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 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 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 – 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)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 6 (Jealousy)

As I was sitting this morning, scanning the list of the ingredients in the alchemical mix that is cooking in the cauldron of my heart (yes, my heart is also a cauldron; actually it’s the whole region between my lower throat and my pelvis) I finally was ready to face one that isn’t even on there, and it surely needs to be: Jealousy and it’s close cousin Envy.

Some background:
I never thought I was jealous; or that it posed a real problem. When in the past my girlfriends had a lover I hardly felt jealous about it, maybe a little pang in my heart now and then but nothing serious. A possible reason for that might have been that more often than not I was having an affair myself. And at other times, when I was not having one and was ‘on my own’ when my girlfriend was in somebody else’s arms, then still it didn’t bother me too much. Maybe I never really got very close to them, maybe I wasn’t that open, at least not in the way that I’m open now. So I really wasn’t really jealous like I always heard other people to be…
My guess is that this was so also because in some way when my girlfriends had a lover it alleviated some of my fear of not being good enough, I didn’t need to cover all bases and provide all their love-needs (which, I thought then and until quite recently, are much more than a man’s needs). That’s how I would’ve explained it. Now, I really don’t know; whatever I did or didn’t do, it was very effective in saving me from feeling ‘real jealous’.

So when this morning I decided to have a go at it it wasn’t too easy to invoke at first. It took some time to really get into, maybe because jealousy really isn’t one feeling, it rather is a conglomerate of feelings, a mixture of thwarted longing/desire, the fear of being left, the sense of being victimized – which is different from feeling abused as the action is not actively against me; there also is a sense of being suffocated, and very deep down a feeling of forlornness.
So it’s a mixture of all these feelings, and depending what part of a story comes up in my imagination/mind the appropriate mixture of feelings is activated… or is it the other way around, or even a synchrony? Whichever way it might be, when being jealous there is an automatically triggered behavior: ‘closing down’.
It’s truly hard to remain open with your partner when you’re feeling jealous, whatever form the ‘pain’ takes. It seems inescapable to want to protect yourself against what you feel is your partners ‘fault’ – after all, it is what she is doing that triggers the feeling of jealousy, and if only she would stop the feeling would not be triggered and everything would be alright; at least that’s the story that justifies and almost automatically causes closure of the heart. The irony, of course, is that the very ‘thing’ you want, being/feeling close, feeling really connected, is not really possible when you’re closing down.
But staying open is “just too painful”.
Here is the stark splendor of what this experiment is also about: Staying with the ebb and flow, the ‘just too painful’ and whatever else the feelings morph into; staying in touch with the ‘naked feeling’. And, what shall I say, it is indeed possible. It is possible to not escape into the multitude of tactics that insulate me against feeling all that, that ‘disown’ (as a psychologist might say) those parts of the melody of my character.

Jealousy is a “Blow against the Empire” of myself; from a developmental point of view it is mortifying the “I am the center of the universe” sense of self where one believes, “It’s all about me.” Just being with it, with it’s eddies of thwarted longing, it’s ripples of fear-of-loss, it’s waves of suffocated sadness, it’s deep currents of forlornness, is good enough. Yes, there is the desire to do something about it, to change the situation, to dive away, to put on an armor and take a sword and cut the knot… and those are feelings that are also part of the tangled knot of feelings called jealousy.

When one really enters the ‘field of feeling’ from any point regardless of its signature or name then it always connects – there is a flow that, if I were to use a big word, could be called the “flow of being”, but then “being” is a word that suggests something being static where there is really nothing static there; it designates something that is ‘really real’, it’s substantial, so the best I can do is call it ‘connecting flow’. One discovery, or ‘uncovering’ of these first 6 days is the connecting quality of the “feeling field” and it’s “substantial reality”.

Now, as I said before, an important part of jealousy is that you don’t want to connect, you don’t want to feel the flow between yourself and the person that triggers the jealousy because it is painful; by that I mean, the ‘jealous imagination’ (like in the Munch paintings above) is getting refreshed again and again as long as the jealousy is there.
This puts one in the midst of a paradox; the nature of feeling being to flow in an open field – even so called negative feelings – and it is the nature of the jealous imagination to want to distance and/or protect you. So I’m happy to have decided almost a week ago to explore being with whatever I’m feeling unconditionally, so that in this paradoxical situation I simply be with the flow. Never mind the paradox…


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)