The Truth About Kundalini

For many years my work as a therapist  has specialized in people having challenges with an activation of kundalini energy, or the many shifts of consciousness that come with a spiritual awakening.  These events have a profound impact on what we experience and how we think about it, and cause changes in the body, brain and spiritual orientation, as well as the lifestyle.

Sometimes people write to me wanting to know how to awaken kundalini energy, believing it will help them in some way to overcome personal issues or improve their images-4life.  While in the long run (over years) this may be true, the intensifying of your energy field is likely to intensify whatever is happening in your life, making it more difficult, before you experience the peace of spiritual awakening. There are many ways that kundalini can change things and not all of them feel wonderful.  Here are a few possibilities to consider before you opt into intense practices for awakening this energy.

The Honeymoon Period

A few people temporarily experience a great high when they begin taking kundalini yoga practices.  I was once in a kundalini yoga center in Hollywood where beautiful women floated around in white caftans looking disconnected but radiant, although their teacher was serious incapacitated by a stroke and could not walk nor talk coherently. (Kundalini does not mean you will never be ill). Kundalini energy causes your energy to sometimes feel high and more flowing, even blissful, and you may break old habits like using alcohol  or sugar, and make healthier choices.  You might feel more alive and limber, and disinterested in the problems of the world.  This is usually a “honeymoon” period before you enter what I have called the deconstruction state of transformation.  Just as when you remodel a house you first do a tearing down, as you move toward transformation you begin by experiencing the falling apart of old constructed or conditioned patterns.

The Deconstruction Phase

Many people who activate kundalini without any guidance, e.g. on the internet or with a teacher who does not have the whole picture, or spontaneously, seem to enter the tearing down faze immediately – their body shakes involuntarily, there may be rushes of heat, painful old memories arise spontaneously, their brains are foggy and their head aches so it is harder to concentrate on work that involves thought, they feel sudden shifts as if out of their body so the feel unstable in the world, their moods shift inexplicably, and family members may become alarmed and have them hospitalized. They may fear they are dying or going insane.

Kundalini awakening is not a panacea for a life that is not working well.  It amplifies whatever needs to be seen and corrected.  In a few cases it feels as if life is stripped of its stability, and its meaning.  If you are in toxic relationships you will likely  feel an imperative to leave them. If you have been living a life that is not aligned with your authentic needs and interests you will feel pressured to change it.

For all of these reasons it is good to be prepared before you enter a practice that might activate kundalini.  This energy is your own life force.  You already have energy, but when kundalini awakens and moves up from the base of the spine it strengthens the energy field throughout the body, vibrates through 72,000 lines of energy throughout the body grid and runs into blocks wherever a contraction is met.  All of us have many contractions from moments in life when we held back our response or expression or locked into a false belief.  This heightened energy is trying to make us more open, empty and flowing. It is breaking down our holding patterns.

Preparation

Here are some of the ways you can prepare yourself for the changes kundalini brings.

Clean up your diet and loosen up any holding in your body through yoga, Tai Chi or stretching.

Find the calm center within through meditation or deep relaxation practices.

If you know you have trauma in your history do some therapy to heal the impact of any beliefs you have acquired related to the abuse.

Question your beliefs and thoughts – they are not truth, only habits.

Have a stable income, basic security and work habits. You may change your work if it does not feel congruent with new values, but if you are homeless or impoverished you need to find a way to meet basic needs before plunging into physical changes that may disorient you.  There is no practical advantage to awakening kundalini – the point of it is to open you to a deep realization of your true nature, whatever the cost to your peace of mind.  How it will impact you along the way is an unknown, differing greatly from one person to another, and often chaotic for an extended period of time.

How to Awaken

The best way to allow kundalini to awaken is to forget kundalini and seek Truth through a simple and sincere meditation practice. Then, if your energy is going to change and open you to live from an awakened place, it will happen in a natural way, and you will have a stable interior place to rest while it does its work.IMG_4186

People with long-term meditation practices and stable lives have the best experiences when kundalini arises, even if it is strange and disconcerting.  They are able to establish a comfortable rapport with this life force and accept the challenges of the process, which  gradually helps them clear away the debris of past history, opening them to new possibilities in the way they live their lives. Kundalini is the energy aspect of spiritual awakening, which is a radical shift of how consciousness is known. It is the way we embody the knowing that we are not the separate self we thought ourselves to be.

