Enlightening the Passions – Finale: Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Your life is always working, whether you know it or not. Sometimes it works to bring you what you want, and sometimes it works to keep you from what you think you want. — Neale Donald Walsch; Tomorrow’s God

11_11_2008_stephen_alvarezThis is the last entry I’ll be writing within the framework of the Experiment – because it’s finished, and it’s turned up enough of a practice for me to let go of, satisfied that it has carried me this far, and that it has been a teacher beyond anything I thought was possible.

An important lesson came to me yesterday on my birthday. Thinking about being 55 and what that means it became clear that now I’m ready to accept my destiny as it is. All of the life that I’ve lived so far – leaving traces that co-determine what the present is for me and those around me.
Today learning that some of my family believe that my father is very close to the end, I think this is the one ‘thing’ I can give both my parents. And I’m thankful that they’re still around to be able to have me give it to them. If I were to formulate what the essence is of what I have to say, it would be this, “Thank you for giving me life and doing what you could to raise me. What you might consider your failings have influenced me making choices in my life that were not always in the best interest of everybody involved. I have hurt others and myself out of lessons from my childhood were I misunderstood what went on.
Where I stand now – at the beginning of the middle of my life – and where you are – drawing closer to an end – I need you to know, that even though I have behaved far from perfect I have been blessed by gaining an enormous richness of experience. I cannot know what would have been possible without you and what you co-created my life to be in the first 16 years of my life.
Whatever may be the case – and there are also movements that are very much beyond me – I have accepted this destiny and I pledge myself to live according to the deepest love, joy and beauty that is in me. You have co-created this moment in my life, thank you. Thank you.”

11_11_2008_01_stephen_alvarezWhen I think about how I would call my practise then it’s Intentional Vulnerability. The vulnerability is a fact of life. To ‘plug in’ to the feeling-field I need to be vulnerable. I can either be vulnerable or I miss that whole area of unfolding life and not feel vulnerable. The strange logic I now have makes me see that vulnerability is a fact of life, as I said above, and it doesn’t care whether I feel it or not. Derestricting myself on the feeling level, the practice that evolved during the Experiment, I plug in to the feeling-field and am connected on the non-rational plane. Many, if not most, of life’s flow is happening on that level (today I found out that there is actually a tribe that lives within that ‘region of existence’ by the grace of their language), and being vulnerable, I am connected. This actually is not a choice, it comes with accepting your particular destiny as it unfolds.

When intentionally vulnerable I hold the space that all emotions need to unfold. Holding the space I do set a limit; the perimeter of the ‘sacred space’ in which I can hold space, where I actually am open to what unfolds in the inner and outer between-us’, where I can be with whatever comes as the host, the caretaker of the guesthouse.
So what about all the guests that visited me during the last month of this Experiment?
They have indeed “cleared me out”, and in a way “for some great delight” – not an ecstatic delight, more of a deep “This is indeed the way it is. And it is good.”

11_11_2008_0stephen_alvarezI might still analyze the blogposts that went before, but I do not feel that it is needed to come to a proper conclusion and rounding of the Experiment. I think the basic lessons are recorded; whatever else I might glean from the former posts, it is what moves me in the present and almost naturally that truly counts.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 26 (Presence of the Past)

The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination. — John Schaar

1964-7There is a healing quality to bitter tears. When we’re moved into the depths of our despair there is a space for the traumas of the past to surface. One of these has surfaced yesterday.

Like every child under a certain age experiences the parents break up; I felt when my parents did separate that it was all my fault. My parents behavior towards me didn’t convince me otherwise. You could say they left me to believe there was something utterly wrong with me. Parents have to go out of their way to make a child accept his or her innocence. Mine didn’t.

Doing a lot of Hellinger-type family constellations I learned that children will often want to prove that their parents were right. From my present perspective I see that I proved my parents to be right by recreating difficulties, or by enacting what I think I inherted from my father, who in turn inherted it from his father – and who knows how many more generations.
When situations became too emotional he either turned cynic, sarcastic, aggressive or he withdrew in an inpenetrable castle of arrogance. There is a lot to my dealings with highly emotional situations that I seem to have inherited.

Coming from another perspective one can say that my father, by leaving, was the “doer” in my parents divorce, and that out of misinterpreting the reasons for that divorce I started to manifest behaviour in line with the larger pattern of the masculine family line.
But whichever way I have come into following a destructive tendency at important junctions of my life not only I but others as well have reaped the consequences. I needed to go to deep despair to come to realize this. I am not guilty of my behavior, nevertheless the consequences are here, and I accept needing to respond with the expanded life I now live.

jurgen-mai-19581Accepting this freely and willingly is obviously the most “reasonable” thing to do. Having come to be the way I am now, through now almost 55 years of intense living and experiencing a character has formed. Denying and avoiding feelings, repeating the ancient stories from my family album doesn’t seem like what I’d want to be doing.

By the grace of the experiment so far, which is turning into a practise, �both an understanding and an expansion into what I call feeling-field have occured. This is far from stable and it needs continual care so I can establish a new type of relating. Being feelingly open and at the same time authentic. Part of that is being open to the consequencesof all of my behavior and manifestation, knowing that I’m not guilty but responsible.

This enables me in a more compassionate and maybe also powerful way to participate in life more fully; regaining trust based on deeper and more naked realities about myself and others. Participation, trust and surrender, as much as clarity, penetration and courage have been the qualities that have carried me through an eternity these last weeks – for as much as I have been destructive, a nuisance to myself and others, for as painful and horrible all of this has been, the qualities I mention above are probably those that played a role in getting me this far; the alchemical essences that started a transformation on a level I have no control over, whatsoever.

And having told so much about myself you might ask, “But what about those people around you? What about your partner?” I can only express my deepest gratitude for when it really, really mattered she and my friends have given me the support I needed to be able to come this far.
And I want to thank those who’ve commented showing their own heart and soul. This is the world I want to live in. To see and be seen on that level is wonderful, it nourishes the soul.

1954-ich-mit-meinen-eltern


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 25

I have written an important letter instead of writing my daily blog. I hope you bear with me…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 24 (Vulnerable)

It may be that when we no longer know which way to go, we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings. — Wendell Berry; Collected Poems

Today I’m in the frail kingdom, the space where you feel raw, as if your soul’s skin is all raw and anything and everything has the tendency to “hurt a little bit”. You’re looking for signs that would indicate which way the wind blows. After all, you went through a co-created hell where the heat was provided by the voluminous breath of your own fear of separation. You couldn’t see anything much, except the dark smoke coming from the cinders of your hopes.
You can see, now that some of the smoke is lifting, that drawing lines can be done without the fire and the brimstone. You accept your own limitations – the pattern of behavior and thinking and feeling that forms your character is now finally more or less OK with you. You come to accept that you’re far from perfect but that, if you keep on adapting to your deeper self, you’ll be as open as you need to be to flow with life, and as clear as needs to be to accept your limitations.

You can’t, no, you would never want to deny again your trans-and-ir-rational nature, your malleable and stubborn character. You have found some center, frail and promising, a space from where you can live an openness that before you had no idea of.
The chaos of your imagination’s darker regions need the balancing force of a brighter imagination to become acceptable in the constellation of what it means to be me,

And then there is the other One. And there is the dynamics between, the uncontrollable and utterly free forces that choose their own path – this is the kernel of vulnerability: that you don’t know what is going to happen. Life-changing forces are afoot and depending on where you are in this constellation, you can open to the other participants in the constellation.
In Hellinger’s vocabulary one of the primary forces in our life and character is the “Hinbewegung”, the “movement towards”; and what troubles us in these constellations is a “Movement toward” that is “broken” – the “unterbrochene Hinbewegung.”

To be vulnerable is to be aware of many of these “movements toward”. In the course of this experiment I have come to be in resonance with many, many of these “unterbrochene Hinbewegungen.” Maybe I’m still a romantic after all (I thought, I wasn’t), but I believe that in close and intimate relationship this one-on-one relationship itself is a “movement toward.” Maybe what I got a taste of recently is the promise of just such a possibility in my life. But the “Hinbewegung” is an utterly free movement – which doesn’t mean that it is not bound to circumstances, but rather that it is free to go with it, be neutral or go against it, but “it” is beyond control.

All day I feel vulnerable.
And I’m moving my attention from going in too deep.
Let me, vulnerable, stay near the surface.

