Eleven years of helping
I will have been in private practice seven years as of this Thursday, December 15. I have been doing counseling for a total of eleven years, which includes time at my internship and in leading groups in mental health agencies.
I enjoy the process, seeing others come to better places, and feel my abilities to be with others in empathy and in insight, of where and who they are, and where they want to be, this all continues to make a difference.
I am also back in my hometown for my practice location, just having moved my location, happily anticipating leading group meditations in person again there and helping others in sessions within a peaceful and quiet space.
This season of transition for me seems to be letting up a bit now, so I am happy for that, for my health and my ability to help out.
Eleven as a number may be seen to be the meeting of two individuals (the upright positions of the number ones coming together).
May this season be one of more and more peace, for any and all important to you, including yourself, and the possibility of a deepening relationship with mystery, with the mystery of life and its many wonders.
Behind the veil
I have tried setting aside Tuesdays for writing, so I am able to do this again today, on a Tuesday, and am sharing a bit behind the veil of my personal practice here.
I have had deeper experiences outside of regular, everyday life in Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, and I continually try and make this my waking, sleeping, dreaming reality, every moment of my existence if possible.
I mean, I do not actively, I hope, push for this, but I am aligned with this goal, try to live it, and I think trying to help others experience reality at a deeper or truer level like this falls in line.
Those understandings, this reality I know, that is the best I offer.
When I have the time, and ideally I would be able to do it more, I offer myself up in meditations, breaking them down in my conception into 15-minute offerings. I generally meditate for 30 minutes, so I am generally able to offer myself up a couple of times when I meditate.
In alignment with the equivalent of rosary beads in Hinduism--they are called malas. with a bead count of 108--I try and meditate, offer myself up 108 times in meditation throughout a month.
I am a bit behind for July, and am feeling it, although I had a good start to the month.
Basically, I wanted to write something today, so I am, but I have had personal matters to attend to going on a solid week, if not longer, so I am happy to share this bit of my practice now and am heading off to meditation again here.
I am nothing if not inspired by, and take solace and sustenance in, time to myself, felt most vividly, and perhaps most deeply, when late at night.
If people align or walk themselves most truly at certain times of the day, then a large portion of my time would be at night, when not many, or hardly any, are around, if any at all.
It may be complete darkness then, or pert near, as my grandmother at times said, but the idea approaches nothingness, an absence, a void even.
At one end of the spectrum you find a willingness, or a need, to go beyond the regular realms and times of daylight, of the daylight hours, a time when we most ingest and take part in and co-create the reality we think we know, or we certainly try making.
But that for me has never quite been reality.
The untraceable memory of truth within us, which ever guides and leads us in life, points to us lifting back the regular world of ideas and the days of everyday life, which we find to just be how things are.
There is another world, and I think you can most taste it in those alone times, not lonely, although that can occur.
At night, in this place, the moonlight as gentle knowledge, here you will find, to my mind, a peace and an ease, a more natural way to understand.
The work I do becomes intimately informed by what I know from this place, this time, although the time I am referring to now is hours away from when I am posting this.
What to do in the daylight?
I try and not get caught up with what we all know, and try to remember what I do know, perhaps unique from this place.
It lines up with the deeper understanding I feel essential in life.
To be who we are we have to be able to be in a place as this.
I am glad to value this place and time as I do, and I am happy to share with you from here.
Alchemy: Destination Red
I feel like I have finally come to a place where I can share openly, if not completely so, the knowledge I have that has meant so much to me throughout my life.
This knowledge I can share will be on a path unique to each person, but it translates into freedom for everyone, a loving sense of being, a peaceful sense of existence; it is dynamic and powerful, loving and human.
It accepts no authority, but your own.
In the ultimate sense, it is authority for everyone.
When looking at the basic processes of alchemy, in which a material becomes purified to a point of perfection, reaching its own innate essence or self, the final destination becomes colored red.
This may symbolize the material's own innate perfection achieved. It may also signify its ability to change other materials into their own perfected states.
This, I am so happy to have discovered, perhaps urged on silently by the work of Carl Jung, who himself found in alchemy so much rich meaning for his own discovered understandings of how we reach for wholeness.
I will say I have come across this perfected material before, sometimes called a stone, throughout my life.
A most recent encounter with it shaped myself and the beginnings of my practice, introducing the sacred feminine to me in a way I had not known. The importance of self-love was pointed out, not in a distorted way, but in a way which had me feeling more whole.
