Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

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Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby SDP on Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:07 am

After decades of intensive spiritual disciplines, I learned to leave my physical body, work with inner guides, and consciously wake up in dreams. These experiences brought deep insights and fulfillment, but they didn’t change the things I most longed to change in my life: abusive and unfulfilling relationships, work I disliked, and a judge and jury screaming “bad girl” 24/7 inside my head.

Six years of therapy with two different psychologists left me with countless insights—and the same list of challenges. My therapists said my dysfunctional parents had caused my suffering, but eventually I realized that another couple was also involved. They’ve been around a long time, so you probably know them well.

The names of these on-again off-again lovers are spirituality and psychology. Many of us think they’re just perfect for each other, but they’ve been dragging their feet to the altar for decades. Like all couples, they get triggered into unconscious patterns. Sometimes they can’t see each other’s beauty, and other times they outright badmouth or ignore each another. Here’s how this couple’s rocky history manifested in my own life:

For years, I turned to spiritual teachings to live a more fulfilling life. The best of them offered practices to help me consciously experience my spiritual nature (i.e., soul or higher consciousness). This was a revelation and a gift!

But no matter how many times I experienced my spiritual nature, mechanical thoughts and emotions eventually triggered me back into old ways of being. So I turned to psychology, and learned to understand my conditioning and release long-repressed emotions. These were essential experiences, but they didn’t end my suffering—they just took the edge off it.

While many spiritual teachings either damn or ignore the mind and emotions, psychology often returns the favor by ignoring the soul. Both overlook a basic reality: the experience of consciousness for human beings includes both soul and mind. Even the word human reflects this sacred collaboration: hu means God or spirit, and mana is Sanskrit for mind.

Most spiritual practitioners understand the importance of psychological healing, but mistrust any psychology that leaves the soul behind. Similarly, most psychologists recognize the importance of the soul, but lack training to help people experience it more consciously.

In a world littered with holistic approaches, I spent nearly two decades learning dozens of healing techniques. And these weren’t casual dates: I committed myself to each approach for years. I tried breath work, body-centered therapies, and visualization. I clarified my mission and goals. I beat pillows and screamed. I sipped flower essences like a love-starved hummingbird. I let go and let God. And still I suffered.

After years of this exhausting hunt and peck, I finally hit pay dirt: a unique blend of spiritual practice and psychology called presence-centered healing and transformation.

What Is Presence-Centered Healing and Transformation?

The poet Rumi once said that when love brings two things together, a third thing is created, something completely new and unique. This explains why presence-centered practice is so radically different from the spiritual and psychological practices that preceded it. This isn’t just talk therapy with a few spiritual disciplines pasted onto it, or a spiritual teaching with a few psychological tools thrown in. It’s a completely new discipline that’s emerged from the insights of its parents:

Insight #1 – Spiritual Teachings – Healing and transformation happens when you: Experience the wisdom, compassion, and love of your spiritual nature

Insight #2 – Psychology – Healing and transformation happen when you: Understand your unconscious patterns and choose new behaviorial strategies

Insight #3 – Presence-Centered practice – Healing and transformation happen when you: Bring the consciousness of your spiritual nature to unconscious patterns (in very specific and skillful ways)

Here’s a simple analogy to help you grasp the significance of the third insight above:

Picture your soul as a beautiful castle. Now see your limiting attitudes and emotional reactions (e.g., angry outbursts, judging yourself mercilessly, etc.) as alligators in the castle moat. It’s not enough to learn how to enter the castle, because alligators keep pulling you back into the moat. It’s not enough to learn how the alligators pull you into the moat, because that doesn’t get you back into the castle.

Spiritual teachings show you how to get into the castle. Psychology teaches you how alligators pull you into the moat. Presence-centered practice helps you take the next step: learning concrete skills that help you bring higher consciousness to limiting patterns in a way that actually helps you break free of them.

Presence-centered practitioners help people tame their inner alligators by teaching three essential skills:

• How to consistently and reliably distinguish your soul or spiritual nature from your mind (despite years of meditation, I was not skilled at doing this)

• How to explore unconscious patterns while anchored in higher consciousness (and what information it’s essential to gather during this exploration)

• Specific actions to take (and not take) to help unconscious patterns to heal

Working with presence-centered practitioners is likely to be different from anything you’ve ever experienced, and it can change things you thought would never change. During presence-centered classes and mentoring sessions, you don’t talk about consciousness—you experience it! Your mentor will help you to deeply connect with the awareness beyond your mind, not just for a few minutes, but throughout the entire session, and not just now and then, but during every session.

