Noticing is primary

Instagram gifted me this video from Mingyur Rinpoche (son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche) this morning. (Was he the young teacher-in-training I had tea with in Kathmandu in the mid-90s? I somehow think it was.)

NOTICING IS PRIMARY

Yes, when it comes to different forms of meditation and mindfulness, noticing is primary.

The content – what’s noticed – is not important in that context.

It can be dullness, agitation, sadness, frustration, anger, joy, contentment, bliss, and so on, anything within the always-changing content of experience.

TRAINING STABLE ATTENTION

When I train a more stable attention, my attention is on something specific within the content of experience. For me, it’s usually the sensations of the breath at my nostrils, but it can be any other sensation, a mental image, and so on. Training a more stable attention also happens through mindful movement like yoga, tai chi, qigong, Breema, and so on.

Whatever else is going on in the content of experience is less important. It’s literally peripheral. (Althought depending on how my personality responds to it, it can trigger distractions.)

NOTICE & ALLOW

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and really to notice it’s all already noticed and allowed and rest in and as that noticing.

The content of experience comes and goes and specifically what it is, or whether my personality happens to like it or not, is less important.

The coming and going, in itself, is worth noticing since it shows me that I am not fundamentally any of it.

NOTICING WHAT I AM

I may find myself as what content of experience happens within and as, perhaps amplified by pointers from Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and so on.

Here too, the specific content of experience is not so important. It’s all what I not fundamentally am. It’s what my nature happens to form itself into.

AT DIFFERENT TIMES

Of course, this will look a bit different at different times of our exploration.

In the beginning, it’s often easier to explore these things if the content is generally more calm and our personality is generally OK with it. It makes it easier to not create distractions for ourselves. Mindful movement can be a great lead-in to meditation and inquiry for that reason.

After a while, it becomes more important to keep noticing through the changing content of experience, and through the metaphorical changing weather and occasional storms, and even if our personality doesn’t like it very much. It’s part of the exploration. It helps us do the same in daily life when storms happen. This often requires a more clear intention and resolve.

NOTICING WHAT IN ME DOESN’T WANT TO

A part of this is to notice the parts of me that don’t want to do this. The parts of me that are scared of it.

Notice and acknowledge they are here. Welcome them. Get to know them. Understand where they are coming from. See what they really need, and if I can give it to them here and now. See they are innocent, and are here to try to protect us. Make friends with them. Find appreciation for them, because they are here to help me and come from love for me, even if it’s confused love.

ONGOING EXPLORATION

Here too, there doesn’t seem to be any finishing line. It’s an ongoing exploration.

It happens here and now, or it doesn’t happen. (Until it does.) Ideas of past times it happened, or ideas of it happening in the future, are ideas and they don’t nourish any more than a menu of a delicious meal nourishes.

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Exploring depression – tonglen, dialog, notice as awake space etc.

After receiving a three-hour (!) Vortex Healing session for my liver three weeks ago, I have not felt very good. I feel wiped out. My energy level is low. A lot of emotional things are surfacing1.

This morning, I woke up feeling depressed. (I am not sure if it’s actual depression since it comes and goes quickly. It’s probably more of a mix of hopelessness, sadness, and grief. It could also be bubbles of old depression in my system dislodged and surfacing from the healing.)

THOUGHTS

When these things come up, it’s easy for the mind to go into thought patterns to fit what’s coming up. Thoughts that are not helpful in a practical sense, and only amplify the sadness and hopelessness.

Fortunately, my mind also noticed what was happening and recognized the pattern.

The thoughts are not true. In another state, the thought pattern is different. There is no need to go into or fuel those thoughts.

FOOD

I know that certain foods would also amplify it (dairy, sugar, wheat, refined foods) so I had a good salad for breakfast (spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, sunflower seeds, olive oil) with an herbal tea to help my kidneys.

I took electrolytes in water and my body felt more alive and lighter.

MOVEMENT

I did some Self-Breema exercises which shifted something in me. My system lightened up a bit and there was more sense of space and also space around what’s coming up.

Just about any movement can be helpful: dance, yoga, tai chi, chigong, going for a walk or run, and so on.

TONGLEN

I did some tonglen with myself by visualizing myself in front of me.

This definitely shifted something in me.

WRITING

I decided to write this, which helps me notice more what’s going on and serves as a reminder to myself for the future.

NOTICE & ALLOW

As I write this, it reminds me of another exploration…

I sit down and notice what’s here. I notice it’s already noticed and allowed. I rest with and as that. I allow myself to soak in it and more viscerally get it. As I do that, I notice more space around it and it’s easier to notice it all as space and awake space. That noticing goes more into the foreground.

