I had an experience.
It happened while bartending. Over 12 years ago.
The bar I worked in had a cigarette machine in the back. The bartenders were told to keep an eye out for under-18 teens sneaking in to get cigarettes.
One night three young-looking guys walked in and headed toward the cigarettes. I stopped them to check their I.D.s.
I looked at the I.D.s but my mind got dizzy and I couldn’t make sense of how to figure out their ages (this mind dizziness still happens, especially with numbers. doesn’t bother me too much. But it used to).
I tried but couldn’t make my brain work and I felt a wave of panic. The guys were staring at me, waiting. I had to go find my shift manager for help. When I asked my manager to look at the I.D. cards, he looked at me like I was crazy. Yes, they are 18, he said, annoyed at me.
As I walked back to hand them their cards and saw the expression on their faces, I felt the shame intensify and engulf me. And then the experience happened.
I suddenly became bigger than myself. I expanded to about 6 feet bigger all around my body. I watched from this bigger space, somewhat above myself, yet everywhere at the same time. From that bigger space I watched myself being embarrassed and hand the I.D.s back.
But as I watched I was unattached from it all. Just fascinated by what was happening.
Unattached might give the impression of flatness. It was not flat at all. It was magical and joyful. It was total and pure curiosity (not an analytical curiosity, but a “see what happens” curiosity).
I was free from the need to control or direct anything, including myself or what I was feeling.
The whole experience must have lasted only a few moments. But it felt longer, like it happened in slow motion.
For the following few days I felt peaceful and then the peacefulness faded and I went back to my usual inner turmoil. If anything, feeling even more unsatisfied.
In the back of my mind I was wishing I could find a way to make that experience happen again. I sensed this to be the way out of suffering. But I couldn’t figure out how to do that. Because I didn’t make it happen to begin with.
It was a completely spontaneous experience. I wasn’t really meditating or doing dedicated inner work at the time. I was actually working 3 jobs, barely sleeping, and living off Redbull. I was saving money for my “dream” of traveling the world.
I had been reading books on how to make your dreams come true, visualizing, etc. I couldn’t think of a dream that would make me happy except traveling. So I decided for a little while, with nothing else to go on, that traveling the world must be my dream. As usual for me back then, I was focused outside of myself and on the future (I thought that's where 'happy' must exist). I was ignoring what was right in front of me and within me.
Even though my life didn't immediately change much on the surface, that experience was a glimpse of a truth for me.
That glimpsed truth was that I am not my body, my mind, or my emotions. There is something else to who I am.
I recognized this something else as what teachers and mystics call witnessing awareness. I've heard descriptions of this witness being a non-judgmental awareness of all that is, and that it is full of joy. That sounded exactly like what happened for me.
I never had anything like that experience again until I did travel, but not the outer world, I shifted my search inward, traveling instead through my inner world. Instead of making my dreams come true, I started seeing the untruth in the dream I had been living in.
As I began peeling away the layers of my unconscious, the experience of expanding beyond my mind, emotions, and body, and witnessing have become regular occurrences.
I love my body.
Not in the physical way and in the "my body is beautiful as it is" kinda way. That's there as well.
But what I mean is how my body brings me to the Truth.
I've had times where my mood seems very low and I'm thinking things are not going well in my life. Then I allow my attention to drop deeper into myself, into my body, and I have felt a surprising lightness and a palpable sense that all is okay and fine.
Sometimes I will be excited and in a whirlwind of feel-good energy, but then I realize that my body is signaling to me that something isn't right. This has happened to me a lot actually, since I tend towards excitability.
This can happen in my love life, it can happen in my friendships and in group settings. All is seemingly great but then I get a moment to myself and something in my body doesn't feel good.
It might feel like being suddenly drained or tired. I've also experienced it as uneasiness in my own skin. Sometimes it’s a heaviness in my heart.
Nothing wrong with that bubbly fun energy. I like that about me yet I've been looking more closely at times where I am in that experience and have momentarily disconnected from myself. In these moments I'm not truly experiencing connection or real joy, I'm actually escaping from something.
I might have been escaping because I don't want to acknowledge to myself that I do not resonate with the ideas coming from people I'm around in that moment (nothing personal against others and their choices). Or it might just be time for me to rest and be alone and I'm resisting it. I've also seen myself be entertaining to people to get attention I've been craving.
