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13 August 2010 6 Comments

Inner Work Part 6, Becoming Aware of Your Blind Spots

Inner Work Part 6, Becoming Aware of Your Blind Spots

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung

Do you notice what you are doing, or do you do things without being aware of and deciding to do them? Take scratchingDSC04057 for example, playing with your hair, crossing your legs, reaching for another handful of chips. Did you decide to do it, or did your body do it on its own?

Sometimes we have more lapses than moments of awareness, yet we imagine that we have continuity of awareness and one, consistent Self. We do not.

The simple behaviors listed above are mere lapses of awareness. Blind spots are more entrenched. We generally defend them. This means that if someone points them out, we have an unpleasant reaction, even a hostile one.

What if you woke up one day and learned that you were a multiple personality? Closely observed, every one of us contains many different parts, and as many different ways of expressing our selves. The important question is: How aware are we of these differences? The stronger your “central hub of awareness” the more able you are to observe and influence the way these parts show up in your life.

Ever get mad without knowing what you are mad about, suddenly shut down, push someone away when you really want to be close, or find yourself unable to speak up when you need something? You may have left on the edit room floor some of the inner film footage of exactly what took you to this moment.

Issues that cause blind spots block your capacity to be self- aware.

As we adapt and react to painful or fearful events we form blind spots to protect ourselves from insight and awareness that seem too painful to manage. We cope. Blind spots may run large chunks of our lives. They produce behavior that is automatic, reactive, and unintentional. Wherever we have a blind spot we are not aware of having Choice.

We have little-to-no influence when we do not notice that we are behaving any differently from usual; that we have ‘checked-out’ and are going through automatic motions.

As Inner Work gradually grinds into focus the facets of a central diamond at the hub of awareness, your assorted parts and pieces–sub-personalities and chunks that are stuck at different ages or levels of development, etc.–become like satellites or spokes around this hub. Your core becomes a place of strength from which to access each part with respect to your hub of self-awareness.

Inner Work gradually thins and removes the walls between the different parts of yourself so you can access all of your parts with your awareness. Learning to notice and feel the shifts in awareness and sensation that occur when you move from one satellite personality to another is a huge accomplishment.

In addition to gradually discoverinDSC00638g who we are beneath our blind spots and reclaiming those parts of ourselves, Inner Work enhances your ability to import skills from one set of circumstances to another. Here is an example of importing a skill:

Rick felt incompetent about responding to his infant daughter’s needs. He had no idea how to ìread her signals.î I pointed out that he did great with cats. He could tell by their body language, sounds, and movements how they wanted to be treated. Rick intentionally imported this skill. When he felt overwhelmed and inadequate around his daughter he noticed his feelings, relaxed, and thought about exactly what he did when he was tuning in and responding to cats.

I saw Rick with his daughter several months later and was moved to tears by his lovely ability to respond to her signals. He had done some excellent Inner Work in observing his issue, staying present, and making an aware response.

Blind spots can be complicated, and can conceal trauma. They can be heavily defended and take time and assistance to gradually unveil to the point that we can stay present to all of the feelings and sensations they dampen.

How open are you to discovering your blind spots?

6 August 2010 3 Comments

Inner Work, Part 5: Inner Work and Psychology

Inner Work, Part 5: Inner Work and Psychology

What is the difference between Psychological Work and Inner Work?

DSC00694Aim is the primary difference. Psychological Work generally aims at functional social adaptation. Inner Work aims at awakening; enlightenment. Gradually-increasing self-knowledge and Presence in the moment are more immediate goals that contribute greatly to a meaningful life. Psychological Work and Inner Work both aim to integrate Self by bringing the parts into relation with the Whole.

From the perspective of Inner Work, our psychology is a limitation. Our human possibilities far exceed complexes, history, and patterns that can be explained. Building coping skills makes you more socially functional, but this doesn’t necessarily wake you up. Inner Work includes our pasts as part of our entirety. It is not an aim of Inner Work to explain the mystery of the present with the past or to package you in socially acceptable behaviors. Inner Work rests on self discovery in the moment, opening potential in real time, not theory.