THANK YOU

After some minutes, and within that noticing, I say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. Stay as long as you want. (I say it to the areas of space where the sensations associated with sadness, grief, and hopelessness are.)

NOTICE WHAT IT’S MADE OF

I ask these parts of me – the sadness, grief, hopelessness – what are you really? What are you made of? I notice they are made of awake space and rest in and as that noticing, allowing myself to soak in it and take it in.

EXPLORING PARTS OF ME REACTING TO THE SADNESS

I notice any parts of me reacting to these other parts of me (the sadness, grief, hopelessness). I find it mostly in sensations in my forehead. I do the same with these. (Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. Stay as long as you want. What are you made of? And resting in and as that.)

A FEW MORE WORDS

As usual, there is a a lot to say about this, and really, it’s just about exploring it for ourselves and see what works for us and what shifts.

I did the easiest things first: Food and water, then some light movement, then tonglen and more quiet exploration. I helped my body first, which help me as a whole and makes the rest easier.

A lot of this has to do with aligning with reality, with what’s already here.

Of these things, tonglen, notice & allow, and the brief dialog seem to shift things the most. Tonglen and dialog help shift my relationship with it and soften any struggle with it. Noticing that it’s already noticed and allowed helps me consciously align with what’s already here. It’s all already happening within and as awake space. Allowing my system to rest in that noticing feels deeply nourishing and healing.

I also notice that I am fascinated by noticing it all as awake space. There is something more there for me.

In a conventional sense, it’s not new at all. It’s something I explored since my teens. And yet, it feels completely fresh and new. It is fresh and new since the other times this noticing happened are in the past, they can only be found in imagination. And I am sure there is a lot more for me to explore, especially in terms of allowing more of my human self to soak in it and align with it.

Note: I took some time to do just that now, and it feels deeply right. I can see how I have not allowed myself to fully do it consistently. I have, almost without noticing, been caught up in fearful parts of me telling me it’s dangerous. It can seem dangerous, and those parts of me only want to protect me and come from love. I also know, from experience, that it’s not dangerous. It’s a relief. What’s “dangerous” is actually to keep not doing it when my system keeps inviting me to do it more fully. That’s what maintains the discomfort. (And the sense of danger.)

NOTES

(1) It’s not uncommon for things to surface during or in the days after a healing session, but my system seems especially eager to release a lot which sometimes can be challenging. It didn’t use to be that way, but after I asked the divine to “show me what’s left” about thirteen (?) years ago, it seems to be that way.

I suspect my system needs much shorter sessions and far more time spent on integration. I may also need several follow-up sessions with integration in the following days.

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Aware of the field & that it’s already allowed

In daily life, one of the things I like to keep noticing is the field of experience and that it’s already allowed.

That noticing is already here, so a more intentional noticing brings it more into the foreground1 which seems helpful.

FIELD OF EXPERIENCE

What does “field of experience” refer to?

It refers to any content of experience. Anything that happens in the sense fields, which we can label sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, and thought (mental images and words).

That means it refers to what conventionally is referred to as “outer” and “inner”, the wider world and what’s happening here which is “hidden” from others – the perceptions and thoughts of this human self.

This field is seamless and although what I am in a conventional sense (this human self) is found there, what I more fundamentally am to myself is not found there.

ALREADY ALLOWED

What’s happening in content of experience is already allowed. It’s allowed by space, mind, life, reality, existence, or whatever we want to call it.

If I try to allow it, it won’t work. My psyche won’t allow it since it’s often caught up in pushing and pulling with what’s here. It’s doomed to fail, which is very good since it’s a dead-end street anyway.

It’s much easier to notice it’s already allowed and align more consciously and intentionally with that allowing. It’s a relief. It’s like coming home.

SHIFTS THROUGH NOTICING

There are some shifts that happen from this intentional noticing. There is a kind of deepening and soaking in it.

When there is a noticing of the content of experience, there is a sense of distance to it and a softening of identification. This helps soften remaining habitual identification with certain stories and identities.

Parallel with this is my nature noticing itself. I find I more fundamentally am what it all happens within and as. Even more fundamentally, I am capacity for all of it – consciousness and what it forms itself into. That makes the noticing, and the sense of distance to whatever is here, easier.

The two are sides of the same coin.

BASIC MEDITATION

This noticing and allowing is the essence of basic meditation.

Formal meditation is a kind of laboratory to explore this intentionally without too many distractions.

As it becomes more of a habit, it’s easier to bring the noticing and allowing into daily life.