I’m a hero and a coward
While I courageously go, I shiver inside considering possible consequences.
The longing for that space of intimacy with you, with life, with destiny is strong.
I accept that longing.

This longing makes me vulnerable.
Living vulnerable is part of me
Part of the whole.

All day I feel vulnerable.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)

Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly. — G.K. Chesterton

I think I finally know what the basic vibration of jealousy is: It’s fear, the fear of separation of the one you love most. It’s an utterly irrational fear fed by the demon of distrust, a mind that can easily imagine bleak futures, and – if it’s not pure paranoia because there is no other lover – supporting circumstances. So maybe saying that it’s utterly irrational is not true, since there is a significant connection to reality. It is this fear, this jealousy, that has me confess that for an important part I must declare the experiment a failure. I do not want to allow this fear to “be my guest”. And maybe my resistance, my focus and awareness that went into “being with it” has made it as big as it is now. It’s now easy for me, almost autonomously, to imagine all kinds of disastrous futures in which everything failed and I’m all on my own again. It is somehow much harder, to find the trust to imagine a bright future.

You could say that imagining anything is the real disease, imagining a future even worse. But wouldn’t you then also say that hope is the real disease? Because hope imagines a future, or is the manifestation of the faith in a bright future. Is despair – hope reversed – that comes from images of a bleak, pain-filled future the consequence of a hope gone sour? Maybe so. What I do know is that I cannot stop my imagination from imagining, just as much as I cannot stop my heart from feeling hope or despair, fear or joy, love and beauty. So what can stop me from replacing the images of 2 hells – the fork of choices that I’m facing – with 2 possible bright futures, where both options let me become a more loving, beautiful, joyful, authentic, rich and deep human?

I now see, and it is late at night and I got up to write my blog for this day, I now see that on top of the practice of “unrestricted feeling” I have to practice also “imagining light and bright futures” with all the people that are also in my “despairing visions”.
I now also see how big a part my imagination played in co-creating the utterly challenging situation I find myself in. Never mind how real the base of my imaginations, more and more it served in an escalation of catastrophic feeling. So much so that opening up intimately became more and more difficult. The only possibility in such a situation being the forking of the way, the choice between 2 hells.

Should I respect my limits that have become apparent in a situation that I feel I have been forced into? Even if I have co-created it by imagining 2 hells where I could imagine 2 brighter futures, it feels right to do so. The basic question is, “What are the minimum needs, what are – right or wrong – the basic conditions that are needed so that a much deeper level of relationship is a realistic possibility? And what, if anything, can I do or not do to lift my bit of the weight that needs shifting?”

I’ve, feebly but truly, started to imagine a brighter future instead of 2 hells tonight. At first glance its clear that accompanying the fear of separation is the fear of imagining that as beautiful, for I might make it happen that way, and then (imagining that as bright) I might not have enough energy to not totally break down if it becomes real. And there is the fear of imagining a bright future for the relationship because it might hurt so much more if it doesn’t get a real chance.

Yesterday, for some time, quite some time, I was full of hope – today despair, which I’m responsible for myself by inviting it in around noon letting my fears move me to ask questions that reflected distrust and fear and fueled visions of a dark future. So it’s about time I invite trust, and beauty and brightness to come and visit this guesthouse more frequently!

Addendum: I find that if I set myself out to use my imagination in this way, I can. And the brightest future I can imagine is the one where I say, “I’m so thankful, happy and once more: thankful for you to have gone into the depth of intimate living with me and that we mastered all the challenges on our path together to have this rich, true and peacefully satisfying life.”
I will carry this image into my sleep now…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 22 (Understanding)

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

In the beginning of this experiment I didn’t know how long it would take. Than, in the course of delving deeper into my feeling nature – forced, in a way by circumstances that triggered my whole inner drama, but then as I was getting the hang of it, going deeper and further guided by my own experiences, needs and wants – a practice developed that is invading my life now more and more, the practice that can be indicated by “de-restricting my feeling”, or to put it more positively “remaining connected on the feeling-field level”.
This is far from being automatic and needs continual attention and encouragement; nevertheless as a result of the experiment often now in a conversation or a situation I am confronted with an ‘inner query’ asking, “Avoiding feeling this?” Or also, “What is it right now that I feel?”. So until this becomes a habit – meaning a doing that doesn’t require an extra effort to do it; on the contrary, that would require an extra effort to stop doing – until it becomes a habit I need to feed it with practice.

Far from reading through the posts on this experiment and looking for patterns and such, which eventually I will do here one of these days, I’m now in a stage where I look back on the landscape of ground signatures of my feeling-field intuitively – without consulting with recorded realities – and I see something that gives me satisfaction: My ability to “stay tuned” has grown tremendously, and so has my wish to do so even in challenging times. This doesn’t mean I unconditionally accept the very difficult feelings in their full bloom, like jealousy or self-loathing, for instance, I don’t think I can accept them without any condition whatsoever. I wouldn’t even know what it means. But remembering to let go of my restriction to being with feeling right now, this is possible, always possible.

This day has been challenging and beautiful; challenging in that it’s extremely hard to wait on a decision that is going to effect my life on a very deep level. Beautiful in that I’m learning to make “bad decisions”. A “bad decision” is one that proceeds from knowing and understanding my limits, limits I “mentally” do not really agree with, limits that I thought/think I should transcend or not have at all – a “bad decision” is one based on those very limits, and also is a capitulation facing the greater force of my feeling-body.
The beauty is in starting to understand a terrible fact of life, that I need to limit other’s freedom at times to create the surround/atmosphere or time-window that I personally need to be well. The beauty is in learning that just as I need to bend at times to the will of another, I too need to make my will known so that others can bend. Feelings, having their very own logic which is not always open to understanding with the mental models of reality that I know, are much, much more an important factor in our decisions than I thought – only we can so easily rationalize something that intrinsically is not.

I’m reminded of having to tell my son all kinds of stories, stories he could understand, so as to make him cooperate in behavior that is necessary in our world. You can often see parents talk to their disgruntled kids in hushed but passionate voices in public places like restaurants, for instance, trying to make them understand this, that or the other. Maybe the skillfulness of parents in the discipline of explaining, making understand, reasoning with their kids – and when exactly they resort to good old-fashioned force – determines very much how later we deal with our disgruntled feelings (disgruntled because they haven’t been listened to).
Maybe one of the main evolutionary drives behind understanding is the taming of “wild feelings” and untamed sentiments that might otherwise turn people in close quarters – like a modern city – into unpredictable and egotistical maniacs? Whether this is the case or not, when encountering and dealing with feelings, understanding is way overrated and loving, open wisdom is very much underrated.

Understanding can “kill” feelings. Explanation, analysis and close looks can and often does change the “basic vibration” of feelings significantly. Some feelings can only thrive in semi-conscious states: certain types of aggression that I feel immediately turn to sadness and powerlessness upon closer inspection so that to investigate those feelings I would have to find a way to somehow look away while having these feelings in such a way that I could gain insight into the immediate side-effects and deduce from there.
Jealousy, on the other hand, can handle close inspection easily – actually most of the times it is nourished by any kind of awareness. So what I found within the bearable realm of jealousy was sadness, forlornness, all kinds of fears, anger, a burning heart-area, solar-plexus and even guts: putting awareness there the best one can hope for is to move to the realm of deep sadness because of loss. Coming close to the unbearable realm of jealousy seemingly irrevocable decisions are made to self-protect, even at the cost of great suffering as a consequence.
“Revenge is a meal best served cold”, the saying goes; well, jealousy getting cold turns into desires for revenge, and when this comes up the deep understanding that revenge never satisfies actually pulls the plug into a deep cold water of despair.

So given what I know about the interaction between understanding and feeling, what can I do? I always start somewhere in between and get my education from experience. And I’m sure that in my case that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be…

If you would ask me how I feel now I would say, “I am a mystery. And during this experiment I have learned the deep value I give to accepting the mystery of my character that is partly rational, partly irrational, very emotional, a times deeply spiritual, partly out of control and partly under control.”

So if you want me, you get me in one piece, as a whole. That is the only way.
And that is the way I want you.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 21 (Splash)

Any kind of expectation creates a problem. We should accept, but not expect. Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it. The immediate benefit is that your mind is always peaceful. — Sri Swami Satchidananda

I’ve started to have a quote with these posts every day for some time now, and previously I selected them because they somehow fitted with what went on that day. But I chose this one today because it so beautifully illustrates the way I used to avoid the more challenging feelings in my breast, belly and guts.

