Reorganization & the dark night

The dark night of the soul, as any dark night, is a period of reorganization.

There are several types of dark nights, and what I mostly write about here is the dark night of the soul. The phase that typically comes after the initial awakening (illumination) and before equanimity, an ease independent of content of experience.

The reorganization of the dark night of the soul is largely hidden from our view and understanding, which is why it was initially called a dark night. It also involves many apparent losses. Old wounds and trauma may surface to be healed. And there is an invitation to wear out, soften and lose identifications. This reorganization is also similar to what a larvae goes through in the pupae stage. It’s unfamiliar, the old structures and patterns dissolve, and we are unable to see where it leads. The combination of all of this can be very challenging. For me, it’s been the most challenging thing I have experienced in this life, by far.

So what can we do? I have written about this before, so I’ll just mention a few things that come to mind now. And these really apply to any perceived challenges in our lives.

Find love for what’s here – for the inner and outer situation. Recognize that all the different parts of me – including the confusion, pain, anger, regret, sadness etc. – is love.

Inquire into my stories about what’s happening, the labels and what I take them to mean. And inquire into the stories triggering my responses, the sadness, grief, anger, despair, pain, hope, fear and more.

Feel sensations as sensations. Inquiry into the associated stories can make this easier.

Ask /pray for help. Ask for guidance. Support. Ease. Love. Conscious alignment with the reorganization.

Shake it out. Neurogenic tremors. Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE).

Spend time in nature, use your body and senses in nature.

Find mutual support. Find people who have gone through something similar, or are going through it.

Take care of your body. Eat well, get plenty of sleep. Use your body. Exercise.

Seek out some basic understanding of what’s happening. Read about the dark night (Adyashanti, Gerald May, Evelyn Underhill and others.)

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The sweetness of images surfacing to find liberation vs ego coming back with a vengeance

After an opening or awakening, it seems common to have a phase where confused parts of us surface to align more consciously with reality.

More precisely, images and thoughts still held as true surface to find liberation from being taken as true. And thoughts may label what’s surfacing as wounds, hangups, neediness, trauma, and so on.

It’s a natural and beautiful process. And, depending on how it’s met, it can be sweet and relatively peaceful, or it can be experienced as confusing, dramatic, and painful. For me, as for many others, it’s one or the other at different times.

And how we meet it depends on how we understand or view what’s happening. It depends on what images and stories come up to help explain it, and how tightly we hold onto those stories.

I sometimes hear people talking about this process using words such as the ego is coming back with a vengeance, the ego is fighting for it’s life, and even labeling what surfaces as our human garbage. I understand how it can be seen that way. And for me, those stories feel quite painful if I try them on. If I hold onto these images as true, I make what’s happening into an enemy for myself, and there is struggle and discomfort. Something else is more true for me, and more peaceful. It’s a call for love.

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Allowing it to work on me

An aspect of just about any practice is to allow it to work on me.

And what is this it?

It can be just about anything.

It can be Big Mind, when it awakens to itself, or even just glimpses or intuits itself, found through the Big Mind process, headless experiments, meditation, or happening out of thin air.

It can be this alive presence, in and around the body, personal and universal at the same time, substantial and transparent to the void, infinitely loving and wise, and found through prayer, Breema and (other) soul level practices.

It can be the tangible sense of body-mind wholeness, which I find through body-oriented or -inclusive practices.

It can be an open and alive heart, found through heart centered practices.

And finally, it can be any experience whatsoever, when it is fully allowed.

When an experience is resisted, independent of the content of the experience, it only reinforces the tendency to resist, the sense of I and Other, and patterns of rigidity and reactivity.

But when it is fully allowed, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as it is, as if it would never change, it all shifts.  Then, there is an invitation to a fluidity of view, a nurturing fullness, and an open heart. There is a realignment and reorganization of this human self. A softening of the rigid patterns created from resistance. An opening into receptivity and fluidity.

And this is how all of these… Big Mind, alive presence, alive heart and more… works on the human self.

The view is invited to be more fluid and inclusive.

The heart becomes more alive and open.

There is less emotional reactivity, and more of a sense of nurturing fullness.

So when any of these (Big Mind, alive heart, allowing experience and so on) are alive and present, it is a reminder and invitation for this human self to soak in it, allow it to seep through, soften, reorganize and realign this human self.