And even then, some meditation is helpful. It helps deepen the habit.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS

As I mentioned first, this intentional noticing – of the field and that it’s already allowed – is something I do at different times throughout the day. It seems to bring some shifts.

When I was fifteen, there was a sudden and strong shift. The world seemed very far away, and that included anything that has to do with this human self. All of it was far away. This human self operated in the world far away. Later, I understood that this was a kind of observer-observed shift. It was as if identification went out of everything except the mental construct of an observer.

I assume that shift made it easier for me to notice the field as a field.

A year later, there was a shift into oneness. I assume this was a release out of identification with and as an imagined observer, and it was clear that there is no inner and outer.

It was also clear that everything is allowed by life and existence. It’s already allowed, and it lives its own life.

And it’s possible to intentionally notice and align more consciously with that allowing and invite this human self to reorganize within it.

NOTES

(1) This is like other things. There is an awareness of what’s here in my sense fields whether there is a conscious noticing of it or not. When there is a more conscious noticing of something, it goes more into the foreground of awareness. For instance, a few moments ago, there was not an intentional noticing of the music in this room, but there was a low-grade awareness of the music since it was happening within the field of experience. Now there is a more intentional noticing of the music, so it’s more in the foreground.

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Be it & what happens when I notice I already am this field of experience

When I wake up these days, there is a lot of discomfort in my system. I suspect it has to do with having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have had this experience in the morning to varying degrees for decades now. I don’t feel at all refreshed when waking up, the body feels full of toxins, the brain fog is strong, and so on. That’s all quite typical for CFS.

A helpful reminder for myself is to be it.

ALREADY HERE

It’s simple, and in some ways, it’s obvious and inevitable. I already am my whole field of experience. It cannot be any other way. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it.

HELPS SOMETHING SHIFT

At the same time, the reminder is useful. When the noticing is a little more intentional and has a little more energy, something shifts. It shifts how I relate to what’s here, and that makes all the difference.

My old separation conditioning is to try to avoid an unpleasant experience that’s already here. I try to separate myself from it, in whatever way seems to work the best, which is usually some variation of distraction, compulsion, and so on. This is still in my system, so it helps to notice I already am all of it since it goes against this conditioning. It’s an antidote. It creates another pattern, another conditioning that’s a little more aligned with reality.

It does not necessarily shift the content of what’s here, and it doesn’t have to.

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

CAN STILL EXPLORE WHAT’S BEHIND THE DISCOMFORT

It can also be useful to explore the content of experience.

The discomfort may come from going against my inner guidance or knowing, or from not taking care of myself and my life in a situation where the kind and wise thing would be to do so. In that case, it’s good to notice and see if I can find a way to follow and act on my guidance. At the very least, I would be more in integrity which gives a kind of peace in itself.

If there is anxiety, depression, compulsion, or something similar here, it’s worth exploring these experiences and what may be behind them. For instance, what stressful beliefs do I have? What’s more true for me?

In the case of CFS and waking up with this discomfort, I know that some supplements and herbs can help, for instance, magnesium, so I can take that and see what happens.

AMPLIFYING IT

As mentioned, we – or parts of us – can seek separation from discomfort. We can notice we already are it and rest in and as that noticing. And there is a third way.

We can intentionally amplify the discomfort. Make it stronger for 2-3 seconds, then release and relax. Repeat after a few seconds. Notice what happens.

When I do this, I notice that how I relate to the experience shifts. There is less struggle.

This too goes against the old pattern of seeking separation and creates a new pattern of less struggle.

IN MY CASE

Although there was a oneness shift in my teens and I have explored it since, there are still many parts of me that are not quite on board with it. They still live in and operate from separation consciousness.

That’s why noticing I already AM it is helpful. It’s a reminder of what’s already here, and noticing and living from it goes against old patterns.

In addition to this, I have done a lot of inquiry on many aspects of this, from exploring stressful beliefs (which are also identities) to exploring how the discomfort and the reaction to it show up in the sense fields, to dialog with these parts of me, to how it all is here to protect me and was created early in life for that purpose.

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Allowing the weirdness

I often feel weird in different ways – brain fog, energies moving, old issues surfacing, feeling like I am on drugs or psychedelics, and so on. Even normal food often makes me feel like I am on drugs, with a different effect on my mind and system from each type of food.

When that happens and I am with others, a part of me wants to push it away. It struggles with it and doesn’t want it to be there. This comes from a fear that others will see me as weird, reject me, and say and do terrible things to me. (My psyche internalized this fear from my parents, and it was reinforced through elementary and middle school.)