Whatever comes, accept it.” What a nice statement, you’d say, wouldn’t you? But what, if a lot of life is about what we cannot, and maybe even should not accept? For instance, violence against ourselves and others, should we accept that?
What this injunction leads to is a superficial acceptance. Especially in the should and shouldn’t context it entices one  to produce what could be called “strategic acceptance”, an acceptance that feels like ‘real thing’ – doing what we should be doing according to wise men – but we didn’t, because in the ‘real thing’ you accept whatever, period. And the quote also suggests, that by mere acceptance the things we don’t like go away faster.
But have you ever experienced being in a difficult space, like feeling deep sadness maybe or even desperation, and someone tried to console you with the fact that this also is just passing by, “Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it.” Has anybody ever gained a peaceful heart by such admonishment?
If so, I’ve never met him or her.

Peaceful mind, yes, no problem – when I was still so mental that I still believed that I could control what I felt by means of my mind, gaining ‘peace of mind’ was easily possible; I meditatively fade the difficulties out by re-loading the understanding that they are impermanent, following that I’m reaching out for and then owning the “great spaciousness” that is ever-present inside; by really going into and believing that everything is impermanent, that it is intrinsically empty and void of substantial meaning… by remembering the “Buddha Space” and “dropping everything”, I certainly and reliably arrive at: a peaceful mind.

Yet, that is not a peace I value anymore – it’s mental peace; a tricky peace because it has no real base in life.
Because there is a peace of the heart that rests within the dynamics of life, which self-manifests seemingly spontaneously at times. I guess peace of heart is also a state of consciousness, which means it can be experienced on every level of development. I hope that there is a developmental level of which this wholesome peace that I’ve now had a few close encounters with is an intrinsic part. Thinking that this level might actually exist inspires me right now, when I’m in sore need of an inspiration like that.

These last 48 hours have been increasingly difficult for me, starting out very much in anguish about my relationship’s situation, passing through an hour or two of incredible, miraculous peace – a peace of heart and of intersubjective flowing. Only to end in a leaden time, a feeling atmosphere that makes cold autumn-rain a nice experience in comparison.
It’s the uncertainty, coupled with the impossibility to do or say anything that helps – a stew of utter powerlessness with a sniff of self-loathing that increased some over the day. Aaarrrgh! Self-loathing is about as awful as it can get; remembering when there were similar pain-filled situations in my life I am reminded of suicidal thoughts that have indeed been present in my life at periods of great despair.
Self-loathing is a tightening ring of iron around my belly just below the navel. And it is a great companion of my “I’m-not-good-(enough)” feeling, that I know so incredibly well. I’m pretty perfect when it comes to pulling myself down. That’s one game I’m hard to beat 🙂

Maybe all of this needs to be experienced and acknowledged to come to places where peace of heart is part of the landscape. From a deep valley in one jump to the top – one moment you’re pretty desperate, there is nothing left to do or not do to bend reality to your wishes, you’ve surrendered: There’s been two kinds of hell offered to you and you chose the apparently less hellish one and accepted it. Out of the blue sky the situation changes; the whole outlooks turns from bleak black & white into full color as life/hope returns.
This truly is amazing: After a long time trying to accept a situation you finally decide, “My soul as a whole does not want to bear this any longer, I go willingly into this other potential hell, and either the situation bends or I break – and now truly I’m willing to break, if life so decides.”
To come to this place is an alchemical journey and excruciating: refining and transmuting lead into gold has always been very, very risky business… and it is an ongoing process, but the first nuggets will always be the most beautiful ones, because, after all, they come as a complete surprise.

So the quote I started this day with is both true and superficial, true in that acceptance is beautiful – if you can do it with your whole heart. Wether we should or shouldn’t expect anything, is not very relevant to real life, as its processes by their very nature will strip you again and again of all hope and with that of expectation. And what comes then, from a space that is bigger than us, encompassing our space, is unexpectated, maybe even unwanted… but possibly something that will enlarge our heart, gut, mind, and spirit.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 20 (Time Out)

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. — Philo of Alexandria

That’s how I feel today; weary, heavy, it’s enough and “Give yourself a break”.

Which is, what I’m going to do right now.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 19 (Dark Waves)

Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them. — Anne-Sophie Swetchine; The Writings of Madame Swetchine

The day has only just begun and Madam J. dropped by much more forcefully than she did yesterday. Only now, given the right circumstance for this investigation, I could uncover again the deep, and in a way soft sadness that’s underneath Madam J’s trappings. I don’t know where this somewhat paralyzing feeling comes from. It is connected with a feeling of being forlorn and seems to want to be beyond consolation.
Do I need to go through this again and again and again?
I would so much love to be in my generous heart, and in my sadness I also know, that this cannot be ‘done’. I remember the change I wrote about yesterday, and keep reminding myself of it. And looking out of my window across the street to the houses on the other side of the street I know that behind those windows there are all kinds of people with a multitude of feelings, some maybe even with the type of sad feelings I’m having. All of us are casted in roles and a play that we have both chosen and not chosen, moved or at least effected by the feelings that go with that. And then I think if I should choose a very different course than the one I’m taking now, “Would that make a real difference?”

Reflecting on my life and its different periods, full of all kinds of searches and journeys towards change, toward exploration, towards an enlightened life. And I see now that I’ve always moved, even in the times that were very much enlightened, with my general feeling. Never mind the period of my life, there were always irritating, challenging and even desperate times. Surely there seems to be an overall movement into more encompassing levels of being with and in this world we all share, but that doesn’t seem to effect the feelings other than allowing me to feel more intensely, more fine-grained and more unrestrictedly.
“No salvation from feeling,” I think. But then, would I want to be in a place where there are no feelings at all? No bodies that are prerequisite to feeling? (Not that I remember how it was without a body, but I seem to be convinced that feeling needs a warm-blooded vessel, at least the kind that I’m looking at now – including the extatic and blissfull ones.)
Thinking of the people that I’ve hung out with more or less intensely that are deemed to be ‘enlightened’, they also where feeling everything, and, come to think of it, some were quite unconscious about what they were feeling and how it influenced their behavior. Actually in their teaching and in what they expressed it was clear that they regarded themselves as having transcended this. But from where I stand now I would say that transcending this is not an option. From my perspective, enlightenment as I’ve seen it manifested is just the most sophisticated denial of the fires of the living available for us.

So would I exchange what I’m going through in this situation for another one? If I could pick and choose from the shelves of destiny like it were a super-market, yes certainly, I would. Real life is different though, and there is – apart from miracles that are just that, miraculous – real limits to what is possible.
I’ve chosen to not do the classical things, separate, create pressure, sulk, etc. But even if I would go, there would always be “negative feelings” and the challenge that comes with that. So really, the only true choice is between being fully alive with feeling and opening up to unforeseen possibilities that come out of the feelings themselves…

When the larger waves of sadness crash on me, what I said above doesn’t come to mind, that’s obvious of course. What comes to mind is headlines and scenes that reinforce me feeling sad. And “unrestricting myelf”, being with my feeling, also means to simply not take the easy ways out what most of these headlines and scenes offer – “Close down”, “Create more distance”, “Get angry and take revenge”, “At least change the topic”, etc.. So sadness remains, even if I really have no idea where it comes from, what it does mean beyond the obvious phrases that can be used in such a situation – and which actually are used by some friends if I don’t stop them from consoling me, offering help, advise or righteous anger.
The sadness makes me tired, is incapacitating me. So in the course of the day a slight tinge of anger, a kind of “leave me alone!” vibration, has helped to keep me going, though. If I were to boldly exaggerate I’d say that the sadness makes me want to lie down and fade away whereas the anger channels enough energy to me to keep on going.

