I recently read 'Shift into Freedom' by Loch Kelly. Kelly is a psychotherapist and meditation teacher.
I was deeply touched by 'Shift into Freedom', as I feel it can be challenging to find books that present such a clear and workable way to awaken to open-hearted awareness.
Kelly outlines how to 'unhook' from the conceptual mind and to 'train to remain' in the open heart of awareness.
At first, he describes, we may encounter what seems like a "negative emptiness" when we unhook from the mind. But as we let go of our sense of self, we encounter a vast fullness that is our true heart.
Kelly advocates that we can awaken today and that it is accessible to everybody.
Thank you Loch for sharing your heart, love and light with the world. 'Shift into Freedom' is a wonderful book that I regularly share with my clients and groups.
'Shift in Awareness' is available in paperback and as an audio CD with meditations. Please support your local bookstore. Learn more about Loch Kelly at: https://lochkelly.org.
When I first discovered the teachings of the Buddha and nonduality, I hoped that all my painful emotion and difficult inner experience would disappear.
I really wanted to feel better. I was sick of how I was feeling. I was extremely tired of feeling depressed, anxious and lost all the time. I was totally hooked on the teachings of nonduality and enlightenment.
Awakening into nondual awareness and experiencing universal oneness became the ultimate goal for me. I wanted to become just like the Buddha and truly understand how the universe worked. I wanted to be free of all suffering.
Over a ten year period, I tried to eradicate my ego and my emotional experience. Although I became pretty clear on what nondual awareness was, I could not understand why I was still feeling so crap all the time.
Depression and anxiety were still a persistent visitor. I also passed through stages of feeling suicidal. I felt like something was wrong with me. Meditation was not making it better.
Despite all my meditation practice and reading about nonduality, why was I still feeling so shit all the time?
Gradually I realised that I needed to stop trying to change my experience. No amount of fixing or attempting to make things better was going to work. I eventually came to see that trying to get rid of my thoughts and ego was an incorrect interpretation of Buddhist and nondual teachings.
I am extremely grateful to my nondual teacher Gary Tzu who shared with me the wisdom of 'no escape' and 'no technique'. I gradually came to see that trying to control, change or improve my inner experience actually made it worse. I had to face what was arising.
It came as a huge shock to me to realise that awakening into nondual awareness actually amplified my inner experience. Things actually felt worse before they started to feel better. This is because I had been holding onto a large amount of inner wounding from childhood.
I was flooded with flashbacks to childhood and a deepening of my depression and anxiety. I became far more sensitive to my inner experience, almost like shining a light in the darkness for the first time.
I started to see what I had been avoiding. Like flood gates opening, I finally gave up the fight with my inner experience and let it flow through me.
This was not easy and even to this day, I need to constantly let go of controlling my inner experience. Time and time again, I gently relax and fall back into the infinite space around me, that is referred to as universal consciousness, nondual awareness or the Buddha-mind.
It is said that true peace can be found in the heart of the Buddha. Letting go and falling into the space around me has become a wonderful refuge.
I wanted to share this article as sometimes when you go through an awakening, things start to feel worse. You may feel like you are missing the point and that something is wrong with you. You may feel 'triggered' and 'emotional' all the time.
Throughout our lifetime, we accumulate a massive amount of memory and emotion. We may not process these inner experiences because they are too painful at the time. We don't know how to work with them.
When we awaken, unprocessed inner material will come flooding to the surface. This is because the energy of these emotions and memories wants to pass through your body. It is seeking a way to pass back into openness.
This is why it is so important to open the heart and allow your mind to relax, as any attempt to think your way out of the situation does not work. Let go of your mind and fall into your heart and gut.
Relax and breath into your inner experience to give it free passage.
I found working with a nondual therapist (with training in Western psychology & Eastern contemplative traditions) extremely helpful. The support to sit with and allow my experience to pass was extremely transformative.
Being able to ask questions about nonduality and clear up my confusion was extremely beneficial.
So please take heart if you are feeling really bad right now. It is actually a good sign. It's an indication that you are working through difficult emotions and feelings from your past. I call spiritual awakening the 'ultimate cleansing out', as so much shit comes to the surface.
If you would like support along your awakening journey, please feel free to book a nondual therapy session with me today. I work with clients who have an interest in nonduality, transpersonal psychology or Buddhism globally on Skype and face to face in Melbourne CBD.
Crisis can hit at anytime. Job loss, the passing of a loved one, ill health, relationship breakup, financial ruin. Nothing is stable in life and everything passes through a cycle; even good things that we hoped may last could come to an end.
Our capacity to experience emotion increases when we awaken or commence a meditation practice. Our level of sensitivity actually grows. We feel and hurt deeper than before. This is a normal aspect of awakening, as we become more connected to the emotional undercurrent in our bodies.
Our deepest wounds and hurts, our emotional difficulties and those dark scary places within are not a mistake. There is not something wrong with you. The invitation both in meditation and throughout daily life is: can you make room for your inner experience? Can you give each feeling and painful experience free passage?
This is a radical proposition. So much of society is concerned with fixing and making things better. If we experience a dark or difficult feeling, we attempt to change it. We try to think of a way to make things better. A huge amount of energy can go into attempting to improve our inner experience and emotional make up.
The invitation is to relax the mind's need to change your inner experience. Gently let go and fall into the space around you without attempting to solve, fix or change your inner experience.
Give yourself permission to not know. Release yourself from the demand that you must improve your situation. Let go and allow yourself to dissolve into the infinite expanse of the universe around you. This is the Buddha Mind. As clinical psychologist Tara Brach calls it, fall into True Refuge.
Spiritual awakening and the path of enlightenment can feel amazing at times. At other times, it can be painful. It is not often spoken about in spiritual circles at just how difficult awakening is. We may originally start meditation with good intentions, such as wanting to become enlightened or to experience relief from psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. However one can quickly lose any spiritual insights gained. Blissful experiences can quickly disappear as you return to ordinary consciousness.
Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of meditation is not to become enlightened or to change any inner experience. Rather, it is to be at home with your inner experience as it is, without any attempt to modify, change, heal or transform it.
Meditation calls for radical self compassion, where you allow yourself to be as you are - with all of your wounding, dysfunction and inadequacies. This is because there is nothing wrong with any appearance, they are all welcome. Your deepest pain and darkest wounding is not a mistake. You are not a disfunction that you must try to get rid of.
As you relax into mediation with no technique and no escape, unprocessed feelings, emotions, memories and energy will naturally come to the surface. This is because our body holds an enormous amount of material and energy until we are ready to deal with it. This is why it can feel so dark and painful during meditation. It is not that something is wrong with you, rather that your body is going through a profound release. Left to unfold on its own, healing and insight will naturally arise.
Rest gently, go slow and be very kind to yourself. Meditation is not an achievement - there is no place to go. All experiences - both negative and positive - are naturally enlightened.
Daniel Solodky is a nondual, transpersonal and Buddhist Psychotherapist providing online therapy over secure video. Book Daniel at: https://calendly.com/danielsolodky