A student’s journey in the Awareness School is as varied as there are students and ultimately depends upon their orientation to spiritual practices, their level of desperation for relief, and their pneumatic tendencies.
Some of what I offer is initially identical content based in Fourth Way ideas, zen principles, and the unseen world of energy. It is my particular mix of practices based on my own experience in the various religious and spiritual schools I have been immersed.
However, different methods speak to different people and so I must evaluate what might speak the loudest at any given time.
Shamanic journey, sound healing, and the practice of the 20 count medicine wheel are used at key intervals when someone may be stuck in dogged attachment to method or their own grueling effort, or lack thereof.
The Awareness School is not a smorgasbord of spiritual practices. It is not a place to receive “clearings” or “done for you” alignment. Rather, it is a calculated prescription for freedom that I have come to understand through my own personal experience of freedom as well as 15 years of teaching others. That prescription involves, meditation, presence practices, shamanic journey, understanding energy, and sound healing.
Now let’s talk about freedom.
Students have different potential for layers of freedom. There is not one set state of enlightenment, but openings along the way that lead to permanent states of stillness, pure awareness or what the Buddhists refer to as Shunyata. This is the ability to detach from thought and form yet be in the world, knowing emptiness.
That is only an initial stage.
This stage is the possibility of being free from the confines and notions of the sense based world. Students learn through practices of maintaining presence how to first be a witness and then how to find the perfect balance of effort and surrender. This is precisely when they understand that they are not their thoughts, their bodies, or their personalities, but they still struggle between being in and out of that. This separation brings about a great deal of relief and yet they have not yet escaped the difficulties of their world at large.
It is by no means enlightenment.
A student at first must find themselves unbelieving what they thought was real. I ask them to question reality and what they know in order to be vulnerable to a process of inner growth. The students who get nowhere are the ones who think they already know. This work requires trust in the teaching and in the transmission. If there isn’t enough stability in the psyche, or the unified functions of mind-body-emotion, then that trust is not possible. The basics must then be reiterated for possibly years until that unification is established.
Not the easiest thing to sell…
If they push to openings at the wrong time and under the wrong conditions, they crystalize in their current level of Being which may be frightfully inadequate.
This is what we may see happening when people follow gurus and saints, projecting god like status on them, relinquishing their own Will, and becoming identified with that person and their teachings. They may be opened up by that guru with no resources to cope with what they see nor how to deal with life.
It is also what we may see when people want kundalini awakening without proper grounding or an open crown chakra. It can lead to sickness, detriment to the nervous system and spiritual backtracking. In fact, becoming attached to any method can nose dive into the inability to progress, coupled with the illusion of transformation.
Wanting quick fixes or getting high on ecstatic states is a slippery slope to nowhere.
I work with many meditations that are actual energetic tools, so that I can adjust the formula to bring about the best timing for an opening to occur. Students are not told what these meditations do, but must discover for themselves what the meditation is doing. This translates to seeing what is happening within them out in everyday life as well as during the meditation itself.
It feels like science in a way, but it all depends on the student’s ability to learn specific skills of unifying their mind-body-emotion facility to bring about true yet elusive Self-observation. This takes real effort. Once this is understood and practiced, new inner impressions feed their consciousness. They begin to notice that something is changing within them, less anxiety perhaps, less reaction, and most certainly detachment from the many I’s at war within themselves.
They simply begin to watch the war.
When they can see their attachment and simply observe without changing it, there is a form of self-acceptance that brings about greater awareness of who they really are. They begin to experience the difference between their Essence and their Personality.
This comes from very specific practices out in life and very specific meditations that create a magnetic center within them that promotes the ability to gather momentum.
Doing the retreats furthers that momentum, giving them a chance to experience exceptional conditions for accessing higher energies. The movements are one such very powerful vehicle used on the retreats. As well, students collectively create new possibilities just because they are there as a group working in very specific ways. They come away inspired to carry on and maintain their new found awareness.
Typically, however, things often feel worse before they feel better, because they see things they could not see before, and realize their level of “sleep”, and the “terror of the situation”. Eventually, they may experience a true “dark night of the soul” and hardly in the way it is flippantly portrayed in spiritual pop jargon, basically referring to a difficult moment.
This “dark night of the soul” is a crisis of identity and the precursor to a modicum of detachment from the Ego.
This is a delicate process, potentially dangerous, and utterly in need of guidance to ease and assist the situation if possible. Of course, hundreds of mystics have gone through their dark night of the soul alone and written reams on it, but I myself had assistance. Ultimately, I was alone in my experience, but I had someone by me who knew and understood what I was going through. That assistance was afforded through my trust and connection to the other human being who was helping me, but not dependence upon him.
This is what I am passing along to my own students because this act of love is what made me realize the importance of human connection and trust. It heals many wounds. Our lack of it is what keeps us ultimately separate from one another.
It can be likened to that surrender of sexual ecstasy, but rather on a level of Existence and Being. All the constructs of who they are have the possibility of falling away. They have to be all in and willing. Their own effort and reception is wholly unto them. This moment can be greatly assisted and likened to the Sufi notion of ferrying someone to the other side.
Once that breakthrough has occurred, the real work can begin to rebuild their life through one present moment at a time in which the patterns of the past are obliterated by conscious choice. This then prepares the future for a life of freedom and tranquility.
Different students need different things from basic relief of anxiety to pointing the way to enlightenment and everything in between.
The methods here have open doorways for many, offering the promise of grounded stability, permanent inner stillness, and access to conscious choice in this lifetime which whispers eternity.
The Awareness School offers eight week introductory courses twice a year. See the website for information and registration.
Have a fulfilling week.