Aspects of what we are: exploring and using them as medicine

There are many aspects to what we are as Big Mind or whatever else we want to call it. And there are many aspects to who we are as this human self. So why not explore it?

Space may be the final frontier, but this is the ultimate frontier and it’s much closer to home. It’s something we can explore here and now, and it just requires some motivation and guidance.

Aspects of what I am

When I look, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for any content of experience – this human self, the wider world, any sense of doer or observer, any insights, any noticing, even awareness. Capacity allows it all.

I am also awakeness. Not any special awakeness but this ordinary awakeness that’s here for all of us. The awakeness that’s inherent in awareness, consciousness, and noticing or experiencing anything at all.

As this oneness, what I am is also love. Not the love that is or is dependent on a feeling, but the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

What I am is also all of it. Any content of experience happen within and as what I am. There is no inherent boundary. There is no inherent other.

What I am includes this human self and the wider world as it appears to me.

I can continue to find aspects or flavors of what I am, although this depends a bit on culture and orientation and what we look for. For instance, I can find (what we can call) feminine and masculine aspects, dark and light, and so on.

Aspects of who I am

As who I am, the world mirrors me. Whatever I see out there – in others and the world in general – reflects parts of who I am. My inner world is as rich as the outer.

Identities come in polarities and although we often identify more with one end of any one polarity than the other, we have both in us. Both are already here. And both are here as potentials that can unfold and be further embraced and brought into our life.

Unintentionally identifying with some aspects

We typically unintentionally identify with one or a set of aspects of what and who we are.

Many identify as a particular human being and overlook what they are (capacity, Big Mind) and also all the sides of themselves they see in others but not in themselves. This is the typical human condition and there is nothing wrong with it, but there is a lot more to who and what we are.

After having a glimpse of what we are, and early on in the process of getting to know what we are, some may identify more with some aspect of Big Mind – capacity, awakeness, or something similar. Or as it often is, we identify with some ideas about this. In Zen, they sometimes refer to this as being “stuck in the absolute”. It may feel safer than the scary messiness of being a traumatized human. And it’s also a way to become more familiar with what we are and get used to it. It’s a natural part of the process for many and perhaps most of us.

In the awakening process, there is usually still identifications of different types. We may be identified with ideas about what we are, as mentioned above, and also ideas about who we are as a human in the world. Noticing and exploring this, gradually include more of what and who we are, and find a bit more freedom around this, is an ongoing process. It is the exploration of a lifetime. (And if there are several, then several!)

Intentionally emphasizing aspects as medicine

This is all a part of our exploration of ourselves, or life or the divine exploring itself.

At some point, we may discover that we can intentionally explore and emphasize aspects of who and what we are and this can support our healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment. We can get more familiar with some aspects and bring them more into our life.

We can use them as medicine for specific conditions.

For instance, if we are used to identifying as this human self, why not exploring finding ourselves as Big Mind?

If we are one-sidedly identified with (ideas about) Big Mind, why not also embrace being a human being in the world?

If we are used identify with (ideas about) what’s closer to the “absolute” – capacity, awakeness, observer – why not also include all that’s happening within and as what we are? (The world as it appears to us.)

If we are used to identify with one particular human identity, why not explore the reverse? Why not find it in ourselves? Why not find how it’s already in our life? Why not embrace it more fully?

This helps us unstick from any particular identifications, and it also helps us explore and embrace more of who and what we are.

How can we intentionally explore aspects of who and what we are?

There are innumerable approaches. I like a combination of dialog and parts work (Big Mind process), inquiry (Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, The Work), energy work (Vortex Healing), and I also love Process Work (Jungian and shamanic) for these type of explorations.

And, of course, the real work and exploration is in our life today and now.

Organic process and intentional exploration

These shifts into exploring different sides of who and what we are is an organic process. It happens naturally in our human life, and it also happens naturally in an awakening and embodiment process.

An intentional exploration of these sides of us complements this organic process. It can clarify it for us, help us explore things more in detail, and it can give us a map that helps us orient and understand the overall process a little better.

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Healing & awakening = aligning with reality 

Healing and awakening is all about aligning with reality – at all levels of our being.

That’s a tall order. And it’s already what’s here.

In brief:

We are a local part and expression of life. We are already reality so from this perspective, no alignment needs to happen. We can’t align with what we already are.

And yet, as human beings, we are typically out of alignment in many ways. There is room for alignment and this alignment is an ongoing process of exploration and inquiry, healing and maturing as human beings, and embodying our discoveries and realizations.

How did we get out of alignment? We got out of alignment by holding our thoughts as solid, real, and true. We aligned with our thoughts more than being receptive to life as it is. We came to identify and experiencing ourselves as a being separate from the rest of existence. (Consiousness identified in that way, and took itself to be a being within the content of itself.) And this process built on itself so we came to create wounds, trauma, dynamics leading to some physical illnesses, relationship problems, and a culture and society out of tune with the larger living world.

Nothing is wrong. It’s all life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. And yet, it is uncomfortable so at some point, there is a motivation to coming back into alignment with life so we can find a sense of home, being in tune with reality, and being more at ease.

How do we get back into alignment? We do so by noticing what we are. That we already are (this local expression of) life and a whole that always is whole. We do so by healing and maturing as human beings. We do so by an ongoing process of clarifying and embodying.

That’s the short version.

And in more detail:

Already reality. We are, in a sense, already 100% aligned with reality. We are life, this local part of the Universe, all of us is already Spirit. We cannot help being 100% reality. We are more than aligned with reality, we are reality. We are this local thinking, feeling, experiencing part of reality. As what we are, we are already reality.

Room for realignment. And it’s a tall order. It’s an ongoing process. We’ll need to face a great deal that may be uncomfortable to us, mainly because we have habitually pushed it away and seen as scary. As who we are, this human being, there is a lot of room for realignment.

Out of alignment. How did we get out of alignment?

One answer is that we, as human beings, tend to believe our thoughts. We hold some of our thoughts as real and true representations of reality and perceive and live as if that’s the case. That inherently creates a sense of separation and of being a separate being, and temporarily veils what we already are. (Life experiencing itself through this local body and these local thoughts, feelings, and experiences.) This – combined with meeting difficult life situations – is also what creates contractions, wounds, and trauma, and the accumulated effects of different types of contractions.

Another answer is Lila, the play of the divine. It seems that Existence has an inherent drive to experience itself in always new ways. The universe is life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. And one aspect of that is creating beings and energetic/consciousness veils that create a temporary and local experience of separation. Nothing went wrong. There are no lessons to be learned, no redemption to be earned. It’s just the temporary play of the divine.

Into alignment. So how do we get back into alignment?

We get back into alignment by noticing that we already are life and whole as we are. We already are a wholeness that’s always whole. We can understand that in different ways, and the easiest may be to notice that all happens within and as awakeness or consciousness. And that’s always whole and undivided.

We also get back into alignment through healing and maturing as human beings. And by consciously living from whatever realizations we have about life, what we are, and who we are (aka embodiment).

Both of these are ongoing explorations. As what we are, we keep noticing and clarifying. As who we are, we keep healing, maturing, and embodying. And it’s not at all a linear path.

A few additional notes:

Christianity. I thought I would say a few words about Christianity. In some cultures, the idea of aligning with reality for healing and awakening is natural and comes in from birth. I assume Buddhist cultures, Taoist cultures, and many native cultures are this way.

In other cultures, and specifically Christian and perhaps Abrahamic or theistic cultures in general, it’s different. Here, nature, life, and reality is viewed with some ambivalence and perhaps suspicion.

In Christinanity, there is the idea of original sin which makes us question our own nature, we are suspicious of our natural drives (sex, eating, resting etc.). We may also be trained to be suspicious of nature and life since it can lead us into temptation. In a Christian culture, or one that was Christian for a long time, it can seem odd or questionable to want to align with reality. If we and nature is more or less inherently sinful, why would we align with it?

Maybe it’s better to push it away as much as we can? Or maybe it’s better to transcend? We may try transcending, and find it works for a while, but reality is whole so we are inevitably brought back here and now with what’s already here.

In this case, it’s good to take small steps. Try it out and see what happens. We can explore this through inquiry where we question stressful thougths and find what’s more true for us. We can also explore it through body-centered practices such as Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises where we use the natural and inherent mechanisms of the body to find healing. Through these explorations, we may see that aligning with nature and reality is healing and can give us a sense of coming home.  We gradually build trust.