I become more weird if I join in with that resistance and fear. If I get caught up in the struggle, I inevitably start to act more weird. I become reclusive. I don’t say much. I want to hide. I become self-conscious.

When I notice and allow it all, and find some compassion for the part of me that feels scared, it’s easier to find space to relate to it with more intention. I can relate to the weirdness and the part of me struggling with it in a more conscious way.

I have explored these dynamics since my teens, and it always feels new and fresh. Even today, I had an opportunity to notice. I felt weird this morning. A part of me was scared that my wife would reject me. I partly joined in with the resistance to and fear of the weirdness, without consciously noticing. She asked me, I noticed what was happening, and was able to shift more into noticing and allowing it all. I found a more conscious way of noticing and relating to it all. Instead of creating division between us, it led to more understanding, connection, and intimacy. More to the point, the same happens in how I relate to myself – to the different parts of me and my experience.

A FEW MORE WORDS

There is always more to say about these things.

For instance, I have many different parts of my psyche that relate to this weirdness in different ways.

The one that resists out of fear is a relatively prominent and familiar one for me, and it was – as mentioned above – created in my childhood.

I can join in with it and take on its beliefs, perspective, and orientation. I can, in a sense, become it for a while.

And when I notice what’s happening and shift into allowing it, there is a shift in identification. Identification shifts out of this part of me and either into another part (allowing) or into what I more fundamentally am, which is what it all happens within and as.

I remember Adyashanti talking about how his mother used to tell him: Weird is wonderful. That’s a good pointer for me. I can be a good parent to myself and remind myself of that. Weird is wonderful.

It’s worth questioning my ideas about weirdness. Do parts of me see it as bad or wrong? Does the label really fit? What do I find when I identify and examine thoughts about it that parts of me hold as true?

I’ll do a quick inquiry now and make some notes here:

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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.

Labeling emotions

How do we relate to our emotions?

And do we need to differentiate a wide range of emotions to have a healthy relationship to them?

I sometimes ask myself that question when I see people who seem a bit obsessive in differentiating and mapping out a huge number of different emotions.

LABELING EMOTIONS

It can obviously be helpful to name emotions or emotional states.

It helps communication with ourselves and others.

Labeling the emotions for myself helps me see them as an object within my experience, and that helps me disidentify from them a bit.

And when I communicate it to others, it helps them understand a bit more what’s going on with me.

HOW MUCH DIFFERENTIATION IS NEEDED?

For myself, I find just a few general labels necessary.

For instance… I feel sadness. Anger. Joy. Elation. Hopelessness. Grief. Frustration.

In order to label an emotional state, I really just need the word “emotion” or “state”. That’s enough to recognize it more easily as an object happening within and as what I am. It’s a guest. Something passing through.

And if I want to differentiate a bit further, just a few categories are necessary.

THE STORIES THAT CREATE EMOTIONS

What’s more important for me is to identify the stressful stories that create certain emotions and emotional states when something in me holds them as true. This is where I personally find differentiating and precision helpful.

Pinpointing these stories helps me recognize why I feel a certain way. And it helps me explore them further. It helps me inquiry into them and find what’s more true for me, and it helps me see how my mind creates its own experience by associating certain sensations and stories.

MORE IMMEDIATELY: BEFRIENDING EMOTIONS

For me, the most helpful way of relating to emotions doesn’t require any labeling at all.

And that is to befriend them. Get to know them. Spend time with them. Be with them as I would a frightened animal or child. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them how they would like me to relate to them. Find the stories behind them. And perhaps even notice their nature (which is the same as my nature, and the nature of the world as it appears to me.)

THE ROLE OF LABELING EMOTIONS

For me, labeling emotions in a simple way is helpful, as outlined above.

What’s more important is to befriend and get to know them, whatever label they have. And identify and explore possible stressful stories creating them.

And I am completely open for discovering that labeling emotions themselves in a more precise and differentiated way can be helpful. It’s just that I haven’t seen it yet, in my 35 years of exploring these things.

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Adyashanti: Simply rest in the felt sense of being

Simply rest in the felt sense of being. Don’t think about it. Do it. That is the key. Grasp at nothing, push nothing away. Simply rest in the felt sense of being. Practice it every day. By abiding in being you are taken beyond it to the absolute. It may sound simple but that is where its power lies, in its straightforward simplicity.

– Adyashanti in Experiencing No-Self online course

Imperfect practice and noticing what’s already here

Maezumi Roshi, and I am sure many others, pointed out that we can only do approximate shikantaza. We can only imperfectly do the basic meditation of noticing and allowing.

