Book: The Journey

I was taking a course with a spiritual teacher when, during a question and answer session, one of the students asked, ‘What do I do if an intense emotion comes up for me – how do I find the peace in that?’

She answered, ‘Just don’t move. Let yourself be completely present to the emotion. Welcome it. If a negative emotion arises, don’t run away from it; don’t run off to the refrigerator to eat some food to cover it up; don’t turn on the television to distract yourself from it; don’t call your friends to disperse its energy by gossiping about it. Just stop and feel it. Just let yourself be present to it. You’ll find if you don’t try to distract yourself from it, or push it away or, worse still, dump it on someone else; if you stay still, if you are really present to it – in the very core of the feeling you will find peace. So when you feel a powerful emotion, just let it be – DON’T MOVE. Welcome it.
– from The Journey by Brandon Bays

I looked at this book yesterday as it is about one of many practical approaches to allow, welcome and be with what’s here.

She describes a process of meeting whatever painful emotions are here, staying with it, allow it to transform (new layers emerge), until it all drops into the void.

It’s what I find happens naturally during meditation, and it’s also something I explore in everyday life through different forms of inquiry.

Skimming through her book, I noticed – or imagine – a few beliefs she may have: If I live a healthy life, I won’t get sick. People will judge me as a failure if use conventional medicine. Illness means something is wrong. Disease is terrible. Older people won’t get it. British people are reserved. (Age/nationality stereotypes.) And even if I don’t recognize these beliefs in an obvious way in myself, it can still be helpful to inquire into these and see what I find.

I also noticed a few beliefs for myself: She thinks her insights are special. It’s an universal insight. It’s too simple (to talk about). It’s too obvious (to make a big deal out of). 

Why is it a good thing it’s presented in this way? Why is it a good thing a very helpful process is presented in this packaging? She may reach a different audience than others presenting similar pointers. Some may share her beliefs (about health etc.), feel a kinship and see her as one of them, and be attracted to explore something they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, Christians or non-Buddhists may not be exposed/attracted to Buddhist teachers pointing to the same.

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Emotional charge

I keep noticing this:

There can be a general quite clear insight, from immediate experience.

And at the same time, there may be contrary beliefs running with an emotional charge.

Inquiry can be very helpful here. What are these beliefs? What do I find when I investigate each one?

And the usual guidelines apply: Find a specific situation where I had that belief, perhaps the earliest I can remember. Who were there? What did I feel? What did I think? Write a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. Take each statements to inquiry. I can also find underlying beliefs and do the same with these. And I can work with an experienced facilitator.

What I find is that the beliefs that still run, sometimes contrary to my conscious view and experience, are there because they have yet to be investigated in a more finely grained way. And, of course, my conscious view may also create stress, turn out to be an unquestioned belief, and be taken to inquiry. Who knows what I’ll find.

Interpretation of experience

I still have some of what appears as a very early childhood wound surfacing – a sense of heartache and an image of being alone in a crib in a dark room at night.

I see how there are stories about……

The heartache – it’s huge, it’s too big, it’s unbearable, it’s heartache. These stories makes the experience of heartache seem unbearable and unapproachable, and yet, when I look at the actual experience it’s quite different. It’s the quality of the experience (the emotion, feeling) that triggers those stories and makes it appear a certain way, and this only happens when I believe the stories and don’t look at what’s actually here.

Relationships – nobody loves me, I am abandoned, I am alone, I am lost. These stories are also projected into the future.

What’s surfacing – it’s a childhood wound. This story solidifies something that’s not solid at all, and puts in the past what’s actually here now.

When I look directly at the heartache, I see it’s quite ephemeral and quiet, and heartache is only a label.

When I look at the stories – examine them through inquiry – I see something else is more true for me.

When I look at what’s happening – the heartache and the images and stories that comes with it – it’s all right here now. Any image of past, future, or present is here now, as is any image of what’s in either of those three times.

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Too painful then, so painful now too

Right now, a lot of old wounds, traumas and emotions surface to be released. They surface to be seen, felt, loved, and for their worldview to align more with reality.

They were too painful to be experienced back then, so there is no wonder they are painful now too.

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Ghost patterns

This seems to be a common experience: Following a period of inquiry into a particular theme, the mental patterns may still be there but without the emotionality, and then the habitual mental patterns fade as well.

The familiar and habitual mental patterns are triggered as before, and they often take the form of I/they/life should/shouldn’t… But they are “cold”, the familiar emotional component – of frustration, sadness, anger, hope, hopelessness etc. – is not there anymore. The patterns have been examined sufficiently so there is no “hook” there anymore. It is not possible to act and react as if the thoughts are true. And with time, even the habitual mental patterns fade or are replaced with a little more sanity.

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Emotions as guides

I can take emotions as guides in two ways.

They can be used as a guide for external situations. A situation trigger unpleasant emotions, so I avoid it. Another trigger pleasant emotions, so I seek it out. Used in this way, emotions may be an OK guide in some situations, but certainly not in all.

The other way is to use emotions as guides for noticing beliefs. I notice a compulsive quality around certain emotions, as an impulse to push away or hold onto emotions and the situation triggering them. So I can first shift into allowing experience as is, with kindness, finding myself not as that which resists but as that which (already and always) allows the experience as it is. And I can take the compulsive quality around emotions as an invitation to notice the beliefs behind it, inquire into them, and find what is more honest for me than the initial beliefs.

Exploring it in this way, I may find that any story taken as true is a should. And when it clashes or aligns with my stories of what is or may be, it creates reactive emotions. These reactive emotions have a compulsive quality to them, a compulsion to push away or hold onto certain experiences or the situations triggering them. And there is a shift out of this when experience is allowed as it is, with kindness, and also – more thoroughly – when the beliefs are inquired into and I find what is more honest for me.

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Exploring emotions II

Another aspect of emotions….

Some emotions are reactive and created by beliefs. They come about through friction between a belief and reality, or more accurately through friction between our stories of what should be and what is or may be. In this case they come with some of the other symptoms of being caught up in beliefs, such as tension, stress, unease, sense of separation, sense of having to protect a viewpoint or identity, sense of precariousness, and more.

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Exploring emotions

There is a richness in exploring emotions….

I can delve into it experientially. I can ride it and use it in action. Or I can sit back and observe it unfolding.

When I delve into the experience, what is really happening? Is attention brought to the it? Is the emotion fueled, either slightly or to a greater extent? What happens if I am blindly caught up in it? What happens if I also observe it unfolding as it happens? If there is a sense of more space around it and choice in how to relate to it?

In using the emotion in action, I can explore how to do it with as much sanity, wisdom, maturity and kindness as possible. How and when does it seem wise and kind to act on a specific emotion?

When I sit back and observe it, what do I find? And also, can I observe it and inquire into it while delving into it or using it in action?

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Emotions and energy

A few things I notice about emotions and energy….

There is a great deal of energy in emotions, including the ones that initially may appear less energetic. 

When emotions are made into “other”, the energy in them appears as “other” as well. And this otherness can take a few different forms. 