Healing, awakening, & sustainability. As shines through what I wrote above, healing, awakening and sustainability are all about aligning with reality. That’s why the three – for me – are inseperable. The seeds of dis-ease, an unawakened experience, and a society out of tune with the larger living world, are all the same. And the basic remedy is the same as well – align with life and reality.

For healing, we can align through inquiry, TRE, Breema, yoga, meditation and more. For awakening, we can align through inquiry, meditation, prayer, and more (whatever helps us ripen). For sustainability, we can align with life through philosophical and economic frameworks that takes ecological realities into account (which none of the current mainstream ones do), and a generally worldview that does the same.

Psychotherapy. I intentionally left out psychotherapy from my (brief) list of ways we can find healing. That’s because psychotherapy can be healing or not depending on who’s doing it (the therapist) and the approach they are using. If the therapist’s view is inherently skeptical about life and reality, then any healing won’t go very deep. It may even be traumatizing. If their view and life is more deeply aligned with life and reality, and they have a deep trust in life, then the healing can go quite deep. Process Work is an excellent example of an approach that’s inherently trusting of and aligned with life.

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Healing without diagnosis

When I go to a medical doctor, it’s appropriate and helpful with a diagnosis. It tells the MD and me what the next course of action is.

And yet, when it comes to the mind – or the mind/body as a whole – the most helpful approaches I have found (so far) all come diagnosis-free.

Process Work, Breema, The Work, TRE, walks in nature and so on, they all come without diagnosis at all.

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Drawn to death

Every time I fall into one of these pits, I want to curl up and die. Yet I’ve noticed that they invariably precede a breakthrough of some sort. They seem to be a means of emptying me so something new can fill my cup. In this sense, longing for death is a psychospiritual congruency and precisely what I need. Despair returns us to ground zero, to the place of nothingness which seems barren but is in actuality a realm of dormancy, a wintering of the soul without which there can be no spring.
– El Collie in Branded by the Spirit, chapter 14

When things seem especially dark and hopeless, there is often a draw to death. We want whatever causes the pain to die, and that’s a natural, innocent and even healthy impulse.

We may want our own human self to die, or the situation, although one is a bit drastic and the other is temporary. So what’s a kinder and more lasting solution?

What’s really at the essence of this is the death of identification – with the identity or story creating the suffering. This identification may wear off with time, it may suddenly drop away, and we can align with the process by inquiring into the identification or story.

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Dream: African American woman

Over some years now, I have been going to individual Process Work sessions with a local process worker. It has been off and on, and partly to deepen my familiarity with PW and partly to explore my own life.

I have had a nagging dissatisfaction with these sessions for a while now, mainly because of a sense that my process work faciliator is not able to follow the process where it wants to go and unfold. He seems more comfortable with staying at the surface and verbal level. This is obviously a projection – I can find it in myself – but also says something important about him and these sessions.

A few weeks ago, I had a dream where he is replaced with an African American woman. She is able to go exactly where the process wants to unfold, and she has a deep, earthy and heartfelt quality and an embrace wide enough for the whole world as it is. She seems to be a personification of the luminous dark which I continue to experience throughout everything that is, and – in terms of my body – centered in the belly.

Since I had this dream, and guided by the qualities of this African American woman, the process has been able to go where it needs to go, and be seen, felt and loved there. Things are shifting in ways they haven’t before.

Process Work and the one-sided coin

I used to wish that Process Work would include the other side of the coin. PW is great for working with what happens on the form side, but leaves out the emptiness/awareness side. They even interpret terms that refer to Big Mind (form + emptiness) as only referring to what happens in form!

(For instance, “nondual” is sometimes used to refer to a whole that embraces a particular polarity within form. It is fine to use the word that way, of course, but it has little to do with how the terms is used in other traditions.)

As always, the advice is for myself. I am the one who needs to include both, and find a good deal of satisfaction in including and exploring both sides of the coin. (They are really the same, but it makes sense to differentiate them somewhat here.)

And I also see the benefits in PW only relating to the form side. It leaves the space open for me to explore the full coin on my own, and what PW means for me in that context. It may make it more accessible for some. After all, if we (temporarily, mistakenly) take ourselves to be an object within form (experience), it is much easier to relate to an apporach that focuses on form. It leaves space for others – now and in the future – to explore PW in the context of the full coin. Finally, it leaves it free to develop outside of that context and free of that context, and valuable things may come out of it that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

Childhood dream

Most have one or more recurrent childhood dreams. I had the typical one of flying, and a nightmarish one as well.

I climb up the pull-down ladder to the attic. As my upper body enters the attic, I fall. The ladder and floor disappear, and I fall through darkness. Suddenly, below me I see a large cauldron stirred by a witch. She looks up and grins at me.

The pull-down ladder to the attic was in the house I grew up in, and it was always exiting – and a little scary – to climb up it and into the attic. I would wake up before falling into the cauldron, with the image of the witch grinning up at me etched in my mind.

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Earth heart

I am taking a body-symptom class with Arny Mindell, and had an interesting shift during our exercise period yesterday.

Here are some of the main points… (If you are not familiar with vector work, that part of it may not make much sense.)

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Finding the spark

Anything I experience attraction or aversion towards is a guide to something in me I am only seeing out there, aka a projection, aka something that will give me a fuller sense of who I am if I notice that it is already right here, in this life.

When I am out doing things with friends, I sometimes like to ask what did you enjoy the most today?

It is not just a conversation starter, or something to help bring attention to something we can be grateful for. It is also a nudge to notice what we find juicy, where the spark is for us right now. And then to follow that, bring it more into our lives, notice how it already is in our lives.

It is a way to notice more of the wholeness of who we are, through something flirting with us at the edge of who we see ourselves to be.

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Synchronicity: shadow of ethics

I did a brief exploration of the shadow of the Buddhist precepts a few days ago, and it turned out that this was one of the topics of Arny Mindell’s class earlier today.

We each have our personal ethics, whether we are aware of it or not. And as he hinted at, it is meant for ourselves. If we don’t pick it up, it is still around, but we assume it is for others. It is the classic it happens, it can’t be for me, so it must be for everyone else.

Then he talked about the denier of the ethics, both our inner denier and those in groups who take on the role of the denier. This is the voice that asks why, how, when? The voice that criticize and question the ethical guidelines.

How do we relate to this denier? Do we squash it? Disown it? Listen to it? Find the validity of what it has to say? Find a perspective that hold the truth in the initial ethics and the view of the denier? Refine our ethics?

The voice of the denier is essential. It helps us see our ethics, question it, refine it, explore the larger landscape, and much more. It also helps us not get trapped in the shadow of the ethics, disowning in ourselves whatever doesn’t fit with our personal ethics, whether we are conscious of this ethic or not.

One way of exploring this is by noticing our personal ethics as it shows up in daily life, explore the views that criticize it, and then find ourselves as that which holds both. (Process Work has exercises that makes this come alive, and also helps us find our deeper ethics, the ones just emerging, the ones not quite conscious yet.)

Another way is to explore the reversals of our ethics, as I did with the Buddhist precepts. What is the grain of truth in them? In what ways are they sometimes better? What is the gold in these reversals?

What is the gold in the shadow of our ethics?

Embodying turnarounds

I went to a Process Work class today with Arny Mindell, and noticed again how important it is to embody whatever insights come up, to feel it in the body, to act from it, to discover how it moves and talks, to become it with all of me.

And then realized that I can do this with the turnarounds in The Work too. I find a turnaround and take some time finding the truth in it (as usual). Then, I shift into and become the figure (voice, subpersonality) that has that turnaround story, the one who sees the world in that way, and feel how it is to be it, to move as it, to speak as it.

I can also explore what it has to say. How does the world look from that perspective? What insights does it have? How can it help this human self? Does the human self listen to what it has to say? How would it be if this human self lived from it? And finally, after going through all of the turnarounds, shift into the place (figure, voice) that holds all of them, and use each one freely. What does this one have to say?

It may be helpful to go through all of the turnarounds first, in the usual The Work way, and then take the most juicy ones and explore them in this way.

This is an interesting, and possibly useful (or not), way of combining The Work (the four questions and the turnarounds), Process Work (the embodiment, with movements, voice and more), and Voice Dialog/the Big Mind Process (speaking as it, explore questions as it.)

This combines some of the strengths of each: From The Work, its simplicity, its clear structure, and how easy it is to find stressful beliefs to work with. From Process Work, how deeply it is felt. From the Big Mind process, the refinement of the questions and the diverse and in-depth exploration that can take place.

Leave no trace

In Zen and other traditions, they talk about leaving no trace, or the man that casts no shadow or leaves no footprints in the snow.

This can be understood in several ways, and I am probably aware of only a few.