In all of this there is also the notion that even though ‘challenging’ feelings might be specific to the state I’m in, feelings of bliss are also state-specific – they come, for instance, in times when my whole soul expands to embrace all existence and non-spacetime as well. So feelings are state-specific, and the states to which these feelings belong exist independent of the developmental level I’m generally on. They can be likened to parts of our body that remain more or less the same, regardless of our development: Just as a hand so is the pain of a baby the same hand and pain that an old, wise man might feel, and the joy of a little kid is the same a wise old lady feels.
If this is more than a notion and holds true – and right now I can’t remember situations in my own life where it hasn’t – then as much as inner growth and maturation is beautiful, the basic challenges remain, at least if one goes for being “aware and feelingly presenct;” this being shorthand for the continual practice of ‘unrestricting’ myself, reality-dialoging my hunches, ideas and yes also what the feelings tell me. By reality-dialoging I mean, if a person is involved asking them, if this or that feeling is correct,  or telling them what touches or moves my heart right now. Even if that is in itself something that makes me feel “ashamed to ask”.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 18 (Madame J. visits)

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can decide how you’re going to live now. — Joan Baez

Had an interesting encounter with my old friend jealousy – Madame J. –  today. Interesting, because when I expected her to come and burn up my heart-solar plexus area, give me a belly-ache and a tearing at my guts, all she did was to give me some sadness and a sentiment of constriction around the heart.
Maybe I don’t need that gut-rattling anymore. Maybe the in depth work-out with my feelings has flexed my feeling-body so that it now doesn’t hit me that hard anymore. Maybe I breath deeper most of the time. Maybe the avalanche is just waiting to hit me some time later, today or tomorrow. Maybe…
I don’t know. This is just happening.

There is a shaky sense of uncertainty often during the day, but – apart from the jealousy in it’s soft version – I don’t think there has been any headline in my mind coming up to explain it. So I reckon it to be part of the new form of jealousy I’m confronted with now…
But actually it sounds too strange to put the slightly shaky uncertainty in one pot with Madame J. Shouldn’t I reserve that feeling for the more dramatic moments in my life? Maybe Madam J.; I just think, is the dramatic appearance and make-up of Miss Uncertainty? There seems to be a ring of truth to that, at least I’ve got this gut-feeling that tells me, “Hey Mushin, this does make sense.” Whatever the case may be, I guess as time progresses – and it always does; except for photons that know no time – I’ll see what this morphs into.

In a work related online meeting that went on for 2+ hours (on reflection later) I noticed that not once did I feel under attack when suggestions and proposals I had spent quite some time considering and preparing were not taken up, and one time the word ‘pedantic’ was used in connection with a wish for changing some terms we use… and not even then did I take this as something that was saying anything about me personally. I didn’t tell myself, “Don’t take this personal.” I didn’t tell myself anything, I just was attending to what appeared on my radar mentally, emotionally and whateverly.
I didn’t notice at the time that this was going on and my “Don’t say anything I don’t want to hear about my stuff because I take it personally” wasn’t on the alert in the background, but when reflecting on it this is amazing! And what’s most astonishing is that enriched with this experience I can now look back in my past and see how personal everything used to be! A remark that surely only related to some tiny aspect of my work or something I had done was often a cause for elaborate defenses, irritation or feeling really hurt.
Not wanting to go into rose-cloud-mode with this I’m not going to overvalue this happening, and I’ll tell myself that this is not caused by the practice I arrived at with this experiment- but it is encouraging nevertheless.

— I just heard the wonderful news that one of my heart’s brothers has become father. And seeing the pictures of the lovely new one, the mother and him the frail and robust beauty of our human condition touches my heart as well as remembering all the feelings that came my way in the time of my girlfriends pregnancy, during the birth and during the first days and weeks.
There, for a very short time, unrestricted feelings abounded…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 17

We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know a truth that is outside us. But we make ourselves true inside by manifesting the truth as we see it. — Thomas Merton

Whenever I have the opportunity these days – when designing a screen, maybe, or creating imaginary people for demos; things that don’t require great specific concentration – I’m listening to classical music, a lot of Brahms, but also Dvorak, Beethoven maybe and this afternoon Faur: Requiem Op. 48
I like pop very much, rock, rap, funk, shoegazer and whatever else it is called; but classical music often goes much deeper on a feeling level for me. You might call me a feeling-depth junkie! There is so much soul-food in the deep regions of emotion!

Visited a very good friend last night. I notice that we get much more candid now and really talk about those sides of us that are a bit more difficult. Not in a finding-solutions mode but in a listening, “Ahhh, that’s how you feel and think” – mode. And, of course, we get into a bit of theory of how these things work: we’re men after all, and we like to take things apart to put them back together afterwards.
I noticed when we went too far into the theoretical or mental side of things that I lost this juicy connection that I’ve come to appreciate so much in the course of this experiment so far. Or maybe it’s simply too theoretical for me when I loose the juicy connectedness. Whichever way it is.

As I’m moving ‘outward’ more with my tendrils I notice that now I can actually quite easily see where people are at; not precisely but I definitely get the feeling. I ask if my impression is correct, for sure, but so far it seems to be spot on. And I now see what one of the main reasons for the activity of “feeling-restriction” is: Uncertainty.
“Touching” whoever I open to in this way I cannot respond automatically, that is, I don’t know what the correct response is. I have to take it all in for a moment and let my “unconscious” or “feeling self” process what I experience and come up with a suggestion/impression. This makes every meeting somewhat unpredictable. Intensity is made of this. And intensity can be stressful, actually it is stressful unless I’m relaxed, unless I ‘hang loose’ in my reality.

Another “reason” for not moving into the feeling-field with another person is the fear of being seen, touched, moved and losing control over the situation. And also you might feel that you are trespassing into their comfort-zone, and people do get irritated when you do that. I’m happy that all of this emotional ecology and the feeling-field is only now becoming available to me in this strong manner. That enables me to tread slowly and to ‘keep it for me’ if I’m not invited to enter.
Mind you, that doesn’t mean that I’ll restrict myself and stop feeling my feelings, or, alternatively that it would irritate me. Non of that, I’ll keep looking, opening and ‘derestricting’ myself in experiencing the situation. But I will not enter into the stream directly, or only in as much as I can with total respect for the other persons’ preferences (in as far as I can perceive them).

This is a thin line, in a way, but I’m more obliged to the principle of honesty then to protecting ‘you’ against my perceptions and experiences. So I will, gently, respond from the deep that I’m in anyway, and this has shown to be an interesting way of contacting people I know and also those I don’t know. It has some as yet indescribable quality to it that I love and thoroughly enjoy.

There is magic to all meetings, I’m sure. And it feels amazingly beautiful if you are open and the other is as well. Then the being between us can awaken, the soul-flow-dynamics, if you will, that is the ‘stuff’ that beauty and joy of the interpersonal and sometimes positively transpersonal is made of.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 15 & 16

By accepting one’s own shadow one gives unconditional love to all beings. — Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan;
Alchemical Wisdom

Yesterday I didn’t come to write my daily ‘report’ on how things are going with the experiment because I had my son and grandson visit us for the day and right after I went out with two old friends of mine and we had an amazing evening. Coming home at 2 o’clock in the morning I wasn’t really able to write anything anymore 🙂

Playing with my 2 year old grandson is a total delight of unrestricted feeling – so much so that when we were playing “We’re getting a fit together” the feeling wave crested so strongly that Monay, that’s the little guy’s name, needed to hide and re-assemble in his fathers arms. Not that he was scared, I’d say, more like the ecstasy was a little overwhelming… and for me it was interesting to “having a fit” on his level.
Singing songs or better, getting into rhythmic word-singing, for instance me, “Schuhe” (German for shoe), than he, “shooe”, me “schuhe, schuhe”, he, “shoooe, oooe,” me picking it up “ooooe, schuhe,”…
Hanging out with Monay is a wonderful delight of ‘unrestrictedness’.

In a way you could say that I don’t really treat him like a 2 year old is usually treated; I just feel into what goes on with both of us, and quite naturally everything turns into little games full of pleasure – we’re equals, in a very special way. Yes, I’m grown up and have gone through 55 years of life already, and maybe I gained some length, weight and wisdom, but when truly meeting anybody this doesn’t play a role. What does is, “Can I be with this?” feeling whatever is flowing between here and there unrestrictedly.

With a little guy like my grandson this isn’t difficult. He doesn’t hide anything, and the “bad feelings” just come out like the good feelings. Nothing held back, all is bare and clear. And there is a lot of energy in me afterward. I don’t feel tired, rather I feel inspired.
There is a quality here that gets so easily lost when we’re hanging out or working with grown-ups. But it needn’t be. The challenge that I face is just a bit bigger than with my grandson (or children in general): One has to be wise in what and how to express oneself; but allowing oneself to feel the field (me, you the surround) without restricting it is key. And the half day with my grandson is a wonderful confirmation of the deeply resonating rightness of that.