I try to push away an emotion, and it may appear to push back. I push, it doesn’t go away, so it appears to push back and intrude when I least want it.

I may habitually push away a particular emotion and exclude it from my conscious identity, so its energy is habitually locked away as well. (This may lead to an experience of fatigue.) 

I try to hold onto an emotion, and its energy is used in a slightly manic or compulsive way. 

Or I may allow the emotion as is, in a heartfelt way and with kindness, and find that its energy is available in a more relaxed way. 

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Emotions and identity

I keep coming back to this one as well…

When emotions come up and I notice there is an emotional attachment there, I can ask myself:

What is the story that trigger this emotion? (Story, memory, scenario.)

Which identity is threatened by this story?

Which identity is inclusive of that story? Which identity fits with it?

And then shift into allowing that identity. Feel into it. Feel it in my body.

Staying with it. Allowing my self-image to reorganize and realign to include that identity.

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Emotions as invitation to let go of identifications

The friction between my stories of what should be and what is, is an invitation to let go of taking those stories as true. It is an invitation to let go of identification with those stories.

And since that friction creates emotions, those emotions come with the same invitation. An invitation to let go of identification with stories and identities.

Whatever they may be, and however subtle they may appear, emotions created from that friction is a very real invitation to let go of identification with identities. (Those emotions may be fear, anger, sadness, regret, hope, etc.)

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Asking an emotion how it views the world

Whenever there is tension, stress, a sense of something off, reactivity, a fixed view, defensiveness, contraction, a sense of separation, complaining, seeing something only in myself or in others and so on, it is a reminder that I am caught up in a belief.

Sometimes, it is easy to find the story I attach to as true. It may be quite familiar to me.

But there are also other ways to find beliefs. For instance, I can notice an emotion, ask it how it views the world, and find the beliefs that goes with the emotion in that way. (This one is mentioned by Adyashanti in The End of Your World, and is similar to facilitation emotions as  Mona Grayson talks about it, and one of the many ways of using Voice Dialog and the Big Mind process.)

And in either case, I can find underlying beliefs by asking questions such as why? or what is not OK about that? (Suggested by Mona Grayson.)

Beliefs and emotions

How are beliefs and reactive emotions connected?

It seems that it all starts with a belief.

There is identification with the story being a separate I, and then a me with a fleshed out and particular identity.

All this creates a series of shoulds. I should stay alive. My life should be supported. I should be or remain this and not that.

And when my stories of what is and what should be clashes, reactive emotions come up.

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Fascination with doomsday scenarios

It is always fascinating to me to hear what others are facilitated by, and then find it in myself. We went to a potluck tonight, and the topic – for a while – were different doomsday scenarios. Economic collapse. Collapse of the US empire. Ecological collapse. And so on.

How likely is it that disaster will strike at a collective level? What are the ways it may happen? What are the dynamics leading up to it? How may it unfold? How serious may it be? What can we do? How will it impact us? How can we prepare?

The first thing I find when I look at this for myself is that any emotional fascination (draw, attachment) I may have towards doomsday scenarios is proportional to the extent I resist certain emotions in daily life. If I resist experiencing fear, terror, dread, anger and so on in daily life, there is an emotional component to imagining and exploring doomsday scenarios, and also an emotional fascination with it – whether I seek it out or try to avoid it, or do both.

Likewise, if I allow, welcome and am with those emotions, in a kindhearted way, there is a release of the charge around them. They are welcomed, as they are, for what they are, even if they would stay forever. They are seen. Felt. Loved. And as the charge around them is released, the emotional draw and fascination with doomsday scenarios goes out as well.

What is left is more clarity. A choice to explore these scenarios or not, depending on what seems appropriate and useful in the situation. And a very practical approach if I chose to explore them. It boils down to what can I do, and how? And stays at the practical.

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Taking the effects of beliefs as support for beliefs

I have written about this before, but wanted to look into it again for myself.

When a story is taken as true, it has several effects. Mainly…

My stories tells me it is true. I find supporting stories. I find allies who believe the same. I deny the truth in the reversals of these stories. And I deny the limited truth in these stories. In short, attention goes to stories aimed at proving a position.

My emotions become reactive. (Reactive anger, sadness, depression, frustration.)

My body tenses up. (Tensions, jitteriness, dullness, shallow breath.)

And since these effects are always associated with beliefs, I come to take them as support for the initial belief.

Life shows up a certain way. It triggers reactive emotions, tension in the body and stories aimed at proving a point, and all of this is taken as support for my initial belief.

My stories tells me it is true. My emotions tells me it is true. My body tells me it is true. So it must be true.

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Exploring the chains

It can be very helpful to explore the chains leading up to reactive emotions, rigid views, and desires.

One at a time, asking the question and waiting for an answer to come up.

When I do this, I find that whatever beliefs are there, whatever stories I am identified with, go back to the central belief, or sense of, a separate I, an I with an Other.

I find that whatever reactive emotions are there lead back to fear. Fear for the survival of this human self. Fear for pain and suffering.

I find that whatever surface desire is there leads back to a desire for happiness, and freedom from suffering.

And I find that all of this goes back to love. Love for this human self and whatever is within its circle of us.

And I see that all of this is pure innocence. An innocence in adopting beliefs from my surroundings. An innocence in the fear that is there naturally when there is a sense of a separate I. An innocence in the desire for happiness and freedom from suffering. An innocence in the love we already are, filtered through the boundary of us. And an innocence in where this boundary of us is placed, coming from culture and maturity.

The risk in writing this is that this too becomes another belief. Another place we go in our stories to create a sense of security, of having figured it all out.

And one remedy is in taking the time for the questions to sink in and the answers to surface. Going through one at a time, not knowing where it will lead. Trusting what comes up.

Sincerely exploring this for ourselves, inviting in curiosity and receptivity. Inviting in an open heart. Inviting in a bodily felt sense of the questions and the answers that surface. Allowing experience in a wholehearted way.

Seeing that any answer is really a question, even if the question mark initially seemed to be left out.

And also investigating our beliefs around all this, including the belief of I know, through The Work or another form of inquiry.

Cloudiness and sense fields

I continue to explore the sense fields and how they combine to create gestalts, and in particular how thoughts combine with the other sense fields. (The sense fields: sound, sight, smell, taste, sensations, thoughts.)

I see how sensations combine with thoughts to create a sense of particular moods, emotions, pain, and much more.

Today, in the dentist’s chair, I noticed how particular sensations combine with thoughts to create a sense of discomfort. Seeing sensations as sensations and thoughts as thoughts, the gestalt loses its substance and sense of reality. The same happens when I bring attention to the sensations serving as anchor for the sense of discomfort. The gestalt cannot arise with any sense of substance when attention is brought to its anchoring sensation because the mechanism is seen through.

In the past, I have explored how sleepiness – for instance when it arises during practice – also is just a sensation combined with a thought.

And tonight, in exploring a sense of cloudiness, fuzziness, murkiness, I find that too as being made up of sensations and a thought.

