On the Whole Human Blog, I have reviewed the diverse perspectives of 'The Impersonal Life,' the Tao and T'ai Chi, and the Avatar series and have shared excerpts from various books and articles including Deep Listening and the psycho-therapy based Seven Octaves (Pranayama). Several posts are dialogues with others on subjects such as why people believe in God and does consciousness end at death (Death.) I have published link pages and posts on organizations such as the ASC, UBUNTU and now DESTENI.
From each of these perspectives and countless others 'reviewed' over a lifetime of passionate interest in the conscious psycho-spiritual evolution of humankind, I have gleaned bits of insight and wisdom which contribute to my personal synthesis of what is of value, benefit and Truth to me, and discarded much which has proven not so.
Although it may be true that there is no such thing as original thought, I have written several posts from thoughts and feelings which are original in my experience — culminating so far in Quantum Human. A search done on this site on the keyword 'consciousness' brings up 98 results in 62 blog posts as shown in this screen captured segment:
I have found no single perspective, philosophy or system which feels whole or complete in itself. To date, none of the organizations I've encountered which claim to be making a better world or creating a model based on a 'new paradigm' are doing so, in my view. They are all missing something.
DESTENI offers a structured system for coming to know oneself more intimately than ever before, and a community of support for the process. For anyone who feels drawn to it, I have published a page of main DESTENI links including one to criticism of DESTENI and the responses from a Destonian.
The following is my extraction from the DIP Lite, which introduces the system. The dots (....) indicate where I have cut text to present a more concise sense of what it is all about. I do not know if more of DESTENI is in my destiny. I have come to a place where it feels well to suspend all beliefs and preconceived ideas, and be surprised by what the wisdom of life puts in front of me.
I appreciate from my initial reading of DESTENI material the explanation of thoughts and how to stabilize oneself with breath and become more aware of internal processes by using self-supportive writing. It is not new to me, but well organized in the DIP course. On the other hand, I have found in general that reading and writing take my awareness away from being present in the moment. Such absence sometimes continues over the day in drifting thoughts on what I've read or written, which does not help me live in the Now. So I have to find balance between such exercises and more hands-on being with what is.
I am intrigued about some of the controversial subjects which are addressed in the Destonian world such as the origins and purpose of humankind. Whether I go further with DESTENI or not, ultimately I trust in the grand design and in my inner guidance to embody my soul blueprint, the original idea in the mind of consciousness for me. I feel that humans are meant to be co-creators with the Original Designer, in service to Life. That is my litmus test of DESTINI. Does it support or hinder my conscious evolution, that is, growing into the fullness of my blueprint?
DIP Course (excerpts)
.... With all the information and schooling that is available – has anyone ever challenged you to investigate your thoughts? Has anyone ever explained to you what emotions and feelings are? Have you ever understood your inner reality?
We’ve gotten ourselves so caught up in what our environment, the media, parents, school have taught us to believe is important – that we’ve lost touch with ourselves and the living, breathing world around us....
1.2 What is a Thought?
.... A thought is your point of view of something happening within your mind that no one knows about unless you tell them. To a certain extent we are able to recognize that we are thinking, and we can see the thoughts pop up in our mind, but we do not have a thorough understanding of how this happens, or what created the thought in the first place as thought-activations occur instantaneously and thus require us to slow down and breathe to be able to pin-point them.
Some prominent forms of thinking:
Thinking as processing information Thinking as making decisions Thinking about yourself / others
1.3 Self-supportive Writing
Writing is the tool we utilize to get in touch with ourselves. To be able to change your experiences and your behaviors, it is important to understand ‘where you’re coming from’ – which is: who you currently are. Once you see where you stand, you’re able to move forward....
The reason we suggest writing is because it assists in stabilizing and grounding yourself. Your inner reality of thoughts, feelings and emotions is unstable, constantly changing and fleeting. In thinking, you’re continuously accessing different types of information, triggering experiences and memories – and this often happens without you even being aware of it. The physical act of writing will therefore assist you to bring all the thoughts here to work with, without getting distracted and lost in thought....
1.4 Mind Consciousness System and Resistance to Writing
The Mind Consciousness System is the entirety of the system that encompasses our thoughts, emotions, feelings, backchat, internal-conversations, memories, pictures, energies, etc.
Note: Backchat is the voices in one's head as internal-conversations that talk back and forth.
Throughout our lives, we’ve come to believe that all the thoughts, feelings and emotions we experience within ourselves make up ‘who we are’. Where we then become the subject of our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Within your walk with Desteni you will come to realize that you are able to become the directive principle in your reality where you empower yourself to direct your thoughts, feelings and emotions....
