“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
The subject of inner growth is core to our species. We see the various religions and spiritual systems offering pathways to God and Self, yet most of these lead to irrational beliefs and dead-ends.
Stories of ascension, ascended masters, alternate dimensions, miracles, higher and lower vibrations, sin, redemption, heaven and hell, all produce endless paths to delusion.
As the Zen Koan goes, “before enlightenment chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment chop wood and carry water”, there is a hidden meaning in this saying that explains the spiritual path accurately.
First off, notice how it says “after” enlightenment but it doesn’t say “once” enlightened chop wood and carry water. My interpretation of this is that it’s not until you ‘wake up’ FROM enlightenment that you return to the true self you were when you started the journey.
Enlightenment isn’t about achieving a state of ascended consciousness, it’s about deconstructing everything that is false about you and your world. It’s about waking up to reality rather than falling asleep in it. Becoming “truth realized” requires confronting false engrained beliefs and convictions.
The Buddhist word for enlightenment has nothing to do with achieving a higher state of cosmic consciousness, rather, it’s about waking up from it. The word bodhi, means “the knowledge or wisdom, or awakened intellect, of a Buddha. The verbal root budh- means “to awaken,” and its literal meaning is closer to “awakening.” So, the question is, awaken from what? The answer is—the dreamstate.
But what is the dreamstate? It is your waking dream of the world and yourself. It is what you believe about reality that is not grounded in reality. For instance, a man believes women cheat on him, but the fact is, he consistently projects his mother’s abandonment complex onto women he becomes intimate with.
A seeker believes the world is an illusion, a matrix of mind control, but the facts are the opposite. The natural world is reality, and their delusions are hallucinations spawned from corrupt New Age teachings.
Confronting the truth of the matter is painful because one must reenter the awful cave that erroneous beliefs were born in. The same goes with adult child fantasies about how the universe works, such as the idea that an all-pervasive God Consciousness is unconditional love, in spite of the horrors of nature.
The term bodhi, also translates to insight, knowledge, and the “blowing out” of disturbing emotions and desires toward freedom, or release, which results in the attainment of Buddhahood, which means— Awakened One.
It is especially important to understand that it’s about awakening from the dreamstate and not attaining some fuzzy higher level of cosmic consciousness. Spiritual experiences are fascinating, but transient—they come and go like the tides of the sea. What we are looking for is the default ground of being. The only way to get there is to undo the false wrapped around it.
The key to understanding the above Zen Koan is the ‘middle part’ of the ‘before and after’ chop wood and carry water business. The middle part is the spiritual path, and it is called a labyrinth for a reason. It is the dream-state, the place where seekers are initiated through the trials and tribulations of delusions, pitfalls, perils, and hard truths. It is the treadmill that gurus and spiritual teachers manipulate the masses with.
Seekers come to these charlatans to find guidance through the maze and end up becoming trapped there. This is what I call being “trapped in the subjective light” which is when someone has lost the distinction between their inner world and the outer world. They have become imprisoned by images of light and love which deceive them into a false sense of security. The ‘Create Your Reality’ and ‘Merkaba’ teachings are a perfect example of this. Although some breakthrough this attractive dreamstate, many go to their death drunk on delusion and asleep in the light.
The idea that the spiritual path will lead to an enlightened state, ascension, or a heavenly abode, is the essence of the dream world. It is the dream world being taught as the real world—reverse reality.
The “before enlightenment” material world has become an illusion and the dream world reality. It produces an exalted state of consciousness that looks down upon the physical world with pity—this is the trap of the dream world and a psychic state I call Divine Narcissism (you can read a full chapter on this topic in my book).
Serial killers get their prey through the appearance of an attractive, safe, personality. It is the same with New Age spirituality (the middle part). It uses ‘light and love’ to attract followers like a moth to a flame. The images and ideas of non-earthly existence and supernatural powers feed the developing spiritual identity. This new self grows out of the prior suffering self. In this context, it’s not the darkness one must escape, but the light.
To keep the circus going, this exalted state must be validated daily. This is why books, audio programs, cults, spiritual practices and Satsang meetings are necessary. Its nothing different than what Christians do with their church services and Bible. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these activities if one is “Awake” and simply participating from an observer’s point of view. Meditation and Yoga can be healthy practices along with drawing wisdom from ancient texts.