—-

In the evening on to meeting old friends and after having dinner together some serious drinking and not so serious talking. We haven’t seen each other for quite some time – used to hang out in the “ashrams” of my teacher together, do some serious drinking and have serious fun, even went into philosophy!

There is a drunken beauty to life that comes out when one is doing the rounds like this. It is taxing the body, though. Today, when I needed to get up early, I felt drowsy and not so clear, to say the least. So I took the opportunity to study that particular feeling world of being ‘pooped’, of recuperating from being in lots and lots of smoke – because there is still some places in Berlin where people can smoke unashamedly (I’m a non-smoker, 96% of the time; only on occasions like this I smoke 1 or 2). Some would say today, the day after, is detoxifying day. And they are right. But it really doesn’t matter what makes me feel whatever it is I feel, it opens up a possibility to continue with my experiment.

When a bit drunken (I could still talk and walk an almost straight line) I noticed: the feelings don’t flow that easily and unrestricted as when sober. That’s amazing because I remember that in the past (I think I was last drunkenly doing the rounds a couple of years ago) this used to be quite different; I felt that I could really let it out, be a nuisance maybe, and all of that.
And also when drunken feeling doesn’t run that deep – or maybe my consciousness isn’t able to run with the deeper aspects of feeling. Everything is mainly ‘loud and noisy’, and frankly, when drunk like yesterday, I couldn’t care less of how I feel (and nevertheless when I noticed that I tuned into the couldn’t-care-less a bit)… I think that the carelessness I felt was a much appreciated characteristic of drunkenness in the past.

So as I said, some of that spilled over into today, and it is only at around noon that I feel the depth and multidimensionality of the feeling-field reappearing. What I find, at first internal glance in the morning, is a kind of shallowness that is impenetrable almost; and turning up the volume of this sense of shallowness, the feeling is, “something’s missing.” An amazing feeling in itself, “There is something missing but I don’t know what it is.” Yet, it also is a feeling I forget again to really enter into as I keep fading out, fading away into shallow daydreams (I couldn’t give you an example, because I forget) of no consequence at all.

Yet, within all this there is an easily activated sense of sympathy with the people I meet even if only passing them by. Seems like the same shallowness that doesn’t allow me to enter anything deeply allows me to like people very easily. Shallow, nice and liking seem to be a family of feelings. Reflecting on that right now I think being sentimental is the deepest member of that little family. Yet it’s very clear that I don’t feel with the people, I feel about them.
This seems to be the social glue, the kin of feeling that is acceptables, easily ignorable – so we can get on with our own little thing, whatever that might be. I would have said, before I started this experiment, “You can’t have deep feelings all of the time.” Now, I’m not so sure about that.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 14

(Tomorrow some editing – now I’m too tired to do so…)

Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the time I am being carried on great winds across the sky. — Chippewa, translated by Robert Bly

What is it about listening that is so amazingly difficult?
Listening to my heart – that place where many feelings reside – can be amazingly difficult, especially if it’s sound is not to my liking. Exploring what I feel today I notice that often time it feels like there is a restriction around my heart, something that tightens it up and makes my breathing a bit more shallow as if not to feel it.
But that doesn’t help.
It reminded me of the thorns around the heart that you see so often in Christian icons. You wouldn’t want that heart to expand into the thorns, would you?
But exactly that is needed. As sordid as I find a religion who’s main character is depicted as dying on a cross in its temples of worship (especially since the message is that “He is risen”and not “He has suffered and is dead”), the truth I find when giving in to the pain and difficulties – feeling whatever it is that comes up in this situation now – can lead into a greater flow of life; a feeling of being saved and held by some greater Grace that I cannot understand.

Actually when I’m not in this incredible flow that was so prominent yesterday, and still somewhat touches this day, especially during sharing what’s truly on my heart and mind… when I’m not in that expansive flow then very often there is this more or less subtle constriction in my heart area, or the more or less tight knot in the stomach and all the other phenomena that I’ve dived into these last two weeks.

Clearly, as I stated yesterday, I find that there is no unconditional this, that or the other. So what about the basic premise of this experiment that I want to be with my feelings unconditionally? Am I willing to admit that I failed? Have I failed?
I can’t say, certainly, because the experiment isn’t over yet – I promised myself to keep it up at least 3 weeks (creating new habits, it is said, takes 3 weeks to take a hold). But I found something that is a bit closer to what feels true: Unrestricted feeling (not in the expression but in the feeling of) is a necessary basis of all truly human connection.

To know about my connectedness with you I need to feel you in the field, and I also need to feel my e-motions, those motions inside of me – I need to be with the feeling-field as much as with the knowing-field, and probably even more so.
Wilhelm Reich, the ‘father of bioenergetics‘, and one of the deemed infamous students of Freud, coined the term “Charakterpanzer”, character-armor, which, according to him was bodyparts hardening and storing the traumas that we experience in life. I’m not a fan of bioenergetics, but I feel now much more what is meant by Charakterpanzer (pronounce kuructarpuntsur – “u” as in understand). And I actually feel it as pain, constriction, suffocation, separation, denial and all its many subtle and complex modifications.

What I want, no, what I absolutely need in relationship is an unrestricted feeling-flow. In relationship with myself, with my partner, with the people that are dear to me, and actually with everybody.
The Western imagery of pointing out the heart as the center of our feelings seems to be very fitting, although the body-feeling-field is much larger and would, in my experience take in everything in between my guts and up to my throat (my sexual organs being a ‘special case’ in that is is much more a sense-organ than an area of what I’ve called feeling in these communications about the experiment). In speaking about the feeling-center I don’t mean the heart-chakra; I’ve felt it shine and feel it sometimes still, but that’s of a different dimension or level, not as closely connected to the affairs of life as what I’m working with and working through these days. When the flow is there it seems that my heart is at the very center of this flow…

So today I’ve been with the restrictions or constrictions of the heart when they appeared. And I found what is my basic practise: I would call it “unrestricting myself” so that I can be with the feeings, my own and those of the people I’m with. Not stop or restrict them; not even by going with “O, I know what you mean” because really, I don’t – often. If I give myself time instead of restriction, if I give the other time… flow is a natural consequence.
So unrestricting myself again and again and again, or being with the feeling dimension of every and any occasion, has come up to be the most wonderful practise – something you might want to try…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 13 (Clear Delight)

One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star. — Friedrich Nietzsche

One of the truly aspects of this study turns out to be the malleability of feelings – or maybe it isn’t the feelings themselves but the way the are perceived. But I guess, I don’t have to decide what is what here, and simply be with what I experience, and how I experience it.

Take for instance jealousy. I’ve now had quite some experience with that feeling as you know. I’ve known the feeling when it’s very low key, nothing more than a tiny “pang!” in the art, nothing more than a mere irritation than can be easily hosted to a violently destructive flare that robs me of almost all my capacities to move, think or do anything.

Yesterday I was telling about the possibility that one and the same feeling can have a distrustful or curious face. And without going too much into why I think this is so again I’ve had the experience today of feeling the same feeling that in one circumstance I called jealousy and that, as I found out, can also be called intense sensuous joy. I say that because feeling intense sensuous joy there was this amazing flare inside of me that, and this only showed so in my reflections on it, was almost the same as in jealousy.

It reminds me of a very revelatory experience I had more than 2 decades ago.
I had fallen in love with a wonderful character, someone who wiped me off my feet, as they say. And I was sitting on a bench near an Amsterdam canal, still reveling in the feeling – that was mutual to my good fortune – when suddenly it dawned on me that the feeling of “falling in love”, or this wonderful romantic feeling in my body actually felt exactly like advanced nervousness or stage-fright. Only as romantic feeling it was very desirable, and as stag-fright it was quite the opposite.
When I was with this girl it was also hard to be and express myself, just as when standing on stage or being afraid of what’s next. Only “in love” with someone who was under the same spell it was just beautiful…

So most of today, especially the morning hours – but it’s still there with me – there is this wonderful intensity of being, where your whole body tingles with delight in just feeling alive, there is this spaciousness in and around the head, there is this clear space everywhere and this moving with everything heart
Having decided to be with my feelings today was utterly easy and pleasurable. It’s like breathing this intoxicating stuff called air!