In addition to all this, I also find that when there is an identification with any of these, it is as if a bulls eye for a sense of a separate I is placed on the sensations. They then not only serve as an anchor for the gestalt of an emotion, pain, discomfort, sleepiness, murkiness and so on, but also for the sense of an I with an Other.

And that is when, for instance, identity gets absorbed into the sleepiness or murkiness gestalt, and I fall asleep during practice, or the practice gets lost in murkiness.

Seeing all this, as it happens, allows the center of gravity to shift out of these sensations and gestalts. Now, I not only see how the gestalts are made up of sensations and thoughts, but the sense of a separate I is released out of them. (Either placed on other sensations, or seen through as awakeness itself.)

Now, they are objects happening within and as awakeness.

What is revealed beyond resistance

Emotions or sensations tend to appear very different when resisted and when allowed.

For instance, I notice when arrogance or resentment comes up, and is fully allowed, they shift into an open heart, empathy, care, compassion.

And really, all experiences seem to shift into the same… a sweet nurturing fullness, an open heart, a receptive view. The particular quality of the initial resisted experience may carry through or not, and if it does, flavoring the way it is revealed when fully allowed.

Arrogance includes a discernment which may carry through. When resisted, it is combined with a sense of being right, and when allowed, combined with an open heart and a sense of us. And this discernment can be more in the foreground or background following the shift, depending on where the interest is and what the situation calls for.

Anger has a dynamic energy and clarity which may carry through. Sadness a quited stability. Physical pain a stable fiery clarity.

And resentment shift into an open heart and a sense of intimacy, a recognition of myself in the other, a sense of us.

Reactive emotions maintain their appearance through resistance to experience, and reveal themselves as something quite different when fully allowed.

Psychology & spirituality intertwined

Looking at knots is one way to show how psychology and spirituality are intertwined.

A knot is any hangup we have, and is a belief and its corresponding emotions and behavioral patterns.

It is usually experienced as stressful, as something being off, and gives a sense of separation. And it gives a sense of I and Other (which is what gives rise to the stress and a sense of something being off and separation), and distracts us from seeing what we really are.

So from the context of taking ourselves as this human self, it is uncomfortable and disatisfactory. And from the context of Big Mind, it distracts Big Mind from noticing itself.

A knot comes from an identification with a story, so we can work with it through releasing identification.

For instance, we can be with the experience of it, allowing it fully, in a wholehearted way. We allow whatever content of awareness, including the resistance to whatever comes up, so there is a release from identification with content in general.

We can explore the different voices or subpersonalities involved, and see that there is no “I” in any of them.

Or we can inquire into the belief itself and find the truth in each of its reversals, which released exclusive identification with any of them – the initial story and its reversals.

Disidentification with the knot complex allows us to find more peace with it at our human level, through seeing it more clearly – finding what is more true for us than our initial belief, and fully feeling whatever comes up in our experiences without getting caught up in resistance. And it also makes it easier for Big Mind to notice itself.

We can also work more actively with owning, at our human level, what is left out from the initial belief and identity.

Through Voice Dialog, or the Big Mind process, we can shift into whatever voices are disowned by the initial belief and identity. We can try it on, see how the world looks from that perspective, explore what the voice offers to our human self, how it would be to bring it into our life more, and so on. We can also explore our human self’s relationship to the voice, and how that relationship can shift to allow the voice in more.

And the same can happen through Process Work, and by bringing the turnarounds of The Work into our daily life.

Owning disowned parts of our human self makes it easier, and more fun, to be who we take ourselves to be. And when what we are awakens to itself, it allows this awakening to be expressed through our human self in a richer and more fluid way. In either case, there is a new richness and fluidity there, a wider terrain that is expressed fluidly in the daily life of this human self. It is more fully and richly human.

Actively owning disowned parts also allows for a shift of identification out of our human self. On the one hand, we are more free to shift into the different voices and actively use them in our daily life. And on the other hand, it releases identification out of our human self in general. Which, as before, makes it easier for Big Mind to notice itself.

These are just a couple of ways working on who and what we are are intertwined, and one invites and encourages the other, using just a few approaches as examples.

We can also bring in the soul level, this alive presence which is timeless yet also within time, spaceless yet also within space, impersonal yet also personal, rich and substantial yet also simple and emptiness itself. When we shift into, become more familiar with, and find ourselves as this alive presence, it allows our human self to reorganize within itself. Our human self heals, matures, finds itself more in the fullness of itself. And it shifts identification out of our human self, which makes it easier for Big Mind to notice itself.

Shifting into our soul level brings a sense of richness, fullness, nurturing, trust, and of being home, which helps our human self to relax, and again shift identification out of it. We are less caught up in the usual beliefs, identities, fears, hopes and so on of our human self.

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Alex dead

irene_parrots.jpg

Alex, the parrot studied by Irene Pepperberg, is dead. I don’t know why this story – among all the other news in the world – brings up sadness, but it is probably because I have an especially soft spot for the lives of animals, and how they have been and still are treated by humans. The other species we share this planet with are one of the remaining groups to be included into the circle of us.

Alex, and many other animals studied these days, show us that many other species are not only very similar to us emotionally (why wouldn’t they be, when we share ancestors, when we share biology related to emotions, and when we display similar signs of emotions in similar situations?) but also cognitively.

In science, we justify experiments on animals (as substitute for humans) scientifically because they biologically are so similar to us, and yet justify it ethically because they are different from us. In science or society at large, very few point to that discrepancy, probably because it is convenient to not look at it too closely.

And including other species into the circle of us does not mean that we all need to become vegetarians or that we release all animals from captivity. It only means moving in the direction of treating them with more respect, remembering that they too have emotions and some cognitive abilities, and that they too want to avoid suffering. They are not so different from us in that way.

The golden rule applies here too. How would I have wanted to be treated if the roles were reversed, if I was that cow out on pasture, or that rabbit in the science lab, or those elephants losing their territory to humans?

How specifically will this look in real life? How will it influence how we treat animals in a range of different settings? That is something that will look different in different circumstances, and something that will evolve and change as we do.

My body tells me it is true, so it must be

Beliefs have many effects, including certain emotions and sensations in the body.

I believe that there should be peace, so when there is not, I experience fear, distress, anger, sadness, my breath becomes shallow, my muscles tense. I believe people should be honest, so when they are not, some of the same reactions come up. And so on, with a whole range of beliefs.

Since they are beliefs, we take them as true. And since they are always accompanied by these different emotions and bodily reactions and sensations, we come to take these as signals that something is true.

It is a circular logic, which we most of the time don’t notice.

  1. There is a belief
  2. When it clashes with what is it creates certain effects such as reactive emotions and different bodily reactions and sensations
  3. We notice the association between our belief, which appears true to us, and these effects
  4. So when we notice these effects, we take them as an indication that our belief is true

More generally, we take these effects as an indication that something is not right. That life shows up in a way it shouldn’t. And then we look for a belief to go along with it, which may or may not be the one that triggered the effects in the first place.

So it goes both ways. The belief triggers effects which are taken as proof for the belief. And effects are sometime triggered without us knowing what belief is behind it, so we go looking for a belief to explain it.

