Resilience is a current buzzword in personal development circles. Maintaining a positive attitude, being unwaveringly confident, managing stress and bouncing back from adversity are the goal states of resilience. Whether or not we are born with it is a moot point but we can certainly cultivate it. The trouble is that, as usual, none of the ‘experts’ can agree on what parts of you can or should be made resilient, with different schools of thought addressing different dimensions of your being. Some will focus on the body, some on the mind, others on the soul and a few on the spirit. Only one approach embraces your entire being. It’s called Integral and is unique for bringing together the whole story of what it is to be human. This is about what resilience would look like from an Integral perspective.
Integral opens up all dimensions of your being, body mind and spirit so that each part unfolds and reveals itself to you. Each can then be understood, forgiven, accepted and integrated into a transformed self. Aha moments light the path along the whole spectrum of your being until you reach a place of deep knowing of who you are in your essence. This knowing defies all intellectual understanding; it is as far away from your stories as a little candle is from the furthest star in the universe.
Integral borrows from the perennial wisdom of the Great Chain of Being. We are an intrinsic part of one great chain, one evolving system that is developing from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit in an upward spiral. Consciousness expands as the spiral is ascended. As we grow and develop we identify with different levels of our being at ever more aware levels of consciousness along this spiral. Integral calls this the “Spectrum of Consciousness”.
Integral provided the perfect framework for the findings of my own research (“The Transformational Potential of “Aha” Moments in Life Coaching and Beyond”). I found that people experience “Aha” moments across the whole spectrum. Many insights happened at the level of ego transformation so the ego is added to the spectrum.
My study also shows that to grow up to express all of your potentials you have to first WAKE up to who you really are. Only when you awaken are you free to choose how to think and act. Many people do not even entertain the idea that they have a choice. It’s like they believe that they have no choice but to worry or fear, as if worry and fear choose them. It is madness to have your whole sense of being dictated by the little Hitler of the monkey mind within the context of the terrible constrictions of being imposed by society and convention. The answer is to wake up so you can live from your highest consciousness and not your brainwashed and unconscious habitual patterns.
We have forgotten what wholeness means. That’s the downfall of living in a society that has a very unhealthy penchant for slicing things up, making distinctions and divisions in everything we perceive. We add to this fragmentation by even carving up our sense of self – we “have” a body and a mind. Not every culture sets up a barrier between body and mind as we do. In the East they speak of bodymind or heartmind as a unity. Integral includes these Eastern teachings so that we can build sustainable Integral resilience from matter to body to ego to mind to soul to spirit, thereby leaving nothing out of the human equation.
Matter is about creating material surroundings that nurture your soul, your unique values and tastes. Everything in your surroundings should look, feel, sound and smell delectable to your senses. Mood-altering colours, sights and sounds invite you to vibrate at different levels. So surround yourself with your heart’s desires in all these sensual areas and lift your vibration.
Material resilience also means nurturing a consciously strong body. You already know to eat and drink healthily and the importance of movement and exercise, so the only requirement is to set your intention to become aware of how you are treating your body. Setting an intention is a promise to yourself to focus your conscious energy on what you want, in this case self-nourishment, and to keep your focus there. Energy flows where attention goes, always. Love yourself enough to live consciously, to choose deliberately and to build resilience by knowing and nurturing who you are.
Now that the material scene is set, it’s time to get your internal resilience in order, starting with your body.
We only come to know life because we are embodied beings and yet we treat the body as an inconvenience. This has been the case for centuries, since we began to live almost wholly in our minds, embalming our hearts. Being brainwashed by conventional religions that the body is dirty and sinful has driven a further wedge. Yet being disconnected from the body, especially the heart means being cut off from our source of love, including the love we need to value ourselves enough to reclaim all of who we are. When we’re disembodied we’re disempowered.
The wisdom of the body is unfathomable – it stores everything you have ever experienced and provides a gateway to radical calm and radical self-confidence. The method of accessing the body’s wisdom is to stop and engage with it, breathe into it and really open it up.
Practices for the Body
Learning to breathe consciously repairs the broken bridge that used to connect your bodymind. Conscious breathing directs focused attention and therefore energy to the places in your body that need healing. Use your breath to bring your attention down from your head and into the constricted or tense areas of your body.
