Chapter 4:

A Trail to the Heart


This journey, that we are making, is most importantly an excursion to our own hearts. It is along our ‘trail to the heart’ that each of us will discover the consciousness of abundance. The heart is the home of one’s essence, and it is through the heart that one is able to experience the essence of another person, and that of every other thing.

The trail to the heart is like a footpath through the wilderness. It is navigated by following the many signs and signals given by the Larger Self. These indications come with every experience and register through all the feelings in one’s body. Contained within the individual is everything one needs to find the way to the most free and happy existence possible. Feelings and bodily sensations are the sign posts and mile markers that are available to lead any person to the consciousness of the heart, and the essence of the self.

A great challenge which exists for any explorer on this journey is to be able to keep one’s attention upon the stream of clues being sent by the Larger Self, and not become distracted by the thoughts, concerns, and priorities of survival consciousness. With scarcity, virtually all the information from one’s internal world is ordinarily repressed, ignored, or projected upon elements of the external world. Our journey at this stage requires courage and tenacity to follow the obvious and subtle signs which will lead us upon the trail to the heart.

Recognizing the Signs and Signals

The signs and signals which come from the Larger Self can take many different forms. They include everything which can be felt within the sphere of one’s entire experience. These signs and signals become perceived through a person’s experience of his or her feelings. Feelings include physical sensations, instincts, emotions, and intuition.

The five physical senses are the vehicle for the most obvious of feelings, for they reveal information about the world of matter and material aspects of the body. The instincts are the second most obvious kind of feeling, and they talk about the needs and drives of the biological aspects of the body. Emotions are more subtle than instincts, and communicate messages relating to one’s ideas, beliefs, and the mental aspects of being. Intuitions are the most subtle of all the feelings, for they talk about what a person knows directly of truth; the truth that is known in the depths of one’s own heart.

A person will often experience many different feelings at the same time. Indeed, each category of sensation is constantly giving a person messages about it’s particular aspect of consciousness. Sometimes feelings may seem to disagree with one another. Each different type of feeling has it’s own focus of concern which is completely unique from all the others. The physical senses are most concerned with physical comfort, and the conditions of the immediate environment. Instincts are focused upon how to keep the biological body functioning, including fulfilling needs like the sex drive, hunger, and getting enough rest. Emotions are mainly interested in monitoring how well one’s ideas and expectations accurately predict external events.

At times, feelings can seem to differ with one another so much that a person may sense an internal confusion due to the contrasting priorities of all these different types of feelings. This confusion can feel a bit like being alone and lost in a harsh wilderness.

When one’s perspective is strongly influenced by the consciousness of limitation, any sense of internal conflict will seem to support the survivalistic idea that one will gain little benefit by paying attention to the complex workings of his or her own inner world. The discomfort can be great enough that one may feel the need to ignore or suppress many of his or her feelings.

However, with the abundant view of the Larger Self, each of the different feelings and all the different aspects of bodily consciousness are known to be important and integral parts of one’s entire person. The Larger Self is capable of understanding the most subtle connections between all the seemingly disparate parts of one’s being. The Larger self knows how every fragment of the individual has one larger purpose, which underlies all the more obvious and functionally-oriented concerns. That larger purpose is the complete and deepest fulfillment of one’s own potentials. With this point of view the landscape of one’s feelings seems much less like an inhospitable wilderness. It is known more and more for what it truly is—a path that will lead to one’s own greatest happiness—a trail to one’s own heart.

Maybe, initially, noticing how hungry you become around the time of your mid-day meal, doesn’t seem highly important to the task of creating greater freedom and abundance in your life. Admittedly, most feelings seem to deal with only the most mundane information, like where to scratch and when to make the next trip to the bathroom. However, every feeling can give a person concrete and helpful information about his or her progress upon the path to the heart.

