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6 November 2010 4 Comments

Disillusionment as a Positive Process, Part 1

Disillusionment as a Positive Process, Part 1

The rich glory of autumn leaves gently release their temporary grip on the trees of which they were once a part. Revealed now the trunks and branches these leaves are now seen only to have clothed. This is a fitting time to explore the shedding of beliefs once held dear, taken to be a part of us.

P1010300“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” ~John Kennedy, 1962

The notion that it is possible to understand life is a myth, as irrational as fantasy.
Life is larger than the most brilliant rational mind can conceive; incomprehensible, and ever-expanding.

When the facts of life rudely–and effectively–interrupt and separate us from cherished beliefs we may become disillusioned. Disillusionment can become an emotional wound and a cause for self-doubt, or you can use it to stimulate spiritual development. Your choice.

Disillusionment is so valuable it could be called precious or even sacred. The gateway for necessary readjustment, losing illusions allows us to clarify and upgrade what we think and how we believe, expanding our options.

Let’s dive into what happens when we become disillusioned–and how we can use it:

How do you manage it when you are counting on life to be the way you believe it to be and events prove that life is different? You may be thrown into a sea of confusion, seeking to sort out whether life itself went wrong, or what you believed about it. And of course—if you are a spiritual person—life is never wrong.

Insights and events that used to fit together like puzzle pieces now seem to belong to a much bigger puzzle. You don’t know where all the edge pieces are any more. You are not sure whether all the pieces you have fit in the picture, or whether a handful of pieces are missing. You may have found that beliefs that sustained your actions, attitude, drives, and enthusiasm are false or based on partial truths. Do you dig deeper? Or do you voice the say beliefs with intensified vigor and conviction, hoping to drown doubts and return to normal?

Being disillusioned feels like losing your way. But it is a positive process! Denial is what happens if we refuse the gift of disillusionment after a shattering experience. Denial is like a big plug in the natural flow of realization. Disillusionment can be turned into a good thing, the wise thing. It opens doors, expands, dissolves what is no longer useful and puts us in “beginners mind.”

Disillusionment is the handmaiden of transformation.  P1010878

Support systems and dearly held beliefs may crumble. It hurts. It confuses. It disorients. What do we do next?

Disillusionment means dropping illusions. It is a rubber-hits-the-road process. Go with it. Look boldly at all beliefs, not cynically but with the delicacy of intuitive discovery. Look fairly. Do not be too quick to find answers or cast them in cement. Stay open, flexible.

Consider what it takes to birth wisdom from within instead of taking answers from others. Releasing illusions about life makes room for the real mystery of Life Itself.

In Part 2 we will explore the awful beauty of disillusionment more keenly, with a compassionate eye toward using unsettling experience for spiritual development.

“Idealistic sentimentality is no guarantee for deep, experiential understanding.” Rick Levine

How have YOU benefited from an experience that made you question what you believe?

Please forward this post to those who need support.

29 October 2010 1 Comment

What IS Positive Energy? Part 8: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 3

What IS Positive Energy? Part 8: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 3

Hyper-positive postures often spring up from exposure to popularized belief systems. Catchy insights or techniques are taken out of context from the entirety of the teaching.

Initially, taking on the new beliefs represents an exciting period of rapid personal growth and insight. As Sept 07 Alberta 5 223a belief system forms it is a force for Awakening. As soon as we crystalize and codify it into set ways we have to BE, the very tenants that promoted growth and insight essentially entrap the soul in a web of assumptions and opinions. Discovery and Awakening have been replaced by codified behavior.

This rapid growth spurt calls to mind over-fertilized plants. Plants that receive chemical fertilizers lack the micronutrients and microorganisms that occur with nutrients in nature. They grow rapidly but the growth is weak and flimsy, breaking easily because the cell structures are not adequately supported. These sappy plants attract insects and require pesticides. Organic structures are much stronger, support themselves effectively, and draw fewer insects.

