The Trauma that Blinds Us

By Georgi Y. Johnson

Trauma can be like a repeating record, a time-loop, circulating through another kind of time. The same octave notes keep repeating, said one writer, until they get heard. Yet many trauma therapies come short in matching the compulsive sense of truth that can be the perfume of most traumatic experiences.

Many therapeutic models have a hard time avoiding either becoming an accomplice to repression (through trying to negate traumatic symptoms), or of dancing in tune with the client’s compulsion to repeat the story through different forms.

For example, one client has a story of feeling neglected and abused during her parents’ divorce. When that story gets tired, the same formula continues to be experienced through different guises. The formula is: I am a victim and people are out to abuse me. So, when her job security becomes uncertain, it comes forward again: I am a victim and people are out to abuse me. When a potential partner seems to reject her, again: I am a victim and people are out to abuse me. Even within the therapeutic relationship: I am a victim and you are out to abuse me.

Even when therapy is able to awaken vivid memory, there can be a lingering sense of incompletion: some question still left unanswered; as if a voice in the night is still lost and unfound. I am a victim and people are out to abuse me. Trauma can often form a kind of base melody to reality, a pre-decided, fall-back position, an inevitability that underlies no single event, but all of them. It can sometimes seem that our client is addicted, or compelled to remain in the traumatic state.

What is right with you?

The master of Zen Buddhism Thich Nhat Hanh often comments on our psychological attitude towards ourselves. When you go to a psychologist, he says, you are asked: “What is wrong with you?” It would be better, healthier and more effective, he says, for a therapist to ask: “What is right with you?” From this spacious dimension of true nature in the here and now, it is possible to work from empowerment with any problem that might appear. It’s a paradigm shift in the psychological approach.

The reason why trauma can often seem so hard to heal is that there is has been a critical error in our approach: an error which Nondual Therapy directly addresses. This error is found in our rather massive blindspot to True Nature or the living qualities of unconditioned consciousness. Each time we let a physical event distract us from the wider, living, existential flow of the here and now, we repeat the original disconnect.

What gets traumatized?

Nondual Therapy asks the fundamental question: What is it that was traumatized? What was there before the trauma happened? What was whole, and suddenly appears to be broken? What seems to have been lost?

Traditional therapy often relates to horrific events, but not to that which was lost as a result of the events. The agenda is to ‘release’ (get rid of) the trauma. Yet this is in perpetual conflict with the sense of truth that pervades the traumatic memory. At worst, therapy might even try to medicate the symptoms of trauma out of existence. Again, while there might be temporary relief, this does not have the power to undo what has become the architecture of the personality. It can numb the feeling connection to deeper living resources, rather than encourage it.

In prioritizing the event of trauma and its effects, we have been looking toward the nightmare, rather than toward the awakening; toward the intruder, rather than toward the home that was violated. When we are in peace, and we get a shock of conflict, the peace is that which has been traumatized. When we are in wellbeing, and we get a shock of sudden pain, it is the wellbeing that has been traumatized. The roots of trauma, therefore, are found not in the trauma, but in the experiential space where the shock happened.

Surely, it is not the trauma itself that was traumatized. At least, not in the first instance. Therefore, the origin of trauma (the root of that which has led to isolation, denial, separation, and shame) is not to be found in the materialistic, physical arena of events. The root of trauma is to be found in that which became traumatized — for example, in the sense of freedom, innocence, belonging, wellbeing, home. Trauma literally means “Wound”. It is not the wound that was wounded, but the body in its natural health.

The experiential blindspot

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR)defines trauma as a direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury; threat to one’s physical integrity, witnessing an event that involves the above experience, learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death, or injury experienced by a family member or close associate. Memories associated with trauma are typically explicit, coherent, and difficult to forget.

In this threadbare definition, there is a massive, unexplored blindspot in the words ‘personal experience’. What is experience? Is it that which happened or that which was felt? Can it be limited to unpleasant events that scream the loudest? Or mustn’t it also include areas of uneventful, subtle experience, such as the seamless sense of wellbeing, belonging, peace and harmony? When nothing stressful is happening, is there not also experience? Is it not this natural state that has been traumatized, and that now has become identified as a no-go zone, a source of potential danger?

