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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Thinking for oneself?

In our teens, thinking for ourselves often becomes an important theme, and for good reasons. It’s one of the things life – and to some extent society – asks of us as we enter adulthood.


What does it mean to think for ourselves?

Often, it means to exchange one set of views with another set of views. We may abandon some of the views we grew up with, and adopt the views of a subculture we resonate more with. This is more about resonance than “thinking for ourselves”.

Also, it means to learn about social issues and more at a story level, become familiar with a range of different ways of looking at these, and find an approach that makes more sense to us. Here, it’s more about digesting different views rather than “thinking for ourselves”.


If we want to examine this more in-depth, we can become familiar with valid and invalid arguments. Logic and logical fallacies. Media literacy. Various forms of social criticism. The many biases we inevitably operate from. (From culture, subculture, personal experiences, species, the nature of this universe.). And so on. This is where “thinking for ourselves” takes on a little more meaning.


We can also go beyond the conventional approaches.

We can invite in healing for our emotional issues and traumas that inevitably color our perception, views, choices, and life. In the places we are caught up in an issue, our view tends to be reactive and rigid. And the more healed we are, the more we tend to have a more fluid relationship to views and orientations and hold it all more lightly.

We can explore thoughts and the gifts and limitations of thoughts. We may find that thoughts are really questions about the world. They are guides to help us navigate the world. They are different in nature from what they point to. They have practical value only, and cannot give us any final or absolute answer.

We can learn how to systematically inquire into any thought we hold as true and find what’s more true for us. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore how our mind combines sense fields – including thought – to create an experience of the world.

We can explore our more fundamental nature, and find ourselves as that which our experiences – the world as it appears to us – happens within and as.


For me, a more mature view combines all of this and more.

We “think for ourselves” in a conventional sense and find views and orientations that resonate with us and makes more sense to us.

We learn about valid arguments, logical fallacies, media literacy, various forms of social criticism, and so on.

We explore and become more aware of our many inevitable biases and the sources of these biases.

We invite in healing for the wounded parts of us, allowing for a more fluid and light relationship to views and orientations.

We learn about the nature of thoughts, see them as questions about the world, recognize they have practical value only, and that they cannot hold any final or absolute truth.

We learn to inquire into any thought we hold as true, and find what’s more true for us. (Which includes that the thoughts don’t hold any final truth.)

We explore and become more familiar with how our sense fields, including the overlay of mental images and words, creates our experience of the world.

We explore our more fundamental nature, and find ourselves as what our experiences happen within and as.


As part of this, we may see that “thinking for ourselves” is a term that only makes sense in a limited sense.

We never really “think for ourselves”. We often adopt views of a certain subculture. We operate from inumerable inevitable biases.

We may also find that, in the words of Carl Sagan, we are the eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the whole locally perceiving, thinking, and living as us.

That’s all perfectly fine. And it helps to recognize it and take it into account.


My brain fog is especially strong these days, particularly when it comes to writing. It means that these articles are more rudimentary and less well formed than they perhaps could be.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 30

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 have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME), and one of the early signals of being in a crash is that I get a bit grumpy.

Usually, I crash if I am in some level of activity, and haven’t had water, food, or rest/sleep recently enough.

This seems common among people with CFS/ME and there is probably a biological/physiological component.

At the same time, I assume there is a psychological component as well. When I explore this for myself, I find anger there.

Some of the anger is probably directed towards the crashing itself and is rooted in fear. It’s unloved and unexamined fear taking the form of anger.

It may also be that crashing makes it difficult to manage the unloved and unexamined anger (always rooted in fear) in my system, so it comes up in those situations.

I have explored the contraction the grumpiness is/comes from, and it took a while but my relationship to it shifted. I see it more as an object now and can relate to it more intentionally.

There is more exploring to do, and we’ll see how this plays out in daily life in the future.