For a more full description of how spiritual awakening evolves, and ways to cope with the phenomena it brings, look for my new book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening.”

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The Blessing of Impermanence

An advantage in seeing impermanence as the nature of existence is in the knowing that all things pass. lightning While we often grieve over this passing, there are many blessings to knowing that we are in movement, life is in movement, so even the difficult problems of our culture are in movement.

Many people are stressed by the choices being made by the US, and especially the President, at this time in history.  They seem to be permanently destructive to the future of our country and the world environment.  And yet there have been many dark turning points in this country – beginning with the Indian massacres, forcing Mexico out of California, slavery, the civil war, the depression and the dust bowl, two world wars, Vietnam– to name just a few. Our ancestors have all been through events similar to those that cause us fear.  Nothing has ever been permanent.

 

As a country we are often in turmoil because of the push for power, greed, and the division of minds. Yet there have been gradual improvements in human care and responsibility – freeing slaves, laws against child labor, allowing women the vote, social security, education,  easier transportation and communication,  etc. etc.  Historically, most other countries have known the same or worse turmoil  over centuries (e.g. Germany, Japan, China), but experienced gradual movement to support their people.

It is paradoxical that most of the individuals we know personally long for peace and love within themselves and the world, and are generally kind to one another. They value families and friends. And yet as a collective this is rarely reflected, and positive change seems to be so slow.

We live in a world of opposites, continually shifting and emerging with new perspectives.  An awakened mind can see a larger picture – an expansive, never-ending but always changing movement through time.  We are the movement, the life that brings transformation.  Our pain forces us to see what is needed, and brings many into positive action.  Just as when we are wounded physically we must seek help for the body, when we are a wounded culture we must seek solutions.  It does not serve us when our minds only bring us to despair, and our thinking is clouded with anger and fear.  It does not serve us personally or serve our culture when our hearts close down with bitterness.

Negative thoughts are rarely real and true – they are based on emotional reactions and our accumulated convictions of what ought to be.  They are neurons firing stored information interwoven with our discomfort.  Our awareness becomes entangled with thought, and limited by it.

This is why awakened people often stress living in the now. Now is what is in front of you this moment, and is always present as Now. It may be a beautiful garden. Today for me it is a smoky sky in Oregon hovering over a pond and garden. It is difficulty breathing outdoors. It is the computer before me.  It is also good neighbors and a safe house and good health. Tomorrow it may change.

For you today it may be work that needs to be done, or a child that needs to be fed and dressed, or a piece of art you are inclined to create, or a desire to help in a political campaign. We each stand in a unique place in the Now.  Look around and define what is here for you in this moment. Your presence is part of this Now. Your True Nature is always Now!

We are always in motion in this Now-ness.  The question to ask yourself is will you move from your own center and for the greatest good (either your own inner peace or to assist another) or be contracted by a fearful mind? Will you be what you are fully in this moment, or be entangled by thoughts that bring you down? Yes, you are impermanent, but change can be positive and where you are Now has a big impact on what happens next..

We cannot afford to let the world issues, even those created by our own government, block our freedom to love, enjoy and create a meaningful life.  In our choices and movement we can respond in a way that feels authentic to us, and trust that slowly, since all is impermanent, change will come. When there is smoke in the skies remember that it will be clear again. Be like those firefighters who meet it in service to all of us.

Spiritual Aging

I was talking with a friend today about aging and vitality, and reflecting on what is it that allows some of us to feel contented and vital as we move through our 70’s and beyond, while others seem reclusive and distant and unhappy with their lives.IMG_0734

When I was young a spiritual teacher in her 80’s once warned  me “If you are not spiritual, all you will  think of in old age is your health”  and I think to some extent this is true. There is no point in thinking of ambition or raising children or more accumulation. All of that feels long past. So your need to be attentive to the body can become all-consuming. But what if spirituality can keep your spirits up, and your life rich with depth and meaning, no matter your age and even despite health challenges and limitations?

From what I see among friends who seem contented, peaceful and engaged in life no matter their age, is that there is a spirit – a touchpoint within them that nudges them to awaken with curiosity each day, value the simple beauty in the world around them, and follow a creative or social expression that offers the simple satisfaction of connecting with life.  These movements may feel meaningful or they may be pleasurable, but they are not pursued with the intention of enhancing an image, or adding an accomplishment to a resume, the way they are done when we are young.  This is movement without attachment to results, without hurrying or cramming in more than can be managed in the moment.  It is engagement for the simple pleasure of it.  Sometimes it is being generative —  passing along something you have learned to another, sharing what is meaningful in living a satisfying life.

