We are starting to do a series of blogs based on questions that have been sent in. The blogs will be created based on dialogue between Olivia and Kyle as he considers the questions.
If you have a question you want to be answered, please email us at email@example.com
How do we begin our personal development journey? How do we begin to address those deep childhood wounds?
Consciousness, Letting Go and Altitude
The biggest challenge in the transformational process or the raising of consciousness within the context of Life at Altitude is the ability to recognize what is “I” and what is not “I”. It’s impossible to let go of something that you’re identified with. When someone I work with is identified with their emotional pain they can’t let it go because from the ego’s point of view, it would be suicide.
If I’m identified with my anger, “I am angry”, then I identify as that thing and my consciousness and my awareness are so focused on the anger that I can’t see anything else. In colloquial terms, it’s called “seeing red”. If I am looking at life through anger, as anger, there is no way to let it go. In Inquiry Method, when we’re working with something like anger or sadness, grief, loss or fear, we have to raise up the level of consciousness to, “I feel angry”. If I can get to the place where I recognize “I feel angry” then I am no longer identified with the anger and have, with a little bit of training or re-training, the capacity to let it go. That is the same for any pain or emotional trigger that you have. If you can get separate from it then you can let it go.
Beyond identification with emotions, we can also identify with a belief, idea, or self-image. Whatever self-image we are identified with is difficult to let go of or dis-identify with because we think we are that. Somebody who thinks they are a victim or believes in their victimhood rarely can get out of that mindset until they realize they are just playing the role of a victim. The same goes for when someone believes in their power, their authority, or their importance. It’s hard for people who have been very successful, such as CEOs or presidents of organizations, to let go of their identification with the importance of their station. However, each one of these titles can be a trap. Once we identify with some egoic position, like importance or lack of importance, it’s very hard to let go of – until we can raise our consciousness to the level where we recognize we are just playing a role or a game and that it is not us.
It’s the same with drive. We can identify with whatever drive we have. It is really hard to see myself or see things accurately when I am driven toward anything. It could be a drive toward relationships, toward love, toward money, etc.
The whole key of transformation is to recognize that A) you are not your emotions, B) you are not your thoughts, C) you are not your drives. By developing the skill and capacity to recognize the difference, we become more flexible and more able to transform our lives. We can lift our experience of life into realms that are beyond our current experience.
Inquiry Method™ is not just a technique for interacting with people or addressing deeper personal issues, but also an approach to life in general.
A while ago, I spoke with some teachers who had talked about our minds as ego and emotions. They referred to how our minds are constantly wanting to put things into the categories of good and bad, positive and negative. So, when we are in our minds, we are always interpreting everything around us from this quality of good and bad. When I heard that, I thought to myself that if I dropped the discernment between good and bad and stopped putting things into those categories, then my life would be neutral.
I thought I would test it, so I imagined that I would drop all good and bad and see if life would be neutral. I was very surprised to find that life was far from neutral. When I looked at it from that perspective of the elimination of good and bad, I was aware of just the miracle of life and even the miracle of existence.
The idea that, out of nothingness, all this appeared, that I even exist, the world exists, this planet exists, the universe exists is truly just an incredible miracle.
I began to understand the deeper, maybe religious or spiritual understanding, or even the practical understanding of the true appreciation, gratitude, and experience of life. This is what was so shocking from breaking the habit of putting things into categories of good and bad; I switched into having wonder, awe, and amazement for just being here.
Any time I remember and bring myself to that place again, I am stunned by the existence of my consciousness, the existence of life, the planet, plants and animals, things that happen, things that come into my life. Cars and cell phones, raindrops, everything starts to take on a quality of wonder.
Innocence and wonder are at the heart of the inquiry approach to life. We are so used to focusing on our wantiness and drives and feeling like there should be something more to life; Inquiry Method TM instead guides us to finding a quality of deep appreciation and acknowledgment in life. Because, when I am out of wantiness, neediness, and exchange, I can be present for my day without needing it to be different. And from that place, I can just be curious and engage in life with a sense of wonder.
Wonder is such a beautiful word that combines a sense of curiosity with a sense of awe; awe implying awareness of beauty, awareness of serendipity, awareness of magic, and even awareness of surprise about life.
Last week, we asked people on our facebook page what topic they would like to us to do a blog or talk on. We’re going to be answering one of their questions today and look forward to answering more as we go forward.
If you have a question you’d like to ask Kyle or a topic you’d like to see him do a blog or talk on, please send us a message on Facebook
The question we are going to answer today is: “Is depression self-created?
You can listen to the recorded version here, or scroll down to read the blog
This is such a good question. I think it’s so poignant for the times.
There are multi-levels to that question. I think that it has become really clear lately that there is a disease process called “depression” that is actually a condition. It’s been largely overlooked and there’s a lot of shame and repression around it.
