Awake Awareness to Open Ground

Part 1

This entry is Part 1 of two parts on my now moving along an axis of attainment once again after eight months of integrating the gains of Mahamudra awake awareness (AA) into an increasingly pared-down human life.

Desire to Return to Some Effort in the Practice

When I last met with my teacher, before the recent embodiment retreat, I brought forward with some new, almost accusatory emphasis my feeling odd that I’m not “progressing.” I told him that I felt I was in some kind of holding pen. 

It was kind of stupid for me to be saying so, because I had agreed with him after attainment of Mahamudra AA in July 2015 that it would be a good idea for me to integrate the gains with my everyday life, to pull my energies back down to earth, and to sort my chief psychological issue, which is my codependent relationships with alcoholics and other emotionally shut off men who represent my father. As a practitioner, I had driven myself hard for a year, after all, my hair having been on fire for awakening since the Arising and Passing Away Event of summer 2013 and even more so since stream entry (or whatever one wants to insist on calling or not calling it) on August 8, 2014. I also had spent more than 800 hours working on MCTB2 with Daniel Ingram and roosting with some intensity in that turbulent relationship and those much healthier other relationships of the Dharma Underground. I had sacrificed my health, sleep, exercise, family time, most entertainment, and contact with my nondharma friends and extended family. 

It was time, after AA, to unravel that yearlong knot, the most driven and transformative year of my life, and return to the basics of being an ordinary human being. And, actually, although I parted ways with Daniel this past October (almost 6 months ago now), I’m only now beginning to get even my sleep and work schedules normalized. Next is exercise, enjoyment of nature, creative writing, and homemaking. I’ve pared down my relationships, my commitments, and my urge to make a new dharma community happen. As my wise teacher said, I needed to stop running and feel my losses, as well as my gains.

Liberation of a Terror-Stricken and Numbed Out Third Chakra

I once read that, even as inside every schizoid and numb man resides a hysteric, inside every hysterical woman there is a split-off and numbed outcropping of self.

Nearly “by accident,” as if there were such a thing as accidents, I discovered a teaching and practice on the third chakra and gravitated to it nightly for months. I found it easy, from awakened awareness, to release into that otherwise tense and numb center in the body. Sheer terror was stored there I discovered. From meditation on that center, I experienced first that it pulsed and thumped like a second heart. Weeks later it began to rotate and open out as I simply sat and rested awakened awareness into it. You see, at this point on the path, I am awake, but now awakening has to do its work. Practice is much simpler and more refined because the agent of it has been recognized as not Jenny. I rest in the natural state, and it does the work.

I had conversed with my teacher about my insights into the patterns of psychosomatic reactivity there in the solar plexus, that third chakra. The dispute with Daniel had given me plenty of opportunity to observe that even my own righteous aggression frightened me. The terror and nausea from the pain Daniel caused me, and the pain of my anger back at him, ballooned upward from the solar plexus and spread as a wave of heat-flush over my chest and shoulders, and then down my back. A simple email from him or his lawyer would do this to me, even though my mind was free, still, and expansive and the emotion moved through quickly and evaporated

Polarization of the Victim and the Perpetrator

My teacher talked with me about how the victim and the perpetrator are bound together –a holdout duality. I have been so identified with being a victim, since I was a baby and underwent many surgeries in addition to living in a violent alcoholic household, that even my own fierceness makes me feel victimized by it. Interestingly, this kind-hearted man, my teacher, told me, “The only way to undo that polarity is to be willing to be the perpetrator, for then the victim and the perpetrator will neutralize each other.” He didn’t mean that I should be a perpetrator in conduct, or not necessarily; he meant that awake awareness hadn’t had a chance to “practice” from within the very volatile and intense energies fueling terror and rage. I had to learn to relax into those instances in which my fierceness is called for.

Awake awareness, focused on that area of the body, unknotted that polarity. So some “untethered selfing process,” as DreamWalker calls subtle obscurations that remain after the subject drops out and the vast expanse of the field opens up, seems to have stopped, to have been liberated. I can see the threatening email come now and think “oh shit.” But there is absolutely no grab viscerally or emotionally, no balloon from the power center and no contraction at the heart center. 

Of course, the path is cyclical, so it may well be that, although third chakra seems to be open now, more is later to be discovered there. Work with the body as ground, as Mother, will continue. 

Part 2 will discuss some terminology and the way onward in practice.

Current Practice Goals and Means

John has urged me to write down my dreams and to notice how the “I,” or ego-self, is moving through the dream. He pointed out that in one of my recent dreams the “I” was gullible and being led along by others I should have not followed, or at least should have questioned. 

The lucidity of awakened awareness must be established and stabilized throughout dreams and even deep sleep. One of the many books I’ve had open is B. Alan Wallace’s Dreaming Yourself Awake: Lucid Dreaming and Tibetan Dream Yoga for Insight and Transformation.

I have too many books open, but I feel particularly called to do dreamwork next. I need to go back to working on dream recall, for it is foundational for lucid dreaming, as well as providing ways to see how my ego is still asleep. What makes it nonlucid in dreams will clue me in during the day about when and how and why awareness is obscured. 

I will likely put chöd practice back on the shelf for a while to focus on this. I have the third chakra work going really well, so I will keep that up. I’m sitting a weekend retreat at the end of March with John to learn more somatic, grounding, embodiment practices. 

