I dedicated my life to only one thing.
Learning to die consciously.
As a young adult I gladly and with great relief left the world and joined a group of monks in a simple small remote village. A village isolated and far removed from the activity of the world. I spent the rest of my days meditating and listening to and trying to understand the teachings of the Buddha and the wisdom of my Lama (teacher and spiritual guide in Buddhism). I tried very hard to learn how to die consciously. It was the only goal I had. Nothing else mattered to me. Why would it? The world as the scriptures taught me, is just an illusion.
There was never any doubt that I was doing the right thing. I studied and followed the teachings carefully and seriously.
I meditated, fasted, took part in ceremonies, memorized, chanted, and prayed faithfully, and performed good deeds which I believed would clear past karmas.
I never let myself be angry or even think of harm towards another living being.
Anything my teacher asked of me I never hesitated. I was happy to be his student, in the presence of and in service to such a great sage.
I did everything the 'right' way. I was convinced I was giving myself the best chance of dying a conscious death and then I would free myself permanently from the suffering of life and death.
All those other people who were out there in the world having relationships, families, and trying hard at their jobs; I thought they were all lost. Can’t they see that everything they are doing and trying to create is temporary? We will all die anyway, why waste time on anything to do with the world of illusion?
I was glad not to take part in all that illusory and superficial activity.
I was a seeker.
I was confident I had found the right path.
I stayed steady and unwavering on this path all the way into old age.
Then the day came.
Death came for me.
As I was being pulled away from my body I experienced only terror and could not stay conscious. I was shocked at my own fear and weakness. I couldn’t believe I spent all my life preparing for this moment and yet I failed so miserably.
I concluded from this that it was because I’m weak and a failure and carried these beliefs along with the pain and disappointment for many lifetimes.
Several years ago, I relived the memory of that life and I released the beliefs and pain.
Then I understood the real reason why I, as that dedicated monk, experienced such terror and could not stay conscious.
I saw it all clearly.
I had died afraid because I lived afraid
I saw all the things I had been running from.
Being a monk in that remote community meant I did not have to face responsibility for my own survival. Someone else would take care of me. Someone else would tell me how to live. I didn’t have to make difficult decisions. I didn’t have to think of things like my body, or money, or people, or my desires. I didn’t have to feel too happy or too hurt or too anything.
My monk self thought of himself as unattached.
But the truth was that I was deeply attached. I was attached to material things, to money to pleasure, to people. The world. To many things.
That is why I felt I had to run away from it all.
That is why I separated myself.
That is why I studied so hard and memorized the teachings.
But I had never truly discovered what the teachings were about. I believed in them strongly, but this only meant I carried them and clung to them as ideas. They actually became barriers, since I thought I knew something that I didn’t truly know.
I didn’t realize that being in the presence of a great teacher and hearing or reading wisdom was not enough. Not near enough. I had to learn what they meant, I had to realize wisdom through experience. Not my teacher’s experience. MY experience.
I would have had to live.
Be in the world and live.
This would have meant facing the complexities and difficulties of life. Things like money and my mixed emotions about it. I would have to fall in love and risk my heart being broken. I would have to experience failure. I would have to experience success and then inevitably see it pass. See the suffering, violence, and unrest in the world. See it in me.
This time around the priority of the inward seeking guides me on how to see the opportunities in what the monk saw as “just illusion”.
So many lessons to learn and grow from. So many fears to walk through and vulnerabilities to embrace.
Now when I think of that lifetime, I feel a sense of gratitude for the challenges life brings me in my day-to-day current life.
Yet also, so so much goodness too, so many discoveries and gifts to enjoy, and share.
So much LIFE to live.
Would you like to discover your soul history?
Work with the Dalian Method on your own.
Work with Leela.
Feelings of anger and frustration came up for me this week. Yet also heaviness and resistance at the thought of facing and exploring these feelings. The anger and frustration was triggered by recent world and U.S. events.
Ugh, it’s too much, I just wanted to numb it all and go to sleep.
But I knew I needed to work with these feelings.
I started expressing it and the feelings of anger and frustration grew stronger and just kept coming, over and over. It felt endless as I traveled through this anger. I kept saying “I hate this situation!” and “I hate being here!”. Resistance and tiredness still in my body as I traveled back through many lifetimes. I felt acute frustration with this f***ing broken-record of experience on this planet: The same manipulation, the same darkness, the same hypnosis that uses fear to control people.