After trauma, the greatest threat is not the repetition of the trauma, but the reemergence of unguarded naturalness, for this is subconsciously identified as the cause of the disaster. This is how traumatic shock disconnects us from our greatest healing resource — True Nature. This is also why we are compelled to repeat the traumatic formula. For all its suffering, the repetition of the traumatic formula feels less threatening the original shock to naturalness.

Shock: a rude awakening

Imagine you are a small child, sitting on the floor, watching children’s TV. You have a plate with a sandwich made by your mum next to you, and your favorite cartoon is showing. Suddenly, there’s a loud crash and commotion in the kitchen. You hear your mother screaming with anger and fear. A man which is your father stumbles into the room, says “hello” in a drunken voice, and falls on top of you. Shocked and in pain, you try to extricate your legs from beneath him, and as you do, he rolls over with his cheek in your sandwich. He fixes you with his wild, drunken eyes, and smiles, cynically. “Hello, child of mine,” he says. Your mother comes from behind and picks you up, hurriedly taking you upstairs to wait in your room. Memory goes blank.

What has been traumatized? What dimension of experience has been shocked so badly that from now on, it seems forever unsafe? Peace, harmony, relaxation, home, and wellbeing has now become a danger zone.

The answer is not found in the structure of personality. Because when you are a child there, sitting in a pool of seamless wellbeing and naturalness, you’re not identified as a person. You’re in a kind of experiential unity with the environment. You are in undefended one-ness and harmony, and this is where the shock of the bad thing happened. In experiential terms, this very harmony now becomes identified as the cause of the trauma.

When someone is suffering trauma, it is some aspect of naturalness or True Nature that has been shocked. It has been shocked so badly that the positive resource — the naturalness, peace or sense of wellbeing — is now subconsciously identified as a source of the threat. It’s not safe to relax; it’s dangerous to experience wellbeing; or naive to eat a sandwich in front of the TV (without having one open for an aggressor). Part of our natural, living resource has become the trigger — a trigger so sinister that we will often seek relief through the repetition of trauma — to make it happen in a form we can contain — rather than risk being shocked again in an unguarded, natural state of being.

Misconception of Threat

Seeking to protect the whole system, the mind steps in with strategies. In a state of fear, thought defaults to binary structures. These polarized thought forms are saying that it’s either-or: either wellbeing or violence. As the violence previously had the power to trump the wellbeing, violence wins. The mind opts for the violent, unsafe baseline of ‘reality’. Undefended wellbeing is no longer an option.

The worrisome factor is that many therapists, without realizing it, will reaffirm the traumatic state by continuing to give suffering and dysfunction a status which has the power to disconnect us from living resources. Seeking to ‘get rid’ of the traumatic symptoms, they feed into the either-or structure of thought. Often, wellbeing will be viewed merely as a pleasant byproduct, which may or may not emerge when a personality is temporarily restored to a degree of functionality.

We are all drastically conditioned by the software of suffering. We are disappointed in love, so we keep a sense of disappointment and discard love. We are rejected in our friendliness, so we keep the sense of rejection and throw out the friendliness. We are angry at God, so we throw out God, and preserve the sense of rage. We grieve our beloved, so we keep the grief and deny the beloved. In the first instance, therapists need to find and prioritize the source of wellbeing within themselves and to rest in it as much as possible, throughout the consultation.

Then a therapeutic approach can emerge that can facilitate the relaxation that the client needs to rise above the either-or slavery of the binary mind. Someone in psychological distress needs to begin, even for a moment, to experience the possibility that wellbeing has not been lost, that it’s still here, existing quietly in the background to all experience. With some encouragement and practice, they can notice that it’s possible to be in wellbeing and suffer at the same time: indeed, that while suffering rises and wanes, the sense of wellbeing is continuous. It’s not either-or — as dictated by traumatic shock — but and-and.

Return to True Nature

Nondual Therapy will introduce this experience through techniques such as weaving through the timeline. For example, noticing the wellbeing that was there prior to the traumatic incident, and noticing wellbeing that has been there (although now, not consciously acknowledged) since the traumatic incident. It will help deconstruct the traumatic formula by encouraging the felt sense of its key weapons: ‘for example, the felt sense of shock; the felt sense of denial; or the felt sense of repression. These are just feeling sensations arising in the field of wellbeing. They do not have the authority to manipulate and reorganize reality. The more this is experienced in moments by the client, the more the client is able to soften to the world of experience, realizing that the dictates of psychological slavery and harmless patterns of feeling. Consolidation grows as each moment of insight and understanding releases a sense of reward that further encourages the nerve system to reprogram its identification of danger.