I don’t want to make too much out of this (remember what I said about the rose cloud a few days ago?) but it seems to underline the basic idea that whatever feelings are in truth they seem to have deep similarities between their positive and negative expressions. I don’t know, really, if curiosity and scepticism or sensuous intensity and jealousy are actually the same feeling, but it seems to make sense to me to see them as deeply interpenetrating phenomena.
The idea might help in times when the so called negative expression comes knocking on the door of my guesthouse, helping me to open the door wide and not only welcome them but be a good host to them as well.

But whatever might come out of this, it’s wonderful and I wish you could be here with me 🙂


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 12

“Thanks to the human heart by which we live; thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears.” – William Wordsworth

Last night, brushing my teeth I looked in the mirror, and what I saw made my inner critic come out. The feeling that goes with that is very similar to distrust which is the negative of curiosity; curiosity being in this case “taking a look at myself, trusting that there will be something here that can cause delight, new understanding, an interesting game… etc.”
So I was looking at myself distrusting, and then noticed the feeling. Upping the volume a bit it then became possible to switch back and forth between distrust and curiosity. (If you look at the picture, what do you see?)

And then I realized that actually every evening, when I see myself there, there is also feeling… “I’ve never really noticed before,” I thought, “that the heart is always at work – it’s never silent.” Well, that’s a conclusion, of course, because my heart could well be silent when I’m not listening. But as soon as I take notice I can hear it feel…

What does the heart sound like? I don’t think I can ever hear it’s pure song, at least I don’t think I ever did. Being conscious will always color it with aspects of consciousness which are in turn resonating with the particular circumstances the heart is noisy about. If, as I did in front of the mirror, I intentionally change the headline of the melody from a skeptic to a curious one, from “He doesn’t look too good” to “I wonder what a change in the lighting would do to the looks of this face”, then the the tune my heart sings doesn’t necessarily change, but it feels different.

Hmmm, maybe not too clear.
Listening a while to my heart during my morning experimental focusing time, during my “meandering in the feeling space” time, I saw that consciousness always has intention; I’m always focusing / defocusing in some way (I’m dubious if the Buddhist ’empty mirror’ consciousness, the pure witness, exists as a reality – I know it does exist as metaphor for making sense of a particular kind of experience; I have used it myself to understand certain states I’ve visited).
Consciousness is always alighting on something, some content, some concept, some intuition, some revelation. It’s like the light – there is no light in empty space; at least you cannot know if there is or isn’t; so you need to hold something in light’s path that it can bounce off from to know if it is there.
So whatever I’m feeling in it’s purity, consciousness will also color it one way or another. And what is happening within me since I started this experiment is a kind of meshing up, a disentanglement and purification – alchemy comes to mind again.

What is important about this? When I look at you or anybody my heart sounds with that, and my consciousness (in which there are streams from the past, present and even the future) colors it – and in turn is conditioned by the hearts melody in a, most likely highly complex, kind of free jazz, to use a musical metaphor. So again, what are all these thoughts good for when exploring being with feelings unconditionally?
Well, for one I discover that there actually doesn’t seem to be an “unconditionally.” That’s an imagination that seems to come from overrating the power of consciousness.  But more importantly it helps me when I look at you, when I enter the feeling-field with an other person.
I might see you as looking skeptically at me, whereas you just feel curious.
Being super-social animals we do have an amazing capacity to accurately feel the persons we are with. But even if – and I actually believe we do – we feel exactly as our friend, even if our mutual hearts are in unison, we still can and do sound often quite different. It takes time to tune in to each other to get wonderfully polyphonic… (and I’m not talking about the make-believe symphoney here that so often is the suffering that we sell to each other as “I’m feeling fine.”)

So today was dedicated to entering into the feeling-field with these considerations in the background (I only formulated them now, though). And I feel that my body is very much relaxing when I listen to my heart in a more consistent way…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 11 (Under Pressure)

“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain

Opening up to what needs attention in my emotional field today I noticed a slight sense of pressure, “I need to find something…” And then, focusing on just that, turning up the volume, I see how in my life when I feel people put pressure on me to behave this or that way, I get my resistance up… or duck.
But it’s as always a bit more complex than that – but I don’t want to go into the story. The headline is enough, I think.

People putting pressure on me make me feel small, I feel used, not exactly abused but somehow manipulated, it takes away the space I believe I need to unfold. So I get irritated and resist. And I always seem to have my antenna out so that I immediately feel/know if someone wants something from me. That is step one of pressure: wanting something.
Zooming in on this mixed brew of feelings – because it is somewhat entangled and messy  it seems – I uncover an aspect of what I perceive at first as “someone putting me under pressure”, it is that I want to please: I want people to think that I’m there for them. There is a sense of duty in there as well; I must be there for others, to help and protect and support even if that cost me something (for some time I was in the role of the oldest brother of 3; before we were scattered all over; and then again for 3-4 years with step-brother, half brother and step sister, this time 5, before I left home for ever age 15). Yep, I have to take care. It’s not right to want something for myself. That would not be good. That will make the people I love turn their backs on me, or hurt me, or abguse me or worse. Wanting soimething for myself is no good. But in secret I do. Therefor I’m not good enough. And I feel like a bad man. “I know I’m not good enough.” And therefor I need to prove my worth, and that can never be enough…
When people put pressure on me, and that happens easily because I put so much pressure on myself to do my utmost, when they just add a gram of weight, the load gets very heavy. So I resist. And feel bad, because I resist.

I don’t think all this when I feel the awful pressure; I just feel constricted. I can’t breathe. Under siege. Because whatever I will now do will not be enough. Powerlessness comes, and then anger, “Why can’t they leave me alone?!”
Letting it wash over me, just feeling it, breathing deeply and feeling it… I feel so much alive.

Revelation hits me, “These feelings make me feel alive, connect me with a tingling that rushes through my body… that makes me sit up and breathe deeply.” Becoming a host to these feelings they turn out to ruffle my feathers enough to let in some air.
I guess I’m getting some practice now with ‘dark feelings’. This makes me feel pretty good about myself. It is empowering: Following the trail of my very own experience change happens.

Some thought comes, “Remember the rose cloud.” The rose cloud is that sense that once we’ve hit the ground and accepted things just the way they are, we get a lift, a high that can last a little while. If we make the mistake of actually believing that now we’ve got it made we’re in for an ever deeper down… (This comes from reading Christina Grofs’ book “In Search of Wholeness” where sometimes she refers to her experience of recovery from an addiction). But my guess would be, as long as I keep the practice of “yessing my dark feelings” up, and expand that to the great feelings as well (don’t wanna turn up the volume there until I feel that welcoming the shadows has become second nature)… I’ll be able to handle the rose clouds that invade my reality now more often.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 10 (Interlude)

A calm day starting out beautifully. And the interesting fact that, if a day starts like this it’s hard to focus on the more challenging feelings. So I took that as an invitation to explore – with my imagination, a major tool if used with care and not to avoid this, that or the other – my family feelings which I hardly have. That’s not a surprise, I guess, for people who have been following this experiment from the start, and it’s natural to me. I hardly remember my father’s birthday or my mother’s. I need to make a mental note of the birthday of my girlfriend and her daughter, and I actually don’t know the one of my grandchild.
This is shocking!
Not to me.

I’ve tried a couple of times in my life to at least get a semblance of family-feelings going, but it never worked. My guess is that in an important period in my young years something didn’t develop that later simply doesn’t develop anymore. So I have to make do with a sense of loyalty. And I do have a keen sense of that.
A couple of days before I started this experiment one evening I was asking myself, “What would I like to leave as a legacy?” And it was very surprising for me to realize that one of the 3 ‘things’ I would love to leave for those that come after me was “a happy family”. And by family I mean the person closest to me, my son and my girldfriend’s daughter, my grand-son, my next of kin, my soul-brothers and soul-sisters, which are not part of the same bloodline but in some sense are much closer to me than most of my kin. So actually I mean a “happy extended family”. And I really don’t know what I can do to help this come true – my guess these days is, if I can consistently be a true human, and by that I mean someone who is feelingly, intelligently and spiritually present with the whole field of life and living, than this will possibly take care of itself; it will be a consequence of the way I live…

Actually one of the fascinating discoveries in between the high waves of strong feelings that are so common these days is what I’ve come to call feeling-field. It seems to me that with/through this field we are much more connected to life than through our intelligence and even our consciousness.
Oddly enough, in writing this I show that I still believe there to be a clear demarcation line between consciousness and feeling. Yet, feelingly observing those nearest to me it seems like there is no such line. We meander in between consciousness and feeling most of the time.