Because body and mind are not two, whatever affects one reflects in the other. 7/11 breathing is a great practice to still the mind. All you need do is breathe in for a count of seven and breathe out for a count of eleven. The practice of making each ‘out’ breath last longer than the ‘in’ breath is a natural way to calm the body. This exercise may seem challenging at first but it becomes easier with practice and can be repeated until you feel calm. The very act of counting stills the monkey mind and leads to a clearer head, and more creative thinking.
Another effective breathing exercise is ‘belly breathing’. Close your eyes and cross your hands over your lower belly. Breathe deeply and feel your belly rise. You might want to straighten and then soften your back and shoulders. Then soften the eyes so that the brow is relaxed. A great yogic practice to add is to bring awareness to the eyes and sense them smiling at the corners and then to do the same thing with your heart. Allow the heart smile to widen as you continue to breathe and let your whole body become soft. Now scan your body from top to toe, paying attention to any areas of tension. Bring awareness to the area and breathe into it. Imagine it being a cube of ice that first melts into water and then slowly turns into gas. Breathe it out.
When confronted by an immediate challenge, be it a thought, a person or a situation, simply stop, breathe in, then slowly breathe out, relaxing and softening the body as you do so. In a work situation, for example, use the pause between the in breath and the out breath to ascertain if demands are coming from people around you or if they are coming from inside your own head. This is the time to ground yourself in the present moment, letting go of the automatic old stories in your head and simply being present with whatever is arising.
There are so many ways to re-connect with the body and brilliant somatic meditations that can be found on quality websites like this: www.dharmaocean.org.
Dance, exercise, yoga. Tai chi and Qigong are all great ways to raise your vibration to forge a bodymind reintegration.
My research found that the ego has to be strengthened before it can be transcended. This means first and foremost loving and valuing yourself, putting yourself first. Yes really! This has nothing to do with selfishness and everything to do with honouring this bodymind you’ve been given. So ego Lesson Number 1 is to stop judging and criticizing yourself and instead to love yourself as you would a little lost child (because until you build resilience, in many ways you are still a child). You will go nowhere towards resilience in life without learning to love and value yourself. You have become so addicted to the running commentary in your head that puts you down that it feels more natural to play small. The truth is that you are powerful beyond measure, as Nelson Mandela tells us: (if necessary as you read this replace God with source, universe, open intelligence or whatever feels right for you):
OUR DEEPEST FEAR is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be?
YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory that is within us. And as we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
1994 Inaugural Speech
from Marianne Williamson
We are all crippled by what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain body, the somatic side of the ego. The cauldron of emotions that is the pain body contains all the hurts and slights, grievances, regrets and traumas of the past. Those that we’ve buried from conscious awareness can collectively be called the Shadow self. Shadow explains the parts of ourselves that we have suppressed and kept in the dark because we fear how badly they’d make us feel. We attempt to defend against the shadow by projecting it or burying it deep. We either push it out onto other people and blame them, or pull it into ourselves and make ourselves ill. All the effort required to hide away whatever we cannot bear to look at drains our whole life energy. It blocks a generalized vitality that is necessary for our development and growth. As explained in the Mandela speech the greatest tragedy of shadow is that it makes us hide our brilliance from ourselves or we attribute this brilliance to other people. Think of the qualities of someone you really admire and you will find you have projected your own qualities onto them.
Freud was brilliant at experiencing and expressing his inner awareness – his sense of “I”. He noticed in this awareness certain “it” impulses that distress and upset the “I”. The “it” is how he described the shadow and its unconscious drives. There is a big cultural misunderstanding about Freud. The standard translation of Freud’s work (by James Strachey) mistranslated his use of “I” and “it” as ego and id. Strachey deployed this translation to make Freud’s theories sound more scientific. But Freud never once used the terms “ego” or “id”. He talked only about “the I” and “the it” (das Ich and das Es). Regarding the goal of psychotherapy, Freud is translated as saying: “Where id was, there ego shall be”. What he actually said was: “Where it was, there I shall become”. In other words, I have objectified the shadow and made it an “it” within me, not part of me at all. Or I’ve seen it as ‘it’ out there in another person, so again, not part of me, no siree. What Freud is really saying is: I must find all the denied, repressed, alienated and projected parts of myself, all the its, and re-own them, re-integrate them back into “I”.
