Why do people in this healing modality look young?

In a social media group for Vortex Healing, someone asked why Vortex Healing people seem young for their age.

Here are some answers that come up for me:

It may or may not be true. It may be selection and/or confirmation bias. We may have that idea and look for examples that fit. Or we know people who fit and assume that’s the case for everyone.

If it is true, it’s likely because people who are into healing work tend to live more healthy lives. We tend to value health and healthy living, so we may look a bit younger.

Also, the ones who are into Vortex Healing have resources – money, time, and the ability to focus on something else than day-to-day survival. We are privileged and that tends to be reflected in our lifestyle which, in turn, is reflected in how we look. Privileged people tend to look more healthy and younger.

It’s also possible that Vortex Healing itself – going to classes and giving and receiving healing – does something. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. It works.

Another side of this is that our culture values youth. We are a culture of change so we value the young. In cultures that are more stable and where things don’t change so much, they tend to value old age and the experience that comes with age. So if we value a healing modality, it makes sense if we want it to do other things we value, like youth.

As usual, I am less interested in the conventional answer to the question (yes, no, because you can work on the telomeres, etc.) than how to think about it. It’s an opportunity to take a sober approach and include the bigger picture.

Image by me and Midjourney

A small synchronicity (?) the day after: I talked with someone who thought I was at least ten years younger than I am.

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Assuming something is healed

I sometimes hear someone say that they healed this or that.

The question that comes up for me is: how do you know?


Why would we assume something in us is healed?

It may just be a way to say it, and we know we don’t really know. We don’t nuance it because we know we and others know we can’t know.

It may feel more comforting to tell ourselves something is healed. We may feel we need that comfort.

We may not have enough experience to see how something may appear healed, and then it surfaces again – often in a slightly different form since a lot has changed in us between then and now.


There is an upside to telling ourselves something is healed. It may give us an extra boost and encouragement to keep going. It can give us the confidence we need in that situation.

The downside is that we tell ourselves something we cannot know for certain, and a part of us knows that. It may also make it extra challenging if or when an issue resurfaces, in a way it wouldn’t have been if we held it more as a question.


In my experience, there are typically layers to a wound, issue, or trauma. It has aspects and wrinkles that we discover over time.

What’s wounded is a part of me. Sometimes, a particular wounded part goes into the background for a while, and other parts – free of the issue – come more into the foreground.

It may be that one aspect of an issue is healed. And there are underlying issues and painful beliefs yet to be explored.

Any issue typically exists within a network of issues. To find a more real healing, we need to explore the network.


I prefer to keep it as a question.

It may appear that an issue is healed. It may be tempting to tell myself it’s healed. But I cannot know for certain.

To me, it’s more honest and comfortable to hold it more lightly. I may notice that a particular issue may not come up as often as before, or it may appear less strong than before. And I don’t really know what’s going on. I cannot know if it’s healed or not, or to what extent it’s healed.

All of that is hidden from me, and that’s fine. I don’t need to know. If it comes up, I’ll explore it. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 45

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.

OCTOBER 14, 2023


There is a solar eclipse today where I am, and someone told me to not go outside during the eclipse because it will damage my health. Apparently, that’s what some in India think.

To me, with my Western mind, it doesn’t quite make sense.

If it were true, we would see an upswing in illnesses following a solar eclipse, which would be picked up by the healthcare system. And I am not aware of that. There is nothing in the medical journals, apart from a predictable upswing in eye damage. (There is a small change that there is something in the data that nobody has explored statistically in connection with eclipses, or that there is a delayed manifestation of the illnesses.)

Also, it doesn’t quite make logical sense. A solar eclipse is just the moon getting between the Earth and the sun for a brief period, so a shade is cast on the ground. I don’t see how that could influence us. (Unless there is something in the brief line-up that has nothing to do with the eclipse itself as we experience it with an occultation of the sun.)

To my Western mind, this seems like a superstition someone started to reduce the cases of eye damage at a time before easy access to eclipse glasses. They noticed eye damage from people looking at the sun during an eclipse and started and propagated this rumor to shape people’s behavior. In some cultures, I assume it would be reasonably effective.

Or it’s just the typical old-fashioned superstitions where people make up stories around phenomena they don’t understand. (In this case, where they made up stores before science explained it to us.)

Of course, we still do that. We still individually and collectively make up stories about things we don’t fully understand, whether it’s about ourselves, others, the behavior of someone in our life, the world, or anything else. We try to make sense of things, so we make guesses about the world. These guesses are more or less grounded in solid logic and data. And the world is always more than and different from our stories about it.

OCTOBER 16, 2023


Our minds seem to love to make up stories about healing and awakening, and especially of those we are invested in one way or another.

This session was so powerful! My old issue is completely transformed. This transmission shifts your system in that way. This awakening is forever. And so on.

Personally, I am happy to entertain the possibility of all these things. But I also know that I don’t know. I cannot know for certain. A lot of different things can explain what I observe. And it’s very tempting for the mind to create happy stories so it can feel better about itself, life, and what’s happening.

I also realize that early in the journey, and perhaps with some things, it’s comforting to hold onto desirable stories about what’s happening. And, at some point, it’s more comfortable to hold hold it lightly.

For me, what’s more honest is that I don’t know. I notice I am draw to something, and I do it or don’t do it, and that’s enough. I receive healing sessions from certain people for certain issues at certain times, because it feels right. And that’s enough. I don’t need to create a lot of others stories around it.


I removed “have to” from my vocabulary a long time ago.

In our culture, “have to” is something we use to make it look as if we didn’t make a choice. Don’t blame me, I am doing it because I have to!

For me, it’s more honest to say that I want to. I don’t “have to” do anything. But I want to do some things.

Someone points a gun at me and tells me to do something, and I choose to do it or not. I pay taxes because I want to, not because I have to. I emerge from diving underwater because I want to breathe air, not because I have to. I rest because I want to, not because I have to. I do things to keep this human self alive and comfortable and avoid too much trouble because I want to, not because I have to.

[Read on for more of these.]

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 44

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Why would I want to forgive? For me, the answer is that it feels better.

Does forgiveness mean not having boundaries? Not at all. Forgiveness and boundaries go hand in hand.

How can I find forgiveness?

One answer is specific approaches like understanding, heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’o, metta), inquiry like The Work of Byron Katie, and so on.

Another answer is more general. I find it through finding forgiveness for myself. The more I can forgive myself, and live in that forgiveness, the more I can find forgiveness for others.

Is it easy? Not necessarily. Wounds can go deep, and wounds make it difficult to find genuine forgiveness. Healing opens up for forgiveness. Those two too go hand in hand.



How do I experience the brain fog?

It has several aspects.

It feels like cotton in and around my head.

It makes it difficult to remember.

It makes it difficult to take in information. (And my brain gets tired quickly.)

It makes it difficult to process information.

It makes it difficult to string words together and communicate.

In general, the more drained and exhausted my system is, the less energy there is for my executive cognitive functions. (Thinking, talking, making decisions, intentionally relating to what’s coming up, etc.)

It really seems that life wants to experience brain fog through and as me these days.

The baseline brain fog is from the onset of CFS in my teens, following a mono-infection.

When the CFS dramatically worsened 10-15 years ago, following severe and long-lasting pneumonia, it got a lot worse. My memory got a lot worse after Covid last year. (Teflon brain.)

And I suspect severe Lyme some years ago and septic shock last summer also play a role.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 43

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


I mostly write about awakening, healing, and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) here. So if you know me just from these writings, it may seem that this is my whole life.

Of course, from my perspective, it’s quite different. These are aspects of my life, and far from my whole life. Most of the time, I am just living an ordinary life where I go to the store, talk with people about practical things or nothing very important, make or laugh at a joke, enjoy simple things in daily life, deal with ordinary life challenges, and so on.


I live with a disability. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / CFS.)

It doesn’t mean that it’s who or what I am.

It doesn’t mean it defines me as a whole or fully.

It’s not even close to being all of my life.

It’s a part of my life. It’s something I live with.

That’s just about it.

It’s the same with a lot of other things in my life: my gender, ethnicity, age, education, politics, and so on. It’s part of my life, but it doesn’t define me and it’s not even close to being all of who or what I am.

And none of it is what I more fundamentally am. What I am is what allows all of it, and forms itself into all of it.


When I write about my nature, is it philosophy?

In a sense, yes. Anything that’s mirrored in our mental field becomes philosophy.

And a more real answer is that it depends. It depends on the receiver.

If we use it as a practical pointer to look and expore here and now, then it’s a practical pointer.

If we let it stay in the realm of mental representations, then it’s a philosophy.

It’s up to each of us if it’s one or the other.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 42

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Some people like to use the movie screen analogy for consciousness.

Just like a movie is projected onto a screen without affecting the screen, our consciousness experiences all sorts of things without being affected.

That’s true enough, and the analogy may be useful to highlight just that.

But, in general, I prefer not to use the analogy. It can mislead more than enlighten.

For instance, a screen is physical and consciousness is not. And the light hitting the screen comes from somewhere else while consciousness forms itself into its own experience.

I prefer to use dreams since it’s an example and not an analogy.

To ourselves, we are consciousness, and to us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are. That happens in dreams and it happens in waking life. Waking life is, in that way, no different from a dream. The difference is that it tends to be a bit more consistent than dreams. There is more continuity there.


Does awakening take care of traumas?

Not necessarily, and perhaps not even typically.

I suspect most still need to actively work on emotional issues and traumas, even within our nature recognizing itself.

At least, that’s how it has been for me. My nature recognizing itself does not give me a free pass.


I sometimes talk with people early in an awakening or healing process who says: “it’s completely healed”, “it’s gone”, “this technique healed it completely”. (When I say “early”, it may be within the first five or ten or fifteen years of the process depending on a lot of things.)

To me, that seems like wishful thinking. It brings to mind I Ching’s Youthful Folly hexagram.

How can you know? Yes, a certain issue may not seem to be up right now, but how do you know it’s healed? How do you know it won’t come up again later? How do you know there are not more layers? How do you know it’s not connected to a much larger network of similar and supporting issues?