Trauma healing does take time, but the game-changer is the identification of how the core separation from naturalness is located within the naturalness itself. After that, the process of transformation, which involves the spontaneous reorganization of thought patterns and stress responses, happens with a life of its own, rewarded by a sense of wellbeing with every fresh breath of air.

More by Georgi on Everything Matters.

georgiGeorgi Y. Johnson has an international practice in spiritual healing and inner growth with her partner Bart ten Berge. She is author of the book I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty, which is a study of three layers of perception: consciousness, awareness and perception through emptiness. You can read more from Georgi & Bart here.

Stepping within the mysteries of perception, we find three interwoven but separate powers of perception: consciousness, awareness and emptiness. Through developing and refining these powers we have the opportunity to enter new ways of living. Empowering, refining and exciting, this book is perfect to all seekers who until now believed that there was little to be found in the one that is seeking. Through these fascinating methods, we find we are able to be not just a human doing, not just a human being, but truly a human living. I AM HERE

That Awful Dread

By Georgi Y. Johnson

Dread is a fusion of anger and fear, in a cloud of threatening horror, that moves between and through people. In the social field, it is channeled through hidden agendas of entities that have lost connection with a deeper truth and purpose.

Firmly rooted in the belief of either-or, or kill or be killed, the agenda of dread is mostly occupied with possession: the possession of another human; the possession of things; the possession of truth; or the possession of status. Dread reduces form through forcing contraction (synchronizing it to a denser vibration) for the purposes of possession: an illusion which is closely knit with structures of control and power. In order to have power or control over another, they must be defined, objectified and available to be grasped and/or rejected.

In its subtlety, dread is the in-breath and out-breath of the twin movements of grasping and aversion, acting as one. Its toxicity can take the natural breath away.

Dreadopolis

When we can allow dread to be felt when and where it arises in our experience, allowing it to move through us, (just as we move through it), it has the flavor of pure suffering. Yet it’s origin is not in authentic physical hardship, but in a sense of endless lack found in structures of ego or false identity. As such, the energy of dread is often grandiose, inflated and vastly disproportionate to the perceived injustice.

Dread can be generated locally, but it is at the same time transpersonal: it broods through atmospheres in collective fields. It hangs around cities, families and places of historic horror. Mostly unconscious, it can be a torture to sensitive individuals that are formed with a low toleration of the grossness of its vibration.

When those individuals are led to believe that this is their own, private, emotion or feeling, they can begin to fear the dread to such an extent that they move into anxiety. Identification with dread as personal failing creates further contraction and isolation. These broad energy fields – such as anger and fear and their threatening blend in the form of dread – are like clouds of cause-less suffering on the surface of the planet. Mostly unanchored in the present moment, dread is the source energy of toxic illusion: it is composed of the unhealed horror of memory and the undefined threat of what could be.

In our weakness, we channel that energy towards each other. In our ignorance, we might even consciously direct it with angry, jealous and vengeful thoughts and stories. These stories are powered by a general feeling of ‘wishing bad’ towards the other, and inner satisfaction at their misfortune. Yet the dread itself is not inherent to who we are at source. It is an effect of the divisions that allow creation. Sooner or later, its mirage, whether individual or collective, will dissipate in the realization of the here and the now

Division Bells

Dread thrives off the belief in the separate self: that individuals are inherently separate units, sharing nothing other than what they choose to share through mind and body. Through the window of sentient awareness (the subconscious) it moves as a polluted form of conditional love, trying to grasp at objects rather than allow them as impermanent phenomena. In this, it gives the sense of solidity to appearances and binds consciousness to form.

Ensnared in the belief that ‘might is right’, dread moves mentally through a logic of either-or, you or me, kill or be killed. It energetically threatens others into contraction or retreat. The origin of this threat is fear: the fear of the separate self that tries to uphold the pleasurable side of the lie of its own invincible, surface individuality.

