Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dealing with Anxiety

I had a nice conversation with a friend of mine who reached out for some support regarding feelings of anxiety that had become a recurring theme. It's a common feeling we've all felt at one time or another and possibly a feeling that is being triggered more frequently by all of the things going on in the world. My friend seemed to benefit from the words I shared so I thought it might be helpful to put them out there for public consumption. Though this conversation dealt specifically with anxiety, which is just another flavor of what we call fear, the same practice could be used with other emotions as well.

First, check to see whether there is a feeling of anxiety currently being experienced. It's helpful if the sense of anxiety is already present, but it can also be conjured up by thinking thoughts that have triggered anxiety in the past. Once you notice that anxiety is present, I invite you to investigate what it feels like. How do you know anxiety is present? What does anxiety feel like? Try to describe the experience of anxiety and how it is recognized. Typically, there is a sense of tightness in the body, often accompanied by a quickening heartbeat. In the case of my friend, he equated the feeling with a sense of stage fright one might encounter when being asked to give a presentation to a large audience.

Once you become familiar with the experience of anxiety, it's time to explore it. First, we drop the label “anxiety” and remove it from the equation. Then, we direct attention toward the sensations present in the body. By removing the label “anxiety” and examining it experientially, it creates an impartial space for the experience. A good question to ask at this point is, “Is this anxiety, or just the movement of energy?” If it can be clearly seen as the movement of energy and not anxiety, then a new relationship to the sensation begins to form.

In the example of anxiety, I like to use the metaphor of a roller coaster. If you can remember what it's like to be on the uphill climb on a roller coaster, getting closer to the top, you might have experienced a similar energetic movement in the body with tension and a quickening heart rate. Anticipation of the unknown is the root. One could just as easily label this experience as “excitement.” Once you crest the top of the roller coaster and plummet downwards, there is a rush of energy as the anticipation gives way and transforms into exhilaration as you realize you are safe. If there is a sense of trust that you are safe, then surrender gives way to delight. This analogy might not be helpful if you are not a fan of roller coasters but seeing this energetic sensation we call anxiety in a different light can enable us to see that it is similar in nature to excitement. It is a movement of energy, plain and simple. By not giving it a label like “fear” or “anxiety” it does not feed into a story that perpetuates its presence, nor does it create a problem out of the simple movement of energy.

So, when this energy arises, simply asking the question, "Is this anxiety or is this the movement of energy?" can transform our perception of it. In the case of my friend, asking this question caused the sensation to dissipate, but he noticed that it quickly rose again. I brought up the roller coaster metaphor again and indicated that roller coasters usually have multiple peaks and valleys rather than just one, and that asking this question each time it arises may gradually weaken the intensity and frequency of the movement of energy. Simply by seeing it impartially can diminish the energy’s ability to fuel stressful thoughts. He really liked this approach because it was remarkably simple and only involved asking one question.

I invite you to use the same question for whatever types of emotions might be recurring themes in your experience. The investigation can deepen but it's typically helpful to clear a pathway, so to speak, before diving deeper into the roots of suffering. Feel free to let me know how it goes.

In peace,

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Am I in the Body, or is it in Me?

We have been taught since we were old enough to learn that we are the body. But once you’ve had a glimpse of your True Nature as Awareness, that belief begins to get undermined. With subsequent realizations, non-dual moments, awakening experiences, etc., when there is a dis-identification with the body, the belief upon which the whole story of “you” was built begins to weaken. It can be unsettling when the “you” you thought you were begins to appear more like a figment of imagination. I’ve had many experiences of Pure Being, where Trey is seen to just be an experience of Awareness. As a result of those moments of clarity, subtle beliefs are being seen through. Doubt is falling away, leaving a growing acceptance of not being a person. The ripple effect of the implications of that fact are being felt in the form of waves of Joy and Gratitude. The effort it requires to be a separate self has become clear, as has the effortlessness of just Being.

One of the challenges for me has been around the sense of being Awareness housed in the body. I know it’s not true from direct experience, but there is a feeling of closeness to Trey’s body and mind and a sense that he is the focal point of experience. However, just because the body feels "close" to “you” does not make it who you are. I have been inquiring into the sense of being located in the body and would like to share some things that have helped “me” see through this illusion. We start by looking at where our current experience is being experienced from.