Reading books on the subject, I found in the sacred feminine a suppressed understanding, lineages or potential lineages of women who incorporated everyday living into their daily practice.
If a path of truth were to be walked, discarding everyday life and love did not seem healthy based on the recent experiences I had had at the time.
I encountered the red thread designation of Meggan Watterson, which harkened back to the women of the past I was discovering.
Completely separate from her, I found out there was a Red Thread Zen practice, incorporating everyday living into its unique form of Buddhism.
There are other encounters with this color, and I will come to another of them in a moment, but when I discovered in alchemy just recently the path of making this treasured material, perfected in itself and which could transform others as well, I was shown how I could incorporate all of my path in a way which could be communicated to others, the symbolism of alchemy and its processes having paved the way with their precedents.
Repeated from a previous post, here are the sequences of changes when transforming a material into its perfected state, signified by color change and including my own interpretation of what each stage means. Transforming oneself, as well as other materials, has been a goal of alchemy historically.
Black - a distillation of ourselves past the everyday world and mind talk.
White - insights and information gained from the experience as we return.
Red - living our lives changed from the knowledge of our experience.
While I had very deeply and clearly encountered my own personal experiences of the first two stages of alchemy, not until I encountered the need of the sacred feminine in such a fundamental way could I have found meaning in the third stage, even though I had experienced it in my own way, if not highlighted or talked about in the traditions I had followed.
Without elaborating on this, I will simply say that any tradition that advises practice and discipline away from others or from even basic human sexual understanding, without honoring either of them, or without honoring the connecting human link we have to all, this potentially complicates the path, sometimes to an alarming degree.
You may reach a state of understanding without consciously honoring our humanity or sexuality, but depending on the degree of neglect, this will return at some point to challenge you.
A religion, for instance, may honor a removal of oneself from the world to gain insights and understanding, as in the first two stages of alchemy, but it may not have much to say on how to be a human and work with these. This represents a feminine addition to the knowledge, to my mind, and to my heart, for a more complete understanding, for how to humanly work with this knowledge and any insight gained.
Traditional Tantra represents such a complete path as I have outlined, as alchemy has put forth. I have been excited and heartened to discover we have had a Western approach, in alchemy, to a complete path to realizing the truth of who we are, which we are all going towards, whether we know it or not.
Traditional Tantra has been the most complete path I have ever encountered, predating religion as we know it, captured and intimated somehow in the stages of process outlined in alchemy for reaching perfection.
Traditional Tantra has come from India, followed closely by, perhaps around the same time and around the same region, the teachings of Vedanta. Whereas Vedanta follows more closely the first two stages of alchemy, traditional Tantra, which I will refer to as simply Tantra now--Tantra emphatically emphasizes the third stage of alchemy, incorporating red most vividly in some of its esoteric practices.
The practice of helping others in my life has come to this point of my journey, to be able to follow a Western set of guidelines for Eastern practices, which incorporate the entirety of a path to wholeness, to realizing the truth of who we are.
I will have more to say about the degrees of subtlety found in the three stages of process, the three ways or pathways of alchemy, which capture the full journey of anyone who honors being human as part of it.
Ten years of counseling
I wanted to commemorate ten years of counseling as of tomorrow (December 1, 2021), this comprised of leading groups for adults with severe and persistent illnesses for three years, one year combined of helping others in internship and practicum at universities, as well as six years now of private practice work, helping adults of all identities with their concerns.
What do I do, are my specialties, where am I at in terms of my evolution as a counselor?
I sometimes in fun say I follow the theory of the two Carls: Carl Rogers and Carl Jung.
I am first and foremost an empathetic counselor, putting my energy into understanding whomever I am helping in a way that simply desires the best for that person, however that may look, whatever that may be, knowing this may change over time and take different pathways to arrive there.
For Carl Jung, the above being the cornerstone of Carl Rogers' approach, called Rogerian counseling--Carl Jung believed in the healing ability of the psyche, as do I, as it helps us to know what we need to for being more whole as a person, bringing to our attention those areas we have neglected, allowing them to come to the surface of our awareness when we least expect them, so we can work on this material, however unpleasant the process or these areas may be at times.
For helping others with trauma I make use of the very Rogerian Narrative Exposure Therapy. Making a more complete memory of what happened through this approach helps us to make sense of what transpired, providing more understanding and peace as well, in the context of our entire life. This approach becomes an intense but powerful experience of reliving memories in a more understanding way, with more peace resulting as well.