Something happened, and I had reactive emotions and tension in my body, so what happened must not be right. It shouldn’t happen. Why shouldn’t it happen? I am sure I can come up with a story around it.  

Beliefs, knots and orphans

What are the relationships among beliefs, identities, knots and disowned parts or orphans?

Here is a quick sequence…

  1. We believe a story. It is taken as real, substantial, somehow reflecting something inherent in the world. The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored, and the grain of truth in the initial story is blown up and bolstered, made to appear as more than just a relative truth of practical value only.
  2. This belief creates an identity. We form an identity as someone who takes that story as true. And the content of the story may also form an identity for us. For instance, if I believe that people should be considerate, my own identity is as someone who either is, or at least want to be, considerate.
  3. Whenever there is an identification with a story or an identity, there is friction between this story/identity and how the world shows up. There is a gap between our stories of how things should be, and how they are or can be. And from here, a whole cascade of things happens, including fueling of resistance and certain emotions and behaviors. And since there is an identification with the story and identity fueling it, there will also be an identification with (most of) its effects. It is all taken as I, as intimately personal, as who I am.
  4. The belief creates friction, which in turn has certain effects, and together they all form a knot. This knot is the whole conglomerate of beliefs and identities, and the patterns of resistance, emotions and behaviors associated with it.
  5. This is where the orphans come into the picture. The obvious orphans are for instance the emotions created by the friction, which are usually resisted and disowned to a certain extent. Resistance itself may also be resisted, so this too becomes an orphan. And other orphans include the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. Each of their reversals have a grain of truth in them, and this grain of truth it also resisted and disowned.

I believe I should be healthy, so form an identity as someone who is – or at least want to – be healthy. I am not healthy, so there is a friction between what is and what should be. This creates various emotions, such as frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness, grief, and so on. It also fuels behaviors to avoid triggering a noticing of the discrepancy between what is and what should be, and the emotions created by this discrepancy. All of this creates a knot, and much of it is resisted to a certain extent. I try to escape it, avoid it, disown it. So the orphans here are the resistance itself, the emotions triggered, and also the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. To welcome these orphans back into the warmth, I can be with the resistance and emotions in a heartfelt way, as if they would never change. And I can investigate the truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity.

Emotions and awakening

What happens to emotions after awakening? Do they go away? Is there ecstatic bliss all the time?

When there is a Ground awakening, when awakeness awakens to itself, and to its content as no other than itself, its content does not have to change. There is one exception: the belief in stories fall away, and they are seen as just stories, arising as anything else – the clouds, sounds of cars, breeze over the skin, thoughts – all arising as that which is left when there is no I and Other. Apart from that, nothing needs to change. Thoughts are still there. Sensations. Behaviors. Interactions with others. Emotions. None of those need to change. They frequently do, of course, but don’t need to for awakeness to recognize itself and its content as awakeness, inherently absent of I and Other.

When emotions change following an awakening, it has to do with an absence of belief in stories, and also an absence in resistance. (Which are two sides of the same coin.)

With no resistance, emotions are experienced quite differently from how they are experienced when they are resisted. And they are always resisted, so some extent, as long as there is a sense of I and Other. Without resistance, or rather, without identification with resistance, there is also no emotional reactivity in behavior. Emotions arise, within and as clarity, as awakeness itself.

And with no beliefs, stories are recognized as awakeness itself, so they do not trigger emotions. This means that all the emotions triggered by stories when they are belied in, fall away.

Of course, there are often long standing habitual patterns around emotions and behavior, so these can still come up for a while after awakening, almost as an after image or reminder of how it used to be. But over time, these tend to erode.

What is left are just emotions arising as anything else, as awakeness itself, living their own lives, on their own schedule.

And that is exactly how it was before awakening, although not noticed in that way.

Avoiding and being with

Whenever emotions come up and there is an impulse to resist, avoid and escape, at least three things can happen…

One is to go with the escape, which usually means a combination of trying to change the trigger, the triggered, and bringing attention over to something else – often the inside of a story related to the emotion, or something entirely different. The habitual pattern of believing in stories is reinforced, as is the belief in that particular story, and the tendency to escape. Still, it is perfectly OK. It is just what the mind does when it takes stories as real. It is just something to notice and explore.

Another is to bring attention to something else arising here and now, such as the weight of the body. This brings attention out of the story, which means that the habitual pattern if attention going to the inside of stories is weakened over time. At the same time, it may bring attention away from the sensation component of the emotions, and the sensation/story conglomerate is not processed so it will most likely surface again. The belief in the story triggering the emotion in the first place remains, and may – at best – weaken slightly and gradually over time as the attachment to stories in general weakens.

And finally, we can be with what arises, bringing attention to the pure perceptions of the emotions (usually just a sensation) and seeing the stories associated with it (calling it fear, anger, etc.) as just thoughts. This is a more full processing of it, allowing the emotions to be seen/felt/loved, and the belief to surface for further inquiry.

Looking forward to triggering beliefs and emotions

At some point, there is a shift from dreading having certain stories and emotions triggered, to genuinely looking forward to it, and even actively triggering them.

Through inquiry, I find what is already more true for me than the initial story, and the clarity and freedom on the other side of taking stories as absolutely true.

And through being with whatever arises, including emotions, I find that what appears one way when resisted, is revealed as something quite different when not resisted. Through being with emotions in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, their appearance of solidity falls away, and there instead something else… such as clarity, stability, fullness and sweetness.

When I do this, I see the shift and look forward to exploring other beliefs and being with other emotions. And as I do this over and over, there is a larger scale shift as well, changing my general attitude towards beliefs and emotions.

Hiding from them may have been my habitual pattern, and it comes up again for a while inbetween the phases of clarity. But then, as the shift happens over and over, the habitual pattern changes as well. That too, over time, shifts from dread and an impulse to escape to looking forward to it.

And then, even taking time to actively triggering beliefs and emotions. For me, reading certain new sources is a great way to trigger beliefs, and going into certain memories is a great way of triggering emotions.

From shunning certain emotions as wounded little animals, or people in distress, there is an active seeking them out. Maybe similar to Mother Theresa seeking out those in need in Calcutta (!)

Of course, when emotions are triggered by memories, it is really beliefs that are triggered, in turn triggering emotions. But for this purpose, it works well to just focus on the emotions. To trigger emotions, and then be with them in an heartfelt way. I can always inquire into the beliefs behind it later on.

Similarly, when I inquire into beliefs I take time to be with the triggered emotions in an heartfelt way. I stay with them for a while, before moving on.

As so often, the two go hand in hand.

Emotions and actions

When emotions come out of stories I believe in, there is a sense of identification with the emotions as well, of being caught up in them. They arise, and I either act on them or resist them, or get caught up in the drama around them both ways.

So I am at the mercy, to some extent, of reactive emotions. And the same is also true, in a certain way, for empathy and compassion. I rely on the presence of the emotion or feeling of empathy or compassion to act in an empathic and compassionate way.

When there is a release from a belief a certain story, or stories in general, it changes. There are still emotions, but they arise as anything else, living their own life, coming and going on their own schedule. There is a freedom in allowing them their life, and also in using them to fuel or flavor action or not.