If you have seriously pursued spiritual awakening you have learned  it is ultimately an inside job – it is an interior search to clear away any life debris that keeps you from knowing who you are, what is true beneath the accumulated beliefs, hurts, complaints and conditioned patterns of your psyche. How did you begin? Who have you always been? Knowing this helps you know who you will always be.  It offers a return to a faith in simply being, like a small child but with breadth and wisdom about the human condition.  It is a trust in the unfolding of life and death. a trust in the flow of our life as part of the whole.

Many people feel they have known so much pain and confusion that they cannot get free – the weight of life has overwhelmed them.  But this simple being, the in-the-moment present experience, when it is free of thought, is always here, just waiting underneath to be re-discovered.  Our lives are movement within a great stillness.  We are energy and consciousness in a continual flow, following the river of creation and culture and life experience.  Every day our very cells are changing, our bodies and minds respond to something new. Our possibilities are immense.  We are part of a great mystery and it is healing to know that this mystery and the movement of our lives within it, are the natural and unavoidable way of the human condition in our time and history. Realizing or remembering we are not this brief passage but the essence of life expressing itself,  will free us from the past, help us live harmoniously into older ages, and keep the adventure of life ever-present.

The mind tries to hold on to the past, as if this would somehow stop the movement, the growth, the every-unfolding movement.  We pretend when we are young that it is possible to have control over what happens next., and mistakenly feel inadequate when we fail.  Aging has taught me about the illusion of control in two ways: the discovery that here I am being elderly, and I cannot image how I got here so fast, because inside I am very much younger; and in looking back I see how all of the significant events in my life were not a result of control but only a random happenstance.  Our birth itself is random. There is an apt saying that “You have no control over when you are born and when you die, so why do you think you are in control of everything inbetween?”

IMG_4186Through some grace a compilation of my life’s work was released this month under the title “When Sprit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening”.  Where it goes and who it will touch is beyond my knowing, clearly beyond my control.  The early chapters speak of our experience of being both consciousness and energy – these are the components of life that exist before, during and after our dance in human form.  They are the real essence of life, propelling our physical forms through the many experiences we enjoy or endure.  They are aspects of the spirit that reveals itself when we deeply seek Truth, or to know God, or to know what we are.  The book is about the journey of an awakening spirit – how it happens, what it brings forth, and where it is going.  In awakening, we also discover we are paradoxically the stillness in which this moment of life happens.

Waking up is knowing the answer to the deepest questions and letting our life relax into its natural course. If you are so fortunate as to know this, then aging does not seem much of an issue – just another way of experiencing and engaging and living. – and you know you are fortunate to be given this extra time.  A deep knowing of our own spirit allows us to relax into life just as it is.

 

A New Book for Awakening People

I am thrilled to announce my new book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening” is finally available May 1 everywhere in the US and May 10 on amazon in Europe. This is a reflection of all I have learned through 30 years of listening and supporting thousands of people in an awakening process, and blends my non-dual teaching with my understanding of the energy that arises during a transformative process.

IMG_4186I am grateful for New Harbinger Press under their Non-Duality division to be making it available. I especially hope it falls into the hands of people who teach meditation , yoga, shamanic or energy practices, and therapists who have clients who are coming into awakening experiences. It is designed to help everyone understand what is happening, learn practice ways  to nurture the process, and be inspired by realizing where it is headed. I am so appreciative of the many people who have shared their stories with me and taught me so much, and for Adyashanti’s beautiful foreword. I’d also be grateful for anyone who loves it to write a review on amazon or elsewhere so others will be drawn to read it. It is so past time for people to recognize and value this transition that so many go through during or following dedicated energy practices, deep meditation, the use of psychedelics, Shamanic explorations, following peak stress or grief, and even spontaneously. Few who lead these practices know how to provide optimal support, and even fewer mental health professionals who are called for help recognize the signs of awakening. Experiences ranging from extreme energy rushes, vibration and shaking, physical and emotional upheavals, ecstatic bliss, moments of vast unitive awareness,  the sense there is no “me” and many other phenomena are often part of this life-changing process, and reorientation in the world. Learn how to help yourself and help others in this process.

 

What is Awakening?

