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Smaller gap between me and my life

Thank you, John and Carla.

I'm adding my report with Looking at Myself. It's been 4 years, so it's a bit long.

I first learned about Looking at Myself when a friend sent me a link to John's video in late 2007. What appealed to me was the promise that if I did this simple act, it would work. For some reason, it made sense to me. I wanted to know more, so I signed up for an intensive and continued to follow the podcast. I listened to them over and over, and still do. Since my everyday life seemed OK, (no real problems, no drama) I didn't see much change in it at first. So for a long time, I was sure I was doing it wrong. No matter what John said, I really wanted some sort of great experience that would convince me. It didn't come but listening to John over and over gave me encouragement. Following John's suggestion, I look at myself when ever I think of it. At the beginning, that was several times a week. Lately, that can be several times an hour.

I have used many looking practices. Everything John has suggested has helped.

The first, and most important for me, was: How do I know that I exist? Why am I certain of this in a way that I am certain of nothing else? I also used memories of myself as a child; realizing my sense of being me is the same today as it was then.

I like the suggestion of HERE being another name for myself. I pause a couple of seconds at odd times during my day, and say, Here, to taste my Here-ness. This year, I came up with an analogy using the idea of periphery vision. When we make a T with our outstretched hands and try to see both hands at the same time, our focus relaxes and softens until there is really no single object of focus. I apply this analogy of periphery vision to all objects in my field of awareness, (even my body and mind.) With my focus on all objects blurred, my attention naturally falls on me as "¦ Here.

It has not all been smooth sailing. At some point in my looking, I became aware I was living my life as if I was on a 7 second profanity delay,like live TV shows. I did this so I could edit myself or prepare for defense, if necessary. I also realized that I was in denial about the amount of fear still present in my life. You see, I had had panic attacks 15 years ago that led me on a long journey of alternative therapies and workshops. I learned spiritual practices like Reiki and meditation,and I felt like I had conquered those fears. However, along with the looking came the realization that I still had performance anxiety. I realized my life was so easy because,all my life, I had limited my expression and my passion. For 68 years, I had tried to stay in safe territory. (Performance anxiety is not an issue if you are not performing.) Additionally, intense fear continued to show up periodically in my dreams. Finally, I became aware that I was still carrying excessive fear, as tension, in my body"¦ from who knows where.

In mid 2010 these conscious and subconscious fears began to be released from my body through symptoms: I developed irritable bowel syndrome, with no organic explanation. I also developed an odd sort of involuntary contraction,like a hiccup, in my lower abdomen.It seems to activate when tension arises and continues until my body relaxes. It is mostly active after a fearful dream. Incidentally, the same time these symptoms started, I became much more productive at working with my dreams.

Although I realize I am still recovering from alienation from my life, I know the gap between me and my life is closing. Frequently, I'll notice that I've gone a long time with no 7 second delay. Now, mostly, I just do what I do and I experience what I experience. Also, I'm finding ways to express myself more fully. I still occasionally have scary or painful dreams, but they're not as compelling as before. (I realized that deciphering dreams and looking for cause is just a distraction.) Mostly, I just feel the feelings without a story. Body tensions and reactions still occur at times, but now I just notice them, with kindly attention to the area, rather than trying to explain or change them. In my daily life, my mind is less about trying to find and solve problems, or about any kind of story, and more about just noticing what's happening. I have to say, my life is appealing even when it's not.


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