It just works.
I enjoy leading others in meditation also, giving them access to that place underneath any moment, which becomes an experience of peace and well-being, available more and more as we continue to go there and do this on a regular basis.
That sums up my main and what could be considered more traditional approaches to helping others. Adding to this now I would say are the evolutionary extensions of these approaches.
When I speak about the sacred feminine in person or on this site, I am in some ways talking about the cultural material and area and related areas I feel we all are needing to or do finally look at, what the collective sense of ourselves needs to be aware of to be more whole, the balance to the learned and ingrained ways of production and success and goals, the driving treadmill of life that never seems to stop or allow ourselves our humanity.
When I first expressed the sacred feminine on the site, the emphasis was and still is in some ways on the just being with this love, this love within, the love of the universe, which I truly feel awaits us all, past our conditioning and our concerns.
To actively be with this love, this sense of a universe that loves, as a fundamental way of being, this became the next area to evolve into--how does one live and still abide in this love?
Downtime away from it all, these are moments to find inspiration and guidance in, an opportunity to be with the sacred feminine, the energy represented there.
To do past this, however, once the inspiration is found, this I never want to fall back into the treadmill of life, into any imprisoning ways of being. As a result, magick, magick becomes an active way of knowing, of gaining the answers, and perhaps, as implied in my approach and messages on here, this becomes a way of actively changing and shaping reality, for our better selves, or in whichever ways one feels led.
Magick, if in no other way, represents the sacred feminine as a more balanced and empowered way of actively living, of actively being and doing in the world, one which does not forsake the wisdom of intuition, that does not forgo our humanity, or lessen ourselves for anyone.
These are the recent additions to my practice, as I continue to enjoy evolving and helping others.
We are the dream, dreaming the dream, and I simply want to help you enjoy yours.
What I learned from COVID-19
[Historical note: When I mention this past month in this post, I am referring to September of 2021, when I did have COVID-19, but within a couple of weeks, after feeling better without a fever, I was cleared by the state health department to be out and about in the world once again and to be able to help others once more in September.]
Before old habits and thoughts potentially take their accustomed place again, I want to share what seems relevant and meaningful from having had COVID-19 over this past month. I also could never express enough my thoughts and feelings regarding COVID-19, particularly for those who have been touched by it in any way.
I have mostly found in my life, perhaps more so when I was younger and certainly over this past month, when I am sick I am able to reach a level of peacefulness at some point, where I am almost completely removed from the everyday world. I have described myself in other posts as being a mystic, and I think a door for me at these times opens: I am able to just be with my understanding of what the universe is at a larger level.
When I have just only been able to rest, or sit peacefully, or stare even, with hardly a thought to be had, and if this is experienced without the feeling of bodily symptoms or concerns hardly at all, this approximates or is the experience of being a mystic, a similar experience to be found in meditation as well.
One step at a time becomes the approach when coming out of this experience. The energy expended is just towards each next step. The energy level is low, but it does not have room for more egoistic concerns, other than just for survival and for being well. We want to be in this state almost exclusively, it would seem, for our health and for continuing to live. When other concerns of an everyday nature come up, which we have to expend more energy to meet, we do not want to expend the energy to address them, but we know we must in order to survive.
These all describe my general sense of living: I do not want to do much else other than be at one with, feel that oneness with, the universe or God, if you will. Worldly or other concerns at times weigh me down and take me away from that state and that feeling, that knowledge of being at one like that. The trick or the ideal is to feel that oneness, that quality of just being, without the extraneous thoughts, in all circumstances and at all times.
Having had COVID-19 basically enforced this perspective of reality, and I enjoyed it in that sense, that I was hovering as a person in existence at that threshold of just being with the universe, while retaining some sense of myself, and almost dissolving completely in that experience of oneness. Again, and very accurate: this is how coming closer to and merging with an understanding of the universe is, how a mystical experience comes to be experienced and felt.
Coming back now into everyday life, I see now how my energy becomes expended or is easily tempted to be expended. I am still somewhat fighting these old habits and tendencies.
What I hope to retain from my time having COVID-19 is the meaningful application and expenditure of my time, which means my energy, and the furthest from my ideal would be to expend my time and energy on worries and concerns that I expend just for the habit of worries and concerns.