Do you know that when you “awaken” personal identifications shift from the foreground to the background of awareness, and there is a realization that pure consciousness is what you are? Many may have other interpretations of what an awakening might be, but in non-dual teachings it is simply the ground of our being arising to be seen.

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Momentarily, or perhaps permanently in a few rare cases, this consciousness that is omnipresent and universal and eternal feels itself to be what is lighting up your senses, causing the mind to function, and underlying all the appearances of creation. This is what Oneness alludes too – that there simply is only this.

While such a moment can be a catalyst to positive life changes, because the dramas of living seem to recede as if they are a dream, this event of seeing clearly can also be a trauma to the mind that has organized itself according to the beliefs it has assumed were true throughout our life. So after a glimpse of what it feels like to be unattached to our history and life circumstances, we usually find ourselves in confusion as old patterns and beliefs arise again to take over projecting how we should behave and what we are to believe. People may find themselves gravitating for years from one perspective to another —  caught in the “I’ve got it –I’ve lost it” syndrome.

How Mind Interferes with Knowing

 It has been the mind’s focus (its job we might say) to help us know what to do, and divide our options into right and wrong, good and bad, and all the other opposites that make up our world. The sense of “me” , beginning with the body, forms a framework that causes us to feel ourselves to be a separate identity. To form opinions mind relies on our past experiences and how we’ve been conditioned by our families and cultures, our education, reading and everything to which we are exposed. We may identify either with or against what others have taught us. These thoughts have clouded our ability to know this pure and unchanging ground of consciousness, which is completely aware but neutral. It is like the ocean that holds a teaming variety of life and rises and falls in intensity, but has no opinion about it.

Our human structure is designed to keep us in separation. Probably it is this underlying existence of one consciousness that drives us to seek love and relationship within the dynamics of human development, and to never feel quite complete when we find it. (We can feel this temporarily, but a person cannot fill this gap entirely, because it is within us we must make the discovery of wholeness.)

Eastern spiritual practices are designed to nudge us toward an awakened consciousness. But few people realize what this means, and are surprised at the challenges it brings at the emotional and physical levels. Our subtle body energies intensify as they become rewired with this new perspective, many of our old attachments change or fall away, past traumas may arise to be seen and released from our programming, and the mind may want to discard its brief perception of being “no-one”. Of course in time we must still appear to live as “some-one” even if in our hearts we feel this deeper connection to another reality. And after the clearing of old patterns and emotional reactions are cleared away, people who awaken usually express a uniqueness through service or creative action that seems to move through them without any attachment. If you have seen the oxherding pictures of Zen – this is the final return down the mountain. On the surface life is ordinary again. One does what needs to be done. Awakening is not an escape.

All of Us live With Awakeness

 All of us, spiritually “awakened” or not, are enlivened and aware because of pure consciousness, because this is our true nature and it produces the life force within us. We are its expression and movement in the world. The only difference in someone who awakens is that they realize this not as a thought or because of a teaching, but as a direct internal knowing that permeates every cell; this makes them willing to face and release old patterns that block their ability to feel this freedom and transcend the suffering the mind produces. It often allows them to let awareness move through the heart so that action comes from love rather than conditioned fear or anger. This does not mean there is no pain when there is loss, or no need to face an uncomfortable emotion at times, because there is still a human body/mind that feels these things. But such pain does not become a fixed world view or a limitation. To be in oneness the human must be included in the whole – nothing is left out. When freedom is known however, one is no longer so liable to be trapped in suffering or to allow their perspective in life to exclude the wonder and beauty that is ever-present by its side.

If you are inclined to spiritual texts, and would like the inspiration of an Advaita text that emphasizes this perspective, I recommend The Supreme Yoga: a new translation of Yoga Vasistha. By Swami Venkatesandanda published by the Divine Life Society. If you would like to understanding the process that evolves following an
awakening I suggest my book  The Awakening Guide , available on Amazon and Kindle.

How to Stay Married

hs-1996-03-b-thumbWe encounter another, we merge, and we form a new dynamic in the world. How do we keep our sense of freedom while creating a real and lasting relationship?Today is my 56th wedding anniversary so I feel inclined to write a few words about marriage. Maybe I will write a book someday on “How to Stay Married”. So here are a few observations about what has  held us together over the years.  These were never conscious intentions, and are more obvious in retrospect. So I am reflecting here on qualities that may help you endure and thrive in relationship, no matter your spiritual inclinations. If you are long married you may have your own unique list.  As a  counselor I have noticed  no two relationships are alike.