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Confirmation bias in healing and awakening: How confirmation bias holds mistaken assumptions in place and what we can do about it

In this video, Derek from Veritasium demonstrates an example of confirmation bias. We think we know how something is, so we look for confirmation instead of looking for instances where it may not be true.


As with so much human, it’s natural, innocent, and it can sometimes get us into trouble if we are not aware of what’s happening. In an evolutionary context, it makes sense for us to try to find a theory that works, and continue operating from that theory until we organically encounter sometimes that doesn’t fit.

Often, we’ll need to encounter things that don’t fit several times, or one dramatic time, before we start questioning and revising our assumptions. And we’ll just hope that encountering something that doesn’t fit our assumptons don’t have too much of an adverse effect on our life.

The confirmation bias typically saves time and energy and is a pragmatic way to go about it. Sometimes, we create problems for ourselves and others because of it. And we may miss out of important discoveries.

That’s why an important part of science, as Derek says, is about disproving our ideas about how things work. We observe. We have an idea of how it works. We check to see that it fits our data. And then we set out to disprove it. If we can’t, it’s a useful idea. (In real life, scientists also fall into confirmation bias – for the sake of convenience, because of lack of resources, because they want to shine for a while, and so on.)


What role does confirmation bias play in healing and awakening? How does it maintain stressful beliefs and the sense that we, most fundamentally, are a separate self? How can we apply some remedies for confirmation bias to find healing and what we more fundamentally are?

If my system holds the thought that I am a victim as true, then I’ll perceive and live as if it’s true. I’ll find lots of examples. I’ll reinforce and tell myself and others about those examples. I may even put myself in situations where I’ll get it confirmed.

If my system holds the sense of being a separate self as true, it will be the same. I’ll perceive and live as if it’s true, and that itself confirms it to me.

And that’s the same with any stressful belief – whether it creates and holds in place an emotional issue, painful identity, or a sense of being a separate self.

What’s the remedy?

The remedy is the usual one for confirmation bias. We are aware of confirmation bias and how it plays itself out in general and in each case. And we set out to disprove it.

I have the belief that I am a victim. What happens when I hold that as true? How would it be if it wasn’t here? What are the turnarounds, and can I find specific examples from my own life of how each of these are as or more true than the original thought? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

I assume I am this human self, which may not be wrong. But am I, in my own first-person experience, more fundamentally something else? What do I find when I look? What do I find if I explore this with the help of some structured pointers? (For instance, Headless experiments or the Big Mind process.)

In this way, examining our assumptions – held in place partly through confirmation bias – can help us find healing and notice what we more fundamentally are.

There is a twist here. When we find healing, and when we find what we more fundamentally are, we can question that too. Can I disprove it? Can I disprove I am not a victim? Can I disprove I am capacity for my world, and what my field of experience happens within and as?

This tends to strengthen and deepen the healing and the noticing of what we are. It addresses nagging doubts in the back of our mind.

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The sobering effect of working on ourselves

Many of us are probably familiar with both of these. At times, we may take pride in knowing a bit about spiritual dynamics and pointers. And when we actually apply them and work on ourselves, it’s sobering.

It’s sobering in a very good way.

We are focused on actually applying it and allowing it to work on ourselves, instead of displaying anything to ourselves and others. At least, in the moment when we apply it.

We get to see that reality is far more complex, messy, and unpredictable than any idea or theory. A map is often simple and clear. The terrain is often messy, confusing, and complex.

We get to see that it requires far more from us when we apply it and invite it to work on us and transform us. Understanding a map is simple, applying it demands a lot – and eventually everything – from us.

We get to see that we can only apply it imperfectly.

We may discover how much there is to work on in ourselves. For most of us, there is an apparently endless amount of hangups, emotional issues, identifications, wounds, and so on. And each of these inevitably color our perception and life.

We may find that there are some areas of us, triggered by some situations and areas of life, we are unable to deal with very well. We may be unable to effectively work with deep trauma and fear in ourselves, at least consistently and whenever it comes up.

