Trauma to Tranquility
(in a single step)
How Sunya Inquiry Fosters Transformation
Expressions of ego that are problematic are usually accompanied by painful emotions. The latest research shows that emotions are definitions or labels given to pre-conceived patterns of muscle and organ activity in the body that operate like a scorecard. This scorecard rates our potential for success in the immediate and longer-term future, given our current resources.
In a continuous flow of calculations, the brain uses past experiences to predict the most likely outcome of present situations. Biologically, for the purpose of survival, we are set up to apply a 'better safe than sorry' or ‘worst case scenario‘ approach. In its calculus, the brain preferentially recalls past times, generally from childhood, in which we failed to successfully deal with stress or trauma or took on behaviors and identities for the sake of social acceptance. We don't need to prepare for the good stuff, so memories of the past recall patterns of stress.
Regardless of the cause, these adaptive strategies take us away from our actual biological and spiritual natures that are the true source of our strengths, abilities, and resilience. In all kinds of ways, most of us go through life trying to derive safety and stability by being something we are not.
Applying our background stories as templates for the future, we recall the physiological and psychological capacities of the person we were in the original experience. Unconsciously recalling ourselves as incapable in various ways, the brain activates the physiology of lack, weakness, defeat, and so on, regardless of the fact that our current capacities are far greater.
In the computer metaphor, we have, in the ensuing time, downloaded all kinds of new software that makes us far more capable than we were back then. Beyond that, built into our factory-installed (evolutionary) operating system, we have all the capacities an organism needs to thrive in the world.
Some of these capacities are more than general life skills. A very specific set of over 60 "instinctual ReSource capacities" or ReSources have been discovered. Each one has its own reflex on the body, most concurring with acupuncture points. Many seem mundane, but this is deceptive because they are necessary for survival.
When one or more ReSources is omitted from the narrative we are playing out, we have a feeling of deficiency or incapacity that may be difficult to name. The exact ReSources that are missing are picked up by the Sunya Inquiry process, and then specifically ReBooted. Here, this means that they are consciously brought forth while their related point is treated.
Sunya Inquiry partially relies on a neurological feature known as memory reconsolidation. It was recently discovered that when a memory is activated or recalled, it becomes destabilized, and if it is sufficiently contradicted by new information, it may not be able to be re-stored. It is effectively erased.
Sunya Inquiry helps the brain to separate out each pattern — psychological, muscular, energetic, and physiological — that are part of the story that we are currently running. In life, these patterns are loaded automatically, like when we click on an icon on our computer screen to run a program that accesses all different kinds of data.
The ‘program’ patterns must be separated into its various components. When they are activated one by one, they can be systematically neutralized and thereby erased. When the last of the patterns is eliminated, the presenting issue no longer activates any memory of the past. This, as stated above, is the sunya-point, the doorway to varieties of awareness that are not possible from the brain’s usual past-bound perceptual veil.
Utilizing muscle testing, these patterns show up sequentially. Like the conscious mind might, the brain itself knows that they do not match current reality — the therapeutic environment of the office, at that moment. The brain also knows the best way to contradict each pattern, and as Sunya Inquiry systematically puts inputs (asks about) all known possibilities, muscles will change strength when a ‘treatment’ that will be effective is presented.
Life-Mind ReBoot Topics
Is Sunya Inquiry Spiritual or Psychological work?
Unusually, it's both, actually. Here's why . . .
Traditionally, there are two kinds of growth.
Psychological and spiritual growth are often understood to be opposites. As one spiritual teacher states, “In the early stages of our training, we need to strike a healthy balance between . . cultivating the self and the spirit, but it will reach a point where they are actually conflicting processes.” (Buddha at the Gas Pump, Episode 583 about 1:00)
To start off, we must emphasize that Sunya Inquiry is not intended to treat any particular psychological condition. The method has the same purpose in each session: to discover and eliminate outdated information from the brain that might be related to any particular pattern or feeling. Outdated information seems to be the cause of much of our mental and emotional suffering, so the elimination of psychological symptoms is almost a side effect.
Experience of "spiritual" states can be considered a side effect as well, though because Sunya Inquiry is fashioned similarly to a spiritual practice known as "Inquiry", those states are not surprising, unknown territory. When and how spiritual awareness arises cannot be planned, but like people traveling west in the U.S. will eventually reach the Pacific Ocean, the systematic elimination of outdated information from the brain will lead to Essential awareness.