Relationship often seems to take a backseat in non-dual teachings despite the fact relationship issues are often raised among students, who somehow fear it is not good for their spiritual life to love a partner. Waking up is a solitary endeavor, and yet as humans we are in a massive dance of Oneness with others, and need to learn to navigate relationships.  Feelings can still arise that draw us to a unique other. Partnering is a great teacher, and often provides a stability and grounding that serves a spiritual seeker well. Here are a few of the things I have learned about how a relationship may endure over a half century and more.

Supports for Lasting Relationships:

 

  •             Having some interests and shared values in common,  but respecting the areas of divergence as well.  When valued, your differences may help to form a stronger team.
  •              Being flexible and open to shifts in these interests and values –you are both going to change over 50 years – can you enjoy new perspectives or do you contract at the thought of it?  Open yourself to curiosity rather than staying in old patterns.
  •             Having an innate stability inside of yourself. If you walk by the ocean daily you will notice there are often changes in color, intensity, air temperature, highs and lows. Marriage is like this. Can you find the stillpoint or center within yourself that tolerates the shifts in weather, and return to stability, just as the ocean does, no matter what is happening on the surface? I did some years of therapy to heal early wounding and find this center in myself.
  •             Staying sober –at least 98% of the time — and never being so badly behaved that you humiliate or abuse your partner. Never abuse or accept abuse.  Be generally kind to one another.
  •             Understanding your life together is teamwork and you each have different strengths and vulnerabilities. Never demand the partner think like you or do things your way but find the middle road (this is being Buddha-like!) – negotiating solutions that work for both of you. This is true with all the major issues – sex, money, children, major purchases, in-laws, career changes, etc. You are building strength as a team and are not in competition.
  •              Waiting out or walking through the difficult stretches – every life has these. Get help if you need it. Know your partner may experience a trauma very differently than you, and feel helpless to help even if he or she wants to. They may have a different way of feeling loved and appreciated. They may have needs you never imagined having. And these may change from year to year. What you need and want at 20 is very different than what you need and want at 60.
  •             Giving up the youthful longing to be completely seen and understood. You will never be seen and understood just as you see and understand yourself — in fact, you are always in flux, you change, you are movement and may not even understand yourself at times. Who are you? It can be very confusing for another person to pin down exactly who and how you are from day to day. There is no such thing as mind-reading your partner and if there were, you would not like it. Appreciate their effort to try, and be satisfied with small successes. Be clear about what you want and flexible in letting it go if it is clearly necessary.
  •              Learning to know yourself, and to listen to others. Our involvement in the encounter movement of the 1960”s and 1970’s, and later following psychological healing, and meditation practices in a search to go beyond the personal self, has had a profound impact on our willingness to be with what is, to feel grateful for the life we have shared, and to respect and enjoy the uniqueness of one another just as we are.
  •             Remembering your own foibles and that it may sometimes be challenging to live with you!  When I am irritated by something my partner does I remind myself of the ways I can be irritating to him – the things he puts up with – like my past traveling without him to India and Europe, and my general disinterest is cleaning house. On the whole his area of acceptance has had to be greater than mine
  •              Respecting and supporting each other’s needs and goals. My husband put up with me going to school off and on for over 20 years. Each of us have had diverse traveling schedules related to his work and for me, a need to individuate and see the world. I have found that resistance is often anxiety – partners need to reassure each other that they will return, you do want to be in the relationship, you are there because they matter to you.

 

Staying Married Means Aging Together

As we age we do not look as good, may not feel as good, and do not have the vitality we had when we first partnered. The question becomes are we going to face this stage of life together, or not? We may have to renew our intention if not our vows. This is where the real quality of character in our relationship comes through – if there has been respect, kindness, significant shared experiences , flexibility, communication, support , some humor and some good times together you may make it through to the end. It helps greatly if you have enough financial stability. a positive attitude about living, and the ability to accept things the way they are, even if you sometimes feel like working to change them. Ultimately we must face the pain of loving, and letting go.

