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  • Rudy Bauer

Existential Phenomenological Psychotherapy – “Openness,” Part 2

By Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D., Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P.


Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D., Editor, Michelle Mae, Transcriber, Erin Johannesen, M.A., M.D., Editor


The healing dimension takes place in openness.  If you’ve had the fortune of meeting a great healer, you will meet, at least in their moment of healing, a profoundly open person.  This has been my experience.  Outside of that moment, you may not even want to know that person whatsoever; this has also been my experience!  It is true that many healers are better people when they are healing, other than that, I won’t name names… But they are fantastic; they are so open to the openness.  In that configuration, the healing dimension opens, and what was reified, or determined, becomes possible.  You know who said that – Donald Winnicott, the greatest of the psychoanalysts.  When you are in complete reality, you are determined; in fantasy, you are determined.  When you are open to openness, which is the profound underbelly of transitional space and liminal states, then healing can begin to take place.  Because of the openness of the innate awareness, there is no limited reification, no fixation at the level of primordial openness.  It is like the sky – undivided perception.  The past is closed.  The future has not begun.  The present is indeterminate.  In pure awareness, pure openness, bliss arises.  Bliss… exaltation, ecstasy arises in openness, in the openness to openness.  It is extremely pleasurable.  Whether the context is helping a person, or being with a person, whether the context is sexuality, friendship, or even a fight, being open to openness is intrinsically blissful, intrinsically pleasurable at some level. 

In this openness of openness, all the appearances become less fixed, un-crystallized.  It means things feel a little watery.  If it gets you really nervous, you will want to give up openness really quickly, and become fixated – just the facts… back into facticity.  This openness is wide open, uncontrived, and unfounded.  Everything is embraced in this purity of openness.  This openness is unthought.  It’s not a thought.  This unthought openness is here, is the newness of awareness.  You can’t fabricate it or make it up.  That’s why we don’t really use imagery much here, like the imagery of dying.  IF we can be in the openness of openness, we can actually feel death right there, things feel very unsubstantial, it’s like that spacious emptiness.  This [spaciousness] is beyond language and signs.  Even at the greatest depth of this perceptual openness, in and through the openness there is a sense of luminosity.  I don’t mean seeing little lights, but a sense of the luminous.  Resonance arises out of the openness, and through openness, transmissions take place.  When we are that open, it is easier to use affect and cognition to connote something to a person.  The method of extension, which we practiced already, is a way of opening to the openness, whether it’s in our body, or between each other, or between us and someone who is not even here.  We open to them at that level.  This openness is the most fundamental of all givenness.  [Have] you ever felt you’ve been given to?  The pure givenness of this openness is like a natural gift.  We feel that; we feel real gratitude.  We feel love.  Openness and this great affection are this close.  This openness is essentially you and I.  Even right now.  This openness, and all the phenomenologists discovered this, is the very essence of subjectivity.  The essence of subjectivity is openness.  So even a little scientific book on presence, on inter-subjective states, means openness is with openness, means openness touches openness.  So I might be in openness, but I just don’t know that this is THE openness of openness.  The basic dissociation is between personal awareness and innate awareness.  They are about this far apart.  So let’s take a break, but let’s take a break in openness…

Today we are exploring equality about the nature of awareness as openness, and that, in becoming aware of awareness, we are taking a ‘reduction,’ – to use that language – of turning within and of becoming open to the openness.  These [words or phrases] are all metaphors for awareness, whether we use space, energy, light, clarity, void, emptiness, knowingness, or direct perception.  We’ve been focusing on openness because of its innate connection to healing – whatever type of healing work one is doing – and [because of] its innate connection to love.  From the point of view of this presentation, love is openness, primordial openness.  Whether it’s love for a beautiful baby – so exquisite, – and you’re open to the object [a baby in this instance] in that regular level of being open, but suddenly that beauty, the aesthetics of it, catapults you into openness of openness itself because we feel that openness easily in a baby in an unbound way.  Love arises, just like bliss arises, whenever we become open to that openness.  In our work, we experiment with each other and work with becoming aware at that first level of objects, which is a really good skill to have and many of you have it.  If you don’t [have it], it’s a good skill to get to [be able to] lead people, with their experience, into awareness.  You want to bring their experience forth in greater clarity so they may transform it, or integrate it, and you want to bring forth the underbelly of experience, the healing context of our own growth, of our becoming open to the openness.

