Field Notes

Life Changing, Non-substance, Micro-dosing Practice for an Increasingly Enhanced and Skilful Sense of Self

May 30, 2021 - 4 Comments

Life Changing, Non-substance, Micro-dosing Practices

for

an Increasingly Enhanced and Skilful Sense of Self

 

In this Field Note I believe you will find ideas and practices that will take you into the realm of expanded consciousness, and that you will discover some ways to research and experiment with your life and consciousness, beyond the realms of suffering and pain. “Suffering and pain” is a big territory that includes frustration, annoyance, anxiety, boredom, meaninglessness, fear and so on. I will not go over the ground that I have covered previously about inner work with your egoic structures that limit your ability to be fluid and flexible, uncovering and working with your edges, transcending those edges, and moving increasingly into realms of expanded awareness and experiencing of life. For sure that was the core and underlying work that builds the foundation for what I will offer you in this field note as practice. My focus in this Field Note is to offer you a direct method of working with your states of non-ordinary consciousness (“self-states”). As you will see, this method is particularly excellent at helping you to discover your most core, beautiful, and authentic nature, and its increasing expression in each moment.

 

First of all, what I will share with you is that there are non-ordinary states of consciousness. These are non-ordinary relative to the usual, ordinary, or consensual perceptions of life and reality. What we will focus on is a way to be in the reality that exists in the moment and to be very clear, alert, and ready to be in the ways that totally fit the circumstances, whatever they may be. And we can practice increasingly how to inhabit such non-ordinary states of perception and consciousness.

 

As many of you are probably aware, there is a great deal of interest currently in what is called ‘micro-dosing’ with psychoactive substances and sacred plants. What this means is the use of a very tiny amount of the particular substance. Ingesting these very small amounts does not lead to the usual very big altering of consciousness that is more usual. Micro-dosing individuals, however, report subtle changes in their experience, such as better concentration, feeling more relaxed, sleeping better, and so on. Recently, I heard the eminent neuroscientist and researcher, Richard Davidson, speak of micro-dosing mindfulness. What I am going to share with you is how to micro-dose the experience that you are seeking to have more available to you, and in your everyday life. Our purpose with micro-dosing these experiences that I am going to share with you is to disrupt our usual and every day consciousness in a creative way and as Aldous Huxley famously put it, “Opens the doors of perception!”

 

My particular interest in micro dosing emanates from my experience that sitting meditation for extended periods of time is a very onerous undertaking for very many people, especially those with physical pain, soreness, and stiffness but also for those many of us who have very active and ‘wild’ minds, and my discoveries about the power of micro-dosing in the particular ways I will describe here as having great potential for cultivating our consciousness, and really for cultivating our whole self. To be sure, I’m not against extended sitting meditation times, and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who can and wants to do so to include this as part of their practice. By the same token, I also encourage anyone who wishes to undertake both extended sitting, and the micro-dosing that I will be offering here to do so.

 

My own practice on occasion includes extended periods of meditation and inner work, although it may not look exactly the way people understand such, as I tend to move around physically to the point where, at times, it is more like I am micro-dosing a series of inner work/meditative experiences that are interspersed with periods of absorption in other things. Let me proceed with an outline of the process, and then I will follow with two  descriptive narrative examples. I should also reiterate that it is a good idea for you to think of what I offer here, not so much as recipes, but as guidelines. Feel free to follow the guidelines closely, and also feel free to use them as a framework from which you will develop your own way of practising in the service of discovering your way each day in each moment.

 

The Practice of Discovering and Remembering the ‘State’

 

Begin with remembering a state of being associated with perhaps a time in your life, or even a moment in your life when you felt complete whole and at one with yourself, perhaps another person, and even with the entire cosmos. Some characteristics you can look for are a sense of peace, relaxation, ease, energy and aliveness, clarity of vision/awareness, certain body sensations, particular emotions, and a felt sense of connection.

