‘Why does it feel worse again?’. This is something people often say as they continue their deepening into awakening and enlightenment. Here I share what I think is going on with it. Does it resonate for you?
When we first wake up out of the illusion of being a separate person, and into the recognition of our essential nature of awareness, there can be a period (to differing degrees) of ease and flow and lightness.
Then it seems to become lost, as though we’ve forgotten what we’d seen, and we imagine that it will never be seen again. That thought feels terrible because it was lovely there! We’d love to live like that more of the time!
The amount of back and forth I experienced in the first 4 years of this exploration meant that the friends, coaches, guides, and internet resources that were there by my side were invaluable.
I see now that they were like a relief mechanism, when I felt caught up or like I’d forgotten it all, rather than reach for a glass of wine I was reaching for WhatsApp messages with friends, or the latest Rupert Spira video, or booking on the next course that might help.
Fair enough — when things feel tough we reach for whatever makes sense in order to soothe the unsettled thoughts and feelings and return to the feeling of ourself. At least by reaching for things related to this exploration of awakening and enlightening I was being pointed towards the lasting relief of my very own being, rather than blindly following the mainstream message that one day I’ll find lasting good feelings ‘out there’.
So why the oscillation?
Given you’ve believed (and had reinforced) for many years that your primary experience is of being a separate person, it makes sense that this exploration is a gradual deepening into a knowing that this is not true. And that deepening process seems to involve oscillation.
I often share with clients about it being like a seesaw. We’ve been sat on one end of the seesaw most of our lives believing it’s the only option. Not realising seesaws have two options. When we first catch sight of our essential nature, and recognise it for what it is, we launch up and fall naturally to the other side.
Over time though, the pull of the old habitual mental activity returns, the seesaw drops back, and we find ourselves in the experience of feeling like a person with problems again.
But — that first seeing of who we are can never be forgotten. The depth of that remembering is now cemented into our system and that knowing now guides us towards the people and conversations that will help us remember again.
With each remembering, the ‘new’ side of the seesaw feels ever-more comfortable and known. Seeping into us with each fresh sight of it.
And the ‘old’ side feels ever more uncomfortable and alien. Alerting us faster and faster to the fact we’ve temporarily forgotten who we are.
Perfect, as then we come back home. Resting again in the ‘new’ side of the seesaw.
And why does it feel worse than before?
I see two things playing out here.
1. The contrast is increasing
In this ever deepening into yourself, the stark contrast with the old patterns feels worse.
Imagine if you’ve been bumbling along in life at minus 10. Numb to the highs because you’ve also numbed from the lows. As you come into this exploration your baseline lifts to zero. Now the lows feel in stark contrast to your day to day experience, you spot them with more ease because they stand out as so different. Explore further and your baseline lifts to positive 10. Now the lows look terrible and so much worse than anything you’ve experienced before.
But it only seems so much worse from your new baseline, from your new perspective, in the deeper knowing of yourself. The contrast is just so much greater.
2. You’re getting closer in
In the early days of awakening and enlightening the beliefs that fall away are generally the flimsiest. The ones to which you have least attachment. Like autumn leaves that just needed the slightest breath of air to fall away.
The longer you stay in the exploration, the closer-in you get. Beliefs that relate to core patterns of mental activity get revealed. It’s why this work is often thought of like peeling an onion — layer after layer of beliefs get seen. Closer and closer in to who I’ve thought I am and how I think this me can and should behave.
The revelation of these layers is always going to happen but the degree to which you suffer in their evaporation is related to how much the belief in being a separate person is in place, because the more the belief in being separate is in play, the more you’ll suffer in the experience of the collected beliefs surfacing to be evaporated.
Therefore things seem to get worse before they get better because these closer-in layers are held more tightly. As though we’re saying ‘don’t take these ones, who will I be then?’ despite the fact it’s these very same closer-in ones that have us feel the least like who we really are.
The core one of these of course being this idea of being a separate self. The most tightly held. And therefore the most freeing in its disappearance.
What have you seen?
Does this resonate with your experience? What have you seen happen by holding steady and present with the closer-in beliefs as they come up? What else do you think is going on? (There is definitely not one right answer here).
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
With love, Helen