My sense is that with maturity, we learn to hold all of this with a grain of sand. We see it more as questions than statements. We know that the mind sometimes wants things to be over and goes into wishful thinking. (Which can be comforting on the surface and for a while, and also makes the contrast stronger when life goes in another direction. It may also go against our deeper knowing.) We know that life has a way of surprising us.

And we may also see that this is what’s happening during a certain phase of the process. It’s innocent and natural. It’s not wrong. It’s part of the process.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 41

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


For the last fifteen years or so, I have been in a dark night.

It started even further back, when I got married the first time. (Late 1990s.) Then, it got much more dramatic with the return of severe CFS. (Mid/late 2000s.) And it went even deeper when I asked the divine to “show me what’s left” which brought up immense survival fear within a week or so. (Early 2010s.)

It seems a pretty classic dark night, judging from what I have heard from others, and especially what’s described in the “Dark night of the soul” chapter in Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism.

During this time, I have repeatedly lost what I earlier found safety in. I lost my health. (Severe CFS.) I lost my marriage. I lost my house and car. I lost just about all my belongings. (Including a library of 2000-3000 books about spirituality from all traditions and outside of traditions.) I lost the possibility to stay in my adopted country. (The US.) I lost my excellent memory. I lost my ability to think clearly. I lost friends. I lost my reputation. And so on.

Through all those losses, I have been invited to shift my center of gravity more fully and thoroughly into my nature. And out of holding onto identities for safety, since these come and go.

I have no idea where in that process my system is. I have no idea where in the dark night process my system is. (My guess is 80% through since it feels lighter now, but who knows.) I have no idea how far and thoroughly into my nature my center of gravity is. I have no idea how much is left.

And that’s completely OK. I prefer it that way. It’s aligned with reality since I don’t know any of this for certain. I can only guess, and guesses are just that, guesses. (And inherently painful if I try to pretend for myself they are more certain than they are.)


I don’t know, but here is my guess right now:

No, it’s not necessary.

But the process it comes out of, and what it leads to, is necessary.

It’s necessary for everything in our mind-body that’s out of alignment with awakening – a conscious noticing and living from our nature – to align with this. It’s necessary for every part of our psyche to shift out of separation consciousness and into being aligned with our nature as oneness.

It’s necessary for every bit of thought and identity that our mind holds as true, in order to protect us, to wear off, for the charge in them to dissipate, for the mind to see through it and find what’s already more true for us.

And that may require one or more dark nights and one or more kinds of dark nights.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 40

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Some talk as if awakening is somehow “permanent”.

I understand why.

When the noticing is here and stable, it seems obvious and unmissable. It seems it will never go away.

Time happens within and as what we are, so how could this go away?

Also, some may go into the thought that it’s permanent to find comfort. They want it to stay, so they tell themselves it will.

And yet, is it true?

Permanence is the story of a future.

I cannot know.

So for me, it’s more peaceful to hold it lightly and keep it open.

Also, I know that there is often an awakening shift, then it goes away (which can be experienced as one kind of dark night), and then it’s refound in a different and more thorough way.

[Made into a regular article]

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 39

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


One of the things I am most grateful for on my path is that I lived the essence of what I am writing about here before I read or heard about it. The initial oneness shift happened when I was sixteen, an atheist, and just before World Wide Web (the Internet is older), so it took several years for me to find someone talking or writing about it. And when I did, there was a kind of distance there from the culture and times of the people I found. (It wasn’t until I discovered Adyashanti, Byron Katie, and Douglas Harding many years later that I found someone describing what I had discovered and there was less of a cultural barrier between us.) I had those years just to myself, which gave me the opportunity to explore it without any influences from others.

Almost all of what I write about here is what I discovered or what was revealed to me during that time, with the exception of specific terminology, jargon, and practices.


This is pretty obvious, and it can take some exploration to get it viscerally:

It’s all literally imagination.

We imagine the past. We imagine the future. I can only find the past and the future in my imagination, in my mental field.

We even imagine the present. I have things happening in my sense fields, and my mental field creates an overlay of labels, boundaries, stories, and so on. What happens in the sense fields is a kind of imagination. It’s our brain creating a certain experience based on sensory input. And the mental field overlay is also clearly imagination.

We also imagine ourselves. We have images and stories about who and what we are, and our mind combines these with certain physical sensations that lend it a sense of substance, solidity, and reality.

All our content of experience is imagined.

And that’s fine.

This is often a very useful imagination. It helps us orient and function in the world.

If we don’t recognize it as imagination, we tend to get ourselves into trouble. (Stress, discomfort, misjudgment, and so on.)

And when we recognize it as imagination, we can hold it all more lightly. We use it for what it’s here for, which is to help us orient and navigate in the world. And we don’t assume it holds any final, full, or absolute truth.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 38

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


This is a question that, in a way, comes from the idea that we are different from the rest of existence.

What’s the meaning of a tree? A star? Water? Air? A dandelion?

The meaning of a tree is to be a tree. The meaning of a star is to be a star.

And the meaning of us is to be us.

It can be quite simple.

We can also say that…

Asking for the meaning suggests that we are not fully engaged in our life. We are not fully enlivened. So what would make us come more alive?

We can find a deep sense of meaning by finding our intimate connection with the rest of existence, with the larger whole.

The meaning of life is for each of us to find what’s meaningful to us. What makes you come alive? What feels deeply right to you? If you could not fail, what would you do?

The question itself is worth looking into. What do I find when I examine the question? Or underlying thoughts, like: “My life is not meaningful”, “I am not enough”.


Seeking awakening is often not (only) about seeking awakening.

What do I hope to get out of awakening? And out of that? And out of that?

It can be helpful to identify what we imagine we’ll get out of it, and look at our strategies for finding that.

Maybe there are other strategies that make as much or more sense?

For instance, we may wish to find love, acceptance, peace, rest, coming home, freedom from discomfort, and so on.

If that’s the case, shifting our relationship with our content of experience, in general, is often a more direct and effective strategy.

Finding healing for our relationship with anything, inviting in healing for our traumas and wounds, and questioning our stressful thoughts, is more likely to get us what we want.

And to deeply do this, it does help to find our more fundamental nature. It creates a different context for these explorations.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 37

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Is our inner guidance the voice of divine will? Yes and no.

In my experience, my inner guidance shows me what’s right for me, and what’s in alignment with me and my path and life. It’s what’s kind and wise in the moment. It tends to be an easier path, not because it is free of challenges (there may still be challenges), but because it feels deeply right. It’s often aligned with what makes sense to me consciously. And sometimes, it’s different, and if I follow it, it will eventually make sense.

Divine will is different. Divine will is what happens and what is. Whatever is, is the divine will.

Sometimes, the divine will is for me to follow my guidance.

And sometimes, the divine will is for me to not follow my guidance. In my case, typically when I am caught up in unloved fears and unexamined painful beliefs and identities.

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Befriending our younger selves

My partner and I are both in a process of befriending our younger selves, at a time when that younger self needed support.

For her, it’s relatively early childhood, and for me, it’s early and mid-teens.

I spend time with that version of me that’s struggling and has low self-esteem, social anxiety, feels isolated, not seen and understood, wants to hide, and so on.

I am with him. I sometimes have a dialog with him and listen to him and his fears and dreams. I see him and understand him. I am a mentor to him and share what I have learned from living longer and seeing what’s possible. I invite him to explore how it is to feel loved, connected, and follow his passion.

A few times, I have used tonglen with him. I visualize him in front of me, I breathe in his suffering and confusion as black smoke, and breathe out light that fills him and he becomes that light.

And mostly, I am just with him.

When I check in, I notice how he is changing. There was a noticeable shift relatively early on, and now a slower shift. He needs time to readjust and realign, and that’s more than OK.

Why do I do this? When I look back through my timeline, this was the period with the most confusion and suffering, and who I was then is still with me. He is still a part of me. So it makes sense for me to befriend him and help him heal and find a healthier more enjoyable version of himself.

How do I do it? I have already mentioned a few things. I visualize and connect with him. I spend time with him. I ask him questions and listen to him. I dialog with him. I share with him what I have discovered since. I recognize him as having my nature. (To me, he is consciousness, a form within the consciousness I am.) I allow him to be exactly as he is, and find love for him as he is. I do some tonglen with him, after first asking if it’s OK. I shift into Big Heart and find him as love and bathe him in love and allow him to soak in it and realign within it.

I have done this for a couple of weeks now and will continue since he still appreciates some active support.

Note: This is a general outline and there are a lot more wrinkles in the actual exploration. For instance, I noticed a part of me that doesn’t like this particular younger version of me. (Which is understandable since it was a difficult period of my life.) So I am including that part of me in this exploration. I listen to it. Find understanding. Am with it. And so on.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 36

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


A long time ago, I mentioned to my father that I planned to study psychology, and he responded: “People who study psychology or go to therapy often get weird”. He likely meant that they often live a life more free of shoulds and social norms, and are less invested in following shoulds and social norms. And that seemed threatening to him.

To me, weird is wonderful. (As Adya’s mum told him.) And being free of shoulds and social norms seems like a good deal as well. I can be free of them, or more free of them, and still follow my inner guidance, what makes sense, what seems most kind, and so on.

In general, why do some not like psychology or therapy?

I assume there may be many reasons.

They may be familiar with approaches to psychology that reflect a cynical view of humans. In that case, I would be cautious as well. These approaches tend to be outdated.

They may know that they harbor unprocessed psychological material they are not ready to face, and even the thought of psychology or therapy seems scary to them. That’s completely fine. There is a time for everything. And it’s also good to be honest about it.

They may suspect it can bring about major life changes, and they are not prepared to make those changes. They prefer to live their life-lie. Again, this is completely fine. There is a time and place for everything.

They may, as my father, see therapy as a way for people to be freer from shoulds and norms, and if they are invested in shoulds and norms and have made an identity and ideology out of following them, then that can seem threatening.

They may assume that therapy involves the therapist imposing a different way of thinking, feeling, and living on them, and they want to keep their autonomy. Some therapists may try to do this, but good ones don’t. They invite you to find your own way and what works for you. They support you in becoming more you.

