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Letter of Gratitude for Fear

By Scott Kiloby.  

Dear Fear:

Thank you for arising! Thank you for being one of the millions of appearances floating in and out of the vast and infinite space of now. Sometimes you have come hidden within logic, seeming to arise as a thought that needs to take action about the future. You are such a great Thespian, worthy of an Oscar.

You have fooled me into thinking I am just rationally making decisions about the future. When you come disguised in this way, I am blind to you. You hide within the voice of the mind and the deep caverns of the stomach and chest. I cannot see you at all. And yet you are pulling all the strings. I am your puppet in that moment. We make a great team, fooling the consciousness within myself and all others, making everyone think that I am just making clear decisions to protect myself, set appropriate boundaries, build a future . . . or (and here’s the best one) make an intelligent decision.

Through the years, you have been so good at hiding yourself that I have made millions of decisions based on you, without even knowing it. And you have protected me, set boundaries for me, built a future for me and helped me make decisions. You have done all of that and more and I am grateful.

But, thank you, each time you have revealed yourself more consciously to me. In some moments, you have been gracious enough to arise directly in awareness so that I could peek at you, feel you, taste you, know you directly – without the veil of concepts. You could have stayed hidden but you didn’t. You allowed me to see you. And in those moments, you allowed me to see just how much you have been running the show.

In a phone call one day, I found myself responding to someone’s question. I thought I was just responding out of fearless clarity. But you revealed yourself in that moment. You showed me that I was responding out of you. You gave me a chance to meet you directly in that moment and a thousand insights came flooding into my awareness about how so many responses in my life have been a result of you. In a decision with my partner one night, you popped up again directly in awareness and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought I was just protecting myself from him. I thought I was just using my mind to make a decision about the household. But in feeling you directly in that moment, the walls of separation between him and me disappeared and I found no one and nothing to protect. And so I felt more intimately close, inseparable really, from my partner than ever before. You are love disguised as fear.

One day I was looking for a way to fix a problem at work. I thought I was just using my intelligence to decide between several viable options. I was so ignorant and unconscious. Oh how you had fooled me. I noticed you there in my stomach and I sat quietly with you. I gave you as much space to be exactly as you are. I loved you fully. And you revealed that there is nothing to fear. And in that, new options arose that were not based in fear anymore. A great relaxation swept over me and another thousand insights came flooding in, showing me that there is nothing that I need to try to make happen. I am already in the flow of the present moment. I am that flow. As you released that day, you provided me the way to allow work to happen naturally, without the toil and spin of the mind.

Most of all, dear fear, thank you for showing me that I can live without you. Although I am so grateful for the many years of self-protection, ultimately, I see that you were here to show me that there is no self to protect. I appreciate that you come back now and then to reveal this again when it is needed. I am so grateful that you have arisen so often to do exactly what you need to do in any given moment. You are not my enemy. You were only there to protect me at first. And then you became the doorway to freedom. You became my way out of suffering. You are the most loyal friend in that way, letting me dissolve into a great spacious peace and love, but only when I was ready.

Warmly, Scott

This post is republished from the previous Living Inquiries website

Shadow Dancing

By Lisa Meuser.

Both the light and shadow are the dance of love. Rumi.

In the middle of the day, a sky filled with blue and a little bit of white suddenly became dark. The insects quieted. The birds stopped singing. Day-light became day-dark.  Stars and planets became visible. The world as we knew it- our view of the world– became another world. Bang! Perception altered.

The recent eclipse gave us a firsthand view into how darkness becomes our reality when light is obscured from our vision. We’re used to this in a very specific presentation called ‘night.’ But it was like a magic trick to see day transform into night…during the day.

During this rare moment, I heard people gush about how they were blown away by the beauty. The sudden expression of lightness transitioning into darkness, then back into lightness was SO REAL and in our faces – something for all of us to see and for all of us to share. The sky was met with reverence and mystery. We took it all in: Light. Dark. Light.

