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.)


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.


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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Dream: Unlimited embodiment

I read a book called “Unlimited Embodiment”. It’s very good and written by someone with extensive experience with embodiment and awakening, and a background from Vajrayana Buddhism (likely Bhutan).

This was more of a dream image than a narrative dream.

I would very much like to read a book with that title, written by someone with extensive experience.

Embodiment is very interesting to me. Awakening and embodiment go hand-in-hand and are really two sides of the same process. Embodiment is part of the awakening process. It clarifies and grounds the awakening. The natural movement of awakening is embodiment.

What is awakening? For me, it’s noticing what I more fundamentally am, and noticing that it’s my more fundamental nature noticing itself.

What is embodiment? It’s living from and as my more fundamental nature recognizing itself.

To me, it seems that both are endless. There is always more to notice and clarity. There is always further to go in living from it. Our human self – body, mind, and life in the world – keeps transforming and maturing in this process.

So yes, embodiment is unlimited.

Why Vajrayana Buddhism? I have a deep resonance with Vajrayana Buddhism with its inclusivity, Earthiness, and shamanic elements. I love it and have a lot of respect for it. (And did practice within it for a while a long time ago.) To me, it seems grounded and Earthy and seems to emphasize or reflect embodiment more than many other traditions.

Why Bhutan? Perhaps because their Buddhist tradition is more unbroken? (In Tibet, China has interfered a lot with Buddhism and Buddhist life and practice.)

Why did this dream come now? I am not sure. Perhaps to show me that it’s happening more than I sometimes think? I have worked a lot on healing issues in me, and that’s an important part of embodiment. It opens space for a more real and effortless embodiment.

Yesterday, I noticed that several things seemed more gone than I had noticed before, especially my dreams about the future, the things I wanted to do and achieve, and my role in the world. (These wore off since my life took another path due to my physical condition.) I am more just living here and now and enjoying a simple life. That’s part of the embodiment, and perhaps the dream is reminding me of this.

Another thing I notice is that I would love to write a book on embodiment, and Unlimited Embodiment seems a great title.

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This experience too is most fundamentally content of experience

I had store-bought pizza last night, which is unusual for me, but I was somehow drawn to it. The result was predictable: a restless night and waking up feeling not very good. (Highly processed foods usually have a big impact on my system, including my emotional state.)

And that’s OK. I can still do some or all of the things I had planned for today.

More importantly, it’s an opportunity to explore.

It’s all content of experience. The weird feelings in my body, and the emotions and corresponding thoughts, are all content of experience. To me, it’s made up of what any experience is made up of.

It’s OK. It’s like any other experience. It’s most fundamentally like any other experience.

As someone said: It’s a flavor of the divine. It’s a flavor of consciousness.

So this uncomfortable experience is, in many ways, a blessing.

It’s an invitation to notice this and let my system soak in that noticing.

And I’ll still limit how often and how much I eat highly processed foods (!). I don’t need to actively seek it out to explore in this way since the content of experience is always in flux anyway.

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What’s the relationship between the divine and the human?

What is the relationship between the divine and the human?

I saw an advertisement for a course on this topic, so I thought I would see what comes up for me around it.


Within stories, the answer can be simple.

All of existence is a seamless whole.

It’s all the play of the divine.

It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways, including through and as you and me, our lives and experiences, and our culture and civilization.


In our direct experience, it can also be quite simple.

As consciousness, this human self and the wider world all happen within and as what I am.

To me, what I am forms itself into the experience of all of it.

Said another way, it’s all happening within my sense fields (sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, mental representations), and those mental fields happen within and as what I am.

At the same time, there is a special relationship with this particular human self. It’s the only human self I receive “inside” information about in the form of senses and thoughts.


When it comes to our exploration process, it’s also simple and yet infinitely intricate.

A typical process is that our psyche is mainly formed within separation consciousness. (Especially noticeable with our hangups, traumas, and issues.) The oneness we are then notices itself, creates a habit of continuing to notice itself, and explores how to live from this noticing. And our human self inevitably transforms within that noticing so more of its psyche is aligned with oneness.

And that last part is not always an easy process. It can be overwhelming, confusing, messy, and scary, and more so the more trauma our human self has.

Whatever in us that’s still operating from separation consciousness comes to the surface so it can align with a more conscious noticing of oneness.

It’s inevitable. So it makes sense for us to consciously join in with that process, and support it as best we can.

Since our knots are universal with a personal flavor, the unknotting is universal with a personal flavor.

It typically involves a combination of shifting our relationship to our experience, including what our personality likes the least. And finding healing for our issues and trauma.

And that process can be supported through a combination of heart-centered practices, inquiry, therapy, mindful movement, relationship work, social engagement, and more.

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Waking up parts of our psyche: Become & wake up

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

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


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

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

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

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


So how does this work?

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

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

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

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

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


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

One is to scan my timeline.

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

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

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

The other approach is to use others as a mirror.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The relationship between who and what we are (our human self & consciousness)

What are some of the relationships between who and what we are? Between our human self and consciousness (AKA Buddha mind, Big Mind, Spirit).

It’s obviously a big topic so I’ll mention just a few things here, based on my own experience.


The first answer is that they are part of the same.

It’s thoughts that differentiate the two. I can’t find any diving line outside of my mental representations.

I can also say that to me, my human self happens within and as what I am.

Who I am happens within and as what I am. They are not two.


To me, everything happens within and as my field of experience.

That includes any human self, they all happen within my field of experience. To me, they all happen within and as the oneness I am, as does anything else.

And there is also a special relationship with this particular human self.

It’s around a lot more than any other humans and most or all other content of experience.

And this consciousness perceives through and as this human self. What I am experiences the sense fields of this human self – sight, sound, smell, taste, sensations, thoughts, movement, acceleration, and so on.


When our nature does not recognize itself, our human psyche tends to operate from separation consciousness. It tends to assume that what we most fundamentally are is an object within the field of consciousness. It perceives, lives, and acts as if this is how it is.

That’s how it was for me too. In my childhood, my psyche was formed within separation consciousness and many parts of me learned to function from separation consciousness.

That’s also how hangups, identifications, emotional issues, traumas, and so on are formed. They are expressions of and operate from separation consciousness. If they didn’t, they would align with reality and find healing.


When our nature notices itself, there is an invitation to keep noticing, explore how it is to live from this noticing, and for our human self to transform within this new context.

All of this is ongoing. The noticing, exploration of how to live from it, and the transformation is ongoing.

It’s all happening within and as the oneness we are, just like anything else.


Even when the oneness we are notices itself, many parts of our human self and psyche still operate from separation consciousness. These parts of us will inevitably color our perception, choices, and life in the world. And they will get triggered more strongly in some situations.


The transformation process can also be difficult and messy at times, especially as deep issues surface to be seen, felt, befriended, loved, and recognized as love and part of the oneness we are.

When this happens, our habitual responses to our deep and painful issues tend to come up as well, with an invitation for us to see, feel, and befriend these too.

In periods, what’s unprocessed in us may be mostly under the surface, although they will color our life and some issues tend to come up. This can happen during a kind of honeymoon period after an initial noticing or oneness shift.

In periods, they may come up in mostly smaller portions and now and then. This allows us to explore and befriend painful parts of us without feeling too overwhelmed.

And in periods, the metaphorical lid may be taken off and a huge amount of them come up at once. When this happens, it can feel overwhelming, confusing, scary, painful, and even unbearable. This happened for me some years ago, and I am still in this phase although it has quieted down a bit.

In general, the more trauma we have, the more this process can feel difficult, overwhelming, and messy. And the less trauma we have, the more manageable it may feel although still with its challenges.


There are a couple of answers:

When our general system recognizes itself as oneness, what’s out of alignment surfaces so it can heal, transform, and align with oneness noticing itself.

When our general system recognizes itself as oneness, anything in our human self still operating from separation consciousness distorts the expression of oneness. They are out of alignment. They need to transform and realign so the oneness we are can express itself more clearly in more situations and more areas of life.

To me, this seems a natural and perhaps even inevitable process.

And it’s certainly not always comfortable. For me, it’s been the most difficult, messy, and humbling phase in my life by far, and I have not always dealt with it gracefully.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


I can find that in myself.

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

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

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

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


This points to an important part of the awakening process.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a very brief outline.


I notice a contraction.

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

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

I rest with this noticing.


I recognize the contraction as a part of me.

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

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


I thank the contraction for protecting me.

Thank you for protecting me.

Thank you for your love for me.

I repeat this and rest in this noticing.


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

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

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


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

What’s the essence of it?

What are some of the underlying and more essential stories?

Is it true? What’s more true?

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


I notice the contraction as a flavor of the divine.

And in more detail:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Is this an advanced practice? Yes and no.

Anyone can benefit from exploring several of these steps.

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

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

Noticing it as a part comes from parts work.

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

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

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

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

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

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Awakening: Realization and embodiment

If we do not live and manifest in our lives what we realize in our deepest moments of revelation, then we are living a split life.

– Adyashanti

Adyashanti is here talking about realization and embodiment.

This has several parts.

One is to notice our nature, what we are in our own first-person experience. This can be relatively simple and doesn’t need much time or preparation, especially with the support of guided inquiry like Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Another is to keep noticing in daily life and through more and more situations and independent of experiences and states. This takes some intention and effort. It’s an ongoing practice.

Then we have living from this noticing. How is it to live from this noticing, in this situation? How does it look?

How can I support living from this noticing? What in me – beliefs, identifications, hangups, wounds –  stops this from happening? What do I find when I explore unquestioned painful stories? How is it to find love from unloved parts of me? How can I invite healing for this human self? How can I prepare the ground for maturing of this human self?

By necessity, living from the noticing lags behind the noticing itself. It’s natural and inevitable, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The question is, how can I reduce the gap between the two?

And all of it – the noticing and living from it and the healing and maturing – is an ongoing process. There is no finishing line.