Imagine for a moment that you were alone on a long hike through a remote wilderness. You would naturally pay close attention to every internal and external indication of the best way to proceed in your adventure. You would use your sense of sight to watch the trail. You would listen to your thirst when you needed water. You would pay attention to your fatigue when you needed rest. And you would revel in your joy as you successfully advanced toward your ultimate goal. All the feelings are important. The more they are appreciated the more they will benefit the individual. Even feelings which seem superfluous can be very important. All the signs and signals exist only to keep a person successfully moving ahead on the way toward his or her greatest fulfillment.

Scarcity consciousness makes it difficult to see each and every feeling as important and valuable. Scarcity places a high priority upon avoiding anything which causes discomfort. Because this includes avoiding every type of distress, a person will naturally learn to shun the experience of certain feelings, especially the ones which are powerfully uncomfortable. We learn early to make judgments about which feelings are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad’. Unpleasant feelings get labeled as ‘bad’, while their more comfortable counterparts are considered ‘good’.

With scarcity consciousness, any emotion considered ‘bad’ is one that will trigger the survivalistic ‘fight or flight’ reaction—either a person will want to run away from the feeling (i.e. denial, repression), or fight against it using some form of emotional self-defense (i.e. projection, rationalization, etc).

An important reason that we like to avoid certain feelings is that the more powerful a feeling is, the easier it is to become over-identified, or carried away, with it. While it is true that every feeling is important, when feelings are very strong we can easily make the mistake of getting too caught up in the energy of the situation, and begin to think in terms of ‘being’ our feelings.

To illustrate, consider the following example. Imagine that a friend somehow disappoints you. Let’s say the feeling that comes up is anger. You experience the feelings very strongly, and you say to yourself, “I am angry!” Now you are being angry. This is where the problem begins, because there is absolutely nothing a person can constructively do with any feeling when one has made that feeling equivalent to his or her identity. Instead of experiencing the feeling in any useful way, when you have identified yourself with the experience you must now seek to get away from the discomfort of being angry. It isn’t fun to walk around being the emotional archetype of anger. What does anger look like? What does anger do? Uh oh! You need to get rid of this feeling before you hurt somebody!

“To get rid of” a feeling, or to defend oneself in any way against a feeling, doesn’t make the feeling go away. Feelings are composed of energy and they carry information. You can feel the energy when you experience a feeling. The energy of feelings can sometimes be powerful enough to effect a person’s entire body, or completely change one’s mood. That energy is an expression of the consciousness and vitality of the individual. The information carried by any feeling cannot be known whenever it’s energy cannot flow properly. The energy of a feeling is like the electricity that carries a message through a telephone line—distort or block the energy and the message can’t get through.

Repressing any part of one’s experience, especially a feeling, is to deny an aspect of the self. Fighting against oneself is always counter-productive to the process of discovering one’s greatest happiness and freedom. With abundance, there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ feeling. Abundance knows that the true dimensions of the self are large enough to contain the energy of any experience, or any feeling. With a perspective of abundance one knows that judging a feeling as ‘bad’ or ‘good’, is a misunderstanding that most often prevents a person from obtaining the benefit of the information carried by that feeling. Making such judgments causes a misdirection of one’s energy, which not only impedes the process of growth, but it can also upset the energetic balance of bodily systems, causing illness.

To illustrate the importance of the experience of one’s feelings, imagine for a moment that you have been given the job of chief-officer of a most substantial international organization. Imagine that this company has a mission of providing a beneficial and meaningful service to the world. Imagine that your associates are people from every different culture, who are dedicated to fulfilling the mission of your organization in their respective homelands. Your job is to make the decisions which will enable your association to perform it’s role in a way which brings the greatest benefit to everyone involved in, and served by, your organization. Consider how you would make those decisions—would you pontificate, and tell everybody what to do based only upon your own view of things? Or, would you make your decisions only after considering the input of all your associates? The second alternative is not the easiest way to do things, and it will require that you be able to interpret and understand what everyone wants to share with you. However, the second option is the only way to get the information needed to optimally execute your job.