Unbound openness, awareness, which is beyond language, is hard to speak about and rather subtle; it is not cognition.  To experience this openness is potential space and is a freedom where that which seems completely determined may be less determined at that moment.  We’ll also explore the obscurations of openness.  Let’s suspend for a moment; eyes can be open, and see if we can become aware of awareness, becoming open to the openness… Let’s [energetically] lean into our neighbor, sensing them… sensing the openness, not thinking it or imagining it, [rather more] like developing a taste.  If we feel a little bit of openness, [then] that is what you extend through your body.  You enter it [enter the openness] and extend it.  It’s like extending containment.  Notice what we are experiencing as we practice and play with this, with extending and opening through our bodies.  Now, we’ll go beyond the body and be open to the room…

We’re going to stay in the state of awareness and listen to people describing their experience, describing just what just took place in this experiment.  Then I’ll ask you to get up, and remaining in openness, to give the microphone to someone else.

Woman #1: “It was space, airy, hollow space that moved up through, and the moment you said become aware of the room, I knew I was [aware of the room] and then it kind of refined itself.”

What does ‘refined itself’ mean and feel like?

“It’s actually something I’ve heard you say before that I experienced.  It’s like already there, you know it, except you don’t quite know you know it until you notice.”

Woman #2: “There was a kind of a warm darkness, but it wasn’t; it pulsed, had waves in it.”

Let’s stay with that.  What is it like to experience ‘warm darkness pulsating’?  Stay with it and give a little more description.

“It was calming and wide without perimeter.  It was… it had a moment of curiosity about it.”

Did that reveal something, that ‘moment of curiosity’?

“The only word that comes up was, ‘Ah’.”

What did that feel like, that ‘Ah’?

“Very different…”

That [the syllable ‘Ah’] is a very natural expression of that [of that openness].  Okay, someone else, stay in your experience and say what happened.

Man #1:  “I feel like a kid who might be dragging the class down; I didn’t feel like I felt it or not.  My mind was a lot quieter, but at the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘I’m not getting it’.”

Before you had that thought, what was it like to experience the mind as a lot more quiet?

“It was very relaxing and to some degree rejuvenating.”

‘Relaxing and rejuvenating’… where did you feel that taking place in your body, [in] yourself?

“I wouldn’t be able to give a location.”

So it was not located?

“Right.”

Often awareness is a non-located state.  It’s very pervasive, but not particularly located.  We know we have it, but it’s not in my toe or wherever. 

Woman #3: “I immediately begin to feel tingling.  My left arm got so tingly that it was almost uncomfortable.  When I’ve tried to sit in a state of awareness at home, I have a hard time of it, and it’s interesting to be back here and in this group, because I immediately go into it, it’s so much easier for me.”

Could you describe what that immediacy feels like?

“It’s kind of like a veil is being lifted, and I slip into this spacious, tingly feeling.”

Is it any particular place?

“I was aware of my neck wasn’t hurting, which it was before.”

Could you describe a few words about the veil lifting?

“It almost feels like taking a breath, or a water image of a tide going out.  It’s very fluid.  It almost feels like taking a breath and letting it go.”

I like how people are doing this [how people are articulating their experiences] because they are staying very experientially near, and since we’re in the awareness field together, as people simply articulate their experience – since I believe in the morphogenic qualities of the field – then as one person articulates, that phenomena helps bring it forth for another.