Expansion without the balancing force of contraction can lead to debt, inflation, weight-gain, weakness, and so forth.

We need limits, boundaries, and contrast to create resilient structures and beliefs that weather the vicissitudes of life.

Part of being positive is learning to recognize and accept our limitations, even as we seek to move beyond them.

Nothing is “wrong”with hyper-positive behavior. It is a resting place along The Path. Limited growth is available in all stuck states, whether our defenses are hyper-positive, overtly negative, or overly rational to the point of being cut off from feeling. At some life junctures, limited growth and the feeling of safety and validation provided by limiting beliefs may be all we can manage.

States of balance, grace, joy, clarity, discernment, wisdom, love, peace, and ease thrive on perspective. We do not attain them by avoiding life but by learning to be strong yet flexible in the midst of life. Staking a tree tightly so wind cannot move it keeps its root system from developing to support it against wind. Bouts of experience with difficult states and emotions develop depth of soul when we can successfully navigate them.

Thomas Moore, a theologian, gracefully addresses and goes so far as to extol the value of periods of depression or insanity in his classic book, “Care of the Soul.”

The biblical words “Resist not evil”do not mean to get involved with it. They point to the fact that resistance is an energetic form of involvement. Resistance is attachment. A positive focus does not offer resistance. The most powerful creative states generate intention and focus attention without reference to opposites. This is different from denying or resisting the opposites.

Another spiritual leader, Meher Baba said, “Let despair and disappointment ravage the garden of your heart. You will revivify it once again with the seedlings of self-sufficiency and contentment.” He went on to add, “Life never is, never was, and never will be anybody’s Beloved.”

This quote is strong medicine–but useful for the times we are living in, when structures we have built up seem like so many card houses. We are bigger than what we build! The quote points to the fact that allowing ourselves to feel even the most difficult of feelings leads to a re-enlivening of the heart, and a resurrection of inner strength. Holding in and holding back powerful feeling can dull the heart and waste the precious moments we share on this green planet.

Through storms and disease I lost the four largest trees around my home. It took time, but I am finally happy Sept 07 Alberta 5 131to nurture young trees, taking delight in their growth instead of merely missing the stately trees I enjoyed before. We cannot stop life from offering disappointments. What we can do is to keep our hearts alive by accepting pain. We can practice gratitude and stay open to delight. And we can keep planting.

The poet and master Rumi said, when you go into the river to avoid the fire you find yourself standing in the flames. And when you walk directly into flames you find yourself floating in cool water.
(If you know the location or title of this poem please let me know.)

“What YOU’RE looking for is unendurable pleasure, indefinitely prolonged!” Sufi Leader Joe Miller

22 October 2010 5 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 7: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 2

What IS Positive Energy? Part 7: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 2

Sept 07 Alberta 2 022Hyper-positive behavior, based on either/or thinking (See part 2) is not actually positive. What I am talking about is acting as if strident denial of anything that can remotely be considered negative is spiritual, perhaps seeking to impose this view on others. Resisting negativity or making a big show to others about how to be more positive is reactive posturing. It is also annoying.

Hyper-Positive behaviors involve the third definition of positive as “certain.” They involve over-certainty, which becomes rigid.

A hyper-positive stance is a generally a defensive stance. Hyper-positive posturing defends against emotions the individual fears will overtake them, plunging them into unmanageable states. It is a means of control.

There is always something fishy about excess conviction. Something is driving it. I am not talking about solid inner knowing. Experience-based understanding is a lovely achievement. I am talking about rigidity of belief, bolstered by resisting something perceived as a threat, something inside, or in the world.