Calming the Dialogue

I’ve learned a few things to say that calm the waters on a challenging day – “I agree”, “What do you need?” “I’d like to do this – how would you feel about it?” “What do you think or feel?”  If you have a spiritual life, that is, a deep intuition of your true nature and its connection to all of life, you will want to stay aligned with this. In relationship this means trying to get under the surface of how a partner feels and what they need, and seeking solutions that serve both of you equally well.  It means owning your own reactivity should it arise. It is not his or her fault. It means moving from the heart when you are able, and finding your way to peace and stillness when it is needed.  This is not easy at times, and you may always be on a learning curve as far as living your spirituality is concerned.  I certainly am.

These are some of the ways I’ve learned over a long haul that love. like any other energy, will not die, but simply keep changing form.

Awakening and Evolution

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It is helpful for some people to think of an awakening process as a biophysical and evolutionary shift rather than pigeon-holing the experience into a spiritual framework. While many spiritual traditions have an understanding and even a procedure for awakening to our True Nature, the possibility can emerge from many factors, not only from a meditation, prayer or energy-based practice,

The Renewal of Spirit

The outcome of a true awakening can be labeled spiritual, because it is a renewal of spirit, a shift of perception into an inclusive and more loving relationship with self and others. It may include occasional ecstasy, visions or mystical experiences, or it may not. These are side effects and not the point. Awakening is clear seeing in this moment of the underlying nature of existence. It becomes a relaxation into life. It is a continual unfolding of deeper perception.

It is paradoxical that as identification with a separate self falls away, we see not only the unity of all but the unique gift of its many expressions. When ego stops struggling for self-improvement and to be more compassionate or loving, our natural nature brings forward compassion and love spontaneously when least expected..

Consciousness Shifts Identification

Awakening shifts the locus of identification from “me” to “this”, from past and future to here and now. It is biophysical because such a radical change in perception must include a reorienting of our energy field and the way it holds our past and focuses our attention. So the energies of our life force often arise that bring up insight and stimulate a clearing away of old patterns.. There can be shaking, vibration, heat and inner intuitive guidance. Never let anyone tell you this is an outside force or any kind of foreign intervention. The messages of awakening are never threatening or fear-based, the way the unconscious voices of a troubled soul can be. They say things like “Be still” or “Stop thinking” or “Peace be With you” or “This is needed now”.

Awakening is the way of transformation and it begins inside of us. Certain practices may activate it but it can also arise spontaneously, Often people ask “Why me?” Whatever pulled you toward this awakenng process was meant to be – your number is up! In this life you are invited to wake up to what is real and to a new perception of the nature of life and humanity that will not be so “me” focused, so fearful of life and death, or so trapped by the beliefs that arose from your conditioning. This is what liberation is,

Letting Go of Resistance

You may feel fear or anger as this new energy or shifts of consciousness begin to undermine your sense of being in control in your life. Contraction makes the process more difficult to navigate. Imagine your body was orgasmic and you were trying not to feel it! Your body is trying to clear out stale beliefs and energies and open you to bliss and peace – contraction only increases discomfort. Let go.

Be Careful Who You Listen to

I hear many stories as I mentor people in the awakening process, or who have felt the arising of kundalini energy. Some experiencers have been told they are in danger, or that some kind of entity or evil is interfering with their life. These are the fantasies of unhealthy minds, and they are passing on beliefs (not truths) that arose out of the dark ages, or that are aimed at gaining power over your mind. If you are awakening seek genuine understanding from people who are joyfully awake and compassionately real. Look for purveyers of peace and wisdom.   If you are having a difficult time with old memories and emotions seek a caring therapist because the human you is as important as the free spirit of consciousness now arising. This consciousness will not leap over your personal challenges, but requires you to meet them and heal. Be willing to grow into the fullness of an awakened life and trust the energies and the understanding that unfolds.

Many people are entering this new territory of awakening today. Perhaps the world needs you to become open and free and your consciousness has invited itself to bring forward something new. It may get labeled spiritual at times, but it is actually an evolution in humanity.

 

Wisdom Without Dogma

Wisdom Without Dogma

Here is an opportunity to receive a free e-book “Wisdom Without Dogma” that includes an excerpt from my upcoming book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening”, to be released in April  My publisher, New Harbinger and Nonduality Press, is offering this collection of selected excerpts from several of their authors.

As New Harbinger writes “With these essential teachings, insights, reflections, practices, and real-life examples—written by renowned spiritual teachers and authors who speak from direct experience—you’re sure to find the guidance and support you seek on your own spiritual journey.”