The poet Hafiz once called man “a divine elephant with amnesia living in an anthole.” Presence-centered practice offers tools to help you break free of limiting patterns and create a life that more fully reflects who you are and what you love most. People from all walks of life are increasingly turning to presence-centered tools because they address a universal spiritual need: to bust out of whatever anthole that’s holding you back.

So that’s a bit about my journey. Now I’m curious about yours.

Have any of you experienced similar struggles juggling spiritual awakening and psychological healing? What are your current challenges with that? What are you learning from those challenges?

Rhonda’s next tele-class—Living from the Whole Self: An Introduction to Presence-Centered Practice— starts in late May.
For details, visit: http://www.the1thing.net/classes1%20-%2 ... %20pcp.htm
SDP
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby PattiS on Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:15 am

Hi Rhonda, I really like this piece you wrote.You address issues that have plagued most of us from time to time. I feel yours is an important voice for our times and issues. Thanks.
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Rhonda Mattern on Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:02 pm

Thanks Patti.

Curious about what you found important in the article?
I know what's important for me, but I'm not sure what struck you as important for our times.
Would love to know.

xoxoxo Rhonda
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Peter on Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:08 pm

Hi Rhonda,

and thank you for your post. I posted the following some time ago on another message board:

"Recently an acquaintance of mine asked me a question: Why is it that while she is aware of some of her negative habits and shortcomings, this awareness alone does not lead to constructive changes?"

That question did really come from an aquaintance of mine ... but it echoed a question that was prominent in my own heart, and still is. Insight alone has not been enough for me to untie the knots that keep me in my most troublesome patterns.

This has been a bit of a puzzle to me. I have had inner experiences that have brought profound healing--deep emotional pain, physical problems and even unconscious patterns I hadn't recognized have all been lifted from me during dream and Soul travel experiences. I guess I assumed that all healing should follow in this fashion. And then when it didn't, I wondered if I were just too undisciplined with the practices to make the shift necessary to 'earn' the healing.

While there may be a solid kernel of truth to the above statement, all too often it would trigger some of the very patterns I was trying to rise above: thoughts like "You're not good enough," "you're too lazy," etc. And then I'd get stuck in the muck.

Personally, I've reached a point where these patterns are front and centre now. I can't seem to avoid them: my life seems to have hit a standstill, the old approaches aren't working, and everywhere I look I see the reflection of my baggage standing between me and a new life.

Anyways, I found your material very stimulating, and it seemed as if it formed a very nice answer to the question I'd put out there some time ago. Thank you for that, and for the passion you put into living your path. It's very inspirational.

Love, Peter
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Rhonda Mattern on Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:41 am

Dear Peter -

Thank you so much for your honest and heartfelt response. It touched me deeply, partly because your journey mirrored mine to such a great degree.

What particularly struck me was when you mentioned that trying healing approaches that didn't work would would trigger the very patterns you were trying to heal (self-criticism, etc.) When you said that, I literally got goosebumps. Here's why:

I've spent the past year writing a book on presence-centered healing and transformation, and just a few days ago I wrote the following passage:

"The people who seek my support often come to me in absolute shreds. Many of them have repeatedly experienced their spiritual nature through prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices. But their failure to transform their life using traditional spiritual or psychological practices has left them feeling worthless and incapable. I experienced the exact same thing: in fact, in many ways, the methods I used to free myself from unconscious patterns actually made them worse."

So, needless to say, the synchronicity of what you and I both wrote...just a few days apart...really got my attention.

One of the reasons I'm so passionate about sharing what I've learned with others is this very thing--the shame that most of us feel because the methods we're using don't work. I know that I'm not the only person out there who's been through this. I know that there are probably a ton of people feeling like miserable failures because they've worked so hard and nothing's worked. I used to literally think I was insane, but now I realize that the problem was way beyond me. The problem is that THERE'S A MADNESS TO OUR METHODS.

When you think about it, it's just crazy that practically 99% of the world's religions state that the key to a happy life is to live from the depths of your spiritual nature, but 99% percent of psychologists (who also believe that) don't teach you how to do that...and don't know how to do it themselves (And the same is true for clergy in virtually every religion!) It's just crazy that so many of us know that the key to learning to live from your spiritual nature is practicing and experiencing that skill over and over, and yet most of our spiritual workshops feature 95% talking and 5% practice and experience. And when we do get to practice, it's often with people who haven't themselves mastered the very skills we most need to learn!

