We all carry emotional scars on our psyche. People have an unlimited potential to love, we just need inside out healing of our emotional wounds. In this episode, Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D. is joined by Dr. Richard Moss and they discuss emotions, feelings and love. Richard talks about his experiences and how he got into mindfulness practices. Richard and Timothy discuss consciousness, awareness practices and how fear shows you that love is worth it. Listen in, learn and be inspired to transform yourself today.
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Learn The Art Of Inside Out Healing With Richard Moss
Richard Moss is an internationally respected leader in the field of inner transformation, subtle body-mind dynamics, and living a path of conscious relationships. In 1977, Richard was a practicing medical doctor when he experienced a spontaneous spiritual illumination. This awakened him to the multidimensional nature of human consciousness. This realization profoundly transformed his understanding of the roots of emotional suffering and inspired him to explore the almost limitless human potential for growth and healing.
Impelled by this opening, he released the practice of medicine to devote his life to mentoring individuals and couples whose lives have brought them to the point where they hunger to explore the mystery of their being. Whether called to his work by their souls, yearning to awaken and grow, or compelled by a health career or relationship crisis, his comprehensive and evolutionary approach to healing and forging loving relationships has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
He is particularly renowned for the innovative, experiential nature of his workshops and longer retreats that offer individuals direct experience of life-changing states of consciousness and provide them with very effective models and practices for ongoing personal growth. He has published seven seminal books on his visionary approach to evolution, which has been translated into six languages.
Richard, thank you for being willing to share with us. I think the last time we tried to talk was going to be a very expensive call.
That’s true. When I was in Switzerland, I think that wouldn’t have been a pretty expensive call. You and I did get a chance to talk when I got to the States briefly.
A quick recap is that this is a not-for-profit that I’m donating my time to this trying to help essentially rewrite the narrative on mental health to one in which optimal health and wellbeing are possible and expected. That’s one of the projects I’m dabbling in these days. Somebody on another project said, “This Richard Moss guy, he sounds a lot like the work you’re doing here. You should read his books and have him on your show.” That’s what led me to get the Inside-Out Healing and The Mandala of Being.
Essentially, what we’d like to have you do is I’d like to have a conversation and tell us what you want us to know about your work, whether it’s the books or the gatherings you have because the core of that work is so practical in terms of emotion management, life improvement, etc. I generally like to start out with a question, like, can you tell us how you got into the work you do? What drives your passion for it? We’ll let the conversation happen.
How did I get into this work? Synchronicity, things that happen that you don’t expect to happen that are like the bread crumbs into the labyrinth and so forth. I studied medicine. I went to medical school in New York City. I was coming out for my internship. We were driving cross country with all I owned, which was next to nothing in a rented van. A man joins us at our campsite. He’s not wearing very much, bearded guy. I was traveling with two friends, two women. They went to sleep. We had a bed rolled out in the side of the van. He said to me, “Do you know what the purpose of life is?” I went, “What? No.”
He said, “It’s to learn to love.” He told me that he was a member of the Sufi order and had been a Sufi for a long time. What was so strange was that it was dark of night, and he’d walked up with firewood. I never did see the car. He went back to his car, apparently. I got into my internship. I finished my internship, and then I started out in the psychiatry residency. I heard two of the older residents talking about a new meaning of Seekers After Truth.
I went, “I’m interested.” It was a long conversation with that gentleman at the campfire. I met Claudio Naranjo, who was a psychologist from Chile. This was in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was on a path. I began to learn to meditate and do other things. That path kept unfolding. I got introduced to the people at the Los Angeles Center for The Healing Arts, which were a pioneering group of union analysts and psychiatrists.
They knew how little we knew about illness and cancer, what’s typically called the mind-body connection. Long story short, I started deeper on a path. It eventually took me out of medicine. I had an experience that changed me utterly. At least, it showed me that there’s a dimension of reality that we don’t usually explore. That was when I was 30 when I began to do what I’ve been doing now, which is sitting with people primarily in groups. COVID has, for the first time, changed my focus from groups to individuals and couples.
We select whatever memory supports the mood or the emotional reaction or the in the present moment.
The essence of what changed in me and the language I would use now is that where we suffer, and all people suffer is within a structure that we call me or I or self for the little S. In that structure, which a baby is not born with, which is why I think Jesus says, “You have to be like a little child.” I don’t think he’s talking about innocence. I think he’s talking about the baby hears, but there’s no hearer. It sees, but there’s no seer.
It takes 7, 8, 9, 10 years of development before that self-system is consolidated. In that miraculous first nine years, we managed to overcome the traumas, the bad mirroring, the pain of our parents, the failures of their relationships. It’s always a spectrum from the best that you could hope from parents to some hideous circumstances. We managed to become me. We managed to become I and that self-system dominates us for the rest of our lives.
