Tag Archives: meditation

3-2-1 Shadow Process

“Dissociation proceeds from 1st-person to 2nd-person to 3rd-person: 1-2-3. The reversal of dissociation thus goes from 3 to 2 to 1. Hence, the 3-2-1 process. We summarize this process as Face it (3), Talk to it (2), and finally, Be it (1).”

– Diane Musho Hamilton

Kumi Yamashita: Origami Shadow Art

What follows is an excerpt (with some sections re-worked) from the 2008 book, Integral Life Practice. Shadow processing is a method of therapy that uses meditation and/or journaling to eliminate real or perceived pathologies. It is the most basic and valuable form of this therapy that we have found to date. Enjoy.

3-2-1 Shadow Process

Choose what you want to work with. It’s often easier to begin with a person with whom you have some difficulty (e.g., lover, friend, boss, family member). This person may irritate, disturb, annoy, or upset you. Or maybe you feel attracted to, obsessed with, infatuated with, or possessive about this person. In any case, choose someone with whom you have a strong emotional charge, whether positive or negative. Alternately, pick a dream image or a body sensation that distracts you or otherwise causes you to fixate on it. This can also be positive or negative.

You can recognize shadow in two ways. Shadow material either:

  1. Makes you negatively hypersensitive, easily triggered, reactive, irritated, angry, hurt, upset. It may keep coming up as a negative emotional tone or bad mood that pervades your life.
  2. Makes you positively hypersensitive, easily infatuated, possessive, obsessed, overly attracted, or perhaps it becomes an ongoing idealization that structures your motivations or mood.

3: Face It

Now, imagine this person or observe the disturbance very closely, and then, using a journal to write in or an empty chair to talk to, describe the person, situation, image or sensation in vivid detail using 3rd-person pronouns such as “he,” “him,” “she,” “her,” “they,” “their,” “it,” or “its.” This is your opportunity to fully explore your experience of the disturbance, particularly what it is that bothers you about it. Take this opportunity to “let it out.” The person you are describing will never see this. Don’t try to use skillful language or say the right thing. Don’t “sugar coat” or minimize anything – describe it as fully and in as much detail as possible.

2: Talk to It

Begin an imaginary dialogue with this object or person. Speak in 2nd-person pronouns like “you” and “yours”. Here is your opportunity to enter into a relationship with the disturbance, so talk directly to this person or image as if he or she were actually there in the room with you. Tell them what bothers you about them. Ask them questions such as “Why are you doing this to me?” “What do you want from me?” “What are you trying to show me?” “What do you have to teach me?” Then, allow them to respond. Imagine what their response to these questions would be and either speak the imaginary responses out loud write them down in your journal. Allow yourself to be surprised by what emerges.

1: Be It

Now, writing or speaking in 1st-person, using pronouns like “I,” “me,” and “mine,” be this person, image or sensation. See the world, including yourself, from the perspective of the disturbance. Allow yourself to discover not only your similarities, but how you really are one and the same. Take on the qualities that either annoy or fascinate you. Embody the traits you described while “Facing It” in step 2. Make a statement of identification with this disturbance, ““I am__________,”  “I am angry,” “I am jealous,” “I am radiant.” This may feel wrong or awkward, and it should. The traits you are taking on are the traits that you have been denying in yourself. They’re the traits that your psyche has been working so hard to keep in shadow.

To complete the process, gently become aware of the disowned qualities in yourself. Don’t just see the world from this perspective, but feel this previously excluded feeling until it resonates as your own. Experience the part of you that is this very trait. Avoid staying in your head and making the process abstract or conceptual: just be it. Become aware of the previously disowned shadow reintegrating into your body, your memory, your emotions, your subtle energies. This frees up the attention that was spent on keeping this shadow behind you or in denial.

 

You’ll know that the process has worked because you may feel lighter, more peaceful, more open or relaxed. It may make you feel high or giddy. Allow yourself to be gentle with your newly-reintegrated self over the next week or so. You may experience a newfound joy in the degree to which you are participating in life. Always be present, do the work, and move on.