And, again, the same is true for empathy and compassion. To the extent there is an absence of belief in stories, there is also an absence in a sense of I and Other, so when suffering arises in any living being, there is a natural impulse to help, if the situation calls for it.

There is action from care, concern and empathy, but independent of the presence or absence of the emotion or feeling of compassion. It is more like the left hand helping the right. There is a thorn in the right hand, and the left moves to take it out, even in the absence of thoughts and deliberation, and independent of the presence or absence of particular feelings.

Changing the emotional component of a memory

A recent study has found that a drug can help change the emotional components of a memory. A memory is recalled, the emotional component is different than before, and this helps change the emotional association next time the memory is recalled. (If I interpret the study correctly.)

This is a similar process as other approaches, only that the strategy is slightly different. This time using a combination of psychology (simple recall) and biochemistry (the pill).

Just to go through the processes I usually tend to write about here:

The Work does something similar, first by changing our relationship with the stories around something stressful, which in turn changes how emotions are triggered, both in type and intensity. And then also by visualizing the trigger situation, but now with different emotions associated with it.

It happens at each step in the process. For instance, at question four: who would you be without the story? Here, we recall or image the situation (past or future), but this time without the story, and so without (or with less of) the emotions triggered by the story. So next time the story is triggered, the habitual emotional component is reduced in intensity, or sometimes not even there. The turnarounds allows the truth in new stories to be seen, so the initial story no longer seem so solid, which means the emotions associated with the initial story are not triggered in the same way.

In both of these cases, the situation is recalled with a different relationship to the story, which means the emotions are not triggered in the same way as before. So when the story comes up in the future, there is likely to be a different relationship to it again, changing the way the emotions are triggered.

And also, the triggering situation is now associated with a different emotional component, so when it comes up again, either in real life or by going to it in a thought, the new association is more likely to come up. New habitual patterns are formed.

Being with whatever comes up also does something similar. By fully allowing whatever comes up and being with it in an heartfelt way, there is a reduced grasping on resistance to it. And this allows the emotions to arise in a different way. With resistance, they seem very solid, and maybe also fixed and persistent. Allowing resistance to go, they are revealed as they are without the resistance… in a more fluid form, and for instance more as a sweet fullness. So here too, the emotional component associated with a memory is changed. The next time it is triggered, something will be different in how we relate to it. We may remember to be with it again, and the emotion itself may have a different quality and seem less solid.

Choiceless awareness is another example. Here, we differentiate between pure perception and the overlay of thoughts, and realize that what appears as a solid unit of emotion is really just a perception (sensation) and an overlay of stories. Seeing clearly that the two are two different things creating the appearance of emotion, there is no emotion anymore, just sensation + a story. The experience of it is quite different, and the label is quite different as well. And this too, inevitably, changes the emotional component triggered by certain stories.

The Work explores the initial story triggering the emotion. Being with it allows the emotion to reveal itself as it is prior to and absent of resistance. And Choiceless Awareness (labeling practice) allows the components of emotion to reveal itself, and the gestalt (emotion) to fall into its components and appear much less real and solid.

In each case, all we are doing is just seeing more clearly what is already there. No manipulation of content is needed apart from that.

We see what is already more true for us than the initial story. We allow emotions to reveal themselves as they are prior to and without resistance to them. And we notice the components of emotions, which makes the gestalt of emotions seem far less solid and real.

Fear as kernel

I notice that any belief tends to fuel a range of emotions, and these emotions seem to have fear as their kernel.

Whenever a story is taken as true, there is an identification with the story, and right there, a sense of I with an Other is created. And with a sense of a separate self, there is birth and death, and things that either further or creates problems for the life and well-being for this separate self.

In short, there is fear.

And this fear can take many forms, including the whole range of human emotions from frustration to anger to sadness to joy. I have a story of being a separate self, stories to flesh out the identity of this separate self, and then stories about how to support the life of this separate self and what to avoid to endanger it as well. If things get bumpy in getting what is wanted, there is frustration. If there is a block, anger. If something desirable is lost, sadness and grief. If it is gained, joy.

Again, it is very simple.

There is a belief in a story, which creates a sense of separate self, which creates fear, which in turn takes the form in the whole range of emotions.

When I am with whatever emotions is there, I may – usually for a short time – notice the fear within it (before it is revealed as something that cannot easily be labeled). And when I investigate beliefs, I may similarly notice the fear created by – and fueling – the belief.

Taking it a little further, I see that fear is created by the initial belief in any story – which creates a sense of separate self. And this fear in turn fuels that sense of a separate self, fleshed out and maintained by a belief in any story.

There is a belief that people should be good, creating and fueled by a fear of what may happen (to me and those close to me) if they are not. There is a belief that I am not like those rednecks, created/fueled by a fear of what may happen to me if I was. There is a belief that all is God and good, created/fueled by a fear of how life would be if that was not the case, and what would happen to me and those close to me.

For any belief, it seems that it creates and is fueled/maintained by fear of what would happen to me if life was not as the beliefs makes it appear to be. There is a fear of what would happen to this separate self.

Source: Todd at CSS talking about this briefly, prompting me to explore this further for myself.

The filter of resistance

In exploring resistance, a few things stand out:

First, that whatever arises, and in particular emotions and strong sensations, are filtered by resistance. They appear in an often entirely different way when there is resistance and when there is not. With resistance, there are clearly recognizable emotions such as sadness and anger, and clearly recognizable sensations such as pain. When there is a heartfelt being-with of whatever arises, each of those are revealed as something else… for me, often as a sweet fullness which cannot easily be labeled even if I wanted to.

Then, that resistance is not what it appears to be. When I explore the anatomy of resistance, there is really not much there. That too, is a gestalt formed by a variety of components, and when these components and the ways they form a gestalt is clearly seen, resistance – as I knew it – falls away. As with a sense of a separate self, it falls into its components.

And finally, resistance is only resistance when it is identified with. Resistance without identification is only part of what arises, as anything else. But with identification, it becomes something that appears very real, solid, substantial, creating a clear sense of I and Other, and separation. In this way, it is no different from anything else identified with. (And all I can ever really identify with is a story, which makes it appear as if I am identified with something else such as resistance.)

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Working with emotions

Some ways of working with emotions…

  • A wholehearted and heartfelt being with of whatever comes up, even if it would stay forever. This reduces identification with resistance, allowing content to reveal itself free from the filter of resistance and its appearance created by resistance.
  • An inquiry into the components of an emotion reveals how its gestalt is created by sensation and a story about the sensations. When this is seen, the gestalt does no longer appear so real and substantial. It falls into its components.
  • We can find and inquiring into the belief/s behind it. Any emotions is triggered by a belief, or rather the friction between believed-in stories about what is and what should be. We can identify these stories, inquire into them, and find what is already more true for us than the initial belief. This allows the attachment to the initial story to weaken or fall away, revealing the open space behind it.
  • We can track what is behind the emotions, using for instance Process Work, allowing the process behind the emotion to unfold and reveal itself.
  • We can find ourselves as headless or Big Mind, allowing the emotion to arise with less or no identification.
  • We can explore the function of emotions through Voice Dialog or the Big Mind process, seeing their evolutionary and biological function, and how they help the human self (and how the simplicity of this process often gets convoluted through beliefs and resistance).
  • We can bring attention to what is here in our perceptual field, for instance sensations, breath or the movements of the body, which reduces attachment to and fueling of the story about it as a particular emotion, and also reduces attachment to and fueling of the story triggering the emotion in the first place.
  • We can also work with emotions in more conventional ways through relationships, biography, and also look at the larger whole of infinite causes, and biology, evolution, culture and society.