In a worldly sense, it means leaving no trace ecologically and socially. To leave our ecosystems and society to our children and decedents in no worse condition than it was for us. This is the ecological and generational sense of leaving no trace.

It can also mean leaving no trace as a guest, or in one’s own home, in terms of cleaning up after oneself, and here also leave the house in no worse condition than when we entered. This is the politeness sense of leaving no trace.

In a different sense, it can mean leaving no trace in terms of the dynamics and processes of this human self, or those this human self participate in. Instead of resisting these processes, we can allow them fully and even amplify them, seeing where they lead and what they ask of us and have to show us. We could say that this is the Process Work meaning of leaving no trace.

And finally, it can mean leaving no trace in terms of not being caught up in identification with content of awareness, or as Byron Katie says, to not be at war with what is. Identification is released from stories, so also with resistance, which allows the struggle and drama to go out of it. This human self is allowed to live its own life, as it does anyway. This is the nondual sense of leaving no trace.

What is the truth in the reversal of this statement? In what way is leave traces true?

In our human life, we do leave traces. Whatever we do has social and ecological ripple effects, and we are aware of only a very few of them. So by bringing more awareness, information and experience to this, we can aim at producing ripple effects that are more likely – in our best guess – to support life rather than harm it. We leave traces anyway, so why not bring as much attention to it as possible. Why not be a little more consciously engaged.

There is another way of playing with the initial sentence: don’t leave traces of no traces. When I make a big deal out of leaving no trace, then that in itself is leaving a trace. Again, just something to notice.

Psychology & spirituality intertwined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The persistence of zombies


I am pretty wiped out tonight, after some days of sleep deprivation and now with the onset of a cold or something similar.

Walking around the house, I noticed I felt like a zombie, and got curious about how it is to be a zombie. I walked around a little more as a zombie, amplifying the zombie qualities, and found that it was quite pleasant.

I was at a very deep place, deeply relaxed and eqanimious, moving around slowly and persistently. Things get done, in a very relaxed way, slowly and deliberately.

These are all qualities I would like to access more in my life, especially in social and work situations. The deeply relaxed and the deliberate unhurried persistence.

Late afternoon, when I realized I would probably choose to miss the local Jung potluck because of it, I saw the zombie qualities partly as an enemy. It was a problem, a disturbance, something unfortunate happening thwarting my plans.

Then I found some more peace with it, taking it as an opportunity to relax in front of the fireplace with my partner, with some good food and a movie.

And now, I see the deeper gifts in it, of allowing me to feel into and live these zombie qualities tonight, and then bringing it – at times – more into my life in the future in different ways.

How is it to bring this deep relaxation into my daily life, even in the midst of activities? How is it to bring in this methodical persistence to some of my daily activities? (And maybe especially those my personality is not too exited about?)

Journey: rocks

I did a process work session earlier today, and started a process, which I continued on my way home, and then now. (In Process Work, the unfolding can be similar to what is described here, but they also include a more active exploration of the meaning of the process and how to bring it into daily life. When I do it on my own, it tends to unfold easily, but the meaning of it may not surface until much later if at all. Somehow, it still allows for a shift that is sometimes profound.)
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Alchemy: the metals of the world in the process of becoming gold

In an alchemical text (don’t remember which one), it apparently says that all metals in the world are in the process of becoming gold. Translated, it means that everything in us is already in a process of awakening, although it is a very slow process which can be speeded up by various alchemical processes – mainly by bringing the prima materia, the stuff of our lives, into awareness, and then explore, differentiate, and bring it into a more conscious wholeness.

The big picture: awakening to who and what we are

This journey which each part goes through is an aspect of the overall process from unconscious and undifferentiated wholeness, through a split and partial consciousness, through active work and exploration of each aspect and their relationships, to a conscious and differentiated whole.

There is always and already the whole of what we are, and this is eventually noticed in awakening to ourselves as Big Mind. And then there is a conscious and differentiated whole of who we are, as individual human beings and soul, which only comes about through active exploration, by digging into it, living it, working through it, engaging actively in it – gradually healing, developing and maturing as individuals.

Awakening as what we are can happen at any point, and is independent of content, including of how or who we are. But awakening as who we are is a long, gradual process.

At our human level, it is one of individualization, of differentiating and exploring each pole in each polarity, and then the polarity as a whole, of developing and maturing as a human being. At our soul level, it is a process of becoming familiar with ourselves as soul, as alive presence, in all its many facets, and how this influences and transforms who we are as human beings.

Impulses for awakening to who and what we are

It seems that for those who actively explore this process, there is an experience – or realization? – of everything inside and outside of us being an invitation, or an impulse, to awaken more to who and what we are.

Some simple examples of this is active imagination, where any dream or fantasy is a path to bringing aspects of us into awareness, and becoming more familiar with and embracing a polarity in ourselves and our life and not only its separate poles. The same is the case with Process Work, although in a more comprehensive and extended way, where we find that anything in our life, no matter how apparently insignificant, is an impulse towards awakening more to who and what we are. And the same is the case with The Work, where any stress in our life is an invitation to awaken to who (whole process) and what (question #4) we are.

I also notice this when I am just curious about what arises in me, and explore it – allowing it to unfold a little bit.

Example: impulse to death and rebirth

For instance, if this personality has a great deal of resistance to being with a particular experience, I notice an impulse towards death (sounds more dramatic than it necessarily is.) And this impulse can of course be interpreted in different ways by the personality, for instance of wanting the situation (the trigger) to change or go away, or of me to change or go away, or of how I relate to it to change or go away. I want to remove the trigger (by doing something in the world), myself (for instance by distracting myself or going unconscious), or how I relate to it (through working on myself.)

The basic impulse is an impulse towards death, and it can be interpreted in all of these forms, some of which works better than other, and some effects which are more superficial and temporary than others. In this context of anything being an invitation to awakening more to who and what we are, the essence of the impulse is an invitation to allow our limited, and limiting, beliefs and identifications to die.

The stress comes from a discrepancy between our stories of what is and how it should be (all coming from beliefs and identities), so the stress is an invitation to notice this, actively explore our beliefs and identities – through the many ways available – until they soften or fall away on their own.

Of course, this impulse can equally well be seen as an impulse towards life. Any fixed belief and identity limits a sense of aliveness, and when it falls away, there is a sense of liberation and more life.

For me, if there is a great deal of resistance and I get caught up in it, it seems – initially, before working on it, as an impulse to death. And as there is more space and clarity around it, or if there is this space and clarity around it from the beginning, it seems more an impulse to life. They are two aspects of the same process of death (of beliefs and identities) and rebirth (more free from these beliefs and identities.)

Mini Process Work session: from frantically running to embracing heaven and earth

I am sometimes bothered by (what I perceive as) frantic behavior in others, especially when I can’t seem to easily get away from it. I know of course that it is a projection, that I am not fully comfortable with this frantic and fragmented quality in my own life, but this too is something that has to be known in more detail and felt more fully for it to resolve. Sometimes, especially with long standing patterns, it has to be explored over and over, in many different ways, until I can more fully own it, more fully see it as me, more fully find peace with it in myself and others.

This afternoon, I was exposed to this frantic, fragmented energy in somebody again, and decided to try a mini-Process Work session with it (on my own, alone). I went into the frantic quality, and allowed it into movement. My feet started running in place, my head went down and out leading the body, my arms went around in circles like crazy. It felt good to be the quality, although I could also see how it is very fragmented and divorced from any real body-connection and Being Participation (the whole being included).

What caught my interest was especially the frantic and small circling arm movements, almost as a parody of somebody running in a contracted way and very fast. I allowed myself to amplify that movement, and it quickly released into larger circling movements, until the movements became very large, open and inclusive. There was a sense of celebration instead of contraction, and of embracing the whole of heaven and earth.

So hidden within the frantic, contracted state is an impulse to open up, to relax, to bring in my whole being, to embrace heaven and earth.

From this new perspective, I could see how small I make myself when I go into the contracted state, and how unnecessary it seems. There is another way of relating with this frantic energy, and that is to bring in Being Participation (as they say in Breema), to embrace it all and not contract my identity down to the little frantic fragment.

I can see the frantic quality and the contraction in others and myself, and use it as a reminder to find Being Participation. To notice it is already here.

Embracing the wanting-to-change-self/other polarity

How does it look when we embrace both ends of the wanting-to-change-self/other polarity?

One end is to just notice the other as a mirror for myself. Whatever advice comes up is really for myself. And it only takes one, and a good deal of differentiated clarity, to be happy. This is what we do through the The Work, and it does work.