From the dream world state, you will find so-called enlightened people virtue signal from their high frequency state, or religious people pray for you because they are in God’s club and you’re not. All of this activity is meant to reinforce their spiritual identity that is in denial. The more they reinforce their belief system, the more they suppress their shadow. The unconscious voice is abandoned in its emotional prison. Like the Kraken rising from the watery depths, that which is continually suppressed, will shape shift into whatever form to get your attention. This is the realm of nightmares, drug abuse, broken relationships and psychic disassociation.
Using spirituality and religion to bypass one’s unconscious, demonstrates the fear inherent in the quest. Immortality is the perfect scapegoat. WHen the psychic shadow is ignored, it gets projected outward as bad aliens, negative frequencies, the evil Cabal, Satan, you name it. Of course, evil does exist in the world but that’s different from projection. There is reality and there is projection.
The evolving psychic self, at any moment along the path, is connected to a morphing story. As we grow, aspects of ourselves fade away as new selves emerge from the ashes, much like a snake shedding its skin. The destination is our authentic-self awakening to its physical story rooted in childhood. The dream-self has been dismantled and the default-self has been realized. No longer does one have to prop up a delusional self and its story.
As the Buddhist definition of enlightenment stated, “the blowing out of disturbing emotions and desires toward freedom,” each authentic revelation along the path dispels the earlier revelation yielding a fresh release of psycho-emotional energy. It could be goosebumps, an emotional release, tears, laughter, a profound insight or a renewed excitement about life. These transformations can range from simple insights to kundalini experiences.
The Great Deception
The difficulty with the spiritual path (middle part) is that it is there to transcend, not to perpetually exist in.
And much like a movie, It offers grandiose, supernatural promises of hope, but it is nothing more than images on a psychic screen for the seeker to realize.
This is why traditional occult systems offer initiation into the mysteries of life with the most basic ritual being that of a child becoming an adult. With the former, the symbol has been transcended. With the latter, childish things have been put away. The child undergoes a difficult test that brings the real world into focus—childhood fantasies have been transcended. This is the exact process of an adult child awakening from the dreamstate of religion and New Age beliefs.
The reason New Age teachings demonize the material world is because they offer an escape hatch from one’s problems, the kind that are at the core of our being and most terrifying.
They are the very reason religious and spiritual stories exist—to escape the pain rooted in childhood and the existential meaningless of the universe. The more grandiose the story’s dismissal of the natural world, the further away we get from the truth and the deeper deluded we become.
When I say ‘meaningless’ I am referring to the impersonal nature of life and its organic growth toward expansion and pleasure. One could say that the meaning of the universe is to experience more diversity, complexity, and knowledge for more profound experiences of survival.
This would go along with the meaning humans place on career, child rearing, sports, relationships etc. The psychic bubble in the New Age seeker is the projection of human characteristics onto the universe. This, once again, is rooted in the parental needs of childhood. Guru’s and anthropomorphic gods are all reflecting the unmet needs of the adult child.
The New Age path hails a “false awaking” that is actually the “great slumbering”. Drunk in the light of delusion, the seeker runs after one experience after another believing they are achieving their divine self. But the truth is, they are developing a cocoon that is hardening. Pretending to be awake in the dream world is a classic trap . . . but a necessary one.
Waking Up from the Dream World
How do you become who you are? You deconstruct the dream world one illusion at a time with hard truths. The most important thing to understand about this process is that it is a battle, because it challenges your most cherished beliefs, the kind you would not expect to be challenged. I’m talking about the light and love kind, the entitled kind, the one’s cloaked in false love, moral posturing, divine narcissism and grandiosity.
The “act” developed by the spiritual “actor” becomes a demolition site. Their foundation is shaken loose. Psychic traps attached to alternate personalities are revealed which exposes the one who created them. Thus, the creator must confront the deceptive web of lies, defense mechanisms, and illusions they have made to avoid reality. Booby trapping ourselves in our own lies is the real booger.
But there is a simple route to freedom, and that is honesty, sincerity, and a genuine desire to know the truth. One can learn to trust themselves by seeking after what is true and being willing to see what’s false. Without making it sound too cryptic, a commitment to psychological work with a therapist can be a great way to get real with yourself.