Notice where the hands are right now. That's not something you planned out obviously, but there they are. Close the eyes and see if you can feel the hands. Now try to get a sense for where they are located. When you do this, you might notice that you subtly (or even unconsciously) use a reference point in order to pick a location in space to assign the hands too. If you don't have a reference point for location purposes, then the experience of the hands is just there, in space somewhere. Check to see where they feel located in reference to nothing.

Now notice where the feet are. With the eyes closed try to get a sense of where the feet are located. Some reference point might tell you that they are further down below where the hands are. That involves another reference point. But take away the point of reference and notice that the feet are just where they are, in space somewhere.

With the eyes closed pay attention to the feeling of the face. If you can't feel the face, then smile and feel what it feels like to smile. See if you can get a location on the smiling face. Does it feel closer than the hands and feet? If so, that means you are using the body (head more specifically) as a reference point. But without that reference point, isn't the smiling face also just floating in space somewhere?

Now notice the thoughts. If you're not currently thinking any thoughts, then I recommend you think the thoughts, blah, blah, blah. As those thoughts arise, see if you can get a location on them. Where are they located? Do they seem to be higher up then the smiling face? Again, when you remove the reference point of something, aren't thoughts also just appearing somewhere in space?

Now, with your eyes closed, direct attention toward the whole body. Feel the aliveness in all parts of it simultaneously. Where is the body located? If we aren’t using the body as a reference point for locating it, it too appears to be floating in an aware space, with no particular location. Can you sense the body as just one more object being noticed in this aware space that contains everything? This aware space doesn’t have a particular location or reference point. Everything is just in it.

The only thing making something feel closer than another is that we have been taught to use our bodies as a reference point, which is necessary for practical purposes. However, the invitation here is to see what it’s like not to rely on the body as a reference point. Then, what we are noticing through the senses, with no interpretation of close vs. far away, is where it is. The idea of here and there disappears and everything is just here, in an aware space.

Now that there is an experience of space between and around the body/mind, pay attention to the space that all of these thoughts and sensations are floating in. It’s like a bowl of Awareness soup that has different ingredients floating in it (a chunk of meat, a tablespoon of thought and a few dashes of sights and sounds). See if you can get a sense that this Awareness soup feels more like what you are and that the body and thoughts are just floating around in it. Enjoy the yummy soup 😊

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Are you the Doer?

Do you think you're the doer of things? If not, then read no further. If so, I invite you to ask a few questions and do some further investigation. First, let’s look at the possible options for what is doing the doing. Is it the mind? Is it the body? Or is it something else? Conventional thinking may lead us to believe that the mind is governing the body, so let’s investigate that first. Begin paying close attention to what the body does without the thinking mind's involvement. Whether it's putting away the dishes or driving a car, notice the thoughts going on during your daily activities. When putting away the dishes the mind does not have to think about how to pick up a dish, where to place it and how to get it from point A to point B. It happens by itself. Oftentimes during these routine tasks, the mind is actually occupied with thinking about the past or the future and is completely disconnected from what the body is doing in the moment.

Some people think they need their mind in order to drive a car, but if you pay attention while driving is happening you will notice that thinking about driving is not really happening. For example, the mind is not thinking thoughts like, "Turn on the left turn signal now." Or “Check the rearview mirror now.” Or "Apply a small amount of pressure to the gas pedal now." Or “Turn the steering wheel a few inches to the left.” All of that happens by itself (fortunately). I think it’s safe to say that if the mind had to formulate thoughts to operate a car, the body wouldn’t be around for long. What you will find upon closer scrutiny is that the mind can either be silent or preoccupied with non-driving related thoughts and driving happens beautifully by itself. Many people have experienced driving to a destination and having no memory of the trip, either because attention was focused on some mental story, or just silently witnessing. I have tested this at great length and can safely say that thinking isn’t needed for driving. In fact, in my experience driving becomes an art form when the mind takes a backseat (no pun intended).

There are countless ways you can investigate whether thought is needed for the body to do what it does. Look at how it gathers up groceries from the car and somehow navigates getting them to where they need to be. Thoughts are not governing which hand should grab which bag, how to adjust the load, how to open and close doors, how to navigate walking, etc., etc. The body is making hundreds of little movements and adjustments each moment, even seemingly planning its next move, without thought telling it what to do.