Man #2:  “I could feel a spaciousness between my chest and throat, and it didn’t feel like a vacuum or empty; it felt full, even though it was a space.”

Yes, the plenum, the fullness.  Can you focus and describe that fullness?

“It felt like it was filling, but it wasn’t pushing out other things.  It was comfortable in its expansion, without feeling strained.”

I really like that description; ‘it is filling without any discomfort in the expansion’.  I love Winnicott’s phrase about entering the transitional [space], ‘one feels the beginning of the filling up state’.  For his language, he would use the self [instead of the words ‘awareness,’ or ‘openness’] and say, “This is the self coming forward.” All these languages are very soft; they aren’t really real, but that filling up state, feeling the self arising presence, [is known].

“When you had us extend out to the room, I could feel it was a bit of an icy-hot sensation in my hands that I had never noticed before, and that’s where I felt the extension, just the hands, and no path, that is where it seemed to come out.”

For some reason, hands are numero uno.  It starts with the hands; I think that those drawings where the hand takes so much from of the brain [those neuroanatomical drawings that show that a large part of the brain is dedicated to movement and sensation of the hand]. I think it may have something to do with this [with the importance of the hand for the brain].  Hands are a really good place to start, and from the hands we then move to the heart.  Okay, next?

Woman #4:   “What I was experiencing was, I don’t know if it was resistance, but it was a tightness in my chest and pain almost as if there were two doors that flipped open; they were the two doors [that] had been closed; there was a pain…”

Can I make a comment about that?  [What] you guys are describing – I’m trying to elaborate in terms of traditions that may or may not be true – but this [what you are describing] is a real place.  As the field starts really opening in the body, this is not always fun.  As that center starts to open, it is like doors and can be sore; [we can feel soreness in our bodies].  Those metaphors are real!  Like the doors starting to open on the cave, this [the heart center] is the center where the awareness is, and it can be painful at times and starts to stretch, and the field comes out, and the most powerful place in ourselves for this direct perception is through the heart center. You want to say something else.

“It seemed to dissipate a little when you said to extend to the whole room; the pain was a little less at that point.”

My fantasy [or said another way, perhaps the opening that your hearing and experiencing of my words was giving to you] may have started to come through the rest of your body and not just through that focal heart area.  Great, thanks… next person…

Woman #5: “I had the feeling of sinking and filling out my body or filling into my body.  When you said to open to the room, I could feel these waves coming from me, and I was meeting other waves coming back.”

Cool.  As those waves are coming out, waves are coming in, and the intensification rises.  What also happens so often when two [people] are holding it [holding awareness together] – and two awarenesses are better than one – it’s like the tide starts to rise, and the field starts to rise.  That is why a group, or two awarenesses, really help with this [with this experiencing of the field, of openness].  That is why the mysterious coniunctio [(pronounced ‘con-YUNG-see-oh’); a word of Latin origin meaning ‘bringing together’ or ‘joining together’] – which Freud was so pre-occupied with – was about the waves coming out and waves coming in and subtle states of union, sometimes taking place inside the body and sometimes outside of the body.  He considered that ‘union’ the essence of being a healer.  By healing, I’m not talking about automatic [like the natural regeneration of tissue that occurs when we perhaps skin our knee – such healing, or mending, happens whether we are aware of it or not], but rather [I’m talking about] that capacity not only to have this field come out of your body, [but also to have this field be met [or experienced by the awareness of another]; being able to hold that [all of that] was the mysterious coniunctio.  He [Freud] was pre-occupied with where projection and projective identification came from, you know?  Say we’re a couple, and I think this [certain sentiment] about you and it’s not too nice, and I don’t have to say anything, but you start to own and become that.  Where does that come from?  And that led him to field phenomena, and to healing.  But if we can project bad things, then goodness is also there. 

Man #3:  “For me, it was being in a very quiet, peaceful, resting place.  It was dark, but good dark.”

What is ‘good dark;’ what does that feel like?