It’s that way with many practices. We can only do it imperfectly.

And there is a great blessing in this, in more than one way. It keeps us humble, and it invites us to find the nature of what we already are.

BASIC MEDITATION

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s already here in our experience. As a human being, this is something we can do only imperfectly.

Why can we only do it imperfectly?

The simple answer is that it’s not humanly possible. We’ll get distracted. We cannot intentionally notice everything happening in our field of experience. We cannot fully allow it all, or do so all the time. And we are always one step behind what’s already happened.

And the more real answer is that the premise is already out of alignment with reality. There is ultimately nobody doing it, and basic meditation cannot be “done” or manifactured.

So what’s the solution?

We can practice more. We can get more familiar with and fine-tune our practice. That is part of the answer and very valuable.

And the more real solution is to notice that basic meditation is already happening. What’s here in my experience is already allowed – by life, space, mind. I can notice it’s already allowed. And I can notice that what’s here in experience is already, in a sense, already noticed. It’s already happening within and as this (ordinary) awakeness.

Both of these perspectives have validity. In a sense, there is a human being here engaging in this practice, and perhaps fine-tuning it through experience. And ultimately, there is nobody doing it and the practice cannot be successfully done or manifactured. All we can do is notice it’s already happening. It’s our natural state.

The nature of what we are is to allow and notice what’s here, and it happens no matter what this human self is doing or distracted by.

When we do basic meditation, we mimic what our nature already does and is.

At first, it may seem unfortunate that we can only do approximate basic meditation. And, in reality, it’s a blessing since the only real solution is to notice the nature of what we already are.

FINDING WHAT WE ARE

Finding more directly what we are, through pointers and noticing, is similar. As someone doing it, we can only do it imperfectly.

When I find myself as capacity for the world, or oneness, or stillness & silence, do I actually notice this? Or do I notice my mental representations of being capacity, or oneness, or stillness & silence? Or is there a combination?

Also, when I find myself as this, is there some part of my sense field that’s not included in my noticing, and that there is still some identification with?

In my case, there is likely a yes to all of these questions. There is some actual noticing. There is some noticing of the mental representations, and these are partly mistaken for what they refer to, and they are partly used as pointers to notice what they refer to. And there is sometimes a part of the sense field that is identified with, and especially some sensations and mental images in the area where the head is.

For these reasons, and because my attention is not always stable or fully on, this noticing is imperfect.

Of course, practice helps, especially when combined with honesty and sincerity.

And what really helps is to go beyond what’s done and manifactured.

Can I notice the capacity that’s already here, and that allows all this doing and noticing?

Can I notice the stillness & silence that’s inherent in this field of experience, independent of any noticing and doing?

THE GIFTS IN THE IMPERFECTION

As I mentioned, there are real gifts in this imperfect practice.

One is that it keeps us humble at a human level. I cannot really do any of these practices. I can only do it imperfectly, and – in a sense – fake it.

And the other is that the only real solution to this is to notice what’s already here. To notice the allowing & noticing inherent in this field of experience. And notice the capacity, stillness & silence, and oneness inherent in this field of experience.

At first, we may assume that the practice is to do it and manufacture something. And after a while, we may find that it’s noticing what’s already here.

As so much, it seems obvious. And yet, for a mind used to complexify things, it’s so simple and natural that it’s easy to overlook.

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Basic meditation: Notice & allow is one step behind

Over time, basic meditation will also help us notice what we are. Here, we notice and allow whatever is here in our experience, and notice that when we intentionally notice and allow, we are one step behind since it’s already noticed and allowed. 

– from The experience of no-self

I thought I would say a few more words about this.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow whatever experience is here. We notice, allow, get distracted, and – through grace – notice again. Over time, we get more familiar with noticing and allowing, and it can become a new habit.

At first, the noticing and allowing can seem quite intentional. It’s something we feel we actively do and make happen.

After a while, we may notice that what’s here is already allowed. This experience is already allowed by mind, space, and existence. “I” don’t need to intentionally allow it. All I need to do is notice what’s here is already allowed, and this tends to invite my conscious orientation to join with this allowing.

We may also notice that what’s here is already noticed. It’s already happening within this awake space, even before it’s more intentionally noticed.

This may lead us to see that our intentional noticing and allowing is one step behind. We are intentionally trying to create something that’s already here.

And here, we may find that it’s enough to notice that what’s here is already noticed and allowed.

It becomes a bit more relaxed and effortless. We are more consciously aligned with what’s already here.