Any one of these may work well on its own, but the real effects come from using a combination of them over time, exploring emotions, and any particular emotion, from many different levels of the holarchy and from several different angles.

For instance, if we only bring our attention to the sensations of the body, it may work fine in the moment and may even over time weaken identification with the story triggering the emotion. But it may not be sufficient to see through the emotion and belief in a more thorough way. They will continue to come up in different situations and forms, inviting us to see and getting to know them more thoroughly.

To do that, it is helpful to inquire into the belief triggering it, and also recognize the gestalt of emotion as made up of a simple sensation and story. Here, we not only gain some insight into the mechanisms of samsara, but also allow it to be seen through and fall away more completely.

Emotions

Another simple minded look at a topic that comes up for me… emotions.

Some of the ways I use to explore emotions…

  • Being with whatever comes up, for instance by asking myself “can I be with what I am experiencing right now?” Or being with it in a heartfelt way, including the heart and belly centers (being with it as a vulnerable animal or child).
  • Allowing whatever comes up, fully. This includes allowing any resistance that may come up, which takes the identification out of it (resistance goes from a subject to an object, from I to it).
  • Noticing the sensation component of the emotion, and being with the sensation as just sensation. In this way, I see that the emotion is a gestalt formed by a sensation and a story about the sensation. Seeing the sensation as sensation, and the story as story, allows the gestalt to fall into its components.
  • Identifying and exploring the belief behind the emotion, allowing the attachment to the story to unravel throughout the system. Seeing what is already more true for me in this way has the side-effect of the emotion no longer being triggered by the same or similar situations. Instead, there is differentiated clarity. (The aim here is to see what is already more true, not to change anything else, although that happens as a natural consequence.)
  • Noticing the emotion directly as awake void itself. As fleeting and transparent to Ground, without substance, and only given the appearance of substance when identified with and a story about it is attached to.
  • Shifting into headlessness or Big Mind, seeing the emotions arising as not only God’s will, but awake emptiness itself.
  • Using the Big Mind process to find the love in the emotion. Specifically, how the emotion is designed to protect the life of this human self and those within its circle of care and compassion. Fear gives protection from dangerous situations. Anger gives energy to get things done, and to overcome fear and hesitation. Sadness is an invitation to find in myself what I thought I lost out there. Desire prompts the human self to get what may enhance its life. Aversion prompts it to avoid that which may not enhance its life and well-being. Each of these are in their essence expressions of love, of protecting and supporting life. (Seeing this makes it easier to allow any and all emotions, and also disidentify from them.)
  • The process of exploring the love in the emotions can also continue into exploring how each emotion is expressed and valuable in the context of Big Mind and Big Heart more awake to itself, as wisdom energies.

And then there is the early belly awakening that happened here a few months back, and is still unfolding and reorganizing things (energetically, emotionally, physically) in the belly area.

The belly center seems to filter spirit as the divine feminine, for now, and in this case, as a velvety smooth round luminous blackness which in its impersonal aspect is revealed as the ground, within and arising as all form, and in its personal aspect is a nurturing womb healing and reorganizing at the emotional level. It allows for a felt-sense of all as Spirit, as God’s will, as God, as the divine feminine, and this brings a deep and deepening felt-sense trust in life and existence independent of how it shows up.

When there is a lack of a felt-sense of trust in life, there is also reactivity at the emotional level. Some situations are OK, other trigger (emotional) reactivity. And this reactivity in turn tends to trigger a deepening split at each of the three centers. There is a reduced receptivity at heart and head centers, a closed heart and mind, and lack of empathy and rigidity of views, dehumanization and a certainty of being right.

The deepening felt-sense of trust in life, and all as Spirit, reduces reactivity at the emotional level, which in turn allows for an easier disidentification with whatever emotions comes up. In general, it helps to reduce the sense of split at the three centers, allowing the heart to stay open in more situations and towards more beings, and the view to be more flexible and inclusive. It helps to shift the whole system towards Big Mind/Heart awake to itself, into a place where a more full and stable shift can happen (and reduces the amount of reorganization needed after the shift).

More about the background of this post after the jump…

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Ragged guests

Sometimes the guests that come through are pretty ragged… (Guests here meaning any content of experience, including emotions, reactivity, wounds, etc.) And if we try to push them away, ignore them, call the police, pretend they are not there, or end up wailing or running frantically around with them, they stay ragged.

The other option is to be with them in an heartfelt way, to allow whatever comes up from them, listen to it, feel into it, and even love it. That is how people in our life often can heal, and that is often how these guests can heal as well.

Again, nothing new here. We know it from our own life… seeing it in the world of humans and other beings, and the inner world of emotions, reactivity, wounds, and so on. At our human level, the outer and the inner mirror each other.

We can explore it quite simply in this way… just being with what comes up, in an heartfelt way. And we can also explore it more in detail through for instance voice dialog or the Big Mind process. Listening to disowned voices, the ones that are hurt in different ways, allowing them as they are, not needing them to change, not using them as something to manipulate or as a gateway into something else. Being interested in who they are, their history, being receptive to them, respecting them as they are, seeing and allowing them, feeling into what they say, and even loving them as they are. Even shifting into Big Heart and embracing them from Big Heart.

In terms of the three centers, there is receptivity at the head center (seeing), belly center (feeling, felt-sense), and heart center (love)… in short, a heartfelt seeing.

When we resist them (identify with the resistance), we not only rehearse the (apparent) split between I and Other but the guests also stay as they are, in misery, coming back later wanting to be let in.

Compassion includes guests in any form and shape, whether they show up in flesh and blood or in the form of emotions, reactivity, frustration, grief, sadness, anger, irritability, restlessness, wanting to be somewhere else.

Sensations as anchor (revisited)

This continues to come up on its own (especially right after I wake up in the morning), and also to be an exploration I consciously engage in…

  • When I look for a sense of separate I, I find that it is anchored on specific sensations, usually in the upper throat area, but also sometimes in the belly area (with a sense of a “deeper” yet still separate self). There is a sensation, and then a story about how this is an anchor or platform for, and defines, a sense of a separate self. It makes it appear more real.
  • When I explore emotions, I see that they are really sensations + a story (sadness, anger, frustration, etc.)
  • When I explore moods, I find them to be sensations + a story (often a memory or images the future)
  • Exploring each of these, I see that all of them really define and create a sense of a separate self. In each case, very specific sensations in different areas of the body serve as anchors for a story, making it appear more real and substantial, and defines a separate self in a particular location in space (here, in this human self).
  • When attention is brought directly to sensations as anchor for emotions, moods or a sense of a separate self, what appeared as emotion, mood or a sense of separate self falls into its components… a story placed on sensations.
  • When attention is brought to a sense of a separate self, the sense falls apart, but may then materialize again… using a different sensation as an anchor, or even going back to the initial sensation when attention softens or goes somewhere else.