“It’s peaceful, like a nest.  When you suggested that we extend, I had this feeling of warmth emanating from the left part of my body, and the leg in particular, for some reason.”

Also, when he’s speaking about the ‘nest,’ there is a holding function.  When we are in the awareness state, we start feeling this capacity of being held, which is the self, the self is that which holds everything.  It can be very peaceful and still, the self soothing function also arises.  The self soothing function is very important; when we enter the awareness state, one of the most primary indicators is the self soothing function – which means we can start regulating our bodies better.  There is more of a sense of integration.  Within the power of the field, wherever it extends, there is a sense of oneness.  So if I’m feeling fragmented, I can extend the field through my body.  Thank you…

Woman #5: “At first my torso sort of felt like it was puffing out, plumping up, but porous.”

‘Plumping but porous’ is a fundamental description.  As the field arises, we start feeling [in our bodies] this ‘plumping up,’ but it’s porous, [our bodies feel porous; there is a union of our bodies with the field and aspects of the field readily flow in as well as out of us].  At that moment, our body is ‘becoming,’ and our capacity for resonance is opening; it is out of that porousness [and through that porousness] where you enter resonance.

“When you said to extend, almost instantaneously my arms and legs felt like they were puffing up, like the Michelin Man, and it was almost as if I was bumping up against other Michelin-type people.”

That is cool because you are in the field, and you feel it touching, which is really good because when you are working with people, you are going to work that connection, that overlap, that contact of fields, but you don’t want it to be too intrusive, nor too far away; [you want it to be] just right.  You are starting to feel your field touching other fields.  That is really cool, and your using that kind of sensitivity when you are working with people is very useful.  You are working, not too intrusively, but you are really in the field.  First, we hold the field; some of us are holding the field, and then suddenly we feel ourselves entering the field.  It’s in front of us and behind us, and then we become it.

“I have a question.  Not this time, but often, when I’m alone and try to meditate, I feel this pain right here.” [She places a finger on a point between her eyes]

Yes, that pain can be the opening of this energy center.  [He (Rudy) places a finger on the same point between his eyes.] A lot of energy is coming into this center.  It’s called the ‘third eye’.  That center, the heart center, and the navel are the [three] main [energy] centers, and they can open up, and it feels like a push; these little doors are opening, and sometimes can be painful.  Okay, now, staying with what just took place, next person…

“At the beginning it was kind of a floating; I just felt really light.”

What was it like ‘feeling light’?

“Floating… and at one point I did find myself leaning to the right, and then you said we lean towards our neighbors.  Then later when you asked us to extend, it went from up here to down here.”

What was it like to feel that, going ‘up to down’, to feel that extension in your body?

“Kind of breathless, just kind of heavy, like I couldn’t breathe.”

Did the breath stop?

“Yes, maybe for a moment.”

Sometimes, when we go into the field, especially if it’s from the heart center opening, you will enter into a breathless state where there is no breath.  It is a strange feeling.  There is no breath whatsoever.  In fact that is what we might practice today.  Then suddenly, you will feel a breath-within-the-breath arise, and you feel the body breathing you.  That is a very good place, for then you are really in awareness.  That happens, and you may have to just relax into it, and sometimes you feel this great void.  If there is too much energy going up, you want to extend down, away from the heart and into the lower centers, which really help us get grounded.

Woman #6: “I felt the main feeling of the whole thing was that I felt welcomed back, it had something to do with the presences on the walls, particularly Mary, and I don’t know who that is [pointing to a picture or image], but those two presences, I felt like they were coming out to me.  I wasn’t making much effort, I was just…I felt held.”

As we know, awareness as a self-object function is not simply a function of our own mind.  It is a function of what we do actually; we’re the doer.  A person, or an animal too, can carry the self-object function, and great art and archetypical imagery carry the self-object function.  We will all learn about this.  The self-object function is that object that helps hold the self, but this holding the self at the true level, is resonance.  So when you walk in and feel the resonance, you’re in the field.  The self-object function is not simply a nice affect for [or towards] a person, but the underbelly [of this function] is the feeling of being in the field and of coming home again.  That is why, whenever people first enter the field, they feel that feeling of coming home, it’s a major description.  These sharings are unique, and that [sharing] is really how we learn… My talks are just provocative!