Just to be clear, I don’t think therapy is for everyone, and any one approach to therapy is certainly not for everyone. But I do think it’s helpful to clarify these things and be reasonably honest about it.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 35

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Since early in life, I have suspected that what many attribute to age is really about lifestyle, whether it’s poor memory, bad physical shape, being set in one’s ways, or similar.

As kids, we learn every day and are physically active every day. (At least most are, biking, running, climbing trees, and so on.) We train ourselves to learn, and we stay physically fit. We try out new things and seek out new experiences.

Later in life, many don’t learn as much and are less physically active, so there is no wonder if this is reflected in our mind and body.

Also, I suspect much of what we think of as typical for older age has to do with the weight of wound-conditioning that’s been with us for decades – traumas, emotional issues, unquestioned painful beliefs, limiting identities, and so on. (These are all names for essentially the same dynamics.)The longer we carry these with us, the more strongly they impact our mind and body.


Since early in life, I have noticed that my sleep patterns are quite different in nature versus in the city.

If I am in nature, for instance at the cabin in Norway or at Finca Milagros, I naturally go to sleep early and wake up early. I tend to wake up around 5am. (This is even more pronounced the times I sleep in nature in a tent or outside.)

If I am in a more urban environment, it’s more tempting for me to stay up late and wake up later. (It’s a tendency, and one I often intentionally counter since I feel better if I wake up early after a good night’s sleep.)

This is not a very profound insight, and it’s probably something many have noticed. But it is interesting.

I imagine our ancestors slowed down and slept when it got dark, and woke up when it got light to make full use of daylight hours. That pattern kicks in when we live in nature, even if we live indoors in nature.

And it gets skewed by city living and a stronger disconnect from nature.

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Weeding the garden: Supporting the natural self-healing processes of the mind

To Turcich, the walk was a seven-year meditation, particularly the first two years, which were more solitary. As he walked, so much was going through his mind – his history, his values, his hopes. It all came to a head in the deserts of Peru and Chile. “I was on my own so much, just with my thoughts. The way I describe it is like weeding your garden. You don’t realise it, but your head is full of these weeds and when you’re walking, you’re on your knees pulling weeds. After about a year and a half, when I was down in south Peru, I felt like I’d thought all the thoughts, and the garden was clean. There was no more angst, no regrets, nothing I could pick through. I was in the Atacama desert, lying under a million stars, and it felt I was at the bottom of myself. All the doubts went.”

– The Guardian, The man who walked around the world: Tom Turcich on his seven-year search for the meaning of life

I haven’t walked around the world but love walking and I have noticed what he describes.


If you put yourself in a situation where you don’t have too many (modern) distractions, the mind tends to settle on its own. This can be through walking, spending time in nature, doing art, playing music, meditation or mindful movement practice, or something else.

The shift can happen relatively quickly and may not last that long. Or it can gradually happen over time and be more lasting, for instance, through regular meditation practice, doing a meditation or mindful movement retreat, or walking for weeks or months.


Just like our body, our mind is self-healing. Its dynamics are self-healing.

A part of that dynamic is to bring anything unresolved to the surface. What’s unfelt comes up to be felt, what’s unexamined to be examined, what’s unloved to be loved.

So although our mind, when less distracted, engages in a self-healing process, it’s not always pleasant.

Sometimes, when we start a period that’s more undistracted, it can be very uncomfortable. A lot of smaller issues and mental noise come to the surface and it takes time for the mind to naturally settle.

And sometimes, we can have long quiet periods, and then old issues activate and come to the surface.

(In my case, I found meditation very enjoyable in my teens and twenties and did it daily for hours at a time. More recently, at the onset of the dark night, a lot of deep trauma came to the surface which made it far more challenging for me to be with all of it.)


I am not exactly sure what’s happening, but here is my best guess:

Our mind has a natural self-healing tendency. When we are less distracted and mentally busy, this self-healing process is allowed to take place.

And that self-healing process takes a few forms.

As mentioned above, it involves feeling what’s unfelt (emotions, states), seeing what’s unseen (about ourselves, our role in situations), examining what’s unexamined (stressful stories), and finding love for what’s unloved (all of the above and more).

It involves shifting our relationship to stressful stories. We may identify stressful stories we were not aware of previously, which in itself is helpful. (If we are not aware of them, they run us. If we are aware of them, we can recognize them and relate to them more intentionally.)

We may come to recognize the stories for what they are. They are stories, questions about the world. They leave a lot out, and they are often not accurate. Holding onto them is stressful. And what’s genuinely more true for us is often more peaceful.

We may also learn to meet our experiences with more kindness. We may notice that a lot of our discomfort comes from struggling with our experience. And we may try out meeting it with more kindness and find it’s more comfortable and also helps us in our daily life. It’s more pleasant, kind, and wise.

We may also learn to meet our habitual patterns with more kindness. We recognize our mind and behavioral patterns. We may see that some were formed in response to difficult situations in our childhood. We may disidentify a little with these patterns, and find some compassion for ourselves. (And others, since they have their own.) And we may find a way to relate to these more consciously, even as they come up.

Something else may also happen through being with ourselves in a relatively undistracted manner and over time. And that is that we shift our relationship with our human self. We may notice that all content of experience comes and goes, including what we took ourselves to be. (This human self, these feelings, these thoughts, this name, these stories). If it all comes and goes, it can’t be what I most fundamentally am. So what am I, more fundamentally? What am I in my own first-person experience? Here, we may find ourselves as what any content of experience happens within and as. We find ourselves as the field that the world, to us, happens within and as.

All of this can happen naturally if we are undistracted over time. It seems part of the natural self-healing processes of the mind (and body). And it all either brings healing or supports healing.


We can support this natural self-healing process in several ways.

The main one is to allow ourselves to be with ourselves in a relatively undistracted way, regularly and over time. This provides the condition for the self-healing process to take place. And we can do it in many ways, as outlined above. (Go for walks, knit, paint, play music, be in nature, play with children or animals, meditate, do mindful movement, go on a retreat, and so on.)

Receiving guidance for meditation is helpful. This can be basic meditation. (Notice and allow what’s here as it is, and notice it’s already allowed and noticed.) Heart-centered practices. (Tonglen, ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer, Christ meditation, etc.)

Training more stable attention helps this process, and just about anything else, enormously. (For instance, bring attention to the sensation of the breath at the nostrils. Rest in noticing those sensations. And gently bring attention back if it wanders.)

We can also be guided in more structured inquiry, and learn this for ourselves. We can learn to identify and examine stressful thoughts. (The Work of Byron Katie.) We can explore how the sense fields combine to create our experience. (Kiloby Inquiries, traditional Buddhist inquiry.) We can also find what we more fundamentally are, and get more familiar with noticing and living from (and as) it. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)


As usual, I find an evolutionary perspective helpful.

We evolved in nature and as part of nature, in relatively small groups, and to be active with our hands and body. We gathered food. Carried water. Chopped wood. Grew food. Sew and knitted clothes.

It’s only the recent generations that we have lived in a modern world with cities, apartments, a faster pace, and modern gadgets.

Our biology and mind evolved in nature, and many of us are living in a world that’s quite different.

I imagine that the natural self-healing process of our mind was allowed to unfold more freely for our ancestors. Even if they were active, they were typically less distracted and more focused on what was in front of them, so their mind had space to process and self-heal. (At least, to some extent.) In our modern life, we are typically so hurried and distracted (with the internet, news, podcasts, music, etc.) that our mind doesn’t have the same chance.

To give our mind that space, we need to recreate or mimic the life of our ancestors. It doesn’t necessarily mean living in nature and growing our own food. But it does mean engaging in more meditative activities, and perhaps arranging our life so these happen naturally as part of our daily life.


Outlined like this, it all sounds relatively simple and straightforward.

But simple does not mean easy. It can still be challenging. (It is for me, with all the trauma that came up.) And that’s why it’s helpful to find support. It helps to find a group of people doing the same.

This process tends to bring up what’s buried. If we start on this process, for instance with meditation or mindful movement, and we know we have trauma, it’s good to have guidance from someone skilled in working with trauma, and ideally to have that support and guidance from the beginning before anything comes up.

And traumas and issues may come up that require more attention than just giving our mind space to heal. We may need more focused therapy, in whatever form is available to us and makes the most sense to us. (Talk therapy, somatic therapy, energy work, inquiry, and so on.)

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Visualize the other as healed, whole, wise, and kind, and have a dialog

Dialog is an important part of many approaches to healing.

And this includes a dialog with parts of ourselves, or with people from our past, in the world, creatures from mythology, dream characters, animals, plants, landscapes, or anything else. These all represent current parts of ourselves.


I have a version I find very helpful:

Identify someone from your past (or present) you have a difficult or unresolved relationship with.

Visualize that person as healed, whole, wise, and kind. Visualize a mature version of that person.

Dialog with that person. Tell her or him how you feel about your relationship or what happened in the past. Listen for their answer. Continue with the dialog as it naturally unfolds.

Ask them about their experience and listen to their answer. Ask them how they experienced you. Ask them how they would like your relationship to be. And so on.

Keep it real and authentic, and remember that the other is stably healed, whole, wise, and kind.

You can also spend time in silence with that person, or hug and rest in that for a while.

Continue until you experience a deeper resolution and perhaps even peace.


I did this with some bullies from school and was surprised by some of what they said, how authentic it all felt, and the sense of resolution that came out of it. (They told me about their own pain from family problems, that they saw me as rejecting them, and so on.)

It obviously didn’t heal everything around the situation. In response to the original situation, my mind created deeper coping patterns (wanting to hide, etc.) that require more exploration. But it did shift how I consciously relate to the original situation and people.

When I look back at it now, it feels and seems quite different. I have far more peace with it.


I imagine some may say: But it’s not true. The other person is not like that. It’s fake. If I do this, I would just deceive myself.

Yes, it may not be true in a conventional sense and in the world. The other person may not be like that. And that’s fine. This is about your own inner process.

The other person represents a side of you. And that side of you has the potential to be whole, healed, kind, and wise. You are tapping into that potential. You are helping that side of you find how it is when it’s more whole, healed, kind, and wise, and you get a sense of how it is.