We may discover that our familiar tools and approaches don’t always work, or don’t work as they did, especially when deeper layers of hangups and wounds come to the surface. It brings us back to being a beginner.

We may realize that we don’t know what’s left to discover in ourselves, including when it comes to wounds, hangups, and trauma.

We may keep noticing that others, who may have far less knowledge than us about these things, may be far ahead of us in certain areas of life. They may live more from their heart. They may have everyday wisdom that goes beyond our own. They may live in a more straightforward and kind way. They may be more genuinely realistic about themselves. They may live in a way that seems to more directly benefit the larger whole. And so on.

We get to see that we are in the same boat as everyone else, in several different ways. Whatever story we have about anyone or anything in the world, we can turn it around it to ourselves and find where and how it applies – as much or more. We may discover that the world, to us, happens within our sense fields and literally within and as what we are.

We may find there is always further to go in all areas of healing and awakening. In that sense, we are always beginning.

Who or what is unawake? Or has emotional issues?

Who or what is it that’s unawake or has emotional issues?

I find it most helpful to think of it as our parts. A part of me is unawake. A part of me has an emotional issue.

Sometimes, there is identification with this part, and then it seems like “I” as a global whole is unawake or has an emotional issue.

In a sense, that’s accurate since there is a kind of global identification with it and we perceive and live from that part of us. And it is more accurate to say that a part of us is like this, and there is a conscious identification with or as that part.


Seeing it this way is practical and helpful, in many ways.

It helps us dis-identify from these parts of us, and recognize them as parts and not (even close to) all of who or what we are. We can see them more as objects and relate to them more intentionally.

It reminds us that even if we have done a lot of healing, there are very likely parts of us still operating from confusion. We don’t know how many they are, or what many of these are. They will color our perception and life. And when they are triggered, we may get temporarily identified with them.

And it reminds us that even if there appears to be a kind of global awakening here, there are likely still many parts of us that are unawake. Any part of us that has something unresolved, and doesn’t recognize it’s nature, is unawake. Here too, we don’t know how many of these parts there are, and we often don’t know (yet) what they are. They will color our perception and life. And when they surface, we may get temporarily identified with them and perceive and act from and as them.

Recognizing this keeps us a bit more sober.


I have differentiated between unawake and emotional issues here, and they are really two names for the same.

The terms unawake, emotional issue, belief, identification, hangup, contraction, and trauma, are all names for the same dynamics.

That’s why psychological healing and awakening go hand-in-hand. They are part of the same process.

We heal from emotional issues, and we heal from separation consciousness. The same dynamics create emotional issues and separation consciousness. The same approaches can invite in healing for both.

And thorough healing from our emotional issues can only happen through awakening. It can only happen when we notice that our nature, as a whole, is the nature of our contracted parts, and when we invite these parts of us to find and rest in and as their own nature.


It’s not wrong to say that this human self being unawake or having emotional issues. It’s how it appears to most people.

And it’s perhaps more accurate to say that parts of us are like that, and when there is a conscious identification with these parts, it appears as if we – as a whole – are like that.

We can also say that what we are is capacity for all of this, all of our experiences related to this human self and the wider world. And that we are the field all of it is happening within and as. We are what takes all these forms.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Finding the contraction

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

This is how I find the contraction.

Noticing the physical sensations

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

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

Allowing and welcoming

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

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

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

Finding the need and want

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

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

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

Giving it what it needs and wants

I then give it what it wants and needs.

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

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

Finding the lack

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

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

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

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

Seeing it’s here to protect me

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

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

Finding its nature

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Healing is a kind of reprogramming

Healing is a kind of reprogramming.

When we have an emotional issue, we can say it’s because of a program telling us that certain painful stories are true. We perceive and live as if they are true, and relate to our experiences as if these painful stories are true.

When we operate from separation consciousness, it’s similarly programming telling us that separation consciousness reflects how our world most fundamentally is, and that we most fundamentally are a separate self.