It is especially unfortunate that sensitive individuals that suffer more from this dread in the collective field, often get further isolated with the label of mental disorder and worse. Mental institutions are excellent schools to teach us what we are not.

A Dreadful Lock-down

The energy of dread encourages contraction, freezing and the distraction of consciousness. In this, it encourages disguise: the sentient, protective cover-up of form to shield from an unknown danger. It moves with a vibration of absolute authority as if it were truth itself, when in form, it is closer to a transient and temporal cloud of dense vibration. In this, it tends to shut down the sense of space and freedom within time. Resembling the tunnel vision of a traumatic state (which in a way, it is), it righteously believes itself to be a complete universe of absolute truth.

The undefined sense of immediacy within the blend of fear and threat generated from a dread field falls short of the eternal present, replacing it with a sense of existential threat (as if existence itself were temporal). In this, dread directly puts form in danger, as it drugs the immediacy of real danger with a sense of spooky abstraction. It stupifies the mind and confuses the nervous system and as such actually compromises our natural, living instincts towards safety and preservation of form.

Without a strong consolidation in the timeless and unbounded aspects of ourselves, the dread of abstract, ungrounded danger and threat can obscure the perception of actual physical challenges in real time. Dread even robs fear of its naturalness.

In addition, by clouding and closing the windows of perception, the vulgarity of dread confuses our natural psychic capacity which is possible through the refinement of our senses. It can make us feel and behave awkwardly, out of harmony with the environment. It inflates the visual and auditory imagination with fearful apparitions of ‘otherness’. These images are far removed from the here and now – such as the silence of a room; the miracle of the feet on the floor; and the gentle rhythm of the breath.

For some, it can only be with the deeper release of form (such as in the death process), that the impotence of a lifetime of dread becomes clear, as it dissipates in the living vastness of unrestricted space and time. For others, the realization of the impermanent nature of dread occurs through the realization of the thinking mind and belief systems as nothing other than an organ of consciousness.

Some pointers to help with dread:

  • Dread is a teacher (of what we are not).
  • The threat of dread is always a lie.
  • If we let dread be (surrender be allowing ourselves to become empty), it cannot take hold.
  • Dread fails in real time and space. Physical movement, coupled with attention in the here and now, neutralizes the amorphous dread energies.
  • The antidote to dread is compassion. Do something for someone else. Open the window of empathy.  The movement of service releases the unconscious ego structures where the threat could be attacking. It brings togetherness, and dread is all about division and conflict.
  • Breath in whatever nasty energies are around, breath back infinite peace. This grounds us in the body, which is more existentially present than any imagined threat or suffering.

georgiGeorgi Y. Johnson has an international practice in spiritual healing and inner growth with her partner Bart ten Berge. She is author of the book I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty, which is a study of three layers of perception: consciousness, awareness and perception through emptiness. You can read more from Georgi & Bart here.

The life-liberating impact of feeling the feeling

By Georgi Y. Johnson

Did you know that when you are suffering in your feelings, the same area of pain lights up in the brain as when you are physically hurt?

Our language is full of it. “He stabbed me in the back”; “She’s suffocating me”; “He gave me a kick up the ass.”

Yet, it is not widely known that there is clinical validation for the impact of feelings and emotions, and even clinical consequences.

At street level, someone who is stabbed in the physical heart gets immediate medical attention. But what kind of attention is needed for someone who is sentiently “stabbed in the heart”? And what happens if the feeling is not met, released or expressed?

If it’s not “all in the brain”, but “all reflected in the brain”, then how can awareness in the dimension of wordless feelings affect our living ability to be free?

Furthermore, how does the neural identification of emotional pain as physical pain affect the border between emotional health and physical health? How is the body mentally instructed to respond to unhealed emotional pain, and how is this going to effect physical wellbeing?

In 2011, neuroscientists revealed that when we suffer the pain of social rejection (at the heart of our aspirations to manifesting a life lived from the core of unity or nonduality), the same neural networks, within the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex, are activated as when we experience a direct physical pain. (See Paper in PNAS: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain)

These revelations are still hardly integrated into the therapeutic world, where the dimension of feeling remains vastly under-rated as an indulgent luxury today’s fast-paced life-style can’t afford.