 

Now, do the following; study your experience in all its dimensions. Do whatever you feel will help you ‘learn’ this experience more broadly and deeply. My recommendation is that you ‘experiment’ with this, practice, and learn it consistently and persistently. You could say ‘study it.’ It doesn’t matter how much or how little you can recall the experience suggested above. You may have only a memory that it took place. Whatever you recall is a good starting point to build from over time. No matter how much you do remember in an embodied way you will find you can engage in the ongoing process of learning this state increasingly deeply. This may seem like an endless process. It is! It will become an ongoing part of your life and that in my view is just how it should be. Remember this is an imaginative and creative process.

As you become more skilled and familiar with this state of consciousness and being, certain thoughts and feelings will likely arise that are not compatible with the state. That is not a problem. In fact, that will provide you with invaluable material with which to work and that is obstructing the emergence of your purest in the moment state of consciousness. This is the material for your inner work as we have discussed in previousField Notes. However, what you can do when you practice is to remind yourself of that state, and do your best to work your way back to it. Remember, you are practising your ‘enlightened’ state of being at this time. You are merely putting your shadow material aside for the moment with full intention to get back to it at another moment. This is not spiritual bypassing as described by Trungpa Rinpoche, the somewhat notorious founder of Shambhala Buddhism.

 

Now, here is where the micro-dosing practice comes in. You can practice having the state for a few seconds, a few minutes, and at various intervals. It doesn’t matter how long you practice. What matters is practising! At first, you may find you forget to do this. Perhaps your first project will be to remember to do this, which may involve working with that which obstructs your ability to do this. At first you may just engage in a very short practice, say once a day at first and maybe only for a minute. pr even less! Eventually you can grow your practice. What you are doing is finding your optimal route into it, but for many, it will include keeping the time frame well within what you might be able to do with a little more effort.

As you become more able to do this, the state will become more familiar to you, and it is a good idea at times to push your limits regarding time and move into your zone of discomfort. Neuroscience tells us (Huberman Lab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b6bwcWK6GE) that at times pushing your limits and experiencing some difficulty after having gained some skill is a significantly important precursor to pushing your limits and opens up some circuitry in the brain that will actually be helpful in facilitating your learning.

 

Now here is a small and I think relatively easy way to engage your practice:

Inhale once, inhale a 2nd time on top of the first inhale, hold the inhale for a few seconds, exhale slowly, then hold the exhale, then stop. While doing this one time inhale and exhale with the holding evoke to the best of your ability the consciousness that you wish to cultivate.

If you are having trouble with staying focused, just do the first inhale, or maybe add the 2nd one. Break it up into the pieces that work for you, which may vary during the day and as time goes by.

Actual micro-dosing involves you remembering the desired state, as described above, and becoming progressively more familiar with it, and injecting small doses increasingly into your experience. When you have some reasonable sense of your ability to call up the self-state, or perhaps when it is beginning to occur spontaneously on its own, you can then begin to visualize in your inner world certain life circumstances, both easy and difficult, and practice being in them while simultaneously engaging the state.

 

Progressively you can bring this state into your consciousness in any situation that you find yourself in, and particularly as time goes by, in situations that are difficult. Conflict situations are certainly a good practice opportunity.

 

Now let me provide an example for you:

 

Lydia: I am extremely angry with my partner. I have a very uncomfortable hot feeling in my body and fantasies of slapping his face, or maybe I will just leave him. I don’t need him in my life! He is my tormentor!

 

Oh! I recognize my dear little infant self and a very familiar ‘tantrum.’ Surely, I need to do some more work with this, but not now. I will get back to this at another moment and focus on it.