This is similar to noticing that our mental representations of our experience is always one step behind. It’s about the past, what’s already gone.

I have to admit I hesitate in writing about this. It’s something we naturally discover as we explore these practices. And hearing about this too soon can just get the mind jumbled and make a simple practice of noticing and allowing more effortful and confused. At the same time, it’s OK to say something about it and invite people to do the practice in a simple way and see what they find over time. And who knows, for someone reading this it may be just the right timing for this pointer.

Healing from within awakening

When we notice what we are, how does healing look?

How do we go about finding healing for our emotional issues, hangups, and identifications? How can we heal our relationship with these? And how can we invite in healing for the issues themselves?

Noticing our true nature helps us notice the true nature of whatever is here – whether it’s an emotional issue, stressful thought, uncomfortable sensations, or anything else. To us, it’s all happening within and as what we are, so our true nature is its true nature.

Noticing this is healing for our relationship with what’s surfacing. It helps us shift out of the struggle with it, get to know it and befriend it, see how it is to notice and allow it as it is, and join in with the allowing of it that’s already here.

Noticing its true nature can also be deeply healing for what’s surfacing. It invites it to align with reality and oneness, which allows for deeper transformation. It can release its tension and contraction, open up, and join in with noticing what it is.

Noticing our true nature and the true nature of what’s surfacing also supports any other approach to healing we may use. It softens identification and struggles with it. It gives it more room to breathe.

The noticing happens here and now. If we have a memory of noticing in the past, that’s a pointer and reminder to notice it here and now. These things tend to shift as we notice, and we may revert to old patterns when we don’t. Over time, this noticing and the shifts that happen become more familiar to us and a new pattern and habit.

In general, it takes time to find deeper healing in how we relate to what’s coming up and for what is coming up itself. It’s not a miracle cure, but it’s the most effective approach I have found and the one most aligned with reality.

All of this is an important part of the embodiment process and living from noticing what we are.

Built for YES to what’s here

Mentally struggling with what’s here creates drama and stress. It doesn’t help me much since it doesn’t change what’s already here, and it distracts from taking more clear and wise action.

So how can we say YES to what’s here?

Saying YES as a human self

A natural strategy is to try to shift our human responses from saying NO to certain experiences to saying YES, and to generally say YES more often to a wider range of experiences.

We can do this in several different ways. We can use heart-centered practices to shift our habitual responses and orientation. We can inquire into any stressful beliefs that gives a NO instead of a more receptive YES. We can invite in healing for emotional issues giving a NO instead of a YES. We can use body-centered approaches to find more comfort in ourselves and trust in life, which tends to make the YES more available. We can work with gratitude. And so on.

All of this does work, to some extent. But there will always be a mix of parts of us saying YES and NO, and the NO will come up in certain situations and in response to certain experiences.

It’s natural, understandable, and ultimately innocent, and there is absolutely nothing wrong in this. It’s part of the universal human experience.

What we are is built for YES

There is another way to find this YES, and that is to notice what we are.

When we find ourselves as capacity for the world, we find our true nature, and we find that this true nature is built for YES to the world. It inherently says YES to what’s here.

What we are says YES to what’s here whether our personality likes what’s here or not, and whether our human self says NO or YES. It even says YES to our very natural human response of NO to certain experiences.

It’s a big relief to notice this. It means we don’t have to struggle to change every little human NO into a YES. We can allow our human self to be as it is, and it’s OK. The YES is already here, we just need to notice.

The practicality of this

What happens when we go into a NO or YES at a human level, and what happens when we notice the YES inherent in what we are?

As mentioned above, the NO does create some struggle, stress, and drama, and it can distract us from more engaged, kind, and wise action and responses.

A YES at a human level can help us respond in a more kind and clear way.

And noticing what we are and the YES inherent in it invites in a softening of the identification with our human responses. We see that it’s playing itself out and lives its own life. And that does help us to respond more from the YES inherent in what we are, which – as above – gives us a better chance to respond with clarity and kindness.

What this is and isn’t about

This is about saying YES to what’s already here – these experiences, this situation. It’s already here, so it makes sense to say yes to it. Life has already said yes to it, so we make it easier for ourselves if we join in with that particular yes.

It’s not about saying yes to any option or request and so on. We still use our ordinary discernment and say yes or no to different options in our life, and we can work on changing the situation we are in and set the stage for future situations we would like to be in.

This is about being a good steward of our life in two ways. First, by joining in with the YES life has already said to what’s already here. Then, by saying yes or no to options and choices in our life as best we can, to create a good and meaningful life for ourselves in the world.