In terms of an organization, great benefits are realized by considering the creative input of all the various members. An organization becomes more effective when information is encouraged to flow freely. The most insightful solutions come about by utilizing the wisdom of all persons effected by any issue in question. This not only allows all the individual members to feel appreciated, it also ensures that all the necessary information will be available for important decisions. The natural result is greater efficiency and more optimal function for the whole organization.

In terms of the self, a person is always in the role of the important decision maker. You have been, and always will be, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the corporation of yourself. (The word ‘corporation’ actually means ‘body’, or ‘embodiment’.) The decisions you make effect all the many parts that comprise your total being. It is wise to listen to what all those different aspects have to say about the issues of your life. To make the best decisions you need to have the most comprehensive information. In taking the non-survivalistic path, a person becomes dedicated to living according to what is true in the depths of his or her being. To know that truth, one must first hear it—by listening to every feeling and all the important messages they contain.

Exercise 4a Experiencing the Energy of Feelings

This exercise allows you to develop skills useful in creating a deeper experience of the energy of your own feelings, including sensations which are normally below the threshold of your attention. It can take some practice to be most effective, however, what one lacks in practice may be made up for with patience. I recommend that a person spend at least twenty minutes on this exercise if one expects results in the first attempt.

Find a very quiet place where you will have no distractions. You should be in a very comfortable position, either sitting or laying. As you begin, allow your body to relax. For the first part of this exercise it is important to keep your eyes closed. When you are in a relaxed and comfortable state, place your attention upon your hands. Wiggle your fingers and gently move your hands around until you are satisfied that your attention is focused upon your hands. With your awareness focused upon the physical sensations of your hands, acknowledge what you are feeling, by saying to yourself, “I acknowledge the physical sensations of my hands.” Simply notice how you feel as you focus your attention upon your hands.

While maintaining your relaxed and mindful state, now, shift your awareness so that your attention is focused upon your feet. Wiggle your toes and move your feet gently until you are satisfied that your attention is focused upon your feet. Then, acknowledge to yourself that you are feeling the physical sensations of your feet.
Now, notice the subtle difference in your overall bodily sensations when your attention is upon your feet as opposed to your hands. There is no particular sensation you should be feeling as a result, however, when you change your attention from one thing to another the energy in your body will always shift appropriately. This shift of energy can actually be felt in your body. The experience of every different feeling will cause a different energetic condition in the body. If you don’t immediately notice any difference, practice going back and forth and acknowledging whatever you feel, before you proceed.

When you are ready for the next part of this exercise, continue to be mindful of your breathing, and gently open your eyes. In your relaxed and mindful state, pick out a single object that rests within your field of vision and place your attention upon it. Realize that just as the tactile sensations of your body reveal information to you through the feelings of your hands and feet, in the same way, your vision reveals information to you as the feelings that you experience through your eyes.

Don’t just see the object in front of you—feel what you are seeing—feel it through the visual sensations of your eyes. Notice the energy of your body as you feel your experience. Acknowledge whatever you feel.
Shift your attention to a new object. Feel what you are seeing. Notice the energy of your body as you experience this new object. Notice how your feelings change. Notice how your experience changes. Acknowledge what you feel.

Now, close your eyes again. Focus your attention upon what you are hearing. Hearing is the feeling that you experience through your ears. Not only hear the sounds, feel them. Notice how your experience is different now. Acknowledge whatever you feel.

For the balance of the exercise, keep your eyes closed and pay attention to any experience that comes to your attention. One at a time, allow your awareness to rest on any feeling that you notice.

Notice what you are feeling. Notice your energy. One at a time, acknowledge everything that you feel, whether it is a physical sensation, or an instinct, an emotion, or even intuition. Avoid making any judgments about your feelings; just experience all the sensations and notice how the energy feels.

Move on to a new feeling only when you are satisfied that you have sensed the unique energy of what you are currently focused upon. Some feelings you may not have an adequate description for. In that case just say, for example, “I acknowledge the feeling in the pit of my stomach.” Identify each feeling in a way that makes sense to you.

