Articles, essays, musings and poetry on life, truth,
liberation and unconditional love
The End of Oppression
In the expression of developmental and other forms of psychological trauma there are common difficulties for people in identifying, expressing, and managing emotions, including a limited language for, or understanding of, their own feeling states and the feeling states (and intentions) of others. People with various types of trauma often internalize and/or externalize their reactions to all types of stress. With internalization, there is an affect of internal oppression of the self. This may manifest as trauma responses such as negative self talk, self-judgment, self-neglect, self-shaming and degradation of all flavors, as well as self-isolation or shut-down (for just a few examples). With externalization, there is an affect of external oppression of others. This may manifest as trauma responses such as defensive outbursts of rage, judgment, passive-aggressive avoidance or neglect, shaming or gas-lighting others, physical or verbal abuse, etc. As a result of this unconscious internal / external oppression, both the oppressor and the receiver of the oppression may experience significant depression, anxiety, anger, and/or a wide array of often chronic and lengthy physical illnesses.
In addition to trauma, humans all unconsciously create psychological "constructs" in order to understand and relate to themselves and the world around them. It's a limited way of making meaning of ourselves and our world. Constructs form our unconscious defense mechanisms (which often look exactly like the trauma responses noted above) and they limit our ability to grow, mature and evolve our self-awareness and consciousness. Our defense mechanisms can present as: identification, attachment, denial, repression, projection, displacement, regression, intellectualization / rationalize, reaction formation, dissociation, altruism, humor, sublimation, suppression... to name a few. These defense mechanisms are an equal form of internal and external oppression, mirroring those that develop through traumas. Life is challenging. The challenges don't always equate to trauma, however the difficulties of life inform how we construct our self identity, our relationship with ourselves and with the world around us. No one escapes the formation of constructs.
The unconscious practices of internal / external oppression noted above are all unconscious survival strategies, and they work because they do keep us alive in most cases.
When we investigate the origins of trauma and our all-too-human constructs and defense mechanisms the search inevitably leads us to the origins of oppression. How did we get this way? How did we end up like this? Seeking the root of oppression, we can trace this psychological dynamic back to at least 12,000 years ago, at the end of egalitarianism / hunter-gatherer society and the advent of agriculture. Research tells us that the development of agricultural practices was an existential survival response to localized and wide-spread over-population and humanity's lack of ability to maintain balance with nature due to this over-population.
Read this short essay before continuing on https://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/nature-origins-oppression
Over these last 12,000 years, generations upon generations of humans have been born into a way of relating to the world, to other humans and to themselves as is informed by this inescapable collective survival strategy called oppression(both the internal and external forms of oppression noted above). On the one hand, we could argue that the strategy has worked. Here we are today having not only survived, but having grown from a mere 1 to 15 million in population during the start of the agricultural era to a current global population of 7.9 billion people. We are indeed surviving, but looking at the billions of humans struggling with physical and psychological health issues, evidence for which we can look to the financial positioning of the pharmaceutical industry at large, suicide rates, depression, wars, racism, genocide, and on and on, we can make a stronger argument for a collective illness that is actually killing us. In fact, birth rates world-wide have been declining for many years (although that's is an entirely different rabbit hole to go down).
Modern integral psychology teaches us that healing our trauma and updating our unconscious use of the divisive defense mechanisms employed through our self / world constructs and trauma responses, is most effectively done through a slow and careful somatic healing approach that includes attention to how these sensations live in the body as well as the mind. Somatic healing can be done through endless creative ways and means that are as unique as each individual and their particular needs, but essentially this refers to a practice of carefully bringing the unconscious feelings and constructs we hold on to firmly for our survival, into the light of awareness. This can be done in such a way that once we see the constructs and defenses we can finally acknowledge how they have helped us to survive and we can understand our unconscious intention behind them - what it was that we actually wanted for ourselves (which usually boils down to love, safety and/or a sense of belonging).
