Requesting a guide for Joel

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Joel
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Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:28 pm

Found my way to Liberation Unleashed through a teacher at a mediation retreat who told me that there is a shortcut to the experience of no-self.
I've been seeking for answers about meaning and truth for about fifteen years, since adolescence. First within buddhism, then within western philosophy and psychology and also some transcendental mediation. And then back to buddhism for the past five years, mainly vipassana, and now for a couple of months within the tibetan tradition. In the vipassana I liked the focus on impermanence, and in the tibetan i learned about the importance of compassion and realising emptiness. It feels like I get stuck though - too often my knowledge becomes to intellectual and loosen the experiential. And even if I intellectually understands at least a bit of the concept of emptiness and no-self, the self keeps coming back and turn also this search to the playground of the ego. And also brings in a whole lot of doubt in this process.

What i'm looking for is someone who can help me out not to keep going down in the same traps over and over again. And hopefully guide me to letting of this sneaky ego.

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Freddi
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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:42 pm

Hi Joel,

This is Fred from France. Very nice to meet you.

A few quick guidelines: look to post daily/regularly or post to say if a break is needed; and set aside any other spiritual practices during our inquiry together.

Also, our disclaimer and a short video too.

http://www.liberationunleashed.com/

If you could confirm you have seen all the above and would like me to be your guide - then we shall begin.

Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Joel
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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:28 am

Hello Fred.

Nice to meet you too, and thanks for wanting to guide me. Will have no problem check the forum regurly and leave spiritual practises behind. Just want to be sure, do you recomened to avoiding bare sitting observing breath meditation during the inquiry aswell? If so, that be no problem, just want to be sure.

Have seen the disclaimer and the video, so I'm ready to get started!

Joel

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Freddi
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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:38 am

Hi again, Joel,
Just want to be sure, do you recomened to avoiding bare sitting observing breath meditation during the inquiry aswell?
No, that’s fine. In fact, I would even recommend doing it, because when you sit and observe the breath, you are noticing what is alive, here and now, and giving it your attention. That is precisely what we do here.
And even if I intellectually understands at least a bit of the concept of emptiness and no-self, the self keeps coming back and turn also this search to the playground of the ego.
What are you looking into when you write these words? Memories? Thoughts? Are they what is happening right now?
Why not look in the only place we can actually test and verify for sure, THIS.
What is unfolding, right now, is all there is, so let’s look there and only there, shall we?

Here is a simple exercise for you today:
Go and sit somewhere quiet with a notebook and a pen. Notice all that is happening, right now. Write it all down. Maybe the sensation of a bottom on a seat, maybe a pressure in the back, maybe a sound heard, maybe a smell?
Let me have what you write, as plainly and ordinary as it may seem.
If a thought pops up, acknowledge it, but don’t get involved with its content. Stay with direct experience only.
In all this happening, can you see or experience a Joel that is noticing it all, separate from it? If so, can you describe it to me?

Thanks!

Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Joel
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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:34 pm

What are you looking into when you write these words? Memories? Thoughts? Are they what is happening right now?
Why not look in the only place we can actually test and verify for sure, THIS.
What is unfolding, right now, is all there is, so let’s look there and only there, shall we?
Memories or thoughts about memories, yes. But also a fear in the moment related to the memories, some kind of nervousness that this also will turn into an intellectual play. But yes, focus on this, what's happening now sounds like a good idea!

the exercise
Sitting in a hammock. Can feel the wind touching my body, birds twittering around me, thinking thoughts about trying not to be to poetic, i see grass and leaves swaying, a blue sky, flowers.
In all this happening, can you see or experience a Joel that is noticing it all, separate from it? If so, can you describe it to me?
No, I can't find no Joel who is experiencing, but still I have a feeling that there is me who is observing it all. And also something, an I, who is trying to control what to look at, which experience to have. Which stops me from experience whats going on. I also have a feeling of something directing my awareness, choosing what to look at, which thoughts to pay attention to and how to interact with the thoughts and emotions coming up. But I can't say that this awareness, or control of the awareness is Joel, or that it is me, still it certainly feels like it's me doing it. And that it is happening to me.