Don’t search for where to place your attention, rather, allow the next place of focus to gently make itself known to you. Notice any sensation that attracts your attention, and acknowledge each one. Notice any feelings of urgency, or any impulse. Acknowledge each one.

As you acknowledge each sensation, you may begin to receive information. Acknowledge anything you receive but don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the experience of your feelings. (Later exercises will help you to utilize the information carried by your feelings.) Just stay with your sensations, and notice yourself becoming aware of ever more subtle levels of sensation. Continue to notice, and acknowledge, whatever you feel.

Determine for yourself when you feel ready to conclude your experience. When you feel you are done, it is a good time to stop. Return to your normal focus of awareness gently. Take several deep breaths to complete your experience. Give yourself a couple of minutes before engaging in any strenuous activities.

This exercise is an introduction to the aware experience of the energy of your feelings. The more freely a person can allow the energy of his or her feelings to flow, the more available one becomes to the information they carry. By acknowledging the signals of one’s feelings, a person opens the door to the awareness and wisdom of the Larger Self. The more a person pays attention to his or her feelings the further one naturally progresses upon the path to the heart.

Feeling the Message

Of course, recognizing the signals from one’s Larger Self does a person little good if one cannot comprehend the meaning of the information that each feeling is designed to communicate. For instance, when you feel hunger, you also know simultaneously what that feeling means; you understand right away that you want to eat something. If a person did not easily understand the meaning of the hunger feeling, one might ignore the feeling, or mistakenly attribute the feeling to some other cause. In any case, not comprehending the meaning of the feeling would result in the neglect of the person’s body and well being. As an analogy, imagine how helpful it would be to erect a sign post on a wilderness trail if it’s directions were not clearly readable.

Messages from one’s Larger Self are revealed in all the modes of feeling, but they are known most directly through the feelings of the heart. The feelings of the heart tell of what is the essential truth in any particular situation. The heart is able to know the true meaning of anything, directly, with no reasoning or thinking required. With the example of hunger given above, the information about needing food is known directly right along with the feeling. The message, and it’s meaning, are simply sensed by the person. You could say that the person ‘felt’ what was being communicated. This type of understanding is always available to every person, and it is commonly known as ‘intuition.’

Intuition can be classified as a feeling, part of the same category of experience that includes emotions, instincts, and physical sensations. Intuition, however, is the most subtle of all the feelings. Ordinarily, intuition is the least noticed of all the feelings, because the physical senses, instincts, and emotions are more important to basic survival than intuition. With the priorities of survival, intuition reaches the threshold of our attention only after the satisfaction of all the more basic needs. Because scarcity consciousness keeps a person always in a state of lack, only the most superficial access to intuition is common within the limitations of the ordinary human experience.

Through intuition a person can directly sense and understand the deeper meaning of any event; intuition can tell a person about the essence of whatever is being experienced. Naturally, the essence of things is not of great importance when one is engrossed with only the basic concerns of survival. As a result, our normal ideas about, and use of, intuition are only a shadow of the true potential of this wisdom of the heart. However with a perspective of abundance, it is the essence of things which is considered to be of highest importance. When one begins to live beyond the concerns of survival, taking on more and more a perspective of abundance, intuitive awareness becomes increasingly available and important.

The heart, being the home of one’s essence, is capable of understanding the larger meaning in every experience. The skillful use of intuition can quickly render the meaning of any feeling. Intuition allows a person to understand all the different signs and signals which come from the Larger Self. The heart is the place where the energies of all the different parts of the self come into focus. Through the heart all the many different feelings in one’s experience are known to exist in harmony, for their meanings are understood to relate together toward one common concern—the greatest good of the individual.

The profound understanding brought by intuition allows a person to naturally hold the deepest and most authentic levels of acceptance and compassion for everything and every experience. Without the benefit of intuitive insight one is not capable of seeing beyond the superficial circumstances of most experiences. When intuition is allowed to reveal the essence of an experience, one knows directly the deeper truth and purpose of the event. Knowing that truth allows one to find acceptance and gratitude for any particular experience in life.