1-Minute Module: 3-2-1 Shadow Process

You can do the 3-2-1 process anytime you need it. Two particularly useful times are right when you wake up in the morning and just before going to bed at night. Once you know 3-2-1 it only takes a minute to do the process for anything that might be disturbing you.

Morning: First thing in the morning (before getting out of bed) review your last dream and identify any person or object with an emotional charge. Face that person or object by holding it in mind. Then talk to that person or object (or resonate with it, just feeling what it would be like to be face to face). Finally, be that person or object by taking its perspective. For the sake of this exercise, there is no need to write anything out — you can go through the whole process right in your own mind.

Evening: Last thing before going to bed, choose a person who either disturbed or attracted you during the day. In your mind, face him or her, and then be him or her (as described above).

Again, you can do the 3-2-1 process quietly by yourself, any time you need it, day or night.

– from Integral Life Practice – (Wilber, Patten, Leonard, Morelli, 2008)


A Universal Prayer by Yogananda

paramahansa-yogananda

 

I Worship God Everywhere

I bow to the one infinite Father, differently manifesting in the many churches and temples that have been erected in His honor. I worship the one God resting on the various altars of different teachings and religious faiths.

Today I will worship God in deep silence and wait to hear Her answer through my increasing peace of meditation.

I will mingle my inner devotional whispers with the prayers of all saints, and continuously offer them in the temples of silence and activity until I can hear His whispers loudly, everywhere.

This day shall be the best day of my life. Today I will start with a new determination to dedicate my devotion forever at the feet of Omnipresence.

– Paramahansa Yogananda
(from Metaphysical Meditations)


The Case for Christ Consciousness

“The most important Gospel you’ll ever read is the one that you write.” – Reverend Russell Heiland

sacred-heart-harry-clarke

Maybe it’s because Christmas is approaching or possibly because I’ve neglected this topic for too long — tip-toeing around the various masculine forms of spirituality — but today, I want to talk about Jesus.

What I don’t want to do is discuss his love life or his blood line. I don’t want to get into the metaphysics of the Trinity or the virgin birth, or his death and resurrection (we’ll save that for Easter), and I definitely don’t want to talk about original sin. That, we can leave checked at the door. Permanently.

I would, however, love to talk at length about what Jesus — this middle eastern man with a rebel spirit and pathological contempt for authority — was able to accomplish in his short life. But there’s one problem. And it’s a pretty big one. Jesus’ life may not have happened at all. At least, not the way we might think.

Did Jesus Exist?

There’s a curious 40-70 year span that occurs between Jesus’ death and the time that the apostles and their descendants were “inspired” to write the Gospels. That, combined with the fact that more than half of the Gospels weren’t even written by men alive during Jesus’ time, gives one cause for wonder. I, myself, wonder if I would trust the acquaintances of my friends (even if I considered them “disciples”) to correctly quote me two generations later about something as important as what I believed to be the “good news,” the living Word of God.

There’s also the ancient and familiar origins of the Jesus myth itself. The story of Jesus was not new to people at the time. In fact, Jesus’ life story has so many elements in common with other (and pre-existing) Mediterranean and Middle Eastern god-man hybrids — like the Persian story of Mithras (whose birth was attended by three shepherds), the Egyptian legend of Osiris (who was assassinated by conspirators, defeated death and returned to rule the afterlife), the Greek Dionysus (who celebrated a “last supper” with twelve trusted associates before his execution) and Zoroaster (also from Persia, who was “born of a virgin mother” and come to “crush the forces of evil”). Even the Hindu deity Krishna (thought to have lived anywhere from 3228 to 3rd Century BCE) is thought to be the inspiration for the Jesus myth (his father was a carpenter, his birth was marked by the appearance of a star, he healed the sick and the lame).

Any (or all) of these stories could prove to be the inspiration for the Jesus mythology, but not vice versa. In fact, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) wrote, “This, in our day, is the Christian religion, not as having been unknown in former times, but as having recently received that name.”