In Ken Wilber’s terminology, this is about waking up, cleaning up, growing up, and showing up.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Finding the contraction

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

This is how I find the contraction.

Noticing the physical sensations

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

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

Allowing and welcoming

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

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

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

Finding the need and want

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

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

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

Giving it what it needs and wants

I then give it what it wants and needs.

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

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

Finding the lack

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

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

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

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

Seeing it’s here to protect me

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

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

Finding its nature

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Waking up issues: medicines for a condition

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Notice what seems the least like my nature

I find that what I am, in my own experience, is capacity for the world as it appears to me, and what my sense fields – containing this human self and the wider world – happens within and as.

Is that it? Yes and no.


I find that I sometimes notice directly, and sometimes also mistake my mental images of what I am for what they refer to. It’s often a mix.

When I look for them, I can notice these images, and that helps recognize them as images and use them as pointers for what’s already here outside of any mental fabrications.

I can also investigate these images, and my relationship with them, more in detail. For instance, through the Living Inquiries. This helps me recognize the images more easily in the moment, and it also helps release some of the charge out of them.


When I notice what I am – as capacity for my world, stillness & silence, and so on – I can also look for what in my field seems the least like this.

What in my experience, here and now, am I not recognizing as having the same nature as I have?

Usually, these are contractions – made up of mental, physical, and energetic contractions. They are parts of me still operating from separation consciousenss and from unexamined beliefs and unloved fear.

They are bubbles of separation consciousness.

When I first find myself as capacity and stillness & silence, I can notice these as having the same nature. I can rest in this noticing, and invite these contractions to find themselves as stillness & silence. This allows them to rest in it, and realign and unravel.


When I do this, and especially the stillness & silence part of it, I notice it’s a very natural process. It’s so simple and natural it’s even a bit difficult to write about.

I also see that there is no differentiation between healing, awakening, and embodiment here. All three are present in this process.

Inviting contractions to find themselves as stillness & silence is healing in that it allows emotional issues to heal.

It strengthens the habit of finding my own nature and noticing what’s in my experience as having the same nature.

And it supports living from noticing what I am. It supports embodiment since these contractions inevitably color (distort) my perception and life, and when they are triggered, it’s easy for me to temporarily get caught up in them and perceive and live from separation consciousness.

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The dark night of embodiment

Most of us experience some kind of a dark night in our life, a time when our old ways of relating to life don’t work anymore. During these periods, we may come face-to-face with painful beliefs, unhealed parts of ourselves, unexamined priorities, living in an inauthentic way in some area of life, and so on.

A specific type of dark night is what I (as of a few minutes ago) like to think of as a dark night of embodiment.

This is a not-uncommon phase of the awakening process.

We notice what we are, and we may notice it more and more often. It may even become familiar and a new habit. We explore how to live from this noticing.

We may also notice that parts of our human self still operate from separation consciousness (beliefs, emotional issues, traumas), and that this colors our general perception and life in the world. When they are triggered, we may also get caught up in them and identify with and life from these painful places in ourselves for a while.

We recognize that an important part of embodiment, living from noticing what we are, is to find healing for how we relate to life and these painful parts of ourselves, and also invite in healing for these unhealed parts of ourselves.

Life knows this too, and independent of wheter we want or not or understand what’s going on or not, life may set in motion a process of bringing all this unprocessed material to the surface.

Whatever is not aligned with the awakening comes up to join in with the awakening, And it comes up with an invitation for us to heal our relationship to it, and invite in healing for it.

The more unprocessed material is in us, the more can come up. And the more overwhelming, intense, frightening, confusing, and disorienting it can be.

And, in general, it’s a process that tends to bring us to our knees. We get to see where we are still stuck, and we come face-to-face with anything in us that want to hold on and sometimes struggles with the unsticking-process as if it was matter of life and death.

The more we join in with this struggle, the more we’ll struggle and the more difficult this process will be for us. (And the more we get to learn about that facet of this process.)

It’s a deeply human process, it tends to be messy and unglamorous, and it’s often deeply humbling. It brings us back to being a beginner, we need to befriend things in ourselves we would rather avoid, and we get to see things about ourselves we would rather not see.

The general process is very simple, and it has a lot of facets and things to discover.

How is it to heal my relationship with what’s coming up? With discomfort? Strong emotions? Unsavory parts of myself? Holding onto beliefs and identities for comfort and a sense of safety?

How is it to befriend what’s coming up in me? How is it to welcome it? Listen to what it has to say? Notice and allow it as it is? Allow it to transform, in its own time and in its own way?

How is it to see that these parts of me came from a desire to protect me? That they are innocent? Come from a childlike way of looking at the world? Come from love?

How is it to examine the scary stories behind these unhealed parts of me? What’s the perception, choices, and life that comes out of holding them as true? What’s more true for me than these stories?

How is to to notice this, even the most uncomfortable, as a flavor of the divine? As having the same true nature as I do? As being part of who and what I am?

For me, this process has been – and still sometimes is – immensely difficult. It’s the most challening I have ever experienced. (Anything challening is really a part of this process.) It’s been messy, unglamorous, humbling, confusing, disorienting, scary, embarrasing, and much more.

And it is a kind of dark night of embodiment. It happened after an especially significant awakening shift, and it’s a process of aligning the rest of my human self with the awakening – with reality, love, and oneness.

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Enlightenment is a destructive process

Make no mistake about it—enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

– Adyashanti


Noticing what we are doesn’t necessarily require that much of us. We can be guided to it, and notice it within a few minutes without much preparation. It can be so quick and unremarkable that some will dismiss at as not the real thing, or they don’t quite get the significance of it.


In a sense, living from it here and now doesn’t require so much. It just requires noticing what we are, and living from this oneness as best as we can in the moment. It requires some intention and sincerity, and that’s about it.

We’ll do it imperfectly, for a few different reasons. It may be relatively unfamiliar to us, especially at first. Our human self will still be partially caught up in old habits formed from separation consciousness. And we’ll have parts of us still operating from separation consciousness, and this will color our perception and life, and when triggered, we may get caught up in the separation views of these parts of us.


And that brings us to what I suspect Adya talks about.

Living from noticing what we are requires a profound transformation of our human self, and that costs us everything. The many parts of us operating from separation consciousness come to the surface, one way or another and at one time or another, to join in with the awakening.

This requires us to experience how they experience the world, which is not always pretty or comfortable.

It requires us to heal how we relate to these parts of us, from seeing them as an enemy to befriending them.

It requires us to help these parts of us heal and join in with the awakening.

Although this can sound relatively simple and straightforward, for many of us, it’s anything but that. It’s a process that will bring us to our knees. It’s a destructive process, as Adya says. And as Evelyn Underhill wrote about the dark night of the soul, it’s a deeply human process.


There is a lot more to say about this transformation process.

It’s often called embodiment. We bring the awakening into our life, and that requires this transformation of our human self.

We are along for the ride. At some point, it becomes clear that we are not in control of this process. We just relate to it and deal with as best we can.

It can involve one or more dark nights, and different types of dark nights.

It’s an ongoing process. There is no place to arrive, although we can get through the most intense phases and have periods of more calm.

It doesn’t always look pretty. It can involve a great deal of struggle, confusion, overwhelm, despair, and so on.

We will likely see things about ourselves we rather would not see. It will demolish our pretty picture of ourselves.

It requires us to lose every cherished belief, ideal, and image of ourselves. It requires us to lose any idea of gaining anything from this process.

We experience it as a deeply human process because it is. It’s a transformation of our human self and life.

It requires us to meet any trauma, emotional issue, identification, wound, and so on in our human system, and there may be a lot more than than we thought or expected.

It requires us to notice any experience as the flavor of the divine, and as having the same true nature as ourselves.

It may require us to shed whatever in our life is not aligned with truth, whatever is not authentic and real and aligned with our heart. This may fall away on its own whether we want it to or not. And sometimes, we’ll have to make the hard choices. (In my experience, if I don’t life will do it for me and often in ways that don’t look pretty.)

In many cases, early phases of the awakening process involves a temporary transcendence of the human. We pull out of the human a bit so we can get more familiar with what we are. This is the opposite, it’s a process of descending and going deeply into the human messiness so it can join in with the awakening.

It is something many spiritual teachers don’t talk about in public. Perhaps because it happens after we notice what we are, and they like to do this one-on-one with these students. And perhaps because it can scare people from even starting on a spiritual path. (As if we have a choice.)

Many of the basic spiritual practices serve us well in this process. Heart-centered practices help us meet ourselves and these parts of us with more kindness, compassion, and love. Inquiry helps us investigate stressful thoughts coming up, and also identifications and anything with a charge in our system. Body-centered practices help us stay more grounded and kind with ourselves. Service can broaden our view beyond our own limited life and struggles. Ethical guidelines may help us avoid acting on some of the pain in destructive ways.

Ordinary forms of therapy and emotional healing can be very helpful in this process, especially if we find someone who understands what’s going on and have gone through it themselves.

For me, this has been a far more destructive process than I could have imagined.

Our inner community: finding a more conscious wholeness

Metaphorically, we have an inner community of voices and parts.

Often, it’s somewhat disorganized and pulls in different directions.

And through befriending and having a more intentional relationship with our inner community, we can help it organize and work more as a whole. We can heal our relationship with these parts of us, we can invite these parts to heal, and we can create more of a well-functioning inner community.


We have a familiar conscious view on ourselves and the world. We see ourselves and life a certain way, we have our priorities and value certain things, and we like to present ourselves a certain way to ourselves and the world. This is typically shaped, at least partially, by our culture and what’s seen as desirable.

That’s part of the picture, but it’s far from the whole picture.

The rest of us has its views and priorities as well, and they may not be the same as these.


In a sense, our actual priorities, values, and orientation are reflected in how we life our life and how we spend our time.

We may live in one way when we are relaxed, comfortable, and feel safe. This is typically more closely aligned with our conscious orientation, although not always and if it isn’t we struggle with it.