This I do not find to be helpful at all, and as I trusted in my body and the universe during my time with COVID-19, I also want to continue to trust in my own inclinations towards healthy ways of living, which include happy ways of living, and in the universe for guiding me and just being with me, maybe even to the point of the universe handling what seem like major concerns or what to worry about but actually are not.
Time needs to be honored each step of the way, for what feels right to you, never pressing the panic button to change reality into something it is not.
When time and self become thinner and seem to vanish, this again would be a mystical experience, and it actually describes living in a fulfilling way, if one is enjoyably being or doing whatever it is one is doing.
With COVID-19 I was surviving, hoping each moment and step to come out the other side, feeling that oneness at times with the universe or God, certainly some real presence Who I hoped had my back. I certainly enjoyed feeling the closeness then.
Now I can say I can see where our energy may travel, where we may expend it in thoughts that may fritter it away.
It is my hope that we know a real connection to ourselves and to the universe, for our own guidance within and for what the universe can provide.
Perhaps it is a narrower door to travel through, or to keep finding ourselves needing to walk through, than the regular thoroughfares and passageways we walk in life.
The time and energy spent to go there, I think, are completely worth it. If you are not shown this doorway through your own life circumstances, then I hope you can find it through beginning to trust in yourself and your own ideas and notions of what may be the right path to travel.
The universe has your back, I feel this, and this takes trust and surrender.
Being a mystic, I think this is the only way to live.
Much peace and comfort to you, with a deep connection to yourself and the universe.
During this changing of the seasons, I thought it appropriate to share a letter from long ago, from a sannyasin or monk of the Ramakrishna Order to a student in California.
Letter excerpted from the book, Spiritual Treasures: Letters of Swami Turiyananda (edited by Swami Chetanananda).
I hope you enjoy, and enjoy the season.
17 February 1914
The life of renunciation is the only life that can make us truly happy. No other life can ever do so. It is certain that one day we shall have to give up everything whether we want to or not. It is much better to give it up gladly and freely before we are compelled to do so. But if one cannot do that, the next best course is to turn everything over to Mother and abide by her decree. Know her to be the only guide in life under all conditions. Pleasure and pain pass away. They do not last long. We gather knowledge through experience; and by not identifying ourselves with pain or pleasure we gain freedom. Be always content with what Mother ordains. She knows what is best for us. Such a life also brings peace and consolation; and then the world can do us no harm.
You are Mother's children; you need not be afraid of the world. Be devoted to her and she will take care of you. She alone is Real. All else is vanity and vexation. Did not Jesus say, 'What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose is own soul?' Mother is the Soul of our souls. If we have her we no longer care much for the things of this world.
The world goes on its way and will continue to do so for all eternity. But he who sees Mother in everything and knows for certain that it is all her play will have rest for his soul and peace within. May we see her hand and guidance in everything. May she bless us.
Yours in the Mother,
The subject of this post, I find this to be so important for living, to not try, to not try as we might normally do, to be able to surrender to these moments, for it is in them we find renewal from the efforts we would normally expend, from whatever we have set out trying to do, to spend perhaps wasted energy on moments better spent in this mystery.
We are renewed and made whole in these moments.
We may find answers we were not expecting or awaiting.
We cannot carry on in life without this mystery or what it represents.
Why not honor that which we do not know, or partially know, as if hidden in veils, rather than struggle with the shock of ignorance or cluelessness that continues and always surfaces as a part of life?
Surrender, and honor this mystery.
We may give it names, but the mystery remains, and so shall we, in more peace, in more alignment with our path as we give mystery its proper place and due.
(In the spirit of mystery, I have simplified this site once again, hiding a few menu items, but keeping their references, or at least the elements of their spirit, in these posts.)
What I See
Although I had originally intended this blog post to be a recurring one which I would update as the global virus continued to make its impact on the world, I have decided I do not want to continue updating it like that, which would make it always be the entry on top of all others.
I realize in addition to what I've shared below that the fear generated by the virus has had some impact on my life and approach to living it.
In the spirit of enjoying the spring more now, being informed about the goings-on of the world, but not letting specific information about it influence me as it has, I am just going to share my thoughts below as a single blog post, complete unto itself.
Without updating it further, here are my initial thoughts.
I see what is happening as a doorway to true knowledge.
What do I mean by true knowledge? I mean that by which we know all other knowledge. I mean that by which the world shimmers and shines in a way which does not posses us, with craving, with need, with lack, with desire, with anything that grabs hold and becomes a tyrant of need in itself, needing to be fed, or nurtured, or placated, or given energy to, other than just allowing it to be itself, seen as the background of all we experience, seen as the other side of the doorway which has been opened, and continues to be open wider for us, for the time being.