The Trail Goes Through Every Terrain

The trail to the heart is like a wilderness path that moves across every type of terrain one could imagine. The highest mountains, the lowest valleys, the desert, the tundra, the rivers, the darkest forest, and the brightest meadow are all included at appropriate times. There can be long stretches where the signs are few and the trail is hard to follow. At times, it may be only our tenacity and dedication to the journey that allows us to find the needed courage and strength to move onward.

However, the rigors of the trek are in no way intended to defeat the explorer, rather, the entire experience is designed by the Larger Self to help the individual discover what has the most profound importance in his or her life. The most challenging parts of the trail build the deepest appreciation and confidence in one’s personal abilities. The places where the path is unclear, are opportunities to use one’s most subtle sensitivities. The solitude of the wilderness quiet helps one to know the peace that is only found in silence.

To gain the greatest benefit from our experiences, it is not enough to successfully endure the travails, and survive the lessons. No, one must not only endure the journey, but come to deeply appreciate every step upon it, even those which are most challenging and uncomfortable. Such participation requires a person to keep his or her attention focused upon the present moment. In practicality, it does the explorer little benefit to be thinking about yesterday’s river crossing, or tomorrow’s descent, while engaged in the difficult climb of today. One’s energy and concentration must be dedicated to the challenge of one’s current experience.

The more authentic and unconditional one’s appreciation for any particular experience, the more one becomes available to the wisdom that can be gleaned from the event. Authentic feelings of appreciation naturally become present when a person knows the value and benefit of an experience.

Anything which appears to have no benefit is something which cannot be appreciated. And if not appreciated, an experience cannot make it’s meaning known. The reality is that every person has a lack of appreciation for certain experiences. Training, expectation, and practice seem to demonstrate that some particular people, places, feelings, or things, are better avoided whenever possible. It is most understandable how such perceptions can develop. However, any part of life which is rejected, discounted, held apart, or judged as unvirtuous, is something which cannot reveal any wisdom. Such restrictions will serve only to limit the individual’s self-understanding and his or her view of the world.

All limiting beliefs, and all rejected feelings and experiences, are the concrete indications of scarcity consciousness. However, abundance consciousness does not come into being by forcing any ideas into, or out of, the mind. Such behavior would only compound the weight of limitations upon a person. Rather, abundance is found only through the embracing of every feeling and every experience, even those which seem most uncomfortable, uninspired, and rejectable. In doing this, one is wise to remember that it is the most challenging parts of any journey which will yield the greatest growth and wisdom for the explorer.

When we begin to understand how the most unpleasant feelings can yield the greatest wisdom, we may begin to wonder how to realistically practice authentic openness in such circumstances. The act of authentically welcoming an uncomfortable experience might seem very challenging, but it can actually be very simple. The following steps discuss a highly effective method for such situations.

The first step is based upon the truth that a person can always, at least, acknowledge the presence of any feeling or experience. Even the most painful feeling can be authentically acknowledged. The key to every act of freedom is that one only do, or say, what is most sincerely felt in one’s heart. When an experience cannot be genuinely welcomed in any way, the realistic first step is to simply acknowledge that it exists. Sincere acknowledgment is an important first step. Without this first step, a person can only remain locked in fighting against an unacceptable feeling. Acknowledgment removes any element of denial and allows both the feeling, and the individual, to be present simultaneously.

The second step is to be aware that the feeling is present only in order to transmit it’s energy and to communicate a message. With this step, the person is acting upon the understanding that every feeling exists for the benefit of the individual. This thought makes one receptive to what the feeling can communicate. This step sets the stage for a dialog between the individual and the source of the feeling, the Larger Self. One may appropriately question the Larger Self saying, “What am I to learn here?” This step prepares a person to experience the energy of the feeling and receive the important information that it carries. A person completes this step by paying attention both for the bodily sensations that indicate any movement of energy, and for any intuitive understanding regarding the information being communicated.

