Core Level Awakening
Radical Self Love. Breaking the Heart Open to Include All that You Are.
When the tender longing of your soul’s love dissolves the last vestige of an outgrown piece of your identity, a Radical Inclusivity of all that you are, and all that is, arises ever more present like a dawning sun whose light only increases.
The quest for effective healing work is a journey many find themselves on at some point in life. Initially such work is often a healthier way to get away from your pain than the traditional outlets such as alcohol, drugs, pornography, sugar and so on.
When you transcend your wounds, creating distance between you and past pain, you feel better than being consciously stuck in the pain. However, without returning to thoroughly heal the pieces of yourself still in pain, you exclude those pieces of you from healing.
These unhealed pieces may no longer be the ruminating torture of thought loops, or the pangs of regret or squirminess of shame. Once enough time has past that pain often becomes a dull depression or low-grade anxiety in the background of your being that deadens your passion and sense of aliveness. Life is perhaps often or sometimes enjoyable, but you sense something still weighs, nags and grinds within your being; something that keeps your nervous system in a slightly aroused and unpleasant state.
There is an instinctual drive to distance yourself from pain as fast as possible, and once achieved, feel reluctant to return to the place of woundedness. Why return?
For one, to know what you did to survive and how it affected your health. Because the behavior you created to endure that stress made an initial and profound impression of your nervous system. And this trauma response is your default way of relating to stress, like it or not.
Two, with the wisdom and strength you’ve since gained you can retrospectively recalibrate or to use a concept from Carlos Castaneda, recapitulate the traumatic experience. That is, by revisiting the era or event of stress, and bringing in your current more mature self, you can provide the emotional, intellectual and physical antidote to your younger self. You can shift from how you once held an emotion in your body, which created stagnation, inflammation and disease to a way that engenders ease, flow, and vitality.
When I’m introducing this idea to a client, I often hear, “I don’t want to revisit the past. I want to leave it there. I no longer feel any charge about that. I’m past the past.”
I respond be saying, “This work has nothing to do with going back in time. You’re still carrying the weight of that time now. You are just used to it. It’s so a part of you that you don’t mind. We’re not revisiting the past. We’re working with how the current you remains bound by the choices that little boy/girl made and still make”
For example if Dad’s anger was particularly intense as a child, you may have felt you had to walk on eggshells around him so as not to stoke his rage. Inadvertently you also stuffed your own anger, and have trouble expressing or even recognizing when you feel anger now. As a result, you have porous and poor boundaries. You may have trouble saying no to people. You also go out of your way to avoid confrontation and to steer clear of people who have the same volatile energy as your father. By revisiting the little child in you who felt paralyzed by dads anger, you can start to sense what happened to you mentally and physically, and through deliberate step by step work, begin to give the little one in you a voice to stand up to Dad in a healthy freeing way, while you simultaneously father and mother the child in you. You begin to embody the qualities of mom and dad that your inner child need and didn’t receive.
For the work to be effective, we proceed consciously and carefully to unthaw any and all pieces that have become numb to feeling.
If you don’t engage in such integral healing, it’s natural to separate yourself from pain and remain vigilant to avoid pain if nudged to do so. As a result, you are left with a healing that is incomplete and lopsided. Intellectually you may feel totally free, having a thorough understanding of your wounds, yet your body still responds much the same way you as a child. Healing has not yet been brought into the emotional, physical realms often reflected by a deep ease and flow in relationship that remains elusive.
To discover that you are indeed one with the All, a drop that is identical to the entire ocean of consciousness, is the beginning of the journey for many. The seduction of such blissful experiences—especially at the outset of the path—cannot only keep you from doing the deeper work needed to ground and expand a spiritual connection, it can keep you continually chasing the high of spiritual experiences. Like an addict, you replace the high of drugs and alcohol with the high of expanded spiritual states. No doubt, this is a healthier substitute, but one that nevertheless maroons you from liberating your most hidden pain.
To become intimate with every shade of who you are is the path after Oneness.
The journey ahead is one of intimacy with all of life, all that you’ve been, all that you are, and all that is.
Core Level Awakening wakes you up to each piece of yourself that you’ve kept hidden, safely tucked away from harm. One name for that hiding place is the shadow. The shadow is always with you, usually unseen, in the background; the thing you really want to say, but choose not to, so as not to stir the pot, shake things up, draw attention towards and so on.
Core Level Awakening is the act of consciously and courageously turning towards that, which you have turned away from, ignored, disowned, dismissed, and isolated within you.
- For example, projection is a manifestation of the shadow. Projection is viewing someone’s behavior as distasteful, but being unwilling to see that same quality in you.
- Reactivity or a disproportionate response to something someone else said reflects an aspect of the shadow that has not been worked with.
- Shadow is also manifest in addiction whether it’s porn, sugar, drugs, excessive TV watching, alcohol and spiritual practices used to avoid pain. The addiction is what you do to cover up the shadow; the deeper feelings, memories, and sensations you’re trying to get away from.