Repeating a similar pattern, many spiritual seekers could have been encouraged to dissociate from the dimension of feeling, as showing a kind of unliberated imperfection that betrays a lack of freedom in states of pure consciousness or awareness. (If you’re concerned with the bad stuff: jealousy, fear, anger, grief, how can you claim to “get” nonduality?)

In a disturbing way, sometimes, nondual teachings – in their aspiration to reside exclusively in perspectives of pure consciousness, can find themselves affirming the social judgements that keep people locked in suffering – not physical suffering – but emotional suffering. Denial is denial, whether it’s from an allopathic doctor that hands out Prozac with a judgemental eye towards to treat panic attacks, or from the nondual community that looks askance with a subtle judgement that this person is clearly not “there” (where?)

Yet, if we once awakened into an experience of pure consciousness, should we then be free of emotional pain? Does it not hurt when we endure a loss, abuse, or cruelty? Does it not hurt when we witness the pain in others?

While all of us will immediately reach for a medical solution to a physical crisis, not all feel the same freedom with an emotional one, especially if there is judgement around so-called negative emotions. Yet in the area of sentience, this judgement becomes a fallacy. The same area of the brain will light up, (if we are truly in unity), on witnessing any pain – also in another person or animal – just as it does when we experience it within ourselves.

Pain is also here, now

So the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex brain regions are where suffering is registered in the brain, and from where appropriate responses are issued. The brain, not differentiating between physical and emotional suffering, and without liberated sentience, will send instructions to the body as if the pain or threat of pain were physical. These can vary from sensory isolation of the affected area within a certain space, all the way to going into possum state (the last instinctive defence when an animal believes it is to be killed). The body, voice and movement will contort in a manner similar to a physical affliction.

But while physical pain can get processed through the physical, how are we able to process emotional pain, and what happens if we don’t have that freedom?

Consciousness V Feeling Awareness

To come to the gut of the healing matter, it can be helpful to make the differentiation between consciousness and awareness, as described in the book I AM HERE.

Consciousness, so much part of the wakened state and awakening, is intimately connected with the level of mind. For example, at the same time that we experience a physical pain, we can consciously witness ourselves experiencing it. This will happen as a reflex (for fight, flight or freeze reactions associated with survival). The onset of pain, as a rule, fires the nervous system, leading to an experience of heightened consciousness. We are immediately in the “Now”, and ready for action.

Yet when the survival threat has gone, the pain can still remain, throbbing on our burnt foot, or throbbing around our broken heart. While we can consciously tend to the foot, the broken heart is a bit awkward for consciousness. We can remain conscious of it, but that makes the pain worse.

We can use our consciousness to identify “where” the emotional pain is in the body, and relativize and sooth it by switching our consciousness to areas where there is no pain. We can move with our consciousness behind the emotional pain area, in front of it, around it’s contours and in and out of it. All of this is tremendously helpful, if we have the inner freedom to do it. It helps show the brain that the pain center is not absolute, not fixed, not an aggressor.

Yet often witnessing and relativizing is not getting to the depth of healing. The area was closed down energetically by the brain before any healing can be done. This is partly due to a deep mental programming to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It is also affirmed by conditioning in which there is a shame and embarrassment around negative emotion. For example, the handing out of valium to a young widow, to “get her through” the funeral, is the kind of norm that can actively sabotage a natural grief process. These kind of emotional freezes can become so critical that they create mental disorder, as an individual develops a habit of “skipping” the dimension of feeling or sentience, in such a way that it no longer seems to exist. Attempting to live from the mind alone and to retain conscious control of the experience of life, inevitably crashes the system sooner or later, as life rarely conforms to our subtle agendas of separation.

When we release consciousness and move with pure, wordless, feeling awareness, we re-open a dimension which is critical to the mental, physical and sentient well-being of the whole. This movement gives space and permission to the deeper layers of being that underlie, pre-exist and outlive all dualistic attempts at conscious control.

The Art of Feeling

While a lot of emphasis is put in modern spirituality on the existential “now”, the dimension of feeling is always, anyway in the “Now”. We feel our feelings now. We can’t feel them yesterday, without feeling them again now.

