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This collection of stories primarily focuses on my process of eliminating the automatic reactions I have that reduce my capacity for enjoying life. With a desire to create more meaningful relationships and invigorating work, I go deep within to find the habitual mental processes that keep me locked into an unconscious way of living. The reader is invited to garner ideas and apply my methods to their own life in order to do their own housecleaning and increase their life satisfaction.
The first task in this process, after choosing to enjoy life more, is to develop some curiosity about who is running the show and then cultivate enough moment to moment awareness to undertake an investigation to determine if the “boss” is qualified. I started my investigation by asking a simple question: “Who decides to swing my legs over the side of the bed in the morning and get up?” I have found that this all-powerful decision maker is quite elusive.
Two of my stories demonstrate the power of pulling back the curtain and revealing the charlatan that is making all the decisions. In “Who is Running the Show,” I propose that the subconscious is really in charge. A personal experience during a meditation session provides me with insight into how automatic, fragmented, and unconscious the driver is. This begins the process of loosening the grip my automatic mind has on my life.
“Wisdom Tooth” demonstrates how insight can also occur off of the meditation cushion. In this story, I describe how I was experiencing a great deal of anxiety around setting up an appointment for oral surgery. Using a method for uncovering and removing misbeliefs, I was able to eradicate all the worry I'd had about making the wrong decision in an instant. This radical shift left me with insight about how much my mind lies to me.
Fear is not some intuitive warning system. Fear is a distraction and simply garbage generated by the mind. Doesn’t it make sense that awareness of danger can come without the need for fear? So much for that “fear is useful” belief.
This experience left me faced with the reality that, while the answers are within, there is a whole lot of garbage in there too. How does one go about separating the wheat from the chaff? Perhaps it is merely a process of Deconditioning Ground.
“Ground” is a term that refers to the primordial state, base, or natural state. It is a state beyond conditioning and beyond constructs, images, ideas, and polarity. It is the state we are in when we are just being. When we are just being, there is no time, no form, no thoughts, and no emotions. There is just pure awareness. The experience of ground, or our primordial state, is beyond our everyday experiences. It is beyond our ordinary way of being, yet we are “ground” at all times. It is intrinsically us.
So why is the experience of ground “beyond” us? Well, that is because who or what we are has been conditioned. Conditioning is an important process for being able to fit into society and function in this reality. Our family, teachers, friends, and enemies assist us by providing experiences that inform us who and what we are and what the rules of the game are. Under their guidance we learn some simple utilitarian things, like to stop at stop signs and brush our teeth. We also pick up a megaton of misbeliefs that may not be true or useful like: if I give a beggar money they will never learn to take care of themselves. These misbeliefs include a whole variety of ideas around what is right and wrong.
The conditioning that leads me to mindlessly hit the brake when I see a red light is quite useful. I’ll keep that one. The conditioning that makes me red with anger when someone cuts me off in traffic and causes me to be upset and grumble to myself for a half-hour is useless and dysfunctional. I’ll return that one.
Dysfunctional means it does not serve any useful purpose and certainly does not contribute to my life or my desire to enjoy life. Those are the automatic reactions that I would like to remove. When we condition soil (or ground) we add stuff to it. To decondition is the process of removing that conditioning. Removing dysfunctional and useless automatic reactions is a deconditioning process. Hence, the title for this volume: Deconditioning Ground.
The stories in this volume were written during the time period of 2013-2015. They are presented in chronological order. Although, the story “My Mother and Me” explores a twenty year process of trying to create a closer relationship with my mother. Lots of deconditioning work there!
In the story about my relationship with my mother, I examine how my childhood reactions to my mother left me with a view of her as saintly and me as defective. This fundamental wrong view followed me into adulthood and for many years was unchallenged. Finally, deep probing into my reactions to her revealed my many misbeliefs and brought me to a peaceful acceptance that a closer relationship with my mother was not possible. I was not the limiting factor.
“Partner Search” illustrates my ongoing process of looking for a partner, while “Potential Partner” gives my reactions to meeting someone who appeared to be a suitable match and my internal process in dealing with my reactions. In this experience, I get to put into practice my realization from the wisdom tooth episode. It is a true tale of the further purgation of entrenched and automatic reactions.
“Real World Test” tells how my plans for a glorious book tour are smashed. This story depicts an even more challenging situation where I was able to see my progress at being aware of my reactions and attachments. The book tour story continues with “Social Skills.” I tell the story of how I was confronted with internal struggles around using manipulation and accepting criticism from outsiders.
In “Padmasambhava,” I am surprised by suddenly becoming connected to a spiritual guide etherically. This story follows me as I decipher clues to the mystery of this sudden revelation. This story marks my emergence from the confines of Gelupa Buddhism to embracing the expansive view of Dzogchen.