Woman #7: “Extending into the body, I was more aware of the internal workings of the body and the consciousness, that awareness.  I was connected to that all through the body, and then as we started extending out; I become aware of the luminous; things became more luminous.”

Will you mind speaking more about ‘things became more luminous’?  That is an indication of being in the field.

“It’s almost like a light that’s not started by anything; it just is there and exists.  It’s very expansive, and as I became aware of that and of spreading it out, I became more aware of the field.   In some areas it [the field] was warm, and some areas it was cold, in different spots.  I became a bit more sensitive, and I couldn’t tell if it or I expanded.  There was much heart sensation that was going on at the same time.”

You’ve made a lot of big leaps.  Luminosity – you see it, but you don’t know exactly how we see it, but everything starts having that luminous radiance…

Woman #8: “I felt like I was dropping into my body; it was almost an animal feeling.  It was like the feeling like I had this image of sleeping with a pet or a lover.  The idea of the ‘nest’ spoke to me.  I was also aware that my breathing was very slowed down.”

Yes, it’s that dropping down feeling, like we are not quite in the body.  What you brought up causes trouble for people, but not for you which I am happy for.  We go into that awareness, and we begin to feel embodiment, and embodiment is an animal.  The sensuousness of it is like sleeping with a lover, really feeling this innate sensuousness, which, for some people, is uncomfortable.  That capacity to tolerate the sensuous pleasure that arises is intrinsic to this [to remaining in awareness].  The embodiment means we are embodying; it has an intensity that one must allow one’s self to go into.  That is a really big block, which is a number one block, an obscuration, to fall into the body and feel this intense sensuality.  The field is in the body, and there is intenseness in the body. 

Woman #9: “I experienced a lot of mental chatter, a constant flow of information.  It worked to really let go of the chatter.  When I did that, I was aware of a color, and then I was aware of my head jerking back as if I were falling asleep, but I was very alert, as if I had started to droop.  Then I felt a little silly at first but realized I was quite alert.”

You were alert and clear, the ‘chatter’ was bypassed; how did you do that?

“I’m not sure I know.  Just recently, I’ve tried to get back into the discipline of meditation – very recently – and the chatter, when I was trained in meditation 25 years ago, the chatter was the identification of the information that came in, so to get beyond the information was my goal.  To stop trying to identify; there aren’t words to describe it.”

Can you sense that which holds the information?

“I don’t know that I understand that.”

Can you sense the holder of the information, that which is holding the information which is coming through?

“I think that is what I did when I bypassed the chatter, but then I lost awareness for a moment…”

Thank you so much, next person.

Woman #10: “I felt some more things that others described.  I felt a dropping, a sinking, and I feel a lot of pulsating in my hands and legs.  I really feel the body.  There is a kind of release and calm, so there was a bit of a back and forth.  I felt a lot of energy in my heart and throat, and then there would be a drop back down in trying to practice the extension, like a deepening.  That would put me in a lovely space, stretching out, sensuous feeling of lying on black velvet or being cozy.  But there was some uncomfortable parts too where I would come back into some energy around the throat particularly…”

Were you thought-free?

“It was back and forth.”

It’s not like thought-free is the only goal here; we’ll go back and forth.  They [our thoughts] go, and they come, and we pull them into the field… please pass the mic [microphone]…

Woman #11: “In the beginning it felt like a flowing out in all directions from my body, expanding in all directions but I could still sense the edge of the perception, with the sense of a lot of energy inside of the edge.”

What was it like to feel all that energy inside of that vase?

“It feels very supportive, like there is a lot supporting me.  I feel backed up by this energy.”