However, please don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself and notice how thought is not required in order to do most (if not all) of the things the body does. I would also invite you to see if you can find any tasks that the body does during a day that do require thought. If you find one, please let me know. For now, let’s presume that the body does what it does without the need to think about it so we can continue our investigation.

Before we proceed, it’s important to note that there are ways in which thoughts can influence the body. In the example of driving, the mind might say, “I need to get to point B.” And it might even plan out how it's going to get there. But beyond that, it's up to the body to do what it does. In addition to the mind’s intentional attempts to get the body to do something (i.e. drive to point B), the mind unintentionally influences the body in other ways. For example, when stressful thoughts are present, the body often has a physiological response. Tightness or tension in the body often arise when the mind is preoccupied with a stressful story. Our thinking affects the body, but it is not doing the body. It seems more accurate to say that the mind is merely making suggestions to the body that the body either follows or doesn’t. If the body follows the suggestions, the mind feels in control. If the body doesn’t follow the suggestions, the mind may analyze the situation in order to figure out what’s going on. It’s not hard to find examples of how the mind’s attempts to get the body to do something (i.e. exercise, work, taxes, chores, etc.) are often ignored until the body is ready to do them. Despite what the mind says, we don’t know what the body is going to do until it does it. The mind is more like the body’s narrator. As the body does what it does, the mind creates a story around how things are being done. This was actually demonstrated in a scientific experiment that might interest you (see Neuroscience and Free Will - Spoiler alert… The body knows what it’s going to do about six seconds before the mind does.

Assuming the mind can come to terms with the fact that thought is not required for the body to fulfill its functions, it becomes clear that the body has its own innate intelligence. It does what it does beautifully, with an intuition of what needs to be done. It’s like a highly sophisticated robot that is programmed to survive, seek pleasure and avoid pain. Once this is realized, the mind can finally relax and take a step back from its attempts to control, analyze, second guess, judge, blame, etc.. However, this might require some ongoing experimentation before the mind is convinced enough to fully trust the body to do what it needs to do when it needs to do it. I will say from my experience it is definitely worth investigating.

So, if the body does what it does without the mind’s control, the question arises, “Are you controlling the mind?” Have you ever looked to see where thoughts come from? Do you ever have any clue as to what thought is going to happen next? Are you planning the next thought before it arrives? Or does it just arise out of nowhere? When a thought arises, ask yourself, “Did I choose this thought, or did it just arise?” A skeptical mind (like mine) might think of a way to out smart the system by thinking, “In ten seconds I will think the word, Hello.” Then, count to ten and think the word, Hello. The mind could then say, “See, I can choose my own thoughts.” But where did the thought, “In ten seconds I will…” come from? Was that a premeditated thought, or did it spontaneously arise? If you look you will find that thoughts arise organically and without premeditation. You have no more control over them than you do the body. Thoughts just happen or they don't. Their content and timing are not up to you. Again, look with your own direct experience.

Once you are satisfied that the neither the mind, nor the body, are being controlled by “you”, it’s time to go a little deeper to see what is at the root of all doing. Here are some good questions to sit with. “If the mind and body are just happening on their own, where do “I” fit in?” “Do “I” have any control over anything?” “What is it that's making all of this happen?” “Is there anything here in the body-mind organism that is making anything happen?” “If so, then what is making that work?” “Where does the impulse to do anything arise?” “Where do thoughts arise?” “If I am not the body nor the mind, what exactly am I?” “Is there an “I” at all?” “If so, and it's not the body and it's not the mind, where is it located?” “Does it have a location?”

It's important here not just to read these questions but to look to where they point. The act of looking is the answer. What you will eventually discover [spoiler alert], if you have the desire to know what’s really going on here, is that what you truly are is not the body nor the mind. The mind and body are being done by what you truly are, but that’s not something “you” have any control over, because there is no “you” as a separate, finite self. This animating life force energy (aka Consciousness, Awareness, Presence, Life, God, Nature, Love, etc.) is pulling all the strings and the body-mind is like a puppet. It’s all being done, like a well-choreographed play of divine energy. This realization puts an end to all second guessing and questioning of what has already happened or will ever happen, because it’s clear that everything is being done by a higher intelligence. There’s no more need to judge or blame. When the “you” realizes it’s not the character in the play, the character becomes a portal for joy and lightness that emanates from the same Source that’s animating the Universe.