Within that, there’s a thing we could call the ego. For me, the ego is what is typically meant by mind and body, the mental thinking processes like our beliefs about ourselves, our beliefs about others, the nature of what we select from the past, from our memory to justify our present moment, emotional reaction or something. I don’t think at the level of me or I. We have a past. We have the past that serves our anger or our happiness. We select whatever memory supports the mood or the emotional reaction in the present moment.
That’s what The Mandala of Being was about. It’s about this mental-emotional link. It’s what dominates people. It’s the source of suffering. You don’t suffer because you have physical pain or you’re getting old. You suffer because you say, “I hate this. I don’t want this,” or you talk about yourself in a negative, “I’m not good enough.” These are all thoughts, “I’m a failure. I didn’t try hard enough. You failed me,” the blame cycle.
Every one of those thoughts simultaneously and instantaneously creates an emotion, anger, hope, resentment, or bitterness. That’s what we see in our world. We see people in these structures, and they have awareness within their structure, the awareness to improve themselves in athleticism, playing the piano or anything else, the awareness to join a particular group and be in service to that. Our awareness is enormous. Look at what we’ve created from music to architecture, to science, but we usually don’t get into deeper awareness. Awareness is linked to the body in the present moment. The way I language it is by 8, 9 years old, the assemblage point of consciousness is me.
If it never changes, that’s as far as we go, but there is the possibility of a transformation, a true change that’s profoundly healing. That moves the assemblage point of consciousness to awareness. For me, consciousness is a relationship. This is what we have done, my wife and I, for many years, since I was 30. I was dabbling already before I was 30. Sitting with people in and shifting from conversation with the level of the ego, to the possibility of a relationship, a relationship with fear, as opposed to all the thoughts about it, all the planning to be safe and relationship to loneliness, instead of I’m all the thoughts that reinforce that, a relationship to sensation.
That awareness when the assemblage point is A, awareness or C, consciousness is always in the present moment. It’s not in time, and it doesn’t have an agenda. Whereas, as me, as Richard functioning at that level, the assemblage point me, our consciousness or awareness is always strategic. We do things to get a result. If we talk about self-awareness, practices, mindfulness, meditation, people will say, “I had a bad meditation,” but that means they’re in the past remembering an experience they didn’t like, or they say, “It was so wonderful. I went deep.”
That means they had a pleasant experience that they do like, which is going to set them up from saying in the future, “This wasn’t a particularly good meditation.” If consciousness is truly a relationship, if we can teach ourselves that, if we can dig deep enough and say, “I say it sometimes this way because it surprises people.” What are the feelings that have never felt safe in you?
Has fear ever felt safe in you? Have you ever felt anger without thinking? Is it possible to be angry without first thinking? What’s underneath anger if anger happens a lot in your life? What’s underneath fear if fear happens a lot in your life? Is there maybe something deeper? What if we made those deeper feelings safe in us? How could I possibly do that?
You learn in the present moment to come into your body and start to recognize what you feel. You begin to learn to hold it with compassion and love. Those words are misleading in a way. They’re pointers. What I say is in the present moment. How you’re presenting, how you touch, what you’re experiencing, determines what you’re experiencing.
If you don’t like what someone’s saying to you, at that moment, if you don’t like it, you’re going to fight or withdraw. You’re going to react or judge. If you can sit there and wait, “That person caused me to feel this.” It’s too interesting. I know that feeling. You take responsibility for the feeling activated by that other person activated in you, not by the other person. The self-system at me says, “You make me feel this way. You do this to me.”
That’s a very rough outline of many years of growth, change, working with people, and living my own path. I truly know that I’m not Richard in the sense of me and that I am functional in the world since I truly know that I’m the relationship with my experience and how I touch loneliness is how I experience it and how I hold fear. How do you make fear safe in you? You’d say fear makes me feel unsafe or terrified. I’d say you’re absolutely right. At the level of me and the self-system, that’s what fear does. What about fear itself? What is fear? It’s certainly our first teacher of survival. Look at all the animals. They’re alert, but it doesn’t serve us now fear.
Many of us, when we’re talking, dealing with other people, we interchange the idea of the word or the thought-feeling and the thoughts about emotion. They’re the same. My feelings and my emotions are the same for a lot of people. You try to draw a clear distinction between those two, whereas emotion relates to the effect that I experience when I put thoughts to these energy flows. Can you say a little bit more about that? How do you distinguish between this word feeling and emotion?