A bit less novel and perhaps taken for granted, we don’t question how every evening and again every morning we move from light into dark, back into light again. It is simply part of our reality. We don’t try to change it. We adapt. We accept it. We allow it to be what it is.

Our days (and nights) are also filled with emotional eclipses, when darkness temporarily obscures light or light obscures darkness.  We call them “bad moods” or “good moods,” and a slew of other things. We slip in and out of these often, experiencing a glimmer of light amid persistent darkness, or a shadow of darkness within persistent light.  When we get caught in these eclipses, we often project these interpretative perceptions onto people, places, thing, politics… you get the gist… or onto the nature of who we are at our very core.

In this relative existence, most concepts have an opposite: good/bad, right/wrong, light/dark, and so on.  And we as human beings prefer to be “on the side of” good, right, and light.  We love to be associated with the “positive” side of these concepts. We love to be the bright shining sun, not the moon which obscures it. But, as many of us observed Monday, this obscuring has its own kind of beauty, too.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be associated with the positives. That’s natural. But the truth is that we all have our shadows and the eclipse was a glaring reminder that the shadow – the darkness – is an inevitable part of this reality.

Too often we’re so busy hiding from this side of ourselves that it quietly consume us, sometimes without us ever knowing it. We inadvertently become slaves to these shadow sides, in our ignorance or denial of them. I had a boyfriend once who, when he wasn’t getting his way, loved to call me arrogant and a hypocrite, and when I’d tell people about this they’d laugh as they considered the source. He was well known for exemplifying the classic psychological move of projecting what we don’t like about ourselves – what we’re unwilling to meet within ourselves – onto others.

What happens to the shadows that we are in denial of? Unlike the ones created by the sun, our internal shadows don’t naturally shift away on their own.  But we’re a stubborn species and sometimes we’ll do just about anything but feel or acknowledge our shadows, and this avoidance feeds our culture’s heavily addictive personality as we try to ignore or escape them. We bury ourselves in food, social media, gambling, sex, drugs, alcohol, work, unhealthy relationships. We want to feel love- but we can’t- because our shadows are ‘harshing our mellow.’ So we numb ourselves or act out instead.

While the shadows that we desperately try to conceal may, on the surface, seem to be about things like arrogance or hypocrisy, or racism, sexism, homophobia, and other judgmental traits, underneath these ‘negative’ characteristics are deficiency stories – a sense that we’re not good enough, that we’re unlovable, that we’re broken.

We try to hide our deficiency stories, clinging to a façade of power and strength, but they come out in our anger, in our judgments, in our fears, and they fester into depression and hopelessness. We either project them onto others, or we sink into them within ourselves. These shadows shape our perceptions, our reality.  We’re a culture full of unacknowledged and processed shadows. We’re a culture full of overt and overt covert addition.

What if we didn’t have to pretend that we didn’t have shadows? What if we didn’t have to pretend that we didn’t have deficiency stories? What if we didn’t have to pretend that we’re not addicts in some form or other? What if we didn’t have to pretend that we’re not perfect?

The opposite of pretending is honesty. What if we could be honest, with ourselves and with others, about our shadows? What if we could admit that we are hurting? What if we could accept that we are having a hard time, that we are scared or sad or angry? What if we could just be our fully human selves? We all know that love is the ultimate ‘positive’ aspect, but when we have to deny a part of ourselves, it’s not love – it’s self-loathing.

Most of us have what I call inner managers –essentially the part of us that insists on controlling things – and a while back, I was battling pretty heavily with mine. I was having a rough day after a series of miscellaneous triggers, and my nervous system went from fully operational to completely freaked out. Now, when my nervous system starts to freak out, my hamster-wheel mind starts to spin…and then if that momentum isn’t neutralized, in comes the overwhelm. I have a lot of tools to attend to these various experiences, but sometimes I just get lost in it. That’s when my inner manager comes out to see what the fuck is going on. As you might have guessed, she’s not the most kind or compassionate voice that plays in my head. She’s more like, “Let’s get this shit taken care of, Lisa!”