Thanks for the exercise

Joel

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:04 am

Hi Joel,
No, I can't find no Joel who is experiencing, but still I have a feeling that there is me who is observing it all. And also something, an I, who is trying to control what to look at, which experience to have. Which stops me from experience whats going on. I also have a feeling of something directing my awareness, choosing what to look at, which thoughts to pay attention to and how to interact with the thoughts and emotions coming up. But I can't say that this awareness, or control of the awareness is Joel, or that it is me, still it certainly feels like it's me doing it. And that it is happening to me.
See how the mind throws in a ‘but’? After the plain and simple experience, comes the confusion of thought.
Your related experiences (birds tweeting, the sky, the leaves) all read a bit selective, discriminatory. That is the filter of thought. Could you go back to it and just write what happens, without any discrimination, in all its ordinariness? Really take the time to do this, give me a ten minutes slice of life.
Then notice the occurrences of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’ (even in this first attempt), remove them and see if it feels true or truer without them.
still I have a feeling that there is me who is observing it all
Zoom in on this feeling and describe it, in direct experience, without relying on thought. How does it manifest? What are its qualities?

Thanks!

Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:57 am

Hello Fred

Thanks for the response. Here is the exercise ones again.

Feel the warmth of the sun touching the face. A fly that is buzzing around the head. Hearing a bird tweeting somewhere, followed by a couple of more birds. In the distance the sound from an engine from probably a tractor. The sun is warming up the skin and thoughts comes up about whether the skin will get burned. A fly is eating from some leftover food on the table in front. A small tension in the shoulder. Watching the leaves wave in the air. Feeling of pressure towrss the but and the back from the contact between the body and the chair. Thoughts coming up about that what is written here don't capture the whole experience. Watching a new fly on the table, sitting in the sun. Feeling one leg leaning on the table and the other leg, and the chill from the stones on the ground on one of the feet. The eyes moves around the area, watching my aunts car, seeing the wind moving the papers on the notebook. Feeling the pen moving together with the hand against the paper. A small relief in the body, and with that some kind of emotions coming up, and a small tension in the chest. Also feel the cool breeze against the legs, the hair moving in the wind. In front there is a fake wasp hoovering in the air. The smell of early summer in the air, hearing the wind moving trough the trees around, the wind touching the skin, an itch in the left ear. Leaf falling from one of the trees, flying through the air. Thoughts about some things that needs to be done in the future comes up, and then the feeling of the wind moving through the hair on the head. A couple of meters in front there are some insects moving up and down in the sunshine, and then a black bird come flying through the air landing on a branch in the birch in front. Thoughts about the english name for this type of bird passing through the head. On the ground there is beetles and ants crawling through the grass.

This version, almost without me, mine and I feels at least as true as the first one. Got some struggling with everything that is in relation to the body, and to the senses. Cause these do really feels like it is mine, and that it is related to me. Sure I see that my legs and arms, or seeing or hearing is not me. But they still comes with a feeling that this is happening to me. Also struggling with naming, the car mentioned is not just a car, it is my aunts car and very much so. In the same way the head is not just a head, it is my head. But it feels right that this might just be naming, like if I would say that the fly is buzzing over Freds head, but this time it was over Joels head - my head.
Zoom in on this feeling and describe it, in direct experience, without relying on thought. How does it manifest? What are its qualities?
The feeling of that it is me observing it all... Like that there is something in the background of it all, watching, tagging along with this body, directing what to pay attention to and not, which thoughts to follow and not. It is two parts, one feeling of being able to control what to focus on, and some kind of just observing, awareness, a sense of just being - that still has a certain "me flavor" to it. This flavor I can't really describe though. Some kind of familiarity, but I can't find it on it's own, only in relation to other things - tastes, smells but also thoughts and emotions. Like a continuum of thoughts and emotions that never end. And it all feels very familiar. But qualities of it's own, no, only in relation to everything around, the sensoric inputs and also from thoughts and feelings inside.

It sure brings up some frustration this, like i'm looking but don't know at what or where.

Joel

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Freddi
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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:28 pm

Hi Joel,
It sure brings up some frustration this, like i'm looking but don't know at what or where.
Frustration is good. The mind gets frustrated because it can’t get this. It is so simple that the mind overlooks it.
If I asked you, right now, whether your keys are in your pocket. You could do one of two things. Either you would look into your thoughts about when you last saw them, etc. Or you would just place your hand in your pocket and check. The second option gives you a direct, verifiable route. The best one.
Now, when you have placed your hand in the pocket and found out that the keys weren’t there, would you listen to the mind when it insists « but it still feels like they are there »?
It is the same with the self, the ego. It only takes one look, in the only place we can check, here and now.
Also struggling with naming, the car mentioned is not just a car, it is my aunts car and very much so. In the same way the head is not just a head, it is my head.
What do you rely on when you call the car ‘your aunt’s car’ and the head ‘my head’. Thoughts? Stories?
Are they what’s happening, right now?
I don’t mean that thoughts do not happen, but does the content of thought reflect accurately WHAT IS?
You look at a car, at a head, at a tree, a house with the past. Take a fresh look, as if you had just been born.
Some kind of familiarity, but I can't find it on it's own, only in relation to other things - tastes, smells but also thoughts and emotions. Like a continuum of thoughts and emotions that never end. And it all feels very familiar. But qualities of it's own, no, only in relation to everything around, the sensoric inputs and also from thoughts and feelings inside.
Thanks for this.
Does that sense of familiarity make it personal?
How do you know the same sense of familiarity is not experienced here?
Does that amount to a Joel?
If this endless continuum of thoughts and emotions is all that is known, how does it get interpreted into a separate « me »? Have you ever been able to experience a « not me »?