Simply in the way that I’m making the distinction, emotion is the feeling of the sensation caused by a thought or a reaction to perception. The feeling is a mode of consciousness that’s quite distinct from thinking. It’s this constant looping between the mental and the emotional constant. When a person finds themselves sitting, looking at the ceiling at night and rehashing something over and over again, I know that what they’re doing is creating anxiety, fear, and sleeplessness.
They’ll have stories about sleeplessness, but what I know is that underneath that is a feeling that hasn’t been met. It’s trying to come forward. Often in the middle of the night is a great time for that because we tend to be more vulnerable. Feeling as a mode of consciousness gives you the information in the present moment. It’s very interesting that Buddha basically said, “Consciousness for a human being is sensation.” In other words, consciousness isn’t an abstract word. For me, consciousness is a relationship. It’s a ceaseless interaction relationship.
That relationship is occurring in the present moment. At that level, waves could happen. A woman contacted me some months after her son committed suicide. She had worked with me for a number of years. She’d been in what I call a mentoring program where I take relatively small groups of people, 20, 16 people for seven days, twice a year for three years, which is long enough to be with any teacher. We worked a lot on her son and his troubles.
Her stories about her son, herself as a failed mother, her husband who’s not showing up. Her story is about the institutions that are supposed to help, the schools and the social. She lived in the anger of that. She lived in judgment and anger all the time. We worked and worked until she understood that all of that anger, judgment, was the poison. The emotions poison you, even the ones you like.
People will talk about hope, but hope and fear are parents. They’re like heads and tails of a coin. Trust is a very different emotion. Trust is a feeling, a true feeling. In relationship to myself now, I can always be in a relationship to myself. Things may get difficult in the future, but things have been difficult before, and I’ve always been able to be present in myself. Trust is faith.
God doesn’t abandon us. Reality is profound and deep. Love doesn’t abandon us. We find our way to that. We have faith that wherever we are in the future, no matter what happens, I still have that relationship with the source, or I still have that relationship with myself. To me, things like trust, forgiveness, humility, and compassion are true feelings that emerge from getting more and more grounded in our bodies and presence.
Whereas, “He doesn’t love me,” anger, or “He doesn’t love me,” sadness. “I should do something. I should leave,” fear. “He doesn’t love me. He should love me. I’m not good enough.” I’ve had people, women in particular, who are so incredibly higher-functioning and various accessible, but deep down have this core belief that they are not good enough. I always say to them, “What does that create?” They said, “It makes me heavy and work harder. It drives me to keep doing better,” but what’s the actual feeling that’s underneath the belief that you’re not good enough?
Fear is certainly our first teacher of survival. But fear doesn’t serve us now.
It’s a judgment if you’re not good enough. Feelings are like the language of the present moment. They’re like music, ever-changing. If you start to feel fear and you’re open to it, then it becomes a vulnerability. If you stay vulnerable, you become much more receptive, intuitive, and heartful. There’s no bottom to the relationship with these darker, difficult feelings. You go deeper and deeper.
I often say fear is love’s ally. If you have two people that are afraid to get closer to each other, that’s the limit of how much they can love each other. If they face and hold the fear, they’ll risk a deeper relationship. Love says, “Do not fear.” Fear is what shows you that love is worth fighting for and working for you. You can’t bow to fear and have love. Thinking of a narrow little slice of love for your grandchild or your grandchildren or your children, or some of your children, but you can’t. Wherever there’s fear, that’s the threshold of love. Wherever there’s distrust, that’s the threshold of love.
That differentiation of emotion is always created by thinking. That’s the only way I would think of an emotion. Anger, resentment, bitterness, judgment, hope, self-importance, self-defeat, all of that is mind-made, thought-made. Most of the time, if you can recognize, I’m telling myself a story about the other person called he doesn’t love me, or she doesn’t care, or on and on. The moment you realize it’s a story and that it’s making you unhappy, you relax and come back to your present moment of breath, come back to this moment.
You then realize that person is like you. They’re the victims of the emotions created by their thinking. You don’t have to defend yourself from that person. You can be present with them. They may or may not be people you want to get closer to, but often they are people like your parents or your spouse, and it’s a good idea to stop the stories and the emotions.
With that, without mentioning the word or describing it, you’re basically describing the process of working with The Mandala of Being, that model you created, where this present moment, you call it this focused spaciousness. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about that as an experience, but that’s the center point. When I’m in that, there is no story. There’s an entirely different experience of my energetic presence and my safety. If I get into a story about you, me, past or future, I’m going to create all those emotions you were talking about, good, bad, or otherwise.