And again - this isn't anyone's "fault;" it's just the way consciousness has evolved up to this point.

I think the old approaches aren't working -- for you, for me, and probably for millions of others--because we're on the verge of moving into a completely new paradigm for healing and transformation (and just about every other discipline for that matter). Einstein once said that no significant problem we face can be solved at the same state of awareness that created it. And the mind created our current methods of healing and transformation.

The thing about presence-centered healing and transformation that I love the most is that it has very solid techniques for helping people to get beyond the mind and untangle the mind. It has very solid methods for helping people to work with unconscious patterns from a place beyond the mind. Another thing I love is that it's something that compliments and supports my spiritual path (and I believe it does this for all paths) instead of negating it; it doesn't cause me to question my faith and want to leave my path; it actually makes me a better representative of my path.

Gandhi once said instead of converting people to our religion, our goal should be to help them be better members of their own religion. That's another quote that gave me goosebumps! Can you imagine how our world would be different if we could do that? Presence-centered practice has helped me to do that. I used to have this huge unconscious pattern running of wanting to convert the world to my religion so I could feel safe and right. Frankly, now that I'm following Gandhi's advice, I sleep a whole lot better at night!

With huge, heartfelt gratitude, Peter, for your deep and beautiful sharing.... xoxoxo Rhonda
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Vidyanet on Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:47 pm

One of the reasons a paradigm might work better in the beginning, I wonder, is if a person expects it to work.

When I first encountered stories about spiritual adepts I was inspired by the stories about them. Inspired to the point of expecting similar experiences in my own life.

Most of the popular or better known stories about spiritual icons throughout world history illustrate extraordinary experiences, I believe. Many a spiritual adept, saint, or master reportedly communicated directly with God. They reportedly embarked on phenomenal spiritual journeys, encountered angels and explored the heavens. What could be more inspiring than the expectation of contact with spiritual guides such as those who had been there and done that, so to speak?

It seems remarkable, to me, that a good number of spiritual adepts were themselves seekers at one point on their own spiritual journey, or path to God. Remarkable, because at one point they were seekers and at another point adepts! And although the stories encompass all stages on a spiritual path, the stage of adept seems to get the most recognition. Why do the masters succeed? I think the answer is comparable to what makes for any good teacher. Not only instruction by good teachers before them, but personal experience through trial and error. The
inspiration seems to come first, followed by expectation, followed by mastership through personal experience.

Recently I was struck by the number of unorthodox sayings attributed to Sufi saints during their spiritual quests.
A number of things they said were radical compared with the established and popular religious paradigms of their day. It was not only Sufis, but holy people known to history that were remembered for their contributions. Even to the point of religions founded in their names.

I would like to know about presence-centered healing and transformation, and because I really liked the last two posts by Rhonda. I am wondering about how it succeeds as a healing approach and who (or what) is the teacher. How it might compare with other paradigms and healing approaches that work.

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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Rhonda Mattern on Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:23 am

[quote="Vidyanet"]I would like to know about presence-centered healing and transformation, and because I really liked the last two posts by Rhonda. I am wondering about how it succeeds as a healing approach and who (or what) is the teacher. How it might compare with other paradigms and healing approaches that work.[/quote]

Dear Vidyanet,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful questions above. I'll take them one at a time:

1) How presence-centered practice succeeds as a healing approach:

a) What kind of success it brought, in my case, was to free me from depression and self-critical thoughts, to help me break free of abusive relationships, and to help me find work that truly expresses who I was and what I love most. I've also seen others achieve similar results using these techniques, including those I work with in private sessions and tele-classes. And now I'm starting to experiment with these techniques with the severely mentally ill to see what might be possible, which is exciting new ground for me.

b) How presence-centered work led to that success was to teach me specific and targeted tools to address deep set psychological issues (in my case, low self worth, depression, unfulfilling relationships, crippling fear, etc.). Instead of having to rely on a therapist or another trained expert, I learned skills to actually work with my own limiting patterns myself. Presence-centered practice taught me how to consistently and reliably distinguish my mind and my programmed patterns from my soul or deeper nature (which is something that had totally escaped me despite decades of spiritual practice), and it taught me how to bring the consciousness of my soul or higher nature to these limiting patterns in a way that actually healed and transformed them. I'll refrain from more technical details about how these tools actually work, since that could take many pages. (I'm hoping to share some of this in greater detail in a book I'm currently writing called "The One Thing that Changes Everything."