Incremental acceptance, acknowledgment and genuine welcoming of every single aspect of ourselves that holds a belief, feeling, or strategy for doing life / relationships, etc. is vital to our individual healing process. We literally have to "accept ourselves" more fully than we can realize by this over-used and trite statement around self-acceptance. It takes time, it takes diligence, it takes compassion, it also takes a certain amount of being witnessed and accepted by compassionate others while we are in our full expression of ourselves (#no-self-filter). Anyone who has ever devoted themselves to trauma-healing will understand this need for complex devotion and infinite compassion.
But the reality is that most people don't engage in this healing work at all throughout their entire lives. They are so indoctrinated into this 12,000 year old survival strategy and their ways of coping with their physical and emotional pains of life, regardless of whether they've experienced trauma or they're just practicing normal human defense mechanisms, that they don't even question it. They accept these behaviors at face value rather than diving underneath to inquire and ultimately understand their own motivations and influencing factors, while at the same time they complain about the impact they experience when others are engaging in the very same behaviors around them.
In somatic healing for individuals, we are invited to create space to carefully unearth all the internal oppression that resides in our unconscious. I propose that "healing the world" aka ending oppression, requires the exact same approach to healing as the somatic method suggests for individuals, but on a mass global scale. How could we possibly begin to heal the global practice of internal and external oppression at all levels of our existence when we are collectively so illiterate and unskilled with understanding how we are oppressing ourselves through our will to just survive until tomorrow?
Ending oppression globally would mean that collectively, we have compassion, we move slowly and patiently, we welcome, invite and accept fully all behaviors as a tragic expression of unmet needs that all started with genuinely good intentions (for love, safety and/or a sense of belonging) - without blaming, shaming or otherwise abusing ourselves OR each other - internally, within our families, within our communities, locally, globally - truly collectively.
"They" say (there was an actual study done!! here) that we need 25% of people in any group to agree and act in accordance with that agreement in order to affect wide-spread change. To “tip the scales”, so to speak. So, if that theory holds water then we need 1.975 billion people to become skilled enough at deep self-understanding and compassionate communication in order to end oppression and effectively "heal the world".
If only the self-help industry wasn't wrought with unscrupulous opportunistic teachers and leaders who are not yet healed themselves and unconsciously teach narcissism, shaming and blaming tactics, avoidance (aka transcendence), spiritual bypassing, etc. We might be making some headway on reaching the tipping point into positive global change.
CALL TO ACTION
Study developmental trauma and somatic healing. Be brave and embark on your own somatic healing journey. Find teachers with integrity who aren't trying to get rich and aren't trying to tell you to get rich too by following their 7 steps to health and wholeness. Start to ask a lot of questions about why you really do the things you do. Be painfully truthful with yourself!! Be compassionately truthful with others!! Be curious!!! Grow your compassion muscles for self and others. Be weary and questioning of any and all systems (including families, friends, groups, communities, political factions, religions and spiritual practices) that encourage you to see yourself as better than, smarter then, more moral than, more “woke” than anyone else anywhere. Hierarchy of all forms is leading us to our demise.
It's time to heal.
We hold the intention for a holistic practice of life to co-create a global culture of collaborative, connective peace and compassion. Personal development and ultimately societal transformation are at the forefront of our intentions, purpose and actions in our every-day-lives. We imagine a world beyond separation, injustice, othering and violence, where all of us have the potential to take responsibility for our words, actions and impact on others. We hold the intention to fulfill our unique potential and experience the joyful gift of the interconnectedness of all life.
We believe that we all are the pathway to peace, and that peace unites and empowers people who are ready to act from their heart and rise for an inclusive, compassionate, and peaceful world. We hold ourselves accountable and disrupt the status quo by recognizing that peace begins within – taking radical responsibility for ourselves, our communities, and our planet's well-being and longevity.
We believe in deep, intentional inner and outer work that recognizes and reflects our oneness: transforming disconnection, oppression, and separation into (inter)connection, shared collective power, wholeness, holistic health and well-being for all.
Our lives being and upholding the message that peace is our individual and collective responsibility, we focus on cultivating inner presence and taking positive outer action with truth and compassion.