I became conscious of the notion of The Mandala model around 1996. I kept asking myself a question, “Why am I so clear when I’m with a group of people?” I’m focusing on that group, listening to people, and I don’t become emotionally engaged. I go home and have an argument with my wife or distance myself, or feel judgmental. What am I doing differently? I would contemplate what I am doing differently? Way back when I went through this experience of fundamental change, I didn’t know what was happening to me but thank God I had studied medicine and some psychiatry.
I knew I wasn’t psychotic. I knew it wasn’t a seizure. I knew this, but to center myself without understanding even what I was doing, I was sitting there and going, “Your mind is in the past, remembering how you work. Your mind is in the future, anticipating that this will never stop, and you can’t bear it. You’re judging yourself because you think maybe you’re weak or something’s wrong.” I kept talking to myself, literally talking to myself out loud or silently.
I’m trying to understand what my mind was doing. Fast forward from 1977 to 1996, why am I different at home with my wife than when I’m working? Suddenly, I’m walking around with this beautiful carpet on the floor of the gathering space. It’s here now, in this place, it has a mandala in the center, a very simple one. I’m talking to this group of people about an insight. I’m standing in the center of the mandala.
I said, “When I’m working with you, I’m much closer to the center like when I’m rock climbing, dancing, skiing. I’m in that zone.” My mind isn’t in time. It’s not the purpose of. It’s not strategic. What I’m doing, the inner and outer, are the same thing. I’m unified. When I’m teaching, working, there’s this presence in me. I’m doing that. I go home and I get into me, Richard, the ego, the historic Richard, with his problems, with his mother and all of that.
I’m now judging. I’m walking around the mandala and over to the 9:00. If you thought of yourself as sitting right in the dead center of a clock, to your left is 9:00 and to your right is 3:00. In front of you is 12:00. Behind you is 6:00. When you’re in those moments of flow, like I described, you’re in the center. You’re not in stories about yourself. You’re going down a fairly challenging ski slope and you suddenly say, “Boy, I’m doing great.”
We’re thinking people, they experience. You imagine you’re sitting in the center of a circle and you’ve chosen to come into the present moment where you’re aware of your breath. You’re in your body. You’ve stepped out of time. To your left, over at 9:00, are all the ways you judge yourself, positively or negatively, all the ways you inflate yourself or deflate yourself. “I’m better than him. I’m not as good as she is. I’m not smart enough. I deserve more. I meet stuff.” That’s all over to your left. That’s going on in your ego and your self-system. You’re in the middle now.
Over to your right at 3:00 are all the judgments of other people and all the judgments of everything. For a logger and you’re out in the forest, trees are a commodity to be cut down. For an environmentalist, trees are a precious resource to be protected, cherished, and cared for. It’s all different stories because people have different values and different things that they’re doing.
What we know is that a baby isn’t born with me-you consciousness, subject-object consciousness. That takes a long time to develop and stabilize. We have that notion of subject and object, me and you. Behind you are all these things. It’s a deep ground of memory. I call those the past stories. That’s the positive and the negative nostalgia. Take, for instance, if you’re angry at someone, you look into the past, and you remember all the things that person did that have gotten you angry before.
You look into the past, and you remember how your father treated your mother or your mother treated your father. You select from your memory whatever justifies you being angry. We have me-you stories in the back. We have this ground of the past, but it’s not memory. It’s memory, but it’s psychological memory. It’s constantly changing and being selected. It’s not right remembering. This is the actual situation. At the time that memory is imprinted, you have a particular consciousness. You are imprinted in a certain way.
We know that those kinds of memories, especially strongly emotional memories, are re-imagined every time you have them. They’re re-imagined according to the mood of the moment. In that sense, there’s no true past at the level of the ego. There’s what justifies my anger, sadness, fear, resentment, bitterness, and neediness. In front of you, at 12:00, are all the ways you can imagine the future, but we know that nobody can know the future so that the future is truly imagined.
When we’re in me, we don’t have a future. What do we imagine? We imagine some form of the past that might be better, and that leads to hope. We imagined some form of the past that could be worse, and that leads to fear. Hope and fear, we swing between those. Those are the stories in the future. If you look around at the world, at people, you go, “There’s almost a tsunami of fear in our world now.”
That leads us to a different subject, which is why we are so susceptible to fear? How do the left brain, right brain, and the nervous system work and other kinds of things? That aspect of my work has to do with presencing and being in the body and feeling. The mental, emotional stories about myself, stories about others, what I’m selecting from the past, and how I imagine the future.
Fear is what shows you that that love is worth fighting for. That love is worth working for you.