It’s also important to remember that if there is no “doer” here (where you thought yourself to be), then there is no “doer” there (where you thought others to be). It’s all out of our hands. People cannot help but do what they do, because we are all being done. This realization leads to forgiveness as well as deep compassion and love. There are no separate individuals. Just [insert your word of choice] wearing an infinite number of disguises. Just sit with that for a bit. Or don’t. It’s not up to you whether you do or not, so why not just wait and see what happens next 😊

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Symptoms of Peace in a Pandemic

Dear friends and family,

I hope you are all doing well and remaining healthy. I'm feeling called to share something I wrote that came from my work with with inquiry and the pandemic. What helped me could be of use to someone else looking for peace in this very surreal world we inhabit.

In peace,

Symptoms of Peace in a Pandemic

If you are like most people on the planet Earth right now, then you have most likely been experiencing a lot of fear. There is an undercurrent of fear coursing through the veins of humanity as many of us contemplate planetary doom. After all, there is a virus spreading around the globe leaving death and suffering in its wake. It's perfectly natural to feel anything from unease to full-on panic. The precautionary measures being taken to limit social gatherings and thereby slow the spread of this virus, though helpful and necessary, have contributed to the growing fear many people are experiencing. Fear is not a problem. It's the body's natural response to external circumstances. A biological survival mechanism in the human entity. But it's also an invitation to look deeper and to investigate the purpose and origins of fear.

What is it you are really afraid of? I invite you to sit with that question for a couple of minutes and possibly even make a few notes.

Are you afraid of dying? Are you afraid of suffering? Are you afraid of someone close to you dying or suffering? What is it that triggers fear? It might be helpful to envision your worst-case scenario for this pandemic. We typically try to avoid thinking about such things but remain governed by the stories that play over and over.

I did this and came up with a scenario of Trey being patient zero in Asheville who contracted the virus from one of his Uber passengers. He had a slight cold before all of the social distancing measures took place and didn’t think much of it. Little did he know he was a carrier of the virus. He then he proceeds to spread it to everyone he encounters. His friends, family and passengers start getting sick and dying while he remains fine. Investigators looking for the common thread in these cases trace the source back to me. My picture is on the news warning people who have had contact with me to get tested. I’m guessing some variation of this scenario is playing in the minds of many right now.

After letting the mind ruminate on fearful stories, I invite you to investigate what fear feels like in the body. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and get in touch with fear. Rather than turn away from it or distract yourself from feeling it, feel it. Experience it. What does it feel like to be afraid? Is there tightness in part of the body? Is there a tingly sensation, vibration or a sense of numbness somewhere? Really look. See what it is to be afraid on a physical level. How the body reacts to fear.

Once you get a feel for it, take away the label of “fear.” Without the word fear to describe the experience, what is it? What is this tightness or nausea or dizziness or whatever feeling you are experiencing, without the word “fear” to hold it all together? It is an energetic experience. A cluster of sensations. Notice that you are aware of these sensations, but the sensations are not who you are. You are not the sensations because you can witness them. If you were these sensations, then you would not be able to notice them because you would be one with them.

Now, ask yourself, “What is it that is aware of the sensations in the body?” Then, direct attention toward the aware space around these sensations. See if you can get a feel for this empty aware space that notices the body's sensations, as well as thoughts. Notice that there is a Stillness, with no objective qualities, that surrounds these sensations and thoughts. What is that?

There's something that we could call a witnessing presence that serves as the backdrop of all experience. That aware presence cannot be seen, heard, or in any way be defined. But it can be experienced. The experience of it could be called Peace. Some teachers refer to this as finding your True Nature. With its discovery, you realize that you are the peaceful backdrop of all experience and not the person who is experiencing it. To know that is to be free.

No matter what happens, what you truly are (Peace, Stillness, Awareness) will be unaffected. What you truly are is what remains eternally present, witnessing as things come and go, in an omnipotent alive energy that holds everything.

Recognizing yourself as this aliveness puts feelings like fear into perspective. It's just an energetic experience in the aware space that contains it all. Our True Nature is unaffected by what happens to the person. The human being, like everything else in existence, is just an experience.