The interesting thing is that techniques for expanding consciousness which do not include psychotropic medicines work remarkably similarly when used intentionally. Meditation, breathwork, drumming, sounding, dance, etc. all change the brain's state to create similar chemical environments. These experiences naturally increase "happy hormones" in the brain: serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins and dopamine and decrease ones feeling of separateness. These techniques enable people to transcend the normal restrictions of the body and the habitual patterns of the ego in order to do deep psychological and spiritual work with a therapist or guide.
With or without ingesting mind altering medicines, it is possible to work with expanded states of consciousness in order to "solve" our "problems" that first drew us to do the work of delving deeper into ourselves. Many people report expanding beyond their normal human conditioning, gaining fresh perspectives that open doorways between their everyday consciousness and unconscious dimensions of their psyches. They can heal childhood emotional issues and other relational traumas and wounds by engaging in these potent and effective methods. They can gain clarity of what their soul wanted for them in this life and begin to move with confidence in that direction. And so so much more.
Unearthing your innate awareness and truth from deep within the subconscious is the path to liberation.
We are in a never ending dance of experience.
Calling of the Mother
"Trustfully I step into my darkness to follow your calling.
You shine healing light upon my bleeding wounds forcing me to allow their existence, to sit and listen, to surrender and embrace, to cry and crumble, to forgive and heal. My breath is your language of truth, guiding me through all my layers where I find those fear filled eyes of a child being rejected, where
I encounter this starving body of a young goddess punishing herself for her unique beauty and creative expression.
Oh mother, Mother of all mothers, let me heal in your light, let me bleed my pain out to water my seeds for as when they can start to grow out of the ashes, their flower shall form a phoenix ready to rise and carry light into the hearts of those who are seeking love to recover from ages of fear and destruction.
Mother I need you, just as you need me. As above so below. I hear you."
(Calling of the Mother, by Florence Wittlin 18.12.2017)."
Techniques and practices for shifting consciousness (with & without psychedelic medicines)...
Humans have developed ways to shift and expand their state of consciousness by employing various techniques and practices, such as drumming, rattling, chanting together, making art, fasting, sweating / cleansing, meditating, twirling, sleep deprivation, vision quests out in nature, extended time in isolation, dancing, singing, yoga, breathwork, ritual, rite of passage initiations, prayer and many other spiritual practices for thousands of years. All that said, one can be spontaneously transported into an altered / expanded state by encountering something awe inspiring. That could be nature, a dance or musical performance, an infant cooing or smiling, or by something numinous.
We can find evidence of our exploration of consciousness and the realms of our inner worlds as far back as there have been life affirming depictions painted by early man. On the cave walls at Lascaux in southwestern France, we find evidence that shamanic rituals were being practiced 17,000 years ago.
For these rituals, people have also historically been guided to explore the ceremonial use of available plants (medicines) from their local environment: roots, seeds, bark, leaves, flowers, fermentation of fruits and grains, mushrooms, vines, cacti, etc.
These various techniques - with and without ingesting medicines - physically alter brain activity. Some will induce the release of particular chemicals into the brain and body which will change the activity of the nervous system temporarily (while under the influence of the technique and for a period afterward). It is in these altered brain states that consciousness expands, awareness heightens, and healing can occur spontaneously or with the conscious prompting from an experienced guide or therapist.
Help in solving the problems of life...
In modern western life, people are becoming increasingly inspired to utilize expanded states to help them solve the problems of life, whether that means depression, addictions, grief, stress, tension, suffering, confusion, fear, anxiety, certain physical maladies, etc. What is often discovered in the process of working with these states to heal or solve problems, is the visceral existence of one's soul and its longing to disentangle from the gravity of our conditioned modern life in order to reclaim a more natural way of living and being in the world. For some, it arises as a calling of sorts, to experience greater connection with their soul's true longings for them, and to have a stronger relationship with nature itself.
It is inevitable that we'll encounter suffering and disharmony in the course of living a human life. These experiences inherently make us stronger and give us opportunities to learn and grow, if we're paying attention and taking greater responsibility for ourselves as we go along.