Also, this is about gaining insight into the situation. How would a whole, healed, kind, and wise person see the situation? What would she or he say? What would that person say, if she or he was healed, kind, and mature?

Finally, we all have the potential to be that way. All the different sides of us have that potential. And each of us as an individual has that potential. It’s in us all. This exploration reminds us of that.

Finding healing for our relationship with a wound vs finding healing for the wound itself

When we talk about healing psychological wounds, there are two sides to it.

Most people think about healing the wound itself.

And yet, in my experience, healing my relationship with the wound is equally if not more important.


If I struggle with a wound – if I see it as a problem, just want it to go away, go into reactivity to it, identify with it and perceive and live as if I am it, and so on – then my relationship with it is not yet healed.

So how do I find healing for my relationship with a wound?

Exploring the wound itself tends to help me shift my relationship with it. I may identify the painful story (stories) behind it, examine these, and find what’s more true for me. I can dialog with the wound (from the perspective as the wound) and see what it has to say, how it experiences my relationship with it, and how it would like me to relate to it. I can find how it’s trying to protect me and see it comes from care and love. And so on.

I can also use heart-centered practices to shift my relationship with it. My favorites tend to be ho’oponopono and tonglen. I can use tonglen with the wound or myself having the wound, and also with my reactivity to the wound and myself having that reactivity.

I can examine my stressful thoughts about the wound. What stressful stories do I have about it? What do I fear may happen? What’s the worst that can happen? What do I find when I examine these stories? What’s more true and real for me?

Similarly, I can examine my self-talk around the issue. What do I tell myself about it? What’s a more kind and constructive (and real) way to talk with myself about it? How is it to explore that? How is it to make it into a new habit?

I can find the need behind the wound. What does that part of me need? How is it to give it to the wound and myself here and now? (Mostly, the need is something essential and universal like safety, support, understanding, and love.)

I can be open about it with myself and others. Yes, I have this wound. This is how it has affected me and my life in the past, and this is how I have related to it in the past. Now, I am finding a different relationship with it and I am exploring how that is. (And I may, and probably will, still go into the old patterns now and then. I wish to be patient and kind with myself and this process.)

I can notice that the wound – and my reactivity to it – is happening within my sense fields. I can find it in my sensations, as physical sensations in the body, and in my mental field as labels, interpretations, and stories about it. This helps deconstruct it and see how my mind creates its experience of it all. I also get to see that it’s all happening within my sense fields and I cannot find it any other place.

That helps me notice that I am capacity for it all, I am capacity for all of these experiences as I am capacity for any and all experience. And it’s all happening within and as what I am. Its nature is the same as my nature.

I can then shift into the perspective of my wound (become the wound for a while) and notice my nature as the wound. And I can shift into my (painful) relationship with the wound and notice my nature as that relationship. This helps the wound and my painful relationship with it to wake up to its nature and realign with oneness. And that tends to take some of the charge out of it.


When I am caught up in a struggle with a wound, it’s stressful, uncomfortable, and painful. The sanity and kindness that’s here in me, and all of us, become less available.

And when I shift my relationship with it, it may still be here but it’s also different. It’s easier to recognize it as a part of me, as an object within consciousness. I can relate to it with a little more intention and awareness. I am less caught up in it.

And, after a while, it may be like an old friend coming to visit. Hello, you are here again. Thanks for visiting. You are welcome to stay. We are here together. You and I have the same nature.

When my relationship with the wound shifts, the wound doesn’t have to shift. It can come and go and it’s OK.

Read on for an AI take on this topic.

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How I visualize when I channel for distance healing

When I channel for myself or others, how do I experience and visualize it?


If I channel for someone else, I ask and visualize the divine doing the work. I make myself and my system available, set an intention, notice what happens to adjust the intention, and the divine is doing all the actual work. (It’s of course doing all the work since it’s all of it including what I take as me.)

I also visualize who or what (an organ, issue, etc.) I am channeling for as the divine, and the divine reorganizing itself. It’s the divine – in the form of what I am channeling for – reorganizing itself.


The experience changes a bit over time and during the session.

I usually get a sense of what I am channeling for through a combination of sensations in my own body and visual images. During the healing session, I usually get different types of information and a sense of what’s happening.

I usually experience the intensity of the energy through the strength of the sensations in my body. And I know that what I am sensing is how the energy is running through my own system and what blocks it’s hitting here. It’s not necessarily saying anything about how strong it is for the recipient.


To me, this is all happening within and as the oneness I am.

There is not any distance inherent in it.

When I sense, I sense sensations in my own body.

And even when I visualize the healing happening “over there”, that “over there” is also happening here and now. It’s happening in my visual images. And it’s happening within and as what I am.

Of course, outside of my experience, there may well be a person here and a person here. And yet, to me, it’s all happening within and as the oneness I am.


I discovered I could see and sense energies, pick up information at a distance, and invite the divine to reorganize itself “over there” (distance healing) in my mid-teens.

It came as part of the shift into the oneness I am noticing itself, and noticing the world as it appears to me as happening within and as the oneness I am.

I did some healing off and on for some years, but only rarely and for close family and friends. I rarely talked about it.

Some years ago, I got into Vortex Healing and I have channeled more since then. The essence of how I visualize and experience it is the same now and then, as I best can tell.


This is obviously just my experience and what I write about here is a description.

It’s not an instruction or how anyone else should do it, needs to do it, or even what works best.

It’s how it happens to be for me and it may well shift and change.

Awakening and self-esteem

In a social media group, someone asked if awakening helps with low self-esteem.

My answer – as usual – would be yes, no, and it depends.


Low self-esteem comes from emotional issues. They come from beliefs creating an identity and emotional issues. Those may not go away even if our nature notices itself.

It’s perfectly possible, and very normal, for our nature to notice itself and for us to generally live from and as that noticing, and still have many emotional issues. These will inevitably color our perception and life in the world, even if there is a general kind of awakening here.


Yes, awakening may help.

Awakeness helps us relate to what comes up – including those issues – differently. It’s easier to recognize them as issues and not get so caught up in them.

It’s also easier to recognize their nature, and that they have and are our nature, which also helps us shift how we relate to them. This gives us that interesting experience of oneness (it’s what I am and everything is to me) and distinction (it happens within and as what I am, it’s an emotional issue).

And, as mentioned above, these issues will still inevitably color our perception and life, and we may still get caught up in them.


This is why healing and awakening go hand in hand.

Healing makes it easier for the oneness we are to keep noticing itself without getting distracted by issues. The fewer issues, the fewer of these distractions. (And these apparently distractions are really life bringing our attention to something that needs healing.)

Healing helps us operate from fewer issues coloring our perception and life. Any dormant issue will color our perception and life. (As is obvious when you look at the life of many who generally live from awakening.)

And awakening makes it easier for us to relate to our issues more consciously, to recognize them as expressions of the oneness we are, and invite them to reorganize within a conscious noticing of this oneness. This requires intention and skill and doesn’t come on its own.


And that’s where “it depends” comes in.

Whether awakening helps us with our emotional issues, including low self-esteem, depends on how we make use of the awakening. It depends on intention, experience, training, and skill.

It doesn’t come on its own. It doesn’t come for free. It requires work.

And it’s ongoing. It’s not something that’s fixed once and for all.

There is no place where we arrive and where this is not a theme anymore. (At least not in this life.)

The more you know, the more you know how little you know

The Dunning-Kruger effect has been floating around on social media for a while so I assume many are familiar with it. Knowing a little can make you think you know a lot because you don’t know how little you know. Novices can become over-confident.


This especially came to the forefront during the recent pandemic. Many conspiracy theorists thought they knew a lot about vaccines and epidemiology. (Topics that take decades of study to become proficient in.) While they, in reality, based their views on random pieces of information from dubious sources, internet echo chambers, generally bad data and bad logic, and a lack of familiarity with the field.

Many also seemed unaware that they were repeating predictable patterns from history. During pandemics, these types of conspiracy theories flourish, likely because people are scared and try to find a sense of certainty. (Often through blame and assigning the cause to a group of people rather than the systems or the unpredictability and randomness of nature, and/or by denying what’s happening.)


This also applies to healing, awakening, and spiritual practices.

I often see people who have been into it for a few years presenting themselves as if they have certain knowledge, while they in reality are just scratching the surface and approaching it in a relatively immature way.

Of course, some get a lot in a relatively short period of time. (I was probably among them.)

And their knowledge may be more than sufficient to help others along the way. We often just need to be one or two steps ahead of someone for our guidance and input to be helpful, especially if we approach it with some groundedness and a sense of our limits.


There is also something that happens as we mature into it.

In a conventional sense, we may know quite a bit and perhaps more than most. And we also learn and discover how much we don’t know.

We may be among the ones who have the most experience with something. And at the same time, we realize that our own experience and knowledge is a drop in the ocean compared to how much there is to discover and learn.

We tend to realize that we don’t know anything for certain.

We tend to be more aware of our biases and how our evolutionary history, our biology and psychology, our place in time and culture, and more all strongly color our perception.

We tend to know, from experience, that our view may be turned upside down and inside out at any time.

We tend to realize there is no finishing line and that there is always further to go.

This helps us hold it all more lightly, and that is often a sign of maturity.


The peak of “mount stupid” is often marked by a sense of certainty.

We start to feel a sense of mastery of something and we tell ourselves we know and that we are experts.

There may be several reasons for this.

We may not yet have enough experience in that particular area to realize how little we know.

We may not be good enough in any area to have learned that there is always more to learn and that we are always, in a sense, just scratching the surface. We may not have this experience to generalize from.

And we may be motivated by wanting to compensate for a sense of lack. If we have a sense of lack and feel we are not good enough, it’s tempting to jump on a little skill or knowledge and use it to feel better about ourselves, and then overdo it.


As suggested above, we can avoid or reduce the DK effect in different ways.

As we get more experience, we know how little we know, we know we don’t know anything for certain, and we hold it all more lightly.

If we have expertise in one field, we tend to know how little we know and that there is always further to go. So we find some humility grounded in reality, and can generalize this to other areas of life. If this is how it is in the field I happen to know about, it’s probably the same in other fields.