The other end of the polarity is changing the other, or at least wanting and trying to. This can work to some extent, but if this is all we do, it typically brings a great deal of frustration and is not ultimately satisfying.

Including both ends of the polarity

So how does it look when both are included?

Well, I work with the projections, find some clarity, see that the advice is for myself and take my own advice, and resolve the struggle right here.

At the same time, I may talk about it with the other person.

:: Reading our judgements about the other to the other

For instance, in The Work, we write a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on the other person, and then read it to her or him (if she/he is receptive!)

And what we find, most or nearly all of the time, is that what one person wants for the other (a projection, when it has a charge) is what that person actually wants for her/himself. For each of us, we both want the same. There is no difference there.

So the gift is triple (or more): The person writing and reading the worksheet get to become more familiar with their advice for the other (judgments) and apply the advice to themselves. The person listening gets to see that they – most often, want the same for themselves. And it certainly relieves shadow-pressures in the relationship, and opens for a deeper sense of intimacy.

:: Picking up a dream process in the other

In Process Work, there is a very similar process.

As a facilitator, I may pick up something “in the field” and bring it out through words or movement, and see how the other responds. Whatever I pick up about the other, may be something that wants to come out in them. I may be dreamed up by the other and our shared field, to bring it up and into the open. And the feedback from the other tells me if it is really about the other, or just about me.

So by noticing what comes up in me and bringing it out in the open, I offer the other the gift of seeing if it is also in them. On my end, I will of course relate to it in my own way, so it is also a gift for myself.

They burnt me at the stake: stories as mirrors mainly

I read a news article about a psychologist in Norway getting in hot water for using regression therapy, using stories of apparent past lives to get at what is alive right now.

According to the news article, he had told his client that she had been burnt at the stake in a past life, which would explain some of her problems in this life.

Problems with seeing the story as real

Of course, the problem here comes if the therapist and/or the client actually see these stories as somehow real, if they add another story saying that this is what really happened.

At the very least, it can be a sidetrack and distraction, taking focus away from the story as a reflection of what is very much alive right now.

The client may get weirded out in believing it is really a story about a past life, or that the therapist thinks so. This can possibly get the client in trouble, amplifying the initial problem and the apparent solidity of the stories around it. And it can also, for good reasons, get the therapist in trouble. This is apparently what happened in this case.

Any story as a mirror

Any story is a reflection of what is very much alive right now, they are mirrors. And this is independent of their apparent source: waking life, dreams, daydreaming, fantasies, active imagination, regression therapy, movies, books, religions, science.

They reflect what is alive in us right now, especially if they have a charge for us, small or big or any flavor.

And there are many ways to explore these mirrors.

Ways to using stories as a starting point for inquiry

In The Work, I identify a stressful belief triggered by the story and inquire into it. They shouldn’t have burnt me at the stake. What is the turnaround? I shouldn’t burn me at the stake. Yes, that feels more true. I am the one doing it, daily, over and over. I burn myself at the stake.

In the Big Mind process, I explore dynamics among some of the voices related to the story. I was burnt at the stake. I can explore the voice of the body, of self-preservation, the protector, vulnerability, victim, perpetrator, helplessness, impermanence, and then look at it all from some of the transcendent voices such as Big Heart and Big Mind.

In Process Work, I can unfold the process behind the initial images and story and see where it goes, following the bread crumbs back home to wholeness.

In active imagination, I interact with whatever characters are there, asking them what their role is, responding differently to the situations and see where the story goes now.

In all of these ways, the initial story becomes an access point into exploring what is alive right now, bringing it into awareness, allowing the knots to unravel.

Cravings, Addictions & The Hole

I talked with a friend yesterday about cravings and addictions, and what we are trying to get out of those addictions.

Working within the relative

On a relative level, and when there is a sense of I, addictions can be seen as a strategy to meet a need, and if that need is clarified, it may be possible to find other strategies that can meet it in a more effective and fulfilling way.

Process Work is one way to explore this. Sometimes, what is uncovered makes good sense. Other times, it may not make much sense but still work. For instance, I explored my sugar craving a while back, ended up with a movement that filled the same need as the sugar, and the sugar craving fell away (mostly). The movement is a jump up and down, similar to the dance of the Masai warriors. On the surface, there seems to be no connection to eating sugar. But from the inside, in my experience, it gives the same effects as eating sugar does, in an even more fulfilling way.

Working within the relative can be very helpful. Yet, we are still only shuffling around the content. Moving the pieces so they find a relationship to each other that seems to work a little better. It is a temporary and incomplete fix, at best.


From a more ultimate view, it seems that any craving, any addiction, any sense of need, any sense of lack, comes from a mistaken identity. And it will not be resolved until what is awakens to its own nature, with no I anywhere.

What is is the context and content of awareness here now. And the context can be a sense of I, placed on something in the content, or it can be realized selflessness.

When there is a sense of I, placed on a segment of the content, there is immediately a sense of I and Other, of lack, of needs, of something missing. And we try to fill this hole through rearranging the content to the best of our ability, through partners, food, substances, music, entertainment, status, money. Or, if we are more sophisticated, through working on ourselves, our human self, but still just rearranging content.

It may work to some extent, it may work for a while. But ultimately, it does not resolve the sense of lack, of something missing, of something not being complete.

The only release from this discontent is through awakening. Through what is awakening to its own nature, of no I anywhere.

Needs as an attempt to find home

From this perspective, any sense of need is an attempt to find home. Any craving, addiction, need, want, is a sincere attempt to escape the confines of seeing oneself as separate, and find home in realized selflessness. It is a sincere and innocent attempt, although ultimately futile.

The only way to find home is for what is to realize that there is no I anywhere, and the way for this to happen is to set the stage for it to happen, to prepare the ground, for instance through meditation, prayer and inquiry.

Suction, Emptiness & Surrender

I did a Process Work session with myself on a combined feeling of (a) gripping on my shoulders and (b) a sense of emptiness in the stomach/solar plexus region. The gripping has a sense of pushing to it as well, having me lean forward and slouch a little. And the emptiness has a sense of void and suction to it.

Going into it further, I see that the gripping/pushing is pushing me into the emptiness, the void, in the stomach region. I become the gripper/pusher, and want him (my usual identity) to vanish into the emptiness there. And as the void, I see that I pull him into me – allowing him to vanish completely in emptiness.

Going into this vanishing in/as the void, there is first a sense of trepidation, and then tremendous relief. There is a full surrender here, a full letting go, a full vanishing of any resistance – including the resistance of wanting to be someone or something. Everything is let go of. Nothing is left.

And this emptiness then turns into fullness, the fullness of this human self and the rest of the world as it is, although now with an absence of resistance – including the resistance of having any particular identity. Surrender to what is through absence of resistance and identity.

There is a sense of tremendous freedom here. A freedom of allowing everything to be just as they are. A freedom of not having an identity as someone or something. A freedom from resistance.

Lack & Void *

I am enjoying reading The Void by A. H. Almaas, where he outlines a process of: sense of lack > experience of hole in body image > awareness of space > awareness of the emptiness of space > awareness of the fullness of space.

Space is often initially experienced as “other” and the experience of it is resisted, then after resistance falls away or is reduced, space is more immediate and still “other”, then – the process of dissolving conventional identity starts, space may be experienced as “I”, and eventually there may be just the emptiness and fullness of space with no I anywhere.

This is of course a variation of what mystics from many traditions say: our conventional sense of emptiness, lack of meaning, or lack in general, is a yearning for awakening – for finding ourselves as not lacking anything.

Somewhere, there is the knowing of what we are. Yet, our conventional identity prevents us from seeing this. Everything we are which does not fit into this identity is placed “out there” by a story added onto it. And in the awakening, we see that we already have – or rather are – everything we are looking for.

All of this – the nature of who (or rather what) we are – is already alive in our immediate experience. We already know ourselves as it. But then we place a number of stories on top of it, creating an identity of an isolated “I”, an identity of this not that, and it is temporarily obscured. So no wonder there is the conventional sense of lack and emptiness. We are missing a conscious knowing of who we already are, in our fullness. We consciously know ourselves only as a little fragment of what we are, although the rest is right there under our noses. As the Sufis say, we are like a fish looking for the water – which is already there surrounding it.

Simply said, we are everything arising right now – in this very moment, absent of I anywhere. This is the divine mind, Buddha Mind, Spirit, emptiness dancing, right here already. Right under our noses, yet appearing so far away when there is the holding onto an identity of “I” as a fragment of this.