The unmanifest awakening to itself, and the manifest awakening to itself too

When there is an awakening, it happens both for the unmanifest and the manifest.

The unmanifest – awareness, awake void – awakens to itself as the unmanifest, and as the manifest happening within, to and as itself.

The manifest – this human self and the wider world – similarly awakens to itself as awake void, and to itself as the manifest already and always inherently absent of an I with an other.

Both awakens to its nature as the field of awake void and form inherently absent of an I with an Other.

Both can, and usually do, happen suddenly. But the second one also take time to trickle through, to reorganize all the different parts of this human self within this new context of not being taken as an I with an Other. The realization is there, but deepening into the lived realization takes time. As long as this human self is still around, it continues to reorganize, mature and develop within this new context.

Bottom falling out, and reorganization

A quick note on something I have written about many times before…

When there is a Ground awakening, we can say that content does not need to change. It is an awakening of the awake void to itself, and its form aspect can stay the same. It is as if the bottom falls out, with the content hanging there in mid-air without any identification anymore, without being taken as an I with an Other.

At the same time, changes in content do often go before such an awakening… there are changes there that invites the awake void to notice itself. So the initial statement, although correct in theory, is often not the whole story.

And also, although a Ground awakening does not require any change of content, the content does often change as a consequence of it. There is a reorganization of our human self at the three centers, in terms of view (reflecting a nondual realization), heart (open to all form aspects, all situations and beings), and belly (a felt-sense of all as God, and a reorganization of emotions from reactive patterns to a steady nurturing fullness).

It is correct in an idealized situation that the content does not (have to) change prior to or following a Ground awakening (of course, what awakens to itself is the timeless Now so there isn’t really a before or after, apart from what appears as a before and after in our stories about it), but that is only part of the picture.

Mainly, emphasizing that distinction of content and Ground may serve as a teaching tool to nudge people to look for what is there independent of content, and not get caught up in the merry-go-round of always trying to change and improve content (which does not lead to Ground awakening). And as a teaching tool, it can certainly be helpful.

But it is also true that a Ground awakening is often preceded and followed by a change in content, if we look at our stories (memories) about this before and after.

Belly center and nurturing fullness

From the previous post:

If the head and heart centers awaken, it gives a clear seeing and loving of all as Spirit, and if the head center is fully awakened, a realized absence of any separate I anywhere. But if the belly center is not, there is no deeply felt-sense of all as Spirit, and also no deep reorganization of the emotional level. There will still be fears and so on triggered by the usual situations, only now seen and loved as Spirit. So it is of course OK, although still limited.

This was the situation here following the initial awakening – a nearly full awakening of the head and heart centers, but definitely not of the belly center. There was a clear knowing that it was missing as well, that it could be quite different. And when the early belly awakening happened last fall, a knowing that this was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Two things that seem to allow for this reorganization of the emotional level is the belly awakening itself (invited in this case through Breema and then shaktipat), and also The Work – allowing beliefs to unravel through the system including the emotional. I am sure there are many other out there, but these are the two I have found so far.

When the belly awakening runs its course and the emotional level is reorganized, the old patterns of (emotional) reactivity unravel with it. Fear, anger, sadness and so on are not triggered in the same way anymore. There is just clarity (head center), love (heart center), and a sense of nurturing fullness (belly center).

In short, the emotional reactivity which is still there when only the head and heart centers are awakened, is exchanged with a felt-sense of nurturing fullness when the belly center awakens.

It is still possible to trigger any of these old emotions, although now in a conscious way and arising as wisdom energies.

I should also add that the awakening of the three centers can happen (relatively) independent of each other. If there is only an awakening of the head center, there is a clear seeing of all as Spirit and an absence of any I with an Other, but it also feels a little cold and arid, lacking empathy. If only a heart center awakening, then a loving of all as Spirit, but less of a clear understanding. If only a belly center awakening, a felt-sense of all as Spirit, but missing the seeing and loving, at least in a more fully unfolded way.

And before a more full awakening of each center, they can certainly awaken to different degrees. In terms of the belly awakening, Breema seems to be a good way to invite in the sense of nurturing fullness, and The Work is great for unraveling beliefs throughout the system, taking emotional reactivity with it.