Sometimes our past is actively informing the present moment. At these times we operate on automatic, asleep to the real possibilities latent in the moment. Focusing on a particular scenario from the past as it plays out in the present moment can provide useful insight. Much of the time looking to the past is a distraction or an avoidance of exactly what is going on in the moment. Using the past to explain away the present may stop self-observation with theory or memory. Inner Work is about experience in the present, not theory. It evokes different type of insight than does Psychological Work.

As we covered in Part 2, Inner Work is not about knowing. Knowing your patterns and what you think you should do or analyzing and judging your behaviors can keep you stuck in your head like a hamster in a cage. Intellectualization or even emotional expression can become subtle ways to avoid deeper self-observation.

Mental and emotional work are useful, but until you take your observation down into the body and quit struggling to change yourself before you know who you are, you are not doing authentic Inner Work.

DSC00690The most effective Psychological Work can and does include at least some degree of Inner Work. “Sub-personalities”–Jung’s word for the different parts of you—can become integrated around your central hub of awareness. These parts of you have different values, agendas and ways of expressing themselves. Self-sabotage, for example, shows that the agendas of different parts of you are in conflict. Effective Psychological Work combined with Inner Work make it possible to directly experience each of your parts, contributing to your ability to be awake, aware, and whole in the present moment.

Deeper Inner Work takes integration a step farther by focusing less on fixing or eliminating issues and more on using them as focal points for self-observation. Try this: In circumstances where you tend to ‘check out’ or become automatic, stick around and watch yourself. Use the issue that prompts you to dissociate as a tool for awakening.

What does it mean to YOU to use one of your issues as a focal point of self-observation? Comments about Psychology and Inner Work welcome!

30 July 2010 2 Comments

Inner Work Part 4: Inner Work and Self Development Techniques

Inner Work Part 4: Inner Work and Self Development Techniques

You may think you are doing Inner Work already. Are you?

We naturally jump to what we know already when reaching for a new concept. Assumptions based on previous knowledge can undermine understanding and insight.

DSC00724First hearing about Inner Work, you may assume that the techniques you are already doing are Inner Work–especially when you practice methods that involve “observational skills;” noticing your inner processes, energy, or body sensations. Qi gong, martial arts, meditation and yoga are several techniques that develop observational skills.

So what is the difference between doing Inner Work and developing observational techniques?

Observational techniques focus on different parts and layers of yourself. Inner Work focuses on bringing ALL parts into awareness. Skills in sensing and awareness form a platform for and contribute greatly TO inner work. But they are not Inner Work itself. They are great tools. Inner Work is the toolbox. It IS none of those skills yet can contain them all.

I am all for observational skills. They develop attention, focus, and intention–prerequisites for Presence. I have, however, seen many nearly master meditation, yoga, spiritual disciplines, or qi gong without becoming self-aware in daily life. I was initially shocked to see people with staggering development in one or more of these skills whose blind spots could swallow Texas.

Observational skills can be used to turn away from parts of ourselves we dislike or do not wish to DSC00740recognize. Intense focus on the skills themselves can substitute for broader, integrative self-awareness.

Unless you develop the central hub of self-observation—your core inner diamond that develops from effective Inner Work—key issues remain hidden from yourself. Inner Work brings whatever we practice and develop into relationship with authentic expression. This differs from grafting a shiny set of tools over a morass of seething denial.

Effective Inner Work addresses blind spots in the interests of wholeness and integrated self-awareness. I will discuss the relationship between Inner Work and Blind Spots in my next post.

What have YOU noticed in yourself or observed in others about practicing techniques? Have you seen techniques or belief systems used as a shield against life instead of a way to interface more deeply with life?

25 July 2010 2 Comments

Inner Work, Part 3: The Fruits of Inner Work

Inner Work, Part 3: The Fruits of Inner Work

DSC00672A consistent habit of Inner Work develops within you a central hub of self-observation. This capacity becomes a part of your core–central to you. It is like an inner diamond with facets that face each aspect of your personality equally, or like the center of a wheel. Each aspect of you is a spoke. The diamond image implies clarity and value. The spoke image implies direct connection between your core and the rim—expression and behavior.

