Moving it into the nervous system

Work Zone

Work Zone

It’s one thing to understand non-duality or spirituality with the mind.  My thoughts heard about awareness and read a hundred spiritual teachers in this lifetime, so often nodding and saying yes, yes, yes.  I understand.  Yes, I get it.  I grok this, I know–well, sort of–what teachers are saying with their fingers pointing toward the moon.  Or at least I THINK I know.

Enough to write a hundred blogs attempting to explain what I think I know about what can’t be put into words.

Thoughts love to lasso possible concepts and make sense of the world.  We like to order our concepts into a giant interlocking jigsaw puzzle.  We sometimes think if we find that last missing piece–we’ll finally get it.  We will have arrived at some understanding.  We’ll know.

Of course, eventually, it sometimes starts to dawn that what the spiritual teachers (and maybe even our own thoughts) say is true.

It’s a journey of un-knowing.  It’s a relaxing into not knowing anything.  Literally not knowing where to turn next.  Not depending on thoughts as a lifeline.

Our nervous systems have been operating since birth with thoughts as King.  We think thoughts are “ours”; we often blindly obey them; they form our sense of identity.

When identity with thoughts and personality loosens, our nervous systems literally often do not know how to respond. They must rebuild circuitry with the un-knowing trust at the center, instead of thoughts.  (Thoughts still carry on, it seems, but more as advisors rather than autocrats.)

The nervous system can feel very frightened during this time.  It literally has not learned to trust “nothing”.  It feels Spirit is too insubstantial, too flimsy.  It often thinks it’s going to die without control at the helm.

So much of my spiritual work in the last eight years has been allowing awareness to move deeply into the nervous system where real change can occur.  Moving into tight, closed, clutched places in the gut, liver, knees, heart.  Awareness itself opens, releases, allows.

One of the litmus tests of the nervous system seems to be:  can we meet feelings of fear without going unconscious into a story?  Can we meet sensations of pain without resurrecting a self who is suffering?  Are we still craving food, alcohol, activities to fill our days?  Do we sense life is not enough?

If so, our realization often hasn’t sunk deep enough into our nervous system.  It’s a continuing journey of meeting whatever hasn’t relaxed in our bones, our blood, our organs, our skin.  Of learning to trust in an embodied way.

The mind can’t think its way into this.  Every time the body contracts it’s another opportunity to allow awareness to move inward and sit with the sensations without a story, without an explanation.

And slowly, usually slowly (although sometimes immediately) the body relaxes even more and kinesthetically realizes trust in the unknown is an amazing gift…