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On The Range Of Our Inner Experience

By Fiona Robertson.  

I listened to a podcast recently about people who have no mind’s eye (a condition called aphantasia) and so do not see any visual imagery, including memories. Some of the people featured also have no mind’s ear and cannot imagine sensory experiences that aren’t happening. As someone who has always had abundant visual imagery – sometimes to the point of overload, especially when the imagery has been disturbing – I found it fascinating to hear more about aphantasia and I’m still wondering if it makes life quieter or somehow more straightforward, or if it feels like a loss.

One of the things we become more aware of as we inquire is the multi-layered nature of experiencing. There’s the immediate, environmental sensory content – what we are seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, feeling (what we might call outer experiencing), and the internal sensory content, (which we could call inner experiencing) – what we are thinking, seeing and hearing in our mind’s eye or ear, and what we are feeling emotionally. It’s easy – and common – to imagine that, with all this going on, not only is some of the content of our experience wrong (I shouldn’t be feeling this feeling or thinking this thought) but that the way we are experiencing is wrong (I don’t feel things strongly enough, or I feel things too intensely, or I’m supposed to see images but I don’t, and so on). Reading books and articles and watching videos about inquiry can be helpful, but can sometimes heighten the idea that there’s a right way to “do” inquiry, and if we fall outside those parameters, we’re getting it wrong.

Yet having spent nearly ten years both inquiring myself and facilitating others, I can attest that there is no right way to process. We all experience our experiencing differently. For some people, sensations are fleeting, coming and going rapidly. For others, they can last for days (I’m sometimes in the latter camp). Likewise, some people have abundant, vivid imagery while others have none. We all experience thinking in subtly different ways, too. Some people say very little during sessions, others talk more or less continually as they process. Most people are somewhere in between, or vary from session to session (again, I’m in the latter camp). It’s natural that we would conclude – when our own experience doesn’t match up to someone else’s description – that we are somehow lacking or defective, but that’s simply not the case. The more we inquire, the less we compare ourselves to some idea of how we think we are supposed to process, and the more we come to recognise, honour and value our own unique way of processing.

(For more information on aphantasia, https://aphantasia.com/)

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.

When We Can’t Say No

By Fiona Robertson.  

In my experience, ongoing inquiry is bringing about a much clearer sense of my own boundaries.

I was looking this morning, and the words came, ‘I want nothing to do with this’, accompanied by crying. I saw an image of one boyfriend, who on our first date had an empty wallet. (When the relationship ended four years later, he owed me several thousand pounds).

More images came of the many, many times over the years that I have ignored my body’s instinctive gut reactions – disgust, dislike, or some other “no” – in favour of pleasing, being ‘reasonable’, excusing the other’s bad behaviour. Many are the ways I have dismissed or undercut my natural, immediate responses to the erosion or violation of my boundaries, having never experienced (until recent years) what it is to be healthily boundaried.

As I stayed with the images and feelings, I also saw how my inability to say ‘I want nothing to do with this’ in all those situations made true intimacy impossible. In a way that I still can’t fully articulate, I felt the deep sense of being compromised that comes when we can’t say no, and the lack of intimacy with ourselves and others that results. Finally allowing the truth of this “no” is liberating and enlivening, even if a little scary.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.

New Year’s Clarity

By Lisa Meuser.  

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do enjoy New Year’s clarity.

New Year’s clarity?

At the start of a year, I often connect with a word, a phrase, or an intention that is calling out for me to find clarity with. Hidden gifts always await as  I the word, phrase, or intention weave their way through my being.

In 2019 I knew it was time for me to be more in the world, while not getting lost in it, as has always been my patterning. My intention for the year became Being in the world and Being of Love. This was a radical change for me in that in the years prior I had been focusing on my clients and my personal life.

Since jumping out of that bubble, I have participated more fully than ever as a waking being, in an unwoken world, and it has been one of the most rewarding and learning endeavors of my life. It revealed internal territory I hadn’t worked through, as well as a depth of agency and resourcing that I hadn’t realized was waiting within me to embody.

I have yet to identify where clarity of focus will land for 2020, but my journey of 2019 helped me to stay turned towards some vital questions that I’m sure will help. It is powerful, and necessary, for me to connect with what truly aligns in my being, in whatever it is that I’m doing – on a day to day, moment by moment, basis. As such, connecting to these questions has been immensely profound:

  • Are the activities of my life in simple alignment?
  • If not, why am I engaged with them?
  • If not, do I need to step away from them, or
  • How might I bring more of me into these areas so that I feel an alignment with what is important to me?

