Is flow the same as awakening?
Yes. We can think of ourselves as varying degrees of consciousnesses and unconsciousness, dreaming and awakening, illusion and awareness, and resistance and flow.
What are the obstacles to waking up to flow?
The first obstacle is the deep identification to thought. We are so addicted to thinking that it is hard to see another possibility. Once we have this insight, another obstacle is that mind will look at awakening as it does everything else—something to attain. It can show up as the attachment to particular practices, beliefs, effort and struggle. The ego can become “spiritualized,” and it will love to absorb beautiful and delaying concepts. It’s important to understand that flow and awakening are not something gained, but instead they are resistance lost. Another obstacle is the fear of awakening. This is the mind’s resistance. It is the ego’s fear of its own end. This can show up as “I will become emotion-less?” or “I will lose the ability to reason” or “I need to understand more before I can practice.” The antidote is simply to start practicing.
What’s the difference between Awareness and Release techniques?
Awareness techniques are about shifting attention from mind to the awaring presence; Release techniques are about letting go of the mind’s resistance. In my experience, Release techniques are soothing, and so if you start with just one technique, a Release technique may be easier.
Do I need to meditate?
No. You can if you want to, and sit-down meditation does help with awareness and release, and has far-reaching physiological benefits. The same goes for Hatha Yoga, exericise, getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and community.
Is getting into flow hard?
You simply start with practicing Awareness and Release. This will have immediate benefits to living. Don’t worry about when the Awakening event happens in linear time. This process is unlike processes the mind is used to. This is natural and effortless, though sometimes there is effort to overcome the mind’s resistance, and sometimes there is effort until the nature of effort is understood. There is nothing you need to change in your daily life. You can go about your usual activities, only with more presence and awareness and less resistance. Your interest and intention will naturally increase. The benefits are immediate and cummulative.
Do I have to give up desires?
No. It is best to accept everything about yourself just as is, including desires. Release the emotional baggage around desires. This is removing the clingingness of cravings. Sometimes in this process desires may vanish. What remains are true intentions, and intention-action is living.
How long will it take?
It can be instant, or it may take a lifetime, or somewhere in between, or all of these. It doesn’t matter, because the benefits of practicing Awareness/Release are immediate. Don’t worry about the Awakening event or when it happens in linear time or even if such a thing is real. This is an effortless, life-long, ever-deepening process. In my experience, the release techniques work right away and improve life and living immediately.
What do you mean by mind?
Here, by ‘mind’ I mean the mental framework of thought, emotion, conditioning, and ego. We know what thought is. Thoughts have become highly significant for us, when they are in reality transient and insignificant. Emotions are highly energized patterns of body sensation and thought-stories. Conditioning is the store of past reactions, which the mind uses to determine attitude, behavior, preferences, dislikes, cravings, aversions, and judgments. The ego refers to ego-stories, our definition of ourselves in the mind. The attributes that we consider good, like intelligence, love, joy and peace arise in consciousness, not in mind.
What is the nature of intention?
Attention is the spotlight of Awareness, and intention is the direction in which attention is pointing. Intentions are very powerful. We do not know this because in our noisy minds, it is difficult to recognize an uncluttered intention. The nature of intention becomes clear as awareness expands.
What is the nature of attention?
Attention is the spotlight of Awareness. Whatever attention shines on will expand. However, it is also true that what we resist, festers. Our attention is usually wrapped up in thought-stories, and so the stories expand. When we shift attention slightly to witness thought, the momentum of thought diminishes. Our attention is frequently absorbed in the stories of ‘negative’ emotion. When we shift attention so we can see the whole mechanism of emotion, the negativity is released. It is a mistake to force attention only on what you consider the ‘positive.’ Negative-positive is a judgment in the dualistic mind, and the outer world and inner world are intertwined, so forcing attention on the ‘positive’ is cutting off half of reality from Awareness. The nature of attention becomes clear as Awareness expands.
What is the nature of time?
Our only experience of time is the Now. Our experience of the past is memory which we experience Now. Our experience of the future is imagination which we experience Now. The experience of Now is true and undeniable; anything else we may think or feel about time is based on superstitious concepts of time. Without thought, there is no sense of time. Without a sense of time, there is no thought.
Another way to see this is realize that everything we feel, think, are, and do, is influenced heavily by our past—by conditioning and memory. We can imagine that if we had no past, our actions and feeling of well-being would be very different. We certainly would not be haunted by recurring thoughts, obsessions, addictions, and fears. The fact is, we actually do not have a past that can be experienced. It is only memory and conditioning. When we can release the conditioning, or rise above it, flow is natural and inevitable.
Do we have free will?