2) Who (or what) is the teacher in presence-centered healing and transformation:
There's really no one person I know of who "invented" presence-centered practice or who serves as its ultimate teacher. It's an approach that's sprung up (and still emerging) from all sorts of varied sources. Many of the earliest people who experimented with presence-centered techniques were spiritually-oriented psychotherapists, and presence-centered practice borrows broadly from all sorts of spiritual and psychological practices and traditions.

My book goes into the evolution of presence-centered practice in greater detail. I also list several presence-centered approaches on my website at http://www.the1thing.net, as well as a number of presence-centered practitioners or "teachers." But most of these teachers don't consider themselves to be gurus or spiritual teachers or anything like that. They simply teach people presence-centered skills (skills that combine spiritual practice and psychology) that they can eventually learn to practice on their own.

The real teacher in this work is consciousness itself, or what I refer to as the WHOLE self: body, mind, emotions, and soul. This work gives you tools to learn to get those four aspects of consciousness collaborating together more consciously and more harmoniously so you can fully receive the wisdom, consciousness, and guidance that each aspect of human awareness is trying to get through to you in your every day life.

3) How presence-centered practice compares to other healing approaches that work:

This is hard for me to answer, because before I found presence-centered healing and transformation, no other approach had worked for me. And when I say "worked," I mean, I hadn't learned how to actually live from my soul or deeper nature, because that's what I was actually looking for.

I had deeply experienced the deep insight, joy, compassion, and creativity of my soul or deeper nature, but I had no idea how to consistently, skillfully, and reliably bring that awareness to the moments in my life when I needed it most (e.g., when my boss was yelling at me, when my husband was criticizing me and putting me down, etc.) The techniques I had learned for living from "higher awareness" from spiritual practices didn't have enough psychological depth to help me truly break free of the limiting patterns that would inevitably "take me over" during these times.

So...if you give me some examples of approaches that you think really work, then I'd be happy to compare them to presence-centered practice to the best of my ability. I just haven't run into other approaches that "work" yet, meaning approaches that teach you how to consistently, reliably, methodically break free of limiting patterns and live true to your spiritual nature. I'm sure they're out there, but I just haven't found them yet.

So again, Vidyanet, thanks for your questions, and if I haven't answered them clearly, or if you have follow up questions, let me know.

xoxoxo Rhonda
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Vidyanet on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:37 pm

Rhonda,

It sounds exciting. Thanks for sharing. I thought you answered my questions and explained that very well.

I'll be contemplating methods that work for me, and share about them as they come up.

Vidyanet
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Rhonda Mattern on Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:37 pm

Thanks Vidyanet! I'd also be interested in hearing from others who might have found approaches to healing and transformation that have really worked for them: methods that helped them break free of unconscious patterns and live more fully from their spiritual nature. xoxoxo Rhonda
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Re: Busting Out of the Anthole - by Rhonda Mattern

Postby Vidyanet on Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:33 pm

I'll be contemplating methods that work for me, and share about them as they come up


A computer is a complex machine capable of doing many things. Yet it does all of this by virtue of a simple language. A series of starts and stops.

I've had time to contemplate methods that work, for me, and want to simplify the descriptions by describing them in the following way: The ability to choose. In other words, to start and to stop.

Knowing this ability (to stop and start) is required for experience and learning, I think mastership requires first understanding the "language" or mechanics of things. Like a master mechanic one might take their car to to get it fixed, the mechanic can fix the car because the mechanic knows how the car works. By virtue of experience they can diagnose what is wrong and fix the problem. Individuals have the ability to become master mechanics too, I think, by learning from their own experience.

Not sure how well I did trying to make this intelligible for everybody. Basically though, a method that works for me is to "believe" that a thing is possible (I mean, without a doubt). I can do everything else necessary, but if I feed the language of failure (and failure can take so many different forms) into my path of success I will be serving myself that "kind of sentence. One that spells: "try, try again". Everything else could be started and everything done right, but starting is not everything. This is the main point I wanted to make. That the right "off buttons" sometines need to be working, too (in my experience). Like, the "off buttons" for certain failure.

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