That creates the present moment activation in your body of fear, anxiety, heaviness, contracted, newness, and hopefulness. That circle around you that assemblage point is the consciousness of the me that a baby doesn’t have, and most of us never let go of. When you look at these epidemics of fear, you realize that if you don’t start with something that’s true, your mind will create rationality for anything.
You can start from, what is racism? Blacks are inferior. They’re intellect arguing hundreds of years ago. African Americans, those days were Africans or Black people. They’re the slave people and the people in Europe were only good for labor and having babies. It’s nonsense, but if you start there, you prove that you select the evidence all the time that we look at people. If you treat them a certain way because of your belief, it’s an endless looping of hopeless stupidity. You’re trapped inside of it. You don’t have any freedom from it unless grace comes along and whack on the head like that song, Amazing Grace.
If you talk a little bit more about these two words, focus, spaciousness, and that center of that conscious awareness of the now, how did you get to the focus spaciousness concept?
How do you describe a state? The problem is language gets to a point where you either have to be in poetry, or you have to be singing or something. The state of being truly in your body, in the present moment with your mind, silent, not activated, is a state of precise perception. That is, you see colors vividly in a way you hadn’t seen them before. You hear sounds vividly in a way that’s clearer and more distinct than before.
You feel penetrated by the natural environment, the natural order. In fact, your body responds to walking in the forest, a drop in your cortisol levels, your stress hormone levels. You’re awake. Everything’s so sharp and clear. In that sense, focused and precise, but there’s no beginning and no end. It’s not outside you or inside you. There’s no you. The witnessing consciousness steps into the background.
When I try to describe the state, as you move away from the me-you, past-future dynamic toward that center, which athletes know to a certain point, when you look at lives of exceptional athletes, you look at the quality of focus that they can have. How can they tune everything else out? The context in which they’re performing, whether it’s Tom Brady as a quarterback or some great golfer like Tiger Woods, everything else is excluded. They’re very focused.
They’re spacious in the context of that activity, but they’re not spacious in the context of day-to-day life necessarily. I don’t know them personally, but we all know that. People who function very high on one level are exceptionally high, way of the norm, but are limited in other ways. When you are grounded in the present moment, how do you describe it?
I call it focused spaciousness. Sometimes I call it relaxed readiness. Most of the time, when people relax, they get sleepy and unfocused. If they’re ready, they’re on guard and tense. What if you were absolutely ready? It’s the apocryphal image, the master martial artists. I’ve heard stories where the great martial artists when they’re judging others, will sometimes see two contestants in front of them who haven’t yet moved.
They’re preparing themselves, but they have declared one of them the victor because they felt the mind of one of them moved. If the mind moved, you’d lose. You had to move without mind. How do you move without a mind? Gymnasts do that. Athletes do that all the time. In martial arts, you’re taking the contemplative, meditative world into a martial physical athletic domain.
These were apocryphal stories when I was trying to language what it’s like to be focused and spacious. If we have an audience now and they’re not driving or something and they close their eyes, take a position in yourself. You say, “Here am I. I’m at the beginning of myself. There’s only the now.” It’s probably the most important, profound insight any human being can have. There’s truly only the now.
What do you experience in that? I experience your breathing. As you’re breathing in, you feel your body breathe, but feel it. A spectator from your head, breathe out and feel the body that sensation, the cruelness in your nostril, softening in your chest, softening in your belly, and the next in-breath. With each out-breath, keep relaxing without getting sleepy.
There are practices that are at the heart of everything that I do about cultivating and stabilizing the ability to have an anchor in the present moment, which is sensation. For example, all the trials and tribulations of life, but all the time you were breathing. When you’re thinking about the people you’re angry with, or you’re fearing the outcome of some disastrous situation and so forth, do you also remember your breathing?
If you have that anchor of your body breathing in the present moment, you won’t get deeply lost in an emotion like fear. You won’t go into the future and get lost in distrust, anxiety, and terror. You have to develop an anchor in the present moment in the body. This is the very first step of awareness practice, consciousness practice. It’s not taught in psychiatry or psychology, though. Now we’re weaving together the mindfulness and the awareness practices and into our psychological thinking.
We can get better and better with the practice of identifying the thoughts that pull us out. If you’re in the moment and aware of your breathing, you won’t go into fear. My mindset, unless I think, “I can’t breathe,” and then I pour less thoughts into the sensations, and I start to catastrophize it. I’m glad you mentioned these athletes that are getting into the zone. They sync basketball shot after basketball shot and they don’t know why.
I think of Larry Bird when you were talking about the focus spaciousness because he would go on a basketball court and not look and pass right to his player who was inches away from an opponent. He had that awareness when he was on the court that I think it has to be akin to what you’re talking about, that we can develop in this now awareness, present moment experience.