Developing a central hub of awareness through effective Inner Work offers the following benefits:

  • Inner strength
  • Greater emotional balance
  • Impartial observation
  • Discernment
  • A more compassionate perspective
  • Extended capacity for real Choice
  • Evenness, from being less reactive
  • Greater ease in managing criticism from others
  • Reduced need for approval
  • Increased ability to remain consistent with your values
  • Capacity for true commitment
  • Personal agency/power
  • Ability to be true to yourself
  • Clarity regarding what is authentic and what is not
  • Greater capacity for honesty
  • Increased understanding of self and others
  • Increased capacity for authentic intimacy

Inner Work is the process of coming to know exactly who you really are, beneath all masks and behind all blind spots. As you become established in your sense of self you will be less afraid that you can lose this self to another.

The fruits of Inner Work take time to ripen and become sweeter as they do. Initial exercises in self-observation can “taste” like unripe fruit. Yet for self-observation to serve us we need to be able to do it at the times when it is difficult. As long as we check out during the moments when we are strangers to ourselves we have no real will or personal authority when we need it most.

The nature of unconsciousness is that when we are uncomfortable, scared, bored or hostile we tend to look out instead of looking in. This is like missing some of the footage on a film. We lack continuity of perception. Inner work is learning to stick around and watch ourselves as this is going on.

Continuity in self-observation is a huge challenge. If you take it on, it may be the most important thing you will ever do in your life.

DSC00755Every time you remember to notice that you are breathing, and bring your awareness fully to the moment is like putting a penny in a piggy bank. Each fully aware breath is a reward in the moment. Each breath builds equity in your capacity to string moments together and stay with yourself, Awake.

Your life cannot be transformed without changing the quality and focus of your moments. Consistently collecting a lucid moment here and a moment of awareness there transforms your entire life. If you are waiting for the coconut of enlightenment to fall upon your sleeping head, you may be sleeping under the tree when the angel of death comes along to claim you. Wake up one moment at a time.

Many different techniques lend themselves to waking up in the moment. Are these techniques Inner Work? It depends on whether or not you are working on that core diamond. I discuss the difference between Inner Work and various techniques in my next post: Inner Work Part 4: Inner Work and Self Development Techniques

Remember: Picking roses can be another chore to cross off your list or a lovely experience, depending on the quality of attention you bring to it.

Have you had a moment of lucid awareness that has inspired you or changed your life? It would be great to see your story or other comment on this post.

27 October 2009 10 Comments

My Mission

My Mission

Remember what it was like walking the halls in Junior High? I, at least, was awkward and social involvement could be painful. In the midst of the stew of hormones and the demands for adjustment by the world came moments of lucid insight. I know some amazing young people. Many children receive clear inner guidance. We are open to life before we become self-conscious about what we believe.

When I was thirteen, walking those halls on my way to Girl’s Glee (singing) an internal voice told me quite clearly that my life mission involved writing a book in my mid years as an adult. This message cut through the hubbub in the hall, my hormonal mayhem, and my mish-mash of thoughts. My determined-to-be-on-time pace slacked. It was odd and irrelevant to get a compelling message out of the blue! I thought, What the heck? How do I know what I will do as an adult? and rushed to class.

MissionThe message surfaced on and off through my life, like a reminder. I began to take it as a given that I had to write a book. When I felt the information I had was the right stuff, then I wrote for seven years, daunted by the exposure involved with finishing my book. It was too complex. I had too much information. I wasn’t ready.

During another lucid moment my internal guidance said, “Market it or throw it out.” I detest marketing. Now I have built this website, my Being Total site, Facebook page, etc for one purpose: To assist those who are aware of or sensitive to subtle energies to live joyful, authentic, powerful lives.

“What Healer’s Won’t Tell You: The Smart Consumers’ Guide to Getting Top Quality Health Care” holds the most vital keynotes of my message. It contains information that should be in the hands of every care provider, healer, massage therapist, and client.