At times I would break into tears of sadness and helplessness.
I kept going knowing I was releasing all this from the cells in my body. I needed to express for all the times I felt these things but pushed it down.
Some of the anger was at myself from participating in this darkness. Some of it was from being forced to censor myself. At other times anger at being severely punished for standing out. Further memories came at being publicly punished and humiliated and used as an example to instill fear in others.
GRRRRR. It felt like this primal Tiger in me that just kept growling, and roaring, and wanting to rip everything up!
But then a deeper experience of this primal energy came and this part did not feel like a wound. I was now accessing tremendous power. This anger was proof that I am alive. Proof that I know what doesn’t feel right. Proof that I know the difference between a lie and the truth.
The tiredness and heaviness was released and I felt energized and awake.
Then this primal power roar shifted again and became even bigger. Now it was like tidal waves moving through me! I allowed it to flow and it felt like a delicious and loving fire burning through and lighting up my body. Yet it also extended far beyond my body and personal self.
I then realized something: This is not mine. This is the collective.
But then the question came to me: Why do I need to feel and know about this collective expression of anger and power? What’s the point?
The answer: To voice and share it.
Many may be feeling this but stuffing it down, misunderstanding it, moralizing it and judging it. So that is why I am to share this.
But then more came.
An incredible vision.
It filled me with awe and tears of joy started to flow.
I saw the masses in unison saying “NO MORE”. All of humanity raising our fists in the air. This powerful collective energy surged through all beings and the entire planet. This powerful “NO MORE” did not feel violent, it did not feel thirsty for revenge, it did not feel divisive, projective or harmful. It felt AMAZING!
It felt like
It felt like OUR HEARTS
It felt like OUR POWER
It felt like OUR LOVE
It felt like all of us being vehicles for LIGHT
The light in us seemed to me to be saying:
WE ARE DONE NOW WITH THIS
WE ARE DONE WITH YOUR ENDLESS WARS.
WE ARE DONE FIGHTING AMONGST EACH OTHER.
WE ARE DONE COMPETING WITH EACH OTHER.
WE ARE DONE HARMING EACH OTHER.
WE ARE DONE LETTING OUR CHILDREN BE ABUSED AND INDOCTRINATED.
We are now ready to protect LIFE.
OUR RIGHTS -
TO LIVE FULLY
TO BE ABUNDANT
TO BE GIFTED AND POWERFUL AND HONEST AND LOVING
WE ARE NOT PLAYING YOUR GAME ANYMORE.
WE SEE THROUGH IT NOW
So who are we shouting all this to?
A small group of elite but hidden people who control and hoard this planet’s resources. They feed not just off accumulating money and false power, they feed off our fear and trauma and suffering.
They intentionally create wars just to feed their appetites. Not just military war between countries though, they also intentionally fuel race and class wars and division among us. They love it when we hate each other. They love it when we fear each other and compete. They love it when we feel helpless and need someone to save us.
They feed off it all like hungry vampires and zombies. They spread their vampiric ways to humanity so that we all think we are broken, wrong, limited, and sinful.
They promote ideas of scarcity while hoarding.
But what came to me is that the scarcity isn’t real and that this planet has plenty for all of us to live happy and abundant and fulfilling lives.
In this vision we shout this “NO MORE” not just in solidarity against the elite darkness, but also, or maybe more importantly, as a collective DECISION.
As an energetic unveiling into a new paradigm of Unity. Out of realizing that our differences do not need to be reason for war and suffering.
We are all citizens of Earth and the Universe, we all belong here. Every race and ethnicity brings wisdom. Every path to the divine has its purpose and contribution. Every way of life has a learning for the soul that gravitates to it.
This kind of Unity that I envision though does not ask us to fit in and compromise our deeper truths and our individuality. It does not censor us or require us to be homogeneous. In fact I envision a very colorful and diverse magical world where we can all shine in our uniqueness.
There are different ideas of how to best be together in an organized society though (or not organized if that’s what you feel is best). I see us forming smaller groups to live the way we want. These smaller groups are not created out of separation though and do not exist in opposition to each other. They exist to bring about creativity and human potential. There is no competition between the groups, only mutual respect even though we see things differently. No one imposes their ideas onto others or needs to compete for resources.