These following issues are not exclusive to but can be aggravated by a hyper-positive stance:

  • Fear of your own thoughts and feelings
  • Suppression and denial
  • Fear or judgment of anyone who does not uphold similar viewpoints
  • Veiled moralistic superiority over persons considered negative
  • Lack of integration
  • Perfectionism
  • Harsh self-judgment when compassion is called for
  • Lack of discernment for fear of thinking the wrong things
  • Being out of touch with personal motivations
  • Inability to realistically assess risks
  • Use of platitudes that bolster parroted beliefs instead of observing life directly and allowing meaning to occur as an organic experience from within
  • Habitual over-commitment with less than optimal follow through
  • Making assumptions about what events mean without tapping into actual intuitive perception
  • Deciding what things mean for other people, which is a boundary invasion

Different personalities will express different clusters of these patterns. Very few exhibit them all.

Experiencing painful or difficult emotions is human, not negative. Judging and condemning them IS.

Looking at risks realistically is not negative. Refusal to acknowledge risks may leave you unprepared to overcome them.

If you are intuitive and sensitive, it’s especially easy to feel shame if you are around hyper-positive posturing. Sensitive people often feel the shame that others suppress, and mistake it for our own. Take care not to get drawn in and feel like you’re a negative person if you spend time around someone with a hyper-positive stance.

What have you observed and experienced hyper-positive states, in yourself, or in others?

Sept 07 Alberta 2 031

15 October 2010 4 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 6: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 1

What IS Positive Energy? Part 6: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 1

Do your beliefs help you explore life or shut down exploration and growth with pat answers?

Sept 07 Alberta 2 273This is the first of three posts that dive into and dissect beliefs and attitudes many of us have come to consider positive–just because the people who talk about them believe they are positive.

As a free thinker I am keenly interested in the difference between what we take to be positive based on social conditioning or defensive reaction, and what proves to be of constructive benefit, creating salutary and lasting life results. I have seen far too many lovely, positive people imagine they are negative because they recoil from what I call Hyper-Positive Posturing.

From natural medicine we understand that suppressing symptoms with drugs does not result in the state we call health. Neither does suppressing negative emotion and thoughts result in truly positive states.

Social media can leave us bobbing in a virtual sea of ultra-positive messages. Over-exposure to these messages causes a baffling backlash. The effect adds up to feeling that something is wrong with us unless we radiate joy in every moment. An army of enthusiasts waits at the ready with one-and-only buy-it-now solutions to every imaginable type of discomfort. Pain sells products. Marketing plays on pain, needs, and desires.

A profusion of these messages builds up the following feelings:

  • Something is wrong with you.
  • Something is wrong with feeling.
  • Something is wrong with your life if you aren’t in a state of bliss.

Please look at the entire world and contemplate what life is like instead of competing with the few people you admire or envy. Comfort and wealth do not confer happiness or purpose.

Genuine inspiration differs vastly from enthusiasm generated with the intention of hooking someone to sell something—including comforting belief systems that lull us to sleep instead of waking us up.

Indulge me by letting me dissect a few platitudes:

“Everything works out for the best.” This depends when you stop the movie. The movie goes on after you stop shooting.

“Everything happens for a reason.” This presupposes not only that we can insert meaning mechanically into any situation without stopping to FEEL it, and that being able to rationalize a situation is important.Sept 07 Alberta 2 291Carolyn Myss in “Entering the Castle”gets all over this one with mercilessly compassionate clarity. Way too often we hold faith hostage to intellectual understanding. Needing to understand with the mind in order to accept or before we can move foward is a spiritual stumbling block.

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” This quote is by Wayne Dyer. At first pass the message in this quote is great. Yes. We are accountable for and sustain our end of all interactions. Our participation influences what goes on around us. Great insights. So why do I pick on this even though the insights are useful? The quote can be taken to imply that conflict is bad. (See Inner Work Part 8: Inner Conflict And Transformation and 9: How To Benefit from Inner Conflict)

Whether or not conflict is useful depends on how we engage it. I am suggesting that instead of starving out conflict by refusing to participate we first take a look to see whether we can learn from it and turn it to an asset. I’m certain Wayne would agree.