It’s often called meditation practice or, nowadays, mindfulness practice or contemplative prayer. You do have to practice. If you want to stop being afraid and angry, you have to bring yourself into the present moment so that you can see what your thinking is doing to you.
How you’re creating the anger or the fear?
Only you do. Nobody else creates anger or fear in you. There are people who manipulate fear in other people purposely because it gives them power, but they can’t manipulate an awake or aware person. They simply can’t. The ones who are manipulated and become angry want to join with a group of similarly angry people or go to church and create a community of fellowship. That’s a much better community, especially if you can broadly allow people of different religious faiths or religious sects the same respect you would give to your own people. That’s sometimes a step too far, but historically now, we see that social media allows fear to be spread baselessly, without a factual base. It’s so difficult to step into it.
Whoever’s reading now, I don’t know what they’ve chosen to believe. I’m astonished at how many people don’t want to be vaccinated, even well-educated people. I’m astonished, but then again, I’m a doctor or was a doctor. I’ve studied that. I understand the history of vaccines is and their evolution. When you go online, it’s an experiment, mind manipulation, and you realize none of that’s true. It’s also like saying the election was stolen when it wasn’t.
More and more, if you see the doubt into people and they listen to their minds, the only ground they have is the emotion of the belief. If that ground is anger, then they build a world around anger. If that ground is fear, they build a world around fear. Often people that are angry don’t realize that they’re very afraid. People that move into anger very quickly, it’s usually something that’s hunting the much deeper, a deep sorrow, sadness or fear. That’s never been addressed.
Unfortunately, it’s that level of consciousness where most of us live, we vote and making pass our laws. It’s scary because we can lead ourselves to misery collectively. You can never be safe until whatever is inside of you feels unsafe. You learn to hold. You can’t do that without an awareness practice. You cannot.
Feelings are the language of the present moment. They’re like music, ever-changing.
One of the things that I appreciated about your book, Inside Out Healing, and I want to mention that people can find you at RichardMoss.com. When you talk about these very intense feelings, you call them abysmal feelings and the willingness in your work to go there with people. I’m not looking at The Mandala of Being or the Richard Moss work for this light stuff. If you’ve got somebody with a little bit of anxiety or depression, they can use this work.
You’re looking at the full experience of us as humans and talking about what you do using the same mandala. You are adding a few stop signs here and there reminds me to stop producing thought about this intense feeling or experience, being with it. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it. Jill Bolte Taylor has been talking about the research that says, “If you will be with and not push away or grab on to an emotion, it’s going to move through you in about 90 seconds in terms of the neurological system and this energy flow.” That’s the thing that came to mind when I was reading your work and using the mandala for these more intense feelings.
You remind me that I started an anecdote and didn’t finish it. I was talking about the woman whose son was troubled and all the work she did with me about her anger. She called me and said, “I was driving my car. I got a call that my son had committed suicide. I had about 30 minutes before I get home and the phone would ring. I’d start to have to organize this and that. What was so extraordinary in that half-hour? I opened myself to feelings and it was the beginning of opening to them. I would never wish on another human being, but I never for a moment suffered.”
She said, “I’d done every story. I’ve worked with you on every story, judgment, form of anger, so instead, I could feel.” When we talk about abysmal feelings, grief can be incredibly abysmal, but if you don’t allow real grief, you’ll go to guilt or anger. He didn’t do this. They didn’t do that, or I didn’t do enough. Once you’re in the disguise of guilt and anger, the hiding place of guilt and anger, you’re not grieving anymore. Grieving is one of the most intelligent and essential of all human emotions.
It’s where we have to allow constant play. One minute, you can be laughing hysterically and laughing. The next minute you’re sobbing in despair. It’s like 50 different pieces of music are playing inside of you. You all recognize all of them for a split second, but you can’t grab any of them. Jill Bolte Taylor was right. It’ll pass through you, but grief won’t pass through you in 90 seconds. There are so many reminders, so many things that call you back in memory and mind.
Both of those systems, they were system in the me system. They overlap and are working in parallel, but you can learn to stop poisoning yourself with your own thinking. It’s the simple breathing process I was describing. You make a friendship between your consciousness and the sensation in your body and breathing. That link between a sensation that’s always there and your awareness becomes an anchor in the present. With that anchor, you turn toward the fear, the sorrow, the darkest despair, and you turn toward it, and you touch it softer and softer and softer.
How do you touch it? With your breath and awareness. It’s in your body. It’s not out there somewhere. You’re feeling it. It’s there. If you turn toward and touch it softly, it will become spacious. Most of these deepest and darkest feelings are disguised forms of love. They’re condensed forms of spacious consciousness. You have to keep touching them until they teach you.