And further…

  • If the system needs to create the appearance of an emotion, mood or sense of separate self (when there is a belief, an attachment to a story), it seems to tense up muscles in certain areas to create a noticeable and more stable sensation there, which the story is then placed on.
  • A sensation + story creates a sense of a separate self, located in a particular region of space, a sense of a center in space (with the appearance of a separate self, placed on this human self, as the center), and a sense of I at this center and Other in the periphery, as the wider world. This serves as a ground for a sense of a split between I and Other, which is needed to engage more fully in the initial belief, and the appearance of emotions, moods and a separate self.

It’s a weird thing, but also very clear when explored… where others see a body I experience space, with some sensations coming up here and there… and stories are placed on appropriate sensations, creating the appearance of emotions, moods and a separate self.

Felt-sense of all as one

When I woke up from the detective (lila) dream, I took some time exploring the felt-sense of I and Other, and also what happens when I bring in quality of many as one – from the dream.

I went through a parade of people, from those I know personally to those I know from the media, and those there is an attraction towards and aversion towards. What happens if there is a felt-sense of the two as one, as one character playing many roles, as it was in the dream?

What I found was a physical and felt release of tension, of deep relaxation, of fullness, ease, a felt sense of one as many… appreciating the diversity, yet also knowing that there is only one I.

Including more of our being

Putting it in words, it may sound very similar to seeing all as Spirit, as in the Big Mind process. And that is one aspect of it. But to feel it, to have a felt-sense of it, bodily, is quite different.

There is a whole other realm of fullness here, of being it more fully, of the basement being included (the client & target from the dream was in the basement when I found him, maybe for that reason… It was all about the felt-sense, the body, the belly center, the first few chakras.)

Three centers

Through the head center, there is a seeing of all as Spirit. Our view is reorganized within a nondual realization. This is Big Mind in the Big Mind process.

Through the heart center, there is a loving of all as Spirit. Our heart is reorganized within all as Spirit, open to all forms independent of how they show up. This is Big Heart.

And through the belly center, there is a felt-sense of all as Spirit. Our physical body feels all as Spirit, and our body and emotions are reorganized within all as Spirit. This could be called Big Belly (Hotei). It opens up a whole other realm of fullness, depth, nourishing, substantiality, groundedness, lived reality of all as Spirit.

Vulnerable animal

It is our individual human self, the vulnerable animal, that is reactive, contracted, fearful, blinded, hopeful, lashing out, clinging on, fearing death, feeling a sense of lack and something missing… It organizes in this way within a context of a sense of separation. It is a vulnerable (and wounded) little animal, and reacts in all of these ways as all animals do.

And the felt-sense of all as Spirit allows it to reorganize, to relax, to soften. It allows the little animal to feel safe, to gradually heal, to feel nourished, a sense of fullness, of nothing missing.

All is Spirit, reflected in the physical body and emotions

Of course, even here it will take care of itself in all the common sense and practical ways, through food, exercise, getting out of harms way and so on. But it will do it within a felt-sense of all being OK, of nourishment, fullness, a deep safety beyond conventional safety and danger.

This felt-sense of all as Spirit, of nourishment, fullness, of being held, of all being OK independent of what happens to the individual, comes from Spirit – not from the individual. It is Spirit awakening to itself, reflected deeply in the individual, in the body and emotional levels of the individual. And if deepened in that way, then they are there, no matter what physically happens to the individual.

Head only, or including belly

If Spirit is filtered through the head center only (or head and heart), there is a conventional awakening. Spirit awakens to itself as the ground of seeing and seen, and there is no I anywhere (or all as I). The individual is reorganized in this context, to some extent, but may also have wounds and hangups left. These too are also recognized as Spirit… Spirit arising as wounds, so in an absolute sense, it is OK.

But when the belly is included, it allows this individual, this vulnerable little animal, to reorganize at a deep level… Deep wounds are invited to heal, all these wounds created from a sense of separation… All the fear, desire, longing, terror, dread, cruelty, hopes, wishes, clinging… All of the ways the vulnerable little animal reacts to protect itself, when it lives from a sense of separation. These are all invited to heal, in a deep way.

The wounds soften, melt, gradually heal, gradually reorganize to reflect a felt-sense of all as Spirit. And as this happens within form, there is no end to how far this can go. There is always one more bit to heal, one step further to go, new ways to reorganize within a felt sense of all as Spirit.

Taking care of what we are, and who we are

Another way to put it is that we not only take care of what we are, but also who we are.

When Big Mind awakens to itself, as awake emptiness and form absent of I anywhere, and becomes familiar with itself in this way, while still being functionally connected with an individual human self, we take care of what we are.

And when we allow our individual self to deeply reorganize within this new context, through the head, heart and belly centers, we take care of who we are. And this is an unending process, there is always further to go, a continuous deepening, healing, reorganizing, maturing.

It is a process of deepening into what we are, as Spirit awake to itself, and who we are, as an individual soul and human self, reflecting Spirit awakened to itself.

What we are offers the realization of selflessness, of an absence of I anywhere. And who we are offers the opportunity to live and explore this in and as form.

Unified heart, and world as split or Spirit

I keep repeating this, and many other things, so I must need it!

Three centers, unified individually and together

When the heart is unified, open to all and everything, it invites the head (view) and belly (emotions, feelings) to be unified as well, and all the three centers tend to function in a more aligned way. (From the little I know about Gurdjieff, I think he talked about something similar, and it is one of the main guidelines in Breema as well.)

Three centers formed within a sense of I and Other, or all as Spirit

Heart, view and emotional patterns formed within a sense of I and Other naturally tends to function in a split way. The heart is open some times and towards some people, and closed other times and other people. The view is split, seeing Existence as inherently divided in various ways. The emotions are reactive. The three centers are often not very well aligned.

Heart, view and emotions formed within a sense of all as Spirit naturally tend to function in a unified way. The heart is open to all situations and people. The view reflects more of a nondual realization. The feelings gives a sense of fullness, nurturing and support. The three centers are aligned.

Daily life

This is very much alive in my daily life. I notice my heart closing off towards someone or something, and the view and emotions automatically follow. The view becomes more dualistic, gives a stronger sense of I and Other, and becomes more rigid and inflexible. The emotions are reactive. And I experience not only the world as split, but my individual self as divided as well.

But if there is the intention of well-wishing, maybe even in the form of prayer for the other person (for all the best unfolding), it changes. My heart becomes unified, open to the world. The view is less split, seeing myself in the other, and all of us in the same boat. My feelings become full, nurturing and supportive. I experience the world and my individual self as more unified.

Other aspects

There is of course an infinity of things happening when our individual self is organized within a sense of I and Other, and then reorganized within all as Spirit.