The groups are created so that each person has a chance to honor themselves and live in the way they feel most in alignment with. People are free to visit and come and go among the groups which will be scattered all across our beautiful planet.
The groups will provide an opportunity for souls to come here and joyfully learn according to what they need to experience to continue evolving in their journey on Earth and through the Universe.
But this new paradigm will not include violence, control, or repressive right/wrong beliefs. The Souls that need to learn through that kind of thing will have to go elsewhere.
Many people think this vision of a new world I describe is impossible because they think humans are inherently dumb, broken, flawed, greedy, and violent. I think that with time we will come to realize this as a limiting belief of the past that we’ve been hypnotized with and has very little to do with our true nature, which is love. I think this will be seen more and more when light overtakes darkness on this planet.
I don’t know when or how this will come about. But I feel excited at all the possibilities!
For now, we each can heal our history and continue evolving and discover this in our own hearts and lives.
I’ve been working on this habit of mine to avoid things that I assume I won’t enjoy.
There were small trees sprouting up very close to the house I live in. I didn’t want to procrastinate any longer on getting them removed. (sad for the trees I know, but they can damage the house and I feel responsible for caring for the house).
I finally got the right equipment to cut them down. Leading up to doing it and while doing this project my mind kept saying “I can’t do it. This is too hard and too much work”.
It was fascinating to me to observe this thought looping over and over. At one point I had already cut down 2 trees and the thought was still there “This is too hard”. I’m familiar with this thought and I notice how often it comes up in my daily life when I try to accomplish something and how it can make me feel tired and overwhelmed. Then I avoid dealing with or completing the project.
After cutting nearly all the trees down, I then paused for a moment and just said to myself-to my own mind: “I’m doing it. Right now. And it’s not even that hard!”. It was funny how I was talking back to that thought and showing it the evidence of how I can do this and it’s pretty easy. I needed to do that to energize myself because that thought process was draining me.
In my body and energetic visceral experience this tree project was easy and it was even fun. I liked being outside in the fresh air and telling the little tree souls to have a good journey onward.
My mind made it a struggle because I was doing something that takes me even a little out of my usual world and however small the action seems, it expands me and gives me joy to accomplish it. The mind though, likes to keep life restricted.
So now when I have that “I can’t do it, it’s too hard” thought, I often pause and can give myself an experience beyond my mind’s assumption.
I felt happy when I took the above photo after I was done. I love to stop and celebrate every little hurdle overcome.
What about you? Have you had an experience like this where a thought process was so obviously not reality?
My father had a brief stay in the hospital once (it turned out to be nothing serious).
Several of us were visiting and had gathered around him as he rested in his hospital bed. He and my young nephew were hungry so someone brought some burgers and fries.
While eating my father offered my little nephew one of his fries. My nephew instinctively and gleefully took it and gobbled it up.
My nephew's father (my brother), alarmed at this, said to him:
“No No, don't take grandpa's food. You have your own."
Even though he was just simply accepting a gift that was joyfully & freely offered to him.
A few moments later, ignoring my brother's lecture, grandpa offers him another fry.
This time my nephew raises his hand and waves it in objection and says "no, I can't take it".
My brother beamed in pride at seeing this and there was a moment of admiration in the room about how kind and good my nephew is.
But as I watched this unfold I knew my little innocent nephew wasn't truly BEING kind, he was following the orders he was given for how to behave. It wasn't coming from his heart's truth.
He wanted the fry but learned in that moment how to act differently.
This is how most of our human population is. We experience many moments like my nephew that shape us to act a certain way. With time we start to believe the act is who we are.
We then expect and ask others to act accordingly too.
Many are also like my brother, trying to raise a good child. Maybe even a good christian who believes in and follows god. They want their children to be a force of something good and an example of what they believe is right. Perhaps also wanting them to get to heaven someday.
But in our programmed "good behavior", in our false humbleness and "niceness", we are far from our innate goodness, God is farthest from us in those times. Because God is what we are, when we are BEING what we are.
I have been where my nephew is, trying to survive in this upside-down world. I have been the others in the room admiring "how sweet he is" and I have so often been my brother, passing down my belief & control patterns to vulnerable ones.
GOD was already there, saying YES to the french fry.
In my personal experience in how my self-awareness has grown in the 45 years I've been alive, and in my observation of people: I've realized something.
Most people who are afraid don't know they are afraid.