For beginners, this last part of the second step can seem most difficult. It is very important to be attentive and patient. Sometimes insights come immediately—the individual just ‘feels’ the complete energy and meaning of the feeling right away. Other times, the situation will require greater attentiveness and a longer period of time for the information to become clear. It is also possible that by acknowledging the original feeling, additional related feelings will come up, and only after those related feelings are also acknowledged will any larger meaning become known. This process of listening to oneself will actually help a person develop intuitive skills. As one’s sense of intuition becomes clearer it gets easier and easier to comprehend his or her own internal dynamics.
The third step is the most important of all—it is gratitude. With every bit of information, and every feeling, a revelation is occurring which is intended to further the progress of the individual’s journey toward the most profound freedom and fulfillment. Gratitude should be expressed whenever it is sincerely felt. If a person has received some piece of important information, he or she might naturally feel the energy of gratitude. A person should always be ready to express any thankfulness which seems appropriate during the process. It may be expressed often and in many ways—the more, the better.

Gratitude is the fuel for the process of unfoldment. Whatever new feelings or messages are perceived, they should be acknowledged immediately, and as soon as it is appropriate, a word of thanks should be offered. The feeling itself may be thanked for being the helpful messenger of the Larger Self. The Larger Self is always a worthy object of authentic gratitude. It is also appropriate and important to thank oneself for the effort, dedication, and willingness to know one’s own truth.

The natural result of engaging one’s feelings and experiences in this way is to learn what is presently most important for one’s growth and happiness directly from one’s own highest source. This process allows a person to understand and appreciate all the messages which come from the Larger Self—even those which come in the form of the most painful feelings. The significance of this process is that by using it a person can find authentic and unconditional love for aspects of the self which previously could only have been rejected, or repressed. This is a process for turning personal restrictions into wholeness—a process for unfolding one’s own consciousness of abundance.

 

Abundance and Real Love

With abundance, love is free of all limits, and it is unconditional. Unconditional love has always been the most real form of love. Unconditional love may seem an unrealistic ideal, but this is seemingly true only when love is viewed through a perspective restricted by survival consciousness. Real love has always been without limits; it only took on the appearance and practice of limitations to fit within the framework of scarcity.

It is the practice of genuine love which leads a person into a full communion with his or her own heart. The quality of this love is very special, for it is the very purest and the most authentic. This most real love can take many appropriate forms: passion, compassion, devotion, enthusiasm, kindness, appreciation, patience, or most simply—acceptance.

The journey to Deep Freedom enters it’s most important stage, when one begins to apply unconditional love to the self. Loving oneself involves sincere acceptance of every aspect of one’s being. Anything which is loved, can no longer restrict one’s freedom. The better a person becomes at loving, the more one will progress on the path to the heart, and the further one will move toward the deepest liberty. The connection with one’s heart grows quickly with the practice of love, giving a person ever more strength, understanding, wisdom, and ultimately, the power to transcend even the most difficult and painful aspects of existence.

Scarcity suggests that it is impossible to accept what is unpleasant, much less love it. And being realistic, every human has occasional experiences for which they feel a strong dislike, or even hate. Abundance tell us that every experience holds potential benefits that can only be known when the experience is unconditionally embraced. However, at the same time, the values of abundance consciousness say that a person should not embrace any experience only out of a sense of duty, or obligation—the only proper action is an authentic action.

It seems contradictory to suggest that a person must authentically embrace what he or she abhors. Indeed, without the unlimited potentials of abundance such things would be impossible; it is only through the transformative powers of real love that the darkness of enmity becomes infused with the light of assent. A personal example follows which illustrates how abundance consciousness may be applied where emotions seem to dictate a limitation.

On one particular day several years ago, I was working with my own feelings and beliefs connected with some of my past intimate relationships. The feelings included a lot of anger and pain. I was engaged in the process of listening to my feelings and the information they held for me. As I learned what each feeling communicated, I moved deeper and deeper through the inner workings of my beliefs regarding relationships.