To be clear, it’s not that the mind consciousness system is a ‘bad thing’. It’s that we’ve taken our mind consciousness system for granted; we have not considered how we’ve created our various thoughts, emotions, feelings, opinions, beliefs, internal-conversations; and we have not considered the consequences of participating in them or acting upon them....
What can we do about this?
Instead of utilizing our mind consciousness system as a tool to assist and support ourselves to make an actual impact within ourselves and this world in a way that is best for all Life, we have defined ourselves AS the mind consciousness system, and thus because we believe the mind consciousness system to be who we are, we have limited ourselves extensively, without taking a moment to see/realize/understand that we are able to be so much more.
Within writing, you start taking your mind consciousness system under the microscope and question whether this is who you want to be, as an expression of yourself as what you participate within and as. Within further lessons you’ll be shown the structural tools to release yourself from these parts of yourself that do not support you and your expression, as well as how to correct them. This process of change starts with writing....
Through writing, we are looking inwards, looking into ourselves and thus – becoming intimate with ourselves. Although we’ve always lived with/as our mind consciousness system, we will through writing begin to discover the actual fear within who we are at a ‘deeper’ level. Where does our anger come from, where does our resentment come from, where does our spitefulness come from, where do our desires come from? What is their nature? The fact that we are afraid of the answers to these questions is the very reason why we’re not often intimate with ourselves in any way – and thus…why we do not give ourselves the opportunity to write....
The unconscious fear of change is hidden by the subconscious thoughts and experiences which will attempt to redirect self away from investigating the mind consciousness system existent within self. As the fear is that if I look at what is really going on beneath the surface that I will essentially change.
1.5 The Solution to Resistance
.... When and as you feel resistance towards writing and possibly have all kinds of justifications and excuses arising within your mind as to why you shouldn’t be writing in that particular moment – take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Through breathing, bring yourself back into your physical body – out of your mind, into the physical. If you already had an idea in terms of what you were going to/wanted to write about beforehand, make a note so that you can get back to it later. For now – write about what it is that you are experiencing in this moment, right now – as this is the perfect opportunity to identify the nature of yourself as thoughts.
In other words:
Write about your resistance, as what is here in the moment to be addressed. Write about any fears and/or anxieties you are experiencing. Write about the thoughts that are going through your mind. In doing so – you’ll be able to identify and get clarity on what it is that you’re afraid of and this gives you an advantage in facing this fear.
1.6 Developing Writing for Self
Now that we have walked through the definition of a thought, the importance of writing and how to detect and support yourself through your experience of resistance to/when writing, it is now time to begin your daily writing application.
In this particular assignment you will simply begin your daily writing, where you spend at least 10 minutes every day writing about a specific event, situation or interaction that happened to you in your day...
What's the point of this?
This exercise will assist and support you to be more aware of yourself as your thoughts throughout your day and will support you in becoming confident and comfortable with your expression through the written word.
This quote was sent by Hal, who conversed with me about subjects of duality, mortality, self and consciousness — posted as 'Quantum Human.' Here I respond to the quote, continuing the dialogue.
It is true, some people adhere to a doctrine of religion on death and afterlife, to ease their fears and not because they reason or feel it is so.
Thinking that death is 'lights out, period' for the self is also a belief. Beliefs of any kind filter and distort what is actual.
By suspending all beliefs, having no pre-conceptions, admitting anything is possible, and trusting deeply in the whole of life, the ride through death may be smoother and more conscious, even if it is into oblivion of the self.
The degree of wakefulness of your ordinary, everyday mind determines the clarity of your consciousness in all other states, including hypnotic, shamanic, mystical, near death experiences, and life after death. - Joseph Dillard
If my center of awareness survives in some way, without layers of conditioning, I allow it will witness an actuality more dazzling than anything I can imagine.
My older brother Alan died at 19 when his car went off a mountain road. I was 12, and for years after he often appeared in my dreams. Usually the message was that he hadn't actually died and had walked out of the forest.
I 'believe' that was a rationalization of my mind, to not accept the finality of death in the sense that our family would not see Alan again in the body in this lifetime.
When the life of my younger brother Mark was ended at 17 by a drunk driver, I clung to the words of a song he had written shortly before, which seemed prophetic of his passing:
The mountain is conquered, my sky is red.
Peaceful giant, and nothin’s said.