So, if Jesus’ life was simply a more effective re-telling of re-hashed pagan and Occident stories and legends, then why does he matter? And, if we could separate the mythology of Jesus — of which so much has been added to after his “death” — from the message or teachings of Jesus, what might distinguish him, philosophically, from the hordes of other virgin-born messiahs of the day?

Continue reading


Religion 2.0: The Formation of the Integral Church

You know that moment when the sand at the bottom of the hourglass starts to cave in toward the center? And it seems like suddenly the grains start to quicken, to pick up speed. But it’s an illusion, right? They don’t really move any faster, do they? Time doesn’t speed up if we have less of it. Or does it?

2012, The Year of the Dragon (my birth sign) is coming to a close and I was told to expect both profound “promise and demise.” Looking back on this year, I suppose both of those things are true. On one hand, I wasted most of the year — beating around the bush, hesitating out of fear, trying on old habits, instead of taking a deep breath and stepping onto the end of the diving board. And on the other hand, I also took my time and I meditated. I’ve finally come to a decision, deliberately and purposefully, about what my next steps should be. Something in me has been building steam for quite a while, and it’s high time that I tell everyone what I’ve been up to. Not just to share the news with you — my friends and family — but in hopes that by giving voice to my intentions, by articulating my plan, I will help to further realize it in my own heart and mind.

I am forming a non-profit, religious organization called the Integral Church. Something that is, in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, a brand new religious denomination. Something that until very recently, hasn’t existed.

Religion means so many things to different people, that for our purposes here, we should make an attempt to define it. “Religion,” in my opinion, is not just dogma, doctrine or creed — which all refer specifically to passages of scripture, koans, mythology, mantras, law, ethics, etc. These are parts of religion, yes. But they are not the whole story. Religion, to me, relates to the way an individual understands their own consciousness, it is the method in which they are self-aware, and it is the way that person struggles with or attempts to answer life’s big questions. The big questions like, “What is my purpose,” “What (or who) is God,” “Where did the universe come from,” “What is the nature of time,” etc. These questions can be tackled by personally investigating the nature of the self and the universe — by doing the experiment and seeing with your own eyes, they can be contemplated and interpreted through mythology and storytelling, or both. But the big question is usually centered in the “I.” How do I relate to the universe/God? What happens when I die? And it’s through the exploration of these questions that a spiritual practice and ways to honor the cosmos or God are consciously developed (or not).

You don’t have to tell me — religion has been a less than perfect solution for a lot of things. But that’s why now, more than ever, we need to build something new. Something that the world has never seen before.

Why?

The reason for starting a religious organization, and not simply another community non-profit, is the next logical step in a personal journey that began in the woods of Central Wisconsin as a teenager. That is where I experienced my first epiphany — a vision of the universe as a spinning record, and myself as the needle. I was nudged down this path when asked by a dear friend of mine to officiate my first wedding (I have grown to further appreciate and understand the deep importance of ritual in family life and have since performed my sixth wedding, a memorial service and countless fatherhood rituals). An intellectual seed was planted when I discovered the writings of Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilber, and began to sprout when I realized that their life’s work was a continuation of those who came before them — Sri Aurobindo, William James, Aldous Huxley. When I finally discovered the writings of the modern Catholic reformers — those who had been exiled from the institutionalized religion that they loved for demanding further reform and more inclusive liturgical structures (i.e. Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, Bishop John Shelby Spong, and Fr. Richard Rohr) — I began to see the forest for the trees. I also saw the path that cut straight through the archaic wilderness to the heart of a post-modern center. I understood that we needed to build something new.

But none of this justifies the foolish act of starting a religion, does it? Starting a religion is a crazy thing to do, right? Especially in Florida. Nobody does that.

