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-   -   After Lack (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=246)

River 05-10-2009 03:32 PM

After Lack
I'd like to discuss a transformational process which I am engaging in, which I think is powerful and good. I didn't learn this process from any one person, book, teacher or guru.... It just started to unfold at some point and I decided to trust and follow it where it would take me. The essence of the process is the dropping of what I will here call "the lack perspective". To "drop" the lack perspective, one must only (a) acknowledge and observe the lack perspective as it operates in one's life and psyche, and (b) decide that the happiness which evolves and grows in one's life with the dropping of the lack perspective is welcome.

This process, for me, is very much framed within an inquiry centering on relationship/s--whether monoamorous or polyamorous, or whether with one's self or with the breeze blowing on one's skin on a sunny spring day.

How I practice: I watch myself in mindfulness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness ... and I catch myself in the act of playing out what we may call a "lack drama" or telling myself a "lack story". A lack drama is an emotional reaction to a lack story. A lack story goes like... "There isn't enough __________". (Happiness, love, joy, peace, freedom...etc.)

Say I'm out walking in the sunshine..., and I don't bother to attend to the delicious feeling of the sunlight on my skin, the breeze on my skin, the simple joy of just being alive....? All the while, I'm think-feeling "not good enough". "I'd rather be somewhere else." The result? I cannot be happy, have joy, peace, etc..., because I'm not allowing it. I'm not being present to what I want!

I can then intervene, if I catch myself at this silly making-myself-unhappy game. I can pay attention to the inverse of the lack perspective. It can be a very simple act, like enjoying (to the extent possible at that moment) the pleasurable sensations already present but not attended to. E.g., warm sunlight kissing my skin, light breeze.... Even breathing is pleasurable and openning, healing, when attended to.

This really is about having happier relationships!, mono- or poly-. The root premise being that if one isn't already happy one cannot share happiness with others -- and will probably enact lack dramas in their relationships, rather than sharing the expansive joy of love.

I can't possibly touch upon or summarize what I've been learning on these matters in one post. But I am available for questions!

I'm not a guru of this stuff, by the way, only a beginning student with the joyful humility that comes with having found an entry point for transformational healing of the heart ... and of the world.

River 05-10-2009 03:49 PM

This practice is NOT about trying to pretend to yourself that you think or feel any different than you actually do feel and/or think. There's no pulling yourself up from your boot straps. That never works!

The key here is that you get really very self-honest and observe precisely how you are involved in making yourself unhappy (if you're doing any of that). When we realize how much we're involved in our own unhappiness (if we have any of that) we learn how to care for ouselves better and thus how to grow in happiness.

This is about choosing happiness by acknowledging the available choice. It is also about bringing joy to others by becoming joyfull.

Joy is always in you, if you will only notice it and give it your attention. Attention to this joy causes it to expand and to heal the hurt or broken places in ourselves.

I know, it sounds really weird to say "Joy is always in you". That seems especially ridiculous or absurd when one is feeling miserable! But I have found that joy really is always in me, and that it expands when I attend to it -- pay it attention. The only way to find out if this is true for you is to practice toward finding out.

marianna 05-11-2009 04:02 AM

i am fascinated by this piece of your post " I can then intervene, if I catch myself at this silly making-myself-unhappy game"

that's exactly what i am trying to figure out how to do. because i, not my relationship, am making me unhappy. it's the internal self talk that is driving me nuts...that whispers in my ear "you don't deserve to be happy, loved, cherished, so of course you never will be" - it's driving me nuts. i'm trying to learn mindfulness because i believe so much in self manifestation.


River 05-11-2009 03:25 PM


What I am finding out in my own practice is that there is something already always with/within me that is very kind, loving, generous, wise, nurturing, healing.... I don't make a belief system or a religion out of this mysterious "something," rather, I try as much as possible to feel/experience/sense this in/around myself which is healing and nourishing and nurturing, etc. I suppose it could be called "intrinsic goodness" or "fundamental goodness". It can also be called "freedom," "joy," "happiness".... But the important thing here is not what we call it. In fact, all words and concepts can help to conceal this "intrinsic goodness". The important thing is to "tune in" to basic goodness --the always already existing basic goodness of being alive. The more I do this the more available that awareness/sensation becomes. I find that I can often just let go into it, allowing it to hold and heal me. By "letting go," I mean that I am trusting this mysterious whatever-it-is to work for me without my having to put effort into it. It can be like lying down in cool grass at a park in the summer, and letting gravity and the earth have your body and support you. It's also like allowing the body to breathe itself, which it does ... and the heart circulates breath ... all without effort. Perfect support without effort.

What I have just said is an essential part of my own way of practicing -- and this is so for me, probably, because I lost contact with "basic goodness" somewhere along the line, except perhaps having the faint whiff of it now and then--often as a memory or only as a future hope. So if one doesn't have a solid growing relationship (it grows and expands as we allow and open to it!) established, this is a crucial part of the practice of learning to live After Lack, or put positively, in a bun dance.