And something else may happen when we feel stressed, which may reveal other things going on in us. These are often the priorities our system holds as most important to our survival. And if they are different from our conscious ones, it’s a good bet that they come from a scared and hurt place in us.


All the different parts of us have their own priorities, values, and orientation, and ways of experiencing ourselves and life.

They were created in response to different situations in our life, and often early in life. If they were created early in life, they often reflect a child’s way of relating to the world. They may be wounded to various degrees. And they are here to take care of us and protect us. In that sense, they come from and are a form of love.

They may be a little misguided, but they have our best interest at heart. They are here to be befriended.


Our conscious view is different from how these parts of us experience the world, and each of our parts have their own way of experiencing the world. We are multitudes. Which is why we sometimes feel torn, and why we sometimes act in ways not aligned with our conscious view or in a way that makes sense to us.

In a very real sense, each part of us live in its own world.


So how can we work with this? How can we get all our myriad ducks in a row? How can we live in a more whole or unified way?

As far as I know, there is only one way. And that is to get to know each of these parts of us, listen to what they have to say, befriend them, get used to being with their energies, heal our relationship with them, and invite them to heal. In that way, we can relate to them in a more healthy way, and they can function from a more healthy place.


The specifics of how we go about this can vary, but it does involve meeting these wounded parts of us with curiosity, patience, and respect. They are us, so why not meet them as we would like to be met? We are already in a dialog with them without realizing it, so why not make this dialog more conscious, kind, and beneficial to all of us?


We can do this through parts work, inner dialog, heart-centered practices, inquiry, body-centered practices, and more, and often through a combination of several. And it’s not something we do once and it’s done. Just like our relationships in the world need attention and love, our relationship with ourself and these parts of us require ongoing attention and love. For most of us, it’s the one relationship we have for our whole life.


This is also a central part of embodiment and living from noticing what we are.

We can work on this before we notice what we are, in order to heal and mature as a human being.

And we continue this work while we notice what we are, as part of living from this awakening.

The more parts of us are healed and aligned with oneness and awakening, the easier it is to live from noticing what we are, and the more we will be able to do it in different situations.

And to the extent we have parts of us still operating from separation consciousness, it will color our general perception and life, and these parts of us will come out more strongly in situations where they are triggered. That’s one reason we sometimes see gurus behave badly. They too, as most of us, have parts of them that are unhealed and not aligned with oneness. And that’s one reason we need structures in spiritual organizations to prevent this.

This is an ongoing process.


Most people know about our multiple nature in a general sense, and I assume people across times and cultures have known this. In our modern world, Freud was probably the one to popularize it. (A lot of the specifics from him may be a little off or reflecting his particular culture, but the essence is often valuable and insightful.)

Note: I have a more strong brain fog than usual these days, and it’s reflected in this writing. I hope to revisit it later and put it in a better shape.

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A tantric approach to spirituality: Making use of situations and experiences for awakening and living from it

A tantric approach to spirituality is where you make use of any kind of situation and experience to invite in, clarify and live from the awakening. 

I rarely use that term since it seems obvious. If we are serious about this exploration and use the right approaches for this type of exploration, why not make use of any kind of experience?

I intentionally say “kind of situation and experience” since we may not make use of every single situation and experience, but we can make use of every kind of situation and experience. 

What’s the alternative? 

I guess it would be an approach where we only make use of what’s happening while we engage in meditation or another practice, and live our life without paying much attention to what we are or how we relate to what’s happening. 

How do we take a tantric approach? 

Mainly, through our orientation and the type of approaches and practices we use. 

We intend to make use of any kind of situation and experience, and we find approaches that allows us to do so. 

Most of the approaches I mention in these articles are tantric in nature since anything can fodder for them, and the orientation is to make use of anything. 

We can take any situation or experience to inquiry, whether it’s The Work, Living Inquiries, the Big Mind process, or something similar. 

We can find ourselves as capacity for our experience and the world as it appears to us, in any situation, especially as we get familiar with noticing through Headless experiments or the Big Mind process. 

Similarly, we can notice the true nature of whatever we experience – for instance emotions, thoughts, and physical discomfort. We can notice that their true nature is the same as our own. (And has to be since, to us, it’s all happening within and as what we are.) 

We can use any situation to see how it is to live from noticing what we are, especially as we get used to noticing this. 

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

We can use any situation to pay attention to what’s triggered in us – of hangups, beliefs, emotional issues, and trauma – and invite in healing for these, in whatever way works for us. For instance, dialog with subpersonalitites, inquiry, energy healing, or something else. 

In these ways and many more, we can make use of any kind of situation and experience to support awakening, healing, and living from noticing what we are. Most of the articles here are about this, even if I don’t use the tantric label.

One type of dark night: Parts of us wanting to join the awakening

There are many dark nights we can go through in an awakening process, as it is in life in general.

One type that can happen in an awakening process is when parts of us want to join the awakening.

This is perhaps the one I am most familiar with so far.

The essence of dark nights

The essence of any dark night is perhaps that we struggle with what’s happening. That’s why it appears to us as a dark night. Some part of us doesn’t like it and struggle with it, and the mind identifies with this struggle and the painful stories behind it.

When we notice what we are, unawake parts of us come up to join the awakening

Awakening means to notice what we are. We find ourselves as capacity for the world, as what our experiences happen within and as.

Even if we notice what we are, and this noticing is relatively habitual, there will still be parts of us living in separation consciousness. We can call these beliefs, identifications, hangups, emotional issues, traumas etc.

When these surface, as they will – often triggered by life situations – they come with an invitation. In a sense, they ask us to help them join the awakening. They are like suffering beings wanting liberation from their suffering, and we are the ones who can help them align more consciously with awakening and oneness. (How we do this is less mysterious than it may sound, and I have written about that in other posts.)

Normally, these surface now and then with periods of more calm in between.

The dark night of parts of us wanting to join the awakening

And sometimes, these surface in great numbers and with a great deal of intensity.

This doesn’t happen for everyone, but it does happen in some cases.

And when it does, it can be one of the most challenging things we have ever experienced. It can feel completely overwhelming, unbearable, confusing, and disorienting. The intensity of it can, in itself, bring up a lot of fear in us. And we can feel very alone in it since others likely don’t understand. It’s also likely that we don’t understand, at least not for a while.

How to deal with it

How do we best deal with it?

I don’t have a magic formula.

In general, we can deal with it as we deal with anything.

We can inquire into stressful beliefs about it. (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries). We can dialog with what comes up. (Voice Dialog, Big Mind Process.)

We can use heart-centered practices to shift how we relate to what’s surfacing. (Tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta, inner smile.)

We can find ourselves as capacity for what’s surfacing and our human reactions to is. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

We can notice that the true nature of what’s surfacing is the same as our own true nature.

We can bring our attention to the physical sensations, and set aside or focus less on the thoughts, and over time make this more of a habit.

We can work on whatever emotional issues surface, and in whatever way works best for us.

We can receive treatments that work for us, whether it’s massage, acupuncture, or something else.

We can spend time in nature. Take a bath. Spend time with good friends. Do physical activities. Do gardening. Spend time with animals.

And whatever else that helps.

Why does it happen for some and not others?

I am not sure why this happens for some and not others.

I suspect it may have to do with how much trauma we have in our system. If we have a lot, a lot may surface at once.

How long does it last?

Again, I don’t know. It’s very individual.

I suspect the typical pattern is for the intensity of what comes up to gradually lessen over time.

And for us to learn to navigate the process better. Over time, we learn to befriend what comes up and be less caught up in our fear response to it. And that makes the overall process a little easier.

Eventually, we may return to a more “normal” pattern of these unhealed parts of us coming up now and then and typically with less intensity.

When it happens outside of awakening

The metaphorical lid can be taken off outside of awakening as well.

It can happen as the result of any spiritual practice, which is why it’s important for spiritual teachers to be trauma-informed and let their students know about the possibility before they start.

And it can happen for other reasons than spiritual practice or awakening.

In my case

I have written about this other places so will just give a short summary here.

The initial awakening happened when I was sixteen, and I had about ten years in a honeymoon phase. Then, some years where I was more focused on community work and sustainability. Then, a period of a very clear no-self awakening. And then, a dark night that included what I have written about here.

Several things happened that’s a little on the side of this topic. (Serious illness, loss of marriage, house, money, belongings, etc.).

And, at some point, the metaphorical lid was taken off and a huge amount of survival fear and traumas surfaced. The most intense phase lasted for about nine months, followed by a gradual lessening over the next several years, with some very intense periods again.

I explored all the ways of dealing with it mentioned above, and more. All of them helped to some extent – in relating to what came up, finding healing for what came up, and generally getting to know it and the process.

In general, it seems that this is a process that lives its own life and has to run its course.

There may be a magic bullet out there that I haven’t found.

I also know that the “magic bullet” idea comes from not having found peace with what comes up. And it seems that one of the main invitations of this process is to find peace with what comes up, as it is.

Spiritual practices mimic awakening

Many spiritual practices mimic awakening.

Some mimic noticing what we are, which helps us actually notice.

And some mimic living from noticing what we are.


Pointers that help us notice what we are tend to mimic what we naturally notice when we notice what we are.

This may sound obvious, but there is more to it.

Some pointers help us notice some of the characteristics of what we are. We may notice that what we are does not have a boundary, it’s timeless, it’s what space and time happen within, it’s what our experiences happen within and as. Looking at each of these, one at a time, we get a sense of what we are. It becomes more familiar, easier to notice, and the center of gravity of what we take ourselves to be can shift more into this. The Big Mind process is an example of these types of pointers.

Some help us relate to the content of our experience a certain way, and through that notice what we are. We find that the content of our experience happens within and as what we are. Some Headless experiments do this, and some of them do the first one.

In awakening, we notice the characteristics of what we are, and that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. And these pointers help us notice this here and now. We find it for ourselves. We notice what’s already here, and notice that we notice.


Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here.

Notice and see how it is to allow it. See if you can notice it’s already allowed – by space, mind, life.