The initiate (adult) is one who has survived the hard truths of the child dream world. They have been tested with self-delusions and deceptions. They have been challenged to confront the hidden side of their psyche, their shadow, their motives, beliefs, traumas, cherished dreams, delusional beliefs, attachments, and identifications.
Once the seeker has traversed the middle part of the path and has broken through their false ideas about reality, they reintegrate into the world—they go back to “chop wood and carry water”. They have stopped seeking and acting spiritual. They have integrated their journey, gained the wisdom, and no longer need the prop. They return to everyday living having “owned” their experience. They have “become something new’ rather than another false persona. They move on to greater heights by living their life to the fullest.
The Seven Skills to Awaken and Become Who You Are
- The Focusing Method
- Critical Thinking
- The Undoing Process
- Inner Child Work
- Process Crafting
- Knowledge & Intuition
- Spending Time in Nature
The most important of these seven skills are The Focusing Method, Critical Thinking and Communication. You could look at it like a wheel where this triad is in the center and the rest branch out around them. This wheel rolls toward a golden trail of goosebumps.
Goosebumps are what I call the ‘pixy dust’ of the path. They are a sign you are “tuning” in that direction. Whether it’s a song, a saying, a destination, a person or thing, goosebumps release psycho-emotional energy in a beautiful way. If you are not accustomed to getting goosebumps, then you want to follow that feeling of “right” . . . a sense of tuning. It is when your inner core is telling you that this is the “right” direction, the right thing, the right words. Just like tuning a guitar string, you feel a spectrum of highs and lows as you sense into the feeling of “there” or “right” or “tuned”. This is the feeling that leads you toward your North Star.
This is why, as Joseph Campbell said “follow your bliss” because you are going to need it. It is the bliss that gets us through the hard times. It is the thrill of adventure that drives us toward freedom.
If the path were nothing but pain, nobody would be motivated to walk it. There must be rewards for our efforts, just like tilling the soil of a garden results in its fruit. Knowing one is moving in the right direction, by little confirmations of insight and release, rewards the climber.
I find the most fascinating revelation about the path is that it is happening as a natural impulse of psycho-emotional purging. Seekers think they are the initiators of the path, when in fact, they are being lived by it.
The desire for psycho-emotional freedom is built into the body, just like a stem grows into a flower. Our bodies wants to move through trauma and stuck emotions to a fluid way of being. It wants to feel the entire spectrum of emotions flowing like music through our being. This is as natural as it gets.
The Focusing Method
The methods I offer below are what worked for me. I encourage you to be flexible, experiment with them, and find what works for you.
The key to dealing with trauma in the unconscious is to bring attention to what is ‘trying to get your attention’ and allow it to complete its cycle of tension and release. The body is always moving toward tuning and balance by purging trapped emotion in its genetic history. This is the record of one’s life down into childhood. It is the process of reclaiming one’s emotional history.
Focusing is, in my opinion, is the most effective process for inner growth because it has no dogma. It simply teaches you how to listen to your body. Once you get the idea, you will discover that this is what is happening naturally without us being conscious of it. Once you realize this, you will be aware of the current of information being presented at every moment. Focusing is simply that, focusing on what is arising. Why? Because it’s there to get our attention.
Anger, jealousy, fear, love, and compassion arise to get our attention. The feeling of wanting to cry or laugh is there to release a natural flow. The body is about flow, and anything that blocks that will be confronted in one way or another. I encourage you to click on the link below and read the six steps to Focusing to get an idea of how it works.
Eugene Gendlin developed the method in the 1960’s after studying therapy patients for 15 years. He discovered that the ones who recovered sooner were those who were directed to listen to their bodies, and those who were in talk therapy would stay there, in some cases, indefinitely. The point being, is that direct communication with what is arising in us is the key to the journey. Below is a quote from focusing.org.
Focusing, a form of “felt-sensing,” is a practice of allowing our bodies to guide us to deeper self-knowledge and healing; it is also a powerful antidote to oppression and hate in chaotic times. The name “Focusing'” is not used in the conventional idea of focused attention. Rather, Gene Gendlin chose this word as a metaphor for the process of recognizing vague, subtle, or ephemeral somatic sensations that could gradually be brought into focus, as one might adjust a pair of binoculars to turn a blurry visual image into clear, recognizable objects. We usually capitalize the word “Focusing” in order to indicate that we mean it in this particular way.