Every problem in life appears to prompt us to seek a solution...
We know on some level that our challenges hold the potential for us to learn, grow and evolve through them. We are all seeking mental and emotional well-being on some level. By seeking to resolve the hurts and traumas we have faced in life, including the wounds of both the here and now and age old family relationships, dynamics and horrors, and also the mysterious unknown yet entrenched influences of all that we experienced in the womb and during birth, we not only uncover solutions to our sufferings, but reveal a deeper truth that our soul is guiding us on a parallel path.
Getting back to our human roots...
The modern day investigation of methods for achieving these now often prized expanded states of being is finally wholeheartedly underway. In doing so, we are bringing back age old ways of navigating human life that were lost to us, from our indigenous ancestors' civilizations through the introduction of agriculture 12,000 years ago, and the ultimate homogenization of colonialization. We are now slowly getting back to our human roots, dropping all sense of cultural rules and confinements in order to access our soul's naturally inclined knowledge that we are all ultimately one.
These various modalities alter consciousness and activate a healing process by essentially relieving the body from its usual homeostasis and allowing another perspective to emerge from within our own minds and bodies. Psychedelic and entheogenic plant medicines are often utilized as they are able to change the body and brain states quickly and quite effectively.
Read more about Magic Mushrooms and more - how they work
Wake up. Day calls you...
Wake up. Day calls you
to your life: your duty.
And to live, nothing more.
Root it out of the glum
night and the darkness
that covered your body
for which light waited
on tiptoe in the dawn.
Stand up, affirm the straight
simple will to be
a pure slender virgin.
Test your body's metal.
Cold, heat? Your blood
will tell against the snow,
or behind the window.
in your cheeks will tell.
And look at people. Rest
doing no more than adding
your perfection to another
day. Your task
is to carry your life high,
and play with it, hurl it
like a voice to the clouds
so it may retrieve the light
already gone from us.
That is your fate: to live.
Your work is you, nothing more.
~ Pedro Salinas
Awakening to Truth...
"When we have some awakening to Truth—to what we actually are—then there is an opportunity to be a servant of that. When we realize what we are, we can serve what we are—instead of serving what we aren’t."
"Serving the Truth becomes our life instead of just an isolated event. It takes the abstractness out of spirituality. That’s the opportunity of real spirituality: to be in service to the silence of the heart."
"When you start to actually serve the thing that you’re taking in, it completes a circle. It’s a much fuller, more complete experience. It’s really healthy to be giving back."
This article was originally shared on Chacruna.net, written by Francoise Bourzat
Please visit the site and read more about the work they are doing to decolonize entheogenic practices.
Transforming the Inner Landscape of the Human Psyche
These entheogens, which have been considered as medicines in indigenous traditions, are still an immensely potent resource for our planet and our humane existence, which is in dire need of help, both socially and ecologically.
When I first sat down with my teacher Julieta in Huautla de Jiménez in Mexico, after having explored entheogens for some time in various sets and settings before, I knew right away that I was in the presence of a skillful master, worthy of listening to; one who retained in her soul and voice the roots of an ancient wisdom and tradition. So, I did listen. I heard songs, prayers, and connection with the divine, and witnessed extractions and healing techniques, and, most of all, I experienced silence as a place of connecting with deep layers of my soul. For 20 years, I have stayed present to what was offered to me, to what I was able to receive, and also to what I was given permission to share. Throughout the ages, tribes in many parts of the worlds have used mind-expanding plants and fungi for their healing, enhancing community harmony and attuning with Earth’s seasons. These entheogens, which have been considered as medicines in indigenous traditions, are still an immensely potent resource for our planet and our humane existence, which is in dire need of help, both socially and ecologically.
As a therapist, I have wanted to support people’s path toward manifestation of their potential. As an explorer of expanded states of consciousness states induced by entheogens, I have been passionate about the radical and mysterious ways that plants, fungi, and substances expand and transform the inner landscape of the human psyche. By learning with indigenous healers, I have realized how important it is for all of us to diligently prepare ourselves for the ceremonies of expanded states of consciousness, and how to support our re-entry into everyday lives.