Star-gazing wanderer is what I am. Eternal heaven grasps my mind
and carries it to a starburst field of flowers. Can’t count the hours.
And the ebony god grants a vision, my soul is arisen.
Flightless clouds in timeless night suspend me with them.
Such unearthly delight is mine. Perhaps a sign.
Silver threads of a golden dream surround me. My being will be free.
- Mark Jonathan Smith 1957-1974
It seemed to me that Mark somehow knew, and he needed to go, for some purpose 'on the other side.' That was also a rationalization, to ease the pain in my heart.
When my mother died, some said it was of a broken heart. It was during open heart surgery, so the metaphor fits. I was religious by that time, and too numb to know what I felt. She was a devout Catholic, and my rationalization pictured her in a Christian heaven.
My dad was an avid bicyclist and cycled the perimeter of the States in his sixties, riding in memory of mother. He wanted to live to be ninety and he did. On his deathbed, he began huffing and puffing as though pedaling hard up a mountain road, and then he was gone.
He too appeared in dreams, and sometimes I awakened feeling peace and a warm smile.
When I was fifteen, dad and I flew by bush pilot into the remote wilderness of Idaho where he had done Bighorn Sheep studies. He flew out, and I stayed with my dog friend Kiche. She and I hiked the river trails for a summer. Thirty-three years later, shortly after Kati and I met, we hiked together into the River of No Return wilderness.
Late one afternoon, on the way back to our camp by the river, I heard the inner voice say, 'be alert.' That night, Kati experienced terror in her tent. We worked through it together, and the next morning asked our inner guides what it was about. We both felt that earthbound souls had contacted us and wanted to be released. Following intuition, we 'released' them.
Of course, it could be called a subjective imaginary experience. Two days later we hiked another 30 miles into the wilderness, to what had been the Taylor Ranch in my summer as a boy. Now it is a research center of the University of Idaho. Normally they do not accept guests, but they had a copy of my dad's book on Bighorn Sheep on their shelf, and invited us to stay.
In conversation it came out that where we set up our base camp had been the site of a battle between the native people who had lived in the river canyons for centuries, and the U.S. military.
The couple was well-informed about the history of the region and the peaceful tribe who called themselves ‘tukudika’ or 'People of the Sun'. These Shoshoni-speakers had long remained mysterious and were referred to as Idaho’s shadowy people, the Sheep Eater Indians. During the period of the gold rush in America, the U.S. military waged a campaign against the ‘tukudika’ and destroyed their way of life.
When I was a boy in 1968, little was known about the People of the Sun. Had their earthbound souls really called upon us? Had we actually released them?
The quote above, 'Why do people believe in god?', written by an atheist, says, 'It is not easy for people to admit that our consciousness ends with our death, and yet this adds value to our life and stresses the importance of enjoying every moment.'
I am happy to accept that 'my' consciousness ends with my death. It may be as the consciousness of the caterpillar ends with its emergence as a butterfly. Or not. Whatever is the actuality, I trust in the grand design.
My enjoyment of every moment does not depend on accepting the finality of death. That seems a negative and fearful motivation, as in, 'I'd better make the most of this lifetime because it may be all I get.'
I choose rather to be motivated by my love for the beauty of life's design, which can be experienced to the fullest only by being present in the moment.
If we are to survive in the twenty-first century we must become better communicators, speaking and listening honestly and compassionately across diversity and difference.
Unsatisfying communication is rampant in our society: in relationships between spouses, parents, and children, among neighbors and co-workers, in civic and political life, and between nations, religions, and ethnicities. Can we change such deeply ingrained cultural patterns? Is it possible to bring about a shift in the modes of communication that dominate our society? Contemplative practices, with their committed cultivation of self-awareness and compassion, may offer the best hope for transforming these dysfunctional and damaging social habits.
A fruitful place to begin work on shifting our patterns of communication is with the quality of our listening. Just as we now understand the importance of regular exercise for good health, we need to exercise and strengthen our ability as listeners.
Poor listeners, underdeveloped listeners, are frequently unable to separate their own needs and interests from those of others. Everything they hear comes with an automatic bias: How does this affect me? What can I say next to get things my way? Poor listeners are more likely to interrupt: either they have already jumped to conclusions about what you are saying, or it is just of no interest to them. They attend to the surface of the words rather than listening for what is “between the lines.” When they speak, they are typically in one of two modes. Either they are “downloading”—regurgitating information and pre-formed opinions—or they are in debate mode, waiting for the first sign that you don’t think like them so they can jump in to set you straight.