So, what happens to the Trey as patient zero story when seen from this perspective? Well, he becomes more conscious of germ spreading, starts sanitizing more often, goes grocery shopping and begins distancing. But I now see that Trey is a cell in the organism we call the Universe. And that cell will fulfill its purpose. Trey certainly wouldn’t have chosen to be the cell to carry a virus that could inflict harm on other cells. But if that’s what happened, he had no choice but to be that one. Nature, in its infinite wisdom, is running everything. Trey can now experience a sense of Trust, that no matter what happens, all is as it was meant to be. Nature is experiencing an infinite number of cells, each of them fulfilling their purpose for the overall good of the organism.

All cells will die, but Nature never does. Nature is currently using the Trey-cell to invite the you-cell to consider the possibility that you are not the cell, but actually that alive space of Nature that experiences the cell. Nature is encouraging you to go look for your Self and see if you find One? Feel free to report back your findings, if you find anything, or even if you don’t 😊

Rx for impending doom:

Go for a walk in Nature. Spend time smiling at the plants, trees, sky, clouds, etc. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to experience Life in all its richness. Remember that whether it's beautiful forests, sunsets, wars or plagues, Nature is at work. Inhale the breath of Nature. Let it fill your lungs with alive energy. What a gift it is to exist and witness this awe-inspiring Universe unfold.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

For the Love of Traffic

[The following words were dictated into my phone while sitting in traffic and later revised while sitting in a café.]

As I was on my way to volunteer at my daughter's school, I ran into a traffic jam on the interstate. Traffic was stop and go. It meant I was going to be late for the field trip and they were going to be left in a challenging situation since I was one of the drivers. I experienced the tension that comes with feeling trapped and unable to make a commitment. Instead of letting those stories take hold and run loose, I surrendered to the situation with a knowing that all of this is out of my control. When a thought arose that was steeped in resistance (i.e. I should have taken that last exit), it dissipated with the recognition that this was where I was meant to be.

Then, out of the blue, I was then given a very pleasant reminder about why I was in the situation I was in. As a car passed me slowly in the other lane, the woman driving waved and said, “I love your bumper stickers!” I smiled and thanked her as she moved on up in the line of traffic. I had forgotten that I just put two new bumper stickers on my car. One says, “Who would you be without your story?” (one of Byron Katie’s gems). The other says, “You are Perfect” (inspired by Benjamin Smythe). It became instantly clear that one of the reasons I was stuck in traffic at that moment was to display those statements to a large number of people, at least one of which resonated with the message and expressed gratitude. Thanks to stop and go traffic, dozens more people in nearby cars were given the opportunity to read those words, whether they resonated with them or not. I was deeply humbled and grateful to be serving Life’s purpose while stuck in traffic. At that point I got a little teary-eyed and said to Life, “Thank you, thank you, I love you.”

At that moment, traffic opened up and I hurried on to school, but I wasn’t stressed about being late and everyone having to wait on me. I knew everything, like always, was as it should be. In the end, we got to go on the field trip and had a nice time.

Later that day, I got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic once again. There were some initial thoughts about the potential for being late for my group meeting, but those thoughts quickly gave way and were replaced with a space of acceptance. Then, it occurred to me that the reason I was stuck in traffic again was so that I could finish writing what I started earlier. Here goes...

In my experience, Life will usually show me why I am going through challenging times, if/when I am open to receive the message. It might not happen immediately, but it usually doesn't take long for Life to show me how what is, is for a greater good. However, you don't have to know why things are the way they are in order to find peace in the midst of challenging situations. The answer will either be made known, or become unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Why?” is, “Just for the pure sake of having this present experience.” The end goal, if there is one, would be so that we would all recognize that we are not actually the ones in control here and to accept that. To realize that our body/minds are being animated by a force far greater than the human mind, and that force is our True Nature. That realization can be the ultimate outcome of every moment when we fully embrace the isness of everything.

Here is a simple practice that might be helpful as you navigate minor challenges. As I go about my day, sometimes I find myself saying, “So, this is what Life wants for me,” with a smile of acceptance, curiosity and wonder, along with a deep trust that Life is always giving me what I need. Like it or not, this is exactly where you're supposed to be. Always.