Exploring escapism, especially in social situations, has brought up valuable opportunities for transforming my blind spots.
A major one for me right now is the fear of being alone. In working with this fear I've had beautiful glimpses that I'm never alone because I have myself. And within myself is all of existence.
But there are deeper layers still operating on this fear. I am actually feeling sad as I write this. I realized yesterday how I still diminish myself, my wisdom, and the work I do to at times to avoid feeling isolated and misunderstood (being alone).
Ouch. In diminishing myself I broke my own heart.
I know this sadness is necessary though and I'm just letting it be there and feeling it.
This is why I love my body, it connects me to the Truth, even if that Truth is uncomfortable. It won't let me kid myself.
Where have you noticed the difference between what your mind or mood is saying and what your body is saying? Feel free to share in comments.
I hated talking about my feelings. Ugh. Sharing my inner world. It was awful. This is how I felt up till my early thirties or so.
But I would have times of intense depression and desperation and the psychiatric medications I took weren’t enough to completely numb it. There was this idea I had that when you have an emotional or mental problem you “get help”. Like some kind of magical solution happens when you “get help”.
At that time “getting help” meant therapy to me. Going to some kind of expert, a professional. So despite the dread, I would motivate myself to seek out a therapist. This happened a few times over the years. I would go to someone and hate the sessions and then leave feeling worse. After a few sessions I just couldn’t bring myself to go back. When I stopped seeing that person I felt I had failed at “getting help”.
One main reason I felt worse after these sessions was because I had so much repressed pain that would start to surface and I had no idea how to talk about it. I didn’t understand it at all.
But there were other reasons. I felt like a sick patient in those sessions. It was also awkward because I would be blocked and it was hard to talk and the therapist would stare at me waiting for me to say something. The pressure was difficult for me. Sometimes I would share what was happening in my life and would feel I was being psychoanalyzed and would get further labeled or diagnosed. They wanted to pick apart my childhood and my relationship with my parents and that was excruciating to me.
I was intimidated by them. But I could sometimes sense their fear of me too, of my self-destructiveness, of how traumatized I was (even though I didn’t really know it then myself). Other times I would feel the person’s projection on me and I knew their solutions and ideas had nothing to do with me, it was their own unresolved stuff.
But then one day I attended this short workshop on dream symbolism at a local holistic health fair. I was immediately drawn to the woman who led it. I’m going to call her Nan (not her real name). Nan radiated a certain presence. After the workshop I looked up her website and found out she gives therapy sessions in her home in my neighborhood.
I started seeing her once a week and this went on for several months.
I loved it. I loved her. I started to open up. I was coming out of my shell a little. I felt lighter and happier than I had ever felt up to this point.
Interestingly enough she seemed to have no desire to fix me or label me or even try to help me solve my problems. In fact, sometimes I would tell her about the latest health problem I suspected I had and wanted to obsess over it. She would refuse to even discuss it saying “No, we aren’t talking about that”. I would be confused and disappointed at first. Isn’t she supposed to help me figure this out? Doesn’t she see I could be sick, maybe even die? Doesn’t she see something is seriously wrong with me?
Other times I felt relieved and elated with her permission in letting go of guilt and doing what made me happy. But then I would start to blame the other person for guilting me. Again she would say “Nope, not doing that”.
I didn’t realize it at the time but I was forced to let go during those sessions. Nan refused to indulge my fearful obsessive mind and my tendency to swing from blaming myself to blaming someone else.
Sometimes on the way to our session I would feel there was no point to going. I had nothing to talk about and nothing was going on. Those times we would just sit silently together, no pressure or expectation for anything to talk about. Out of nowhere I would start talking about something seemingly random that happened to me recently. And then I realized that yes, something did happen and it bothered me. Nan would listen. She sometimes shared a story. Sometimes just reflect what she noticed in my sharing.
After a few months, she moved away and I instinctively knew it was time for me to move on even though I struggled with losing her. (After this I went on to the work I'm doing now which has given me a depth of knowing that was unimaginable and unattainable for me at that time of seeing Nan)
So why was Nan’s approach to therapy so helpful to me while all the others weren’t? Some therapists I went to had successful careers, books published, and advanced degrees in psychology. Nan didn’t have these things, she was a retired social worker.
It took me years to understand why this woman had such an impact on me.
