo.) I contacted a senior healer, received a session, went through the typical symptoms in a few hours, and came out on the other side. For me, flus typically takes at least a week to go through the full cycle, and VH seemed to speed up the whole process dramatically.

I experienced that again a couple of days ago. I got Covid. It was moderately strong with periods of 40 Celsius fevers. I contacted a Vortex healer who gave me a five-hour (!) session, I went through a quick succession of symptoms during and shortly after the session. And woke up later that morning feeling much lighter and free of fever and most of the acute symptoms. (The remaining symptoms may have to do with the die-off of the virus – headache and brain fog – and these cleared up too.)

Without VH, I would expect it to last 5-7 days, and in this case, it ended immediately after the session. I am still recovering since it did hit me pretty strongly, and my system is already weak from CFS, but I clearly don’t have Covid anymore.

This is obviously not medical advice. And I and any responsible Vortex Healer will always tell you to get medical attention if you need to and follow the advice and treatment plan of your doctor. But it doesn’t hurt to try. I have had consistently good results with VH for infections over more than eight years now. (It also helped me get rid of an apparently chronic Epstein-Barr in my kidneys and a Lyme infection.)

That said, Covid-19 is a bit unusual when we work on it using Vortex Healing. Most infections require one or two sessions (one or two hours). C-19 can require a lot more than that. It seems to multiply very quickly and have an unusually strong “desire” to survive. Some VH practitioners have more experience and a more effective approach than others.

Also, why don’t I work on it myself? Why ask another healer? The main reason is that when I have an infection, I often don’t feel I have the capacity to channel much so it’s easier for me if someone else can do it.

We see others as we see ourselves

We see others as we see ourselves.

OBJECT WITHIN EXPERIENCE

If we take ourselves to primarily be an object within consciousness, then we tend to see others that way.

We see ourselves as this body and psyche, and see others as primarily that body and psyche.

We see ourselves as a doer and observer and see others as doers and observers.

We quite literally objectify others and ourselves.

That’s understandable since we do as others do, and that’s what most people do these days.

CONSCIOUSNESS

If we find ourselves fundamentally as consciousness, then we tend to see others as that.

We see ourselves as fundamentally consciousness operating through this body and psyche, and others as consciousness operating through that particular body and psyche.

To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are, and we assume that’s how it is for others as well. (Based on their reports and what makes logical sense.)

We find ourselves as what the world, to us, happens within and as, and assume that’s how it is for others.

We find ourselves as oneness and assume others are onenesses as well, whether they notice or not.

IMPLICATIONS

What effect does it have to viscerally find ourselves as one or the other, and see others as the same?

If we see ourselves and others as fundamentally objects, then we literally objectify ourselves and others. We assume that the limited and distorted stories we have about ourselves and others are accurate and perhaps even all there is. We see ourselves as objects in the world at the mercy of other objects and living within time and space. We experience that we move through the world. We experience distance and time as real and inherent in the world. We experience the world as fundamentally matter.

If we find ourselves as fundamentally consciousness, then a lot changes. We realize that any story is a story and question about ourselves, others, and the world. They cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. We find ourselves as what time and space, to us, happens within and as. In a car or when walking, we experience that the world moves through us. We experience the world as fundamentally consciousness since, to us, it happens within and as the consciousness we are.

IN MY CASE

I can dip and imagine into the first way of experiencing myself, others, and the world. And parts of my psyche still operate from it. But in general, it’s so long since the initial oneness shift that I have problems connecting with it in a strong and solid way.

In general, I viscerally find myself as consciousness. The world happens within and as the consciousness I am. This body happens within and as consciousness, just like anything else. It all happens like a night dream, within and as consciousness.

I imagine others as that too, and that gets stronger and more clear when I bring attention to it. To me, they too are consciousness. They are consciousness operating through that particular body and psyche. (That’s exciting, the differences and “otherness” of it is exciting.) And that opens for compassion and empathy. They are like me (they are consciousness to themselves) and (like me) operate through a unique body and psyche.

And there is always further to go and more to explore within this.

A FEW NOTES

I’ll add a couple of short notes.

This is all about projections. I find myself as something and assume others are like that too. It’s an assumption – whether I assume they are fundamentally objects or fundamentally consciousness.

This is also about where our “center of gravity” is. It’s about what we viscerally find ourselves to be. Knowing about it or glimpses of it are good first steps, and – through grace and often intention and explorations – it becomes something that’s immediate and visceral.

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What would I do if I was on my own?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s all a bonus

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

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

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

What’s more true is that…

All of my life is a bonus.

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

It’s all a miracle.

I cannot take any of it for granted.

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

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Brain fog

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

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

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

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

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

The brain fog also gives me ample opportunity to explore.

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

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

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

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

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