Good listening, by contrast, means giving open-minded, genuinely interested attention to others, allowing yourself the time and space to fully absorb what they say. It seeks not just the surface meaning but where the speaker is “coming from”—what purpose, interest, or need is motivating their speech. Good listening encourages others to feel heard and to speak more openly and honestly.
Carl Rogers, the great American psychologist, taught “active listening,” a practice of repeating back or paraphrasing what you think you are hearing and gently seeking clarification when the meaning is not clear. Deep Listening, as we present it in our workshops, incorporates some of the techniques of active listening, but, as the name suggests, it is more contemplative in quality. (The phrase “deep listening” is used in different ways by different people; we capitalize it when representing our approach.)
Deep Listening involves listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to deeper and often subtler levels of meaning and intention in the other person. It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. Trust here does not imply agreement, but the trust that whatever others say, regardless of how well or poorly it is said, comes from something true in their experience. Deep Listening is an ongoing practice of suspending self-oriented, reactive thinking and opening one’s awareness to the unknown and unexpected. It calls on a special quality of attention that poet John Keats called negative capability. Keats defined this as “when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”
Trust here does not imply agreement, but the trust that whatever others say, regardless of how well or poorly it is said, comes from something true in their experience. Our approach to Deep Listening focuses first and foremost on self-awareness as the ground for listening and communicating well with others. This may seem paradoxical—paying more attention to ourselves in order to better communicate with others—but without some clarity in our relationship to ourselves, we will have a hard time improving our relationships with others. A clouded mirror cannot reflect accurately. We cannot perceive, receive, or interact authentically with others unless our self-relationship is authentic. Likewise, until we are true friends with ourselves, it will be hard to be genuine friends with others.
Deep Listening is a way of being in the world that is sensitive to all facets of our experience—external, internal, and contextual (body, mind, and speech). It involves listening to parts we frequently are deaf to. In order to balance and integrate body, mind, and speech Deep Listening teaches three different but complementary contemplative disciplines: mindfulness–awareness meditation to clarify and deepen mental functioning; the Alexander Technique to cultivate awareness of the body and its subtle messages; and Focusing, a technique developed by psychologist and philosopher Eugene Gendlin that utilizes “felt-sensing” to explore feelings and nurture intuitive knowing.
Three Techniques for Tuning in to Body, Speech, and Mind in Order to Become a Better Listener
1) Mindfulness: Awareness Meditation
In sitting meditation practice, sometimes called peaceful abiding, we learn to settle, returning over and over again to the present moment and allowing our thoughts to come and go without acting on them. In the process, we see how our self-absorption keeps us from experiencing the world directly. Letting go of the “web of me” is the first step toward seeing and hearing others more fully.
In our Deep Listening workshops we give basic instruction in sitting meditation, with particular emphasis on being bodily present. Hope draws on her many years of Alexander practice to help each person find a sitting posture that is right for them, gently placing her hands on their shoulders, neck, and back. “Follow my hands,” she will sometimes whisper, encouraging students to let their body respond without deliberate effort by letting go of habitual patterns and freeing itself into ease and balance.
During sitting periods we often read from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness. These teachings, with their vivid language and images, are extraordinarily evocative of what one actually experiences as one practices mindfulness–awareness:
On mindfulness of body: “The basic starting point for this is solidness, groundedness. When you sit, you actually sit. Even your floating thoughts begin to sit on their own bottoms.”
On mindfulness of life: “Whenever you have a sense of the survival instinct functioning, that can be transmuted into a sense of being, a sense of having already survived.”
On mindfulness of effort: “The way of coming back is through what we might call the abstract watcher… The abstract watcher is just the basic sense of separateness—the plain cognition of being there before any of the rest develops.”
Mindfulness–awareness practice is a way of fundamentally making friends with ourselves, based on an attitude of gentle, non-reactive noticing. This attitude is the key to success not only in sitting meditation, but equally in Alexander work and Focusing.
2) The Alexander Technique
Meditation helps us to develop equanimity and not be pushed and pulled by our life circumstances. The Alexander technique takes this attitude off the cushion and into our lives.
Living more fully in our bodies is the anchor to the present moment in all our activities. It allows us to care for and listen to ourselves even while we respond to the many demands of our lives. This is an ideal place from which to listen to others with care and attention
Our way of perceiving and responding to our world has a physical shape and quality. Generally that shape consists of either slumping or holding ourselves too rigidly in “good posture.” Either way, we are interfering with our freedom and the life-giving movement of our experience. When we interfere with the free functioning of our systems, our sense of well-being and joy gets blocked, and our experience of the body is one of limited mobility, pain, stiffness, and tension.