I was feeling a lot of sadness, and a heavy sensation that was centered in my chest. Intuitively, I knew this feeling was connected to a sense of loss, which I had experienced in the ending of different close relationships throughout my life. As I acknowledged and attended to the sensations, I became aware that the sadness was related to more than just my feelings of loss—this weight upon my heart was connected to my beliefs and my own self-imposed restrictions. I asked, “What can I learn about these restrictions?”

The answer came in the form of an intuitive understanding that explained, “After you lost your father at the tender age of five, you were terribly traumatized. Yet, you still needed to be able to function in relationships and get your needs met. However, you couldn’t have anyone come so near that they might bring up any association with the close relationship you had, and lost, with your father. You didn’t have the resources to deal with the power of that loss when you were a child. You unconsciously created a buffer in your relationships to protect yourself from having to confront the pain that you had no means to heal. This ‘buffer’ existed as a device for your protection and survival.”

I could feel the truth of the message, and I acknowledged it. This message had brought a new level of clarity to me regarding many of the disappointing circumstances that I had experienced in my close relationships. It was a most valuable insight. I felt and expressed my gratitude.

I knew that I had thoroughly healed the pains and loss from my father’s death through a long process that had concluded several years earlier, yet I was understanding how this protective ‘buffer’ still existed within me to shield me from the pain of a similarly overwhelming loss. I had worked my way through the pain of that oldest of losses, but I had not yet learned how to let go of my defenses.

Then, the flow of feelings and information became quiet for a time. I sat in silence and just paid attention to my experience. I could still feel the sadness and a heaviness around my heart. I sensed that this weight would only be lifted from me by making the decision to relinquish my inner fortifications. I was at a loss. I wasn’t aware of either how I created them, or how they could be dismantled. Because I knew such a protective ‘buffer’ was no longer needed, my first thoughts were about how to get rid of what seemed to be an obvious limitation. I wanted to just discard this protective structure, and anything else, that might hold me back from a fuller experience of my life.

While I was reflecting on my situation, I was suddenly struck with the awareness that there was a more appropriate course of action than to “just discard” this part of my inner structure. I wasn’t immediately sure how to proceed, so I simply asked out loud to myself, “Show me what I am to learn.”

Gently, I was lead through my memories to important places where these defenses had lovingly protected me. I began to feel the love and concern this part of my consciousness had for my well-being. I witnessed how this aspect of my consciousness had been my devoted guardian. I was overcome with the feelings of connection, appreciation, joy, and love. I acknowledged my recognition that this protective structure was my helper, and not just a hindrance.

At the same moment that I acknowledged the supportive role this protective structure had taken on my behalf, I felt all the earlier heaviness and sadness melt away. I felt a sense of release and relief. I felt suddenly happier and lighter. I felt that I had become a little more whole. I also knew that the part of me that had served as my inner guardian was now able to take a different shape. That part of me that had been my devoted protector had become free—free to function according to the larger desires of my heart, instead of working only to insure my survival.

Progress upon the trail to the heart is made not only in knowing about the greater dimensions of oneself, but in learning to genuinely appreciate all aspects of one’s being. Real freedom goes hand in hand with real love. Real love holds the power to transform anything, because real love only comes with the authentic openness that is required to know the true essence of any experience.

Exercise 4b The Transformative Power of Real Love

This exercise will assist a person to develop the skills necessary to engage with and transform limiting feelings and beliefs. The process is based upon the reality that all the wisdom necessary to heal and grow is available within the personal resources of each individual. It is not necessary to go digging through the subconscious to locate the causes of limiting beliefs and feelings. If a person only learns how to listen well to oneself, he or she will find that the most important parts of consciousness are ever revealing themselves in the experiences of the present moment. Each experience holds a gift, and in every moment the Larger Self stands ready to assist the individual with his or her process of unfoldment.

