Training the Mind for Shadow Work

I have spoken many times over the years about the importance of doing basic concentration work with the mind. Meditation on the breath, which is taught on Vipassana (Insight) retreats, is great for honing the attention and turning it into a tool that can be used for doing consciousness work.

When I was first doing Vipassana retreats, the primary instruction was simply to continually bring the attention back to the breath when it would wander. Out of this focus and the quieting of the mind that would come out of it, sometimes big insights would emerge about the nature of the Self, about impermanence and the interconnectedness of all things. What I am finding now, in my counseling work with clients, is that the ability to bring this focus is extremely valuable as an adjunct when we’re doing Shadow work./ Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on May 13th, 2014 No Comments

Slow Down!

Slow Down!

Why are you in such a hurry?

Where are you going that’s so important???

Don’t you know that most of that frenetic, anxious movement is just habit,

Conditioned by this ragged, wobbling world?

No, I’m serious, slow down!!!

This is some serious shit.

If you don’t slow down, you might miss something really important-

Like your God-given Soul, hurrying to catch up with you. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on September 4th, 2013 No Comments

Coming back from Mendocino

20 inner-city youth, 30 and younger
and a bunch of old white guys
trying to cross the chasm of generation, class and color
generally impossible to get all these men in a room together
much less talk about the wounds, bring the rage and the tears.

But we had a master ritualist, storyteller, shamen, and his helpers;
Michael Meade spinning stories, teaching West-African songs
That we sang full throated!-and as the week progressed the harmonies came
We raised the roof on that place!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on August 26th, 2013 No Comments

Getting Bigger

…When a person becomes truly big, they can learn to bow to something other than simple self-interest and can serve something beyond themselves. Humanity, if it awakens more fully to the creative ancestral prototype that sleeps within, can act contra naturum and go against blind needs and unconscious, selfish greed. Humanity remains capable of bending to the earth again and learning to assist the little fish of creation to find some refuge and ways to survive the great changes already underway.—Michael Meade

Meade approaches this “biggering” process in a different way than the Buddhists:
He speaks about tapping into mythological realms that are accessible through the deep psyche and are akin to Transpersonal Psychology’s Archtypal realms. He states that there are certain prototypes that live within each one of us, that can inform us how to manage the rising seas of chaos that surround us today. If we can connect with this realm, which can occur through our dreams, depth psychology or hearing a good story around a campfire, we can access the unique gift that we took birth to re-discover and bring out into the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on July 9th, 2013 No Comments

Ego and Self

Only those convinced by their own dreams can see the hidden designs behind the troubles of the world. To the common eye, Noah looked particularly foolish. Yet he would have been foolish in a worse way had he refused the inner project. Who can explain this to those whose eyes have not yet opened to their own inward seas?
-Michael Meade “The World Behind the World”

I asked a friend of mine recently what she meant when she said she was working hard to keep the ego out of the art she makes. “What do you mean by ego?” I asked. “I find that ego shows up in various ways in my life and some of them are useful and some of them are certainly not”.

/ Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on July 9th, 2013 No Comments

Scrotal and Phallic Power in Men

This post is inspired by two essays by Michael Meade and Michael Ventura from the late 80’s.

The Ventura piece is entitled “Notes on three erections” and is from a wonderful compilation  called “Shadow Dancing in the USA”.

Scrotal power rests in the present, in the recognition of the continuation of all things, and the celebration of that.  It brings forth nurturing and maintenance of those things we have created, our identity with Gaia, our connection with planting and the harvest, with the animals and the offering of their lives for life to go on.  With Scrotal power we nurture our families, our community and gestate visions of harmonious worlds, stemming from our connection with history and all-that-is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on January 1st, 2013 1 Comment

Making changes

I’ve been running men’s groups in Portland for a few years now and as we progress, I come to see more and more the importance of spiritual practice.

The theme of my groups is “Pushing our Edges” and those edges can be in the realm of relationship, work, creative endeavors, or intra-psychic processes (dealing with mood swings, anxiety, obsessiveness, etc).  We all generally live within our edges, the boundaries that are comfortable to the ego.  And many of us also have a desire to move beyond those edges and to have a bigger life.  I have found that the best way to move those perimeters out is to make a practice of it, and  to come at it with similar attitude that you would with any spiritual practice.

The first step is to get very clear what about what it is you want to change.  The second is to determine what you want the new behavior to be.  The third is, with consistency and kindness for self, to start to practice the new behavior.

/ Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on June 14th, 2012 No Comments

Growing where you’re planted

Growing where you’re planted means just that.  You use the situation you find yourself in as the growing matter for your own unfolding.  The Buddhist image of the Lotus is so powerful because it bespeaks a flower who’s roots are in the mud but that rises through the water and blooms in the light of consciousness.  This is a great way to think about our own lives and our own journeys. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on May 21st, 2012 No Comments

Bringing in the Brain Science

In April and May of this year,I went to a training in a technique called “ReCreation of the Self” (RcS), which is based out of Hakomi Therapy. One of the big tenants of this system is that we have the choice to move ourselves into an expanded state, or to move into, or stay in, a more contracted one. A trained RcS practitioner can show you how to access more expansive states and then give you the tools to get there yourself.

Various people have talked about our ability to do this in different ways over the years: “choose only love”, “love is letting go of fear”, or “you create your own reality” which is a more all-encompassing view of the process. Now, contributions from neuroscience are coming into the conversation and the understandings about how our experiences and behavior patterns are built in the brain, has made it possible to approach this perspective from a more materialistic or scientifically based direction./ Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on June 15th, 2011 No Comments

Dealing with Confusion

You may be dealing with confusion around many things as basic as who you are, what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. The first thing to do to approach this situation is to get in touch with the fact that you’re confused. Just say it. “I’m confused.” If you can do that, then it can all end right there. Rather than spend weeks or months spinning around trying to figure something out or act like you know what you’re doing, just throw down the anchor and let her rip: “I’m confused.”

That should be really obvious, right? But it’s not, is it? Because no one wants to admit that they’re confused (or they made a mistake). So, in order to do this very simple, human thing, you might need some support. Tom Fuller, or some other therapist might need to be there and say, “Hey Joe, you seem confused. Can you feel that? Can you be with that for a minute?”
Since Tom or whomever, is saying this, and you trust him and you know he’s not trying to disrespect you, you stop and take a breath,and feel it: “Oh wow, man, yeah, I’m really confused!” (what a relief that is!) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on May 4th, 2011 No Comments