The two things that stand out to me:
She Respected Me
She Was Present
It seems so simple. But it is profound. Why? Because in order to give these things to me she had to have done it for herself first. That takes focused inner work and wisdom. Can that come just from learning psychology? Can respect and presence come by studying ourselves or another solely through mental concepts and elaborate mental explanations and strategies? No, not in my experience is this possible.
I see it as a deep, very honest, and mystical personal exploration inward. It’s facing the unknown, over and over. And over and over. Until it begins to be more of a way of life. In the unknown we inevitably come to layers of fears and pain from the past. Transforming what we come across frees us and we no longer need to project that onto others.
At that time of seeing Nan, I had not yet learned to respect myself. I had not yet learned to be present with myself. She modeled this for me though. I was not a broken human being that she had to fix and put back together, even though sometimes I wanted her to. She taught me without teaching me. She did what was easy and natural for her. Because of this, I was not a burden to her. I was paying her for a service she provided, yet she refused to take on my worries and fears.
Was she perfect? No. Could she help me understand what was driving my obsessiveness and my guilt and blame? Could she help me see the truth behind my dependence on medications? No. That wasn’t her purpose for me though. That came later when I started working with Mada Dalian. That’s when I started to uncover in myself the respect and presence that I continue to deepen and grow today.
I don’t blame those other therapists for not being able to help me. How could they? They were suffering deeply themselves. In some ways they were also a reflection of myself.
I know now that LOVE is not what we think it is.
I write this in gratitude to all who have guided me towards the next step, regardless of their level of awareness. Most of all to my teacher, Mada.
Light and positivity are not the same thing to me. If I relegated light to being positive my actual inner light would be restricted and stunted.
Light in the way I'm meaning it here is Consciousness.
Think of a flash light in a dark room. It reveals what has been hidden.
I allow both my “positive” and “negative”. I put those in quotes because truly to me, whatever reveals the truth, is ultimately positive. It is a YES to life itself.
Once I was at a retreat and was wearing a shirt with an opening in the back. Someone poked me in the back playfully and I asked them to not do that.
As I walked away I said to the person walking next to me “I guess that's what I get for wearing this”.
Wow. I didn't know that thought was in me!
If someone would have asked me if what a woman wears matters when she is receiving unwanted touch, I would have said “Of course not”.
But that would have been on the thinking mind's level. Deep down that thought that I said out loud at the retreat had been imprinted in me: Meaning I had at some point in my life heard this and believed it.
This happens to me frequently when I'm allowing myself to be authentic and spontaneous. I never know what I'm going to say, do, or discover.
There may be an expectation that I'm supposed to say or do things a certain way. But I want to continue expanding my consciousness (my inner light), so I can't focus too much on fulfilling superficial expectations.
Sometimes my insecurity is very visible. That's where I would like it, on the surface, living itself out. Not hidden, buried, and safely stored in order to fool myself behind a facade of confidence.
I am grateful for the people in my life who point out things for me that I’m unaware of. Sometimes though, a well-meaning person will try to help me fix what they think is a negative belief or my attachment to ‘my story’. They don’t realize that the story that is spontaneously falling out of my mouth and the emotions moving through my body are already unraveling….they are surfacing and disintegrating on their own.
Showing confidence is great! Unless, it's used as a protective facade, then it doesn't allow for healing what we’ve been trying to cover up. The healing would let the real inner confidence to open and bloom.
Sometimes it's our clarity that allows us to see the issues and lack of sensitivity in another person's behavior towards us.
But If we stay fixated on blaming them for our own stress & unhappiness then we lose contact with true reality. We haven't seen what the situation and person is there to teach us.
If you are reading this thinking your situation is an exception. If I were you, I would think again. You might very well be staring straight into the liberation you've been asking for and telling it….
“What is this situation here to show me?” is a question I use often. But I have to mean it when I ask it. I have to really WANT to know.
If this resonates on some level with you but seems very difficult: Have you first acknowledged, and fully expressed and felt any blame, hurt, anger, judgments, and self-judgments? This is how we compassionately and bravely take full responsibility for ourselves. For all we experience.
Another way to avoid reality and liberating yourself is to sugarcoat or spiritualize the situation. We can do this by trying really hard to or pretending to be loving, accepting, forgiving, grateful...when inside we actually feel very differently.
If you allow the challenge to deeply transform you, you may be shocked to experience a spontaneous gratitude for the asshole :)
I love seeing a Dalian Method client realize their own inherent worth and goodness. I enjoy teaching people, who are ready, the difference between positive mental beliefs and experiencing their truth from within.