The more you ignore your shadow the more power it gains. As it festers in the darkness, a ripe environment for bacteria, virus, fungus, and disease to proliferates, reflected by emotional states such as aggression, passive aggression, toxic shame, indifference, apathy, excessive detachment, being cool, numbness and others. Yes, the shadow is the psycho-emotional rooting for physical disease.
When you turn towards these behaviors and examine their roots, you’ll find that you were conditioned to respond a certain way in order to survive, endure, or avoid stressful, painful and traumatic situations. When danger or stress arose in younger years an instinctual response emerged to fight, flee, freeze or please. And much of this hardwiring in your nervous system remains unchanged when similar energies arise in your life now as an adult. Said another way, the way you responded in order to survive as a child, remains much the same now.
Consciously or otherwise you have constructed your life to avoid such traumatizing energies. Still you may occasionally experience conflict that touches your wounds. We all have a deeper drive for healing and freedom. This drive attracts scenarios for your wounded self to heal. If you try to isolate from the world, you are ultimately confronted with the profound loneliness of no intimate relationships, and eventually loneliness drives you to risk reengaging with others, to face your wounded self again.
The shadow is begging to be seen, acknowledged and welcomed home. By skillfully making space for the wounded pieces of yourself to come forward, be heard, empathized with and fully acknowledged you no longer have to hide or hold back the shadow. This newfound energy vitalizes you and ignites a fervor and hunger for life.
Spiritual practices like meditation, breathwork and chanting powerfully release stagnant energy and deepen a relationship with the spiritual realms of life. Many people often use such practices to bypass and avoid the wounded endarkened aspects of self. Because meditative practices often transcend this middle ground of self—the shadow lands—they do not help integrate the shadow, its pain and dark light, more on this ahead. Practices that enable you to transcend day-to-day reality are beautiful; yet healing the shadow is essential to full, grounded, mature, adult spiritual development.
I’ve heard many teachers say that there is no need to get into the painful, dark pieces of the past. They say things like, “do not air your dirty laundry…Let it be… Don’t wake the sleeping elephants…Meditation will take care of removing those unsavory pieces of your past.” Others say, “don’t reinforce trauma by perpetuating old stories.” I’ve heard these explanations and admittedly even passed them on myself.
As my own healing work has progressed, I’ve learned that such teachings are a disservice to those ready to work with their deeper wounds in a skillful, deliberate way. This common sentiment of reinforcing an old story refers mostly to work that focuses only on cognitive or mental therapy, which can indeed reinforce an old wound if done improperly. Gaining a thorough mental understanding of your pain is useful, but more healing remains to then uproot, release, and know how your pain operates emotionally in your body.
Why is this useful? So that when you become triggered in your most intimate relationships, you can catch the wounded little one in you or the relentless inner critic. Then consciously work with that wound responding with deeper compassion that includes but goes far beyond intellectual understanding.
For many, even after decades of deep meditative practices, self-inquiry, spiritual study and chanting, core level blocks remain present and felt. There is a sense of, “When will Grace, God, Guru remove this stone from the river bed of my being?” “When the time is right.” You are told.
I like this teaching better, “If your ship doesn’t come in, go swim after it.” Wishful and magical thinking are for children. The adult within must secure the child within. There is a way to move the boulders that dam the full expression of your being. As you become more familiar with deep work you’ll look forward to knowing these blocks in greater detail. As you become well acquainted, you mind the wounded pieces less. The gift of your wounds is that they give you great precision and specificity in how to direct your compassion. The clearer you are with compassion, the easier it is for Grace to move in your life.
When the tender longing of your soul’s love dissolves the last vestige of an outgrown piece of your identity, Radical Inclusivity of all that you are, and all that is arises, ever more present like a dawning sun whose light only increases.
Work that can reach such places is a welcome and necessary addition to the spiritual path.
A deep meditation practice will relinquish much of the grip that trauma and pain has imprinted on your body. Yet some pieces often remain stubbornly embedded in your being. It is for these instances especially, that shadow work is essential to include with meditative practices.
Even when you’re benefiting from certain spiritual practices, the shadow often becomes more out of reach, buffered by meditative work that creates further detachment from your wounds.
To avoid shadow work on the spiritual/healing path is quite literally to exclude a significant part of yourself, deeming it as less than divine or worthy of your love.
Core Level Awakening relaxes the nervous system, boosts metabolic activity and increases blood flow to the vascular and muscular systems, which in turn, grounds meditative practices into the body.
You can gain so much spiritual freedom from meditative practice, but without deeper shadow work your soul remains bound. These bounded feelings that fall within the spectrum of dull to intense depression and anxiety follow you into the next life. In other words, there is no escape from this work. At some point you must turn towards your pain and transform your relationship to it. This is part of the great work your soul has been born to do.