We may have this more naturally with us. Perhaps because of our upbringing and what we see from others, from our own experiences and insights, or because we don’t have much of a sense of lack or don’t use the DK strategy to compensate for it. We may naturally hold it all more lightly with an inherent knowing that we cannot know for certain.


Another way to prevent or reduce the DK effect in our own life is to learn about it.

We learn about the effect, examine some typical expressions of it, and look at some specific examples. And that makes it easier to recognize when it happens to us.

We can also use our common sense. There is always more to learn and further to go. We don’t know anything for certain. It makes sense to hold it all more lightly. And it makes sense to have some respect for those who have spent decades in full-time study of something and hear what they have to say and learn from them.

Also, if we don’t know much about something, and our view is different from professionals in the field, then maybe it’s most likely that we are off on a wild goose chase?


A kind of reverse Dunning-Kruger effect can also happen.

We can be painfully aware of how little we know, to the point of not sharing it with the world.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is often rooted in a sense of lack. People compensate for a sense of lack by pretending – to themselves and others – they know and understand more than they do.

And the reverse Dunning-Kruger effect is also rooted in a sense of lack. It just plays itself out differently. We tell ourselves that what we know is not much, or that what we know is not worth much because we are not worth much, so we don’t share it or make much use of it.

This is something that’s familiar to me. And it’s one reason why I am mostly just sharing these things on an anonymous blog that just a few people look at.

Illustration: From Wikimedia Commons

The multiverse of sanity: Healing through alternate realities

The idea of alternate realities – alternate history, parallel worlds, the multiverse – has been popular in fiction for a while and sometimes also in imaginative science.

And we can make use of alternate realities for healing as well.

Here are a couple of examples from my own process:


In our consensus reality, my parents have been married since well before my birth.

And for a while now, it has come to me to imagine my parents as divorced for a long time and with new families, and explore how that is for me and how I am in that context.

Here, I find myself new as well, and I am enjoying it. I feel lighter. Freer. With input from more adults in my life. With a richer and more varied extended family. More people to connect with. More free from the strong dynamic between my parents that has been difficult for me since my childhood.

I enjoy feeling into it and allowing it to work on me and perhaps even transform me.

As with so much else, this exploration is something that emerged on its own and I have consciusly joined in with it. It may have emerged because I have inquired into how it would be if my parents divorced early in my life. I imagine it would be OK and perhaps even good for me in some ways.

Since I don’t live with them, my inner world is where they mostly live. And in my inner world, they can be anyone. So why not choose something that feels healing and live in that world for a while and allow it to work on me? (And, in reality, to me it’s all in my inner world no matter what.)


When I was in elementary and middle school, I was in a class with a good deal of bullying – mostly of the psychological variety. And I experienced being on the receiving end of it, along with others. (Including my favorite teacher who had a breakdown and disappeared for several months.)

This impacted me and created or reinforced social anxiety, general anxiety, low social self-esteem, and so on.

So it’s something I have been working on, including through a kind of alternate reality.

I see and feel myself back in elementary school. I visualize the bullies, and I visualize them as completely whole and healthy, and kind and wise. I visualize them as the most whole and healthy and even awake version of themselves. (This is a potential they have in them so it’s not that much of a stretch.) And I interact with them and dialog with them here and listen to what they have to say.

For instance, some of them talk about having a difficult situation at home, and they take out their pain on others, including me since I seemed to have a much easier life. (I was good at school, I could answer the teacher’s questions, my family had money and resources, we had a good house, I was athletic, fast and strong, and so on.) Others talk about feeling intimidated by the same people, and joining in with them in the bullying so they themselves would avoid being a target. They all say they love me, are genuinely sorry for what happened, and see the potential in me for full healing from it.


As mentioned above, to me the world and the past happen within me. So why not explore some alternate realities? Why not feel into how it is for me and how I am in that world? Why not stay with it for a while, revisit it now and then, and allow it to work on me and see what happens?

This is a kind of exploration that reflects and is reflected in our culture’s current interest in alternate realities, alternate history, parallel worlds, and multiverses.


I imagine some may see this as “just fantasy” and for that reason not having any effect or being a flight from reality.

For me, it’s different.

It certainly has an effect when I imagine it and explore how I am in that reality and allow it to work on me. It may not be enough in itself for deep and thorough healing, but it’s a piece of the puzzle. It pulls in the right direction. It creates a new context that’s very conducive to deep healing.

And it’s not that separated from this version of the world. My parents very well could have been divorced. And these classmates had and have the potential for being whole, healed, kind, wise, and even awake. I am just connecting with those versions of the world.

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Quote: Maybe you are searching among the branches

Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.

– attributed to Rumi on the internet

This obviously applies to many things in life, including psychological healing and awakening.

In terms of healing, we may try to find resolution through focusing on surface manifestations and single issues.

And for any real healing to take place, we often need to go deeper. We may need to find the essential story behind the issue. We may need to address a whole network of issues supporting a particular issue. We may need to address underlying issues and assumptions supporting the issue. And we may need to address the whole life situation of the person as well.

In terms of awakening, it’s common early in the process to get caught up in and search among the content of experience. We may look for states and particular experiences. We assume that what we are looking for is “out there” somewhere.

And as we find more maturity in the process, we recognize that what we are looking for – our nature – is here across and independent of changing states and experiences. It’s something that can be found and noticed here and now. We don’t need to go looking for any particular states or experiences.

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Stranger Things & the shadow

I love Stranger Things.

Like many others, I love it for its 80s nostalgia and for being more 80s than the 80s were. I love it for the characters which often are more stereotypical than their inspiration. I love it for the dialogue. I love it for bringing Kate Bush back on the charts and introducing her to new generations.

And as with any story – whether it’s fiction, mythology, or about others or the world – we can explore it as a dream. We can use it as a mirror for ourselves.

What I see in Stranger Things is a group of nerds and outsiders, much as myself at that age. (A part of me wishes I had found the type of community back then that they have, which is perhaps also why I enjoy watching it.) They don’t quite fit in. Some of them are bullied.

And I see the upside-down as one of many representations of what Jung called the shadow. The parts of all of us that don’t fit into our conscious or desired identity. The parts we sometimes push aside or even deny. The parts of us that may take on the form of monsters since they are exiled and we are unfamiliar with them.

In this case, we can take it even more literally and see it as the shadow we tend to create for ourselves if we feel like an outsider, if we are bullied (or bully), and so on. We may experience a mix of emotions and painful beliefs and identities — pain, loneliness, self-criticism, blame, bitterness, anger, sadness, victimhood, and so on. And since these may be painful and confusing to us, we may partially exile these experiences and parts of ourselves. We may also attack the sides of ourselves we feel are responsible for us being outsiders, so these become partially exiled. When these experiences and parts of us are exiled, they tend to take on the form of monsters to us. They go into our shadow. They don’t fit into our conscious or desired self image. And they can look, to us, as the upside-down.

Stranger Things operates from a classic good vs evil duality, at least so far. But it does also have some healing qualities. It shows healing and supportive friendships, which mirror how we can be friends with ourselves. (Even as we may also battle other sides of us.) The new season gives us more understanding of how the upside-down may have been created, and with understanding comes a less adversarial relationship. (Although they’ll still need to protect themselves and their world.)

How could Stranger Things reflect an even more mature process and way of relating to our shadow?

I am not sure, there are several options. In Star Wars, we got the back story of Darth Vader so we could understand him better and find empathy with the person he used to be. We learned that the hero (Luke) and villain (Darth Vader) were as closely connected as two people can be. And the villain was redeemed before his death.

In Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende, the main characters capture the evil and dangerous dragon. Instead of killing her, they put her in a cage so she couldn’t do more harm. And that allowed her to transform into a golden wisdom dragon for the benefit of everyone.

Stranger Things does hint at intimate connections between the main hero (Eleven) and Vecna and perhaps the upside-down itself. If that theme is continued, it reflects the intimate connection between the two. They are both parts of each of us. And if we create a “good” identity for ourselves that excludes certain things in us, then what’s excluded is often transformed into apparent monsters. (This also goes for excluding discomfort and pain. What we exclude tends to take on the form of monsters to us.)

It’s also possible that One (Vecna) could be redeemed. In terms of contemporary storytelling, that could be seen as a bit naive and sentimental. (Unless it’s well done with realism and grittiness, which they probably could pull off.) But in terms of mythology and reflecting inner processes, it would give us another image in popular culture that shows how we can find redemption for parts of us in the shadow.

And it’s possible that Eleven somehow, through facing her past and the uncomfortable sides of herself, could redeem herself and the upside-down. It could bring about a transformation of her and the upside-down. Again, if the story was to reflect a healthy and deep inner transformation, something like that would happen.

Note: I am writing this after having seen the first release (this first seven episodes) of the fourth season.

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Hope for the past

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept

– from Thanks, Robert Frost by David Ray, 2006

How we see the past always changes.

The way we understand our collective history changes. We see it in the context of how we understand the present. We see it in the context of what happened since. We have different values. We include new perspectives. We may have new information.

And so also with our personal history. We forget and remember different things. We see it in the context of how we understand our present, and we see it in the context of what happened since. We may have a different understanding of why we did what we did. We may understand our parents and childhood differently. And so on.

The way we relate to what’s here now is how we relate to our past. After all, the only place we can find our past is in our current mental representations of our past.

Without any intentional healing practice, how we relate to live and our past may go three ways. We may fuel painful stories and go into issues and hangups. We may find more peace with our life and our past. Or it stays more or less the same.

And with an intentional healing practice, we are much more likely to find peace with our life and our past. As we find healing for our relationship with ourselves, others, and life in general, we find healing for our relationship with our past. We see it with more understanding. We tell ourselves more kind and honest stories about our past.

What about hope? Do we need to rely on hope? Not if we have an intentional healing practice. Then we can find what we hope for here and now.