All the denied feelings from conception onwards are frozen inside you, blocking your naturally resilient energy flow. You cannot have any control over that which you are ignorant and unaware. Without self-awareness your shadow will run your life without your knowledge or permission. This keeps your life shallow and superficial, it stunts your growth, it makes you feel disintegrated, ‘all over the place’. And with so much energy expended in keeping the shadow under bodily lock and key, there is little life force left for living. All you have to do to change all this is to get familiar with your shadow.
Practices for the Ego
It becomes easy to identify the contents of your shadow by paying attention to what presses your buttons. It could be feelings in your body or events in the outside world that trigger an emotional charge. Instead of stuffing these emotions down or blaming someone else for them, practice just gently allowing them to arise and really give yourself permission to feel them. Questions like these might help to integrate these emotions.
What I keep in the dark about myself is…
What I least want others to know about me is,,,
Emotions I’m least comfortable with experiencing are…
What I’m most afraid to express in a relationship is…
Completing these sentences feels…
Whatever you discover about your shadow should be squarely faced. Say, for example, you have an image of a dream monster chasing you. Turn and face the monster. Speak to it as if it’s a third person object. Then speak as the monster. Listen to what the monster has to say and respond as ‘you’. Continue back and forth with the dialogue. Bring in the emotions at all times.
A shadow element is repressed at the age you were when you experienced the traumatic event. This is where “Inner Child” work comes in. Here’s an example:
Sit and ask for your negative feelings to make themselves known. When a feeling arises, invite your child self to come forward and help you, the grown up, to understand the feeling now. Sit the child on your knee, comfort it, encourage it to explain its feelings in regard to the traumatic event. Reassure the child that it’s okay to be upset and to have the feelings she has. Make it clear that you, as the adult, are going to take care of her. Allow her to express the feelings. Then validate the child’s feelings, acknowledge them, empathize with them and in this way you will set the child free from the specific event. You’ll be amazed that feelings will pass quickly as soon as they’re acknowledged and given their voice. It’s not having painful experiences in life that blocks our vital energy, it’s casting them out that causes us suffering and lowers our vibration.
Your mind is but a Gordian Knot that only self-awareness can untangle. Building mental resilience means paying attention to the stories in your head, the nutcase we call the mind. There are two sides to it, the rational mind (which is fine) and the ego which is not so fine. The monkey mind ego’s job is to shatter our mental resilience by swinging wildly from one train of the thought to another. Ego is another word for ‘who you think you are’, your self-image. The egoic mind fills your head with fairy tales about your composite identity – your picture of all the things you think you are. All of these thoughts are pure fabrication. The context of the thoughts is a mind that is never still, never free to engage with the present moment. Your mind is too busy travelling, not beyond itself where it might find relief, but into itself where it finds only confusion and generalised twaddle. It takes you back to the land of the past and depresses you or carries you forward to a land called future and terrifies you. Back and forth the ego-mind swings between these two destinations, neither of which is real. How can they be real? They’re not happening. Past and future are not available to you now and right now is all you’ve got. Got it? This truth is at the heart of mindfulness practice, all mystical religion and books like Tolle’s “The Power of Now” which explains the essence of presence. And it has nothing to do with time as we conceive of it.
To be present is to be fully surrendered, meaning throwing your arms wide open to whatever is happening with no resistance to it. Presence connects you whole-heartedly with whatever is arising in your world. When you are busy expending your precious mental and emotional energy in what’s not happening because it’s already gone or it’s not yet arrived you are denying your aliveness. All the energy you pour into this pointless mental time-travelling prevents vital energy from being available to you in the only moment of life you have or ever will have – this moment right here and right now.