A year of increased integrity, a year with more alignment, a year of discovery and deep learning all came as I continued to keep asking myself these simple questions. Throughout the course of the year, these questions became living embodiments. Did I stumble along the way? Absolutely. Were there challenges? Yes! Through difficult times these questions helped me to return to what was important for me, over and over again.

Without even trying, I noticed that the various aspects of my life were aligning synchronistically with one another as I journeyed with being in the world and being of Love.  Acknowledging my hidden racism; deepened clarity of living from Love first; moving from head wisdom to embodied wisdom of Love; an amazing  conscious leadership training that helped me further awaken to ancestral wisdom and the healing power of our stories;  conscious social justice engagement in my community; a weekend of  discovering 5 Rhythms; a powerful Heal Thyself Diversity Training; continued explorations into unwinding the dominant narrative that is perpetuated by culture, and lives in all our psyches; and lastly, the paradoxical co-existence of fear, hope and dreams.

Although being in the world and being of Love will no doubt be a life long journey these questions helped me get more deeply resourced clarity again and again. When I wanted to give up, when I doubted, when I didn’t know how, I gently and compassionately returned to these simple yet wise inquiries. And of course I got help from my support team, who help me to journey into my hidden areas.

These questions – and many others(!) – will continue to burn alive in my being as I move into the unknown of 2020. I look forward to further deepening, creating, and relating with, and to, Life and Love.

What about you? What draws you into conscious participation with 2020?  May you find some clarity, and let it be so!

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

The Sceptical Art of Inquiry

By Fiona Robertson.  

I read today that the ancient Greek word for ‘inquiry’ is skepsis, hence the word sceptical. Sceptical philosophers, from around the world in both ancient and modern times, have doubted our ability to know, either partially or completely. Their view is some variant of the idea that we can’t know anything for certain, and we can’t even know that we can’t know anything for certain.

We inevitably come to inquiry with a knowing or belief that feels certain. In fact, we don’t usually call it a belief. We don’t generally say, “I believe that I’m not good enough”, but rather state it as a fact: “I’m not good enough”. There often comes a point in a session when a slight crack appears in the certainty, and we begin to entertain the possibility that what we thought we knew for certain may not, after all, be the case. Even though the belief in question has been painful, there’s a kind of security in the certainty, so it can be disorientating to open up to the possibility that maybe we don’t know what we thought we knew. There’s often a sense of fear – if I’m not this, then what? Or the realisation that we may have spent many years trying to solve an issue only to discover that it’s not the issue we thought it was. Inevitably, we end up feeling emotions or sensations that the belief or knowing has somehow shielded us from.

In a session, I once had an image of seeing the outline of an island through a telescope from on board a boat. I saw that I was seeing the hint of the possibility that maybe what I thought was the case wasn’t. And even in reducing the certainty to 95% (rather than the full 100%), there was some relief in my system. Even in asking the questions – including questions like, “how do I know that?” or “what’s telling me that?” we open up to the possibility of uncertainty, that maybe we don’t know for sure. 

For the ancient sceptics, the idea was that having an experience of not knowing led to the possibility of calm, which feels deeply familiar from our perspective. It’s good to know people have been inquiring in this way for thousands of years.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.

Two Little Fussbudgets

By Sumitra Burton.  

This morning I was facilitated in an inquiry session where I was feeling “desperate” about needing to earn more money. Old, familiar story!

There’s enough money for today, tomorrow and probably a couple of years. But what about after that? I need to earn more, to save more, to build a large savings account so I won’t be a burden to my family in my old age!

I could feel the pressure of desperation in the left side of my belly, two small balls of energy there that seemed to know this was true – that were actually pushing me to try harder, to do something more, to earn more money. I sat with these energies, the two little balls, and allowed them to be felt, with curiosity. What were they all about?

And then, there they were. I could see these two little fussbudget owls, right there in my belly (I had seen this image of the little owls online earlier in the week). I could both see and feel them, fussing around, trying to stir up some energy. The more I stayed with these little fussbudgets, the more they became like cartoon characters. I started to laugh, and so did my facilitator. Their energies were contagious – so authentically busy, and at the same time going nowhere fast.

The laughter allowed me to relax a bit, and as I brought my awareness back to my body to look for this “desperation to earn more money,” these little owl fussbudgets had softened and become quiet.

It was clear then that whenever I wanted to be a fussbudget and worry a bit about money or anything else, these little owls would be there to “fuss” with me. We could stomp around, fluff our feathers and make squeaky noises all we wanted. And when we grew tired of fussing, we’d become quiet again and rest.

Ah, the wonders of inquiry!

To read more about Sumitra Burton, click here.