This was about 5 or so years ago, one morning during meditation I got a clear urging from within to focus on being centered.
So I stayed very focused on that peaceful unmoving center within me as I got ready for work.
*** It took me years of inner work to discover this center, before that, I didn't know what it meant to 'be centered', just a vague notion that it was to be peaceful and unaffected somehow, to be zen-like. Now I know it is that but doesn't always look zen-like on the surface. We can be in movement and expression of various feelings while also being centered and peaceful within. ***
As I drove that morning to work still focusing on my center, someone in the stream of traffic stopped abruptly causing an accident involving about 5 cars.
I was in one of those cars, and my car hit the guy's bumper in front of me, but not too hard. The women's car behind me, however, slammed very hard into mine, totaling my car.
No one was hurt too seriously and I was unscathed, physically, and emotionally. I calmly just did what needed to be done while also observing what was happening around me.
As all the drivers pulled over to wait for the police and deal with the situation, the woman who had slammed into me was visibly shaken.
She shared with me that she has an anxiety disorder and suffers from panic attacks. It looked to me like she might have a panic attack soon. So I suggested that she breathe slowly and deeply and we did this together. This helped her and she relaxed a bit. Then I mentioned that the breathing will help her feel the fear and that it's okay to let the body shake and tremble. (I too have had panic attacks )
All of a sudden she reacted, upset at my use of the word 'fear', saying to me "What! I'm not afraid!".
She was unconscious of the fact that anxiety and panic is fear.
Her reaction to the word 'fear' was resistance to acknowledging it in herself. Acknowledging and feeling it though would have allowed it to move through her which could prevent a full-blown panic attack. (judging & resisting a feeling gives it more power over us)
There are many ways we hide fear. Psychological phrases and diagnosis is one way we might do that. It can help us become somewhat more aware but only diagnosing ourselves mentally can keep us in our mind and out of our body. This happens especially in times of shock or abrupt change (I've done a lot of healing for myself around shock & trauma).
Intentionally exploring the ways we hide fear and hide from fear is so helpful. Fear often drives us unconsciously, limiting our potential and happiness, and it's also built into our social fabric. We all experience fear yet there's this unspoken message that it's not okay to talk about it. And to show that we are afraid is not okay either and means we are weak somehow.
I've often been surprised at what I've discovered when I explore my fears. But I'm so glad for this self-exploration path I've chosen because we can't change something without becoming aware of it first.
Examples of fears:
Fear of being rejected
Fear of being alone
Fear of making mistakes
Fear of losing control
Fear of being judged
Fear of fear
Fear of the unknown (a very challenging one)
Fear of death (a very challenging one too and is related to fear of the unknown)
What would you add to this list?
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.
My perspective on what it means to Be Conscious.
It is not in the way I talk or words I use. It's not the way I look, act, or dress. It is not a technique I use or approach to life I prefer. It is not the teacher I love working with. Nor is it about some kind of gift, talent, or ability. It is not in being kind nor is it in any particular trait in me.
It's not a list of good deeds I can show off.
It's not in the money or any outer success I can attain.
It's not in environmentally aware habits, living clean, or simple. It's not in not having money, success or possessions either.
Becoming more conscious can certainly influence and bring profound changes, it has for me. The outer changes though, for me, are really secondary.
Consciousness for me is an inner alert state of being. It has nothing to do with spiritual correctness, in fact it obliterates it. I've come to a realization that consciousness is the only thing that recognizes and detects consciousness. Which is one reason there is so much confusion out there. This confusion is when we try to think ourselves into being conscious.
A story to illustrate what I'm trying to say…
Years ago, through a few documentaries, I became aware of how horribly animals are treated in the meat industry. Months after this I began to ask myself "If I care for animals, why am I still eating meat knowing how cruelly they are treated?"
I wasn't judging myself. I was honestly curious about this.
Not long after this question arose for me, I discovered that deep down I believed myself to be dark.
I was initially nervous to find out where this belief came from and what the darkness was about.
In allowing this belief to fully surface and be expressed (using the Dalian Method) I discovered this rigid stubbornness in me insisting that I AM dark. Insisting that this is who I am: “I like being dark and dammit I'm not letting this go!”
During the healing session this then shifted and I felt the fear that was behind the stubbornness. I was afraid (terrified actually) to dissolve into the light.