This means that healing from emotional issues, and healing out of separation consciousness, requires a form of reprogramming.

Thorough healing requires us to reprogram how we relate to our thoughts, how we relate to contractions, and how we relate to life and our experiences in general.

We shift out of one program, one habitual way to relate to life, and find another way and create another pattern for how we relate to life.


For instance, instead of relating to thoughts as true, we can recognize them as thoughts and examine their content.

When we take a thought as true, we identify with it and perceive and live – at least partly – as if its true. This inevitably brings some stress and discomfort. We assume that the way the thought tells us the world is, is the way the world inherently is. We may not even recognize it as a thought, and we get absorbed into the content of the thought, the stories it tells us.

So instead, we can explore how it is to do the opposite. We can notice the thought as a thought. And we can notice and examine the story it comes with, and find what’s more true for us.


What is a contraction? It has physical, psychological, and energetic components. We have a body contraction. Our mind associates it with beliefs, identifications, hangups, emotional issues, and traumas (all mind contractions). And this also has an energetic component.

When these contractions come up – with their unexamined painful stories and unloved fear – we may fall into our old pattern. We perceive and act as if what they are telling us is true, and we act on it or react to it and try to make it go away.

In general, our old program may tell us to…. defend the painful stories, try to contain the contraction, try to distract ourselves from it, try to make it go away, secretly hate it because it’s uncomfortable, and so on.

So instead, we can explore how it is to create a new program, by…. questioning the stories, allow the contract to be and get as big as it wants, stay with it and meet it, welcome it, find genuine love for it, and so on


Most of us are programmed to take ourselves as this human self, and – more essentially – a separate being. There is an I and me here and a wider world out there.

That’s not wrong, and it’s not what we most fundamentally are in our own first-person experience.

When we look, we may find we are…. Capacity for our experiences, and what all our experiences – of this human self and the wider world – happen within and as.

When I explore this, I find that all my experiences happen within my sense fields, and my sense field is a seamless whole. There is no inherent I or other anywhere. That appearance only comes from an overlay of mental images and words, and it only seems real if these are held as true.

What I find is that, to myself and in my first-person experience, I most fundamentally are what we imperfectly may label… oneness, love, stillness & silence, and consciousness.

As I keep noticing this, this noticing becomes a new program. It becomes a new habitual way of perceiving and living.


Even when we notice our own nature, we may still fall into our old programs about what certain experiences are and how to relate to them.

And this especially happens when it comes to contractions and their painful unexamined stories and unloved fear. When these come up, we may fall into our old program of taking what they say as true and either join in with the contraction or battle with it and try to make it go away. We operate as if they are what their form tells us they are.

Instead, we can explore their nature.

I have found what I am and my own nature, I notice in a general way that all my experiences have the same nature, and yet I sometimes go into the old program of perceiving and acting as if some parts of me – the contractions and unexamined fear – is just what the form tells me they are. I overlook the nature of what comes up.

So instead, I can notice what happens, and intentionally notice the nature of these contractions. Do they have the same nature as everything else does in my experience? Are they too the same as I am?

What happens when I notice this? When I relax into this noticing?

When I invite and allow the contractions to find their own nature, and unravel and relax into and as that noticing?


This is a reprogramming that happens through doing.

I may notice an old program doesn’t work so well, so I seek out and find some potential new programs. I try them out, and if they seem to work, I can continue to explore, refine, and use it.

Through using this new program, I make it into a new habit.


All of this is a reprogramming in how we relate to life.

Our habitual pattern may be to relate to life according to how certain thoughts tell us life is.

And we can find a more immediate way of relating to these thoughts and life. We notice more than operating from what thoughts tell us.

We’ll still make use of thoughts to orient and navigate in the world, but our center of gravity is more in the noticing – of thoughts as thoughts, of what we in our own first-person experience are, and the nature of all of our experiences including discomfort and contractions.