The moment we choose to feel a feeling, we have moved beyond thought and into direct experience. That is, we have moved out of the programing of the temporal, linear, left brain, which builds agenda through the composition of time frames and stories. Feeling what we feel does not take place yesterday, and will not take place tomorrow. It always happens in the now. Feeling is so much in the now, that even if the thoughts are in the future, the feeling will still be in the eternal now. Because of this, when we move from consciousness to awareness, or from mental awakening to sentient presence and begin to feel what “is”, old, unfelt feelings will emerge, even if decades have passed in the interim.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to “think” away a feeling. We can check it rationally and we can relativize it. We can justify, excuse, build stories and rename it. But all of this thinking activity is dependent on the allowance of the feeling in the first place. We cannot know what the feeling is that we think we are “thinking away” (by changing our thought patterns) unless we first agree to feel it.

Feeling is happening (and the brain is responding to it) regardless of our thought processes. It can’t be fundamentally changed by different thoughts, any more than you can take away the pain in your foot by thinking about beaches in California. The pain is there anyway, all the mind can do is distract.

Yet feelings are not an empirical object (unlike the book that fell on your toe). How do you feel a cloud? How do you open perception to something so intangible, yet, (ghostlike), nevertheless haunting our comfort zone? A whole different faculty is required, the faculty of feeling awareness.

The agreement to feel our feelings – especially our non-physical ones – is a critical stage on the path of inner growth and healing. Feeling a feeling is not the same as witnessing it. When we feel a feeling, the feeling often begins to move. It can change vibration, change tone and change location. Feelings can have a rhythm, and when we agree to feel them they can at first intensify.

What can seem like a defined sensation in one space (such as a pain in the chest), can show its own energetic pathways, reappearing in a tightness in the throat, or sensations of discomfort around the sides of the physical head. Emotional pain is highly responsive to feeling awareness – and it readily tells its stories. All we need to do is respect it.

In the shifting of location of emotional pain, (and in our mind’s fear-based attempts to distract us from feeling what we feel), a spaciousness is opening up. The conceptual prison in which we hold our bodies is beginning to loosen up, as that awareness which is able to feel itself feeling begins to surround, infuse and allow all the areas of sentient pain. This awareness is receiving the sentient transmissions, reconnecting frozen or wounded energy fields to the whole, allowing transformation because it (your awareness) has no agenda to separate anything from itself.

When we agree to feel a feeling (for example, the pain of rejection), the feeling itself can become a curious experience. What is this phenomena? How does it have a temperature of hot and/or cold? How does it resist? How does it seem empirically to exist as separate from – what? How does it respond to love? What happens if I just wait all around it, patiently staying, to see if it wants to move or expand? Am I the feeling or the one that feels?

If we inquire further, the miracle of being able to experience pleasure or pain can lead us into greater freedom.

How is it to feel the quality of that which is able to feel? What is it in me that (at the front line) is able to feel love, pain, peace? What are these feelings and how do they differ? What is the feeling aspect that moves from one feeling to another? What feels atmosphere? How do I feel myself to be, at source?

For some, the agreement to feel their feelings at first brings them directly into the areas where they suffer. But later, they discover that there has also been a refusal to feel pleasure, love or peace. A whole repertoire of unconditional human experience begins to open up.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked”

Survival responses issued consciously or unconsciously which provide a beautiful mechanism to physical pain, are far less effective when it comes to emotional pain. At best, they repress symptoms, rather than allowing the natural feeling responses to go through their natural stages of transformation and restoration to unity within the energetic whole.

Certain sufferings, such as the pain of rejection, are inevitable within a human race divided into multiple bodies. If these stabs and blows are not allowed to be felt, they become dictators on the state of the heart, and by degrees close down our sentience and our natural and healthy ability to function in compassionate connection with the environment. This lock down gives tremendous stress to the whole system, on all layers.

For those schooled in nonduality, the differentiation between the dimensions of consciousness and awareness is well worth examination. Consciousness of consciousness of consciousness can be a truly liberating experience – one of inherent unity and light. Yet these awakenings are often followed by suffering. The expansion of consciousness means the control (censorship, denial, repression) previously asserted by the mind on feelings is released.  Sentient suffering emerges – with many of those unhealed wounds trapped in the “now” beginning to flood through the opened doors of the mental prison. This is an opportunity for healing – but it requires sentient awareness.