See if you can notice that what’s here is already noticed and allowed.

This helps us find ourselves as capacity for our experience as it is, as that which our experience happens within and as.

It softens identification with the content of our experience. We get to see it all lives its own life. And this allows us to more easily find ourselves as what we are.


When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, we notice that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. Another word for this is oneness.

There are two aspects to living from oneness. One is living from it here and now, to the best of our ability. And that includes inviting the parts of us still operating from separation consciousness to join in with the awakening.

When we notice what we are, several things tend to happen.

We find that the world, to us, is one. We are oneness.

Another word for oneness is pragmatic love. It’s a love not dependent on states or feelings, and it’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

We recognize thoughts as thoughts. They have a valuable pragmatic function in helping us orient and function in the world. And they cannot reflect any final or absolute truth.


Several practices mimic how it is to live from oneness, and they mimic the characteristics mentioned above.

Heart-centered practices help us shift how we relate to ourselves, others, situations, and existence in general. (Tonglen, ho’oponopno, metta, inner smile.)

Some forms of inquiry help us see through beliefs, identifications, and what creates and upholds separation consciousness patterns in us. (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries.)

Body-centered practices help us shift how we relate to our body and the sensation-component of beliefs and identifications, and through that life in general. (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema.)

Guidelines for living help us avoid distractions and notice what in us is not yet healed or aligned with oneness. (Precepts etc.)

Whether or not we notice what we are, these practices help transform our human self to be more intentionally and consciously aligned with oneness.


The practices that mimc awakening seem to have a few things in common.

They tend to be more universal, simple, and essential. Variations of them are found in many spiritual traditions. They are not overly complicated. And they focus directly on the essentials of awakening and embodiment.

They also tend to be useful through the awakening process – whether it’s preparation, noticing what we are, living from this noticing, or supporting the unawake parts of us in joining with the awakening.

See below for a couple of drafts where I lost focus and they got overly intricate. I chose to include them to show the process, and since they have relevant pointers not included in the final version.

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Gospel of Thomas, verse 20

(1) The disciples said to Jesus: “Tell us whom the kingdom of heaven is like!”
(2) He said to them: “It is like a mustard seed.
(3) It is the smallest of all seeds.
(4) But when it falls on cultivated soil, it produces a large branch (and) becomes shelter for the birds of the sky.”

– Gospel of Thomas, verse 20

(1) The disciples again want to know!

(2+3) Jesus says it’s like a very small seed, the smallest of all seeds. Our true nature – as capacity for all phenomena as they appear to us – is easy to overlook. When we notice it, we may think it’s nothing and not realize its significance.

(4) But if we are good soil for this seed, it grows and shelters the birds of the sky. If we recognize the significance of this noticing and keep noticing and keep living from it, and allow the different parts of us to be transformed by it, its effects grow. Its profoundly transformative, and it becomes a shelter for our life and all our experiences.

Underestimating & overestimating awakening

Awakening can be underestimated and overestimated, and it’s almost inevitable that we do one or both at different points in the process.

Underestimating awakening

Awakening can be underestimated in, at least, a couple of different ways.

We can underestimate the importance of it and how transformative it can be. It means finding ourselves as capacity for the world, and that in itself turns our experience of ourselves and everything inside out and upside down. And it can be profoundly transformative for our human life in the world, more than anything else.

And we can underestimate what it requires from us to live from it. In a sense, it requires everything. If we go fully into it, it will eventually cost us all our old habits and assumptions, and all our beliefs and identifications.

Overestimating awakening

We can also overestimate awakening. We may think it helps solve all our problems and challenges, that it puts us in a permanent state of happiness, that it gives us superpowers, and so on. These are some of the myths of awakening, and they are the dreams of a separate self.

A few more details

I’ll say a few more words about each of these.

When it comes to the transformation, it comes in two ways as mentioned above.

It’s a transformation in how we perceive ourselves and the world. Before, we may take ourselves as fundamentally a separate self in a world of a myriad of fundamentally separate things. When we find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what all our experiences happen within and as, that’s turned upside down and inside out. We find our true nature, which is the true nature of all our experiences, and – to us – the world happens within and as oneness.

To the extent we keep noticing this, it can be profoundly transformative for our human self and our life in the world. The question becomes: how is it to live from oneness? How is it to live from oneness in this situation? Another side of this is that there will still be many parts of us, as a human being, still operating from separation consciousness, and these will surface and want to join in with the awakening. They come with the invitation for us to recognize their true nature, which is the same as our true nature, and for us to create the space and conditions for them to align with reality and oneness. As we keep doing this, there is a profound transformation and healing.

This requires us to notice what we are here and now. A memory of noticing this in the past can be a helpful reminder and pointer, and the noticing can only happen in immediacy. This noticing, living from it, and inviting more parts of us to join with the awakening, is an ongoing process. Any idea of an end is an idea that happens here and now, and that too is the (understandable and misguided) dream of parts of us still operating from separation consciousness.

The myths about awakening are several, and I’ll just mention a few here.

We may imagine it will solve all our problems, while in reality, our human challenges will still continue. We just have the possibility to relate to it differently, and that’s – in some ways – better.

We may imagine it’s a state – of bliss or something else, while in reality, we find ourselves as what allows all states, and what all the always changing states and experiences happen within and as.

We may imagine we’ll be omniscient or omnipresent, and although there is a metaphorical reality to it, it’s far more mundane than this fantasy.

We may imagine we’ll have superpowers, and although it comes with the potential for some amazing superpowers – like love – it’s again not as the fantasy would have it.

There is a common theme for each of these myths and fantasies about awakening. They are imaginations and dreams that come out of parts of us operating from separation consciousness. We’ll be disillusioned. And what we find is, in reality, far better than these fantasies – although they may not seem that way at first.

Some pitfalls on the spiritual path

There are many possible pitfalls on the spiritual path, and it can be helpful to be aware of some of them.

Most of us fall into one or more of these at different times of our process. The consequences can be minor or major. They can create some challenges and suffering. They are natural, understandable, and ultimately innocent. They are not inherently wrong or a mistake. And when they happen, they become part of our path and process, and – hopefully – something we learn from.

Some of these are phase-specific and some can happen at any point in the process. A few may be what’s needed at one point in our process, and become more of a pitfall in another phase.

I have written about some of the myths of awakening before, and one of the pitfalls is the myths about awakening. We may think awakening will solve our very human problems and challenges. That it’s a state – of bliss, joy, and free of suffering. That it gives us special powers. And so on. I’ll include some of those below.

So what are some of the pitfalls?

Relationship with our human life

We may focus on spiritual practice to the exclusion of our life in general. We still need to be good stewards of our life, as much as anyone.

We may engage in spiritual practice to resolve our suffering. Although spiritual practice can help, it’s equally important to address this in a more conventional way. To seek our healing for trauma and emotional issues, in whatever ways we have available and makes sense to us. The pitfall here is focusing exclusively on spiritual practice and assume it will take care of everything.

We may hold onto beliefs, identities, and assumptions and not identify and question them. A path of awakening involves identifying these, and especially our most cherished ones, and examine and question them and find what’s more true for us.

We may use awakening or spiritual practice as an excuse to treat others badly. (I saw this at the Zen center when I was there, among some senior people.)

We may get overconfident. We may live in intoxication from spiritual ideas or the initial bliss of finding what we are, and not take care of our human life. We may think it’s not important. That we won’t be touched by anything happening in our human life. That we can deal with anything. That it’s all fodder for practice. And not be a good steward of our life in an ordinary sense.

We may get overly discouraged by disillusionment, and not realize that awakening in many is ways a disillusionment process. It’s a process of realizing that our illusions – especially about what awakening will give us – are just that, illusions.

We may wish to retreat from life while it’s life that gives us fodder for practice. Our life, as it is, is usually more than enough for giving us that fodder. And that life can sometimes be in a monastery, a solitary retreat, and so on. That’s life too.

Relationship with teacher, teachings, and tradition

We may idealize a teacher, gild them, and put them on a pedestal. We may forget they are human beings just like anyone. We may assume their views and decisions are infallible. We may hold onto their every word as if it was gold. We may make decisions that go against our better judgment because they encourage us to do so.

We may try to give away what we can’t give away to a spiritual teacher or guru. What we can’t give away is our responsibility for our life – our choices, insights, practice, and so on. We are the final authority for all of this.

We may overlook that what we see in a spiritual teacher is also here. A better approach is to use the teacher and anything as a mirror for ourselves and find it here.

We may make what the teacher or tradition says into a belief. They are, at most, pointers. Something for us to explore for ourselves.

We may mindlessly adopt assumptions from the teacher and tradition. It’s helpful to identify these, question them, and find what’s more true for us. We can find the validity of these assumptions and also their limits.

We may assume that “our” tradition is the best one for every one or even the one true one. If this happens, it’s usually an attempt to feel more safe, remove a sense of uncertainty, and feel better about ourselves.

We may stay too focused on the tradition we are in, and overlook simpler and more effective practices found elsewhere.

We may get overly focused on the form and tradition and overlook what it’s really about: finding what we are and exploring how to live from it.

Relationship with practice

We may have an orientation to the practice and life that’s not so helpful. Sincerity, honesty, and diligence are some of the more helpful orientations.

We may dip our toe in too many streams without going deep in anything. It’s helpful to explore and learn from different approaches. And we also need to go deep in something – preferably an approach that works well for us.

We may stay with practices that don’t do much for us. If you don’t see results relatively quickly, why stick with it? Why not find some that may fit you better and work better for you?

We may rely on overly complex and involved practices when there are simpler and more effective ones out there.

We may engage in one practice or one type of practice at the cost of a more inclusive approach. We are complex beings so it’s helpful with a range of approaches. For instance… Training more stable attention is helpful for just about anything we want to do, including spiritual practice. Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here – helps us notice what we are. Heart-centered practices help us shift our relationship with ourselves, others, and life. And so on.