 

I still feel the heat in my body and simultaneously I am recalling that I do have a state of being that is different and that serves me well. I am aware that my focus is shifting from the outer world to my inner world. I’m having reminder thoughts that are associated with my non-ordinary ‘enlightened’ state. I’m aware that I have shifted, or perhaps better put, am shifting to an inner focus and away from my reactive outer focus. Inner focus is associated for me with a much bigger sense of control and agency. I am aware of my history that trained me all too well to be outer focused and to believe that I was in a position of ‘subject to;’ a victim!

 

I am aware of slowing down substantially. My heart rate is decreasing, my thoughts of violence and departure are fading, I see his face in front of me, I seem to have an ability to see beyond the physical and to remember the deepest part of him. I am aware of his mouth moving, sounds coming out of him, and I have a sudden awareness of his pain, and I imagine, I am seeing his attempts to offload his torment. I I am beginning to realize that I can metaphorically step aside. I am quiet. I am no longer reactively commenting at each opportunity to everything that he says, and I am no longer saying things that I am almost certain will be provocative and bring more of the very kinds of remarks from him that I don’t want. I believe and really know now that those remarks are coming out of his pain, and that I’m quite sure are not good for our relational experience and our relationship, just as were my initial reactions were not good for our relationship.

 

I feel quite powerful, but not in the sense of having power over. Rather, I feel my own life energy and a great ease washing through me from within and without. I suddenly re/member that perhaps I have power to transform the situation. I can take charge in a very good way.

 

I soften my gaze. I even give a slight smile and open my eyes a little wider. I believe the eyes send the message but also my body stance which I have now shifted a little bit more sideways and definitely softer. I can feel the softening throughout my body. I am remembering my warm and good feelings for him. My thoughts about him are now kind and are definitely representative of my affection for him. I realize that I have actually done very little outwardly and yet I can see that my subtle change of demeanor  seems to be having a good effect on him and the whole situation.

 

I’m aware that there is no guarantee about what he will do or how or if he will perceive and be affected positively by my change of consciousness. What I do know for sure is that I feel much more at ease and whole.

 

I am recalling times in the past when I have attempted to do this and that my ability to hold the state was very brief, and how eventually I became good at leaving and returning to the state increasingly frequently and quickly. This was my practice. It is still my practice. However, today I much more able to stay with it.

 

What I have offered you here is a possibility of work in the relational field in a conflict situation. Again, I don’t intend this as a recipe: rather, it is an outline of how to work within yourself and between you and another person. It could just as readily be done in relation to an inner fear state about something that confronts you unwanted, unbidden, and perhaps horrible and that is about relationships within your inner world.

 

I will now offer another example based on my own experience. In fact, I will share the experience as it unfolds. Again, this is not a recipe: it offers a possible model, which will be adapted by you to fit with you, your context, and your particularities.

 

I know the state that I want to cultivate and with which I wish to become increasingly familiar. I want to grow my capacity and awareness progressively, and to live more fully into this consciousness that I am describing. This state as I know it from my experience is a state of expanded awareness, aliveness, resilience, exuberance, and simultaneous ease. I want to truly know in my in-the-moment experience the interconnectedness and interbeing of all aspects of life both known and not known.

 

I have memory of times and moments in my life where this state is intrinsic and embodied in me. I am now remembering one of these moments. I am lying on a beach. It is a beautiful warm summer day. My girl friend, whom I am most fond of, is lying beside me. It is a perfect moment. Indeed, I am at one with the universe.I have a thought, ‘this is how life should be.’ My body is  one integrated whole; emotionally I feel filled with peace and  a beautiful poignancy; my life force energy is pulsing within me, I feel my heart beating rhythmically, and my breathing is steady and even.

 

I am now remembering this experience very fully and in multiple dimensions. I see the sun glinting off the water and the clear blue of the sky. I feel my inner pulse, which is not my physical pulse. It is the pulse of life within me and the interconnection with the pulse of all of life and the universe. Now I am letting go of the memory and retaining the consciousness that is associated with the memory. I have a feeling of all this. Nothing is missing, everything is here now.