[In reality, the benefits of my character being stuck in traffic twice in one day will continue to reverberate for eternity, like a ripple in a pond started from a raindrop returning from its visit to the sky. The insights that turned into words will take on a life of their own and possibly touch lives in faraway lands. The simple message, which has been spreading like wildfire in recent years, will spark more fires. Some people may even begin to question their view of reality, and possibly even wake up out of the dream of identification with mind and body. That’s why you are reading these words right now, whether you realize it now or later. But I’m not taking credit for these words. They are not mine. This body/mind named Trey just happened to be in the right place at the right time to record them. If they have touched you in a positive way, don’t thank Trey. Thank Awareness, Consciousness, Life, God or whatever word suits your character best.]

Monday, August 19, 2019

You Are The Embodiment of God's Will

FYI - I use the term God synonymously with Consciousness or Awareness.

There is nothing here that is not the will of God.
You are witnessing the will of God play itself out all these various forms.
When you accept that you are the will of God, then God's will becomes your will, and all is well.
All is well because all is God.
There is nothing not God.
We have lost ourselves in the play of God, and forgotten that we are God.
Remember that You Are The Embodiment of God's Will and Allow the Will of God to Move Through You.

Friday, July 05, 2019

What is Spiritual Awakening?

I have been on a “spiritual path” as it is sometimes called, for a dozen years or so. I didn’t choose to be on one. It chose me. When I became what is sometimes called a “seeker” it was not a conscious choice, but something I had to do. I was overcome with the desire to know the ultimate Truth of what we are and why we’re here. The circumstances that led to the birth of the seeker are discussed in another post (LINK) and not relevant to this discussion. Suffice it to say that I received a “wake up call” which could also be called a “call to awaken.” I got the call and I had to answer. At that point, Life began setting things in place that would serve me on this journey. Trey the “Seeker” eventually turned into an “Awakener” (the way I use the terms, a Seeker is one who is looking for fulfillment through a number of spiritual outlets or techniques, while an Awakener has had a glimpse(s) of the Truth and has a more narrowed focus on waking up).

A recent conversation prompted me to answer the question, “What does spiritual awakening mean to you?” In a nutshell, this person I call Trey is not who I really am. What I truly am, is Awareness (aka Consciousness). Some people have heard variations of this sentiment hundreds of times from a wide variety of sages and teachers from around the world. To those who have not heard it before, it may sound rather silly. But the realization that one is actually just Awareness and not a person is what Awakening is all about. Self-realization (aka enlightenment) is the recognition of one’s self as Awareness.

“Why would a person want to realize such a thing?” one might ask. Well, the answer lies in how Life is experienced from the perspective of Awareness. When one stops identifying themselves as a person and begins to identify as Awareness, the limiting beliefs about the individual (and others) fall away, leaving the unclouded essential nature of this moment. From what I’ve seen in spending time with awakened people, the awakened character is loving, compassionate, accepting, non-judgmental, supportive, kind, authentic, empathetic, courageous, and unaffected by negativity. Though it may seem odd on the surface, when we no longer feel identified with the character we’re playing, we become beacons of light and love in the world.

About My Character’s Path
Trey’s path has been one of presence, acceptance and surrender. Some of my greatest early influences were Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Despite resonating deeply with their teachings, I did not blindly adopt that path overnight. It feels as though I (the character) has been in a gradual trust building exercise with Life. I read the works of teachers then applied them to different areas of my life. The outcome was one of reassurance time and time again. I have gone through a number of challenging circumstances, and when applied correctly, this path of accepting all that comes transformed challenges into gifts. I started seeing the silver lining in all the clouds. In fact, challenging situations turned into opportunities to awaken more deeply.

A couple of years ago, Self-inquiry came alive in me. Self-inquiry is simply the act of becoming aware of Awareness. Ramana Maharshi, considered by most to be father of Self-inquiry, told his students to ask, “Who am I?” and then direct attention toward the source to which that question points (Rupert Spira does a great job of explaining it in this short video  This seemingly simple practice led numerous people to wake up, and many of those who woke up became teachers and began spreading the same Truth they found. Though each teacher has their own personal style, what they are saying is ultimately the same thing: We are all Awareness.