We may get complacent about our spiritual practice. We coast along in familiar territory and don’t take it further. We don’t identify and question our stories or underlying assumptions about ourselves, life, and anything connected with spirituality. We don’t make an effort to do what we do with a little more diligence, sincerity, and curiosity. We don’t adjust things – change practice or how we do it – if the practice doesn’t seem to go any further.

We may seek salvation or safety through spiritual practice and awakening. Nothing can give us or take away the salvation and safety that’s already in what we are (capacity for the world), and nothing can give us salvation or safety as who we are (a human being). For this, it’s as or more effective to work on the stressful beliefs and emotional issues fueling our search for salvation and safety.

We may assume what works for us works for everyone. Teaches, traditions, and practices are medicines for specific conditions. For other people, a different approach may be what works better. And for us in the future, another approach may work better than the one we are currently using.

Relationship with awakening

We may seek to hold onto a state and peak experiences and overlook that we are capacity for all of it. We may miss the point of the practice.

We may notice what we are and underestimate it. We may think it’s too simple. It didn’t come with the bells and whistles we expected. We may not realize how profoundly transformative it is to keep noticing and living from it.

We may overestimate what happens in an awakening. We may think it solves all our problems. That it’s an ongoing state of bliss. That it gives us special powers. And so on. (This is one of the myths of awakening mentioned earlier.)

We may overlook the importance of embodiment. We may assume that noticing what we are is where it ends, and not emphasize exploring how to live from the awakening.

We may notice what we are and overlook the many parts of us still operating from separation consciousness. These tend to surface to join in with the awakening, and it’s up to us to support them in this process. In an important sense, they are our suffering devotees and we are their guru.

We may assume that awakening is the end of the path. In reality, it’s a new beginning. It’s the beginning of keeping on noticing what we are in the moment, explore how it is to live from it, and notice what in us is not yet onboard with the awakening.

We may assume there is an end to the path. In reality, it’s ongoing. The clarification, deepening, and exploration has no end. To be more specific, it’s here and now and the “end to the path” can only be found in an idea.

We may assume awakening makes us better than others or who we were. Our true nature is always here and is the same for everyone. Noticing it is just the icing on the cake and doesn’t make us worse or better.

In general

We may assume that going into these pitfalls is inherently a mistake. If we go into them, that becomes part of our process and something we gain experience and hopefully learn from. And that’s no reason to actively seek any of them out.

We may also assume we can avoid these pitfalls. Yes, we may be able to avoid them in an obvious way. At the same time, I can find each one of these in my own life and I assume most others on a spiritual path can as well. It may not be something very obvious, but I can always find some examples. The question is often not if but how.

In general, these pitfalls come about because we believe a story. We take a story as true – often in an attempt to stay safe – and perceive and act as if it’s true. And that gives us consequences that help us notice the story we hold onto, that it’s not true in the way we initially took it, and perhaps find what’s more true for us.

About this list

This list obviously reflect my own biases, including that I mostly have been outside of traditions. Someone else would create a list that’s slightly or very different.

I wrote these as they came to me and then roughly organized them, so there is some overlap and they can be systemized better. The list is also far from complete!

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Does enlightenment take lifetimes?

Some traditions and teachers say enlightenment takes lifetimes.

Why is that when noticing what we are can literally take minutes? If we are guided, it can take a few minutes to frame the pointing verbally, and a moment to notice.

I assume it’s because they don’t just talk about noticing what we are, but living from it. They talk about embodiment, and about inviting all the different parts of our human self and psyche still operating from separation consciousness to reorganize within a conscious noticing of oneness.

To notice what we are takes no time. Making a habit out of noticing, and doing so through more and more situations in life, takes time. Exploring how to live from it takes infinite time. And allowing more of our human self – the parts formed and still operating within separation consciousness – to align with oneness and join in with the awakening, takes infinite time.

Awakening vs enlightenment

This is why I make a distinction between awakening and enlightenment.

Awakening means finding ourselves as capacity for the world, as that which all our experiences happen within and as. We can be guided into this relatively easily.

It takes a bit more time and engagement to make a new habit out of noticing this, and doing so through situations in our life. Past memories of noticing can help us remember and serve as a pointer for noticing, and the noticing always happens here and now. It’s fresh.

Exploring how to live from it is ongoing. We are never done with this. We can always discover more and be a little more skilled. And as we (hopefully) continue to heal and mature as a human self, this will change how we live from the noticing.

Many parts of us as a human self were created and operates from separation consciousness. When these are triggered, the center of gravity can get pulled into this separation consciousness for a while. And if we continue to be identified with some of these parts of us, it means we operate from separation consciousness to some extent, and perhaps especially in some areas of life.

Embodiment generally refers to living from the noticing of what we are. And it refers, more specifically, to inviting more of our human self to more deeply realign within a conscious noticing of oneness and what we are.

So what is enlightenment? Is it the noticing? Making a habit of noticing? Living from it? Inviting the parts of our psyche operating from separation consciousness to join with the awakening? All of the above?

For me, it’s all of the above. It’s a ridiculously tall order, it’s ongoing, and if we have lifetimes to work it will still be an ongoing process.

There is always more to explore. And as we continue to heal, develop, and mature, living from it will always look a little different.

We can say that awakening is noticing what we are. Enlightenment is a relatively ongoing noticing of what we are, living from it, and having our human self mostly on board with it. (I am saying relatively and mostly since there is always further to go.) And we could perhaps call the continuing exploration of how to live from it – as we continue to heal, develop, and mature – self-realization.

I don’t know. The process seems to be more or less as I describe it here, and although I find this way of using the labels helpful I also know people use them in different ways.

Enlightenment is ongoing

In any case, when people say that enlightenment takes lifetimes, this is what comes to mind.

It’s obviously not the noticing of what we are since that doesn’t need to take long at all.

It’s the rest of it – and especially inviting all the parts of our human self operating from separation consciousness to join – that’s ongoing and takes whatever time we have to work with.

Perhaps instead of saying “enlightenment takes lifetimes”, it makes more sense saying….

Noticing what we are takes no time at all, and exploring how to live from it is an ongoing process.

Or…. the path to God is finte, and the path within God is infinite.

A few words about time

Some sticklers will argue about how I talk about time here. I deliberately talk about time in a conventional sense, as most people understand it.

Although noticing what we are happens here and now, and what we find is that we are capacity for space and time along with any other experience, it does take a few minutes to set it up before we can notice. If we are guided, it takes a few minutes to frame it verbally and give the pointers.

And although we are capacity for our experience of time and space and everything else, we can still talk about time and lifetimes and ongoing explorations. They are two sides of the same coin.

Why don’t spiritual traditions use more direct pointing?

Why don’t most spiritual traditions use direct pointing similar to the Headless experiments or the Big Mind process? Is it because they didn’t figure it out?

It probably varies with the tradition. The theistic ones may not do it because it doesn’t fit so cleanly with their theology. And the non-theistic and more non-dual ones may not do it for another reason that makes as much or more sense.

These traditions typically start people off with preliminary practices. These practices reorganize and realign us at a human level, and they mimic living from and embodying an awakening. When people are ready, there may be a direct pointing that helps people notice what they are, or the teacher wait until the student have a more spontaneous noticing. And then there is an emphasis on continued noticing and embodiment, bringing it into daily life.

Why do they do it this way?

It may be because they, through experience, find that the embodiment side of it is what’s practically most important and what takes the most time. Noticing what we are takes very little time, if we are guided to it. Living from it takes a whole life, and many lifetimes if we have many lifetimes to work with.

The other side of this is that if some are shown and notice what they are too soon in the process, they may not take it seriously, or they may think they got it and nothing more is needed. Both of which are a bit misguided.

Also, if someone doesn’t get it, for whatever reason, they’ll at least have the benefits from the preliminary and other ongoing practices.

I know that in Dzogchen, they have direct pointing but don’t use it until people have done the preliminary practices and are ready for it. Possibly for these reasons.

Is it misguided to go directly to helping people notice what they are?

No. It’s just helpful to also point out that noticing what we are takes very little time, and exploring how to live from it takes infinite time. It’s something we are never done with, at least not until we die and are not here anymore.

Embodiment involves awakening and healing

Embodiment is about living from the awakening, and it involves healing.

As I often mention: even if we notice what we are in a general sense, there are still parts of us at a human level that still operate from separation consciousness. These are parts of us caught up in painful beliefs, emotional issues, hangups, trauma, wounds, and so on (all names for more or less the same). When these are triggered, it’s easy for the mind to get caught up in the old patterns and react to them and live from them and from the separation consciousness they function from.

And as usual, there is nothing inherently wrong in this. It’s natural, understandable, and ultimately innocent. (Although it can trigger suffering in ourselves and others.)

That’s why embodiment involves healing. To live from the awakening in more situations in life, we need to shift how we relate to these parts of us, invite in healing for them, and notice their true nature.

Their true nature is our own true nature. They are capacity for themselves. When we see this, it’s easier to shift how we relate to them, out of reactivity and into noticing, allowing, and befriending. And it’s also easier to invite these parts of us to reorganize within the awakening and align with oneness. That’s ultimately how they heal. That’s the deepest healing.

This is one reason why, for me, awakening and healing go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin. (Another reason is that both have to do with living a more comfortable, enjoyable, and meaningful life, which is the topic for another post.)

When we find what we are, do we avoid “negative energy”?

If you are that person in your field… if they are in a positive state they are spreading positive energy and you are that positive energy, and if they are spreading negative energy you are that negative energy, so the company you keep becomes more important if you are living from that space.

– one of the hosts of the Rising Laterally podcast in an interview with Richard Lang, ca. 40 minutes in

Richard answered this very well, and I thought I would explore it a bit for myself.

The context of this quote

The Rising Laterally folks interviewed Richard Lang who spoke about the Headless Way and the headless experiments.

Through the headless experiments, we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We are that which the world, as we experience it, happens within and as.

We are the content of our experience, including whatever people we encounter or are with.