That is a great phrase:  ‘I feel backed up by the energy’.  That is like having a base, the base of awareness; it feels like being backed up.

“I really do feel it all around me, but in the back especially it feels very comforting.  When you asked us to lean into our neighbor, what I felt was this ‘edge’ initially, and then I felt that edge dissolve, and I was leaning in this direction.  Sensing my neighbor’s field and the boundaries between the fields dissolving, and then I had a real curiosity about her and wanted to sense her field.”

You start entering into a subjective state, the beginning of the oneness.

“Then in terms of dropping into the body, it felt like a dropping in and initially [I am] aware of going down and then [it] felt like the same kind of boundary that was between our fields.  I could sense that [boundary or edge] in certain parts of my body as well and [then] that dissolving and feeling a real sense of light flowing through my body.”

One of the things that is useful in working in a field with another person, though you can be holding oneness, is that it is not a fusion state.  You are going to feel clarity, you’re not going to feel like, whose head is this…

“It’s very paradoxical because I almost feel more awake to myself while I’m still here; my body is here.”

That is the paradox of being in the awareness field with another; you’re more awake to yourself.  Learning that difference, because sometimes we can enter into fusion states, which feel like oneness, but it’s actually kind of mushy, and you can’t wait to get out because you are actually losing [a sense of clarity].  In the awareness field, there is an accentuation through the oneness itself; subjectivity can become accentuated.  It really is an inter-subjective experience, [it is] ‘me’ meeting you.  It is direct perception, but not a fusion state.  That is a discrimination that is really useful to know about. 

When a person talks, we should lean-in to them and be connected to what they are saying.

Man #6:  “Part of what I’ve noticed is that I’ve felt the energy and felt the field as a deep sense of relaxation today, just a calming, without effort.”

What is that like to feel that ‘deep sense of relaxation,’ resting?

“It feels peaceful; I don’t have to exert energy, and it’s not about high energy, it’s just flows.”

What’s it like for you not to have to exert any energy?

“It’s contrary to most of how I operate every day.”

He’s helping all of us.  [In] this experience, there is an action to it, but it’s really not effortful.  Sometimes the more we exude effort at it, the more we leave the natural awareness state.  It’s tricky.  There is a little bit of intentionality, but not too much.  There’s no ambition to it. 

Woman #11: “I was making an effort, since I haven’t been here for 2 years.  So I was really trying, and it then hit me, like a wall, and there was terrible pressure in my head.  When you said to lean into your neighbor, I thought, ‘I’m going to lean into two people,’ so I did that, and all of the sudden I felt like I was in a New York subway.  It was too much pressure.   All [of] the sudden, it was like a ‘pop’ and as if I was looking down, [and] there was an energy band holding us together, and we were floating, like you are looking down.  It’s like on a Ferris wheel when you kind of lift up.”

What does that ‘upliftment’ feel like, like you are going out of the box?

“I was surprised, but it was really fun.  I’m still in it right now, but it comes and goes. If I feel something that I don’t like, I put it back in the field, and it dissolves”

That’s helpful.  Even in getting into the awareness state, if there is a particular affective lock, the sense of bringing it into the field will actually take us into the field.  The field dissolves experience.  It is the great dissolver; it assimilates and dissolves experience.  It’s hard to think about until you feel it taking place.  That’s why it gets very hot.

Woman #12: “I started out by sinking down; I had a visual of my body as a silhouette with mercury, like heaviness sloshing around.  It started to feel very amoeba-like.  I spent a lot of time looking at amoebas when I was a kid, so it felt very much like it was coming into other places and expanding.”

But the field is like an amoeba; it [the field] fluctuates and moves, goes here and there.  What was it like inside of you when you were feeling the amoeba?

“It was like a heavy amoeba with mercury, dense.”

Were you able to think and feel in it?