And all of this is an ongoing process.

Note: I wrote this on my phone in the wilderness so it’s not edited as I would normally like to.

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The importance of energizing our system

The more our system is energized, the better it’s able to deal with whatever life has in store. It’s better able to heal from physical issues. It’s more able to relax and get good rest and sleep. It’s better able to deal with life situations and its own emotional issues. And so on.

And when our system is drained of energy, and especially the deep energy, it’s easily overwhelmed, stressed, disorganized, and confused.

That’s why it’s important to energize our system.

How can we do it?

Here are a few things I have found helpful for myself.

Eating food my system works well on. For me, it’s eating lower on the food chain, and fresh, organic, and local foods when possible, and also minimizing or avoiding dairy, wheat, and refined sugar.

Old fashioned bone broth, in particular, seems to deeply nourish my system.

Certain herbs nourish my system. This includes many adaptogens and herbal teas from Stangeland.

Certain energy system- / body-centered practices energize and nourish my system. For instance chi gong, yoga, and Breema – which for me is deeply and softly nourishing.

I have found that Vortex Healing works surprisingly well in energizing and nourishing my system, perhaps more immediately and noticeably than any of the others. (Especially when I receive it from a top-level Vortex healer.)

And there is more.

For instance, the climate makes a big difference. For me, sunny, warm, and dry helps my health and energy level significantly, while cold and wet drains my energy.

Being in nature. Dance. Strength training. And, in general, using my body in nourishing and energizing ways.

And there is also the mind side. The more my life is meaningful, the more energized i tend to feel. And the more I have resolved any stressful beliefs and issues in ourselves, the more energy is freed up. (A surprising amount of energy can be tied up in chronic stress and tension.)

In general, it’s about finding what works for me, and I like to take a multi-faceted approach where I include whatever works and makes sense. And I don’t do all of these all the time, apart from essentials like diet.

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Full circle: back to what’s more simple and natural

During the initial awakening shift in my teens, everything was very clearly the divine (the label I put on it then). If a contraction came up – a belief, hangup, emotional issue – that too was recognized as the divine, the divine taking that particular form.

That shifted how I, as this field, related to it. And, in a sense, it allowed the contraction to notice itself as the divine, to unwind and to relax into and as it.

It’s very simple and natural. This happened long before I found books about spirituality or started any formal spiritual practice. It was the naive approach of the novice.

Some years later, I did get into spiritual practice. Tai chi and chigong were completely compatible with this, as was prayer (Christ meditation and heart prayer), and basic meditation. As time went on, I got more into different traditions and practices, and it all got more complex and complicated.

I lost trust in the initial naive, simple, and natural approach I had found early on in the awakening. None of the teachers or traditions seemed to speak about this very simple approach, and they instead said I should do all sorts of more complex practices, apparently often aimed at people operating more from separation consciousness.

I felt I lost my way, in a sense, and remember talking about it with friends. At the same time, I wanted to trust these teachers and that they knew what they were talking about.

My “mistake” in it all was to not trust what worked for me, and what seemed to obvious and so simple.

Of course, I learned a lot from all these practices. I got to investigate some of the dynamics of the mind more in detail. And I got to see that one of my hangups is to not trust myself, and instead just do what teachers and traditions say even if it doesn’t always make much sense to me. (And often still don’t, seen with the benefit of hindsight. It often seems as if they applied remedies and medicines without first checking that they are appropriate for the person and where they are in the process.)

Now, I seem to find back to the wonderful simplicity of the first years. Back then, the noticing of all as the divine (I mostly use different words now) was unavoidable. The noticing was turned up to 11. These days, it’s still easy to notice although it requires a little more intention.

I notice my nature – as what a thought may label capacity (for my field of experience), oneness, stillness & silence, love, or consciousness, or even the divine.

A contraction comes up, and I “anchor” my attention in the physical sensations of the contractions while being aware of the rest (the mental images and words).