Focusing takes you right to the heart of the matter without talk therapy, dogma, or a third party. Whether you are in a session with a Focusing therapist or doing it on your own, the relationship is between you and your inner world.
Critical thinking can be a daunting study, and I think more complicated then need be for the average person. This is why I recommend learning from a child’s perspective. Do not underestimate this simple approach. The key is to keep it simple and comprehend a few concepts that will stick. Its better to master 3 concepts then get bogged down by 10 and quit. Below are a few sources with the addition of an book that has simple to advanced concepts.
- The Simplest Critical Thinking Process
- The Critical Thinking Company
- How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass
It is of utmost importance that you do not listen to those New Agers who demonize thinking. Thinking is what they are afraid of because honest scrutiny will expose their story. Just like any animal that focuses on its environment and calculates actions for its survival, so human beings have a thinking process for a reason. When its is grounded in reality, it becomes a guiding sword.
“be as wise as serpents and yet as harmless as doves”
All energy is communicating between two points. There is a sender and receiver. There is a beginning and an end. A positive and negative current. Life is a cycle of opposites that produce a third element.
For humans, that third element is comprised of mutual understanding, pleasure, agreement and production.
We communicate with people, objects, animals, words and ourselves. Without conscious communication, we drift blindly across the waters of life. One could say that everything is communication, and the conscious person is one who is deliberately aware of this. I’ll give you an example..
When having a conversation with someone, be aware that they are a source of energy sending a message to you the receiver. To “receive” the information, one must duplicate the message just as it was delivered by the sender. In other words, you want to understand it “how they meant it,” whether you agree or not, and respond appropriately. Therefore, listening and asking questions is key to waking up from the dream state.
You want to see a thing for what it is. You do not want to operate from your assumed interpretation. You want to respond to the truth with the truth. This is the nuts and bolts of truth-realization. It is to be deliberate and conscious. And the only way you do that is to pay attention or FOCUS on what is before you—as above so below, as within so without.
Once you ‘receive’ the information by cognizing what the other person meant, not what you interpreted, then you can accurately respond. If you are not sure, then you ask questions to clarify. It does not matter if what they said was an insult or a compliment, you cannot respond “in truth” unless you are listening to their truth. To respond from your false interpretation is the story of historical tragedy and every domestic abuse case.
For example, a wife is sharing with her husband how she feels, and instead of DUPLICATING what she said, he blocks her communication and initiates his own. There is a sender but no receiver. It’s a one-way flow of energy which results in conflict.
Where this will ultimately serve you the most, is RECIEVING the messages of your inner world. If you are not listening to your body, which is your unconscious, then you will block the energy being sent. Thus, confusion and unhappiness will occur. Having a truth realized conversation with your self is the key to it all.
Practice conscious communication not only with yourself and other people, but books, animals, nature, objects and so on. When you are listening you are present, and when you are present, you are observing and learning. When you are learning you are curious, and when you’re curious you foster wonderment. I urge you not to take this for granted, it is a practice that will serve you greatly for cutting through delusions and false conclusions. It will also sharpen your speaking skills. Comprehension keeps one awake and in real-time, ignorance produces confusion. Ignore reality and fall deeper into the mire of delusion.
The Undoing Process
The Undoing Process is a method I developed over the years. The whole point of initiation, as in any bonified occult system, is dispelling illusions about oneself and life. The trap of the middle area (chop wood and carry water) is identification with the dream world. And the tricky thing about the dream world is it presents itself as reality while dismissing reality. It is a counterfeit of the real.
One cannot ‘wake up’ until they get to the core of their delusions. This is hard work but essential for breaking through false assumptions, beliefs, escapism and fantasies. As I’ve noted before, the one thing religious and New Age stories accomplish is avoidance of reality by replacing it with spiritual pipe dreams. They are designed to dismiss your physical history.
All spiritual energy comes from the body. The healthier you are the more likely you will experience positive spirituality. If you are an addict, dreams will become nightmares and your world will become a futile mess. No matter how much you meditate or attend New Age seminars, if you are not healthy, you will be unhappy.