We are all intrinsically upright, expansive, resilient, and open. Watch any healthy young child and you will see this is true—they are naturally poised and balanced, they move easily, their spines are long, they move on their joints, and they embody a curiosity and interest in the world. They are alive! This is a far cry from the way most adults experience their bodies. But we were children once too, and we can move like that again.
The Alexander Technique teaches us to notice the ways we interfere with that kind of joy and freedom. Rather than doing more, we learn to let go of what we’re doing that gets in our way. Because our habits are so entrenched, they are hard to discern. In fact, they feel right to us. For example, someone with lower back pain has no knowledge that they lean way back while standing and moving, thus putting pressure on their lumbar vertebrae. That stance feels perfectly upright to them, and when in an Alexander lesson they are guided to a more balanced upright place, that place initially feels wrong, as if they are falling forward. They can see in the mirror that they are upright, but they don’t feel that way.
By becoming intimate with our habits and, in contrast, experiencing the quality of ease and lightness the new place offers, the kinesthetic sense becomes more sensitive and reliable over time. Since kinesthesia provides us with information on our weight, position, and movement in space, it is closely tied with our perception of ourselves and our world. As it becomes more trustworthy, we develop confidence that the feedback we are receiving is sound. We are less prone to interpretation and more in tune with direct experience. This is an essential aspect of skillful listening.
A recent retreat participant described the transformative experience of the Alexander process in this way: “I connected deeply with the relationship between the holding patterns of my body and my state of mind. I was able to observe the subtleties of these holding patterns, how they interconnect throughout my whole being and how they are part of ego’s mechanism to shield me from the raw, rugged, and tender aspects of my being. When you acknowledge these experiences and hold them with a sense of appreciation, they soften and allow more space, both in body and mind. The gradual unwinding of patterns of tension and constriction was palpable throughout the group as well.”
Focusing is a contemplative practice drawing from Western philosophy and psychology that cultivates three vital inner skills: self-knowing, caring presence, and intuitive insight. Cultivating these inner skills allows us to bring the wisdom of our whole life experience to bear on solving problems and reaching decisions.
The practice of Focusing involves noticing and welcoming felt senses. Felt senses are indistinct sensations that ordinarily lie below the radar of attention, but which can be noticed and felt if we are receptive to them. Felt senses don’t have the clearly defined quality of purely physical sensations like touching a hot stove or stubbing your toe. They are initially quite vague or fuzzy. They are nonconceptual, yet they relate to parts of our lives—work, relationships, fears, creative challenges. They have a quality of “aboutness,” even when we can’t tell specifically what they are about.
Occasionally a felt sense shows up that can’t be missed—like having a “knot” in your stomach, a “lump” in your throat, or a “broken” heart. All of these are distinctly felt in the body, and yet are clearly “about” events and situations in our lives. But most felt senses are so subtle that we don’t notice them. They lie below the level of ordinary feelings, but they can be triggers of strong emotion. An episode of anger may be preceded by an inner tightening, a jittery sensation, a sinking feeling. If we can notice these slight inner sensations before we erupt in anger, we gain psychological space in which to choose our words and actions rather than being overtaken by them. It is the difference between reacting and responding.
Felt senses function as a kind of borderland between the unconscious and the conscious. Being with felt senses in a patient, friendly way primes the pump of intuition. Although intuition by its nature is spontaneous and can’t be forced, if we know how to enter the borderlands of the felt sense, we prepare the ground for intuition to strike. When it does, we gain unexpected insights that can manifest as fresh articulation and action.
In Focusing we break into partnerships, with each partner taking turns Focusing and listening. The listener’s job is simply to be present and by their presence to hold a space for the other person to explore their felt senses and chosen issues. It is not the listener’s job to “be helpful,” to problem-solve or commiserate or evaluate, but simply to be mindfully present, including being mindful of their own felt senses as they arise. The listener also learns how to give simple verbal reflections that help Focusers check if the words they have come up with truly and accurately represent the meaning embodied in the felt sense. When assisted in this way, most people discover that they are able to go to and stay at a deeper level in themselves than if they were ruminating alone.
The partners train in both listening to others and listening to themselves. In daily life interactions, the two sides of this equation are equally important. You want to be open and spacious to really hear others; at the same time you are tracking your inner responses and noting when something doesn’t feel right. When you can notice this before you say or do something you may later regret, it is much less likely that you will trigger a negative upsurge in the other person. And because human beings automatically alter their behavior to synchronize with those they are interacting with, the quality of your listening supports the other to be more present, at ease, and authentic.