When I spotted this inner manager, I wanted to get rid of her.  She was harsh, more like a bully than anything helpful, and I didn’t appreciate her being around. Well, guess what? My resistance to her only made her dig her heels in.

My body was tight. My nervous system continued to be amped up. Emotions were rampant.  Self-loathing was on the upswing. But I quickly realized what was going on, and took a deep breath. Why was I making my inner manager into the bad guy? Why was I trying to push down this shadow part of myself? I had this idea that she was in the way of my peace. But it turns out that my resistance to her is what kept me from experiencing peace. My denial of her – not allowing her to be as she was – was the true cause of my agitation.

Once this revealed itself, I was able to acknowledge that she was actually welcome to be here.  Thank you for revealing yourself, I told her. You’re welcome to stay. Hell, I actually love you, too! And then I let her be, as there was no reason or need for anything to be different then it was.

These shadow parts of ourselves aren’t bad – they have been created innocently, based on our childhood and our conditioning. If you want to hear about the formation of my inner manager…well, let’s have tea sometime and I’ll tell you all about her. 😉 But for now, just know that we all have shadows. We can’t have night without day, or light without dark; they are two sides of the same coin.  We all have deficiency stories and shadow states that are part of our persona, and they’re not as terrible as we make them out to be…especially when we stop demonizing them, or shaming ourselves for having them.  What began as self-loathing can transform into self-love as we allow our humanity to be here in all its variation.

We’re human. We exist within a plentitude of expressions – so explore them. Get to know your shadow sides. Get to know what makes them so loud, and why they are here in the first place. Learn their message and their lesson. Instead of projecting your shadows onto your friends, make friends with your shadows. Being honest about them and their existence will actually set them (and you) free, as well as dismantle the deficiency stories that are tied to them. When you shine light onto your shadows, something magical happens…the darkness that seems to be tied up with them shifts.  And then, just like with an eclipse, the beauty of that light will again emerge.



Contraction: Thank You For Arising. I Love You. You Are Welcome to Stay

By Scott Kiloby.

What we resist, persists. This is age-old wisdom. When it comes to body contractions, this bit of wisdom is, perhaps, the most important insight. A body contraction is dense sensation usually in the throat, chest, stomach or pelvic area. I’ve always seen the various contractions experienced in my body as unfelt emotions/sensations that have crystallized into dense, solid energy over time. Sometime long ago, probably in early childhood, certain emotions and sensations were simply too much to bear. Something in my system shut down and contracted against the painful emotion/sensation and suppressed it. I came to find out later that, as long as there was some contraction in the body, there was usually some addiction operating.

I spent the earlier years of my life just trying to survive in the face of these painful emotions and sensations. My system unconsciously solidified contraction through those years. I then spent years reaching out towards addictive substances and activities to distract myself from, medicate or cover up these painful energies. It didn’t seem like I had any other choice. This was how my system learned to cope with what could not/had not been fully felt. These substances and activities gave only temporary relief. The contraction would come back, emerging out of nowhere, apparently screaming for more of this substance or that activity. Vicious cycle!

When I met the possibility of releasing these contractions through spiritual teachings and therapeutic modalities, I made an innocent “mistake” that so many make.   I know, I know, there are no mistakes.  But just hear me out.

I was trying too much. My very intention was to get rid of the contraction. I spent years doing everything in my power to relax, release, rest, explore, meditate inquire into, and transform these contractions. I didn’t realize that most of my efforts were, at the very least, keeping contraction in place, and often actually strengthening it.

Before the Living Inquiries were developed, several of those contractions had already released just through the recognition of awareness and the allowing of everything to be as it is (all words, pictures and sensations). But some of the more stubbornly dense energies remained, as did the addictions that went with them.

Even once the Inquiries were developed, I continued to make the same innocent mistake.  I was trying to release contractions with these new tools.  This was my conscious or unconscious intention. The fatal error. I noticed that if I had any intention at all to get rid of that energy, it simply stayed around. What I resisted, persisted.