What and who we are together

We are capacity for the world, and what our experiences happen within and as. And we are this human self in the world. One says YES to what’s here, and the other typically says both YES and NO. And that’s perfectly natural, innocent, and even beautiful. It adds to the immense richness of who and what we are and our experience of the world and existence.

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Shifting our relationship with ourselves

What does it mean to shift our relationship with ourselves?

At first, it can seem it has to do with shifting our relationship with ourselves as a whole and the different parts and subpersonalities in us. But it goes beyond that. It includes all our experiences, as they are, and that includes the whole world.

Ways to shift our relationship with ourselves / our experience / existence

How do we shift our relationship with our experience, as it is?

At the risk of repeating myself to a ridiculous degree, for me, the most effective approaches have been…

Curiosity and sincerity in the exploration. Our orientation to the exploration is essential and includes honesty with ourselves.

Inquiry into beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries). Beliefs and identifications are innocent and natural, and they also split our world and split what’s inherently whole.

Imagined dialog with subpersonalities, experiences, and so on.

Working with projections, using the world as a mirror. For me, inquiry is one of the most effective ways to work on projections.

Body-centered approaches (tai chi, chigong, yoga, etc.). This helps me get a visceral experience of the wholeness of who I am as a human being, including body and psyche.

Heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’o). This helps me befriend myself, the different parts of me, others, and the world as it is.

Inquiry to notice what I am (Headless experiments, Big Mind process). Here, my relationship to all my experiences naturally shifts. I notice all my experiences happen within and as what I am.

Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here. This too helps soften identification with the content of experience (really, the viewpoint of thoughts saying I am this or that, or the world is this or that), and it makes it easier to find myself as what my experiences happen within and as.

When we notice what we are, there are also some variations of this. For instance, when an experience comes up and I notice my personality reacts to it and wants it to go away, I can ask… Is this too the divine/ What is the true nature of this experience? Is its true nature the same as what I find for myself? I can also ask it, what is your true nature?

Adyashanti: whatever you resist disturbs you, and whatever you accept cannot disturb you

Meditation shows you, again and again, a very simple yet powerful reality, that whatever you resist disturbs you, and whatever you accept cannot disturb you.

– Adyashanti from The Art of Meditation

Meditation is a laboratory. We get to see the patterns of how our minds work.

One of the things we notice early is that when we fight with an experience, we add to the discomfort and what we mentally battle is not going away through battling it.

And if we, through grace, find peace with what’s here, even if it’s exactly the same as what we previously fought, then we have peace with it.

The experience we either fight or find peace with can be an uncomfortable feeling, an unpleasant or disturbing memory, physical pain or discomfort, our reaction to a sound, or anything else.

We may notice this early on. We may notice that it’s grace when we find peace with what’s here, it’s not something we can decide or make happen on command. A key is to notice, allow, and accept the part of us wanting to fight with what’s here. There is always more to discover around this process. And if others are like me, then any shifts around this, in meditation and daily life, tend to happen over time and is an ongoing process. It’s not something that happens once and for all, even if some part of us wish it was that way.

We can support this process through more active inquiry, through working on related emotional issues, through noticing what we are, and through heart-centered practices.

Byron Katie: Whatever you’re experiencing, it has a right to live

Whatever you’re experiencing, it has a right to live

– Byron Katie

This is a simple and beautiful pointer.

When I fight with my experience, I create discomfort and drama for myself, and I tend to get caught up in reactivity to the experience and sometimes acting on it even if I wouldn’t if I was more clear and kind.

When I give it its right to live, I make it much easier for myself. There is more space to relate to it intentionally. There is space for me to respond more consciously to it.

Whatever I am experiencing is not “mine”. It belongs to life. In one sense, it reflects the whole evolution of the universe, this solar system, this living planet, all living ancestors going back to the first cell, and all my human ancestors and how they were formed by life. In another sense, it just happens – out of the blue. Who am I to say it doesn’t have a right to live?

If I try to change or eliminate my experience, it’s an exercise in futility. I cannot. It’s too late. The experience that’s here is already gone.

How I respond to my experience is also part of my experience, and that too has a right to live. I can find some understanding and compassion for myself when I respond to my experience in ways I perhaps wouldn’t if I acted from more kindness, clarity, and wisdom. That understanding and compassion creates some space for doing it differently.

So it makes a lot more sense to give it its right to live. It already has that right, so I am just aligning with reality. It reduces a lot of the drama and discomfort in my life. And it makes it easier to relate to my experience more consciously, and respond to it with a bit more clarity, maturity, and kindness.