I notice the nature of this contraction and see it’s the same as what I am. (It can’t be anything else since it’s happening within and as what I am.)

I rest with this noticing.

I invite the contraction to notice its own nature. I may even focus this through a simple question: Do you know what you are? Do you know what your nature is? Do you know what you are made of? How is it to notice your nature?

I allow that noticing to clarify, and the contraction to unravel and rest in and as that noticing.

It has a wonderful simplicity. It’s natural, intimate, and has a feeling of essence. It’s what many of the more complex practices seem to circle around.

Why don’t more teachers and traditions talk about this? Some do, of course, and the ones I know about are outside of any tradition. And some essential practices, like basic meditation (notice and allow), do invite and allow this noticing and natural transformation and unwinding. It’s rarely if ever talked about, but it’s what often happens.

In general, spiritual traditions seem more aimed at bringing people from strong separation consciousness to perhaps a little milder version of this, and generally not so much more. And that’s fine, of course. That’s their function, and it is helpful for many.

Note: I know this is not about a feeling. At the same time, when I do this again now and rest in and as it, there is often a sweet feeling. A feeling I remember from this time in my teens and twenties when I did this naturally. When it seemed the most obvious thing to do. (It’s even a bit blissful, although I typically don’t use those words since this is certainly not about bliss.)

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Awakening and healing is sobering

Along with any of the other ways we can describe healing and awakening, it also has a sobering quality.

When a part of us is caught up in a painful belief (AKA identification with the viewpoint of a story, an emotional issue, a hangup, trauma), it’s caught up in its own frightening fantasies about the world. Seeing through this is sobering.

We examine the painful stories and find what’s more true for us. We welcome, allow, and get to know this part of us. We see its innocence and that it’s here to protect us. We find genuine love for it. We recognize that its nature is the same as everything else in our world.

All of this is, along with any other way we want to describe it, sobering. This part of us wakes up from its scary dream.

This process is the same for psychological healing as a human self and noticing what we more fundamentally are. In both cases, we heal out of a painful fantasy.

And it is really just about healing parts of us. When there is an identification with these parts, it feels like we are healing as a whole.

And the healing involves recognizing that it is a part of us, not even close to the whole of who and what we are.

Do I have to become somebody before becoming nobody?

You have to become somebody before you can become nobody.

I recently heard this again and thought I would say a few words about it.

As far as I understand, it means that we need to develop a healthy psyche before we can start exploring what we are and how to live from that.

Is it true? As usual, the answer may be yes, no, and it depends.


Yes, it’s generally good advice if you are unusually ungrounded, unable to take care of your life very well, are dealing with a lot of trauma, and so on. In these cases, taking care of this goes before most other considerations, including exploring what we are.


No, in most cases you don’t have to wait. If you are normally unhealthy and dysfunctional, you can do both. Seek out approaches that invite in healing for you at a human level, and also helps you find what you are and live from that.

There are a lot of tools out there that does both, including different forms of inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta, prayer), body-centered approaches (yoga, taichi, chigong), training a more stable attention (good all-around), basic meditation (notice + allow), and more.


And it depends. It depends on what you mean by somebody and nobody, the person, the situation, what you are interested in, and so on.

I assume by somebody, they mean a healthy and functioning human self. The operating system works reasonably and normally well. By nobody, they may mean finding what we are, which is what allows this somebody and all our other experiences.

Who we are happens within and as what we are, so finding what we are doesn’t at all exclude who we are. On the contrary, finding what we are can allow our human self in the world to function in a more authentic way, with more flow, and it often starts a process of a deep healing of our human self. That healing process can be challenging, which is why it’s typically easier and safer if we start out normally dysfunctionally healthy.

What can go wrong? Nothing is inherently wrong since whatever happens becomes part of our process. But there are some typical challenges that can happen if we explore what we are while our human self is unusually unstable or we are dealing with a lot of trauma.