Take your time to look deeply into these questions, Joel. Don’t rush to respond. Let them infuse, and make sure you answer all of them.

Thanks

Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:55 am

Hi Fred
Now, when you have placed your hand in the pocket and found out that the keys weren’t there, would you listen to the mind when it insists « but it still feels like they are there »?
It is the same with the self, the ego. It only takes one look, in the only place we can check, here and now.
Thanks for this simile. I would say though that out of habit if I organized the whole day around the fact that I got the keys in my pocket, I probably would look a couple of more times in my pocket for them, since "they should be there". Which is a little bit what it feels like with the self as well, it should be there, since I organized my life around it. In the beginning it didn't bring up any fear that the self might not be there, just relief, but at moments now it do shake me up a bit.
What do you rely on when you call the car ‘your aunt’s car’ and the head ‘my head’. Thoughts? Stories?
Are they what’s happening, right now?
Of course I rely on thoughts or memories, stories - about my aunt in the car or a inner image of my head, or some kind of sensation attached to these objects. With the head it's trickier though, since it's not just memories or thoughts about it, I also feel it, now in the moment, and since I feel it, it must be mine. But who feels the head, and how does that that feels the head feels... after that it's like a maze.


I'm not sure I understood all the questions correctly, but I do my best answering them.
Does that sense of familiarity make it personal?
I want to answer yes of course, because it is happening to me, because it is my mindstream, but it all gets twisted. Like a dog chasing it's tail. The thinking process goes something like this, yes it's personal because it's my self watching this mind stream, but what watch that self then, and if it's a self watching that self there most be another one watching that one, and on it goes. So no, familiarity doesn't necessary make it personal. Still it feels like it's personal.
How do you know the same sense of familiarity is not experienced here?
With familiarity I mean that there is some kind of predictability, that my mind recognize the feeling, and got a clue of what's coming after. And the feeling of this background self sure is familiar, cause it's always been there, this self feeling. But this talking about it as something external does not make any sense, cause it's not something external it's going on now, but I can't touch it. I red once that the mind can't know itself like a knife can't cut itself. But if I don't try to do it I can keep on pretending like it is possible. Don't know if that's an answer to the question. My spontaneous answer would be, that I don't know, that I can't know, it just feels familiar. The self, the observer, the awareness, this constant flow.
Does that amount to a Joel?
No, not at all. Joel is just another familiar thing, a concept created my mind. But the mind, and with that the me, the ego, tags a long with this Joel, like a vessel.
If this endless continuum of thoughts and emotions is all that is known, how does it get interpreted into a separate « me »? Have you ever been able to experience a « not me »?
This I can't answer. How it get interpreted as a me I don't know, it's like I'm falling back on the same thing over and over - it just feels like it is me. Like I want to scream, I just feel it okay leave it like that!
If I experienced a "not me" - I got moments of stillness which I attributed to some kind of non-duality experiences, but I assume that this is not what you're going after here. But no, or rather I don't know. To know if I experienced a not me, I need to experience a me, and this I can only say that I know through familiarity not by direct experience. So no, I've never experienced a not me, and might not experienced a me neither from that perspective.

The frustration keeps on. But sometimes it's more of a feeling that I'm watching the mind wrestle itself. Which just brings me back in, cause if I watch the mind wrestle, what is watching. Just experience feels like the correct answer. It's just wrestling, nothing watching, just mindwrestling going on.