As a champion for Wholeness, and Awakening, I am not criticizing Wayne or making anybody wrong. I aim to stimulate discernment, clarity, and free thought. Noticing how input or impressions impact us and being able to think outside the box are crucial to freeing ourselves from social conditioning. Choosing what we take in and believe supports self-actualization.

Inspiring quotes can be shared and received cleanly and clearly–or used to bolster Pollyanna rhetoric that puts us to sleep and stops discernment. Of course, any particular influence supports people at some levels of development and represents a step backward for others. Pay attention to the whether the influences you are exposed to contribute to you your next step on your Path or simply layer on more assumptions about life.

“A man’s most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe.”
~Greek playwright Euripides (485-406 B.C.)

How do YOU respond to the quotes you hear? Do you think about the way their messages impact you, or take them as truth without reflecting?

8 October 2010 2 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 5: What Are You Ready to Receive?

What IS Positive Energy? Part 5: What Are You Ready to Receive?

What we perceive and experience as positive depends on what we are ready to receive. Has someone ever loved you more than your self-esteem could tolerate? It’s an awkward and painful experience bumping up against the parts of us that feel unworthy.

Sept 07 Alberta 3 103How difficult it generally is for many of us to be around people we love and admire without feeling keenly our own limitations and inadequacies! And this is just the psycho-social part. Add intense influxes of positive energy and these challenges are intensified.

Straight-on energy of divine love can be unendurable for long periods unless one has done a great deal of Inner Work. The same super-positive energy that in small doses makes followers blissful can bring about excruciatingly painful states in large doses.

I have witnessed secretaries and assistants to high-energy, advanced spiritual leaders. Behind the scenes these support staff were at times in tears as intense spiritual energy penetrated the darkness of their deepest issues, bringing these to light. Ego and identity limitations arise and begin to crumble. This was a totally positive thing—but painful.

Interaction with highly-charged spiritual people over periods of time when they are not presenting to the public is enlightening. They can be tiger-intense and passionately challenging. They may slay your sacred cows, disrupt your sense of identity, and make silly human mistakes. Their energy is highly positive. This does NOT mean that what comes up inside you will feel good. Even loving monks and rinpoches tire of the saccharine assumptions of overly serious followers. I have heard of them hiding water pistols in their robes and shooting followers mid-question to break up rigidity.

Ideals meant to inspire can stimulate a backlash of feeling wrong or bad when we cannot live up to them. Sept 07 Alberta 3 102Ego-surges of righteous pride can crop up when feel proud about what we know. Whether or not we experience one as negative and the other as positive, both tendencies are obstacles to an Awakened state. And both tendencies can be used to Wake Up through self-observation. Skill at neutral observation is essential to access non-ego states of awareness–which are supremely positive; blissful.

During lengthy life phases of full involvement and conviction in specific mystical orders and spiritual groups I made it a practice in my professional life to prevent imposing personal beliefs and convictions on clients. Belief systems are highly personal and can also be fragile.

Through the internet we now receive thousands of messages that tell us what to believe. These messages come whether or not we are ready to take them in and think them out. More than ever before we have access to different beliefs and can choose input that resonates with our inner knowing.

What are YOU ready and able to receive and integrate?

What brings you the most personal sense of meaning and purpose? What makes that positive?

10 September 2010 10 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 1: Clearing a Path

What IS Positive Energy? Part 1: Clearing a Path

Glamour, hype, and glitter surround the topic of positive energy. This repels pragmatic people. They may observe the antics, inflated optimism, and glee of the newly-spiritual or of brand new Reiki practitioners the way a cowboy might regard a child with a bouquet of balloons, taking an enthusiastic stroll in Pipe Cactus National Monument.

The words positive and energy call to mind spirituality as well as healing. Separate these topics if you prefer, Sept 07 Alberta 3 155and disregard the one you like less. I lump them because extensive experience with energy begs the question of spirituality, and profound spirituality usually confers direct experience of energy. Un-lumping energy from spirituality is generally—in my opinion—a courtesy to the non-spiritual reader.