And how does finding our nature change this? It helps us recognize that the past, to us, only happens here and now in our mental representations of it. We can notice that they are part of the creativity of the mind, and our nature is their nature. They are a flavor of the divine, and we can rest in this noticing. We can – as before – heal our relationship with these mental representations. And we can examine them and find what’s more honestly true for us, which tends to be far more kind than our initial painful stories.

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Finca Milagros - view

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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Dealing with one’s pain through a passion

I am watching Tony Hawk: Until the wheels fall off which is a reminder that real-life, when filtered and presented in a certain way, sometimes has every bit as good dramaturgy as any fiction story.

A few times during the documentary, he and others suggest that he deals with his pain through skateboarding.


Of the many strategies we can use to deal with our emotional pain, that one is relatively healthy.

There are many worse ways to do it, including drugs, anger, depression, mindless entertainment, bigotry, fundamentalism, and pouring our energy into less life-centered careers.

Skateboarding is also something obviously he loves. It has given him a successful career and a way to provide for himself and his family. And it has given inspiration and joy to many.

And this strategy, like any strategy that doesn’t deal with our pain directly, doesn’t heal the wounds. They’ll still be there and they will color our perception and life until they are dealt with.


What happens if we deal with our pain more directly and find healing for our pain? Does our passion fall away?

As so often, the answer may be that it depends.

When there is less need to deal with the pain through a passion, other motivations – existing or new ones – come more in focus. If we have a deep love for it, as he seems to have, then that love will come even more to the surface. We will likely still engage in our passion, perhaps even as much as before, although from a slightly different set of motivations.

And if there isn’t much love for what we are doing, we may decide it’s not worth it or we may find another set of motivations that make sense for us. I am reminded of the difference between athletes here. The ones who do it for their love of the sport often continue even after their professional career is over. And the ones who did it for less heartfelt motivations often quit. (And may even swap it for smoking and eating as exemplified by a well-known female Russian skier.)


Towards the end of the documentary, they talk about the danger inherent in what they are doing.

The sensible choice is to take it easy and don’t risk so much. And yet, going full in is that’s what gives them joy and a sense of meaning. Life is not always about being sensible.

Enough people live sensibly, so there is room for people who stretches it a bit further.

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Wolfwalkers & our relationship with the wild in nature and ourselves

I loved this movie in many different ways. And as any good story that deals with primal archetypes and archetypal dynamics, it can be interpreted at many different levels.

It can be seen as a metaphor for how humans treat each other, including how the English have treated the Irish. It can be seen as a more literal story about how humans treat nature and the wild. And it can be seen as a mirror for dynamics in ourselves, and how we civilize ourselves at the expense of the primal aliveness in ourselves.


It’s easy to imagine a history of the human relationship with the wild, and it will – by necessity – be somewhat speculative when it comes to the early history.

Before agriculture and civilization as we think of it, people lived in nature, with nature, and from nature. They may have had more of a partnership relationship with nature and the wild, and they likely respected nature out of necessity. They had a more nature-oriented spirituality. They didn’t have much property so they didn’t have much hierarchy. They may have had a more matriarchal culture. The inevitable damage to nature was limited since their numbers were small and their technology simple, and they also moved if they needed to which limited their impact on the areas they were in.

With agriculture, this all changed. We could accumulate wealth. We had more division of labor, tasks, and skills. We developed a hierarchy. The ones higher up in the hierarchy developed a wish to control others and the general population. We got culture as we know it. We got more removed sky-God religions. We got a more patriarchal culture.

We lived in tamed landscapes or towns and cities. With agriculture, we depended more on tamed nature. We lived more distanced from the wild. We depend much less on the wild. The wild became “other” to us. For those higher up in the hierarchy, it became in their interest to also tame the population.

We learned to tame nature and ourselves, and find this comforting and the wild scary and unsettling and perhaps even evil.

Our human relationship with the wild shifted. We went from living in and from the wild to becoming distanced from it and viewing it often as something scary and suspicious. We learned that taming ourselves and nature was safer.


We know what it means to tame nature. It means to make the wild into agricultural land, towns, and cities. Replace wild forests with planted forests. To kill any animals – typically large predators – we see as competitors or any danger to ourselves. And so on.

But what does it mean that we tame ourselves?

In one sense, it just means that we learn to live with others and in civilization. We learn to express our feelings with words instead of through actions that may harm others. We learn to cooperate. We learn to take others into consideration when we make our choices and live our life. This is natural for us since we are a social species and it doesn’t necessarily come at much or any cost. 

In another sense, it can mean that we tame ourselves at the cost of our aliveness, sense of connection and meaning, and authenticity. This happens when we take taming ourselves in a slightly misguided way. We may deny our emotions or needs, wishes, and desires instead of acknowledging or expressing these and finding ways to get our needs met. We may disconnect ourselves from our body and nature and feel disconnected, ungrounded, and aimless. All of this tends to come as a consequence of believing painful beliefs and identities and perceiving and living as if they are true. And these painful beliefs and identities tend to come from our culture or subculture. They are passed on and shared by many if not most humans in our culture, and some may be common across cultures – especially in our modern world.


Rewilding nature is a popular topic these days, and very much needed for the health of nature and ourselves and our culture.

But how do we rewild ourselves?

There are several approaches, and what works best is probably a combination of the ones that resonate the most with us – and that may change over time.

We can connect with nature through spending time in nature, gardening, spending time with non-human species, learning about nature, spending time in the wilderness, learning to survive in the wilderness, spending time at a bonfire, looking at the stars, and so on.

We can connect with our body by walking barefoot, receiving bodywork, doing different forms of yoga, learning to recognize and take seriously the signals from our body, and so on.

We can engage in nature-centered spirituality and rituals, including the Practices to Reconnect from Joanna Macy.

We can shift our worldview from one of separation to connection and oneness, for instance through deep ecology, the epic of evolution, the universe story, ecospirituality, system views, integral models (AQAL), and so on.

We can engage in actions on behalf of other species, the Earth, and future generations. These may be small and “invisible” everyday actions or more visible in the world. These may be actions to stop damage, change our culture, or envision and implement life-centered alternatives.

We can learn to notice and acknowledge our emotions and wishes, needs, and desires. We can find ways to express this and meet our needs in a kind way. We can find a more authentic way to live that’s kind to ourselves and others.

We can identify fears we have of rewilding ourselves.  What’s the worst that could happen?  What does my culture tell me could happen? What do I find when I examine these stories? What’s more true for me? How is it to meet and be with the fear and allow it as it is? How is it to find love for it? 

We can find healing for any emotional issues that create a sense of separation and lack of connection, aliveness, groundedness, and meaning.

We can identify and investigate the views and beliefs that create a sense of separation – with ourselves, others, nature, and the universe as a whole. We can identify beliefs passed on through our culture. We can find them in ourselves and inquire into them and find more freedom from them and what’s more true and honest for us.

We can connect with and taste the wholeness we are at a human level, through a combination of meditation, body-centered practices, emotional healing, and more.

We can explore what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience. At one level, we are a human being in the world. And what do I find when I explore what I am in my own first-person experience? I may find I more fundamentally are capacity for the world as it appears to me. And what the world – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as. I may find myself as the oneness this human self and the wider world happen within and as.

This is not only for the benefit of ourselves. It benefits our culture. It may help our species survive. And it will likely benefit other species, this living planet, and future generations.

Note: This article itself is an example of rewilding ourselves. I saw the movie three or four weeks ago, made a few notes, and allowed it to rest. Today, I was moved to write the article and it came out easily and naturally, without much if any effort.

When I saw the movie, I noticed I wasn’t ready to write the final article. I knew that pushing it would be uncomfortable and likely wouldn’t give a good result. So I allowed it to rest and digest on its own, and I waited for it to come to fruition in me and move me to write it.

I planted the seed, waited, and it sprouted in its own time in the form of this article.

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Christ wakes up to itself as all of it

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to be part of a beautiful healing session. My partner and I did an in-person session with a client, and since the client asked for Christ to be invited in the healing, that’s what we did.

At one level, Christ is an expression of divinity and a symbol of oneness (what we are) and our wholeness as a human self (who we are when more healed and clear). At another level, Christ has a very distinct quality and energy, different from any other expressions of the divine.

I shared the traditional Christ meditation where we visualize Christ in our heart, in front of us, at the back of us, at either side of us, above us, and below us (about 1.5m out), and rest in that noticing and the presence of Christ. (This visualization of Christ can be as a light, the figure of Christ, or the presence, or whatever else resonates with us.) We all did this during the healing session.

I chose to do the healing as I did it in my teens before I had any exposure to how others did it.

I tuned into her system and saw it as Christ. All of her system – with the kind of wounds, identifications, hangups, and more that we all have, and the specific ones she wanted to work on – is all Christ. It’s all Christ taking all of these forms, as Christ and the divine takes the form of everything we know and all there is.

And I invited Christ to wake up to itself as all of it and rested in that noticing and invitation.

Nothing needs to change. Christ and the divine can wake up to itself as all there is in our system. And that, in itself, is deeply transforming.

It was a powerful session for all of us. And our client told us the following day that continuing to do the Christ meditation had been very helpful for her.

I feel deeply grateful for this session for several reasons. One is the opportunity to rest in the presence of the divine with others in such a clear way. Another is that it reminded me of my love of this Christ meditation in my late teens and early twenties, and of the simplicity of the healing I did then. Now, it’s again coming back – as it has several times – and I love it as much.

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Working on vs allowing inner transformation

As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.

– Eckhart Tolle

This quote is medicine for a condition. It’s medicine for the idea that we need to work on inner transformation for it to happen. It’s medicine for holding onto that position too tightly.

And that means that while the quote is accurate, it’s not the whole picture.

Yes, creating a space for grace and love to enter is what allows for a deep transformation and healing. This happens most deeply when we notice our nature, notice ourselves as oneness and love, and notice and allow anything in us that needs healing and transformation and holds it within this space of oneness and love.

And yet, we can also do a few things to support this process and help unlock some of the locks that hold wounds and identifications in place.

We can identify and explore painful beliefs and identifications.

We can identify and find love for unloved parts of us.

We can dialogue with wounded parts of us. Hear what they have to say and how they perceive us and life. Ask what they need from us. Help them recognize reality. And so on.