Everybody wants to control fear, feel better, control sadness, but you learn in the present moment to touch fear, and suddenly you feel spacious and relaxed, and then you go, “Wait a minute. What happened?” The next time you try to do the same thing again that doesn’t work. This sensation called fear or despair will open into spaciousness and love when you learn how to touch it, which means that you that’s touching is the problem.
Basically, fear teaches your self-system how to relax until the fear can relax in you. You begin to develop a body of love, which is a living current of love and joy. It takes years and years for that to happen in you, but you can’t fix it with medication. When things are extreme, you may be able to diminish them enough, but long-term transformation and healing is the work of a lifetime. There’s no end to it.
That experience at the moment is the movement of life. To be able to stay open to that rather than try to grab, hold or push it away is this touching gently that you’re talking about. It can be taught. I can learn it and strengthen my ability to recognize when I’m in the grasping or pushing away or I’m in the open state.
I did a three-day we call it deep work, but it’s an introduction to this work. Probably half the time, we were guiding some form of meditation, internal self-referencing in the body, relaxing one thing because what people don’t realize is the self-system is always one thing. It wants to feel better, understand, improve, and a result.
The deeper consciousness is touching. If you touch fear of wanting, that’s like saying to fear, “I don’t want you this way, but I want you another way,” which is like turning to a child and saying, “Don’t be the way you are.” What good does that do? All you do is the child will either suppress itself, or it’ll do one of three things, it’ll hide from you, or fight you or get angry and rebellious, or do everything you want to please you.
I remember listening to Krishna Murti in a talk saying, “What we need to do is embrace our negative emotions the way we would a wounded child.”
As if you were the wisest of grandparents toward your own feelings, you take them like a child who’s been terribly wounded and feels deeply unsafe. You stay with that. You consistently breathe with that inside yourself until that child teaches you what it needs to feel safe. If it’s fear, it teaches you how to touch it, to presence with it so that the fear is no longer fear. It becomes spaciousness or openness. It even can become love almost in an instant sometimes or really in an instance sometimes.
How are we ever going to make people safe? You can’t pass enough laws to make yourself safe. You can’t blame enough people for a bad world and think that if you contain those people, you’ll be safe. If you can make yourself safe through a relationship with what you feel, you will never be safe. Are you expecting your husband or your wife to make you safe, or your children or job to fix your life or money to make you safe? All of them can contribute to something good or not good in you, but it’s up to you. It’s up to each of us. We’re 100% responsible for our reactions. That’s a path.
If the people that are reading this simply say, “How do I live this,” I’ll say, “You have to decide what your awareness is in service to.” In other words, you have to decide why you’re here. If you decide that creation itself was an act of love, that as Jesus taught, “God is a God of love.” If you decide that love is the purpose of why you’re here, your awareness is going to teach you all the ways you stop loving yourself.
Now, you have a purpose, but if you don’t have a pole star that you’re steering by with your awareness, then you’ll steer by the shame you feel one moment, the anger you feel another moment, the anxiety you feel another moment, the hopefulness you feel another moment. You’ll be bouncing all over the place without any anchor in yourself and in your body. The moment you say, “I’m here to love love,” to me, it’s less abstract and saying, “I’m here to love God.” We’re waiting for God’s love to fix you. God’s love doesn’t fix you unless you turn around and love God because how you touch that determines your experience.
You are the creator of the God you believe in. The attributes of that God and your belief create how you choose to live your life because other than that, nobody has ever known anything about God. Buddha says, “There is no independent origination. Everything is karmic. Everything’s related to everything else.” If you get into the present moment sensation, and you look at the myth of the Buddha under the tree of life, in his part of the world, which is the Bodhi tree.
It’s everything that came in. He let it pass through everything. He came in and let it pass through. In order to let it pass through, he had to keep relaxing himself. He kept to keep letting go of the me. When Jesus says, “God is love,” He’s basically saying, “You change the purpose of your life, and now your self-awareness is in service to how do I stop love?” Fear plus self-interest are the absolute that will stop love every time, self-interest plus fear, no more love.
The point is because as you say it, my mind is going, “Why is he talking about stopping love?” The point is, if I understand how I’m stopping the flow of this life energy through me and my ability to experience love, then I can choose something else, allow that flow, be in the experience of love, and have an experience of myself in the world that’s dramatically different.
You can never be safe until whatever is inside of you feels safe. You learn to hold and you can’t do that without an awareness practice.