Con-science means ‘knowing with’, and one of the things that are very, very clear is that we live in a society that has been over-emphasizing consciousness for some hundreds of years . This resulted in an education that is all about knowledge; feeling is a weakness that we still suffer from but we’ll conquer that in the long run.
Well, we can’t really leave it behind, can we? We can put the volume down so much so that it seems like it disappeared – dispassionate science, objective knowledge, processes and situations as ‘things’ behaving according to ‘natural laws’, and so on. All of this has led us into a world where we cannot feel with (com-passion: with feeling) others except in a very abstract or hollywoodesk-romantic kind of way. Just look at the way that around these days the professional helpers dance around our wallet hoping to profit from the Christmas-sentimentality by showing pictures of children with huge eyes and thin, extremely thin limbs.

Descartes’ saying, that we have to torture nature so that it will reveal its secrets, might be regarded as extreme in our day and age but we’re still acting accordingly. In physics the Holy Grail (the myth of the Unified Theory which, supposedly would explain everything physical by reducing it to extremely tiny billiard balls governed by unbreakable rules that are thought to explain everything) is now closer, the conviction goes, because we have just finished for 10 billion or so the biggest machine of all times that smashes particles into each other. Dissect, smash, separate, analyze, torture, freeze, kill, these activities are supposed to reveal reality. Yes, indeed, we live in a civilized world! Feeling is a subjective luxury that governs economy by herd mentality on Wall Street and all the other stock exchanges all over the world – who, by the way through the mechanisms of extreme greed brought us to the brink of systemic change where everybody can now see that “the emperor wears no clothes”, as Andersen’s fairy tale goes.
Truth is gained by torture of nature and greed is the feeling governing the capitalist economy – and culture, of course, and religion to bless the large masses of us who buy our bliss at the prize of ignoring what we feel stirring in the depth of our souls.

This is a depressing perspective, one that might depressurize you enough to stop for a moment and maybe decide to reclaim the primacy of your own experience, the nobility of your own soul’s judgment, the deep breath of your openness – for we are super-social animals that, through ages of suffering and hard learning and a century of wide spread richness (at least in the West, and in many other parts of this world as well) and individualism have the unique chance to truly develop further.
I’m learning to see, by passing through the furnace of facing myself just the way I am on the feeling level, the level that is still largely uncivilized and uncontrollable – the only control being ‘desensitizing’, making dead, denial, active ignorance and skillfully channeled romanticism – I’m feeling-seeing the wonder of our interconnectedness, the beauty that in spite of thousands of years of civilization we still have everything it takes to be here, and through the alchemical fire of what is called civilizedness, we now finally have the means to realize, for a change, the healthy consequence of what we are: super-social, so social that we could move to the next stage of evolution: the one planet, Earth, opening up to the rest of the multiverse.

I’m done glossing it over: In the presence of feeling-seeing, in the actual flow of being human with other beings, humans and otherwise, in the soulfulness of every meeting – and the dullness of the superficial that also lives here – in the experiment of passion-intelligence-spirit this world is a truly awesome place.

And I am interested…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Experiment: Day 9 (Shame)

This morning, as I was looking out of the kitchen window, feeling the hot fires of jealousy flaming up in my breast, I was thinking, how nice it would be to return to Advaita Vedanta – my old friend – and deconstruct all of this feeling and emotivity and return to the pure “I-am-ness” that I’ve experienced sometimes when still going down that non-dualistic path. But seeing what that path has done to it’s realizers from a sociological or we-fullness perspective (it’s pure feudalism or top-down thinking and practice) I guess, I can’t really return there. And also, what I said to my heart-sister Helen in a heroic mood still holds true, “I’m not going to transcend… a truly new way needs to come out of all this.” Something, I would add, at right angles to the usual spiritual approach to the challenge I’m facing.

And surely honesty is at the root of that, being radically true about what goes on in my heart and mind in the more immediate sense. By that I mean, not drifting off with the wings of my fantasy or drowning with the lead of my imaginings wrapped around my throat. A psychological way to say it would be, “Stop compensating.”
It’s all about taking a deep look at reality as it unfolds on the feeling level, not with the morbid sense of how horrible it all is or how heavy – even though one could say that and stay within the realm of truth – but because it is clear that “this is the weather inside.”

One of the things becoming clear about jealousy today – sorry if this topic bores you a bit by now – is that it really thrives in the absence of knowing what the other is up to. The clearer that becomes, and can be trusted, the less space there is for all kinds of fears and conjectures. Participating in what the other thinks and feels, a shot of reality, can help. In my case, anyway, one of the things that adds to the pain is the “fog of unknowing”.
And this fits with my sense of where I might be going a bit more this second week of the experiment, into listening closer what is going on in the feeling-field and what about the people around me.
One of the things that happen in deep sharings of feelings, when we speak about and with what it is we feel now and about its naked resonances with our life and past (not in an epic way but more of a brief reporter’s stance), is what today was pointed out to be something that “influences past, presence and future” all at once in the flow between us.
For me it was at times like the burning inside became a kind of liquid burning, a slow flow of deep, deep presence… “not of the mystic kind” as the person said I was with. And at the same time it also was mystic as later we laughingly concluded, as it was having many of the qualities described in the traditional texts of people who describe their mystical experiences.
Who would have thought that to be possible?

And for some time it raised it’s head, one of the most dreadful feelings of all: Shame. It is a social feeling, like guilt, only worse, because when you’re guilty you can confess and chances are that you will be forgiven – but shame is a dark secret, something that you feel so bad about that you will under almost any circumstance deny it and do everything in your power to let nobody in on. Yes, there are things in my life that I have done that I’m ashamed of, and that I will not tell to anybody. I deal with it in the deep shadows of my soul.

The sense of shame is like a dark fire, and, feeling into it I think, “No wonder that in some cultures the only way to clear your family of the shame you brought upon them (shame is a collective thing) is suicide.” Feeling into shame some images come up, and “O my god, how can I do that?” Feeling shame is dreadful, a cold and dark fire, slowly gnawing at your insides – no wonder Christians believed and some still believe that Hell is full of shameful people.
Shame is a cold hell because it goes with the knowledge that what you’re ashamed about should never ever come to light. Even writing about it like this makes me feel a sense of dread; as if it was dangerous to admit to having felt this. Ashamed of feeling shame, because, you might think, where there is smoke there is fire, so that I must be guilty because I admit to feeling shame.

I still remember vividly how it was being caught lying, even as a grown-up. That was dreadful, and if I could I would have buried myself to disappear. It is hard, when I now think of it and reconnect deeply with that feeling, to sit straight, and to hold this for more then a couple of minutes.
Yes, shame is very social; it absolutely humiliates you – or better, under the influence of shame you humiliate yourself so that the others might allow you back in to the fold after a while. Yes, feeling shame comes when you do something that even you yourself feel you shouldn’t do, and in a sense it is unforgivable, which makes it worse than guilt because it lies outside the range of hope.

I can only maintain feeling shame if I hardly breathe at all; as soon as I take some deeper breaths it gives way to a deep, tearless sadness. There is a sense of remorse and a strong need for salvation – no wonder that the Catholic Church has been abusing this feeling for such a long time to recruit people for it’s own purposes. I can feel shame for not too long a time.
And then I think of sexual shame; this might be the worst because somehow the very activity that ignites the reward centers of the brain and the body, that simply “feels good” is thought of badly, very badly indeed. So you’re prone to do things that bring shame on you. No wonder that in our society we have been ‘deadening’ ourselves so much. Shame is such an ugly feeling that I’d rather feel jealousy than shame any day. Shame is the only feeling that makes me immediately feel disconnected, and feel that I deserve it.
Once it’s there it’s slow to go unlike most of the other feelings that simply and easily peter out if you don’t focus on them anymore. It seems the only thing that makes it bearable is a shot of self-pity. Shame also doesn’t have many ways out; you cannot easily create a story in your imagination that turns it into blame, for instance or into other feelings like anger – which is, by the way, a good way out of sadness. Shame calls for repentance, a repentance that is as secret as what led to one’s sense of shame.