Let me be perfectly clear: the reason for this undertaking is not just because we need a new vision of the world, a world where religious tolerance is the rule; where religions are not seen as warring tribes, but as neighboring families that each contain their own spectrums of consciousness — from traditional conservatives to modern progressives. A world where believers and non-believers alike can find a common language and a sense of context. There are too few places where compassionate atheists and humanists can get involved with environmental causes or helping the less fortunate. Our vision of the world includes the creation of — and access to — these types of programs. But, it also includes children being taught mindfulness and modern (peer-to-peer) informational literacy, it includes cities being built (or re-built) around biodiversity, community farming and cooperation. It is a world where everything is a Holon¹ (a whole and a part) and where “spirituality” is understood (and practiced) in very real terms, knowing that there is indeed an energy in me that is identical to the energy in you. In an integral context, that means an individual approach that at once includes meditation/contemplation, exercise/nutrition, sustainability/environmentalism, and community service/civic engagement². In this new world, being open-minded is celebrated, “transcending and including” is the new norm and those who change their mind can more easily imagine a changing world³.

The reason is also not simply because many of us are finding that we have a shared set of beliefs — a belief that God is beyond gender (neither male or female), that human gender roles and sexual behavior do not exist discretely as male or female but as points along a continuum†. A belief that science and philosophy are tantamount in answering life’s big questions. A belief that new gender-balanced mythologies (that have yet to be written) are necessary for our modern age — stories that take into account how we interact with the technology and computer networks that we’ve built to encircle our planet and how we use these networks to communicate with other nations and nationalities around the globe, sometimes on a daily basis. And, finally, a belief that the First Cause that created the universe is simply unknowable and that love may very well be all you need‡.

The reason for starting a religious non-profit — for building a “ministry” — is to spread the message that we change the world by living in it ∞. That our personal unfolding, our continually-expanding consciousness, the ability to take more and more perspectives, the primordial drive toward increasing biological complexity, is directly related to the evolution of the entire cosmos. We — our interiors and exteriors — are all part of that whole. It is one action. In fact, it is Spirit-in-Action. Continue reading


Cultivating Spirit with the Natural World: A Bridge Retreat

This past Saturday, we had the pleasure of attending a nature retreat entitled, “Cultivating Spirit With The Natural World” hosted by The Bridge and led by Dr. Karen Mutter and University of Tampa’s Susan Taylor Lennon. It was a day-long intensive, and when it was over, we had thoroughly honored the Autumn Equinox through dance, guided meditation, a delicious community meal and a vision quest.

To guide us on our journey, we pulled an animal spirit card. Mine featured four birds (an owl, a crow, a hawk and a hummingbird) oriented to the four compass points. The card also contained the words “Life Lessons,” “Victory,” and “Courage” as well as the number 23. What follows are the photos we took while exploring the beautiful Northwood property, and the journal entry that I scribbled down as we were called back to the circle and were asked to share what we had learned.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It has been said that the map is not the territory.

But in navigating our world – morally, geographically – we depend on the correct tools to stay the course. Magnetic north is only so because of the weight of the cosmos pulling at itself. We continually rely on signs, quadrants, polarities, spectrums, orientation and others to define ourselves, our position and our direction in this world.

And since the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere, these orienting energies and drives allow us as individuals to interface like a lens and open like a portal between worlds – aligning interiors with exteriors, the miscrocosm with the macrocosm, individuals in relation to collectives, wholes in relation to parts, the biosphere in relation to the noösphere, sometimes all while plugged into the technosphere.

Since our own face is the face of God, and since our own mind is the mind of God, every time we set our eyes (or even our thoughts) on this world, we face God, staring back at ourselves.

We are of the world. We are in the world. We create and destroy the world, and we only change the world by living in it.

Today, as the sunlight came from behind a tree, warmed my chest, stopped me in my tracks and opened my heart, I asked God, “What would you have me do?” And, God (my own mind) answered. Just as it did years ago when I was instructed to “be the needle” on the record player that is the universe – starting me on a two decade-long journey in the art of channeling melody and lyric and song, a journey and a celebration of the art of music.

Today, God answered, “be the compass,” and I am prepared to look forward to yet another two decade-long journey. This time in the art of leading by example.

The art of acknowledging and creating meaning in every moment.

The art of capture, and also of release.

The art of taking a machete to my insides every season and clearing that field for new growth.

The art of weaving a sustainable web.

The art of loving the world as I love myself.

The art of living.