 

I am sinking ever deeper into the feeling. I know everything, not all content but something much larger.

 

I am having, as I just described, the consciousness that I believe many seek through many practices and through the ingestion of psychotropic substances and sacred plants. I have been practicing this state of consciousness for quite a long time with both micro-dosing and macro-dosing practice. What I mean by ‘macro-dosing’ here is larger periods of practices. I have become increasingly skilled with bringing this state of being, my ‘self-state,’ alive in consciousness for longer and longer periods of time, and in all manner of contexts, including the most challenging. I have also practiced, over and over, discovering what arises that is alive from my history and doing my inner work as it arises, and at a time other than when I am practicing this state. I have become increasingly adept at noticing the arising of other or ‘interfering’ states and saving them for later. I have also become quicker and quicker at recovery, no matter what the events and circumstances that have arisen. I am increasingly quick to recover my agency and look after any parts of me that are the ‘victim.’ Of course, I know that I still have a long path of discovery in front of me.

 

What I am suggesting to you is identifying the states that are preferred and most universal for you, practice them, learn about your own awareness and consciousness, learn about recovery, and identify your primary mode on the continuum of agency and victim. There is no shame in knowing you have been ‘trained’ to be a victim. After all, the culture has been extremely infused with this consciousness. Learn about your agentic self and note what your history is with this. Also, recall that our evolutionary experience has deeply imbued us with the surging urge to survive.

 

You probably are aware that this Field Note is a subtle brushing of the surface of all possibilities for this practice. I encourage you to explore, send your comments and questions, and of course, if you would like some personal coaching with this possibility I would be most interested to work with you on that…

 

I certainly invite you to share your experiences in this realm, ask any questions, and share any feedback you have about what I have written in this Note. I hope you are getting a strong sense of the vastness of possibility and the process that is intrinsic within this possibility.

 

You have probably noticed that this practice along with the core and base work of inner work is a confrontation with your central personality, or egoic structure. This speaks to the reality that we have all formed personality in the service of protection and survival. Remember inner work is in the service of loosening the grip of egoic structures and allowing us to have them rather than them having us.

 

As always, many thanks to Heesoon for stellar support with this Field Note.

 

COMMENTS

  • Olivia Kienzel June 4, 2021 at 10:28 am

    Very helpful suggestion. I can see how practicing this could help very much with shifting one’s state and then regaining mindfulness/Wise Self functioning in a triggered moment. Thanks for this, Avraham.

    Reply
    • Avraham Cohen June 5, 2021 at 2:30 pm

      Hi Olivia!Thank you so much for your comment and feedback. My own experience with what you responded to is that indeed it was a process over time to learn to do this, and for sure it was not always a straight line process. You have reminded me with your comment that this micro dosing method can be used as a quick intervention, first-aid, and also for long-term practice aside from such situations as you mention that will facilitate development of a deeper sense of identity. And as I mentioned in the Field Note it is important to do the deeper inner work that leads to any reactivity that we may experience.

      Warm wishes,
      Avraham

      Reply
  • Susan Mavor June 14, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Avi,

    Thank you for sharing your insight and these practical methods. I can see how cultivation of this ideal state, and it’s summoning, are valuable study. One question, perhaps for another field note. You mention as shadow material arises, one might note and then save it for another time. Why is that? Is there a different way or time to set aside for such observations?

    Reply
    • Avraham Cohen June 15, 2021 at 6:42 pm

      Hi Susan, you are certainly most welcome!
      I think I could have been clearer here. What I was getting at with the comment about “save for another time” was only to indicate that if you are already in a circumstance and in the midst of practising the micro-moment microskill, and something arises and that moment may not be the right time to do the inner work that you are interested in doing then saving it for another time merely means finding a time when there is time to do the work. Of course if you are practising the micro-skill and something arises from the shadow, and you are in a good place to work with that material, there is absolutely no reason not to go ahead with this work.

      Reply

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