The madness of conducting a life where you are not living it, connecting with it, is conditioned in you by a society that worships at the altar of the intellect. We’re enslaved to ‘cogito ergo sum’ – I THINK therefore I am. No you’re not. You just think you are. You identify with your thoughts as if they are you because you’ve been kept in your head all your life. The essence of who you truly are was there prior to your thinking, but you have lost connection to this truth. You have built a wall of thoughts between you and your essential identity. This is why you so often feel dead inside, because you’re in your head instead of being alive to your immediate experience. The freshness you could find in living in and being part of every moment is lost to you. It waves sadly “bye bye” as you retreat behind the wall of your self-imposed exile.
Break down the wall! Because life is nothing other than the lived experience of it in all its ever- changing flow. Experience has to be personally lived, not thought about and experienced only intellectually. The one valid reason for you to believe anything is to experience it for yourself. If you haven’t lived the beliefs that you espouse then you are trotting out nothing but dogma, convention or the ramblings of your monkey mind. Nothing replaces personal experience. Would you be a passenger in a car driven by someone who had read a hundred books on the subject of driving? Of course you wouldn’t. Similarly you can try “shelf-help” and read every book ever written about resilience or personal development but without action nothing will permanently change. Only a determination to take action will reveal the insights you need to turn the power back to you. Understand how your mind works and you become free of it. It is no longer the master to which you are enslaved. With insight you turn the tables to the correct position. The mind then becomes a tool that serves your higher self. The mind is your slave and you are the master. This is the height of mental resilience, to return things to their natural order.
When transformed, your thinking will ascend to a higher vibrational level. This will impact every cell of your body since body and mind are one, resonating so viscerally that you will be able to trust your new way of making sense of the world. How do you want to live? By the evidence of your own experience or the prison of your heavily conditioned and uncontrollable time-travelling monkey mind?
Freedom comes when you can begin to laugh at the monkey mind as you would a naughty child. You see how it scrambles from thought to thought like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. You become aware of how impulsive desires, dwelling on the past and future and running attacking narratives in your head affect your emotions. When you’re free you can also disable the voice of the inner critic. It spends its life telling us themes on the story of why we’re not good enough, wrecking bodymind harmony. You will see how tyrannical the mind is and be free to choose whether to continue to be enslaved to this little Hitler or whether to transcend it to a higher level of consciousness wherein lies peace of mind.
So freedom from your mind is the start of your salvation. This is why the Buddha said “Change your mind and you change the world”.
Practices for the Mind
Wake up and become conscious of when you are all caught up in what is not happening rather than what is happening. The only thing that is ever happening is everything the world is showing you as it unfolds in this present moment that you’re in. The practice of exposing the mind requires you to be present and patient with what is in your head. The same stale and self-defeating thoughts with minor variations infect all minds. Just be aware and see the mind clearly and non-judgmentally. Change will naturally follow from this awareness so trust the process. There’s no need to be afraid of the nutcase mind when you see that it is just an invention of perception and that your so-called thoughts are not even yours. They are simply patterns of behaviour laid down from the moment of your conception when you began to absorb information from your environment.
Wake up to the fact that all your mental chatter, all your stories need to be questioned. Upon examination you will realize that your mental prison was constructed by all your unexamined thoughts and memories and interpretations and reactions. Since every story of who and what you are is a mere mental construction, in other words an illusion, your mind can easily be deconstructed. You only thought your way to where you are now so you can think yourself to a transformed future. Reactions comprise 95% + of the bricks of the mental prison because they are unconscious. Allowing what was buried to become conscious sets you free from societal conditioning. And in every single moment you have a choice. If you realize nothing else, realize this much. If you really take a stand, if you really mean it when you say it, when you come from an open heart and say “From this moment I am no longer going to be stuck in my old stories” this will bring Aha moments big and small as you see your repetitive patterns.