Awareness of awareness of awareness, or the expansion of feeling inwardly into a feeling of feeling to a refinement of the sense of sentience has the potential to liberate an even more essential dimension of perception.

The way to unity is through  allowance, never through rejection. With time, even the greatest dualistic pain of all, the pain of rejection, can become relative through its antidote of inner acceptance and in this, one of the greatest deterrents to joyful human manifestation can be realized as something more like a brush with a burning bush – pain that is unexpected, miraculous and an opportunity to reunite with the source of all we are.

More posts on this topic on Beyond Meds here: Healing the body/mind with the willingness to feel  and  Feeling your way to nondual awakening…

georgiGeorgi Y. Johnson has an international practice in spiritual healing and inner growth with her partner Bart ten Berge. She is author of the book I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty, which is a study of three layers of perception: consciousness, awareness and perception through emptiness. You can read more from Georgi & Bart here.

The Still Small Voice is Speaking. Are we sane enough to listen?

By Georgi Y. Johnson

About a decade ago, two psychiatrists and a team of student psychiatrists asked me if I hear voices in my head. “Why, don’t you?” I answered. They looked grandiosely disapproving and all simultaneously ticked something in their notepads. Oh dear.

OK, with three babies under the age of two, living in a strange country, alienated from a foreign culture, investigating non-conventional terrorism and what (in 1999) I feared was an international threat from Al Qaeda, I had become out of balance and was having panic attacks. Three babies, a conventionally ‘damaged’ childhood, the outgrown hippy lifestyle and the advent of the espresso machine didn’t help.

But how did hearing voices in the head become a criteria for the psychiatric condemnation they call diagnosis?

An Inner Calling

The voices in my head, not the voices (or weird medication) of the psychiatrists are the guides that were to show me the way back to balance.

Luckily for me, I listened to them and refused the drugs. Luckily for me, these voices midwifed the death process of a tired and worn ego structure through which I had paddled through life prior to child birth. They laid that old form to rest in a sea of light, and took what was left, from feet upwards, on a path of healing, renewal and understanding. They are the ones that oversaw the passage from one form of personhood to the next, along its bumpy path and through all its twists and turns.

In the depression that emerged after the period of anxiety, it was these voices, speaking from the gut upwards towards a troubled and despairing mind, that showed me a break in the clouds on a rainy day in the UK, telling how just as the weather changes, so do the moods, but showing the infinity of the sky behind all weather, always blue, always endless, always here.

Often called the Still Small Voice, these voices of guidance can appear to resonate from outside of ourselves. They can sound from above the head (not often objectively, but in a way that we could think we are imagining them), or they can sound from our gut, quietly, calmly and unconditionally.

These are the kind of voices that when you decide a perfect plan of action from the head, and consult the gut, could quietly answer “No”. They often don’t say much (and in my case seem to compact meaning into poetry), but they are directly to the point with an almost impersonal overview of time and space that is impossible for the local mind to grasp.

In a way, the Still Small Voice, often tells you, directly from the vast store of unconscious impressions, where the land lies, while the mind remains caught in its own story and agenda. As such, the Still Small Voice can seem irrational from the perspective of the “rational” mind, yet I have learned never to ignore it. Even if its transmission is just a feeling of discomfort, it’s enough to just wait.

Later on, I took to channelling: directly contacting these voices with automatic writing. I received advice and guidance that is still applicable today. Yet when I asked these guides who they were, they answered: “I am the undercurrent of your own mind, sweet face.” Psychologically quite a sane answer, no?

The many voices in the head

There are many voices in our way-to-busy minds. Some of them are programs, like repeating records, often acquired at a young age. These voices tend to be flat, hypnotic and repetitive.

One dirty, old record of mine is “Nobody likes you.” It’s a quite a classic. Unconditional to progress, elated states of being, success, achievement and periods of adoration, it goes on with its stubborn mantra.

Somewhere at the root of mental programming I have even seen how this idiotic mantra based on pure ego and duality, has been part of the fire behind the spiritual quest, the intellectual quest, the moral quest, and much of the activities of a life time. Without any relation to intelligence or spiritual development, it goes on with its banal message, even at times when being “liked” is utterly irrelevant. It can’t be theorized away. Its hold is almost generational.