As I continued to expand and let go of limitations, I was introduced to new tools. Padmasambhava, as channeled by a friend, suggested Access Bars® to help clear some blocks I have to being able to calmly abide on my meditative object.
The Bars are points on the head that, when gently touched, release limitations. I tried out having my Bars run in early 2015. Although I cannot say that I had any obvious change due to this body process, many of my clients have. My interest quickly focused more on using the other tools of Access Consciousness®, in particular the body processes and verbal clearings.
The Access Consciousness worldview is definitely Dzogchen in a modern costume. It is about expanding awareness and giving up judgment. The primary way to accomplish this is by asking questions, clearing any reactions, and not coming to any conclusions.
The story, “First Meeting,” is a dynamic example of me using the Access tools. During several back-to-back breathwork sessions with a new friend, I stayed present and in the moment by using my awareness and asking myself questions. Potentially triggering situations brought up the possibility of reacting, which I simply observed and transmuted with questions and choice. Such a fun adventure!
The final chapter is “My Hair?Part 2.” This story demonstrates the work I am doing around creating greater awareness of things I am denying. It illustrates how automatic reactions can subtly take away choice. The key point in this story is how judgments are really the foundation of a no-choice universe. This tale exemplifies my transition to an even more expansive way of living.
I am pleased with the writings included in this volume. They depict quite well my mental processes dealing with a variety of situations. Perhaps a careful reader can even see a progression in my personal approach as they move through the stories, since they are presented in chronological order, or perhaps the change is too subtle. People who have read The Early Writings will definitely notice more maturity in my writing as well as deeper insights.
My next life task is to focus on releasing all judgments. I would like to be free of the dualistic vision of good and bad and be able to accept whatever hand I am dealt. I believe that is referred to as equanimity. My understanding is that the partners of equanimity are joy, passion, and ease. What would it take to have all of that?
When I was thirteen, I stopped talking to my mom. I hated her. At thirteen I had no idea why. I knew she loved me and my treatment hurt her greatly, but I could not stand her and wanted to be as far from her as possible, so I stopped talking to her. At fourteen I moved away from my mother and in with my father. Then, at fifteen, what little contact I had with my mother ended; I ran away from home and lived out of state.
It was a blessing to be independent and away from my family of origin. Many years passed and I enjoyed little contact with my mother or father. However, many dysfunctional ways of relating to other people and the world followed me. Finding myself stuck in an unhealthy relationship, I got into recovery and worked the Twelve Steps. As I reviewed my life, I remembered how I had treated my mother when I was a teenager. She went on my amends list. I did not feel I loved her. I also felt that my behavior as a teen had been the best I could do. Still, I did want a better relationship with her, if that was possible.
In my assessment, she had always acted loving and generous towards me and I was the only one in the way of a happy mother-daughter relationship. My anger and hate had cooled a little due to the distance and time. I was in my mid-twenties then. However, I still felt resistance to letting down my guard and opening my heart. I was not sure what that was all about, but I was willing to try to let it go.
Ready or not, I invited my mom to visit me. I sent her a letter that “warned” her of my intentions and I set up a time for her and me to have a heart-to-heart with my Twelve Step sponsor as witness. She was excited. So was I.
My sponsor and I met every week and walked around Ragle Ranch Regional Park while I talked about my recovery process. This was the setting I decided upon for my attempt to amend my relationship with my mother. The three of us walked about and I acknowledged my behavior, explained my perspective, and listened to my mother’s feelings and perspective.
The whole event was a miracle. It was a true testimony of my willingness to live by spiritual principles and spread love wherever I could. It was a positive experience. However, it did not seem to be what was needed to create a perfect mother-daughter relationship.
When I reflected upon the event, I concluded that I had done everything I was capable of to improve that relationship and yet it still was not enough to dispel the repulsion I often felt when I was around my mom. I thought that there was something deficient in me. That I was not loving enough. I could envision the ability to be, at the very least, neutral towards my mom, but I could not actualize it.
The years went by. When my mother would visit I was repulsed by her. Sometimes it would start at the airport when I picked her up. She would want a hug. Now, I am an affectionate person with people I love, but I do not love my mom, so hugging her is not a spontaneous thing. Some anger would arise from the pressure inside to do the right thing and give the old lady a hug. Sometimes I would hug. Sometimes I would not. Either way, I felt bad.
I was traumatized by the anger and hate that would arise in me. I could not control it and I did not want to admit I could be so hateful. So I tried to pretend I was not feeling that way. It was painful being so hateful. It was painful to feel angry.
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ISBN/EAN13:   1941894054 / 9781941894057      $14.95 USA      107 pages      Kindle Version