Keep catching yourself in your story or reaction. If you want an empirically verified tool for catching yourself, discover your Enneatype. We all have 9 personality types burning within us like 9 lamps. Each lamp is an aspect of our personality but one lamp in us will be shining more brightly than the rest. This is your enneagram number, or enneaptype and it explains why you think and act (re-act) the way you do. It reveals the ways in which you veil the light of Truth, or God, or Love from yourself and it shows you how to strip away those veils. Whatever your level of consciousness it will open your eyes to your self-defeating patterns. If you do one thing to find out about your personality do this one. People have Aha moments in the simple realization that a 9th of the world’s population thinks like they do (according, of course, to people’s differing levels of consciousness). Not only does the Enneagram give you huge insights into why and how you think and act as you do, you begin to understand others at a far deeper level by knowing a little about their type. Enneagram work stops you short by exposing you in the act of thinking or reacting. Instead of re-acting from the habit of your type, you stop and observe. This gap opens up the space to choose new stories and new actions, ones that are no longer re-actions. This is freedom.
Integral advises that we become thoroughly acquainted with our inner critic:
Questions to help identify the inner critic:
My inner critic is…
Its usual message to me is…
I feel most powerless before my inner critic when…
A voice from my past tells me…
How old I usually feel when my inner critic is harshest is…
I most readily believe my inner critic when…
Ask for your earliest memories of inner critic harassment to be revealed to you. Hold yourself with care and compassion when inquiring about this. The inner critic is sometimes wrongly identified as conscience. Toxic collective shame is at the heart of the inner critic and we tend to internalize it. Set your intention to bring the feeling of it into conscious awareness. Turn towards the shame. Feel its qualities and its triggers:
I still handle my shame this way when…
There are great free tools available for challenging your belief systems. Try Byron Katie’s www.thework.com for a very effective way to transform beliefs.
Mental resilience opens up the gates for you to enter a kingdom of treasures.
Having built some resilience muscles in the mind, you are now ready to tap into a much more powerful, innate intelligence. The energy of this intelligence is called by many names – intuition, the higher self, the collective unconscious, the field (of open intelligence), the right-brain hemisphere, the soul. It’s a higher vibration of energy that you can contact through playing and getting creative, by thinking big and spotting the patterns and connections in things. The imaginal world of the soul thrives on metaphor, fantasy, visualization, music, meditation and all things creative and new.
Building resilience at a soul level means using these ways of being to hear the calling of your higher self. You rise above the little ego self with all its constrictions and defenses, with all its complaints about who said what to upset you, and its ongoing story of sadness, regret, upset, fear, anger, victimhood or whatever. When you no longer take things personally you find radical calm in body and mind. The incessant comings and goings of the mind are all just become water off a duck’s back. When your attention is consciously focused on clearing out the detritus of the ego, the whispers of the soul have a much clearer channel to be heard. It’s all about becoming conscious – waking up!
Integral distinguishes between 1st tier levels of consciousness and 2nd tier levels. Suffice to say for now that the many 1st tier levels have one thing in common – they all think they’re right, which means of course that everyone else is wrong. At these levels or stages everything and everyone is either right or wrong, good or bad, for me or against me (and my group). The more ignorant a person is, the more he will hold to his position. Think of all the energy it takes to defend such a position, and all for the sake of being ‘right’ instead of being happy.
Rising to the level we’re calling soul means ascending to 2nd tier levels of consciousness. We are now able to see the positive and negative aspects within all our previous stages of awareness. From here we can take a much wider and more inclusive view of reality. We can stand back and look at the big picture of the different stages, taking what they call a meta-perspective on all our thoughts and actions instead of clinging to any one of them.
Metacognition encourages intuition, a hallmark of 2nd tier consciousness. Now we have the ability to hear the call of the higher self and its aspirations. Knowledge at this stage transforms into wisdom. We have developed a wiser, more evolved way of making sense of the world evidenced in abilities like: the capacity for doubt; the withholding of premature conclusions; and the reconciliation of either/or opposites. Wisdom thinks ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’ so that thinking becomes unified and can expand to hold apparent paradox. We are at one and the same time separate and not separate; we are part of a field and not part of a field, we are bodymind but we are also soul and spirit. Soul is infinitely smarter than mind because it comes from our most authentic self.
At a soul level you have the courage and realness to defy convention. You are no longer held in the grip of society and its robotic mindset or its ‘consensus trance’ as Charles Tart calls it. You wake up from your trance, start listening to your own intuition and trust it to guide your values and your unique contribution to life. Knowing your life purpose (as far as it has been revealed to you at this stage) always guides authentic actions. Following the intuition of your soul means taking a stand for who you are, regardless of any opposition, because you have reclaimed your power. You are no longer a sheeple! You are free to be you, without anyone else’s permission.