I am honored and  excited to be part of this wonderful collection and encourage you to go to www.newharbinger.com where you can download for free this remarkable collection, and join their email list to get the first announcements when my book is released.  The sampling includes selections from:

  • Being Aware of Being Aware by Rupert Spira
  • White Fire by Mooji
  • Shakti Rising by Kavitha M. Chinnaiyan
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Yoga and the Pursuit of Happiness by Sam Chase
  • Kabalah Yoga by Audi Gozlan
  • The Kindness Cure by Tara Cousineau
  • Boundless Awareness by Michael A. Rodriguez
  • The Courage Habit by Kate Swoboda
  • When Spirit Leaps by Bonnie L. Greenwell
  • Suffering Is Optional by Gail Brenner
  • The Heartfulness Way by Kamlesh D. Patel and Joshua Pollock
  • Undivided Love by Lynn Marie Lumiere
  • Living the Life That You Are by Nic Higham

We invite you to explore all of these books, and wish you true well-being, peace, and joy.

How Consciousness Becomes Blocked

It’s not uncommon to find you have a block in your body, a place that feels tight and inflexible, where perhaps breath or movement is limited, but have you ever considered you may also experience blocks in your consciousness?hs-1998-13-c-thumb

People who have had energetic awakenings often feel they must unblock a chakra or a stuck place in their belly, chest, or throat before their energy will flow smoothly, enabling them to reach another degree of expanded consciousness. But this is only addressing the relative level of physical form. What I am seeing is that it is blocks in our consciousness, even more so than our body, that keep us from awakening and living from our true nature. Consciousness gets stuck!

How we Become Stuck

How does this happen? It is the nature of mind to create an identity, collecting data points that help us form a framework for what we are. So experiences and lessons learned are organized and programmed into our subtle body structure, our patterns of thought and emotion. When we awaken in the morning this programming reasserts itself and we remember me. Do you ever lie in bed when you first wake up and recall what day it is, and what you have to do today, before you move ahead? At a more subtle level you have first remembered me. This me holds your history and beliefs and an underlying assumption that everything that ever happened to you is true. And it is stuck.

This stickiness is like liquid cement forming blocks where you are not free because you are glued to an old memory, event or feeling that colors every aspect of your life.

These stuck places keep you from the freedom you are seeking. They were built at moments of great intensity – perhaps because of trauma, loss, fear or grief. I have seen them in people who cannot release the intensity of a past love, or the grief of a childhood loss, or the sense of a major failure. The intensity of a great love or a sacred experience that expands you beyond the boundaries of the personal self can also create a stuck place. The mind returns to it over and over again, or interprets the world through this lens and finds ordinary life insufficient, lacking the light and magic once experienced briefly. Anything felt intensely or believed thoroughly becomes a stopping place. It can create a sense of limitation, of failure, even of completion that inhibits further depth of understanding.

A block in consciousness can be as ordinary as believing in money as the proof of success (or conversely, as evil), or that a soul mate exists that must be found (or is lost), or the world is collapsing or that a new age is coming. It can be a strong belief in a spiritual tradition or a traumatic event lived over and over. It does not matter if it is negative or a positive stopping point: consciousness colors your awareness in the lens that became stuck in that moment of intensity. We see the world and experience our emotions through this distortion, and our lives are colored by it. It can be a personal lens, such as a belief you are seriously flawed, or a collective lens, such as the world is dangerous.

One example is the many ways our American political structure influences us. We are bombarded with perspectives designed to distort our perception, based on the perspectives of politicians. Our media carries continual reminders of the possibility of disaster and this information flows into our stuck places amplifying anxiety and keeping our attention focused on what can go wrong. Our brains can be spinning with concepts that support our stuck places.

It is an incredible breakthrough for anyone who can drop these heavy and dark influences long enough for consciousness to awaken itself.

How Consciousness Awakens

 I have known many blocks in consciousness, as all of us have. My perspective is clearly limited to that which is known through my own direct experience, included what is colored by the input of my family, culture and media. My parents, and then my partner in life had a strong influence on how and where I live, the children I have birthed, my lifestyle and perspectives (and I on him). One example — the loss of my mother at an early age colored how I felt about the stability of family and the anxiety I projected onto my children. When that block broke, a new perspective emerged. As I began exploring transpersonal experiences in graduate school many of the blocks of religious and cultural conditioning cracked or dissolved. But still, as a human, conditioning and outside influences shape my life. Spiritual freedom may open me to new ways of interaction with this, but does not end the encounters of my unique destiny in time and place.