While we are fortunate, these days, to be welcomed into the experience of indigenous wisdom and practices through the sacred use of these entheogens, we also have acquired in the last 70 years a detailed roadmap through Western psychology of expanded states of consciousness.
While we are fortunate, these days, to be welcomed into the experience of indigenous wisdom and practices through the sacred use of these entheogens, we also have acquired in the last 70 years a detailed roadmap through Western psychology of expanded states of consciousness. We can now bridge the two schools of wisdom with mutual respect and efficiency.
This path is about community, it is about the children and an entire family living in a large compound where people laugh, cry, argue, and stay together.
As an avid explorer of the next levels of expansion of consciousness, and with the hope of alleviating suffering, I was told by my teacher to listen, to wait, to feel, and to hear from the heart. During my years with Julieta, I witnessed her gratitude for all the flowers and herbs that heal as we walked the trails of her mountains in Southern Mexico, for the bees she kept in the forest near her village; the bees who gave her the honey she served with the sacred mushrooms in her ceremonies, as well as the wax for the candles that would light her altar at night where she had served for over 50 years, providing a space of mystery and hope for whomever was called to her home to participate in her ceremony. She used to say that the divine worked through her, and that people’s gratitude was not for her, since it was the mushrooms that were doing the diagnosis and healing. She also said that the way of learning the use of sacred substances is through service and humility. She emphasized that this path is not only about how many mushrooms are in the plate and what songs are sung during the hours of ceremony. What I have learned from Julieta, beyond her words, is that this path of healing is about an intimate relationship with the Earth; it is about people walking on the mountain trails with awe and of seeing the fog filling the valley in the evening. This path is about community, it is about the children and an entire family living in a large compound where people laugh, cry, argue, and stay together. It is about how the marketplace is the heart of a town where people meet and interact. This path of healing is made of these many aspects, creating a life of wholeness and connectedness.
Our challenge is to translate and adapt this ancient indigenous wisdom to modern life, to integrate their teaching and techniques using sacred plants in the most effective way, including the use of new substances that have been developed in the Western culture like MDMA, Ketamine, 5-MeO-DMT, etc. MAPS has committed to direct its efforts toward the worthy goal of legalization of these potent substances, and we are now at the threshold of this meaningful moment after such a long time of restrictions and ignorance.
A few years before, I was shot while traveling in Northern Thailand, and my traveling companion was killed in front of me.
Synchronically, when MDMA was still legal in the USA, and I was just newly arrived in California, I had the luck of having therapeutic experiences ingesting this substance in order to heal a devastating trauma. A few years before, I was shot while traveling in Northern Thailand, and my traveling companion was killed in front of me. This trauma had debilitated me beyond my own awareness. Then, MDMA therapy changed my life. I was able to soothe the fear in my gut and change my inability to trust people.
Many people like myself have now been healed through MDMA-assisted therapy with MAPS research, and my hope is that we will soon be able to create a new protocol based on the legalization of sacred substances for therapeutic purposes. We currently find ourselves in a time of a psychedelic renaissance that offers much hope for the healing of great numbers of people. I believe that, together with this hope, we are faced with a double challenge: to lean on the fascinating medical research and explorations that were made available through new legal regulations and, together with it, to turn our attention to the lands and people who have kept these sacred medicine ways alive for centuries.
In my upcoming book, Consciousness Medicine (coming out June 25 from North Atlantic Books, Berkeley), I speak of the respectful bridge we all need to establish between indigenous traditions and our urban culture in regard to our wise use of entheogens. I believe that it is crucial for our modern industrialized world to remember how theses indigenous ways have sustained cultures such as Julieta’s for thousands of years, and to implement this wisdom for future generations. I hope that we will find more healing possibilities with these medicines that, after all, have been the original healing tools for the sick.
Pleasure as an Antidote to the Crisis of Confidence and Powerlessness in Women
"Self help and therapy are nice, but they don't accomplish the chemical shift in the brain. Pleasure is the direct antidote to the crisis of confidence and powerlessness women are currently experiencing. Without it, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine abound (stress hormones), diminishing memory, the ability to learn, immune function, bone density, increasing blood pressure, cholesterol and leading to weight gain and heart disease.