When the host said “if you are that person in the field”, he referred to this. That we are capacity for other people, as we experience them, and they happen within and as what we are. We are them, in a very immediate way, for the time they are with us and in our experience.

What does positive & negative energy mean?

I am not sure.

I suspect “positive energy” can mean someone intentionally “positive”, which can be very annoying and not helpful in the long run for the person feeling they need to live that way. It can also mean someone generally healthy and content with life.

And “negative energy” may refer to what happens when we are in pain and react to that pain, for instance through catastrophic thinking, blame, going into victimhood, or something similar.

The different layers

When we notice what we are, how do we relate to others?

Do we, as one of the hosts of the podcast said, avoid “negative energy” more carefully? Or does something else happen?

Whether we notice what we are or not, our human self still has personal preferences. We’ll still be drawn to some people and less to others. That’s natural and not a problem.

When we find ourselves as capacity for our world, we also realize that as capacity, we are not really touched by any of it. We don’t need to avoid “negative energy”, whatever that means.

Depending on our maturity at our human level, we may not see it as “negative energy”. We may see it as someone in pain. Someone struggling with their pain and trying to deal with it as best as they can. We may come more from empathy and understanding. We may make ourselves available, for a time, for this other person and listen, be with them, and see if something else is appropriate and seems helpful.

At the same time, we want to be a good steward of our life. We may spend some time with people who are in pain and react to their pain in different ways. Although, we may not want to marry that person or someone we don’t resonate with at a human level.

The complexity of it

It’s a complex topic. We will have our preferences at a human level. We find that what we are is not touched by how others are. We may have more understanding and empathy. We may want to be a friend to the person and spend some time with them. We’ll want to be a good steward of our own life.

How we see and relate to others when they are in pain depends on a wide range of things. Our maturity. How much we have healed ourselves. What we have gone through at a human level. How much we generally have investigated ourselves. Our relationship with that person and the role we find ourselves in. And so on.

The world is our mirror

What much of this boils down to is that we relate to others as we relate to ourselves.

If we have trained ourselves to think about something as “negative energy” and to shun and avoid it in ourselves, we’ll tend to do the same when we encounter it in others.

If we have explored this in ourselves, found that it comes from our reaction to our own pain, that it’s innocent and comes from a desire to protect ourselves, and generally befriended it and seen more clearly what it is about, we may not feel we need to shun or avoid it. We see that it feels better to meet it, be with it, find love for it, and investigate what’s behind it. And if that’s the case, we’ll tend to meet it in a similar way when we encounter it in others.

What would Jesus do?

Since Jesus is an archetype of sorts for living from this space, as capacity for the world, what did he do? According to the stories, he spent his time with the outcasts of society, with prostitutes, tax collectors, and similar people others shunned.

Why? Perhaps because he knew these people needed a friend more than many others. Perhaps he wanted to see what was left in him of old conditioning. Perhaps he did it as an example and pointer to those in the mainstream who tended to shun these groups of people.

The simplicity of it

Ultimately, it can also be quite simple.

When we meet someone in pain, and perhaps are caught up in reaction to their pain, what would an ordinary, kind human being do? It doesn’t have to more complicated than that.

How is it to say YES to what’s here?

I love the Headless Way, and I have tremendously enjoyed reading the graphic novel from 2016 called The Man with No Head: The Life and Ideas of Douglas Harding. The two pages above especially caught my attention.


How do we shift to actively welcoming what is and a wholehearted YES to what is?

There are several answers to this.

Here and now, how can we find this YES?

One way we can all explore it is through asking ourselves:

How is it to actively want what is here now?

Can I say YES to what’s here? Can I say YES to this feeling?

Can I say YES to the no in me?

This opens our mind to that possibility, we find some curiosity about it, and we may shift into the part(s) of us that already welcome it and say a YES to what is.

Befriending suffering parts of us

The suffering parts living in separation consciousness are what in us doesn’t welcome what is and says NO to what is. So befriending these help with finding our YES, as does inviting in healing for these parts of us.

This takes time and is an ongoing process, and it does prepare the ground for the YES to be more wholehearted, natural, and available in more and more situations.

Recognize as the divine

We can recognize all generally as the divine. And yet, when suffering parts of us surface, it may be easy to “forget” at some level that these too are the divine and get caught up in a no to the discomfort or suffering.

When this happens, I can ask the questions above.

I can ask: How is it to see this experience as a flavor of the divine?

And I can recognize that it’s all happening within and as what I am, and take time to take it in and let it reorganize something in me.

Maturing over time

Something in us shifts and matures over time – through seeing, living from it, noticing when we don’t live from it, and so on. It’s a kind of maturation process.

To the extent we stay involved with the awakening process and go beyond what’s familiar with us, it seems that we find a deeper and more sincere willingness in us to shift, to actively find a welcome for what is and a wholehearted YES.

Conscious commitment

Profound Declaration of Intent: My desire is that all shall be as it is since all flows from my True Nature.

Douglas Harding, quoted in The Man With No Head

Finally, we have conscious commitment. When we are ready, we may find and set a conscious commitment to actively welcome what is, and find a YES to it. This becomes a practice.


The two pages from The Man With No Head touch on some big themes in my own life, in addition to the YES:

There is a difference between seeing what we are and living from it.

There is a difference between generally seeing it and all our human parts being on board with it.

And there is a difference between passively accepting what is and actively wanting it and saying YES to it.

All these themes are connected.

Seeing what we are

First is the seeing. In some cases, that can be the easy part, especially if it comes through pointers and inquiry or if it comes spontaneously.

Living from it

Then it’s the living from it. That’s an ongoing and lifelong process. If all is ONE, how do I live in this situation?

What is it that makes living from it in all situations challenging? It may be that we “forget” and don’t notice what we are. And equally or more often, it’s because parts of our human self still operating from separation consciousness are triggered.

The way we perceive and interpret a situation trigger unhealed, unexamined, and unloved parts of us. A bubble of separation consciousness comes to the surface.

This is not wrong. It’s part of the process. These parts of us want to join in with the awakening. They want to reorganize – heal and awaken – within this new context.

The question is: how do we relate to these suffering parts of us when they visit? Do we try to slam the door? Do we join in with their fearful stories and reactivity? Or do we meet them as suffering beings that want healing? Do we meet them with kindness, receptivity, and understanding? Do we create a safe space for them to be seen, felt, loved, and heal?

How is it to say YES to these parts of us that say NO to what’s here?

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Rooted in reality

I may notice what I am when things are more calm and I am not triggered.

But what about when things are triggered? When unloved fears come up full force?

Do I get swept along with the fearful stories? Do I get caught in reacting to it? Or can I stay rooted in reality even then?

On the one hand, this rootedness is something that comes over time, with practice and experience, with clarity and kindness, and through healing more of our issues.

On the other hand, it also requires some commitment. It requires us to intend to stay rooted. To remind ourselves what’s going on. To cut through the fearful illusions. These situations may require tough love towards ourselves.

Here too, there is a mutuality between receptivity and patience, and engagement and clear action.

Awakening makes the separation consciousness left in us more painful

Separation consciousness is inherently painful.

And when there is some awakening in our system, it becomes even more painful. The gap and contrast seem to bring the pain up and make us more acutely aware of it.

Why do many struggle during parts of the awakening process? One reason is probably just this, that what’s left of the separation consciousness comes up and we feel the pain of it more acutely.

As I have written about elsewhere, this is part of the embodiment process. What we are may notice itself in a general sense. And yet, there are many parts of us at a human level – many subpersonalities and so on – that are still operating from separation consciousness. They were formed within separation consciousness and still live within it, and now they surface so they can join in with the awakening. They surface to be seen, felt, examined, and loved, and so they can reorganize within this new context and find healing within it.

Noticing our issues as who and what we are, and a flavor of the divine

During the third phase of the awakening phase mention in the previous article, the parts of our human self still operating from separation consciousness come to the surface to join in with the awakening.

Said that way, it perhaps sounds gentle and simple, but it can experienced as anything but. These parts of us often have a lot of pain in them, and when they surface that pain can fill our consciousness for a while.

The essence is to notice, see, feel, listen to, get to know, befriend, and find love for these suffering parts of us. To notice them as part of who we are as a human being. To notice them as what we are – as happening within and as us along with any other experience.

To see that they were created to protect us, often early in life, and came from an impulse to take care of us. To see that they, in that sense, come from and are an expression of love.

One of the pointers I find especially helpful for me right now is to notice it as a flavor of the divine.

There are also many more structured approaches that can help us in this process. They function as training wheels until we get a better hang of it on our own, and they can also help us discover new things at any point in the process.

Tonglen, Ho’oponopono, metta and more help us reorient towards these bubbles of suffering in us.

Living Inquiry and The Work of Byron Katie can help us identify and question painful beliefs and identities, including the more basic ones we may not have been aware of.

The Big Mind process and Voice Dialog can help us dialog with these parts of us, see how they function in relation to us and other parts, and get to know them better.

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process can help us recognize that they too are what we are, and they happen within and as what we are – and even that they are love.

Energy work – like Vortex healing – can help heal our relationship with these parts of us, and invite these parts of us themselves to heal.

And so on.

In addition, it helps to nurture what’s nurturing in our life – a good diet, good sleep, good friendships, nature, being gentle and kind with ourselves and these parts of us, finding others in the same process, finding support from others who have gone through it themselves, and so on.

The phases of awakening: healing and embodiment

A very general map of the awakening process goes through four phases.

I’ll focus on the third one here – the healing and embodiment phase – since it’s the one most relevant to me and the one I find it most interesting these days.


First, we live and operate within and from separation consciousness. We take ourselves to be inherently separate and an individual, and may be curious about something more or have glimpses of it but that’s about it.


Then, there is a more clear noticing of what we are. What we are notices itself. We find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what our experiences – all of them – happen within and as.


Within this awakening, parts of our human self still operating from separation consciousness come to the surface to join in with the awakening. They come with an invitation for us – the awakeness – to notice these too as awakeness and the divine.