We can intentionally explore noticing and allowing our experiences, including of wounded and unhealed parts.

We can notice that these, and all our experiences, are already noticed and allowed and more consciously align ourselves with this primal noticing and allowing. They are already noticed by consciousness before that’s reflected in an intentional noticing. And they are already allowed – by mind, space, and life – even before any intentional allowing. This noticing and allowing is built into our nature. We cannot avoid it.

We can invite in shifts in the energetics of the hangup, through different types of energy work and inner yoga.

And so on.

The quote is not wrong. It’s medicine for a condition. And it’s not the whole picture.

And that applies to just about any quote and pointer.

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 wounded healer

What does “wounded healer” mean? 

For me, it mainly refers to someone in the role of a healer who explores healing for their own wounds as much as they do the same for others. Often, these are emotional wounds but they can also be physical, and the two are aspects of the same whole. 


It means someone who sometimes takes on the role of a healer.

If we function as a healer, it’s a role we take on in some situations and leave the rest of the time. It’s not something that defines us, although we can pretend it does if we have an unexamined need for just that.

What we really do is support the natural healing process of both our bodies and minds. We know some ways to support these natural healing processes and invite in healing. 

Sometimes, the client is a more passive recipient. And sometimes, they can take a more active role and learn something that can benefit them in other situations and in the long run.


It refers to someone who recognizes in herself what she sees in the clients.

We know that others are a mirror for ourselves. I can take any story I have about someone else, turn it to myself, and find specific examples – from here and now and in the past – of where it fits for me. We are in the same boat. 


It refers to someone who knows, from their own experience, some ways to invite healing.

Through working on ourselves, we gain experience and familiarity with the terrain, and we can use this to help others. We are guides for a particular terrain, just like many others are in other fields and areas of life. 


This healing can be healing for how we relate to our wounds and life.

The main healing is often in how we relate to our wounds and anything associated with them, for instance, the experiences created by the wounds, triggers in the world, identities, and the painful stories creating the wounds.

Healing here tends to generalize to other situations and can possibly benefit us for the rest of our life.


And it can be healing for the wounds themselves.

Sometimes, we can invite in healing for the wound itself and learn something here too that we can bring with us. 

And when we look more closely, we may find that any wound is really a wound in how we relate to ourselves and life.


Any healer who works on themselves as much or more than they work with clients is, as I see it, a wounded healer.

We all have a range of different types of wounds. Working on our own is the best laboratory for becoming familiar with the terrain – and, in turn, supporting clients. And that makes us, in a sense, a wounded healer.

The alternative is to use a more distanced knowledge to help others. That too can be helpful, and some healing professions – and especially the more regulated ones – are designed this way.


Most of the healing modalities I use are typical “wounded healer” modalities.

The training involves, to a large degree, working on oneself.

And many who use these modalities use them as much for themselves as they do for others. Personally, I use them more for myself than for others.

These include inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries). Parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process). Inquiry into our nature (Big Mind process, Headless experiments). Psychological approaches (Process Work, Jung, cognitive therapy.). Heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’oponopono). Bodywork (TRE, Breema). Energy work (Vortex Healing). And more. 

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“I am picking up feelings that aren’t mine”

I sometimes hear people talking about picking up feelings and energies that are not theirs.

I understand where they are coming from. I understand how being around certain people, or doing some kind of healing work with them, can bring up certain feelings and states in us. And that the mind can come up with stories saying: “Those are not my feelings, states, energies. I picked them up from that person.”

And it’s not how I see it.


When I notice feelings and states come up in me in these situations, I could tell myself that I “picked up” something from the other person.

And I also know that what’s coming up in me is from my own reaction to the situation and person.

Something in me reacts to the other person, and that triggers these feelings and states.

My reaction is always mine, and what’s coming up in me is mine. It doesn’t belong to the other person.


This is an invaluable opportunity to learn something about myself, find healing for how I relate to the world and myself, and find healing for old issues in myself.

Why would I give that away by telling myself: “I am picking up the other persons feelings and states”? Why would I assign it to someone else?

If I did, it would not only be intellectually dishonest. It would be like giving away an invaluable opportunity to get to know and embrace more of my inner community, find healing for how I relate to myself and the world, find healing for wounded parts of me, and clarify who and what I am.


As usual, there are some grains of truth in the conventional view.

It is possible to sense, to some extent, what’s happening in another person. People who do distance healing, including me, do it regularly. This is a sensing similar to seeing or hearing something. It’s inherently neutral. There is no sense of being “invaded” by anything.

If that happens, it’s because of my own reaction. It’s the consequences of my stories – conscious or not – about what I sense or what I imagine in the other person.

And, of course, what’s triggered in me may reflect something in the other. If he or she is experiencing and expressing anger, my reaction to it can easily trigger anger in me.


There is more to this as well.

The world is my mirror. What I see in others – and in the world in general – is also here in me.

I can take any story about anyone or anything in the world, turn it to myself, and find genuine examples of how it’s true now and in the past.

If I attach too strongly to ideas of “yours” and “mine”, and don’t use you as a mirror for what’s already here in me, I miss out of an invaluable opportunity to get to know what’s here and use it to explore and find healing, maturing, and clarification of what I am.

And to me, the world happens within and as what I am. Anything within the content of my experience – this human self, you, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as what I am.

Here too, it doesn’t make sense to divide the world too strongly into “me” and “you”. Of course, there is a me and you in a limited and conventional sense. And more fundamentally, it’s all happening within and as what I am.

Here, it’s more about finding healing for how I relate to it all, whether it’s in me or others or the world.

It’s more about finding it all in me.

It’s more about finding healing for it in myself.

And it’s more about recognizing it all as the divine and forms the divine happens to take here and now. 

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 34

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.

– Friedrich Nietzshce

We don’t need to wait for bad memory. We can notice what’s actually happening.

The past and future only exist as images and other stories in our minds, often with some associations with sensations (emotions). Even the present only exists as sensory impressions and overlays of images and stories.

The more we perceive this, the more it becomes obvious that enjoying what’s here is the only thing that makes sense. It’s all we have, so why not find enjoyment in it.


I heard someone say: “I am not afraid to die”.

My first thought is: How can you know?

You may not notice any fear now, likely because you don’t have the thought that your death is imminent. And how can you know there isn’t fear in you? How can you know that some situations won’t trigger fearful thoughts about dying, and with it fear?

It’s good to be humble about these things. What I am aware of in myself is only the very tip of the iceberg. Many parts of me perceive things very differently from my conscious view, the view I desire and identify with. And certain situations almost certainly can activate fear of dying.

This is the case for me as well. I don’t notice any fear of dying in me right now. And I know that parts of me likely have that fear and can be triggered by certain thoughts, which in turn can be triggered by certain situations.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 33

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Freud is often seen as old-fashioned and perhaps even outdated by many today.

And yet, the essence of Freud’s ideas is still very much valid and informative.

A lot of who we are and what we operate from is not conscious to us. What we are aware of is just the very tip of the iceberg.

We tend to internalize cultural ideas and shoulds, and use these to guide ourselves even if it sometimes goes against our authenticity and what we feel we more genuinely want. (Over ego, or “superego” in the weird terminology of the English translators of Freud.)

We disown parts of who we are (our psyche), and see them as “other” or “it”. Often, we see this in others and won’t admit to it in ourselves because it doesn’t fit our familiar or desired image of ourselves. (The “it” or “id”.)

It can be helpful to bring some of this into consciousness. It can help us relate to it more consciously. It can help us find more peace with it. And, if we allow, it can invite in healing of certain parts of us.


There is a bigger picture for conflicts and disagreements, and just about any social interactions.

And it’s the usual things I write about here.

At a human level, others are a mirror for me. I can take any story I have about them, turn it around to myself, and find specific and genuine examples of how it’s true. Usually, I can find examples from the moment I have the thought about others, and I can find examples from my past.

As what I am in my own first-person experience, I can capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for those human beings and this human being and anything else happening. It’s all happening within and as what I am. In my own first-person experience, there is no fundamental I or Other anywhere.

We can also look at this from the view of the universe, evolution, and society.

At a social level, we need different views, orientations, and life experiences. We need all of it to get a bigger picture of ourselves, how we can respond to challenges, and where we want to go as a society and humanity.

In the context of evolution, we find the same. We are different because it helps our collective survival. It has in the past. And, if we are smart, it will do so now.

From the view of the universe, all of this is existence and the universe exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in always new ways. All the different human experiences and views and orientations are the universe, locally, having these experiences, views, and orientations.

From the view of the divine, it’s all the play of the divine. It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in all of these ways. It’s all new. It’s fresh. It’s different.


The pandemic reveals irrational thinking in different ways.

Here are a couple of examples I have seen a few times:

Some read articles in less-than-reputable online journals, written by people with zero credentials in the field, and take it as solid information. Some do the same with one or a few people who have credentials, while the vast majority of other experts have a different view. (In any field, there will be individuals with different views than the mainstream. That’s normal and to be expected, and it doesn’t mean they are right. Most of the time, they are not.)

Some say “it’s a violation of my human rights” on the topic of vaccines and mask-wearing. Nobody is forcing you to take the vaccine, so it’s clearly not a violation of human rights. The ones enforcing vaccine passports are in their full right to do so. And wearing a mask is literally the least we can do and doesn’t harm anyone.

Civilization is built on rules and privileges. We already accept a lot of laws and rules, including wearing a seat belt, not driving drunk, and so on. So why not accept masks and vaccines? There is no categorical difference between what you already accept and what you now refuse. The only difference is that you are used to most of it and take it for granted, and the vaccine and masks are new to you so you chose to focus on those.


I suspect one of the dynamics behind the wellness world’s antipathy towards science, vaccines, and mask-wearing is an outsider identity. Many folks interested in alternative things see themselves as outsiders, and opposing common-sense measures adopted by the mainstream fit their outsider identity.

I have been in this alternative / wellness world my whole adult life, so this is my mainstream. When I follow the mainstream measures in these areas, it’s not only because it’s science, common sense, and the best course of action when we look at history and epidemiology. It’s also because this, for me, fits my outsider identity.