“That was the nice start [nice part?], and then I had the experience of tension in my neck, so I was trying to use my field to get rid of the tension, and I got really lost.  It ended by [my] deciding that that wasn’t working, so I sunk back down.”

Man #8: “This time it was very much like falling into spaciousness and warmth.  It was easy and effortless.  It was very much compassionate and kindness feeling.  It’s a warm feeling that spreads throughout my body and filled out into the room.”

What was it like to feel compassion arising through you?

“It was, again, warm… comfortable, safe feeling. “

Was it empowering?

“Yeah, it didn’t strike me at the time, but it feels like there’s an energy that is available there to be used.”

Do you like having that capacity, that efficaciousness?

“Absolutely.”

He’s helping.  When we see these experiences arising that are spontaneous, we also want to – and it’s a delicate balance – to hold it as our own.  “This is my own.”  So there’s a kind of ownership that is really useful.  Though it does feel like it is arising as givenness, and it is, but it’s extremely useful to know that you are bringing it forth, that you are holding it.  Take your hand and symbolically take it and hold it as your own.  Sometimes, these symbolic gestures help us iconically, in the body, for more efficacy.  We never know quite how to do it; that is why the confidence is number one.  This compassion is really useful.  Most people suffer from empathy burnout.  You go to school and learn that empathy is good, feeling what other people are feeling though your affective thing [through your affective thinking].  After a while, you start thinking about another career because it [having this empathy] carries so much pain.  This [empathy] is not the internalization of other people’s pain.  [Melanie]Klein called it the’ maternal posture,’ or the ‘empathetic posture,’ which really goes from autistic to paranoid /schizoid states; it’s really the mothering posture.  It does help babies to grow, so when you have a baby, [as you are] mothering and fathering [your child], you experience what the baby is feeling, and it goes through your body, and you give back [or reflect back to the baby] to help him or her assimilate affects and experience.  It works with grownups too, but we really can’t do that [that empathetic posture].  After a while, we just die from it. 

Compassion is a step beyond that [empathetic posture].  It’s not healing through empathy.  Empathy does work and is really great for babies and young children, but for adults, except in emergency situations, it’s very tiring.  The capacity he felt come through, the expansion to hold another person in that [in that place of awareness and compassion] – through oneness and that openness – is useful for us and for the people we are working with.  If you tend naturally to carry the affective messages from your family – a lot of people do that and grow up to be therapists – but you may think about going beyond that [about going beyond that empathetic posture].

Man #8:  “At first I was aware of the – I felt a sense of joy and contact in the energy, and intention in my body, and the fluidity in my mind.  As you asked me to become aware of my neighbor, I felt warmth on the left side of my body, and then later, as you suggested we extend out, I contacted a really cool lightness on the right side of my body and became aware of my head feeling tilted to the right.  I decided to tilt it vertically and up came this experience of walking next to my father going fishing.  So it was a sweet sense of that, then I finally decided to include the other neighbor over here, and that was kind of nice.”

I like your description, because as we become aware of awareness, and resonate, lots of doors open, good doors and doors to not-so -good places.  When we re-enter and recapture the field, the time [earlier in our lives] when we lost the capacity of the field can arise; the place where we lost the field can arise.  Those types of memories will arise in order to be contained and dissolved.  Or, wonderful memories can arise that amplify points of origination of the experience.  Memory in the field becomes very good [very strong] at points of origination, it’s really curious.  It’s actually a yogic talent.  So, an event happens, and a memory comes up as a point of origination, like the unfolding of this dimension of pleasure.  So sometimes a memory will come up, and it will be [experienced as fresh], like the [very first] time a memory of this [experience was] opening up.  [When we’re in awareness, through our] memory [we] will also see other points of origination of people coming and leaving and stuff like that.

Woman # 13: “I first started with my eyes closed and was tired, and my thoughts were running, so I opened my eyes and found it much easier to reach openness with my eyes open.  I felt a lot of tingling in my legs and in trying to – when you invited us – to extend to our neighbors, I felt more of an intensity of my own experience, but I didn’t sense them [my neighbors].”