Thanks for today

Joel

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Sat Jun 13, 2015 2:34 pm

Hi Joel,

Thank you for your detailed and honest answers.
To know if I experienced a not me, I need to experience a me, and this I can only say that I know through familiarity not by direct experience. So no, I've never experienced a not me, and might not experienced a me neither from that perspective.
Thanks for this :-)
Fred: Does that sense of familiarity make it personal?
Joel: I want to answer yes of course, because it is happening to me, because it is my mindstream, but it all gets twisted. Like a dog chasing it's tail. The thinking process goes something like this, yes it's personal because it's my self watching this mind stream, but what watch that self then, and if it's a self watching that self there most be another one watching that one, and on it goes. So no, familiarity doesn't necessary make it personal. Still it feels like it's personal.
When you say ‘it is happening to me’, where do you look for the answer?
Where is this « me », in your experience?
For a moment, after reading these lines, close your eyes and come back to the breathing. Notice all the happening of this moment. Notice what is heard, what is felt, what is smelled. Notice also that whereby smelling happens, hearing happens, the sheer aliveness of it all.
In all this happening, where do « you » end and « not you » start? Is it the skin? Can you feel the skin?
Can sounds be heard? Is the experiencing of sounds ‘out there’ or is it ‘right here’?

With the head it's trickier though, since it's not just memories or thoughts about it, I also feel it, now in the moment, and since I feel it, it must be mine. But who feels the head, and how does that that feels the head feels... after that it's like a maze.
Sit still and go to the sensation that you label ‘feeling the head’, strip down all labels and interpretations. Look at it in a fresh way, like a newborn baby. What is it like?
How do you KNOW it’s a head?
How do you KNOW it’s ‘yours’?

Thanks
Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:01 pm

Hi Fred
When you say ‘it is happening to me’, where do you look for the answer?
Where is this « me », in your experience?
When I look for it I go for some kind of feeling, like I tried to explain earlier, but can't find it as something particular, neither can I say where it is. From a intellectual perspective it's easy to answer that there is no me, but some part of me wont trust this intellectual side, it rather wants to keep rely on this idea of the self - this experience, this memory, this idea, this thought. Though it's quite obvious that it's impossible to describe it or find it when I try.

You ask what happens if I close my eyes and notice, where I ends, where the sounds come from. Well, they just are. There is no end of me or beginning of me, there is just sounds, feeling of coolness on what I would call skin. If I don't rely on thoughts, experience, memories, I can't say if the sounds come from outside, and can't say the skin is skin, it's just sounds and feelings. And the feelings, right know a small pain in the foot, without memories or stories It's just a sensation, I can't even say it's a foot, don't know if it's warm or even if it's pain. I might know it to be discomfort, cause it comes with a impulse to change position. And this, the fact that it feels, that it is a sensation, is all I got to apply to a me.
How do you KNOW it’s a head?
How do you KNOW it’s ‘yours’?
I don't. From a baby perspective I don't know if it's a head, or that it's mine. It just feels, blood streaming through it, air though the nostrils, the chill and the warmth, but everything of this is applied, names on experiences, based on thoughts or concepts. And the mere experience is what is happening, that is what I can rely on. But as soon as I write about or think about it I attach something else on it, something that creates a distance, especially when I try to explain what's going on.

The feeling of being in a dead end alley...

Thanks for today

Joel

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:50 am

Hi Joel
From a intellectual perspective it's easy to answer that there is no me, but some part of me wont trust this intellectual side, it rather wants to keep rely on this idea of the self - this experience, this memory, this idea, this thought.
Have you considered the possibility that this conflict that you say is between the intellect perspective and another ‘part of you’ is in fact all happening in the intellect?
Which ‘part of you’ does not trust the intellect? Can you identify it, localise it?

Now on to a little exercise of looking in direct experience.

Pick an object in front of you, say the computer screen. Let’s say it is the ‘observed’ and ‘you’ and the ‘observer’.
Now take a good look at it, without applying labels and interpretations. Just look at the shapes, the colours. As if you had never seen it.

1. Can you see a limit between the ‘observer’ and the ‘observed’? Can you draw a line that separates them?
2. Is the space between the screen and you ‘observer’ or ‘observed’?
3. Look at your hands, are they ‘observer’ or ‘observed’?
4. Look at your chest, is it ‘observer’ or ‘observed’?
5. Look at the end of your nose, is that ‘observer’ or ‘observed’?
6. Where is this ‘observer’? Can you see it, experience it?

Thought says "Joel is observing the screen", but, in reality, when you look in direct experience, what is happening?

Thanks!

Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:27 pm

Hello Fred
Have you considered the possibility that this conflict that you say is between the intellect perspective and another ‘part of you’ is in fact all happening in the intellect?
Which ‘part of you’ does not trust the intellect? Can you identify it, localise it?
Might be in the intellect aswell. If I try to localise it I would call it "gut feeling" - that there is a me, but frankly it's more like an old habit that is hard to leave. I've got that feeling for the past days. That out of habit thoughts of me or that I relate things and what is happening to a me, but there is this feeling that it loosens its grip slowly.