People are usually shocked at how much beauty and intelligence and wisdom and love is inside them. It's there naturally. Without any contriving or contorting or improving themselves.
This realization happens from the courage they undertake to be completely honest about the feelings and thoughts they have been running from. This allows the pain and self-judgments that have been operating from their unconscious to be permanently released.
Over time the need for mental positive affirming and other strategies of denial naturally drop because we see the profound value in being who we are and what we are genuinely experiencing inside. No matter how seemingly imperfect we are, we no longer enjoy saying things we don't truly know or mean. We stop unconsciously escaping our reality. And when we are escaping we may prefer to tell ourselves the truth and accept ourselves anyways.
I've had people inform me about how "We all create our own reality" yet they adamantly resist compassionately looking at how they create their own pain and problems. Preferring to complain or blame something outside of them. Whatever "dreams" they do manifest will be ultimately unfulfilling or possibly even harmful, because of lack of self-awareness.
Or they may be aware they are creating their own problems to an extent, but instead of really looking at how this is happening, they blame and beat themselves up for any negative experience. They tolerate abuse from others and experience depression.
It's common where we are saying one thing and our unconscious is expressing something completely different and we are not aware of this. Some people are aware of their pain but think that using feel-good phrases, grand spiritual beliefs, and positive thoughts will fix the problem. I have been there myself. But doing this just keeps the root of the problem in the dark by repressing it.
These are just examples, and the underlying issues vary widely between people. I've also heard these being expressed authentically as well (It's about the energy behind the words, rather than the words themselves).
If you recognize yourself in this and want to experience the Dalian Method: You can do your own sessions by purchasing the 'Healing the Body & Awakening Consciousness with the Dalian Method' home study kit (comes with two audio guided sessions and a comprehensive book). You can also get a private guided session by a facilitator such as myself. The creator of the Dalian Method Mada Eliza Dalian also offers private sessions, online courses, tele-classes, and retreats.
NOTE: When we have been believing things such as "I'm Not Good Enough" or "I can't Trust Myself" for many years (or lifetimes), even when these are clearly seen as false and are released through the Dalian Method, it may take time to stop trying to be a better person or do things to live up to an ideal of who we should be or prove our worth. We may experience deeper layers that need to be released. The mind also has to learn to accept something so completely earth shattering to everything we thought we knew about ourselves. To everything we were told about ourselves. To everything that the people around us believe and think.
Dating is totally different for me since doing inner work. It has gone from painful drama to Adventure.
Several years ago I met a man online. At first it was just a few friendly messages. The conversations quickly became more frequent and we seemed to have a lot in common. I found him easy to talk to. We started chatting on video too (we live in different states).
In our conversations I would have these moments thinking “wow, he says all the right things!”. I felt such a strong connection and trust with him. And this is all happening in the space of 3 weeks or so. I felt like I could really be myself and not worry about anything.
I don’t remember most of the details of our conversations except this one thing he told me: “No matter what, I never stop being someone’s friend. I never cut someone out of my life.” This gave me such a feeling of safety.
So my mind was saying yes to this man. But my body was apparently saying something else entirely. I just wasn’t really listening to my body at first. During one video chat he looked at me curiously and asked me if I was cold. I looked down and I was wearing a sweater with two jackets over it (pretty hilarious actually, it was summer). We were talking about sex during that conversation and as we talked I kept getting up to grab more clothes to wear.
I wasn’t cold. I was uncomfortable.
But I dismissed my discomfort as my own woundedness because I was working through a lot of trauma during that time. I told myself “Keep an open mind. It’s good to discuss these things openly”.
I happened to have a retreat trip planned in California a few hours from where he lived coming up and I was considering adding extra days to my trip so I can visit him. But it was all happening really fast and I started to have mixed feelings. The mixed feelings were the conflict of what was coming from what my mind wanted and what my body & intuition were saying.
So I decided to dedicate some time to focus and go inward and go deeper into my intuition. When I let go of my mind and I did this I got very clear very fast: It didn’t feel right to visit him on my trip. Not only that, it didn’t feel right to even pursue a relationship with this man.
I decided to trust this and act on this. Even though I didn’t really know why, I mean he still seemed like a great guy to me.