I’m annoyed that my jhana practice has sort of fallen off since July. I think I should really work on mastering concentration. It is important for so much that I want to do, on the cushion and off, including lucid dreaming.

My current marching orders are to untangle the victim/perpetrator polarity on the emotional reactivity level by the following means:

  • Physio-energetic meditations, especially opening third chakra
  • Tantric chöd practice
  • Dreamwork

I’ll write more about the victim/perpetrator duality another time. One of the most fascinating conversations I have had with John is about this topic and how I’m identified with being a victim. 

Dream of Time

This morning I had a simple, clear dream. As in most of my dreams for months now, I was traveling. This time I was driving my red Honda Accord coupe, frantically trying to get from my old workplace in Durham (why my old workplace?) to UNC Hospitals, or some hospital near Chapel Hill. 

I was late for surgery. I had impulsively decided to have a breast reduction, which in real life I’m thinking of doing. I took out some paperwork at a red light, but I could not read the time I was supposed to be there, nor the address. I also couldn’t read the car clock for the current time. This inability to read is common in dreams and should have alerted me that I was dreaming. Instead, I kept rubbing my eyes, frustrated that I failed to see clearly and had to rely instead on memory.

Finally, I arrived at the hospital and figured out after some false starts that I was supposed to be on the second floor. I went up there and saw Kurt, with his shirt open, sitting in a lounge chair in the corner of the waiting room. He was trying to suckle a tiny baby girl dressed in pink. I said, “What are you doing?–You don’t got the goods for her.” He had some chicken from KFC or some such place, with gravy. He kept dabbing gravy on his nipple and then letting the baby suck it off. He said it was just to comfort her. I said that he was feeding her delusion, which would not sustain her. He said, “Nonsense–look how much gravy I have!” I just winced and shook my head. 

I realized that I was somewhat surprised to learn that I had a baby daughter. That is the second thing that should have alerted me that I was dreaming. I only wondered what I was forgetting. 

I had to wait a long, long time, even though I had been running late. Finally some male doctor with white hair came in and talked to me briefly about the operation. I wanted to discuss what cup size I should be, how my pain would be controlled, and how long recovery would be, but he said he knew best and rushed me into surgery without really answering my questions. He was behind schedule, he said. The next thing I knew, I was being put under general anesthesia.

I have no profound reading of this dream, but Kurt and I had a rocking belly laugh tonight when I told him about the gravy-suckling attempts he made! I had been talking to my neuro Friday about addressing the body as part of the path, and possibly having this surgery. 

How did I move through the dream? Well, not lucidly. It was my idea to have the surgery, and I was the one driving, but I had to hurry up and wait, so I was sort of a victim of time, others’ schedules. The baby was the second child, little girl I often regret not having had after my son. The doctor didn’t answer my questions, was patriarchal, but I felt I had to go ahead with the surgery immediately or I would chicken out forever.

This is a simple three-card spread that I read daily, or almost. The deck is the whack Mary-el Tarot by Marie White. It is a hard deck to use if you want to have a text guide as to specific divination. And I don’t think I will ever use it to read for other people, for that reason. It is my personal deck. To me, the better way to use this deck is to take the entire spread in as a whole picture, paying attention to the colors and emotions that the cards evoke.

Image of layout:

For example, look at all that red I’m seeing! The figures are all downright languid, yet the red suggests upheaval, passion. There is some kind of paradox here, and I have indeed been feeling these kinds of contradictions. I’m in an interesting, if sometimes confusing, transitional phase.

Inner World: Page of Wands Reversed

The first card position is my inner state. Here we have the Page of Wands reversed. The image is of Joan of Arc. In reverse, this card indicates a loss of faith or inspiration. This is oddly true. I felt on the night of this layout that i was in a rut, that my sits were repetitive and not as interesting as just sitting and being. What is weird is that my feelings around the sits are this way, but the sits themselves are amazing. Even if my mind wanders off task or target, the clarity, bliss, openness, and vastness are amazing. There is nothing to strive for. All I do is slightly incline the mind to notice. Then I ease off even that.

Outer World: Eight of Wands

Second card is the Eight of Wands. See the girl being carried by the phoenixes? She is asleep. This card position is of external circumstances. This card is about integrating my shadow side, the unconscious. The open lion’s cloak is revealing the core of the magician. The card urges a flexible and fluid response and interpretation of what reality is throwing at me. It is about magick, dreams, colors, poetry, life, specificity, the relative, and individuation.

Advice or Warning: Lovers Reversed

Third card is advice or warning. Here we have the Lovers reversed. This is warning me that I will encounter judgment, exclusion, and servitude. All this has been happening. I met with some bizarrely dramatic judgmental statements, from a couple of Buddhists. Exclusion, yes–I’ve been turned away from by a few. Servitude has to do with my codependency, my penchant for playing Helper, for topping from the bottom.

Meditation: Awareness/Energy in the Belly

Brief sit tonight focused on dropping awareness from the head to the heart and then to the belly. The glow in the heart is also already here in the belly. All you do is notice its already being there. The belly can hold much more energy than the head or the heart, holding great quantities like a sponge, as John says. I released the face and forehead into innocence, and the belly suddenly bloomed out into limitless space. It felt like a sonic boom of sudden bloom. The result felt almost like a yellow rose whose petals are held open by a cold, heavy rain.