I also find it interesting how Almaas is using an approach in unfolding the initial, conventional sense of lack and emptiness into an awareness of ourselves as space. It is very similar to the unfolding process in Process Work, although PW has not (yet) gone quite as far into the nondual. They are still at the edge of it, exploring the edge in different ways, peeking occasionally over at the other side, curious about it. (They seem to be at the edge as a group, individuals may well go further).

Making Good Use of Samsara **

Writing down some of these Process Work processes, I am reminded of what Byron Katie said somewhere: As long as we think there is I and Others, we may as well make good use of it (paraphrased).

One way of making good use of it is The Work. Another is Process Work. And then there is the Big Mind process and other approaches as well.

Before awakening to selflessness, they help us align more with this awakening and prepare the ground for it and for living from it.

And after the awakening, they may still be useful and helpful in exploring the dynamics of the Relative world in general, and this bodymind in particular. As long as we have this vehicle we may as well get to know it better and fine tune its functioning in the world of phenomena.

Pressure Washer Qualities *

Since I went to a Process Work seminar today, I found it easy to fall into Process Work mode throughout the day. Sitting outside at the Amtrak station tonight, waiting for the train, I heard a very loud pressure washer start up just behind me. It went on for quite a while.

Normally, this is something that I experience as Other and a disturbance, and I would probably have walked away to find a more quiet place. But this time I looked for the qualities of the pressure washer, which to me was raw and very focused efficiency. And I saw how those are qualities I want to bring more into my own life.

Sitting with this for a little while, allowing it to sink in, I noticed how my experience of the pressure washer changed. From being a potential annoyance, it now became quite pleasant. It was a reminder of what I want to bring more of into my own life.

And finding it in myself, there was not such a difference between inner and outer anymore, or rather here and there. They mirrored each other beautifully.

I also saw how this process – of bringing focused efficiency more into my daily life, even in small dosages, reflects my dream some days back of travelling with less padding. I am ready to shed some padding and function more as a mountain terrain – and as I need to in a mountain terrain, with raw efficiency.

Straight & Shaky

Whenever I am on a bus or train, which sometimes happens several times a week, I tend to either write in my journal or make notes in a book I am reading. And often, it seems to be a struggle between my intention of writing clearly and the shakiness of the bus or train.

On the train tonight, I did a brief Process Work session on this for myself…

Freedom from having to hold onto it

I took the role of the shakiness, and first saw that it was an invitation to just experience without having to write it down. Writing it down can be somewhat compulsive for me, and just staying with the experience is freeing, liberating and allows me to marinate in the experience more fully.

Maybe even more importantly, it allows me a freedom from having to hold onto whatever insight is coming up. To allow it to pass through as anything else. To allow it its own life. To surrender to impermanence in this particular way.

Seeing this was helpful, but I could also see that there was something more there.

Finding a stable center

Then, I explored the dynamics between my intention of writing clearly and neatly, and the shakiness which hijacked that intention. The shakiness was clearly an Other and a disturbance for me here, thwarting my conscious intention of and identity as someone who writes relatively neatly (or at least wants to). So writing neatly is my conscious identity and primary process, and the shaking is perceived as Other and is the primary process.

From this, I saw my curiosity and interest in holding a center in spite of the shaking, to find a stable center in the midst of a challenging situation, to find a stable rudder in the choppy seas, to be unshakable within the shakiness. This seemed more juicy than the first layer.

Shakiness and stability together

Beyond this, I saw how the stability and shakiness together made for something that to me seemed even more interesting and juicy. Each alone is relatively one-dimensional and predictable, but together something far more multidimensional and interesting arises.

Stability gives direction and clarity, yet can also be boring and somewhat dead after a while. And shakiness is certainly alive, yet also tends to be chaotic and random.

Together, there is a dance between the intention and the chaos, the human and nature, civilization and rawness, which I find far more intriguing.

All together

Each of these were valuable insights, and each provides something I want to bring more into my daily life – even if it is just in a small amount.

I can take times where I don’t write anything down. Where I allow myself the freedom from having to hold onto insights. Where I can allow space for just experiencing.

I can find a stable center even in shaky situations in my daily life. Instead of going into drama, I can take a breath, come to my body or Big Mind, and allow myself that calm within a difficult situation.

And I can allow myself to enjoy the interaction between my conscious intentions and what life serves up for me. Instead of seeing it as a disturbance, I can look for the beauty that can come out of the dance between the two. I will work with both anyway, so I may as well find ways to enjoy it and find some playfulness in it.


Whenever I do Process Work, Big Mind, Inquiry or Breema, I notice that each of them is a gateway into the same deeper process and dynamics, and also particular commonalities among them.

This is not surprising, but it does give a nice sense of triangulation – or a certain cross-training as they talk about in integral practice (although areas like diet, water, energies, social/ecological engagement and so on are left out of that particular list).

The Work and Process Work

For instance, I noticed today how question number 1,2,3 and 4 in The Work is similar to exploring the edge between primary and secondary processes in Process Work (our conscious identity and that which is there and not yet conscious yet).

And the turnarounds in The Work is similar to exploring the secondary process itself, that which was over the edge from our conscious identity.

And in both, there is an emphasis on living the turnarounds/secondary process, to bring it into our daily life, even if it is just a drop of for now.

Dream :: Visit

I am visiting the person I am going to for Process Work sessions. He has a beautiful two story house – the exterior is weathered wood, and the interior is unpainted and some stained wood.

Everything is in excellent taste, from the house itself to the furniture and decor. It is all simple, natural, earthy, and yet refined and sophisticated.

I admire his book shelves and the collection of books. His two teenage sons come through. His partner is serving us lunch.

Well, this one has a clear surface meaning for me.

I am extremely attracted to just that combination of the simple and earthy, and the refined and sophisticated. And also the combination of book-learning and life itself – partner and kids.

It feels whole. Integrated. Spanning the ends of the polarities.

The Tao of Big Cats

Today was the final day of Arny Mindell’s dreamwork class at the Process Work center.

Each time, we practice a particular approach to dreamwork, and what unfolded for me today is an example of how many aspects of what is alive for me – and has been alive over the last weeks and in some cases for years – all come together in one pattern. It is all one process, unfolding. And Process Work helps me glimpse that process in various ways, sometimes through apparent fragments here and there and sometimes through seeing the larger patterns.

The dreamwork

The process we explored today had the following steps…

  1. The facilitator finds the line of his/her Big U
  2. We engaged in warm, informal small-talk around…
    • What has come up recently that I don’t like: For me, it is in particular the responses among certain people of the killing of al-Zarqawi in Iraq. The cheering and applauding of a murder. There is profound disgust coming up in me when I see that. First, those killing him do exactly what they accuse him of doing – killing in cold blood. Then, they applaud it. There is something profoundly inhumanity that, profoundly confused.
    • What is come up that I like and/or am fascinated by: A friend of mine went to see Amma last Sunday evening in Seattle. She told me that when she received the hug, it was as if her heart exploded in infinite peaces, and since then she has directly experience everything and everyone as love. She has an immediate experience of the essence of all there is as love. Seeing her, this change was very obvious to me too, and deeply touching.
    • Current issue: what to do with money in relation to Breema, The Work, Process Work and so on. How can I practically navigate so I can make money on my passions?
    • A recent dream: Jen was told by the Breema Center that she could not attend their intensive because (a) she did not have enough prior hours and (b) she did embody the Breema atmosphere sufficiently. As we were leaving, one of the staff said that when Jen hugged her earlier that day, she was blown away by how profoundly alive the Breema atmosphere was in the hug. It didn’t come through when Jen was consciously trying to manifest it, but it came through just by her being herself giving a hug.
  3. The facilitator followed his own process. What came up for him was a lion roaring and hunting, and then yawning and relaxing. The yang and the yin of being a lion.
  4. We talked about this, and I saw how this fitted into a pattern coming up in my life over and over.
    • I associate lions with power, smoothness, deep confidence, comfort, no hesitation, being fully themselves in their yang and yin modes, and able to switch from ferociousness to deep relaxation in a moment. These are all qualities I want to bring more out in my life.
    • The yang mode of lions came out for me as a roar and a swift swing with the right paw. I can see how this is the killing without remorse. The killing which is just what lions do. What I despised in those rejoicing in the killing of the Iraqi guy is exactly what I want (although in a different form).
    • The yin mode of lions is related to the hugging – one hug blowing the heart open, the other profoundly transmitting the Breema atmosphere. It is relaxed, deeply comfortable, deeply loving.