I have another idea. My idea is to present you with a way of looking at spirituality that doesn’t irritate the thinking person. It is not my way to twist myself into a pretzel just to play apologist for the hyper-rational. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about approaching the topic without the container of a specific belief system that you have to buy into to be on board with the conversation. For example, I’m not planning to tell you that you have to be nice constantly, fan the fires of materialistic frenzy, or recommend one-size-fits-all solutions that you have to be someone else to apply.

I was a stubborn skeptic early on. Life had to prove itself to me. Experiences with energy and with spirituality had to impose themselves on me for me to take notice. Impose they did! I have had a vast number and variety of experiences that I would have initially rolled my eyes about if I had read them instead of having them myself.

My clients also present me with experiences with which they are attempting to come to grips. No matter how these experiences are interpreted and no matter what belief system one might approach them with, some simply don’t fit in the bag. They stick out though the fabric of whatever container you might select, shining, searing, flashing or ripping through to thud like an anvil at our feet.

As an empirical (pragmatic and experience-based) thinker, it has been my fate to re-craft my belief system over and over until what I have left is somewhere between not having a system at all and the card catalog in a vibrant library.

Perhaps it is a bit odd that I haven’t then sought to lose myself in a spiritual haze, hopping from galaxy to galaxy. I respect meditation. My way has always been practical application in daily life. As a thinker and purposeful person, one belief that remains steady is that we have work to do. Not to validate ourselves—our worth is a given, whether or not we are intact enough to feel it.

Our work is to bring ourselves to the moment with the type of attention that makes the moment meaningful—from the inside. We appreciate our time here by bringing value to it.

Many find that gratefulness helps. I love that path but it is not my own. It depends so heavily on the ability to feel a certain way on demand. For me this presents a problem.

If I tell a client in despair to simply feel grateful s/he will merely feel judged. My path is to learn through direct sensing and experience how to stay open to life, using whatever inner resources we have at theSept 07 Alberta 3 181moment to really BE here. As much as I love different paths and expressions of life energy, this is the one core element that can give the ordinary person purchase to meaning in any moment s/he remembers to attend.

Love? Yes, it is glorious. Who among us can make it happen—authentically—in any given moment? It’s a wonderful aim, but it is through learning to accept ourselves moment by moment that we become capable of feeling love without sending disregarded parts of ourselves scurrying for cover. Any part we leave behind will become problematic. (I cover this topic in depth in the post series on Inner Work.)

Rule of thumb: If you cannot sustain it in your daily life it doesn’t work for you.

Rule of forefinger: If you have to be someone other than yourself to do it, it is not for you.

Rule of middle finger: If you think you can change your identity you’re in for a wild ride. I engage in profound transformation and have written a great deal about identity. Even to alter it you need to be authentic. AND although you can radically change how you think of yourself and your behavior, your core nature remains the same.

I have a real problem here. I want to discuss positive energy with you and I keep running into walls of preconceptions about what it means to be positive. Bear with me in the following posts while I dismantle preconceptions, so we can meet on the same page. I’ve had to learn a good bit about positive energy to survive. After chewing on this topic for years, I believe I can offer you useful insights.

3 September 2010 4 Comments

How To Benefit from Inner Conflict

How To Benefit from Inner Conflict

Intensifying inner conflict–intentionally as a technique–can be used to stimulate awareness and transformation. Try this:

Pit an old way of life you’re addicted to against a new way of life you long for but are scaredDSC_0176 of. Instead of trying to get rid of your fear and anxiety with some other technique, come into the diamond center of self-observation and VIEW your conflict in detail. View it with the understanding that you are bigger than the parts that are in conflict. View it with curiosity and wonder.

