Natural cycles

It’s easy to get the impression that some folks – the ones who speak or write about it – are able to consistently love what’s here, inquire into stressful beliefs, rest with what’s here, and more.

Some may indeed be able to do that. And for most of us, it goes in cycles.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed and don’t do any of it. I may indulge in identifications, or attempts to escape from the discomfort. I may go into victim mode. I may be reactive. I may act in ways that hurt those around me.

Sometimes, things hum along and I just enjoy life, or am absorbed in everyday activities.

And sometimes, I do indeed do those things. I find love for what’s here. I inquire. I rest with it. Often, this is when things are moderately triggered. I sometimes even do it when things are more strongly triggered, especially when I remember and find the intention to do so.

It’s good to be aware of this.


I see a cycle in my life these days, and it goes from resistance, to meeting, to rest.

(a) Wounds surface. There is resistance to what’s here. Complaints. Trying to push away. Distractions. Tantrum.

(b) It shifts into resting as what’s here. Meeting it. Feeling it. Perhaps seeing through it. Inquiry. It can also take the form of giving it all over to the divine. Or any other way of meeting, feeling, finding love for what’s here.

(c) This shifts into rest. Peace. A period of quiet.

And then it repeats.

It has a natural rhythm. It’s so easy to “forget” this cycle when I am in (a). And being a nine on the enneagram, it’s also easy for me to see (c) as some sort of “goal” or end point, and resist (a) when it comes up again.

Going to the clearest or most confused parts of me

There seems to be a natural cycle between relative clarity and relative confusion (wounds, beliefs).

One surfaces, then the other, and there is a mutuality between them. They inform each other.

Clarity informs confusion, there is an invitation for it to align with reality.

Confusion informs clarity, there is an invitation for it to become more clear.

And both may happen through some form of investigation and inquiry.

Confusion (wounds, beliefs) surface, and I can (a) open to the experience, feelings, allow them their life, and (b) identify and inquire into the beliefs behind it. In this way, clarity informs confusion. There is an invitation for it to align more with reality. And in the same process, clarity can become even more clear. It may learn something. Find clarity on different thoughts.  Discover something new. Confusion informs clarity.

I notice how these cycles happens at different levels of intensity and different time spans. Over minutes, hours or days, there are shifts between confusion and clarity. And over weeks, months and years, it’s the same. For years, there was relative clarity, and then relative confusion. (For me, this took the form of illumination and dark night.)

And, as mentioned above, when there is an opening to the experience of confusion, and inquiry into the beliefs behind it, then confusion and clarity coexists and inform each other.

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Cycling through

Ken Wilber mentioned this somewhere, and I am sure others do as well: The value of states in an awakening context is that we – eventually – find ourselves as that which these states happen within and as.

Content of awareness comes and goes. Clarity and confusion. Samadhi and scattered attention. Kensho and a sense of a separate I. Bliss and dullness. Allowing experience and getting caught up in the drama of it.

Yet through it all, something does not change. All of this happens within and as what we are, as awakeness itself.

And eventually, after having cycled through all of this often enough, that becomes more and more obvious. Whatever happens is awakeness itself. It is the play of awakeness itself. And it doesn’t matter what the content of that play is, in this context.

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Identities, cycles and alchemy

Over my life so far, this is by far the phase where I am most exclusively focused on the inner process. In the past, there has been times where the attention has embraced the inner and outer equally, and the outer more than the inner (my time in very active sustainability work), and now there is a focus mostly on the inner process. It goes against the grain since I have never wanted to see myself as someone emphasizing the inner more than the outer (activities in the world), so I guess it is good for me. Another identity that has to bite the dust.

Within this, there are also cycles, and one is the cycle of active exploration and investigation, and of rest (at least in that area). In alchemical terms, I guess the active exploration is a combination of differentiation (separatio), clarification (sublimatio), and developing new patterns (coagulatio), and the passive phases is the letting go of patterns (solutio), a minor death that allows for something else to emerge.

It is similar to clutching, taking the gears out of action so it can shift into something else (although the gears here are innumerable). Or the fall and winter allowing for a period of rest and rejuvenation before the new activities of the spring and summer.

The gifts of off-days

One of the things I appreciate, usually in hindsight, about off-days is how they help me notice things about myself I usually don’t notice, or don’t want to notice, or at least don’t want to explore in much detail.

These off-days are like the ghosts of Christmas showing Scrooge his life, and especially those parts he didn’t want to see. The parts he needed someone else to show him. It may not be comfortable to go through, but it can also lead to a shift, if we allow it to.

For me, seeing what I don’t want to see about myself especially happens when something is off physically. There is less energy to maintain a desired persona, and maybe even less energy to try to change it, mask it or disengage from it by using a technique or practice.


Yesterday, I certainly noticed some of these (often well hidden) patterns such as going into a state where everything feels utterly wrong (my life, my day, etc.), and some family patterns around a martyr role: the noble quiet suffering, silently blaming the world for my misery.

I guess that is very Norwegian…! The quiet noble suffering, bearing it without complaining too much, and then often not even consciously blaming the world for it being that way. Just bearing it… until it – and my life – is over(!). No wonder that is kept safely in my shadow.

Three effects of physical problems

I also see how physical problems usually have one of three effects for me…

With pain, or apparently heat exhaustion, I tend to find myself as awakeness, as crystal clear awareness. Not by trying, it just happens on its own. I guess the misery is too intense and sharp, so there is a shift out of (exclusive) identification with it and into awakeness, the crystal clear witness of whatever is happening.

Physical reactions to certain foods (food intolerance) or exertion brings out the shadow, in the ways described above. They tend to lead to contractions and reinforce a separate-self sense.

And sometimes, when I am in a phase where headlessness or Big Mind is more strongly in the foreground, then whatever happens to this body-mind just happens, as Big Mind.

A spectrum of what we can find ourselves as

Writing it up this way, I see how these three reflect the span of what or who we can find ourselves as.

At one end of the scale is pure awareness, awake emptiness, crystal clear awake space. The crystal clear awake space is in the foreground, and when form arises (as it often does), it arises within and as this awake space, but as distant, just a small speck within the vastness of awake space.

Then, we can find ourselves as Big Mind, as awake emptiness and form, the awake emptiness arising as form. Here, awake emptiness and form are equally pronounced. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

And at the other end of the spectrum, form is in the foreground, and the awake emptiness is in the background, sometimes so far distant that it is not even noticed. There is usually an exclusive identification with our human self here, a forgetting of everything else that we also are. It can be great – fun, ecstatic, an adventure, but it is also where we can feel trapped, confined, helpless, without control, in misery. We are at the mercy of an exclusively finite existence.

Cycling through, inviting greater familiarity

And for me, at least now, there is a cycling through of each of these. One after another, presenting themselves, inviting me to find myself as each of them, to become more familiar with each, more intimate, to know each of their landscapes in more detail.