The virus and its fears, which we find hard not to feed, become an opportunity to let go, as we try and cling to previous notions and ways of being, which may ultimately have not been serving us. We find, with perhaps not much effort at all, a way to glimpse what it is like to not have so many complications or created ideas, of what to do, of what we need to do, of what we think we need to do, so many notions.
The doorway becomes a relief from modern life, a relief from the struggles and efforts that may have ultimately been in vain, or perhaps truly are when seen in the light of how life unfolds and ultimately ends.
What really becomes important to you? What do you see as the doorway opens and ways and thoughts of being and living come to an end, if mostly only temporarily now?
What opportunity do you have which may not be so open again, to tap into a more clear and less troubled way, of peace, within peace, dipped in peace, the stillness of this night, from hustle and bustle, of busyness and all its ways.
What opportunity just waits there, coolly waiting, warmly waiting, to touch your face, reach your hand, perhaps embrace your soul, and let you feel a different way of living?
The doorway awaits you right there.
Truly living life.
Step in, and you'll see.
Recently I came across a couple of passages, one each in a couple of books, which reminded me of my intention to more outrightly speak to my spiritual understandings in the work I do, to share with you that I certainly offer spiritual guidance in what I do.
In actuality, it informs all I do, and I want to share that with you.
I know, and want you to as well.
From the 1994 book by Vine Deloria, Jr., God is Red: "The severance of medicine and psychology from religion has only been a recent event in the histories of religious people."
Introduction by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos to the 2013 book by Laleh Bakhtiar, Rumi's Original Sufi Enneagram: "From its inception through the events of the so-called Enlightenment that occurred in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, modern psychology has fundamentally repudiated its roots in the spiritual domain."
I feel this and know this, and believe those passages to be true, and am careful in what I take in with modern psychology, what I may apply from it, never dismissing what helps from it in the process, but having an understanding considered spiritual as my foundation, that will always be my guide, and helps in my guidance of others.
My understanding, ironically, seems to be beyond any sense of me, but there is no way to prove this except to point to this experience of understanding or suggest ways to experience this yourself.
Understanding, real understanding, comes from a place deeper than we can be taught, so again, providing words and guidance to this understanding, using these very words, helps in trying to uncover this for you, but does not do it alone.
I cannot get outside of this limited sense of self, or remove it from your experiencing, when trying to communicate that there is something outside of us that preciously exists and is there for us.
Conceptually, you will always, or can always, take note that here is one person sharing his thoughts in the form of words, so how can I ultimately know that what this person says is not limited to this one person and this person's view?
Precious. Everything. God. Jesus. Kali. Buddha, with Heart and Mind. Tantric journeying. Not Neo-Tantra. Space. Peace. Love that just is. Insanity without. Sanity with, and beyond.
Behind all the work I do, I am led by a different understanding, a different reality, that to me has become the most precious understanding anyone can ever come to know.
I often involve others in creating space for themselves, and in this space, the fruits of this understanding emerge. They start to come forth, whatever descriptors or words you want to use about or around them.
Meditation thins the ego to the shimmering half-reality that it is. This undercuts all reality as we know it in everyday life. If we all perceive through an ego, then what to see beyond this, when it starts to thin?
This is what has always been and will be.
If psychology simply addresses the concerns of the reality known as ego, then this is a never-ending journey for lack of success. We want wholeness, in our bones, experienced, dare I say, in our souls.
Answers are beyond the ego; are beyond the ego.
If you think a brick wall with the thought of sunlight behind it is the reality you are working with psychologically, is the reality you are working towards in your process, and you never question the necessity or reality of the brick wall to begin with, then perhaps this is a crude way to describe to you the fruitlessness of psychologically working with only ego, or even ego so much as a reality in itself.
I am saying and always trying to share that the sunlight beyond this brick wall always is, always will be, and our thoughts of our own brick wall are part of the problem, maybe even the very problem itself, in reaching for this understanding.
What if I were to say to you that the brick wall has never been there like you thought it was, or may not have ever been there in the first place?
This is where psychology honors or begins to honor the roots of itself.
This is where you find that place of peace and deeper understanding within you, beginning to go down this path.
When working with others, I am not sure I can ever uncover a better reality or truth together with you.
Mark Newlon, feeling the embrace of the sacred feminine daily!
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