If you are not on the verge of a big life change you can still benefit from inner conflict:

Craft some creative tension by focusing on both sides of an inner conflict, however small. If you can generate stronger conflict your Inner Work will be more potent. Bring hidden conflict into the light of your awareness, without letting your stories about it interfere with neutral observation.

Do not waste your conflict and dissipate its energy. Use it for transformation.

Conflict Intensification Exercise (broken down more explicitly):

  • Pick a conflict.
  • Bring your conflict under the microscope of focused attention.
  • Track the sensations that occur in your body when you focus first on one side or part of the conflict and then the other/s. Sensations speak volumes. Attend to their messages. Which thoughts or feelings cause certain parts of your body to get tense, tight, or painful, or change your breath or posture?
  • Stay in impartial observation with at least a third of your attention. Do not turn away from or shut down conflicting parts. Give them each a voice. Listen to what they say when you allow them to speak, and write it down if this helps.
  • Ask yourself questions that clarify who you are and what you are trying to become, observing your sensations as you explore.
  • Let each inner voice express through your body, one at a time, as if it had your body to itself.
  • Attend to and memorize what it feels like when one side or part of your conflict is running your body. Sensation will assist you to recognize what is going on later, when conflict occurs on its own.
  • Live in the questions that come up. You are not trying to solve anything, but exploring who you are and what you do.

Resolution is not the aim here, but will arise on its own at some point. The aims of this exercise are self-awareness, learning to sense, release of resistance, and learning to recognize feeling states. Intensifying inner conflict helps to strengthen your capacity for impartial observation, building your core strength, clarity, and integrity.

DSC_0189Example: Suppose you have some conflict between your desire for approval or acknowledgment and a part of you that needs authentic expression. These parts hold different values. Bring each part into sharp focus, one by one. Get to know them without allowing the other part to interfere. When you feel a sense of clarity about exactly how these parts work within you, relax the conflict by embracing both parts within your comprehensive Whole.

Example Questions: Who will I be and what will I be doing over time if I allow my need for approval to guide my life direction?
Who will I be and what will I be doing in life if I allow authenticity and inner knowing to direct my actions?
What do I desire and what am I resisting?

The struggle between your urge to remain unaware and your urge to wake up is fundamental. It is not useful to judge your parts by seeing some as good and others as bad. Learn to embrace and accept each part as a gift of awareness.

Note: If you tend to get stuck in either/or dilemmas, seek to discover and observe more than two sets of values and voices. Seek multiple options.

Using conflict for Inner Work goes a long way toward building an unshakable habit of self-observation.

What have you found valuable in going through inner conflict?

How have you used conflict to create awareness or transformation?

27 August 2010 3 Comments

Inner Work Part 8: Inner Conflict And Transformation

Inner Work Part 8: Inner Conflict And Transformation

Conflict can be used as fuel for Inner Work, to promote spiritual transformation.

DSC_0107Whenever we attempt significant change we engage conflict about whether to remain the same—in the ‘comfort’ of our familiar blind spots—or whether to hazard new states of Being. Any wish to become more aware, responsible, or capable creates a clash, however subtle, with the parts of us that are established in the way we are now. As much as we stand to gain from positive change there are reasons that we are the way we are now.

Desire for change is, in itself, a form of conflict.

Positive change means giving up some of our suffering–which is usually an attempt to control something we don’t yet know how to manage any better than we already do. In a very real sense we have become addicted to our habitual circumstances. If we attempt to create a better life–whatever that may mean to us–parts of us may resist tooth and nail.

Gluing affirmations on top of fears and conflicts without exploring exactly how they arise and function may pacify them for the moment, leaving our conflicts in the dark to create life circumstances all by their lonesome.

As Jung pointed out, when we are unaware of our internal dynamics they show up in actual life events. Personally I would rather experience internal conflict and become more self-aware than to unconsciously set up and live out my interior dramas on the stage of life.