I’ll say more about this below.


This is a more stable awakening where issues surfacing are more readily notices as who and what we are, and a flavor of the divine.

We have a more intentional relationship with them, and have more skills and experience in how to create a fruitful relationship and invite them to notice themselves as the divine, wake up, and find healing.


I’ll write a few more words about phase three here since it’s the phase that currently interests me the most.

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

In some cases, it’s as if the “lid” is taken off our unresolved issues and trauma and a huge amount of them surface at once or in rapid succession. This can be experienced as a particular form of dark night. I tend to think of it as a dark night of trauma. 

If this happens, we can feel completely overwhelmed, desperate, and brought to our knees, and it really helps to have someone help us through this phase. Just knowing that others have gone through it can be of great help. For me, that’s what helped me more than any techniques or particular insights. 

Other times, the unresolved issues and traumas come up in a more “normal” fashion and more as a result of triggers in daily life. 

We are invited to shift our relationship to what surfaces. Our habitual response may be to avoid it one way or another – through distractions, pretending it’s not there, compulsively trying to fix it, attempting to transcend it, and so on. 

The invitation is to reorient to meet what comes up, get to know it, and listen to what it has to say and how it experiences me and the world. 

See it comes from an impulse to protect this separate self, and that it’s innocent and comes from love. Find love for it. 

See it’s part of me as a human being and it makes more sense to get to know it and embrace it than pretend it’s not here. Find the genuine gifts in partnering it with it. 

Recognize it as what I am. As happening within and as what I am. As – if I resonate with any of those labels – consciousness, or the divine, or a flavor of the divine. 

From here, these parts of us have a better chance to heal. They have better conditions for resolving themselves, healing, and aligning with oneness. 

Why does this “phase three” process happen? 

It’s part of the overall process of aligning more consciously with reality. We may notice generally how all happens within and as what we are, so the next step is to notice specifically that each of these parts of us – still operating from within separation consciousness – also are who and what we are, and expressions of love. They are, if we want to see it that way, a flavor of the divine. 

It’s an important part of the awakening itself. And it’s also an important part of embodiment, of living from the awakening. 

When we still have parts of us operating form separation consciousness, we tend to be hijacked by them when they are triggered and we – as a human being in the world – tend to operate from them, or perhaps in reaction to them. 

So reorienting towards them, and perhaps inviting in some healing for them, helps us live from the awakening in more situations in life. In the situations that previously would have triggered these issues and, to some extent, hijacked us, we can now relate to the situation and what they trigger in us, if anything, in a more conscious way. 

Why do we have these bubbles of separation consciousness in our system? 

They are emotional issues formed when we operated from separation consciousness, so they reflect and live within separation consciousness. 

Some or many of them are in our system even within a general awakening. 

One way to look at it is that these parts of us are beings. Suffering beings still caught in delusion, painful stories, and separation consciousness. They come up because they want to be liberated from their suffering. They come to us as devotees seeking a guru. 

And that’s our opportunity to support them, guide them, be a good friend or guru to them, and invite them to wake up and align more consciously with reality.


When it comes to these phases, reality is often more messy. It looks a little different for each of us, and sometimes a lot different. The phases get mixed up. The sequence may be a little different. We may not be distinguish the phases until we have been through it.

The idea of phases is just an overlay of thought over the complexity and mystery of life. It’s not by any means inherent in life or the processes we go through.

And what I call phase three here is equally an aspect or facet of the process and it’s a part of our process from the beginning of noticing what we are.


I won’t go through the whole story since I have written about it elsewhere. I am currently mostly in the third phase, and have been for a few years now, which is why this is the one most interesting to me.

In the beginning, I had the “lid taken off” experience which was the most difficult thing I have every experienced. I felt completely overwhelmed, desperate, could hardly sleep, and couldn’t find much solace or ability to deal with it in any constructive fashion.

I did know someone (BMS) who had gone through it himself, and talking to him gave me some comfort and sense that I could get through it. (Although it felt like it would go on forever and that there was no way out or through.) I also went for long walks in the forests, and listened to Adyashanti.

I am still mostly in phase three – with some elements of phase one and perhaps four – but it’s mostly more calm. Things come up in a slightly more normal way, although it’s still a parade of one thing after another coming up to be seen, felt, listened to, loved, and so on.

I am not always so good at it. But I do have the intention, and I ask for help with some of the more challenging bubbles of separation / old emotional issues.

I also find that it’s difficult to have a good sense of to what extent these bubbles are resolved. I can test it out through triggering myself, as far as that’s possible. And channeling Vortex Healing for it gives me a sense of what’s left.

And yet, I don’t know for certain and I don’t really need to know. Life will show me.

I mostly just need to pay attention to what life brings up for me.

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Adyashanti: There’s this whole other side of awakening

There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.

– Adyashanti in The Divine Individual

Why do I talk about healing, isn’t awakening enough?

Yes and no.

Yes, awakening is enough if what we want is to notice what we are, and for what we are notice itself as all there is. For a while, this may seem like all that’s needed, especially if we are in a temporary transcendent state – one where our center of gravity has, for a while, risen “above” our human stuff.

And no, because a transcendent state doesn’t last so we will eventually be plunged back into all the human messiness. That too is the divine. That too want to join in with the awakening. That too wants to heal and awaken.

If we want to live from the awakening in more and more situations and areas of life, we need healing. Healing opens up space for awakening to be lived more fully and in more situations and areas of life.

Also, as a human being in the world, which we also are, it’s generally a much better life if we are more healed. A lot of suffering, confusion, reactivity, and messiness is cleared up as we heal.

So why not focus on both? Why not find approaches that invite in both awakening and healing? Just about all of the tools I write about here do just that, especially if that’s our intention.

In this process of awakening, healing, and learning to live from the awakening, we will also over time develop skills and insights, we tend to mature as human beings, we tend to deeply humanize and become more human, and we may also go through some stages of adult development. All of this may happen mostly as a side-effect of working on ourselves and allowing the awakening to work on ourselves.

And it’s not really about choice or want. Sooner or later in the awakening process, we bump up against unhealed parts of us and we notice that these areas of us suffer. So why not invite in healing and awakening for these parts too? It’s a natural part of the process.

Although it’s not so important, this is also not about “us” choosing or wanting. It’s about life or existence choosing and wanting through and as “us”.

How it works: Awakening

I know the title is a little presumptuous! Although it’s also good to demystify awakening to the extent it’s possible.

First, what is awakening?

It’s what we are noticing itself.

What we are is what our experience happens within and as. (We can put may labels on it, like consciousness or awakeness, and those labels also happen within and as what we are.)

Usually, what we are does not notice itself. Our mind takes itself to be something within the content of its experience, and that something is generally this human self. How that happens can be described from different angles. At one level, it happens when the mind takes any story as true and identifies with the viewpoint of the story. That shifts our experience of being what we are and into something that happens within the content of our experience. We experience ourselves as an object in the world and a particular viewpoint. What this is shifts with the story our mind happens to engage with at the moment. And, as a general container, we take ourselves to be this human self. That’s not wrong, but it’s just a small part of what we are.

What’s the process of awakening?

What we are can notice itself in glimpses. More or less clearly. Out of the blue or from intentional exploration. And it can also notice itself more stably through different states and situations in daily life.

For most of us, what we are comes into the foreground in daily life without us really noticing. It can happen through flow experiences, or any time we “forget” or “lose” ourselves in what’s happening. Why don’t we notice? Perhaps because it’s so ordinary. Or not so strong. Or that we think we know what we are – this human self – and this is not that.

It can happen out of the blue without any obvious precursor. And it can also happen gradually or more suddenly as a(n apparent) consequence of intentional exploration. I’ll say more about this below.

Initially, what we are may more easily notice itself in certain situations (which is where the intentional exploration comes in). And over time, it can notice itself through changing states and also in more and more situations in daily life. It can clarify and become more stable, and this process of living from it in more situations in daily life is called embodiment.

Also initially, we may still take ourselves to fundamentally be a separate being although one that’s ONE with everything. This tends to clarify and we realize that we were never this apparently separate being. What we are just started noticing itself more clearly. In a popular phrase: it woke up of the dream of being a separate being.

What we are noticing itself is often a bit fluid and changing throughout the day. It can be more or less in the foreground and more or less obvious or clear. It’s often a gentle context for our daily life. After a while, it becomes ordinary while also somewhat extraordinary.

As a human being, we are much the same even when what we are notices itself. It doesn’t magically and all of a sudden transform us. (Although that can happen.) This means we tend to have the same emotional issues, hangups, and traumas before and within awakening.

When these emotional issues are triggered, it tends to hijack our attention and we temporarily take ourselves to be separate. What we are noticing itself goes into the background and is overshadowed by our old patterns. This is why healing of emotional issues is vital for embodiment, for living more from what we are in more daily life situations.

What’s the consequence of awakening?

The only certain one is that the context of our life changes. What we are notices itself and our human life happens within that. Our human life, in itself, doesn’t have to change that much.

In practice, our human life does tend to change. We tend to live more from the experience of oneness, which means a little more open mind and heart and from a bit more compassion and empathy and concern for the far-reaching and long-term consequences of our actions.

It also seems that awakening often starts a process of healing emotional issues. These may come to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and more consciously included in the oneness. One way to talk about this is that the initial awakening is a global awakening, and this healing process allows more parts of us – the ones still stuck in painful separation consciousness – to awaken and align with the global awakening. As mentioned above, this is also vital for the embodiment process.

How can we understand awakening?

In my mind, there are two ways of understanding or interpreting awakening.

In the small or psychological interpretation, we can say that in our own experience, we are consciousness, and this is what wakes up to itself. Whether there is an actual human being here or an actual physical world, or whether we fundamentally are separate or not, doesn’t really matter. What matters is what we are in our own immediate experience and the pragmatics of this noticing itself and what it does for our life.

In the big or spiritual interpretation, what we are is the same as what all of existence is. All is One, or Spirit, or God, or the Divine, or Brahman, or Big Mind, or Allah. The label is not important.