Exercise
There is no limit. There is no observer and there is nothing being observed. If I look in direct experience there is just observation, here and now. I would say that the mind needs the object, and the object needs the mind, it all rely on each other. If I look for it I cannot find an observer, there is just observation. Doesn't matter if I look at the screen, the nose or the hand. The only difference is that in the hand there is feeling as well, observation in form of touch, which it isn't in the screen. When I look at the screen, there is a screen, but if the screen is out there or in here, I can't say, not without relying on conceptual thinking, or neurobiological thinking about how perception is working. When it comes to my pure experience, there is just screen, the hand or the nose, or there is just the shapes that I relate as a screen a hand and a nose, the labels I use right know to be able to communicate. To summarise, I can't find no observer, I can't see no observer, cause where does the observation takes place? Experience it I can, at least the observation, but not the observer, not without using concepts, ideas and thinking.

But what direct the observation still puzzles me. The directing of the observation, I can't find no core that is directing, can't find no nothing that does it. Still directing is being made, at least that what it feels like, like I can choose what to write, observe pay focus to. And if it's not, if there is no directing, no intentionality, then there can't be much of free will neither. Which do indeed holds a truth in it.

As I wrote earlier, it feels like something looses it's grip more and more for every day. But I don't know if I'm there yet, and don't know if I will recognise it when I'm there, or if you will tell me that this is it?


Good day / Joel

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Freddi » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:49 pm

Hi Joel,

Thanks for your clear responses.
it feels like something looses it's grip more and more for every day.
Good to notice. Let it loosen by itself, naturally. There is nothing to be done about it, just noticing the loosening of the grip of conditioning, that’s really all that’s needed here.
But what direct the observation still puzzles me. The directing of the observation, I can't find no core that is directing, can't find no nothing that does it. Still directing is being made, at least that what it feels like, like I can choose what to write, observe pay focus to. And if it's not, if there is no directing, no intentionality, then there can't be much of free will neither. Which do indeed holds a truth in it.
Do this exercise … try to focus on one thought, one single thought, and see if the attention can stay on that for long. Observe the movement of the focus, how it moves from one thought to another, from one apparent thing to another.
Can you see a ‘Joel’ that is focusing? Can you experience a ‘you’ that directs this attention?
If there is no one in charge of directing the attention, what makes things happen?
Is there a ‘Joel’ to be responsible for anything?

What comes up, in the moment, when you read that there is no such thing as a character called ‘Joel’ in charge of his life, that there is, in reality, only Life flowing freely, without any General Manager at the helm?
Observe any reaction that shows up, whatever it is, and let me have it.

Thanks!

Fred
"To come to your senses you have to go out of your mind" - Alan Watts

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Re: Requesting a guide for Joel

Postby Joel » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:06 pm

Hello
Can you see a ‘Joel’ that is focusing? Can you experience a ‘you’ that directs this attention?
If there is no one in charge of directing the attention, what makes things happen?
Is there a ‘Joel’ to be responsible for anything?
The answer is always the same. When I look for it, I can't find it. There is no Joel directing, no me. but what makes things happen is hard to tell then. Cause the feeling is that there always is a choice. Will I sit down now and answer this post or will I postpone it. Will I try to search for a me somewhere hidden inside, or just keep on with the impression that it is there. Something is making these choices. If I want to I can just go with the flow. But I can also choose to turn the direction. But what this is, if I look, it's nothing. It's just happening, all these choices, turning in direction. But this is hard to accept, hard to face. That there is no me choosing to walk another path, it's just what there is. And even this, it's not even me choosing to let go of the me - the I, it's just happening, like I never was in control at all. There isn't even any letting go to do.
What comes up, in the moment, when you read that there is no such thing as a character called ‘Joel’ in charge of his life, that there is, in reality, only Life flowing freely, without any General Manager at the helm?
Observe any reaction that shows up, whatever it is, and let me have it.
I shall try to be honest about it (still it feels like I have a choice, either go intellectual or try to be honest). There is a major feeling of release connected to this thought, like a feeling of a wind passing by, that I can just let me be swept on with. But still a part of me resist, saying no it can't be that simple. This resistent seams to come from some kind of fear, hard to say of what though but it is the feeling of fear that creeps up in the body. It also comes a touch of sadness, of leaving something that I like. It's not a bad sadness, it's actually quite comfortable, but it's still sadness.

Thanks for clear and safe guiding so far :)

Joel


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