For shadow work to truly function, you must dive into the greater depths of your being and bring in a sense of care and love to that which you have deemed unlovable. The work provides the tools to ease your pain, and illumines the path to rise courageously to meet the challenges of life. You are no longer sentenced to respond the way you once felt you had to, becoming quiet, withdrawn, remaining ever smiling sweet and nice, and so on
Core Level Awakening frees you to be your authentic self, every emotion fully flowing, with an alert yet relaxed discriminatory eye, that allows you to skillfully adjust your presence, expression, and love to meet the ever changing newness of now.
A common misunderstanding of healing and spiritual work is that you are trying to get rid of your shadow, the wounds of the child, the harshness of the critic and so on.
The aim of this work is to change your relationship to the shadow. Eventually, you may welcome aspects of the shadow as honorable pieces of the past that allowed you to survive or endure a difficult or traumatic situation.
As an adult you’ve become good at avoiding shadow. After all you’ve had plenty of practice stepping over, ignoring and dismissing the aspects of you that were deemed unappealing. This has become so automatic that you simply do not notice you’re doing it. Whether you feel content, depressed, joyful, or distressed with life, until you work with your shadow, you are cut off from a storehouse of power and vitality and usually unconsciously consumed by keeping it at bay.
This automatization of behavior and beingness has become part of your autonomic nervous system. Without conscious effort the body involuntarily regulates the shadow into the background, in order for you to not have to think about suppressing anger, shame, lust, jealousy, or joy. (Yes, for many people, even joy is something that they disallow to be fully felt and expressed). As you hold back anger, you may experience migraines, high blood pressure, anxiety, menstrual cramps, digestives issues and more. Each suppressed emotion impacts organ function. Combine several mal adapted emotional patterns and a complex physiological picture arises. No matter how much chemistry, drugs, herbs, nutrients, needles, etc. that you throw at disease, until the core imprint on the nervous system is worked with the physical pathology remains intact, active and operational.
To turn towards the shadow is a delicate and necessary endeavor. To do this work well, each piece of self needs to be worked with step-by-conscious-step and brought home to the core within you.
Through this work you learn to welcome each unique creation of who you’ve been and who you are. What was once hidden in the shadows becomes visible in many aspects of how you live. You can then do the work to shift reactive, disempowering and unhealthy dynamics in your relationships as they occur.
Shadow work can be intense, but it is doable and worth doing because it frees you to not have to hide parts you. New life force is liberated for you to be and express all that you are, no longer obligated to exert energy to conceal your authenticity. The work brings more ease in the body, space and freedom to breathe, feel, and acknowledge your experience.
Your spiritual freedom can then stand in the full-blooded presence of your body. This passionate affair enlivens your purpose as it softens your heart. It allows relationship with those closest to you to come front and center.
The mystery of life then becomes a felt presence in relationship. This experience is an intimate undertaking that is so rich and full as you stand in awe of what may come next, not knowing, and being okay with that.
There need not be a sense of desperation to get to the mat, the meditation asana, or the spiritual retreat in order to get away from what is perceived as unpleasant. The ashram becomes your relationships, which reflect lively what you love, together savoring the ever newness of the moment.
Core Level Awakening allows the darkness to be honored as its own form of light. It liberates whatever arises within you and brings it into presence, deepening your compassion for all that is.
Working in Groups
To be lovingly witnessed encouraged and cared for while breathing, seeing and opening into once frozen, stagnant pieces of self is so healing. Such vulnerability and trust in the group magnetizes Grace as the work takes on a more spiritual transcendental quality. With eyes, ears and the rest of the senses wide open, fully alert and awake, you can walk into the darker inner realms of self fully capable to reclaim what was once cast away, and discarded as unneeded. The collective love, longing and rooting for one another in a Core Level Awakening group deepens presence of the group as each participant courageously opens and allows love to pour in. The thrill and intimacy of these groups is a privilege to experience and a model for how relationship can be with the right tools and guidance.
There is no set structure to the work other than an initial check in. The work is organic. You learn to skillfully bring more presence to whatever is present. You begin to recognize what you’re feeling and to feel more deeply into it. You get to know the nuances of how you experience a given emotion and where you have been blocked to going deeper. If structure arises like an exercise or technique, it does so spontaneously, not in any set sequence or a paint-by-numbers approach. As one person opens more deeply and fully, the group feels the capacity to go more fully into their experiences. Healthy vulnerability naturally arises deepening a feeling of safety and trust.
To quote my mentor Robert Augustus Masters, this work is for women and men ready to fully face whatever is obstructing their well-being and their capacity to function optimally in every area of their life.
You’ll learn to embody a true masculine and feminine power as strongly empowered as it is vulnerable, as emotionally attuned as it’s alive, as passionately present as it is loving, a force that cannot help but serve the highest good of one and all.
Luke offers Core Level Awakening in one-on-one sessions as well as small groups. To schedule a session or inquire about the next group immersion call 541 465 9642. You can also register for private, or couple CLA sessions by Skype of the events page.