Likewise, your life holds the keys to unlocking this spiritual energy rooted in childhood. Every memory along the way that was traumatic enough to be suppressed, holds pockets of psycho-emotional energy. This is the dragon in the cave, the dragon you must meet and befriend through your Inner child. It is not about slaying your dragon, quite the opposite, the dragon is YOUR energy, YOUR fire, and YOUR power. But unfortunately, it was banished long ago, the childs power was taken from them through trauma.
Released trauma yields laughter, tears, sobbing, goosebumps and profound insights. Even the feeling of emotions rushing through one’s body and kundalini experiences result in the cracking open of trapped parts of the psyche. This energy does not come from another dimension, a higher self or spirit world, it is a direct manifestation of arrested development locked away in memory.
For example, a child is humiliated by their parents in public at the age of five. They are spanked and scolded. The child has been abused from the very care takers that it looks to for guidance. Because their abusers are unavailable and have become a fear factor, the child has no one to help them through the trauma. And make no mistake, what seems like a little thing to adults (oh come one, get over it) is a world altering event for a child. The child has no idea of what the world is like, it is in the process of developing its reality. Either it will build its consciousness on truth or it will grow trees of delusion. Without the proper parental guidance, the child is stuck in the pain and confusion.
When this child goes to its room crying, shamed and terrified, it has no one to help it move through the psycho-emotional energy from tension to release. And because of this, it becomes trapped in its inner space. The fantastic world of childhood wonder has turned into a dark evil place.
The traumatized child, at that moment, has frozen in time. As it grows, new selves appear in response to environmental factors. Alternate personalities will provide clever survival techniques as the young hero climbs ever upward from the pit it was thrown into. The child has been infected with self-blame and self-hate; it is now fighting the enemy within. It believes it is inherently bad and unworthy, and thus it has become weak. It develops phobias that it is shamed for in school which further reinforces the toxic beliefs born from humiliation, shame, and physical threat.
What happened here was the body suppressed the psycho-emotional energy into the memory of the cells. The challenge with accessing the real story is the body produces safety mechanisms that hide trauma so we can get on with our lives. It literally booby-traps the event so the child can forget about it. But as it gets older, the riptide sucks them in. This is where the phenomenon of ‘false memory syndrome’ fools the investigator.
Uncovering traumatic events require brutal self-honesty and a willingness to be vulnerable to the truth. The only way to cut through false memory syndrome is to interpret the symbolic language of the subjective until there’s proof by a friend or family member, or the event has become clear beyond a shadow of a doubt—true recall had occurred. The admission of a molestation by an uncle provides the proof against false memories.
The key is to let the inner archetypes, dreams, images, and stories guide you to deeper hidden memories. For example, a person believes they have accessed a memory of a past life when they were a soldier on a battlefield killed in action. What is happening here, is the language of the subjective is guiding them, ever gently, to decode the booby-trap of the traumatic event at the age of five when their drunk father beat their mother and almost killed her. The story becomes a doorway through the defense mechanisms.
Two books I recommend for understanding the nature of trauma are:
The Undoing Process is a simple exercise but a challenging adventure into the memories locked within your timeline. Each hidden memory that arises will reveal a signpost to deeper memories. I recommend that you take your time with this without an end point in sight. Put time and energy into it like a lengthy art project.
Here’s the process:
1. Get a journal, large drawing pad or marker board. My preference is drawing pad or board for the outlining and a journal for processing memories.
2. From the top down, write your current age and year, and then follow that list back to childhood separating decades with lines. For example:
35 – 2021
34 – 2020
33 – 2019
32 – 2018
31 – 2017
30 – 2016
29 – 2015
28 – 2014
27 – 2013
26 – 2012
25 – 2011
24 – 2010
23 – 2009
22 – 2008
21 – 2007
20 – 2006
19 – 2005
18 – 2004
17 – 2003
16 – 2002
15 – 2001
3. Use a pencil so you can have more flexibility, scan the years slowly until something comes up that feels significant. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be your grandmother, a car, a job, a toy, a vacation or a word. The idea here is to find something that gets your attention and write it down between decades close to the year.
Make sure to have enough space between years so you can write memories. You may have a page per year on your art pad or per decade. You want to leave enough room to freely express your life. You may find you have an art pad per decade so you can really focus on the details. Take your time, this is your life, and use as much as you need to express it.