In using this exercise, you will gain the greatest benefit when focusing upon feelings, ideas, experiences, and issues which are relevant to the present moment. The present experience may have connections to certain past events. Use of intuition can tell you about any important personal history which is related to the present experience. The key to the process is to allow the energy and information of your feelings to reveal to you their truth—rather than you imposing your ideas and expectations upon your experience.

Begin by getting comfortable and relaxed in a quiet place. Let all your muscles release their tensions. Let your body come to rest. Let your mind become calm and still.

When you are ready, acknowledge to yourself what you are feeling. Allow your attention to become focused upon the first and most important feeling that comes to you. It may be necessary to continue to acknowledge the feeling until you can feel the energy of it. The energy of any feeling is properly handled only when it is allowed to flow through your experience. When the energy is flowing properly it will begin to release it’s information. It can help to voice your intentions and questions to the feeling itself with words like, “I intend to allow myself to experience the flowing energy of this feeling,” and, “Please help me to understand what I am to learn.”
The process always requires patience and, most importantly, openness. The energy and information of every feeling is unique. The time required for the process is a function of both the individual’s degree of genuine openness, as well as the intensity and type of the energy in the feeling. The process may not reveal an immediate understanding, but only lead to other feelings. Whatever the shape of the experience, a person can only progress through it by continuing to acknowledge and receive whatever becomes present.

It is most beneficial to the process if one can always remember to express gratitude whenever it is genuinely felt. Any words of appreciation may be used, but only when they are authentically felt. The entire process is an exercise in acting only according to what is truly felt in one’s deepest awareness in the present moment.

Intuitive awareness is most important for this practice. Intuition is always present, and one’s conscious access to it is quickly enhanced through this exercise. Intuition will reveal the content and meaning of the information which comes with one’s feelings. By listening for your intuition you will know where to place your attention, when to wait and be quiet, when to move ahead, and when to stop.

As a general rule, it is best to stop and rest when you begin to feel tired. It is also best to stop, or break, when you feel you are becoming swept away with either the energy of your feelings, or by the flow of your thoughts. The successful application of this exercise requires a person be able to remain in a centered and balanced place where the energy and information of feelings may flow through one’s experience. If either the energy of the feelings, or related thoughts, consume one’s attention the person is no longer maintaining a balanced and centered state. This can happen even after much practice, and it is often due to fatigue. The best solution is to stop, get some rest, and take up the process again when you are fresh.

When you are ready to stop, gently allow your attention to return to its ordinary focus. Take several slow deep breaths. Allow yourself to gently come completely back to a normal state of awareness before doing any strenuous activity.

It is realistic to believe that some benefit will always come from the practice of any exercise intended to increase one’s self-understanding. The benefits, however, can often be different from what one might expect. For an explorer this is not a problem—because explorers are always less interested in maintaining the validity of current expectations, than in discovering an experience of the truth.

 

Teachers, Therapists, and Professional Helpers

The process of personal unfoldment is something for which there is no external cause. It is no less than the blooming of the flower of one’s eternal spirit.

Though the cause of such growth is completely from within the individual, a person can elect to utilize any, and all, external resources which genuinely support that process of growth. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or uncertain about the process of your personal unfoldment, I heartfully recommend you seek the help of a caring, skilled professional. At different times, all of us can benefit greatly from the love and support of other people who are sensitive to our process of growth.

At the same time, while it is good to ask for needed assistance, one must realize that no teacher (or healing practitioner) ever causes the learning (or healing) of any other person. Rather, it is the individual who causes his or her own growth, even within the sphere of an appropriate helper’s aura.

With this recognition, a person may find it beneficial to have the assistance of a teacher, or therapist, for certain aspects of one’s unfoldment. However, that is a matter for each individual to determine. It is also the responsibility of the individual to determine for himself or herself when any teaching or teacher, therapy or therapist, no longer serves the needs of one’s growth. The best guideline one could use in such matters is to pay attention to your feelings, and let your heart lead you on your way.

 

Go to Chapter 5: A Painting on Creation's Canvas

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Original text of Journey to Deep Freedom

 

Copyright 1993-2008 AJ McGettigan