If we have a lot of trauma in our system, and whether we know about this trauma or not, it can get released through meditation and other forms of spiritual practice. And this can be frightening, overwhelming, disorienting, and we may respond to it by creating new traumas. It’s important to work with a guide or instructor who is familiar with trauma work and signs of trauma, and knows how to help you deal with it. At the very least, the person needs to be aware of what may come up, the signs, of it, and who to send you to for further assistance.

We may also react to our pain by wanting transcendence, or by going into disassociation. We may want and hope that awakening will help us leave our human self and the pain we associate with being this human self. If this is the case, it’s good to address this early on. Finding what we are is not really about transcendence, it’s more about finding a different context for our human life.

And we cannot avoid whatever is unprocessed in our human self. It’s always there, it will always color our perception and life, we’ll always be in reaction to it one way or another, and it tends to surface on its own because it too wants release and healing.

In some cases, people may get fascinated by what they are – or the idea of what they are – to the exclusion of living and taking care of their life in the world. That happens with other things as well, including – I assume – stamp collecting. If this happens, it’s natural and to be expected if it’s relatively mild and not too long-lasting. And there may be a component of avoidance there, especially if it is extreme, and something to look at and find healing for.

In general, it’s good to focus on healing parallel with any focus on noticing and living from what we are. And it’s good to examine any beliefs we have about awakening and what we think we’ll get out of it.

Many who get into exploring what they are do so partly because they want to escape something. Again, there is a lot of potential for finding clarity around our painful beliefs here and finding healing for how we relate to our own discomfort and for the unhealed parts of us. The motivation is not wrong, it’s a pointer to something in us we can find healing for.


So do we need to become somebody before becoming nobody?

In some cases, yes. If we are unusually unstable, have a lot of trauma, have a strong tendency to disassociation, and so on, it’s good to address this first. That’s true in general, even outside of this context.

In most cases, no. If we are just ordinarily unhealthy and dysfunctional, we can do both. Especially if we use tools and approaches that support healing, noticing what we are, and living from this noticing.

And as usual, it depends. It depends on who we are and what we are dealing with. It depends on the situation and what support we have. It depends on our motivation and what we are really seeking. If we just want some relief from discomfort, then healing may do the trick. If we are genuinely drawn to what we more fundamentally are, and also seek deeper and more thorough healing, then awakening is the ticket.

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Awakening is a form of healing

I like seeing awakening as a form of healing. We heal from separation consciousness.

When we – as a whole and in our parts, operate from separation consciousness, it comes with discomfort and suffering. It’s out of alignment with reality.

And although it’s very natural, ordinary, and part of lila (the play of life and the divine), it can be seen as a kind of disease. It’s literally dis-ease, a lack of ease.

Fortunately, there are remedies for this dis-ease, and there are remedies that support healing at a human level, and healing out of separation consciousness.


How do we heal separation consciousness? And is that even an accurate way to talk about it?

We heal (from) separation consciousness in a few general ways.

The main one is to notice what we are. To find what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience, keep noticing, and explore how to live from it. Some forms of inquiry can help us find this relatively quickly and without much preparation, and basic meditation (notice and allow) also helps us find this in time.

Another is to unravel or see through any distractions from noticing what we are, any blocks from noticing it, and anything covering it up. This happens mostly through different forms of inquiry.

There are also several approaches that support the two. Many of them mimic how we naturally perceive and live from noticing what we are, and they support our human self in aligning with this whether or not we already notice.


It’s perhaps more accurate to say that we heal from or out of separation consciousness.

And we find healing for the effects of having lived with separation consciousness for however long we did – which could be decades, or if we assume several lives then several lifetimes.


And, really, it’s life or the divine healing itself from a dis-ease it created for itself.

It’s all part of lila, the play of life or the divine.

It’s life or the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways, including through separation consciousness, and then healing from and out of separation consciousness. And it’s all ongoing.

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