Other things that came up later on…

  • Over the last few weeks, a childhood dream has been coming up for me again (during waking hours). I dreamt I encountered a black panther in the jungle of South America, and experienced a deep, profound connection with this animal. There was a profound wisdom there, deep cat qualities, and a sense of belonging and coming home. The panther was me, although me in a form I was not connected with in my daily life – and still am not as much as deeply as I am invited to.

    As I mentioned this to my partner, in response to his cat images, I saw a black leather purse on a chair in my sightline. It said “Puma” in large golden letters and had a puma logo.

    These days, when this dream comes up again, I see that I want the black panther more in my life. The power, wisdom, smoothness, confidence, ability to switch from ferociousness to deep relaxation in a moment.

  • This also relates to an irritability which sometimes come up since my initial awakening in the teens. An irritability of seeing (some) people’s lack of awareness, lack of clarity, and a deep wish to shake them out of it. Shake them into clarity and awareness. But how? The lion and the black panther don’t ask how. They know. They do. They see that the question “how” is just an excuse for holding back.

    This is the yang compassion. Cutting through. Ferocious. Without mercy. Yet deeply connected and compassionate. It is what comes out when I follow what is true for me in the moment.

    And of course, the irritability has to do with wanting to shake me out of my trance, out of my dullness. Shaking me out of holding myself back through asking the question “how”, when I already know. In the absence of how, I know. I know.

    There will always be room for improvement, for exploring and developing skillful means. Yet, it is perfect. That is the lion quality. That is the quality of the black panther.

  • The dullness I want to shake myself out of has also come up in my awareness over the last few weeks and months. There is a dullness there, a deadening, a holding back, fuzziness. I have consciously embraced it, welcomed it in, befriended it, and seen some of the gifts in it.

    And I also see how this fuzziness has to do with holding back from the yang Big Cat qualities. I tell myself I don’t know how, and veil myself in fuzziness. Shaking myself out of that dullness, becoming the panther, there is knowing.

  • I explored the yang Big Cat qualities further with Jen for a few minutes when I came back, and came more on the inside of the rawness and clarity of it. The cutting directly to the meat. Literally in the case of the cats. It is like coming home.


The world is my mirror – whether I find myself as human beings and/or as Big Mind.

As a human being, whatever I see out there reflect myself in here.

And as Big Mind, everything arising is me.

Resistance to what is

When I resist this, there is pain. It is the signal that I am excluding in my mind something that is inherently a part of what is and myself.

And resistance comes up when I attach to a thought, as any thought by necessity is different from and more limited than what is.

In other words, when I attach to a thought, I immediately create an exclusive identity, which has to be painful as it conflicts with my nature which is beyond and including any and all polarities.

What is – free from descriptions

What is is – and I am – inherently beyond and including existence and nonexistence, spirit and matter, formless and form, seer and seen, awakened and deluded, living and nonliving, life and death, culture and nature, mind and body, right and wrong, and so on.

What is is – and I am – inherently free from all this. Any name describe me, yet I am free from any name.

Mechanisms of pain

As a human being, the pain comes in many ways.

It comes from a limited repertoire. I am invited to bring out more of my qualities, yet don’t because I am not familiar with them yet or exclude them through holding onto a limited identity.

The pain is also there due to a sense of separation. I see qualities out there and not in here, and the other way around. I see myself as a separate entity. I see myself as variously better and/or worse than what I see out there. I get caught up in seeking something and avoiding other things, in my internal and external life. I get caught up in blind identifications. I get caught up in struggle.

Not seeing in myself what I see out there gives rise to pain in innumerable ways.

At the level of Big Mind, the pain simply comes from separation – from the appearance of I and Other in the field of what is, inherently absent of any I or Other.


So no wonder we have found many ways to help ourselves heal this split in our experience of what is, this fictional life bringing about pain.

  • Being with
    The simplest approach is to just be with whatever is happening. I just ask myself Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? I am with whatever is happening, including the impulse to resist and push something away. And in that way, I befriend whatever is happening. The ficitional boundary between this particular form of I and Other dissolve.

  • Welcoming in
    Going a little furhter, I can actively embrace and welcome in whatever is arising. I see them as lost children wanting attention and warmth, and provide it for them.

  • Inquiry
    Then there are the many forms of inquiry, including The Work. Here, I examine attachments to thoughts and allow them to unravel – and the resistance with them. What appeared as an Other and a disturbance (or worse) is now revealed as a friend. What arises may be the same (or not) but the charge went out of it.

  • Process Work
    In Process Work, I unravel the process behind whatever is happening in the external or internal world. I follow the bread crumbs, and find the gift behind it. In this way too, anything happening becomes a friend – an invitation into exploring aspects of the world and myself that is new to me, and allowing boundaries to dissolve.

  • Giving it over to the divine
    And I can give it over to the divine. That is where it is anyway, so I am really just giving over my experience of myself as an individual separate doer. Everything is living its own life anyway, and this is another reminder.

  • Asking for it to resolve
    As a more active version of the previous one, I can ask for resolution in whatever way it needs to resolve.

    I may also ask to see whatever I need to see for it to resolve. I may ask for whatever in me that needs to unravel to unravel. I may ask for harvesting of whatever gifts and nutrients are in it.

    I see that holding an intention in this way – precise and open ended at the same time – creates a sense of a field within which this unraveling can take place.

From Content to Context

In many practices, we use content (the world of phenomena) as a springboard into context (a sense of I or realization of selflessness). We explore content, which leads us into exploring context.

This seems to be the case for…

  • Process Work
    Typically with an emphasis of content, but within a – yet slightly fuzzy – context of selflessness (it seems that the selflessness part is more coming into focus).

  • The Big Mind Process
    This approach uses explorations of content (personal voices) to see that they are inherently without any I. And we also go directly to an exploration of selflessness (Big Mind) to familiarize ourselves with that, and have a taste of it.

  • The Work
    Byron Katie’s inquiry process is content focused (examining our beliefs, the effects of their presence and absence, and turning it around), yet brings us into a taste and then realization of selflessness. It seems that from exploring typical surface beliefs – such as she should …, I need … and so on, we move to exploring the more core beliefs – the initial stories spawning all the other stressful ones – such as I am a human being and I am.

Using content to bring us into explorations of context only makes sense. It is after all where most of us start from, what we are already familiar with, and journeys typically starts from where we are at (!)

Directly to context

Of course, we are already at the context of selflessness as well, although we don’t notice it. So some practices focus on this as well, such as Headlessness and some Dzogchen practices. Here, we just notice what is already there – the absence of any I anywhere. We notice, gradually become more familiar with it, gradually learn to trust it, gradually allow the realization to dawn.


On my way to the dreamwork course with Arny Mindell today, I noticed spaciness. I had a story about it – that it came from a combination of being sleep deprived and eating certain foods. And I also noticed that if I resisted it, if I saw it as an Other, it became a disturbance. It brought about a sense of discomfort, self-consciousness, rigidity, wanting to be on my own, concern about interacting with people, and so on.

If the resistance went away and I welcomed the spaciness as a friend, it took a very different form. Now, it became an invitation to be more free, receptive, flowing, comfortable, dissolving the sense of separate self, and seeing the magic in the world.

During the class, I had an opportunity to work on this further, and saw how it connected with my amnesia dream some weeks back, and many other things that has been coming up for me over the last few weeks and months – both in dreams and waking life.

It is just another reminder of how our lives is one single process (as apparent individuals, and also collectively and as the world of form as a whole). In this case, unfolding the process behind the spaciness touched upon a wide range of “symptoms” from recent months.

It all seems to have to do with (a) generally the difference between resistance (creating an Other and the appearance of a disturbance) and befriending (allowing it to share its gifts), and (b) specifically the gifts in spaciness – the space, freedom, flow, fluidity and nonlinearity of it.

Not surprisingly, working on this symptom of spaciness, my sense of being tired went away and alertness came in instead – still within the spaciness. There can be precision, functionality and linearity alongside with space, fluidity, flow, receptivity and nonlinearity. Right now, it seems that I am invited into bringing both more fully into my life – to explore how it is to live from the larger whole which holds both.

Dreamwork :: Amnesia **

A dream from a few days back, May 5, 2006.

Aristocrat with Amnesia

I was a young man from a wealthy family – wealthy in any sense of the word: money, culture, education, general interest in the world. But I had amnesia. I could not remember my name, where I lived, my family and friends, or anything else. I didn’t want anyone to know, but was also helpless due to the absence of knowledge.

When I woke up, I noticed that there was still some resistance to this, but also a clear willingness to go into it more fully. I used Byron Katie’s turnaround for no. 6, I am willing to be this young man with amnesia, I am looking forward to being this young man with amnesia. I am looking forward to not knowing anything.