Coming from a soul level of consciousness puts fire in your belly and is accompanied by unstoppable energy. It motivates you no matter what the possible consequences because you are now living on purpose. Many soul level Aha moments are reminiscent of Socrates’ insight that “All knowledge is but remembrance”. All inherent potentials of consciousness are recognized as having been there all along, waiting to be returned to conscious awareness, or re-cognized. There is the sense of re-connecting with a self that was previously intuitively known but got lost somewhere along the way. This is a return, a turning back to who you were before society told you who you should be.
Soul insights include a sense of connecting back to energies outside the boundaries of self. These Aha moments are typically experienced during the engagement of fantasy, visualization, dream analysis and other contact with subtle energies. They come from an apparently uncensored core that reveals internal truths, independent of the thinking of the brainwashed mind. Identity widens beyond the limits of the personal bodymind to merge with a transpersonal source. It is this connection to energy ‘trans’ or beyond cognitive repertoires that marks the fulcrum point of transformation along the spectrum of consciousness. The soul level marks a permanent shift in consciousness to a higher level of authenticity and aliveness.
Soul is a subtle level of consciousness that only needs conscious attention to contact.
Start listening out for the stirrings of your soul and engage in practices that trigger “Aha” moments:
Find out what is of utmost value or importance to you at this point in your life. Sit with the question, belly breathe and surrender the need to know. Open your heart with each breath. If it feels appropriate, ask for help from the universe or holy spirit or open intelligence or whatever inadequate term works for you.
Get creative. Indulge your right-brain in fantasy, imagination, contemplation, poetry. Let it run wild with writing stories, drawing, painting, etc.
Take up embodied practices (Qigong, yoga, ecstatic dance, etc.) and mindfulness and meditation practices. Consistent mindfulness can make conditioned patterns disappear. It also prevents further stress from building up.
Encourage ‘peak’ experiences through music, dance, sex, sunsets, nature, meditation and athletics.
Dreamwork: Keep a journal by your bed and record your dreams on awakening. Instruct your subconscious mind the night before that you will remember your dreams. Look for patterns and how these dreams made you feel. Important soul insights come in subtle dream form.
The Enneagram is great for soul work. Take your free enneagram test: https://www.eclecticenergies.com/
This lady is great for guided heart-opening meditations: https://www.tarabrach.com/
Realization of Spirit
Having transcended and included ego, bodymind and soul, your final stage is the biggest Aha moment of all. It’s the one where you awaken to your true identity. It’s when you experience oneness with source, spirit, pure awareness, God, the Ground of Being (or any other term for that which can never be named). At this level of consciousness you don’t need resilience or anything else because you can stably access perfection. You no longer just have peak experiences (or, as Wilber calls them – peek experiences, glimpsing what lies beyond the veil of this world). You are continuously able to appreciate that you are nothing other than spirit and that you are an individual expression of it. You are no longer in a headspace that makes you live as if you are just the wave on the surface of the ocean. You WAKE UP in the realization that you are the ocean. It is in you and around you so there is no boundary, no “you in here’ and ‘it out there’, there is no two, no duality. Diving into the ocean you remember that you are nothing but oceanic spirit and always have been because there is nothing but spirit in the cosmos.
The spiritual line of intelligence is by far the most important of all the intelligences available to us. This is cosmic consciousness and goes far, far beyond the cognitive level of consciousness, defying the ability to render it in words. The words on this page are condemned to be hopelessly inadequate but, for now, they’re all we have to communicate anything, including spiritual awakening.
Spiritual intelligence is the most important because it is both the highest rung on the spectrum of consciousness ladder and it is also the ladder itself. To know God is to experience it. Then you are radically free. You are released from the terrible constriction of the ego, the ‘little’ self with all its masks and dramas and suffering. At this ultimate stage of development you discover the essence of who you are – pure, radiant, eternal awareness. You are whole, (holy) and unified with all, no separation. Like an onion, layer upon layer has been stripped away to find nothing at the centre – no material form. At the centre there is just vast, empty awareness. Your little egoic life is then played out as the speck on the ocean of your limitless awareness that it is. Now you can enjoy your life, travel lightly with it, knowing it’s not who you really are.