Pamela Wilson: When you see your body and thought as your devotees, you have a completely different relationship with them

Ramana used to say, “I would follow a devotee into hell if need be.” So when hell or agitation arises in the body, it’s luring the satguru out of the heart. Everything is an invitation for the Buddha to awaken and bring peace, even to the body. It calls for the laying on of hands, the welcoming and soothing. Even doubt is asking for your love. Doubt is talking to you, saying, “Master, is this true?”

When you see your body and thought as your devotees, you have a completely different relationship with them. Where else are they going to go for truth?

– Pamela Wilson

What’s surfacing in me of old wounds, traumas, and emotional issues are surfacing to be seen, felt, understood, loved, and met with kindness. As Pamela says, they are like devotees seeking the guru, and the guru is me and the kindness, understanding, and awakening that is here.

These parts of me were created from separation consciousness, and they seek a consciousness that’s a little less separate so they can be welcomed, included, and perhaps join in this less-separate consciousness.

It may not be “perfect”. I may know of others who can do this from more kindness, wisdom, understanding, insight, and awakening. And yet, whatever is here is enough. It’s enough for these parts that were created, mostly, a long time ago and from a much stronger and denser separation-consciousness. They live in a stronger contraction than my current global consciousness.

As long as I meet them with some receptivity, curiosity, and wish to relate to them as devotees – or perhaps scared children or animals – that’s more than enough. That, in itself, is healing. That, in itself, is transforming.

This is the beginning of self-compassion, and it’s a beautiful and transformative journey. And I am doing it not only for myself but also for my ancestors (who may not have been able to do it for the patterns that were passed down through the generations), for future generations, and for humanity and Earth. Even a little drop has ripples that may go out further than I know.

This not only transforms our relationship to ourselves and the pained parts of us – it also changes our relationship to our body, animals, nature, and other people. We also transform our culture, even if it’s only the culture we carry with us, and that tends to ripple out too.

We are the divine digesting itself

When I notice and allow what’s here in experience – thoughts, feelings, etc. – it feels like it’s all being digested.

Since it’s all happening within and as consciousness, we can say that it’s consciousness digesting itself.

And we can say that it happens all the time, just by living our life, whether we notice and allow, or are distracted and fight.

We can even say that all of existence is existence digesting itself.

Or that all of life and existence is the divine digesting itself.

The divine, or existence, or the universe, creates itself into complexity and digests itself.

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Life 101: Notice + allow

I sometimes write about a basic form of mindfulness which can be translated into notice + allow.

Notice what’s here in the sense fields, allow it to be, and perhaps notice it’s already allowed to be here.

In daily life, there is an additional emphasis I find very helpful. And that is to notice sensations, and especially those sensations that fuel and give substance to stressful thoughts and identities.

When these sensations happen outside of conscious awareness, the thoughts they lend their apparent solidity to tend to seem real, solid, and true. And when they are brought into conscious awareness, and the way they combine with certain thoughts and identities to lend them a sense of solidity is brought into conscious awareness, it’s as if we peek behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz and the illusion falls apart.

It’s easiest to discover this through inquiry, and especially the Living Inquiries. And then notice it while taking some time out and having space and time to notice. And then, after a while, we can bring it into daily life.

For me, this is one of my favorite explorations these days. I notice my mind is caught up in stressful thoughts or identities. (I notice the typical symptoms like stress, tension, blame, mental complaining, feeling like a victim, feeling I need to protect something, a compulsion etc.) I bring attention to the sensations in the body and allow them to be as they are. And I specifically look for and give attention to the sensations giving the stressful thoughts a sense of solidity, reality, and truth.

And that tends to break the spell. It creates space to notice and allow it all, and not be so caught up in it. It shifts the mind out of identifying with the stressful thoughts and identities, and into that which allows and is it all.

And that gives space for relating to what comes up in me more intentionally, and the triggering situation in life more intentionally. It opens for a slightly more mature and kind way of being.

It is fascinating how such as simple mechanism creates our stressful beliefs and hangups. We have thoughts which, in themselves, are innocent questions about the world. The mind then associates these with certain sensations in the body, and may even tense up muscles to create sensations it can associate the thoughts with. The sensations then gives a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts. And the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations.

As long as this happens outside of our conscious awareness, the thoughts seem solid and true, and we perceive, act, and live in the world as if they are true. As soon as we “peek behind the curtain”, the illusion falls apart, it loses it’s grip, and we can relate to it more intentionally.

In my imagination, in a future society that’s a little more mature, this is Life 101. This is what children learn along with riding a bike, reading, writing, and singing songs.

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