Self or ego, in psychology, is understood as acquired layers of identifications, or ideas about who we are. Depth therapy or psychoanalysis endeavor to help one find and understand the sources of difficult and painful parts of our self. Cognitive-behavioral therapies focus more on strategies to keep one from succumbing to those difficult places. Understanding the sources tends to soften the responses we have to those sources, making it easier to notice and then choose to step away from automatic reactions of ego, but neither actually dissolves identities.
Spiritual growth is the shedding of any and all ideas of who we are, be they “good” or “bad”. It is believed by many spiritual teachers that the self should be reasonably secure or even built up before coming to spiritual practice.
Such was apparently the case with Siddhartha Gautama, who, 2,500 years ago, gave up a life of comfort to renounce everything, eventually becoming the Buddha. The Buddha taught that even the ideal life of self was still a kind of suffering. Many spiritual seekers, however, start on spiritual paths hoping for relief from more overt pain and suffering, This can be an attempt to use spiritual practice as a way to fix the troubled self. Ultimately though, self-growth is the enlargement of the self and spiritual growth is a movement toward the end of the self, they are movements in opposite directions.
A very simple definition of (spiritual) realization is the attainment of direct experience of a universal aspect of awareness that was previously missed. We believe we are experiencing the present, but most of our experience of our body preparing for the future based on experiences of the past. These experiences give us a sense of the world being known. This is comforting, even if we don’t like what we think we know. We associate it with being us, being alive, so our sense of self hangs on for dear life.
Usually, it takes years of dedication to awareness practices — meditation, contemplation, inquiry, chanting, movements, and so on — to sufficiently quiet the self that we have experiences of realization. ꙩInquiry can condense this into a single session. Because the brain works by using the past to predict a future that we can prepare for, the possibility of letting go of past conditioning is a threat that makes us feel as if we will lose everything that we hold dear. Even if an outdated idea of self is causing us great suffering, and even if we are completely aware of that fact, we are still incapable of letting it go in the short run.
Therefore, existing therapies do not even hold forth the possibility of eliminating outdated ideas of self. The part of the self that was discordant with our lives, and yet hanging on as if it were our only hope for redemption, ꙨInquiry stands alone and its ability to regularly and thoroughly eliminate the outdated identity that lies behind any particular response pattern that we have.
From the perspective of orthodox psychology, the idea of eliminating identities is completely foreign, and might even reflexively be considered to be dangerous by some who consider the job of psychotherapy to be to reinforce the existing ego.
But when we actually are going through this process, we see that the brain has built-in safeguards. Some of these safeguards are like circuit breakers that automatically flip when the system is overloaded, halting progress toward the dissolution of the threatened identity. Access will remain limited until the appropriate resources are presented to allow the brain to have confidence about moving forward.
Another way to state that is that the brain will naturally let go of an identity when it is no longer necessary.
Sunya Inquiry uses known mechanisms of memory to shed outdated information. When the outdated identity dissolves completely the soul — the totality of our brain, body, and the consciousness that we are able to be aware of—reaches what we call the Sunya or zero point, a state in which the brain is no longer using the past to define who we are in the present, at least related to the issue we have been dealing with. In that state, direct experience of aspects of fundamental consciousness, awareness without old definitions, becomes available.
Those "Essential" states are often experienced in the body as a kind of substance, They are described as peace, freedom, strength, or support, among many others.
Quite the opposite from it being risky, the awareness of these qualities show that we are capable of living in the present without carrying forward our old ideas about ourselves. Moreover, it shows that when we do so, we can be far more secure, resourceful and flexible then we were with our old constructed ideas of who we are.
So Sunya Inquiry is both psychological and spiritual work, though it is not a spiritual path in and of itself. It does not hold any particular view, aside from the structural understanding of consciousness just presented. While I have my own view of what spiritual awareness is, and I am glad to share it, it may be important for you to become grounded in a spiritual path that suits and inspires you.
So while Sunya Inquiry can provide a kind of psychological completion, it only opens the door to the spiritual path. Seekers who are on a path of Truth, not one that is based on dogma, will find Sunya Inquiry helps to open their awareness and perhaps to deepen appreciation of what their path has to offer.
The experience of Sunya Inquiry
A session begins by simply being where you are now, which is usually a place of some suffering, though some also come in to keep ahead of their process. With Sunya Inquiry, we are talking about mental or emotional suffering.
You might consider it to be “normal” or “expected” suffering, like the grief that comes from loss of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship, or doubt and insecurity that comes from loss of a home or job. It could be the suffering that follows a trauma.