For instance, when there is a sense of I and Other, there is also resistance, and this resistance is reflected in each of the three centers. The heart is closed. The view sees a split between I and Other, and resists certain ways the world is and certain experiences. The emotions are reactive.

When the centers are reorganized within all as Spirit, the resistance gives way for receptivity. The heart is receptive and open. The view is receptive and more fluid. The feelings are receptive and nurturing.

These seed patterns are reflected throughout our being, including our physical bodies. Within a context of I and Other, our body becomes more rigid, tense, defensive, inflexible, and armored, just as the rest of us. And within a context of all as Spirit, or rather a felt sense of all as Spirit, it becomes relaxed, receptive and supple.

This happens over time, making our bodies a literal embodiment of our sense of the world. And it also happens instantaneously. I close my heart off, and immediately, my muscles tense up (for me, especially the calves.)

Our body, as every other part of us, naturally reflects a sense of the world as split, or of all as Spirit.

Composting, Breema and endarkenment

What I experience as composting seems to have two inseparable aspects.

Aspects of composting

There is the feeling into whatever arises (usually some form of resistance, or the fruits of resistance) as is.

And there is the feeling into it as Spirit, as fullness and emptiness, as alive luminous awake emptiness and form, as fullness and awake space, or however it appears.

When both are present, it seems to allow whatever is felt into to unfold and transform. There is a healing component here, allowing reactive emotions to transform into a sense of quiet nurturing fullness.

Breema, composting and endarkenment

This is actually quite similar to what they talk about in Breema. Bring the attention to the body, and feelings will join, which I experience also there as a sense of quiet stable nurturing supportive fullness, centered in the belly region.

My sense is that Breema is quite a bit about the endarkenment, although they don’t talk about it that way. There is an emphasis on the hara region, the belly, and there is certainly a transforming of emotions into giving this sense of warm full quiet stable nurturing supporting fullness.

It seems that for me, Breema set the stage for the endarkenment shift, along with shadow work and other things I have done for a while, and the endarkenment diksha allowed me to fall into it, opening up for a whole new dimension of being.

Two phases of endarkenment

Again, there seems to be two phases or aspects of the endarkenment.

There is the energetic and attention components, which are centered in the Hara, the belly region. Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Zen, Breema and many other practices activates the Hara and gives a sense of energy activity there, of warmth and nurturing fullness. It seems that this is an early taste of some aspects of endarkenment. This energetic work, and the dipping into it, is a form of pre-endarkenment.

But the shift into endarkenment is quite different. It is a shift into a whole new dimension of being. It seems stable, deep, full, a whole new way of being and experiencing existence. It is a dropping into a full rich quiet darkness. And it unfolds and deepens from here on, which includes allowing the emotions to reorganize in even deeper ways.

The pre-endarkenment is like dipping the toes in the water. The shift into endarkenment is jumping into it. And the process of unfolding is to swim, dive down into and explore in many ways this whole new realm of being.

Seeing and feeling all as Spirit

With enlightenment, even an early form of it, there is a seeing of everything as Spirit. This is not necessarily a literal seeing (although it can be that too, in seeing the energy and consciousness aspect of all physical forms), but more of an immediate recognition of everything as emptiness and luminosity. Something arises, and it arises as Spirit and to Spirit. It is Spirit arising to itself.

Endarkenment seems to allow for a feeling of everything as Spirit. I have noticed this over the last several days. In addition to seeing it all as Spirit, to various extents (through for instance shifting into Big Mind), there is a feeling of it all as Spirit as well. And it is most noticeable in situations where the feelings have not been aligned in this way in the past.

When everything is seen as Spirit, that of course also includes emotions. There may be a situation, say somebody being noisy (a good example for me!), an emotional reaction, and everything here is seen as Spirit, as emptiness, awakeness, luminosity and form. It doesn’t change the emotional reaction or the emotional patterns, and in a sense, it doesn’t have to. It is all Spirit anyway, so it is all OK.

But the endarkenment do seem to allow the emotional patterns to change. So for instance yesterday, when I was doing things in different parts of town, there were situations that triggered some emotional reactions now and then, probably especially since I was quite sleep deprived and “raw”. At the same time, there was a clear feeling of it all as Spirit. The situation, the people, their behavior, everything was felt as Spirit, deeply, fully, richly. In an earthy and nurturing way, with the same sense of smooth fullness. I noticed I could allow this feeling of all as Spirit to envelop everything more fully. The emotional reactions were still there, to some extent, but now arising more as echoes of old patterns. And all of this is of course a process, something that unfolds over time.

Fertile darkness as metahpor and direct experience

I have looked through some books on the dark goddesses and fertile darkness, including the Jungian Dancing in the Flames: The dark goddess in the transformation of consciousness and the Buddhist/shamanic The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the body of the Earth.

I read lots of books of that nature in my early twenties – Jungian views of the goddess, ecopsychology, ecospirituality, deep ecology, and so on, and found a deep resonance even then. It made sense on all the usual levels, and it was an experiential reality as well in different ways.

Yet, what strikes me now after the early endarkenment awakening is the difference between metaphor and direct experience of this fertile darkness.

Fertile darkness as metaphor

At the one hand, the dark goddess and the fertile darkness is a metaphor that works well at many levels. It is the yin, the earth connection, the body connection, lived and experienced. It is yin complementing the yang: the fertile darkness complementing the luminosity, the earth complementing the heaven, the relatedness complementing the detachment, love complementing wisdom.

And there are so many ways of working with this, including shadow work, body work and rituals, each one allowing us to deepen into it, allowing it to be more alive in us.

Direct experience of fertile darkness through endarkenment and belly awakening

The endarkenment awakening is certainly related to all of this, and what I have done in these areas have probably helped set the stage for this belly awakening, for this new shift.

At the same time, the endarkenment awakening is also very different, at least in my experience. It is an awakening clearly centered in the belly, and in the consciousness realm rather than the energy realm. It is an awakening where there is a direct and immediate experience of this fertile darkness, of the velvety blackness, empty and full at the same time, a ground of form.

The darkness is no longer just a useful metaphor, but a lived experience.

And this darkness can envelop anything arising, including anything arising in this personality. It makes it all OK, and seems to over time allowing it to heal and knots to unravel.

Enlightenment and mind, endarkenment and emotions

In a way, the endarkenment seems to do for emotions what enlightenment does for the mind.

Enlightenment clarifies the mind, allowing it to reorganize to the new awakening of everything as Spirit.

Endarkenment soothes the emotions, allowing them to reorganize to the new awakening to the fertile dark ground of form, to everything as the goddess and Spirit as well.

All as empty luminosity, and dark fullness

Also, in the initial awakening in my teens, everything was experienced as empty luminocity, including this physical body. Every cell in this body, and all form, was empty luminosity, golden, as a hologram with form and no substance.

Through the endarkenment awakening, there is a sense of the dark fullness of everything, a fertile loamy fullness of all form. There is a sinking into and as form in a very different way.

And this is, of course, just another form of transcendence and immanence, ascension and embodiment.