4. Next, take a memory that has significant emotional charge to it, especially something you are resisting, and dedicated an entire page or pages to express it. Following all the detail that comes up around that one memory. What you are doing here is bringing the unconscious to conscious awareness—you are giving it a voice. Keep in mind that your unconscious has been trying to get your attention all your life through dreams, relationships, triggers and impulses. Now, you are letting it breathe.
5. As you write out the main memory, ask or feel into an earlier time. You want to track this event to its source because unconscious trauma repeats itself as we get older. Consider its like a root system, you find the canopy of the tree, “current memory” then its gives way to the trunk which reveals the roots.
6. As emotionally charged events arise, use the Focusing Method to process them through. The key is the cycle of . . . “tension and release” . . . “tension and release” . . . “tension and release” . . . that is the whole process. Follow the story of your life while releasing pockets of energy frozen in time. In this way, you bring your unconscious to consciousness and reclaim the emotional history of your life.
Rather than going into other dimensions to meet your projected ‘perfect parents’ in the form of ascended masters, aliens or channelers (guidance), go to the source of these illusions, ‘wake up’ from the dream world generated from the pain of the real-world. In this way, you will find the spiritual energy spoken of throughout history. And it is this very energy that produces all magical, shamanic, occult spiritual experiences. Disassociate from the natural world, and you miss the mark.
Inner Child Work
The core of inner work boils down to the root character of your life—the Inner Child. It represents new life, the future, the sacred child held by its cosmic mother. It is the god of the a new aeon, the savior of humanity, the promise of tomorrow, and the tragic story of generational child abuse.
Humans are like trees, we grow from a seed, experience the environment, and become our genetic potential. The inner child is a living being inside of us, and it holds together our timeline of memories. Without the actor there is no opera, no play, no documentary, no biography. The Inner Child is the center of our lives and the key to recovering our emotional history.
However you were treated as a child sticks with you for a lifetime, and especially if you were abused. Either we integrate from children into adults with a fluid timeline of memories (emotions that were processed properly) or we leave behind parts of ourselves at different time stamps in our lives. As I discussed above, each traumatic event holds that part of the Inner Child in memory, and it is our job to release it from its prison.
The approach is much like the Focusing Method where you listen to the messages of your body, but in this case, you form a relationship with your Inner Child. The Inner Child is another name for your soul, its a place of innocence that has been soiled by blame, shame and toxic self-hate. It is the soul that has been raped by the very giants (parents) it was naturally born to trust. Its heart has been broken into a million pieces and it is bleeding, looking for someone to take its hand and show it a way out.
“Feeling leads to healing and healing leads to feeling“
The Inner Child process begins with self-parenting. We become the parent the Child never had. It is up to our present-time self to reach down and be present for our trapped child. The one who is repeatedly rejected by our insensitivity and cultural denial. The child is asking us to listen. The child is looking for a hero, someone to help it trust again
The first steps to parenting our Inner Child is to introduce ourselves just like it is taught in the Focusing Method. We stop avoiding our child self and say ‘hello’. We stop treating it like our parents treated us neglecting our needs, our voice. We do what a real parent does and be ever present to its needs. We are multidimensional beings not in the New Age sense, but that we exist as a spectrum extending down into the root of our lives. We have played many roles in many situations as we have evolved over time. Each of these lives within us, and especially our Inner Child who holds the secrets of our existence.
Its an ‘down is up’ and ‘in is out’ approach. You find your power in the little things, in play, wonder, tenderness, listening and care. You allow your stunted Inner Child to grow, and as it grows, it recovers more of your power. At one point, the journey completes itself and your Inner Child grows up into your present age, it merges, integrates. The past has met the present, the child has become the adult, and no longer is any part of you left behind. Although memories will exist, the trauma won’t be bogging you down because you travelled back in time and saved that suffering child.
Below are a few books I recommend and I encourage you to follow what works for you. You can also read in my story “unSpiritual: A Spiritual Journey” the process I went through of connecting with my Inner Child and how that evolved into the merging of my adult self.