The small interpretation is helpful because it can make this more approachable for people within a more conventional mindset or setting. The big interpretation is perhaps more inspiring. And both seem to fit (most of!) the data of awakening equally well.

Why are there so many myths about awakening?

There are many myths about awakening: It’s reserved for special people. It’s something unusual. It’s something very different from our ordinary experience. It will solve all our problems. We become a saint. There is something we can call a final or full awakening.

I don’t know why there are so many myths about it. I suspect it’s because it used to be the domain of certain spiritual traditions and they partly obscured it based on misunderstandings and partly had vested interests in making it appear special.

Why is it important?

It’s not for most people and that’s OK. For some of us, it’s important because it’s part of human experience. It says something about who and what we are. It does help us live in a way that’s more conscious of the whole which can help society, humanity, and the Earth.

What are some methods for inviting what we are to notice itself?

These are the traditional spiritual practices and the newer variations on these.

It can help to know the words and the theory, but this is just a starting point and initial pointer. The words are, in themselves, not important.

Training a more stable attention supports this exploration – and anything we do in life – so it’s more than worthwhile to include in our daily life. Even just a few minutes makes a difference.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow. Notice what happens in the sense fields. Allow it all to be as is. This tends to shift identification out of the observed (content of experience) and it makes it easier for what we are to notice itself. (Initially, we may take ourselves to be the observer, and then notice that this too happens within the content of experience.)

Inquiry is a great support. We can get a glimpse of what we are through forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments, and also Living Inquiries. Through The Work, we may – over time – find how our thoughts are not true which allows space for what we are to notice itself. And through Living Inquiries, we explore how the mind creates its own experience – including taking itself to be a separate being, this body, the observer, consciousness, etc. This too tends to allow space for what we are to notice itself.

Guidelines for behavior is important to reduce drama and distractions in our life, and they tend to (roughly!) mimic how we naturally live when what we are notices itself and this is more embodied.

Prayer – at least the contemplative and heartfelt variety – helps shift our identification out of the content of our experience, it shifts our attention to a much larger whole, and it creates space for what we are to notice itself.

Heart-centered practices help us reorient. They help us shift from an us-vs-them orientation to befriending the world and our own experience. Again, this creates space for what we are to notice itself, and it mimics how we naturally live when what we are notices itself through daily life.

Body-centered practices can help us train more stable attention. It can also give us an experience of our body-mind wholeness which makes it easier for what we are to notice itself.

Some forms of energy work can also support awakening. I am most familiar with the awakening process supported when we go through the higher levels of Vortex Healing training.

As mentioned above, inviting in healing for emotional issues makes it easier to live from the noticing in more situations in daily life. It supports embodiment.

Note: Apologies for this slightly disorganized article. I chose to write this without outlining or editing too much, not because that’s better but because I felt a little overwhelmed by the thought of organizing and editing it!

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Adyashanti: There’s this whole other side of awakening

There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.

– Adyshanti in The Divine Individual

What I exclude from oneness

I may generally notice and realize that all is the divine, and yet I sometimes exclude something from it.

That points to an unresolved issue in me, something in me that I can invite in healing and awakening for.

Not surprisingly, when it happens, it’s sometimes more visible to others than it is to myself. It sometimes takes someone to point it out to me before I take it seriously. (And I may, at first, feel a bit defensive when it’s pointed out to me. Although I secretly know it’s true and I am grateful.)

I exclude something from oneness in my view and in my behavior. I perceive or act as if something or someone is not part of oneness. As if it’s somehow excluded from the divine.

It’s very natural, it’s very ordinary, and it’s probably a part of any awakening process.

It reminds me to keep going with the awakening, healing, and embodiment. It’s a reminder to include more and more parts of me in the awakening and healing.

How does it look? Here are some examples:

I see someone inn the world my conditioning doesn’t like, reject and condemn them, and “forget” that this person is also an expression of the divine. (When I recognize the oneness also here, I can still condemn an behavior and take appropriate steps to prevent the person from harming others. But I don’t need to condemn or reject the person, and I don’t need to forget that this person too is the divine.)

I reject something in myself. I avoid feeling it. I may not (like to) acknowledge it’s here. I see it as a problem. I may ignore it or try to get rid of it. I ignore my knowing that this too is the divine, and (mostl likely) do so to avoid pain.

I made a bad decision at a crossroads in life. I even went against my clear inner guidance. And I tell myself I went against what life or the divine wanted me to do. I am caught in regret and self-blame. And I am unable to see that this too was and is the divine. That this too was, in a sense, divine will. I may also overlook that this experience can helps me to go deeper – in healing, humanizing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment.

When I remind myself that “this too is the divine”, notice it, and allow it to sink in, it’s the context that changes. And this shift allows me to relate to it differently. Often with less reactivity and with a little more sanity and kindness.

Recognizing these people, parts of me, and situations as the divine doesn’t rule out sane and decisive action. On the contrary, it helps me be more clear and grounded in how I relate to it and in my actions.

Waking up issues and more

I’ll write more about this in other posts, but wanted to make a quick note of it here.

When there is some degree of awakening here, this awakeness can be used to wake up other things, including emotional issues.

In my case, I connect with the awakeness (bring it to awareness), I connect with the lack of awakeness in the emotional issue, and I intend for the emotional issue to wake up. To wake up from its painful dream (the reason it’s an emotional issue is that it still lives in separation consciousness) and to reality (all as the divine and One).

When we wake up emotional issues in this way, it’s deeply healing, and it also helps us to live our awakeness in more areas and situations in life (embodiment). Instead of certain situations triggering the emotional issue, there is now more space to live from awakeness.

We can also wake up parts of the physical body or objects in the same way. The divine becomes more awake to itself as and through these objects.

This is the direct way to wake up issues and other things. And there are also other ways, including through a whole range of healing modalities such as Vortex Healing (after Core Veil is gone), the Big Mind process (shifting into Big Mind/Heart, holding a part of us still not awake, and invite it to wake up and align with reality), and different other forms of inquiry (Living Inquiry, The Work, headless experiments etc.)

A few additional notes:

How, more specifically, do I go about waking up issues? In my case, I notice the awakeness of all of existence – as it appears to me and as it stretches out indefinitely. (Some connect to the awakening in their spiritual heart, a little above the physical heart.) I then bring attention to the emotional issue – where I notice a physical contraction (there is a bodily contraction with every emotional issue), and I get a sense of the (stressful, separation-consciousness created) stories connected with it. Then, I intend for the issue to wake up – for the awakeness that’s already here to infuse the issue so it can wake up to itself as the divine. (And also, so “I” can recognize it more clearly as the divine, temporarily confused, temporarily pretending to believe in stressful stories, temporarily creating a “hook” for identification and so on.) And I stay with it until I notice the shift, and a bit longer so it can deepen and settle.

There can be a “general” and “global” awakening, and yet when we have emotional issues, as we all (?) do, these parts of us still remain in separation consciousness. They were formed from separation consciousness and still operate from separation consciousness. And life “wants” these to awaken, so it’s common that at some point after the general awakening, these confused and unawake parts surface so they can join in the awakening. To the extent we struggle with it and don’t know how to deal with it in a constructive way, it can be distressing and painful, and yet it’s an essential part of awakening and embodiment. And most of us learn, over time, how to better and more consciously dance this dance.

As I sometimes do, I have written this in a more ordinary language. It’s more accurate to say that it’s the divine waking itself up. The divine is (somewhat) awake to itself here, and uses that awakeness to wake up other parts of itself (emotional issues, parts of the body, objects in the world).

I should also add that the dynamic behind waking up issues is also why it can help to be in the presence of someone awake. That local awakeness helps the divine nearby (in the form of other people) to ripen and eventually wake up to itself.

And I want to add a few words about why I am writing about this now. I have naturally done this since the initial awakening in my teens, but it has sometimes taken a back seat since many people recommend and speak about other approaches to healing and embodiment. I have re-found courage to use this more direct approach since it’s used (in a slightly different form) in Vortex Healing, and since new people in my life have spoken about it and use it themselves. Another reason is that I overcooked myself a few months ago from giving myself and receiving a lot of energy healing, and I am unable to do much conventional energy healing right now (Vortex Healing). So what’s left is this more direct approach of awakening the issues. It doesn’t tax or strain my system nearly as much.

Awakening the issues can be very helpful and can create a big transformation. It doesn’t necessarily remove the issue, but it becomes lighter and has less charge, and since it’s more awake to itself as the divine it’s easier to relate to it more intentionally and in a healthier way. And any other healing or inquiry approach can be very helpful in conjunction with waking up the issue.

I assume when we wake up issues in this way, they wake up to the extent the “global” consciousness is awake. At the very least, we can wake up issues to the truth that the person is currently aware of and experiencing.


What does embodiment mean?

An awakening can be lived from to different degrees in different situations and areas of life. And embodiment is the process where we learn to live from the awakening in more situations and areas of life.

How do I invite in embodiment?

Healing. I invite in healing for parts of me that need healing. When something in me is unhealed, it tends to operate from reactivity and (unmet) fear. And when it’s healed, it’s more receptive to the awakening and living from awakening. When I say “healing” I mean healing of emotional issues, wounds, and traumas – small and large.

Maturing. Maturing in an ordinary human sense allows for a different and more mature way of embodying the awakening. When we live from awakening, how we live from it partly depends on our ordinary human maturity. And how do we mature? We mature through experience, living life, healing, and receptivity to maturing.

Familiarity. Embodiment also comes from familiarity with living from awakening. As we live from it in different situations and areas of life, we gain familiarity and experience. And that allows us to live from it differently.

Intention. Intention is crucial. An ongoing intention to embody the awakening in more situations and areas of life.

The two most important ones are probably intention and healing. The maturing and familiarity tend to come over time when the two first ones are in place.

I realize I have glossed over what awakening means here. I chose to let it go since it’s addressed in other posts.

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