I might revisit shame when I feel a little less weak than I do these days, for now I’m happy that it slowly fades because there is nothing I need to be ashamed of anymore for real, I think. “But,” a voice in the back of my head – or was it my heart? – says, “is this really true?” This I’ll know when I lay down my head for ever…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Experiment: Day 8

Even though this morning I sat with “a sense of insecurity” it was next to impossible to get to the core of it.
Insecurity’s cousin, Shyness, is well known to me and I’ve long ago come to know it’s presencing qualities and its connective character, so I meandered a bit around shyness, giving myself an easy time.
I also was wondering if after 7 days I shouldn’t go back over all the things I’ve written so far to see from the traces of the posts of this blog if a pattern that I haven’t been aware of is emerging. But somehow doing that didn’t appeal to me much. And I fear that my bright mind would spin a story that doesn’t come from the material itself but is much more made-up than I would want it to be. And also I fear that it would make me more prone again to go with the stories instead of with the feelings. And that is what is really required, because being unconditionally present with my feeling is at the core of this experiment, not the stories I come up with or even the blog posts I write. So instead of going over the last 7 days I took a look at what wants to emerge, and also kept an eye on my sense of insecurity as a kind of focus for my awareness that has the tendency to wander far and wide…

And there is also the consideration that now I have been sensitize to my feeling-sensing so very much that my 20 minutes in the morning dedicated for some day to bring up “the feeling of the day” can now be general to just be with raw feeling in itself and let me be taken by that.
Which is, of course the ideal, and it’s not really true. It seems to be true for all feelings except for jealousy: It is an immense challenge at times to just be with it; the stories connected with it, the imaginings which I now find are so deeply ingrained in the partner-relationship are now in doubt very much, in particular the feeling of having a real future together that is light and free and unencumbered by “hard feelings.” I guess I simply have to decide if I want to keep to what this experiment is about, even under the present circumstances that cause so much havoc in my throat-heart-solar plexus area so often.

Well, when I wasn’t caught up in the kinds of thoughts that accompany my greatest challenge at the moment, and when I felt calm and open and free I saw that overall the first 7 days were really very much dedicated to myself and my feelings, and that now maybe I can also focus a bit more on the feelings of those I live with. And strangely enough today more than ever I heard comments on the way I looked at them and what my expression told them about my feeling-state.
So far you’ve read – if you’ve read through all of these “reports” so far – quite a few times that some person triggered this or that feeling. And this is very true indeed. I think my experience this first week has taught me with quite some force and clarity that I can and do own all these ‘negative’ feelings. This also means that I can more easily “catch” a reaction before it jumps out into the “wilds” (out of everybody’s control, really, and self-determined by everybody involved and all they are and are connected with; I mean it’s really in nobody’s hands: wild) of ordinary life and becomes the trigger of more and more reactions. But it’s also quite clear that whatever I do, if I blindly react, if I respond with my eyes half open, or if in clarity I am with what goes on, it always also influences the people close to me. So going through all the feelings I’m going through, and going through them in the way I do – openly, owning them, feeling the connectedness, “yessing” them – doing this experiment with all that it means most likely is not only a blessing but also a stressor to those around me.

In general feeling the other is, for me, outside actually giving these feelings a name – it is most definitely different from being triggered by what they say or don’t say but implicate or do. The feeling-field has a different quality to it that seems to be beyond that. Looking closely I notice that it is as if people’s movement happen as if inside my body, I experience their moving as if the visual impression gets translated into… if my body would consist of entirely water it would be as if I would feel the water inside me move in synchrony with people’s movements outside. And these very movements are at the same time feelings in a language that has, right now, just a very few syllables.

I guess in this second week of my experiment I want to look more into this aspect of “presencing with feeling”. Now that I have somewhat honed my instrument of feeling a bit, this might be a next step in this education that happens upon me and that I co-create; trusting my senses, feelings and experiences to reveal what needs revelation, be with what needs good company, and learn what needs to be learnt – making the mistakes I need to make in this unknown process emerging as I enter into it.

One remark that touched me today was hearing, “There is so much love in your eyes.” From my perspective I was merely being with that person unconditionally, feeling the field, somewhat (but not invasively) curious about her feeling and being.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)

I thought today was going to be about guilt… it was one of the first feelings I was confronted with in the morning.
One of the unforeseeable consequences of this experiment is that I’ve gotten a very thin skin. I pick up on a feeling that previously would have led me to an automatic reaction immediately (denial, reframing of the story to my benefit, fight/flight) when it is quite weak in comparison to the ‘harder feeling’ like anger, fear, jealousy for instance. So I picked up this sense of guilt triggered by a minor remark this morning and took it as a cue to look at that.

So I sat down and invoked feeling guilt. I needed to remember some stories before I could really get in there. So I remembered what I tell myself when I feel guilty to turn up the volume, so to speak, “It’s my own fault,” is a good one, and then I stumbled upon an old time favorite, “When I am truly myself I inevitably hurt the people I’m close to with my words and deeds.”
Having turned up the volume I noticed how my shoulders rose and I bent over; I don’t know if this is an English saying but in Germany we say sometimes of a person, “He walks bowed under guilt’s weight.” Guilt, indeed, feels like a heavy burden.
And I also experienced this morning that when guilt is there the question “Why?” and “Why me?” are rampant, and down that road also the feeling of self-pity is pretty close.

Guilt is, like many other ‘negative’ feelings very ego-oriented. If something goes wrong in my relationship there is often, at least when I look closer, the feeling that it’s all my fault. This is most likely in deep resonance with a child’s feeling when their parents separate; I’ve heard a teenager say that her parents divorce was her fault recently, and I remember my young years and that I was convinced that my father left us because of something I did wrong, and that was only proven by my mom then sending me to my grandparents… and on and on the sad story goes.
The feeling that everything that goes wrong in my relationship is wrong because of my inability or even unwillingness to do the right thing, say the right word, or do or say nothing in the right moments, is a well known acquaintance of mine. Triggered by a situation guilt comes, and leads me into automatic reaction… and this is not only so for guilt but for almost all (or is it all?) feelings. Evolutionary this makes sense: You don’t want your consciousness to get in the way when  there’s a tiger approaching, you want your body to go into overdrive and survive (and it was those humans that actually did survive and were our ancestors). But in these extremely complex times we live in, and the type of relationships, however intimate they are, that we live in, we don’t want to react automatically to people and situations, to the things friends and partners say or do – we want to respond from our soul, our heart, our very being.

Before I couldn’t explore my sense of guilt anymore because this feeling was overwhelmed by another one, I found that guilt is closely related to being depressed (another feeling not yet on my list) and the fear of being cast out; maybe because guilt is a social feeling indicating just this danger: people feel guilty when they disobey the rules of their clan, community and maybe even society.
But I have to revisit this at another point because jealousy rode strong and intensively right into my heart at the breakfast table. And now I know the difference between feeling jealousy because of what I fear might happen and feeling jealousy because of hearing that indeed it did happen.

Within the “fearing of what might happen” jealousy there is still the hope that it doesn’t happen. But the other one is without that hope, hopelessness gets mixed into the brew in which there is feeling forlorn, helpless, paralyzed, “How can you do this to me?”-selfpity, turning away, wanting to close down forever, and more.
So not only is it a more intense version of this feeling conglomerate it is also one that has “Let go of all hope, ye who enter here” written over its gate. At least that’s how it is for me as I’ve discovered in the waves that have been washing over me today. Yet, it’s not just one awful day long drawn out feeling at all. Probably because I’m not telling myself long, winding stories about how I got here, what it is she did, etc. (I can’t stop images appearing in my mind, like I said yesterday, but that’s different from telling myself all kinds of things about why I suffer this). For hours the jealousy is gone, and there is this beautiful sense of connectedness with her, all and everything that is also there. This I’ve found to be true for all the ‘negative’ feelings. It’s the feeling-field that I mentioned yesterday that is very much there when I’m out on the streets (at home also, of course, but out there it’s noticed in a different way). But when I’m in the jealousy-conglomerate there is a disconnect that beckons…

Jealousy comes in waves, as all feelings do. You could could say that since they are not permanent you shouldn’t attach to them, or whatever you tell yourself about your feelings. I prefer, having gone down the road of this experiment so far, to openly experience my feelings, to get to know those I’ve avoided and disowned so far by invoking them and welcoming them. Even if it looks as if jealousy is here to stay, (really this is a story) I prefer to be with the feeling and explore it closely.

I’m happy I have had the good fortune to do this experiment ‘out in the open’ because it keeps me at it, also helping me to reflect on it in a wholesome way, and have the encouragement I get from lovely people here and in private.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)