What took place in the’ intensity’ of your own experience?

“It was a heightened feeling of lightness, floating and pleasure.”

One thing [that] happens when people extend to us is we feel the amplification.  So if you all start extending to me, I’m going to feel good.  There is intensification, as people extend to us.  The light will become more intense; the feelings will become more intense.  Same thing if we extend to a person, that resonance can be intensified. [Even though] she wasn’t sure she was extending, others were extending to her, [and while she may not have experienced their extension, she did feel it as an intensification,] so extension does have useful power. 

“So you are saying because I didn’t feel the sensation of the other person, I should work on it?”

You can if you want to, but I’m just judging from your experience that you may not have felt that extension from others, but [when others were extending to you,]you were feeling the intensification [within yourself, within your experience of awareness], and I know other people were extending to you because they had said they were, and so extension, the capacity to extend and to be extended to, is very useful in all of this [practice or work].  It’s really useful in couple’s therapy.   If you can hold the field together in couple’s therapy, then those difficult experiences can be held and assimilated [by the couple].

Woman #14:  “I felt a calm and peace, but the thing I noticed was when you asked us to extend to the room, I felt a gentle water rising up and going around the perimeter of the room several times.”

That is useful for all of us.  As we extend, like in a room, there is a water-like thing, you feel the tide rising, all the little boats going up, and we get more and more into the field.  It can happen with just two – the couple holding that in a therapy setting – the field can rise.

Woman #15:  “I felt a lot.  I felt energy between my hands and a lightness coming in through the top of my head.  I felt ecstasy and being connected to the ground.”

What was the ‘ecstasy’ like?

“The ecstasy was aliveness through every cell of my body, a feeling of vibration everywhere; it feels really good.”

So in becoming open to the openness, it opens to all that [is] in our being, that ecstasy arises, and that is really wonderful as we touch that dimension because it becomes very independent [not dependent on our circumstances, a certain time, a certain place, in certain company…It’s available to us anytime].  We can just lean into it, and that bliss arises.  It can be very independent of a lot of factors happening around; it has the skill to develop.  It is so useful in therapy for people to feel that.  There is a tendency that therapy is simply working on misery, but after they work on their misery, what else can they do, but really this bliss is wonderful.

Woman #16:  “I felt my own beingness coming into the openness.”

What is that like?

“It’s not a lot, it’s just there.  It’s sort of a reassuringness and very steady and pervasive.”

What’s ‘pervasive;’ what is the ‘it’?

“The entirety of myself.  I don’t want to use an adjective because that would become so cognitive and take me out of it.”

Cool!  So it’s the entirety of my whole self.  Great phrase… would you mind staying in it – don’t go cognitive – and describe a little more?  When you are doing phenomenology, you stay in your body – don’t go into your mind – [when you stay in your body], then the words arise.  Anything else arising?

“The permeability of it has a wave to it.  It has motion to it, but it’s just the goodness of its being there that is really so wonderful.”

Great, the basic ‘goodness of its being there,’ the ‘goodness,’ the primordial field of awareness is goodness, even if we are no good, dirty rats.  The primordial field is goodness because it is there. 

Man # 8:  “My experience was that a large flash of light, bright ivory with blue and greenish perimeters and then no light, and my body felt, like that moment of just as you fall asleep, but you are still awake.  A switch turned on in my crown, and I have a very strong vibrating and energetic experience going on in the top of my head.”

That helps us all open to the luminous sun.  Thank you so much.  The phenomenological description in the field really turns the lock, really opens the door.  When a person is in the field describing these experiences, in our own body, those doors open.  Each person’s description is really useful and helpful because we learn not only cognitively, but [also we learn] who is the teacher?  The field of awareness is the teacher; it teaches us.  That is why if the group is in the field, then knowledge can arise out of experience.

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Washington Center for Consciousness Studies

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