I believe that every person and new experience we allow into our life adds a point of view, an opportunity for consciousness to become more inclusive, but our blocks limit who and what we let in. When blocks crack open, consciousness awakens more expansively, that is, out of the boundaries of the personal me.  This may happen through an encounter with an awakened person, through the deep silence beyond the mind discovered in meditation, and in some cases, spontaneously during moments when mind slips out of identity with our personal collection of beliefs about who we are.  The blocks

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may break suddenly like a dam that has burst. This can be felt as a shock or a blessing. We each adjust to the shift uniquely in line with our background, understanding and openness to change.

Can there be a limit?

The consciousness that has been stuck in the patterns of our belief system is originally unbounded – it permeates all the universe. It allows itself to be limited in order to have the experience of me. Who can say why, other than its inclination was to move toward creating and expressing in form, to know itself in billions of variations. We are aware that forms will arise and fall, live briefly and pass away. Underneath we believe we should never pass away, that life is too short, that we lose those we dare to love. We are afraid to lose our separate sense of me. When there is fear in an awakening process it is generally because of this attachment – the same as in the fear of death. But in fact we are only losing the limitations, the stuck places that happened in the process of living as a human, because we cannot lose the consciousness itself, the essence we are. In awakening moments we glimpse this possibility. We know it thoroughly, however briefly. We feel freedom or liberation from our stuck places. It is an openness beyond imagination. We rarely stay in this place because unfinished business recalls us to our old identities, but it is never the same again, because many of the blocks to perception cannot be rebuilt. And yet, unless we are vigilent, over time new stuck places arise. We need to meet these intensities with compassion and inclusion and then they gradually lose their capacity to create blockages in the free flow of consciousness. We need openness to what consciousness might explore, know more fully, expand into next. We need to allow this with curiousity and gratitude, rather than the drive and greed for experience characteristic of our separate self, and then we can realize more and more of what we truly are.

 

 

Self-Inquiry and the I Am

A student has asked about self-inquiry and whether he needs continually to remind himself to question “Who am I” and remember the “I am”.  His sense is that only in deep stillness is he present as the  “I am”.
One way of thinking of this awareness of “I am”, often emphasized in non-dual literature and approached in various ways by teachers, is that no matter what you are doing or thinking awareness is present. It is awareness noting your thoughts, emotions, stillness, sensations.  The way I think of self-inquiry is to just become curious about awareness itself, what is this awareness?  Where is it coming from in me?
Sometimes you are distracted by thoughts and when you notice this , you can step back out of your busy thoughts and inquire  what noticed these thoughts and distraction? How I am aware of what is happening here?

IMG_1390 Be very curious! But do not ask the mind for an answer. It is like tuning into a felt sense, and there is no mental answer — it is more like feeling into the unknown.  I think of it as turning awareness into itself and sinking into that.  Of course you can’t do this in the middle of a conversation, but you can take a breath and drop awareness into the gut and ask if what you are saying is true or authentic. Eventually when there is enough clearing so that  awakening is more consciously present you will discover how there is a felt intuitive sense in your gut .

 This intuitive knowing can guide our actions more authentically than our thoughts, and we can lean into this to establish what is true in the moment. It is like a compass connected to Source. If we go against it we usually feel uncomfortable.
However, we  can also go for years after awakening with occasionally getting entangled in an old pattern or emotion and this is not a problem, as long as we do not give up facing it.  As Adya says when these old parts of us arise, they are just old patterns that have not awakened yet. They arise for us to face them. We can then either write about them, or sit down and meet them fully and inquire about them seeking to know their source and release them or question if they are true(Byron Katie’s style) .  It is best not to be concerned about their arriving — we will always be in a human form and there can always be some old piece of work to do.  When there is, consciousness will let us know by bringing up division, confusion or emotion that doesn’t pass quickly. (We can always feel a wave of emotion but usually after a somewhat stable awakening it passes through quickly because there is no one here to hang on to it.) If it is sticky then we know it is an edge of our old identifications.  We need to accept it and meet it and see what it has to show us.

 

Eventually there is no need to feel into the I am — it is always there without words, like a relaxation into life.The one who is working to stay there falls away. Awareness can be engaged or it can be resting in spaciousness or stillness and it is all the same because no one objects or tries to change either experience.
There is a meditation on http://www.kundaliniguide.com that blends balancing energy with tuning into awareness. You might want to try it and see how it feels.