It is important to note that Inner Child work should never be rushed to achieve one’s healing. That’s like pushing a child into what you want rather than what it needs. Think in terms of being forever with your Inner Child, because it will always be there whether its suffering or healing. The key is to be present with no agenda other than “being there”. Learn the Focusing Method to better understand how and why this works.
- Personal Totem
- Personal Mandala
Process Crafting is a term I use to denote a method of psycho-emotional release and flow through artistic expression. It is a vehicle for the unconscious to express itself. It is creative, therapeutic and rewarding because whatever you create is original—it is your subjective thumbprint, holy script, sacred art and native chant—it is the ritual of your own religion.
The key to this process is to express the feelings you have no voice for—the thing you can’t express with words or articulate by journaling. Paint, draw dance or play what you feel. Give life to suppressed feelings through whatever craft you are drawn to. You allow your hands to channel with ink and paint, your body to move into a dance or pose, or emit a sound through voice or instrument.
Not only do you express the beautiful impulses but the dark, more shadowy forms of the unconscious. By allowing these archetypes to express themselves, for instance, the pain or joy of your Inner Child, the energy trapped in the unconscious is released. This can be extremely therapeutic. It is also the domain of the worlds greatest authors, actors and artists.
A good example is painting with your fingers or splashing paint on a large canvas. Musically, you can close your eyes and let the fingers do the talking, the hands drum the impression. You can start sculpting with no image in mind but what comes when the clay is spinning. This practice should become a part of your healing journey and a keeper for the rest of your life.
Along with the arts is discovering your personal totem or symbol that represents your Inner Self. It could be animals, geometrical symbols or a unique artistic expression you tattoo, put in a picture frame, etc. This is “your” personal symbol. This is not something you want to rush, it is more of an organic process that sticks over time.
For me, the Dolphin Dragon image grew internally over many years, and did not become an official totem until I was in my 40’s. I knew it was my totem when I had it tattooed on my arm and later made it the symbol for my music. The art was my design.
It started with a fascination with dolphins in my early 30’s and later with dragons. These two entwined, represented the extremes of my life and how they complimented each other. It represented the forces of nature, innocence and strength, playfulness and power.
The personal Mandala is another powerful process for crafting your circle of life. It offers a Birds-eye view and clarifies the forces of your existence. This is nothing different than the Buddhist’s Mandalas. You find the Buddha or the Goddess Kuan Yin in the center of the wheel with all their angels, demons and archetypes. These represent the powers inherent in their lives including the people, places and things around them because everything is connected. Nothing is left out. No one is escaping from their lives, rather, they are immersed in it. Joseph Campbell so eloquently described this in The Power of Myth series:
“The idea of the supernatural as being something over and above the natural is a killing idea. In the Middle Ages this was the idea that finally turned that world into something like a wasteland, a land where people were living inauthentic lives, never doing a thing they truly wanted to because the supernatural laws required them to live as directed by their clergy. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. This is a killer…. The spirit is really the bouquet of life. It is not something breathed into life, it comes out of life.
The Mandala is a constantly evolving circle that reflects one’s growth. The dark and light aspects are in continual flux as people, places and things change and one’s relationship with themselves deepens. The Mandala is a meditative crafting of the powers inherent in one’s life. All elements of one’s psyche are represented from the rejection of uncle Bob (demons) to the beauty of a sunset (angels).
Like the Buddhist Mandala, put yourself in the middle of a marker board or art paper as a stick figure, and begin crafting from the center outward. If you choose art paper as your medium, I recommend using pencils for more flexibility. Add aspects of your life around you and work outward. You can make different Mandalas for specific representations. Here are a few ideas:
- Do a theme on things you own, places you visit, work, shop. The people you see in the bank, grocery store and gym, etc. draw pictures of your car, house, credit cards in your Mandala. You can always draw lines from the center to these items.
- Draw all the people in your life (as stick figures) that cause you stress. These would be the demons. The relationship, a family member, a work associate, sibling, boss etc., we are talking significant people whom you have some emotional charge with either positive or negative.
- The key is to point out the evil and good that effects you in the circle of your life. These are the powers within your universe. You can use this to define what you feel and what is the cause of this issue. Then you can use Focusing to process it.
- Do a theme on places you love to visit and hate to visit. Whether its a regular vacation destination or somewhere local, draw out those places symbolically and explore how you feel about them. Then follow that feeling to its root and see what’s there. Be the curious child in your life. Be the detective if that resonates. See what under the hood of your personal universe.