The fear lasted several minutes then it released from my system. A wonderful peace and clarity surfaced. I realized that the so-called darkness didn't have much substance to it. It was just my ego that wanted to stay in that identity of being dark because it was afraid to dissolve into the light. I let go of that identity and welcomed the beauty of more light (of expanded consciousness).
After this I decided it was time to stop eating meat. The next day after I made the decision, during my lunch break from my office job, I went to my usual Mexican food place. Out of habit I initially ordered something with meat and then stopped. I remembered my decision and changed my order to a vegetarian option. In that moment when I switched and ordered the vegetarian item I saw a vision of myself stepping out of the stream of darkness I had been attached to.
It was a beautiful experience in honoring with action my shift in consciousness. It was a way for me to step out of the old identity.
Now, here is what I didn’t have a desire to do…
To BECOME a vegetarian. Meaning I was not interested in now having a new identity for my ego to attach itself to. "I was dark, but now I'm light and don't eat meat".
I wasn’t interested in telling people they should do it too or feeling superior to meat-eaters and making any assumptions about them.
I was simply letting something go. I didn't want to fill that new space with something else. To fill it with a new identity (even if it does seem like an improvement over the old one). Instead I can enjoy having more space and light in me.
Working inside-out is how I like to do things. If I had become a vegetarian before that inner shift happened because I "should" than I am not sure how it would have gone. It would not have had the same meaning for me and I would’ve struggled with sticking to it. I probably would have also created another battle within (by trying to think myself into consciousness).
And if I’m really wanting to eat meat, which I do every now and then, I just let myself have it. I’m not going to fight with my cravings (been there, it sucks). I'm not bound to anything either.
My habits, including "bad" ones, are just to help me understand and discover new things. About life. About what it is to be human. About myself.
After what I've personally released and have worked through over the years, the last thing I want is more programming or another ideology (however healthy or altruistic it may seem).
There are definitely major turning points in my life but Being Conscious isn't a place I arrive at, it is an on-going expansion into new experiences. Some experiences I admit are way more enjoyable than others. But it is a never-ending discovery that lets me stay open and flexible so I can adjust when I learn something new (or UN-learn something new).
This is how I work best, it's not necessarily going to look this way for everyone. Perhaps for another it is expansive and fulfilling a purpose for them to tackle certain problems in our society. Just like those documentaries influenced me and I'm glad someone created them.
**Technically I’m a pescatarian because I eat seafood.
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.
“This Should Be Easy” <- Ever have this judgment toward yourself?
I have this habit - When anything breaks or something needs to be maintained: on my car, on my computer, or in my home. I immediately go into mental complaining and resistance. If possible I will find a way to avoid dealing with it.
Even the smallest things. The other day I got home and a light bulb in my kitchen went out. My mind immediately said what it typically says “Oh man, such a pain. Nah, I’ll change the light bulb later. I can live with less light in here”.
I saw the resistance and thoughts very clearly. Instead, I went down to my basement storage to get a new light bulb and changed it.
I find these daily life things a struggle and often the thought comes “This should be easy” which fuels more resistance to what is.
What I started to do is have a little “I’m so proud of me!” party when I deal with something I would normally put off.
So after I changed the light bulb…. instead of being a stern parent by telling myself that I did something I SHOULD do...I recognized that little victory and celebrated it. I gave myself a hug and said “Good job Leela!” and then did a little happy dance.
Imagine me in my kitchen dancing around singing and flailing my arms up “Yay I changed the light bulb!”
I already give myself credit for more obviously challenging things, but wanted to speak to the less-obvious & under-acknowledged challenges we face.
So here is what happens when I give myself credit:
I know what is easy for me and what is challenging for me. I can honor this instead of letting comparison, and the outer world’s ideas (including my own mind) dictate what 'should' be easy.
After reading this do you now realize what you need to give yourself credit for? Let me know in the comments. We can have a “I’m so proud of Me” party!
Or don’t share and do it alone if that feels most self-empowering for you!
***If you are unable to go beyond a particular place of struggle or self-judgment, then there is something causing it that you haven’t yet become aware of. Explore what that could be! You can also give yourself credit for something that feels already pretty light with not so much self-judgment (for example, my ‘should be easy’ judgments I refer to in this blog were not very intense for me to begin with.)
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 illusions.
I don’t trust because people are trustworthy.
I trust because I am trustworthy.
Leela Haris - Expanding Consciousness