Often though, we don’t really know why we are anxious, depressed, full of rage, or simply neglecting our own best interests. But Sunya Inquiry is not exactly about figuring out why -- though that understanding may be found as a kind of side-effect of the work -- it is about eliminating the habitual, outdated processes of body and mind that are keeping you locked in this particular state.
This is all you really need to know to understand why you might want to try Sunya Inquiry. Either you want to reduce your suffering, you are seeking spiritual awakening, or you are just curious.
All you have to lose is the old, stale, painful, burdensome, involuntary patterns that control your thoughts, feelings, actions, physiology and perceptions.
Just who do you think you are?
Life-Mind ReBoot Topics
Spiritual teachings sometimes talk about eliminating the ego as a prerequisite to awakening or enlightenment. A frequent metaphor that is used to elucidate spiritual awakening is that of the wave and the ocean. The ocean is a consciousness that is all of creation, and the wave is us, an emanation or expression of the ocean. The ego, what we think we are, however, cannot perceive the ocean. We believe we are only a separate wave without an ocean -- could we call it a puddle?
But that metaphor implies a fluid that can swell and subside, emerge and disappear. The ego is more like frozen ocean water, an iceberg floating with most of its mass submerged and invisible. In fact, the ego as a whole is not just one iceberg, it is more like a berg continent, the fusion of many icebergs. It is composed of many parts, many selves or self-images as they are sometimes known.
Perhaps you are living your life in relative comfort on your perch; you have even fashioned it into a throne, of a sort. You are probably not reading this -- unless that is, one of two things has occurred. Either you have a sense that even a throne can be confining and wonder what more there is, or something has occurred that is causing your perch to crack or crumble. Your life doesn't seem to be working, or perhaps you are beset with anxiety, fear, anger, feelings of weakness, abandonment, or lack of love or value. Sometimes we find ourselves on the verge of a breakdown, feeling that nothing in our life is working. In the metaphor, you are at risk of plummeting down the jagged slopes toward the ruts below, and trying to grab whatever handhold is possible.
Some of us find it exciting to challenge the bergs, trying to jump from one tip to the next, skiing down the slopes or climbing the ice cliffs. You are probably not reading this either.
One can be in any position on their continent, striving to stay on a peak and perfect it, struggling to reach a peak, carving out a ledge on a slope, or living in a rutted valley, trying to endure the isolation and darkness.
Whether motivated by curiosity or pain, some of us try to understand our iceberg, inquiring into its structure and makeup, wondering about the secrets it holds and how and why we have come to find ourselves on this part at this time.
Our instinctual belief though, is that we must hang on to the iceberg, that a fall into the ocean means certain death. We hang on to these ideas of who we are for dear life. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Those who seen the process of the crumbling of a part of their ego, and identity, all the way through to the end, and found themselves in the ocean know it to be greatly pleasurable. Indeed, some of us are driven by a hunger to be immersed in that open water; indeed, to get back to the ocean and wave metaphor, to have the direct experience of being the ocean.
There is a kind of paradox here. From the perspective of being the iceberg -- the only perspective many of us have --- the prospect of its loss or destruction is terrifying, equivalent to the loss of our actual life. With this view, the only option is to try to build onto or rebuild your iceberg, but as the saying goes, ‘you can never get enough of what doesn't really work’. Even the "best" ego is just an idea one comes to believe about themselves,
Signing up to ReBoot your life or mind, most people come in with a specific issue, problem, or complaint, Your experience of this issue is like the tip of one piece of your iceberg, ꙩInquiry is like a massive magnifying glass focusing the sun's energy on separating that chunk of berg from the rest of the iceberg continent and dissolving its peak. As this continues, the iceberg is lightened, and more and more floats up to the surface, until your experience is of the peace of the underlying ocean.
The ocean may reveal other qualities as well: strength, power, confidence, support, solidity, independence, freedom, autonomy, love, compassion, self-acceptance, value, among other flavors. These qualities, often experienced as an inner substance in the same areas that had just been filled with painful fear, anxiety, grief, shame, or other unpleasant feelings, often are perceived to be a direct answer to what previously been lacking. They are the qualities of pure, consciousness, experienced as they express through your body and soul, like a clear light hitting a crystal will cause it to glow in various colors.
When you return to your life, even if you cannot immediately consciously connect to the feelings of being in or just being the ocean, you can still know that your iceberg continent is a little smaller, with the part that melted away gone forever, like a file erased from your hard drive, another analogy that ruins the poetry of the moment.
Life-Mind ReBoot Topics