Vector work

I explored this dream also tonight, again using the vector approach from Process Work.

First, I walked the line representing me in the dream, having a background of wealth yet with amnesia.

Then, I continued by walking the line representing my life of wealth in the dream, my life where there are stories, labels, names, locations, and so on.

Finally, I walked the line from the starting point to the ending point, the third side of the triangle, the line representing the sum of the two other lines, or rather that which holds and embraces them both.

I saw how this line is functional, able to live a daily life and using stories, yet also free from it all, coming from a context of not knowing, free from any belief in any story.

Looking at the two other lines from this third line, I saw that the initial – amnesia – line is free from stories, it is not knowing, yet also not functional in the world. I also saw that the second line – my conventional life in the dream – was functional yet not free, it was somewhat stuck, rigid and narrow.

Together, there is functionality and complete freedom. There is the life and engagement in the world, and the ability to use stories and labels as practical tools. And there is complete freedom from all of this, an absence of any belief in any story.

I also see how this resolution is very similar to what emerged from the death dream mentioned in the previous post.

Initial notes (from May 5)

All of this has to do with the dullness and forgetting which seems to be part of the dark night of the soul. It has been there for a while, but the noticing – in dreams and when I wake up – is coming up more strongly now. It seems to invite me to accept it as it is, to welcome it. To see, notice, welcome, become, be, live it. It is already there, but pushed away in the past. Now is the time to welcome it in more fully. To allow the boundary to dissolve.

It strikes me that this can be seen in two different ways, or that it has two aspects. One is the coming to terms with the dullness and flatness of the dark night phase. And the other is to become a man with no past and no future, and not knowing anything. Both feels OK to me. After so long time of struggling with it, I see that I can now more fully embrace both.

Dreamwork :: Dead **

A dream from March 23 this year (while in Berkeley).

I died, but am still around.

Others can see, hear and touch me, and I can see, hear and touch them, so the interactions are much as before. The main difference is that we all appreciate the preciousness of life and our connections much more, and are closer and more loving.

Still, we are all a little puzzled by what happened. I have the appearance of my usual body, and function similar to before, but am also obviously dead. Others want to know what advice I have for them, and all I can find is to live life too the fullest while the opportunity is here, without too many worries. To experience the fullness of life, while it is here.

There is also a sense of a process. The death had happened, yet is also in process. A process of bringing it to completion.

Vector work

I explored this dream further tonight, using the vector work from Process Work.

First, I walked the line of me in the dream – dead yet still interacting with people.

Then, I walked the line of the others in the dream, the living.

Finally, I walked the third line of the triangle – from the starting point (of the first line) to the end point (of the second line) – the line which (literally) is the sum of both, or rather is embracing and holding both.

This line holds the timelessness of being dead, being outside of time, and with an absence of worries. It also holds time and our conventional and daily lives, the lives of the living.

It is engaged, immersed in human life, unfolding within time and space. Yet it also have the qualities of being outside of time, of the timeless, of the absence of worry.

Looking at the initial line (me in the dream) from this third line, I see how it is outside of time and absent of fear. It is even in communication with the living, yet also somehow on the outside. Not fully engaged.

Looking at the second line (the others in the dream) from the third line, I see how the living are wrapped up in the minutia of daily living, caught up in worries about everything from how to fix the sink to finding their path and awaken. They do not have the freedom that comes with already being dead, and the timeless.

Together, there is full immersion and engagement, yet within the context of the timeless and an absence of worries.

I also see that my advice to the living in the dream – to not worry, to live their life fully without worrying too much – is really the integration of the two dream elements. This advice is the third line, and it is of course really to me. It is what I need to hear. It is what I am invited to bring more into my life now.

Initial notes (from March 23)

This is a very interesting dream to me, and two things comes up.

This reflects the realization of selflessness. I died to any sense of separate I, but was still around and functioning as before. The dream seems to show that this has already happened. There has been a clear enough seeing of the absence of “I”, for instance during the weeks last fall when it “popped”, and there is also a process of allowing everything to soak in it allowing it to take effect.

A minor aspect is the sense of deadening which came through the dark night phase. This seems to be at its tail end, fluctuating more with a familiar sense of fullness and excitement. From being in this dryness and flatness, there is a desire for a fuller and deeper sense of aliveness and an appreciation for life and sense of preciousness of life.

Active imagination following the dream brought up a process of becoming nothing, so that what is (life, Existence, God, Buddha Mind, Brahman) can become everything. This is very similar to the meet the symptom maker experiment mentioned in a previous post.

Current Symptoms

It is tempting to go to ideas of what to work on, in for instance the Big Mind process, The Work, and Process Work. We have an idea of a “big” issue for us, and want to dive into it. And that is fine.

But it also seems that the alive symptoms are an easier gateway into what the universe invites us to explore and see. It may be a back ache, the neighbor’s dog barking, rain when we wanted to go to a picknick, a project falling through and so on. Anything in everyday life that bugs us, that shows up as a disturbance, as an unvanted Other.

Following these everyday alive symptoms, we may even find that they lead us right into the “big” issues in our life. Although in a much more alive, dynamic and easy way than going to our ideas for guidance.

When something wants to be seen, it comes up in a myriad forms in our daily life. Any one of them can serve as a portal.

Process Work, Big Mind Process, Dreams & Mirrors

During the dreamwork class at the Process Work center today, I was reminded of the many connections between PW, my own experiences and worldview, and the many other approached I am interested in – including the Big Mind process and Byron Katie’s inquiry, in addition to Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, shamanism, and so on.

Process Work & Big Mind process

Arny Mindell talked about the small me and big me several times, which has a close correspondence to Big Mind and the human self in the Big Mind process. I can see how he is on the edge of radical nonduality in his views, radical selflessness, radical absence of any fixed identity, playing at the edge of it before taking the plunge.

World as a mirror

I was also reminded of how I – since my teens – have seen the world and dreams: Both are there as mirrors for myself. Every quality I see “out there” – in the world, in others, in the universe, in stories, in dreams and so on – are also “in here”. As a human being, I can find in myself everything I see out there. And as Big Mind, there is no separate “I” – there is just one field, all I.

Every situation, be it in waking life or in dreams, are there to help me see this. To first expand my conscious identity, and then see how any identity is limited, limiting and just a belief in an abstraction. Every situation is here, inviting me to realize what already is – the absence of any separate I.

As my identity expands, my repertoire expands as well and I become more fluid in my life. But it is still limited, there is still a belief in abstractions, there is still I and Other, there is still the belief in the idea of “I”. There is still a resistance to what is, although it may appear subtle. There is still a delusion, still a mistaken identity. Still stuckness. Still suffering.

When the belief in the idea of “I” falls away, in the realization of selflessness and Ground awakening, the last bit of resistance falls away with it. Everything happens, revealed as without any inherent I anywhere.

Dream :: Swelling Ocean **

Dream, May 18

I was at the coast, and our house were up on top of an embankment of boulders and cement. The ocean swelled and the waves came higher, although not quite up to the house. My wife and brother were there. I was initially concerned for the house and ourselves, but then saw that the house seemed safe and that I was OK as well. My brother fell into the waves, and I jumped in and rescued him.

Immediate reflections

This dream may be about feeling overwhelmed – by all the hangups I see in myself, all the beliefs to inquire into, my situation and all decisions to make to untangle myself from this quagmire. The ocean swells, washing up to the foundation of my house. Someone almost drown. Although I was able to save him anyway.


I went to the first of four afternoons on dreamwork with Arny Mindell at the Process Work center in Portland today, and had a chance to work on this dream using the vector technique.

I first walked the direction of myself in the dream (small me), then the direction of the most compelling dream image (the swelling ocean), and then the line from the starting point to the end point (which is the sum of the two initial lines – small me and the ocean together).

Walking the third line – from starting point to end point, the line of the sum of small me and the ocean, the line of big me (or rather Big Mind) – I saw…

First, how I – as small me – shrunk in the situation, into seeing myself as small, limited, a victim of the ocean, separate, alien from the ocean.

Then, seeing small me and the ocean together, I saw how there is the very real opportunity of opening up for both – for connection. I can find the ocean in myself, and thus not be afraid of its external manifestations – and know how to flow with it and respond to it. I can find the larger whole which embraces both (Big Mind and then Integrated Free Functioning Self). I can find the Dao, which is the larger whole expressing itself as small me and the ocean both – in one fluid seamless process.