Imagine two people come to make their vows. There’s always, usually most of the time, the marriage vow is usually someone representing a religion. Therefore, a symbolic connection to God. You make your vowel in front of God. To me, the vow is not to love that person until death do us part, but to love love with that person. Transactions between you and me, I’ll love you if you love me. Right now, I will love you. I can imagine nothing but a wonderful world in the future.
There’s a whole lot of shadow in us, and pretty soon, the one you love becomes the source of a whole lot of problems. The transactions never work. You have to have a relationship to love itself. If you do your value, you say, “I’m promising to use every bit of who I am and my awareness and everything I can learn about myself to love love with you.”
When I see that my mind is dividing me from you, do I want to keep going down that road of divided mind? As soon as you divide your mind, you project division into the world, and you see it. That’s antithetical to love. The divided mind is antithetical to love. If you divide your mind, what will then happen is you’ll end up with your category of people with who you feel safe with, but you’ll also have the whole category of people you don’t feel safe with.
There’s no end to warfare at that level. There’s no end to the misery of the world at that level. Love is choosing us. Love is always trying to find us. Anyone who’s observed their life has seen, “Love has been seeking for me. I’ve gotten in the way with booze or drugs or self-pity or bad habits.” When you get out of the way, your life starts to change. I’m very aware that when we say these things, we’re using words, it sounds so much easier than it is to learn to love love with fear.
To have a partner that can make you feel so wonderful and, at the same time, make you so scared, and then what is this mean to love love with someone else? What does it mean to want to come back to the center of the mandala and stop the me-you, past, and future stories and start getting right now? I often say to people after our gathering retreats, “Go home and on the mirror in your bathroom and on your refrigerator, everywhere,” where you say, “Who I am begins now. If I’m angry, that means I’m telling myself a story.” Find out what that story is.
If I’m afraid, it means that’s a feeling I to turn to and stop the stories that may be activating it and see what’s there. It might not be fear. It might be deep sorrow. Sometimes when you stop, the stories that are creating for what’s underneath are spaciousness and ease. You don’t know because we protect ourselves from our depths with this mental, emotional, mind-body connection. That’s not the deeper mind-body connection.
The big mind and body, that’s a body of love. It’s literally a current of joy and love in your body. It’s always there. The moment you sit down, there it is. When you’re doing and your focus, it’s always there, but your attention is somewhere else. When you make the image of Larry Bird, knowing how to make a pass without looking at the person, or I used to watch Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan, and you could see the energy change.
Michael could change the energy field of the team and himself in that context. I’m sure that in many other contexts, he struggles with life like everybody else. I believe he already had a gambling problem at some point in time. He was a remarkably aware and awake person on the court so was Larry Bird. Sometimes we’re better coaches than we are at practice, players. In my life, I tried to be a good coach but live the path myself every single moment.
I have found this path and know that there’s nothing that can ever come to me in the future. I’ll meet it with a yes as best I can every time. There’s nothing ever to be afraid of. The future is always going to be stolen, sooner or later. You’ll lose your money. You’ll lose your health. Someone you love is gone. The future that you imagined can be stolen in a blink. The only thing you have is your relationship to yourself right now. The deeper that is, the closer you are to everyone else. It’s not this I’m going to have a relationship with myself, and that’s narcissistic. It’s not that at all.
This is in that recognition that we’re all connected. It’s all energy, and because I can’t perceive those energies with my senses doesn’t mean they’re not there, and I don’t live and swim in them.
As your mind gets calmer, your body feels those energies. The body is the most intelligent part of us. The feeling is the next most intelligent. The thinking is the least intelligent because it can be led astray by anything. You can do crazy realities with thinking and not believe they’re crazy because they seem logical to you. There are so many good experiments that demonstrate how crazy our left brain is. The part that’s representing with words compared to the right brain, which is presencing right now all the time.
We can talk about all these things for long periods of time. When I sit down with someone, and I’m aware of a lifetime of practice in myself, the kinds of feelings that push people into thinking they have, the wounds of childhood that they deeply need to heal. One of the things about the intelligence of who we are is that we will try to resolve conflict and heal all our lives somehow. We will try.
We’ll try to make sense of it. I love that you’ve given people a model in at least these two books of yours, Inside Out Healing and The Mandala of Being. They can begin to start working with that on their own if they choose.
Those books were about you can do this yourself. If you read these things and think about them and then make it your own practice, it’s life-changing.
I thank you so much for joining us and sharing as generously with your time as you have. I look forward to following your work.
I want to thank you because you’re giving your time to a good cause. I feel your clarity and heart. They have a good champion in here.
Thank you. I appreciate it. Do be well. I will check in with you again in about a year and see if you’ve got any new projects we should discuss.
It sounds good to me.