As I practiced Self-inquiry, or redirecting Awareness toward Awareness, it led to the ability to rest in Awareness for short periods, which often times is accompanied by blissful states and feelings of oneness. However, it can also bring up a number of challenging issues that need to be acknowledged. Some say “spiritual bypassing” occurs when someone uses a spiritual path to avoid dealing with negativity, but that’s just like hitting the snooze button on an alarm clock. Whatever it is that needs to be addressed will arise again until it is effectively met. For me, acceptance and surrender have been the tools used to deal with all that arises. Through this process, Life has become my teacher and I trust it completely to show me what I need to see.

As an aside, Ramana has said that the only two paths to Self-realization are Self-inquiry and surrender, and that all other paths eventually lead to one of those two entry points. Self-inquiry is considered the direct path. The complete surrender Ramana spoke about is not easy for most people. The people capable of total surrender are often those who have hit rock bottom and have lost the will to live (as was the case with Eckhart and Katie). One could say that complete surrender, as described by Ramana, leads to awakening, and situational surrender (more like I have been practicing) leads to being at peace with the situation at hand.

In the group sessions I’ve been facilitating for many years now, I see a lot of is people who have learned these various practices and techniques and have used them to lead a more peaceful life. Most of them have had a glimpse of the truth to which spiritual teachers point, which fuels their quest for enlightenment. It can also lead to the creation of what some call the “spiritual ego,” which is the belief that they are a person who is connected to Awareness, rather than just Awareness. I have seen this in myself and others, and it can be a confusing period where we continue to act out our egoic conditioning in our personal relationships while being able to experience blissful states in other areas of our lives. In short, the awakening process is not complete. So what to do?

There’s an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I have seen that proved true many times in my life. The most recent example was a few months ago, when Dan Kelso appeared with what he calls Deep Self Investigation (DSI). After talking with Dan at great length, it became clear that DSI is the antidote for those of us still identified with the character, despite having numerous awakening experiencing confirming that we are in fact Awareness.

DSI is a more fine-tuned version of Self-inquiry designed to root out all of the beliefs we have to support identification with the character. I sometimes call it Self-inquiry 2.0 because it goes deeper than just becoming aware of Awareness. One can merge with Awareness in doing Self-inquiry, but still be identified as the character who is merging with Awareness. When DSI is used, more focused attention is directed toward those beliefs that make us feel limited in any way. We question those beliefs, relying only on our direct experience to verify the answers (not what we have learned or been told by others).

I have had some profound realizations in working with Dan and DSI. In the last session I realized what I have heard numerous teachers say on countless occasions – You are already awake, you just don’t realize it yet. Yes, we have always been aware throughout every moment of our lives. Whether the character was (is) experiencing sorrow or bliss, Awareness was (is) present and noticing. Awareness is always just aware. And I am Awareness. In effect, Awareness has never been lost in identification with Trey, it has just been seeing Trey and Trey has been believing that Trey is only awake during certain states of expansiveness. This is an example of how beliefs about spiritual awakening mask the ever-present Awareness that we already are, and always have been. One must be willing to surrender ALL beliefs, whether they have to do with spiritual awakening or being a person, in order to see what we truly are.

In gratitude,

* Belief – I like to think that the inventors of the English language deliberately inserted the word “lie” in the middle of the word belief so that we would remember that beliefs are not true. Whether that’s true or not, it has been made clear to me that there are no such things as true beliefs. How do we know if what we think is a belief or fact? According to one teacher I sat with, if anyone on the planet would disagree with the thought, it’s a belief. There is nothing wrong with beliefs. We use them to navigate in this world. However, what we believe shapes how we see the world, so it’s important to question them to make sure they are in fact true in order to ensure we are living in alignment with what is. The Work of Byron Katie is all about questioning beliefs and has helped tens of thousands of people see how their thoughts limit their experience of life -

Note about Dan Kelso:
One of the great things about Dan is that he is wide awake and is a shining example of what Awakened Living looks like. He radiates happiness, compassion and love, all while being an ordinary, down-to-earth guy who doesn’t want to be looked up to as a teacher. Instead he is just a good friend suggesting that one look deeper. One of the things he likes to point out is that we already are Awareness. We are already the fully awakened consciousness we’re seeking. He just wants to help people see it for themselves, which is where DSI comes in. Each DSI session I have with Dan brings more insight and less identification with the character. You can find out more about DSI at