And finally, I saw how the dream pushed me into this third line – this combination of small me and the swelling ocean – by having my brother fall into the waves and me jumping after him to save him. The patterns of holding back are just a ghost these days, just old habits not needed anymore, and this – the dream + this vector work – is what it took to have me see that, or at least have a glimpse of it.

Further notes

Now, a few days later (May 25), what stays with me from this dream is how I already know how to deal with the swelling and dramatic ocean – I know how it functions from the inside, there is no separation between us yet there is also room for distinction, I know how to flow and roll with it, yet also taking care of myself and others. I am fluid enough with it to even save others within it.

At the same time, I see how my habitual pattern is to stay back. To stay more passive being concerned about it. To not jump into it until I am nudged or pushed into it – although when this nudge comes, I do it without much or any hesitation.

The ocean is life – my life, human life, Earth life, this universe, Existence. It is the Dao. It is the form aspect of Big Mind. It is the dancing of emptiness.

And I am familiar enough with it now to dance with it, to flow and engage with the Dao, to jump into and find myself as the rolling and swelling ocean – and my human self at the same time, able to engage with others.

Harvesting the Nutrients

In any stressful experience, there is a gift – there are nutrients there, ready to nurture our life if we are available to them.

In my experience, if I just use a regular mindfulness practice – coming to my breath or the movements of the body when I notice getting caught up in a hangup – it works in the short term, giving me some relief and reminding me of who I would be without the story. But it also seems to miss something in the longer run. Until the nutrients are harvested, until the gift is received, it seems to just come up again – over and over. Something wants to be seen, and until it is – it will return.

I am sure there are innumerable very effective ways of harvesting these nutrients. Some that work for me are…

  • The Big Mind process
    Exploring in detail the dynamic behind what is happening, including the polarities (complementary/opposite) voices at a personal level and the transcendent voices.

  • Byron Katie’s inquiries
    Exploring in detail what the belief is behind the stress, what happens when I believe that thought, who I would be without it, and integrating projections and loosening up the belief through exploring the various turnarounds.

  • Process Work
    Allowing the process behind the symptom (in this case stress) to unfold, revealing its message and gift, and absorbing this.

  • Shikantaza (sitting practice)
    Allowing it all to unfold within awareness, living its own life as it does anyway. Allowing resistance to even resistance to fall away. Allowing even the fueling of thoughts to unfold within space as everything else.

  • Can I be with what I am experiencing? (daily life)
    Again, allowing it all to unfold within awareness, living its own life.


Another topic that keeps coming up for me…

We can be driven. In Voice Dialogue, Process Work and other approaches, this is seen as something in us pushing us. There is a voice or a figure pushing us. And there is an element of compulsion, obsessiveness, and lack of freedom in this. It is somewhat contracted.

There can be an apparent absence drive. From the Byron Katie inquiries, it can be seen as coming from beliefs holding us back, draining us of energy and passion. In a way, this too is a drive although towards lack of engagement. Or, it can probably also happen in an awakening process where the drive has dropped away and something else has not yet taken its place.

And there can be an absence of drive in a conventional sense, and the presence of engagement and passion. In the awakening process, this deepens as (a) the neurotic drives are seen through and erode and (b) there is a new passion and engagement from the realization of selflessness, of it all as Ground manifesting, and of rehumanizing and deepening compassion.

So when we are caught up in beliefs in ideas, including the idea of I, there can be drive or lack of drive – both with a lack of freedom and a sense of compulsiveness. When these beliefs are seen through, there is a renewed engagement and passion – free from compulsiveness, free from any sense of I and Other. It is just emptiness dancing, the divine mind naturally and effortlessly manifesting throgh and as our human life. There is a sense of ease and simplicity in this, far beyond any conventional ease and simplicity.

In real life, it is of course often more interwoven than this. Drives and awakening may well co-exist in different variations.

Have to do it, and have to not do it

I facilitated a process work session with a friend tonight, around her sugar addiction.

Process work session

We followed a step-by-step Process Work framework to exploring addiction and addictive tendencies, starting with her imagining eating sugar and experiences the effects of it in her body and otherwise. She got very tired and heavy, and ended up face-down on the floor, feeling a weight on her. I added to the weight to amplify the experience. We then switched roles, I lying on the floor with a weight on me, and she was the weight – relaxed, not pushing down. Again, we switched and I was a relaxed weight on her and she noticed how comforting it was, and how it helped her connect with the body.

At this point, she experienced neck pain and got up abruptly, reporting that she experienced anger. I realized that this too was part of the process, although was not quite sure to do the final step of the framework or go with the anger. I tried to finish up by asking her if she could find a way to arrive at the same experience of comfort and connection with the body that eating sugar gives. She was obviously distracted, although tried to explore it. In a last ditch attempt at following the framework, I said that what came up for me when I explored it for myself was the comfort in just noticing the heaviness of my body.

She got in touch with her anger again, and poured out a quite amazing flow of insights, beginning with anger at how I want her to get rid of the sugar cravings and continuing into how much pressure it has been for her to feel that she has to get rid of it for so many years, how many plans and strategies she has tried to get rid of sugar cravings and/or stop eating sugar and how stressful it has been, how much guilt that comes from it, and so on.

Having to do it, and having to not do it

After this outpouring, she realized the battle between having to do it (the craving) and having to not do it (the should), the tremendous amount of energy she has spent in that dynamic, and that she want to be done with the whole thing completely.

She realized that the problem was never the sugar, but the struggle within her around having to do it, and having to not do it.

This has been her religion the whole time, since her teens, and she realized that she was finally ex-communicated from this religion.

Afterwards, she was glowing with exitement from realizing this, and the freedom it brought her. She said I cannot wait to be ex-communicated from another one of my religions.

She has been doing the Byron Katie inquiries for a while, and the outpouring was a natural and spontaneous explorations of the four questions and the turnarounds – which we both realized at the end.

For me, it was another reminder of how our struggles often (always?) are between two beliefs. There is a belief in what is (in this case the crawing) and a belief taking the form of the should (I shouldn’t eat sugar), and this creates a battle and suffering.

Ways of Being With Experiences

One of the common features of most (?) spiritual traditions is guidelines for how to be with experiences. Here are some I am aware of…


Allow experiences to come and go as guests. This shifts the center of gravity to the witness, and allows for deepening detachment and insight into the general processes and patterns of the content of mind.


See, accept and move on.

This allows for shifting the center of gravity to the witness, and release clutching of content.

Can I be with it?

A particularly elegant approach is that of Raphael Cushnir. Whenever there are strong experiences coming up, or any other time, ask yourself – can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

This also shifts the center of gravity to the witness (or at least expands it to include the witness), and it allows the processes of the content to unfold and unwind on their own.

Recognition yoga

This is from Waking Down and I don’t remember the steps here… But it is something along the lines of see it, feel it, become it, and live it (and something more I am sure).

Release to the divine

In our deeksha group, we use a process which is very similar to what came up spontaneously for me during the initial awakening. Fully feel it, and fully release it to the divine.

The difference between this approach and many others is the intention. In Zen, they rarely speak about intention. But here, intention is included to offer it to the divine, and allow the divine to take care of and resolve it.

My experience is that this is a remarkably effective process, and one that deepens with time.

Unfolding the process

Yet another approach is that of Process Work. Here, the immense wisdom in every process is acknowledged, and the profound gifts behind any experience – including or maybe especially the difficult ones, are recognized. Through following the bread crumbs, the process behind the symptom (which could be anything within the field of experience, including disturbing and difficult ones) is unraveled, leading to often surprising insights and gifts.


I am not familiar enough with all of these to say much of the various dimensions, or to compare the various approaches in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Each of them seem to have its place, its own valuable contributions.

Some dimensions which come to mind…

  • Shifting center of gravity to the witness, or expanding it to include the witness.

    There is a subtle difference here, yet maybe important. The first encourages a slightly stronger sense of separation than the second.

  • Emphasizing the release from content, insight into the processes, and/or digging into the content.

    All of these emphasize a certain release from content – either in the present (most of them) or after a certain process (Waking Down, Process Work). Some emphasize insight into the processes and others don’t. Among those focusing on insight, some emphasize a more general insights into the patterns of the content (Zen), and others emphasize insight into the particular process arising in the present (Process Work).

  • No intention apart from the seeing of it, or intention of offering it (back) to the divine and have it more actively resolved.

    Zen is a good example of a tradition where the active use of intention is not much emphasized. The other end of the spectrum is the way we do it in our deeksha group, actively offering the processes to the divine – with the intention of allowing the divine to work on it, allowing it to unravel and find a resolution. Most are somewhere in between these two.