I emailed him to let him know that I would like to just remain friends. I explained it so he would know I wasn’t angry or had a problem about anything. I also figured if it’s meant to be more than friendship then it can happen with time. I also understood that it might trigger some insecurity in him but that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for such an emotionally mature man as him.
He replied and expressed shock at my sudden change of heart. But he said he understood and honored my decision.
Then the next day he blocked me from all social media and completely disconnected from me.
Now I was the one shocked. But just at first. I was also actually so glad to see how right my intuition was!
I realized most of the conversations coming from him were lies. He was telling me what I wanted to hear.
I wasn’t angry though. I saw why it worked on me. He made me feel special. He made me feel understood. He made me feel safe. He made me feel important and significant.
He gave me what I was starving for and unconsciously looking outside of myself for. He showed me where my insecurities were.
Experiences like this have helped me transform those starving parts of myself. Each experience, whether positive or negative, brings me a step closer to being whole within myself. I’m also much more self-aware. I can feel when a situation or person makes me feel “special” or “important”. If something feels good, great I enjoy it. But I’m much more alert to the difference of feeling good that is coming from my ego-mind (self-importance) and those of my body (it feels more organic and less like a story of my identity getting fed).
Am I completely done with insecurity, with any attachment to being special or important? No. But I am celebrating the distance I have traveled to this place of being on an adventure. Does the adventure mean no pain? No. But the pain, when it does happen, is VERY useful.
Before doing this inner work there was so much anxiety and pain in dating and relationships. I was at times living out a longing and fantasy and there was no genuine intimacy. It was total bullshit actually (sorry to any exes reading this).
Then I would feel betrayed if I felt the person wasn’t genuine. But I wasn’t even genuine with myself. There was no possibility in those situations for any sincere intimacy.
Our socialized ideas of romance are fantasies that come from our unfulfilled needs and longings. To stay in this is to ride the roller coaster ride of pain and heartbreak. It’s actually insane, if you really see if for what it is. So much drama, and we actually create the whole thing ourselves much of the time.
But coming out of this game has been liberating. Instead of feeling resentful and blame towards anyone I’m glad to have the experience because each person teaches me so much about myself.
Instead of shutting down my trust and becoming bitter or fearful from these learning experiences, I grow MORE trusting. MORE trusting of myself. MORE trusting of whatever life brings me. I don’t need to carry the hurt memories. I don’t need to guard against or worry about other people and their intentions.
I also don’t get too offended when someone lies to me. It’s not personal. It’s their own issue and not for me to figure out. My only responsibility is to see through my own delusions.
I don’t trust because people are trustworthy.
I trust because I am trustworthy.
“Negative emotions are toxic to your physical health”
This is one of those statements lacking real practical wisdom. I have not found this view, however popular, to be beneficial.
Yes it’s true that our mental and emotional state affect our physical health and can contribute to illness. It’s good to be aware of how everything is connected. Yet the idea that our emotions are toxic can, ironically, contribute to the very toxicity we want to avoid.
Here is why...
No emotion in itself is toxic. Even rage. What makes it toxic is repressing it. When we believe the mind that judges an emotion as “wrong” or "bad" or “toxic” we are repressing that emotion.
Anything repressed will cause problems
Judging all my anger as toxic = repression = more struggle and fighting with myself = suffering = staying unconscious of the messages life is sending me = toxic.
We will also end up taking it out on other people because it will find an outlet. It has to. It will either come out passive-aggressively or as an explosion because emotions are not meant to be forced away or pushed down. If we reach a reactive explosion point, we can feel shocked and guilty and try to control ourselves more. In an attempt to avoid the shame we might rationalize or blame someone or ourselves. This all keeps the unhealthy repressive cycle going until we have a deeper understanding.
I think stress is misunderstood too. Chronic stress needs to be addressed, but avoiding all stress to me would mean to avoid growth. For example we can certainly feel great pressure in the midst of transformation. If we are stepping into something new we will feel uncomfortable. If we only saw the pressure as toxic and felt we should always feel peaceful and calm, would that be helpful? It would be very limiting wouldn't it?
Accepting our "negative" emotions and finding healthy ways to express and explore them benefits us in so many ways.
Our emotions are wise messengers.
**Acceptance of our emotions doesn't mean we believe and act on them without awareness. Emotions themselves are not necessarily the wisdom, but allowing them and exploring them free of judgment brings us to wisdom.
Leela Haris ~ E x p a n d i n g Consciousness