The combination of these three contemplative practices can have potent effects. Practitioners of Deep Listening learn to contact unresolved, stuck, or wounded places in themselves and to hold them with self-empathy. As they contact how the body holds those situations and listen to the body on its terms, they find meaning and wisdom for how each situation wants to resolve itself. The willingness to touch the discomfort makes for a more resilient, more pliable human being, and as we become better able to tolerate and work with the ups and downs in our own lives, we become more skilled in keeping others company as they navigate their own calm or turbulent seas.
The practice of Deep Listening cultivates self-listening as the foundation for listening and communicating well with others. Heightened awareness of the subtleties of one’s own body, speech, and mind is the foundation for genuinely receptive, accurate, and compassionate listening and speaking. If enough people in our culture can learn and practice these inner skills, a shift from highly dysfunctional to highly functional modes of communication can happen, offering hope that we can enjoy healthier, more fulfilling relationships with the people in our personal lives and all those with whom we share community, country, and planet.
Exercise: Head and Neck
As you are reading this text right now, notice how you are in your body. Are you slumping or leaning to one side? Where is your head in relation to your spine? Is it forward, taking your spine with it? Without changing anything, take some time to just be with what you find.
Notice your shoulders and arms as you hold the magazine. Do you sense some muscular tension or extra work going on in any part of your body? Shut your eyes and sense the internal quality of the shape you’re in. Do you sense any movement in your body as you breathe? Any lack of movement? What is your state of mind like? Notice all of this with curiosity and friendly regard.
Now put the magazine down so that your hands are free but you can still read the text. Feel the fullness of your neck extending up behind your jaw. If you put your fingers in your lower ears and imagine they could touch, that is where your head meets the very top vertebra of the spine, called the atlas. Like all joints, it is a place of movement.
Now, sit for a moment without back support on the edge of a chair. Remember where your head meets your spine—between your ears—and, without trying, let go of any tightness in your neck to allow your head to balance easily and with mobility at the top of the spine. The poise of your head is facilitated by dropping your nose a bit to invite a slight forward rotation of your head on your spine. Even though your head is heavy, when it is balanced on its structure—not held or positioned—it floats and becomes weightless. This allows the whole body to respond by expanding and opening.
Now as you look down to read, allow your head to tip forward from the top of your spine, not interfering with the fullness and ease of your neck. Notice the quality of that in contrast to the way you were reading at the beginning.
Exercise: Clearing a Space
Clearing a Space is the first step in the Focusing technique. Its purpose is to clear a space of open receptivity before directing attention to a particular project or issue. It can be done at any time or place and it is especially useful when one is stressed or facing a challenge.
First, relax, close your eyes, and bring awareness to your body. Do a brief body scan to notice any places that might appreciate a moment of caring attention. Then become aware of your body as a whole, sensing how it feels to be present and resting on solid earth. Whether we are on a chair, a cushion, or on the grass, earth is always there supporting us: trust it and relax. See if you can find a level of simple presence—a sense of basic well-being that is always there regardless of life’s ever-changing textures.
Now bring awareness into the torso region, from your neck down to your bottom, and move your awareness gently around this sensitive, three-dimensional, alive space. As you do so, notice any felt senses, subtle sensations that have a certain tangible quality—hard/soft, smooth/jagged, calm/jittery, warm/cool, still/moving, and so forth. Don’t spend more than a few moments with any one felt sense and if your discursive mind goes into gear, gently notice that and return to your bodily sensed inner experience. Even if you don’t find anything that you think is a felt sense, notice the sensation of “not finding it.”
This is like clearing a workspace on a messy desk, knowing the papers you file away will be there when you are ready to attend to them. You may find it helpful to imagine actually placing each concern you find somewhere outside of your body. With these out of the way, rest in a sense of deep calm and receptive openness until it feels right to move on.
Seven Octaves of Enlightenment: Integral Deep Listening Pranayama by Joseph Dillard
From the book preface, used by permission of the author.
You take approximately 20,000 breaths a day. IDL Pranayama is about using as few as seven of them to transform your life.
How is it that we so routinely ignore something that accompanies us wherever we go, whatever we do, throughout the entirety of our lives?
Isn't it amazing that we rarely make use of something we do some twenty thousand times a day?
How is it that a transformative presence, so simple and easily taken for granted, is not only novel, but rarely respected?