If my mainstream is the alternative world, following the mainstream makes me an outsider. And it’s comfortable since I too feel some comfort with the outsider identity.


There are many essential points made by people in the anti-science world (anti-vaccines, anti-mask-wearing) and conspiracy world I agree with.

A lot of it is obvious: Corporations are all about profits, not helping people. Corporations often have a very strong influence on policies. Science is often used by corporations for profits, and sometimes in ways that are clearly not ethical. Media is often owned by the same corporations. Some have very serious reactions to vaccines. Vaccines are not 100% reliable in terms of preventing infection or serious illness. And so on.

All of that is valid and what any reasonably well-informed young teenager knows.

And yet, I don’t agree with the conclusions.

For me, the problems and solutions are systemic.

It’s not about secret groups of people. It’s not about some grand plan. What we are seeing in the world today is a natural consequence of the systems we function within. You and I and any average person living within these systems are part of the problem just because we function within these systems.

And it’s not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, there are serious problems in our corporate-run world. And that doesn’t mean we need to throw it all out. Vaccines and mask-wearing, and other common-sense pandemic measures are still very valuable. They still help prevent hospitals from overflowing, they still prevent some illness and death, they still prevent some getting long-term effects of the infection, and so on.

What we need is a deep systemic change. We need an economic system that takes ecological realities into account. We need systems that are aimed at supporting all of life and not just a segment of the human population.

That’s not easy. It won’t happen until people recognize the systemic problems and recognize systems change as a solution. And that may never happen.

That said, conspiracy theories and anti-science attitudes are certainly not the solution. It’s as much part of the problem as neoliberal capitalism and the way our corporate-run world functions today.

It’s a misidentification of the problem. It’s a distraction from the far more serious problems in the world today we all already agree on. (Ecological crisis, poverty, too much corporate influence, and so on.) And it’s a distraction from the systemic nature of these problems and their solution.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 32

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


There is some truth to that statement, although it’s not the whole picture.

Yes, awakening doesn’t require spirituality or religion.

It’s about finding what we already are in our own first-person experience.

When I explore what I am in my experience, I find I am ultimately capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what my world, all my experiences, happen within and as. And there isn’t any “I” there even if I often use that word to make it sound a bit more conventional and approachable.

Even if there was no spirituality or religion, it would be this way and people would happen upon this discovery.

Life would still notice this aspect of itself through humans and perhaps other beings in the universe.

And awakening is also obviously connected with spirituality and religion.

Many aspects of spirituality and religion reflect this discovery, at least to some extent.

Some forms of spirituality and religion guide us to mimic living from this noticing.

And some elements within spirituality and religions are aimed at guiding us to notice it for ourselves.


In our patriarchal culture, people have traditionally used “he” when referring to God.

Why? Likely because it makes more sense in a patriarchal culture, and whether it’s intentional or not, it has also likely justified patriarchy.

No matter the reason, it does tend to limit our understanding of God.

Why not use a more rich and fluid way to talk about God?

Why not sometimes call God she and highlight the more feminine characteristics of God and existence?

Why not sometimes call God it and highlight our (imagined) third-person relationship with the divine?

Why not sometimes call God mystery and highlight the mystery inherent in the divine and existence?

Why not switch between all of these and more, and highlight the multifaceted and fluid nature of God, existence, and ourselves?

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The role of playfulness in healing and awakening

There are some general orientations that seem helpful in healing and awakening.

The most obvious ones may be receptivity, curiosity, sincerity, dedication, and even fascination and passion.

To me, it seems that many traditions overlook one of the most helpful orientations, and that’s playfulness.

We all have these sides to us, and we can encourage and bring them out to some extent if they are not already here.


How does playfulness look in the context of healing and awakening? What are the characteristics of playfulness?

For me, it means to bring some lightness and joy into the process. Have the freedom to explore and investigate outside of the well-trodden paths. And find a way to explore healing and awakening in a way that’s alive and juicy for us.

Why is this often left out? Perhaps because many traditions like to present healing and awakening as a serious business? Perhaps because it’s not so easy to control playfulness? Perhaps it would threaten the frames of the tradition? Perhaps they are concerned people would use it as an excuse to indulge in their hangups? All of that could happen.

Do any traditions include or emphasize playfulness? Yes. Two modern examples are Process Work (for healing) and Headless experiments (for awakening and embodiment). Both of these invite a lighter and more playful and experimental approach.

Without knowing for certain, I also suspect that many of the old Taoists and Zen masters had a more playful orientation.


There is a bigger picture here, and that’s what we can see as the playfulness inherent in life and the divine.

Existence – the universe, life, the divine – is expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways, as all there is including us and our lives and experiences. To us, what’s here is fleeting and immediately gone. And something new and different is here. Existence seems wildly experimental. Wildly unattached to its creations.

Existence seems, in a sense, wildly and inherently playful.

We have that playfulness in us. We are that playfulness.

So why not bring it into our healing and awakening process and experimentations?


We can take a playful orientation in a slightly misguided way. We can use it to never be serious about anything. Not go deep. Not be dedicated. Indulge in our hangups.

How do we prevent some of the potential pitfalls of playfulness?

The answer may be in the balance of all our different orientations.

Sincerely, honesty, receptivity, dedication, and fascination all help guide and ground playfulness.

Photo: I took this one midsummer night at Nesoddtangen, Norway.

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I’ve done so much growth and healing

In my experience, it’s difficult for me to know where I am in the healing, maturing, and even awakening and embodiment process. I have thoughts about it, but do I know for certain? Also, is it important?


There are several sides to this.

I may work on a particular emotional issue. It subsides, I cannot easily retrigger it, and I may even feel and act saner in situations that previously triggered it. But do I know it’s healed?

The reality is that I cannot know for certain.

There may be aspects of the issue I haven’t addressed. Or related and similar issues that are part of a network. Or underlying issues that fueled this and other issues. Also, my conscious attitude or a state may temporarily override the issue, not allowing it to surface even in situations that previously did trigger it.

All of these are real possibilities, and it’s not a problem. If it comes up again, it just means there is more for me to explore and get to know.

I may grow and mature in one or more areas of life, and not in other areas. I may not even notice until life puts me in a situation where the lack of growth and maturing in some areas becomes very obvious.

The apparent awakening that’s here may seem timeless and obvious, and yet it may turn out to be a temporary state. Unawake parts of me may at any point be triggered and hook attention so I perceive and act from these unawake parts. Unawake parts of me, whether they are triggered or not, inevitably color my perception and actions.

In general, it seems there are always new layers of healing, growing, awakening, and embodiment. There is always more to explore and get to know. And if we are honest with ourselves, all of it is – in one way or another – surprising to us.


I assume just about anyone on a healing or awakening path sometimes has had these thoughts.

This issue is healed. This class was profoundly transformative. Something in me shifted for good. I am so much more mature now than I was.

If we tell ourselves these stories and hold onto them as if they are important, what may be behind it?

One answer is that we may lack experience. I have the impression that I see these statements more often from people relatively early in their healing or awakening process (5-10 years?). They may have enough experience to have found effective tools, and they don’t yet have enough experience to question the validity of the “this is healed” or “this awakening is stable” statements.

Another is that it helps us maintain a desired image of ourselves and our process. Perhaps an emotional issue has troubled us greatly in the past, it’s now milder, and it feels comforting to tell ourselves it’s mostly (or completely) healed.

That’s natural, ordinary, and ultimately innocent.

It’s one of many crutches we use at different phases in our life and in our healing, maturing, and awakening process.

It’s necessary until it isn’t.


If we hold onto these stories, we are out of alignment with reality. We tell ourselves something we cannot know for certain. We use it to cover up painful identities and emotional issues.

This will inevitably rub up against life and reality, and we create discomfort for ourselves to the extent we keep holding onto the stories. And in that discomfort is an invitation to look more closely at what’s happening.


If we are curious about this, how can we explore it for ourselves?

The most effective approaches I have found are different forms of inquiry. We can identify and examine our stories using The Work of Byron Katie. And we can examine identities, fears, and compulsions through the Living Inquiries.

We can identify and invite in healing for any emotional issues behind this using whatever works best for us.

We can invite in a shift in our relationship to the scared (fearful, hopeful) parts of us of this through tonglen, ho’oponopono, and similar approaches.

We can explore any contractions in us through this. We can get to know them, befriend them, give them what they need, notice their nature, invite them to notice their own nature, and allow them to transform within that noticing.


Of course, some don’t have this particular issue. They already hold all these stories lightly or they don’t seem relevant.

If we have this issue, it tends to shift over time. With experience, and perhaps through a more intentional investigation, we find more ease and peace around this. We hold our stories about all of it more lightly and with more receptivity and curiosity and expectations to be surprised. We see it’s all just part of the adventure.

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Befriending and awakening contractions: How it works

I am enjoying the befriend & awaken process these days.

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

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

How does the befriend and awaken process work?


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

It’s simple.

It points to something immediate in our experience.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And this process supports healing of all of that.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 31

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


I rarely if ever refer to popular topics from science here, like the vagus nerve or quantum physics.

Why? If I love science and have spent a good amount of time exploring these and other topics, why don’t I refer more to it when I write here? (For instance, in my teens and twenties, I read everything I could find about the connection between quantum physics and spirituality/philosophy.)

The main reason is that our understanding of these topics is very specific to our time and place.

The content of science always changes. The way we think about the vagus nerve and quantum physics today will likely be outdated in a few years or decades, and even more so in a few centuries.

Similarly, our understanding of these topics is very incomplete. We are only seeing fragments of a bigger picture.

Some current views on quantum physics may tie in with some insights from perennial spirituality, and that may quickly change as we understand quantum physics differently in the years ahead. And the vagus nerve is probably important for regulating our nervous system and system in general, and it’s only one small piece of a much larger dynamic whole.

It doesn’t mean that these topics are not important. I love that people are studying and thinking about it, and share it with the rest of us. That’s how science works.

But it does mean that I won’t refer to it much here. I prefer to focus on what seems a bit more timeless. And I am aware that the way I see and talk about it will inevitably reflect my own time and culture.

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