Ego = voice of the inner patriarchy
God is impotent until the Goddess shows up and turns him on.
If we disregard the sacred within us, we cannot connect with our ability to turn on.
And when we are not turned on we are not connected to our life force. When we are not connected to our life force it means we are not owning our own power. If we are not owning our own power it means we handed the control to someone else. Partner, boss, parent, society. This perpetuates victim hood rather than being the heroine of our lives. We look to blame others instead of taking full responsibility.
Self care is the path to our own sacred power.
Commit to treating the body as a sacred altar and feeding our Divinity a rigorous diet of pleasure.
Your world is your Temple and your body is your altar.
Female orgasm: She takes the time she takes for good reasons. The elusive nature of female orgasm is an opportunity, not a problem. She takes her time because there is no rush. The sensual intention for her is not about climax. It's about intimacy, connection, elevating her spiritual and emotional state, and fueling her life with pleasure. She is not there to get off, she is there to turn on and tune in.
Sensual pleasure turns a woman on to her connection to her life force, her connection to her power. Orgasm teaches her to embody her true nature. It turns her on to feeling deeply, rather than scratching the surface to her connection to her life. She turns on her connection to her Divinity, the part of her that is greater than her, the part of her that knows how to trust herself. Orgasm turns her on to her ability to know herself, her highest power, and her deepest truth- and stand for it.
No man can lead her to that awakening. Women must teach each other about orgasmic potential.
It is pleasure that connects a woman to her divinity and power."
- Mama Gena
These are some notes I took during a workshop with Christopher Wallis (author of Tantra Illuminated and The Recognition Sutras) on meditation, authentic reflection and dwelling in the heart...
Thoughts are at best tools, but they are never truths. They are merely our mind's representation of reality.
Expanding the idea of your limited sense of self until you become aware that you are everything. You keep expanding your sense of self until it includes everything, and nothing is excluded. You enter loving intimacy with the whole of reality, where you don't need to do anything except allow whatever wants to come though you. You don't have to tell a story about how someone else is wrong, to do what feels most authentic.
Pause, reflect, ask, is this the most authentic reflection in this moment. Is this what life wants to do through me. We believe what we believe primarily for emotional reasons, no matter how intellectual we make it sound.
Meditation practice: visualizing the heart as a lotus that is at first closed, then slowly opens. The mind is considered to be like a bee, constantly jumping from one place to another in search of nectar. Then, visualize this wandering mind (the bee) coming to rest in the heart (the center of the lotus). The petals represent our mental emotional states, and the center of the flower represents our true essence.
It's important to take time to turn your attention within, reverently, with the spirit of curious investigation. What is my true divine nature, beyond all of the constructs my mind would use to describe me, and the world? What is my true essence?
When you don't experience your true essence within, you're constantly seeking it outside of yourself, like the wandering bee.
Abiding and being doesn't mean you're just passive, it means you're open to what life wants to do through you.
Your worth is proven by your very existence. There's nothing you have to do in order to validate your existence.
Out of all the things this universe could have chosen to become, it has chosen to become you. What else do you need, except to dwell in this fullness.
Meditation: Taking time to connect with the center of your being, your inner most heart, and then to just spend some time in that place. Meditation = hanging out in the heart.
Curiosity is vital to get past the judgmental self examination of the mind.
Grief is just love.
Whether you're pushing something away, or grabbing onto it, you're impeding its natural progress. If I don't push it away or grab onto it, it moves. Emotions, and all energy just flow. It's all in constant motion.
Shiva is awareness: the still, quiet, open presence.
Shakti is flowing energy, including every emotion, every thought, every phenomenon.
Awareness holds space for energy and energy flows through awareness.
The heart goes from being the sacred space deep inside, to expanding out and encompassing everything.
- Christopher D. Wallis (author of Tantra Illuminated)
Gina Devani: Guide, counselor, artist