By Anna Pittman, PHD 

When working with a judgement, point of view or trigger, there are generally three levels of response which each yield a very different consequence. Typically, when a person first comes to nondual therapy, they share a story about something or someone that causes a sense of internal discomfort. They focus on the story and the people or events that trigger their discomfort. The mind looks to answer the who, when, where, why and how of the event and assign meaning to the outer circumstances. The binary and outwardly focused mind may look for someone to blame, make comparisons, and even attempt to come to terms with the event by rationalizing and reasoning, unknowingly dismissing any connection to feelings or the body.

In nondual therapy, we witness the mind attempting to create order by making assumptions and blind deductions. When there is ‘chaos’ in the inner or outer environments, the mind tends to decide on one fixed and reasoned idea that becomes compounded by cascading thoughts, language, and actions. These ultimately sustain a linear and now predictable reaction or resultant belief. For cognitive consciousness this order feels like peace, but it does not necessarily promote healing or evolution. This level of response is designed to create certainty and control and this ordered and linear response to life is what ultimately creates sickness and stagnation. In truth, the mind loves order, but we need chaos to grow and evolve; the mind loves having an answer while chaos provides only questions. When a thought or experience rubs against this linear view, the bodymind produces an inflammatory response in the emotional and physical bodies. At this level we feel right and absolute, resigned and separate.

The next possible level of awareness in experiencing a trigger is somatic consciousness; that is, in the body. When this level is included we may feel a localized tension in the chest, a knot in the throat, butterflies in the belly or heat up the back. When focused on these bodily responses to energetic fluctuations in the bodymind, we gain strategic access to relaxing the body and its habit to brace or defend. We may even hear the attitudes and feelings of these parts. In nondual therapy the body and its infinite intelligence can easily reveal the truth of what we are feeling and where. In therapy we can gain the skill of being wholly with that sensation until it dissolves or subsides. At this level the mind and body are focused and after the fact, often relaxed. We are now connecting a belief to the body and choicefully opening up to the often disordered information in the body.  This is a necessary step in the skillful entry toward the third level of practice called felt consciousness.

In this third level we are accessing awareness throughout the body and the nervous system. We are actually feeling the frequency of sadness without talking about the cause of the sadness or focusing on the tears. We are relaxing wide focus, open mind in to the felt sense of loss or shame without again, sharing a story or focusing on the sensation of coldness in the legs, for example.

When we are maturely available for this level of global awareness and being with the information moving through our system, it feels much like an adult sitting next to a child who is experiencing a strong feeling. We do not want to merge with that child or collapse into its feelings. Instead we want to be with the child, awake, aware and totally available, without becoming ‘it.’ This level of practice requires no judgements or critique, distractions or words, no excuses or qualifications, it just is, like an energetic meditation. This experience can also present in a chaotic way in that our nervous system is staying open without seeking answers or strategies for control. As such, when we allow for the inner life to move as energy, it paradoxically resolves into deeper degrees of rest and stillness. This dimension of stillness and silence allows for all this movement much like the cosmos allows for the existence of universes, and the sky allows for the clouds.

It can seem so very true that feeling is chaotic without the skill of unbiased presence, yet this capacity of welcoming everything from joy to sorrow brings us more human depth and rest then any act of sequestering our experiences exclusively to the liner and ordered attempts of the reasoning mind.