What this exercise is about is bringing to conscious awareness your life and everything in it. You may leave the store everyday with a sad feeling toward the clerk. After you get in your car you forget about it, but its always there every time you shop. The key here is realizing that this tension exists inside your circle. It contains energy that could be used to fuel your emotions elsewhere. If it is coming up, why avoid the obvious? By developing a fluid practice of Mandala crafting, this can become a useful tool in your awakening.
Remember that it is YOUR life that is the temple and no where else. All of the spiritual energy that exists in your environment, no matter how mundane or seemingly insignificant, is the realm you have an intimate connection with. It is the small unexpecting things that holds the greatest secrets. Never overlook a subtle trigger or attention getter. Also keep in mind that it is the process of drawing the mandala that is transforming. Getting a “higher self” viewpoint grants an objective view of your life which creates a wider perspective. This can yield insights and revelations.
Knowledge & Intuition
Become an avid reader or audio listener. Take in as much knowledge about things related to your path as possible. I recommend studying the origins of your existence—evolution. Learn how the universe you live in works. Study basic psychology on archetypes, the shadow and trauma recovery. Find taboo books on spirituality that challenge the way you have been taught to think.
Learn about things that you feel drawn to, especially if it seems odd. Many times, early on my path, I would be in a bookstore and get struck with a strong a sense to read a book. I wasn’t sure why, but felt I needed to buy it. Later, I discovered it was only one section of the book that I needed. In some cases just a paragraph. As you follow your intuition in this area, serendipitous insights can occur. Through this practice you will develop a sharp mind in which to guide your intuitions—this will come in handy when powerful psycho-emotional experiences happen.
The point is to experience both intuition and mental precision to get an understanding of how the balance works. Following your intuition creates surprising experiences, and it is these experiences that develop a sharp mind. You will learn that your intuitions can deceive you such as in the case of feeling a new partner is your soul mate only to discover they are a narcissist weeks later. You will also discover the nature of serendipity, synchronicity and wanderlust when you throw care to the wind and follow your feelings.
This is a rather harmless activity if it is kept out of the danger zone. Following one’s intuitions into situations that common sense would dictate is irrational, such as walking through a dangerous part of town or hiking unarmed in grizzly bear country. Common sense will most always feel counter intuitive, but this is the lesson one must learn through the process. You cannot be told about life alone to truly learn the lesson, you must live the knowledge you receive to KNOW. This is why exploring your feelings and intuition must be engaged.
Spending Time in Nature
One of the most effective ways to heal oneself and feel a connection to life is to spend time in nature. Immersing oneself in nature could be considered the ‘only’ practice because we are nature—earth, wind, fire and water.
If possible, I recommend moving to a location that is surrounded by nature to balance your biorhythms. Feelings and thoughts, the stuff of psycho-emotional energy (soul and spirit) are physical, and they respond to the realm that made them. We are earth creatures homegrown in the evolutionary continuum. Swimming in a lake, walking barefoot in the dirt, sitting under the shade of a tree, bring peace and harmony to our being which helps the healing process.
The silence of nature reflects the silence of a liberated inner world. Experiencing nature can give us a boost in that direction and an example of what peace looks and feels like.
No one can ultimately tell you which way to go. The challenge is to make the final decision in treading new ground into the dark forest. Following someone else’s path only teaches you what they learned. We will follow other teachers paths to get an idea of the landscape and gain some experience, then, when we’re ready, we will take the leap into the unknown. Only through this, will we learn to trust ourselves.
The job of a teacher is to point the way and offer tools that worked for them. They have traversed the dense forest by creating their own path. This is how one becomes initiated, not by copying, but initiating.
Direct experience into unknown territory is the only path, because no one has the life you have lived. No one can pretend to possess your thumbprint, for you are as unique as a star. The key is to find your orbit, your North Star, and have the courage to enter the cave of your unconscious.
I’ll leave you with a dialog between Like Sky Skywalker and Master Yoda:
Scene: Luke stops deep in the jungle, and sensing darkness emanating from a nearby cave, he turns to Yoda.
Luke: What’s in there?
Yoda: Only what you take with you.
Travel well my friend . . .