As facilitators of the Living Inquiries, we often encourage clients to rest and let everything be as it is.  This is a great instruction to help relax the trying.  But sometimes it is just not enough. It wasn’t for me, at least not with respect to these denser bodily sensations.   My mind heard that “pointer” but somehow the unconscious intention to get rid of the energy was operating beneath the “rest.”

As I traced back my lifetime, and saw what had happened, I noticed that there was a sort of default pattern in the body and mind, a bug in the operating system, if you will. The pattern showed up in the moment like this:

Whatever feels really uncomfortable

  1. I don’t want it to arise
  2. I don’t love it when it is here (in fact, I hate it)
  3. I want it to go away

When I first started using the Living Inquiries on some of the leftover contractions, this bug was still operating. And I had no idea!  No matter how much I noticed that the thoughts, emotions and sensations were not me – that I was aware of these things coming and going – the contraction remained. And it remained because of this unexamined default pattern.

I knew the Inquiries were a great tool for investigating body contractions – the best tool I’d found so far. But I knew I needed to stop and back up, so to speak. A little debugging had to take place first. I knew it wasn’t even about recognizing awareness anymore, because the pattern was so unconscious that it was running even as awareness was clearly realized.

Instead, I simply began to say the following phrase every time the contraction would arise, while being aware of sensations and the shapes/pictures that went with those sensations:

“Thank you for arising, I love you, you are welcome to stay.”

After stating the phrase, I would just rest – do nothing!  Go about my life!

I began saying this about two years ago, after I had read about Ho’oponopono, a Hawaii practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. I simply revised the practice and turned it towards body contraction.

Why was it helpful?  If you showed unconditional love to a friend who showed up at your door, wouldn’t your attitude be, “Thank you for coming, I love you, you are welcome to stay?” Anything else is resistance. And what we resist, persists.

Just saying this phrase changed the game. It was like deprogramming this deeply-held and unconscious belief that “I don’t want it to arise, I hate it and I want it to go away.” What I noticed is that, once I said that, I didn’t need to inquire into the contraction, at least not at first.  Everything was just fine, sweet even!  Even the pain just was, whatever it was.  Not a big deal when there was no resistance to it.

I even noticed that sometimes the very intention to inquire after I had used this saying carried with it the intention to get rid of the contraction (again).  Using inquiry in that way could have merely solidified the contraction.  I noticed there was very little inclination to check to see if the contraction had gone away after saying the phrase. That was clearly not the purpose of the saying. The saying was meant to reveal a natural, loving acceptance of the sensations, an acceptance that felt beyond the mind.

This had a deprogramming effect on the bug.  Ironically, this phrase, after repeating it quite a bit, began to release the contraction – not necessarily all the way. But it was like it didn’t matter anymore. The bug had loosened its creepy little arms and legs from the energy that was arising (there is no bug, it’s just a metaphor).  When there was no intention to get rid of whatever was left of the contraction, I would gently begin to inquire. Inquiry was much more effective at that point.  Inquiry felt like restful play or exploration without any result or expectation in mind.

There are other tools that facilitators use during guided inquiry to help clients relax the tendency to try, try, try. This is just what worked for me.  When you don’t feel tied to inquiry, you remain open to these things.

I share this with you not as a guarantee that this phrase will release the contraction. Again, that’s not the purpose of the saying (even if the result is a release).  For that deeper release, inquiry is often needed after this phrase fully soaks into your being.  I share this so that maybe you will pick up the saying and deprogram the belief that “this shouldn’t be arising, I don’t love it, and I want it to go away.”  If you have the same default pattern, maybe this saying will help you to stop the game of trying, trying, trying. You can then inquire in a more playful, restful way, using the inquiries in the way they were intended – as a gentle investigation that does not seek to change anything, but merely to relax and lovingly and gently allow everything to just be.

Maybe you will see the irony too: that although what we resist, persists, what we allow (truly allow), changes and even dissolves sometimes. Despite our best efforts to make change happen, change mostly happens when we drop our best efforts!