When we are caught in the mind, conditioning (samskara) heavily influences our thoughts, choices and actions (karma). There can be no free will in the mind. However, the choice to expand awareness is a fundamental choice available to all of us at any time.
I know acceptance is important but it is very difficult for me to accept my circumstances right now.
Acceptance is indeed important; no true change can happen until we have completely accepted and owned up to who we are, right now, right here. The mind sees acceptance as tolerance of a bad situation, or resignation, or a stoic sort of “I don’t like it but I will bear it” thing. The mind is also afraid that in accepting, it is locking in a reality it doesn’t like.
Acceptance is the absence of resistance to the present. With many of these things, it is only with direct experience that we can truly understand. Release techniques are a great help.
Acceptance, gratitude, “don’t mind what happens,” surrender, metta (lovingkindness), forgiveness, and others are all ‘heart’ techniques can help dissolve resistance and open us up. Understanding of these deepens naturally with practicing Awareness and Release.
All this stuff is fine, but life is full of problems. How will this help me get a job, pay the bills, deal with divorce, deal with death of loved one, loneliness, health, emotional pain, and all the other problems in life?
Life is our best teacher. Anytime is a good time to make the choice to awaken. I can say that when we are the awaring presence, there are never any problems in life. The only problem with living is that we carry the enormous weight of the past with us in each moment. If we could simply look at each moment, in the present, without the burden of past beliefs, concepts, delusions and stored reactions, we can easily imagine that we would glide through living with effortless effectiveness. There are no problems; there are only situations to deal with in the present, and nothing in life can affect our true and constant nature; however, all this will be meaningless to you right now. No answer will satisfy the mind. The answer is to see for yourself. Awareness and Release techniques will have immediate benefits in daily living.
What about the Law of Attraction?
This is a matter of putting the clichéd horse before the cart. Intentions and thoughts are certainly creative, but at the level of mind, it is difficult to hold an uncluttered intention. Desires and beliefs arise from associative memory and conditioning, and they can exist only in the context of their negatives. You may have the desire that the perfect partner will walk in the door for you, but along with that you have many negative beliefs, such as that you are not good enough to love, you will never find anyone compatible, and so on. Some New Age methods suggest we replace negative beliefs with positive beliefs, or get rid of limiting beliefs. What I suggest is that there is no need to rationalize, and you don’t need an external authority to tell you whether to have desires or how to have desires. What you directly experience in Awareness is your only truth. I suggest that if we want to give the Law of Attraction or similar beliefs an honest try, let’s do it at ‘higher’ level of consciousness, where there is less clutter in the mind. I also suggest let’s look into the compulsion to be attracted to these ‘fast-food’ spiritual and self-improvement methods that promise to easily manifest our cravings, and let’s release aspects around this tendency.
Do I need a teacher?
I learn from reading; however, I recognize there is great benefit in belonging to a community with similar interests. There is great benefit in sharing experience. My experience is that a teacher or teaching should be more conscious than I am, and the teaching has to resonate, and that it does not require a lot of effort, it is easy to integerate into daily living, and that it does not come from a ‘spirtualized’ ego.
Some say we can never awaken, or that it takes no effort and we are already awakened, and “call off the search.” If we can’t awaken why practice? If it takes no effort, isn’t practice itself effort?
Yes, it can be confusing. The mind or ego is what decides to awaken and decides to practice. The mind or ego can never awaken, just as a character in a night dream cannot wake up. The reason to practice is so we can flow and we can enjoy immediate benefits in living, and so we can see reality just as it is, and not because we are trying to attain a big-bang event called “awakening” or “enlightenment.” Practice is about letting go, including letting go of effort and struggle. Often these paradoxes are confusing and frustrating to the mind, but sometimes, at the right time, they are exactly what we need to hear. Sometimes these paradoxes jostle the “spiritual seeker” who is trapped in seeking an awakening event in the future. Rely only on direct experience, and use others’ words and experiences only as signposts.
Will this help me with depression?
Awareness and Release have helped me with depression and anxiety. Depression can be anger and hurt turned inward. It can help to learn to release these emotions rather than turn them inward, and there are techniques available to help us do that. In depression, it is sometimes difficult to feel the emotions at all. If we can’t feel, we cannot release. This can make depression a difficult affliction. Awareness and meditation can sometimes increase our sensitivity to emotions. These techniques can help, and they have helped me, but of course nothing I say should or can replace medical advice.
What is Karma?
Karma is action that arises out of our conditioned past. Samskara is the conditioned past in us. Your conditioned past will determine the actions you take in the present. Of course, you can simply choose to live in Awareness and not by your conditioned past.
In the west, we think of Karma, as payback. I don’t see much use for this concept.