How is it that we take for granted, know so little about, and make such cursory use of our most profound, reliable, supportive, instructive and positive companion?
Despite the common knowledge that Gautama used observation of breath to attain enlightenment, its nature and power is rarely recognized or used. Your breath is your most misunderstood, under-appreciated and misused resource, particularly when we consider its profound benefits, amazing powe, proven efficacy, ease of use, lack of negative side effects and transformative capabilities.
You can use your breath to expand your consciousness and speed your development. Integral Deep Listening (IDL) pranayama is designed to open new, important and exciting possibilities for you.
Your ability to become aware of the stages of each breath you take and the octaves of the evolution of consciousness that it personifies is a revolutionary and profound competency that has always been available to you, lying just under your nose. IDL Pranayama is an enjoyable and effective way to turn your breath into both your guru and intimate confident.
Pranayama, the Sanskrit word for 'Yoga of Breath Control,' is generally associated with both hatha, or body yoga, and control of breathing. Breath control is often associted with purification and access to altered states of consciousness such as higher meditative jnanas, peak and mystical experiences and deep sleep.
However, there are broader meanings for both yoga and pranayama. For IDL, 'yoga' refers to any discipline that encompasses the transpersonal as well as the personal and prepersonal dimensions of experience. The key concept emphasized by yoga is discipline, implying clear intention, dediction and persistence.
IDL supports and encourages all three of these important qualities. It also emphasizes slow, solid and balanced developmental evolution rather than exciting but evanescent and difficult to duplicate access to altered and mystical states. These will come, and may occur more frequently as your consciousness clarifies, but they are notoriously unpredictable and extremely difficult to duplicate.
At their best, yogas attempt to embrace the growing edge of human potential, meaning and development in order to pull you up and beyond your current definition of who you are and what it means to be whole and live a fulfilling life. Such yogas embrace both control and observation in order to transcend both.
IDL is a form of dream yoga that views waking, dream and mystical events as wake-up calls to be used to help you outgrow scripting, drama and cognitive distortions that have slowed and blocked your development for years. It also uses meditation and the interviewing of wake-up calls, whether they take the form of your waking life issues or the characters in your dreams, in order to generate lucidity, enlightenment and higher-order wakefulness, whether you are awake or dreaming.
To this end, IDL uses pranayama to support both goals — the reduction of filtering that generates delusion, drama and misery, on the one hand, and on the other, growth into a life-centered, rather than self-centered, orientation in your daily life.
IDL uses breath to anchor awareness in the here and now with three basic tools: naming, recognition and objectification of the five skandas adapted from Buddhism, and becoming the seven octaves of breathing.
While approaching breathing in terms of a developmental spiral echoes the 'spectrum of consciousness,' or the developmental progress of awakening laid out in all or in part by Plotinus, Aurobindo, Maslow, Kohlberg, Piaget and many others, and synthesized by Wilbur, that was not the formative intention behind IDL Pranayama.
Although the author had been familiar with many develomental models since the late 1960s, the relationship between breathing and those models was an afterthought, based largely on years of observation and practice with the first three stages of the breathing process. Its roots involved much practice observing breath as a function not only of meditation but walking and running during the 1990s, and realizing that every breath could be easily and reasonably subdivided into six component stages.
With the recognition that these stages were echoed in the macrocosmic processes of a day, the seasons and cycles of a lifetime, the idea of associated processes was born. When it was understood that each of these stages and processes were closly associated with certain values, the six core qualities, which became part of every IDL interview, came into existence.
These three aspects of every breath were not considered 'octaves' or otherwise related to the evolutionary and involutionary arc of life until 2016, when three core values of IDL — abundance, cosmic humor and luminosity, which include and transcend processes and qualities associated with the round of breth, were assigned to states in a higher, more refined cycle of breath, called 'transformational affect.' These were joined by joy, awareness and trans-rationality. At this point the idea of writing a book about the approach to pranayama taught by IDL occurred.
In the process of writing and thinking all of these through, still higher, ineffable cycles opened up, and these became Transcendent Awarenesses, emptiness and breathing from the perspective of life. It was only at this point that it became clear that these various approaches to the cycle of breathing could be considered octaves and associated with the develomental progression of enlightenment.
It came as a surprise to discover potent relationships between the microcosmic experience and the vast macrocosm of human evolution. The idea that one could recapitulate the entire evolutionary and involutionary arcs in seven breaths offered fascinating possibilities for the incubation of Grand Design in a very personal, intimate and immediate way.