It makes me wonder how many empires have been built, how many genocides conducted and how many wars fought and lost (and lost and lost), due to the repetition of similar unrealized root mantras of “normal” minds. One thing is now clear, having caught its tail, if I were to listen to its lunacy, I would be dancing a road to hell.

The tone of this voice is thin, bitter and slightly spiteful. It’s not my voice, and can be male or female. But it’s close to home, internalized at the root of mental form. Yet it’s subtle. It has the kind of undermining repetition that could have made me bow to the authority of the psychiatrists and take rocket bomb drugs when all I needed was rest, space and a little loving kindness. If it’s not realized by in the first place “hearing” it, its hold becomes even stronger, nestling deeply into the unconscious.

Other voices we hear in our heads can be the supposed replay of conversations. Yet in this rattle, do we listen to the subtle, creative way we alter the tone, and employ censorship in order to satisfy our own personal agenda of separation? These voices are the work of audio imagination, recomposing memory in subtle ways and with artful deletions in an attempt to regain inner peace through the a forcing of the feeling of being “OK”, right, or even marvellous.

These voices are also the kind of static in the mind that can be released through deeper attention or to listening more openly to the nature or atmosphere of the silence beyond them. If they are left to party, they will compose whole future scenarios as well as recomposing past ones. In all this, they are decomposing self-esteem, vitality, and living connection to the truth of sensory perception. They distract and manipulate. They close down the senses, and as such, are hardly audible in quality or tone. Yet when heard, they do have a distinct atmosphere of distraction, denial and delusion.

Often, we can experience a variety of voices. There is the one that is adult within our minds, that judges, condemns and issues orders of censorship on the one that is childish. Many self judgements and repressions of authentic feeling arise from an attempt to identify exclusively with the adult one, and to keep the shameful one under wraps. Many choose to believe in the inner disciplinarian, that demands the kind of perfection from living form which is never going to happen.

The Still Small Voice

Then, beneath all this cacophony, there is the Still Small Voice. But it won’t necessarily speak, especially not if we don’t believe in it enough to listen. We need to invite it with questions and be prepared to listen either to the answer, or to the quality of the silence.

The more we open our ears to this Still Small Voice, and begin to trust it, the more we open the inner communication line to the undercurrent of our own minds. In this dimension, time and space are not absolute, meaning it is possible from here, to receive a far deeper guidance about what is needed in terms of direction, (without it needing to make ‘rational’ sense).

Acting on this voice has saved my life more than once. Today, I try to speak from there as much as possible; simply because it articulates a deeper truth and wisdom; one that no structure of ego or individual “personhood” could ever oversee.

The key, as always, is in the receptivity, in the listening – listening not only to the words, but the tones. Listening not only for the meaning but for the harmony. Listening not only for the attitude but for the purity of unconditional care in the inner articulation. Let this be our compass.

There is (funnily enough) a stillness in the Still Small Voice. A stillness that oversees cause and effect through an interconnectedness of being in a way that our small minds could never anticipate. It is not for by chance that the animals in Thailand moved to higher ground hours before the people on the day of the Tsunami. They had access to information that people have long been programmed to ignore.

Modern psychiatry tends to swiftly categorize individuals according to parameters that are hardly understood by science, let alone by its representatives. In no time, they are coercing a range of medications to numb the mind – drugs that have a variety of long-term damaging effects and that at best only repress symptoms rather than treating causal layers of discomfort.

The very phenomena of thought, intuition, and the insanity of the hypnotic messages of judgement and condemnation given to us at birth are hardly understood, but perpetuated by many in the psychiatric profession. The judgement of the psychiatrist often resonates with the judgement of society towards mental “instability” and in turn affirms the lesser voices of mind – such as the one that reiterates again and the again that the individual has no worth, that there is separation, rejection and condemnation.  In this, many beautiful minds are deprived of their greatest strength, the clarity that can emerge through the development of an open receptivity in which there is an ability to truly listen to the guidance of the Still Small Voice, through which individual and collective wisdom can emerge.

See also:

georgiGeorgi Y. Johnson has an international practice in spiritual healing and inner growth with her partner Bart ten Berge. She is author of the book I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty, which is a study of three layers of perception: consciousness, awareness and perception through emptiness. You can read more from Georgi & Bart here.

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