In general, we tend to project mental health conditions on people as personal, whereas physical health conditions we project as just accidental. So, we tend to have a lot more sympathy and understanding and compassion for people with physical illness more than mental illness. And, I would say that depression is clearly at this point a medical condition. And, one where there are people who are in a state of chronic or cyclical depression, where there is a medical condition.
There are really beautiful examples of this out there. There’s a Netflix show called 3 Mics with Neal Brennan. He does a really beautiful talk about his experience with it. Wil Wheaton from the Star Trek series has written about his experience with it. And, I really think it’s time for us to look at it differently.
Now, if we aren’t talking about clinical depression or depression as an illness, there is another level. We all go through different times of depression and depression is part of the natural cycle. We should all be going through a series of depression (nonmedical depressions). Depression is really our time of pulling back, of getting grounding in oneself, of getting perspective, and even a time for gaining energy. And, if we don’t have the judgment around depression, we can actually go down into that spot and find rest and recovery. If we can be patient in that spot, then we can know it will come around again, that we’ll come onto the upswing and we’ll find our next inspiration.
In fact, as a culture, we way overdo it. Depression in a cyclical manner can also be a reflection of our drive. We get in that downswing when we when we overpressure, overtax, or overdrive ourselves.
It’s great to take the top and the bottom off the swing and become more even. But, if you do find yourself in a down place, notice it’s a time to self-reflect. People rarely call me and ask for personal growth when they are in the upswing (although they should). When they are in the downswing, they do call, and connect, and are ready to grow. So, we really want to honor those downswings and honor those times of self-reflection. We want to honor them as moments where we can expand our vision, grow ourselves, excavate ideas, beliefs, and thoughts, and any emotional pain we are carrying. So that on the next upswing, we don’t have to carry those along with us. Let’s honor the depression and use it as a time for rest and renewal.
It has been so helpful to recognize I have a choice every moment.
Not about what is happening right now, but about my relationship to it.
My 3 choices are:
If I resist, I create struggle in me and around me.
In acceptance, I become neutral, but neutrality is a form of death.
In approval, I decide to lean in to what is happening.
I get behind it.
This is when the magic happens.
Approval is a powerful life practice available to you every moment.
I use the word practice to indicate it takes practice and you are never done getting better at it.
Try it right now, take something you are resisting either inside or outside you and get in approval of it, get behind it, get into it and see what happens. Let me know.
The more you uncover yourself, the more you can accept who you are. The act of uncovering yourself is like going through darkness or a shadowy area. On the other side of uncovering who you are is the opportunity to discover approval for yourself. As you identify the parts of yourself that you do not accept, you can find a way of gaining approval for them.
This is a part of what we do at the Freedom Experience; we look into all of those things that we have repressed and judged about ourselves, and we talk about how they are necessary parts of a whole human. For example, judging that we are lazy or slothful is also the part of us that allows us to rest. How much do you honor the part of you that needs rest and nurturing? Or we may discover that the part of us that gets angry is also the part of ourselves that wants to take care of us.
A crucial part of discovering what it means to love ourselves is finding our capacity to step into our larger self, what I am calling going to a higher level or altitude of consciousness. To do this, we must step out of our emotional or mental self, and step into the part of ourselves that can love and embrace all of our flaws or struggles.
To master this capacity, it is helpful to find ways to practice regularly. There are two things that I have been doing that help me step into my larger self.
The first exercise is to practice loving. I do this by picking an object, a beautiful rock or a flower, or anything else that speaks to me. I intentionally choose something with slight imperfections. I start appreciating it, begin pouring my loving into it, recognizing the beauty and preciousness of it. This is the practice of developing your capacity for love. By recognizing that you can intentionally generate your loving and appreciation for something outside of yourself, you are developing that capacity within yourself. As you get better at it, you can start extending it to things around you all the time. Everything that exists is worthy of love.
The second activity for deepening the capacity for self-love can be done at any time of the day, though I do it at night. As I prepare for bed and get ready to sleep, I step into my larger self and hold myself in the same consciousness that I would hold a stone from the beach. I think about the person who has gone through the day, about what happened mentally, physically, and emotionally and then I just hold him in deep acceptance. In the same way that I can love a stone from the beach or a flower from the garden, I can appreciate this imperfect person in all his aspects. And thus, recognize the beauty of self by going beyond the judgmental part of myself.
This is a different process from what we do in the Mountain or the Freedom Experience. This is not so much about getting better, but more about practicing having unconditional love for ourselves. In a way, it is a step towards reaching the Want-for-Us level. While it is very hard to do if in a lot of mental pain, it is separate from letting go and self-acceptance. In fact, it is of a higher order. Practicing this type of self-loving will support the experience of altitude throughout your life.
To learn more about altitude listen to my podcast: Life at Altitude.