IDL will show you how to grow into a dynamic, transformative and practical relationship with your breath that will turn it into your best friend. Whether you are new to pranayama or are a seasoned practitioner of advanced techniques, Seven Octaves of Enlightenment is intended to help you deepen and broaden your practice so that your breath will not only take you to your next level of development, but will be there supporting you, every step of the way.
Hi Gary.... Interesting topic... these are my thoughts so far.... I'd like, if I may, to return to it with further ideas... the current nature of my life is that I'm not getting extended periods of time to think and write and the ideas you've posted are quite extensive so I'm having to respond in a rather piecemeal fashion... as always, all the best to you and yours.... Dualism and Mortality
If the possibility exists, “for a centre of self-awareness to continue in some form”…I believe that such a metamorphosis, as with the ones we observe in our macro-existence, will require the complete dismantling and reorganisation of the existing “centre of self-awareness” and, it’s a statement of the obvious that, the resulting “entity” will be/is beyond our comprehension in this particular phase of our individual and collective evolution(s). I agree with the comment “It is nothing to strive for or fear missing out on”. Having no idea what such a goal even resembles, let alone any means of achieving it, our options seem to be self-evident.
Duality is simply the fundamental experiential nature of differentiated awareness, (self and other). It’s possible to understand and have a constant awareness of “things” as useful conventions of thinking while at the same time appreciating the holistic nature of existence. What we refer to as “dualities” are conventional perceptions relative to our perceived position on whichever scale of continuums we are relating to. The dualities don’t exist as such in reality but as conventional ideas with which we shape and rationalise our life experience.
Our experience as humans is similar to that of an individual having access to an infinite library of knowledge… it’s impossible for him/her to read every book simultaneously and the library is organised so that each individual needs to understand all the knowledge in one section before the knowledge in the next makes any sense. That’s the reason spending one’s current life speculating on the next is a fruitless exercise in terms of its practical usefulness....it's just guess-work for which there is no means of testing any hypothesis...
Thank you for taking the time to read the Quantum Human blog post.
R. - If the possibility exists, “for a centre of self-awareness to continue in some form”…
I believe that such a metamorphosis, as with the ones we observe in our macro-existence, will require the complete dismantling and reorganization of the existing “centre of self-awareness” and, it’s a statement of the obvious that, the resulting “entity” will be/is beyond our comprehension in this particular phase of our individual and collective evolution(s).
I agree with the comment “It is nothing to strive for or fear missing out on”. Having no idea what such a goal even resembles, let alone any means of achieving it, our options seem to be self-evident.
G. - On the other hand, what scientific discoveries would not have happened were the experimenters not willing to explore possibilities and find the unexpected?
I don't want to frame my ideas too tightly, so there is room in my head for something completely unexpected. Yet, to wonder and imagine, and allow larger ideas to emerge, that to me is worthwhile.
Does it absolutely require the complete dismantling and reorganization? Or could it be that some stalwart pioneer will find a way to seamlessly experience what we call the afterlife, which is not an afterlife at all but simply an entry into the greater existence. That is what I call the quantum human, one who lives as both the differentiated and undifferentiated simultaneously, experiencing one or the other or shades of both at (surrendered) will. As Marcel B. once wrote, paraphrased, 'What can be imagined already exists.'
Perhaps in this particular phase of our individual and collective evolution, such a step is unfathomable. It does seem like a far reach to me. Yet once the mental barrier, the belief, is broken, anything is possible. You and I can think of many examples of humanity being held back by beliefs, and once the barrier was broken, new worlds appeared.
R. - Our experience as humans is similar to that of an individual having access to an infinite library of knowledge… it’s impossible for him/her to read every book simultaneously and the library is organized so that each individual needs to understand all the knowledge in one section before the knowledge in the next makes any sense. That’s the reason spending one’s current life speculating on the next is a fruitless exercise in terms of its practical usefulness....it's just guess-work for which there is no means of testing any hypothesis...
G. - Interesting you say it is impossible to read every book simultaneously. Did you watch the 60 Minutes segment? That is exactly how Derek's musical savant capability is described. It is like he contains libraries of musical compositions and accesses them simultaneously. My hypothesis is that he is showing humanity one aspect, the musical savant, of the emerging quantum human.
Since we all choose what we believe, I choose the belief that there is a way to access such a state, perhaps over a certain type of meditation. Even if that belief dead-ends, the exploration in itself has value.
I look forward to your further ideas, when it is in the flow for you.