Exploring conflict through self-observation may temporarily intensify the conflict, but leads to increased awareness, self-knowledge, and much broader options for potential resolution.

Inner work eventually creates states of internal continuity that can remain unaffected by conflict, such as the ocean may be calm at its depth even during a surface storm. The unity-of-self at the central hub of your awareness is built on a foundation of neutral observation. Once developed, this center of gravity provides some consistency of experience regardless of disturbances such as conflict. Your judgments and condemnation of self or others becomes unimportant when you view yourself and others with impartiality.

How does this internal continuity and unity-of-self come about? Partly by stayingDSC_0090connected with internal conflict! Conflict can pull you apart or be used to discover yourself.

When you have conflict, seek to stay related to each part. Do not duck out of it by shutting down awareness. Seek to be in touch with each and every part of yourself. Observe impartially.

As you become skilled at neutral self-observation you become able to sense extremely subtle conflict–and to endure intense inner conflict, using both to feed awareness. Intense conflict, used well, can provoke staggering transformation.

How have YOU used conflict to provoke awareness?

What have you noticed about witnessing inner conflict without judging yourself for having it?

20 August 2010 7 Comments

Inner Work Part 7: The Perfection Trap

Inner Work Part 7: The Perfection Trap

P1010082Following lack of application, Perfectionism may be the second biggest obstacle to Inner Work.

Your biggest block to Waking Up will directly relate to unconscious defense strategies you use to cope with deep fears. If you work hard to avoid blame, to compete for love, or to feel adequate, Perfectionism may be a key survival strategy that you employ. If you instead refuse to try your best in order to protect yourself from feeling the defeat of failure, lack of application may be your key challenge. There are other survival strategies, and these two can alternate in the same person.

Most of us are fairly clear about the ways that lack of application limits results. Perfectionism is subtler self sabotage.

Hmmm. Perfectionism as sabotage? Yes. Over-effort and under-effort spring from the same fears. Over-effort has obvious advantages over under-effort. But it is a compulsion. In Inner Work, compulsions and other automatic or mechanical behavior are seen for what they are: a form of sleep.

Why sleep? Because they are automatic, not intentional. This does not make these behaviors wrong; it just shows that we are not Awake and Aware while we enact them. And this is also true of so much that we do! The more we Wake Up the more we realize how asleep we are, how automatic. None of us likes to believe this about ourselves, so discovering it in ourselves can be shocking: a real Awakening. 😉

Let’s look more at perfectionism. This issue masks itself as an advantage. Perfectionism makes self-observation extremely difficult because criticism tends to masquerade as observation.

Perfectionism is driven by the fantasy that you can MAKE yourself all right. The hidden lie—that hides the cruelty of this stance–is that you not all right in the first place.

Effort driven by Perfectionism is characterized by a particular type or quality of attention. How does it operate? When we try really really hard to get everything right we are quite possibly:

  • out of touch with the fear driving us
  • in our heads; thinking too much and feeling too little
  • lacking perspective on the relative importance of details
  • overlooking our impact on others
  • critical
  • controlling
  • about to get frustrated or angry because we did not master this yesterday
  • shaming ourselves subconsciously
  • less than ideally open to exploration, wonder, and creativity

The quality of attention we bring to Inner Work—the energy frequencies we are running as we do it—bias exactly what we are able to discover. Don’t pin the butterflies on a board. Just get close and watch what their antennae do when they sense a change in the breeze.

Perfectionists may be drawn to Inner Work to try and make ourselves perfect. Our efforts pay bigger dividends when the perfectionism itself is examined as a symptom of sleep.

In the nature of Waking Up is the sleepy circumstance of forgetting to wake up NOW and NOW and in the now that happens later on when we’re not paying attention. REMEMBERING to practice is the biggest key to Inner Work.

As with all habit patterns, USE your Perfectionism to Wake Up by carefully observing exactly how it functions within you.

What have you noticed about Perfectionism?

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?