Western psychology has never appreciated the distinction between awareness and the contents of awareness. The religious scholar Huston Smith employs the analogy of a television to distinguish between pure consciousness, or awareness, and the contents of consciousness. The screen of a television lights up with images, which might be compared to the perceptions, sensations, dreams, memories, thoughts and feelings that we consciously experience, and these can be considered to be the contents of consciousness. The light itself, without which no images would be possible, corresponds to pure consciousness. We are not usually aware of the light itself that produces the images but only the various contents with which consciousness presents us. Ultimately, consciousness amounts to infinite potential, receptive to any content that might be imposed on it. You are infinite potential. Wake up!
There are many practices you can adopt to open your being to its spiritual home.
Practices for Spirit
Mind the Gap
One of the most important findings of my research identified the role of the impasse between stimulus and response in encouraging insights. Taking even one conscious breath for example elongates the time between stimulus and response. It opens up a gap and in that tiny gap, a new way of thinking/responding has space to pop up. The trick is to extend the gap when it comes to evoking “Aha” moments that build resilience. Sitting in a place of not knowing and surrendering the need to know by shutting up the voice of the ego gives a gap of a few minutes. Transcending the mind in meditation offers a longer space for all kinds of “Aha” moments to arise.
Take a meta-perspective on whatever is arising. See it from a witnessing perspective and allow it to be. Because it is! From simply witnessing, from stepping back and becoming the observer you start to cling less, to identify less to whatever is in your awareness– a thought, an emotion, an event, a person or a reverie. You see that all things pass so attach no preferences to them.
Practice this giving equanimity to all things by not resisting some and desiring others. Treat every action with equal care and attention. Attention means attending only to the task in front of you with no distractions from the mind or the environment. Give conscious, deliberate attention only to what is happening in your world right now and accept it, with total equanimity. Treat every possible outcome to any situation with an attitude of equal acceptance. Keep choosing to be with whatever is arising. This is the secret of Loving What Is, as Byron Katie would say.
Set your intention to stop being in your head time-travelling, looking to the past and depressing yourself or hurtling yourself into an imagined future and scaring the living daylights out of yourself. Mind can never get out of mind so all the commentary and debate and speculation and complaints in your monkey mind only keeps you firmly imprisoned. Break out by choosing, over and over again, to live consciously in the Now of your life and engage with it.
Being present-to-what-is takes you into the flow of life itself and this is how mindfulness is developed. Being mindful, being present, being in the now are all the same thing, they all communicate a state of surrender. This is the total acceptance of life as it is dishing itself up to you right now. Whenever the mind is busy arguing with whatever is on the plate, you are stuck in your ego with nowhere to go and stuck with appetites that cannot be satisfied because pleasures are always fleeting.
Mental meditation is great for transcending the mind but it’s developed in the West at the expense of the body. Undertake body, or somatic meditation practices as recommended on great sites likewww.dharmaocean.org mentioned above.
Take up a practice like Dahn yoga – brilliant for developing the whole spectrum of consciousness, including spiritual growth.
Sit in not knowing to elongate mental gaps, be present in the now, take a witness perspective on everything and meditate to integrate mind and body to finally transcend all of them and rest in pure awareness.
Integral stresses the importance of ‘cross-training’, i.e. choosing a practice for body, mind and spirit and then working with all of them, integrating them. This produces a Gestalt effect in your whole being that is greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe you have no desire to address all the parts of the spectrum of consciousness to include spirit. Work with building resilience muscles in the areas that feel right for you. My own practices currently include ecstatic dancing (body), Dahn yoga (bodymind), somatic meditation and ACIM (spirit).
Choose one practice from each of the spectrum and commit to doing it for yourself, and you will never lack resilience again. This is my wish for you.
(The separation of our various dimensions across the spectrum of consciousness presented here is undertaken simply to ensure that each dimension is first addressed before all dimensions are subsequently reintegrated).