(I avoided calling this topic something like "How to live in abundance". I don't like how the concept of abundance is popularly used... so I prefer to call it a bun dance, 'cause that's just silly and fun. And people often talk about abundance all wrong 'cause the concept sits in the lack perspective. More on that later.)

So let's just call this first part of my practice Opening to Basic Goodness. We always start where we are in this practice. If you have little or no contact with Basic Goodness, that's fine. That's where you start to learn how to sense it. It is felt, sensed. And learning to sense or feel it if there's little awareness of it is like listening very carefully and sensitively. You listen with your whole being, not just your ears. Once you get a whiff or a taste, you keep practicing, a little each day, until you see that it teaches you how to open to it further. Yes, it teaches you. Isn't that fantastic! And it knows how to teach just to and for you -- in your uniqueness. There is no right or wrong way to open to Basic Goodness. Only it itself is a good teacher of itself. So stumbling upon it if it has been submerged is a happy accident. All we can do is hope to become accident prone.

Another crucial part is the practice is mindfulness. I recommend combining mindfulness practice with some sitting meditation -- and there are plenty of writings and teachers on these subjects and I don't really want to advise much on this right now. Find writings or teacher/s who support your practice and practice.

The part of this I want to talk about is the importance of bare witnessing of our habitual patterns of self-talk and emotional reaction. Bare witnessing means that you are only noticing these patterns, without adding insult to injury by noticing them and then transforming them into further self-talk, of the sort that says, for example, "I'm no good, just look at me running that old tape again! What a pile of shit I am!" If self-talk arises of this sort while you are noticing a habitual pattern in yourself or your life which you do not like, drop it immediately! That is, let it fall away by not feeding it. Imagine an electrical switch. Imagine reaching and turning off the electricity or food supply for this internal self-talk. Get up and walk away from this voice. Say to it, silently, "No thanks, not today".

We humans generally identify ourselves with these mental-emotional habit patterns, and so they (which we mistake for ourselves!) feel existentially threatened when we stop feeding them. They will try and try to get our attention focussed on a lack story or a lack drama. Your job in practicing is to catch them in the act of stealing your energy and your choice. You really can take your life back from these theives who have stolen your Freedom in the night. Freedom is a facet of joy and of love and of kindness, etc.... It is happiness and Basic Goodness.

These two primary components of my practice are mutually enhancing of one another. I have come from chronic sub-clinical depression and basic unhappiness to being happy almost all of the time by practicing in this way. My joy grows a little each day, as does my freedom. I only want everyone to share this joy with me. But, of course, I have to allow everyone to be just as they are if I am to remain happy.

Joy to you!

River 05-11-2009 03:43 PM

Another crucial part of my practice is what we might call "reframing". Reframing is seeing and understanding something in a new light. If we're largely run by our conscious and unconscious beliefs (which we are, it seems to me) and we haven't significantly evaluated those beliefs for truth or falsity or their effects on our life experience, we're in deep doo-doo. Why? Because the odds are that we have been run by really crappy beliefs which we have adopted without question or even observant consent. We've absorbed a lot of them osmotically from the culture, our parents, religious institutions and schools.... Most of them are the very DNA of lack stories and lack dramas. Gently, self-honestly, a little at a time, dig these stories and dramas up and ask if they are happy dramas or if they are true stories. Catch yourself in the act of re-enacting them and decide for yourself (only you can!) whether you want to keep repeating them.

Construct a metaphorical flashlight you can take into a metaphorical cave and light up the dark a spot at a time. Then, when you're ready, turn on the light switch. The place is wired for light!

Oh, one other crucial thing to my practice which I have not mentioned is this. Get really impatient with unhappiness and choose to be happy. Choose it! Demand to be happy! Accept nothing less! Get fed up with unhappiness, and decide to quit the habit, and to practice learning to open to more and more happiness each day. This is all about taking responsibility for your happiness or unhappiness. If you don't assume responsibility, someone or something else will. Don't give them--or it--that power!

marianna 05-11-2009 11:05 PM

You know, i really needed to be reminded of that today. I decided not so very long ago that i was doneabsolutely done with being unhappy - and amazing things started opening up in my life -


River 05-11-2009 11:31 PM


That's great! Last spring is when I finally turned a corner, and I have been growing in happiness, joy, peace..., ever since--especially this spring! (Spring makes it so easy!, what with the warm weather, the green and the blooms.) In this time I realized that it was I who/which was making me unhappy -- not the world situation, not the f---d up political situation, not global warming and ecological meltdown.... And I somehow decided that I don't want to do that anymore. And each day really is a little better than the previous one, happier, more healed, more free and joyful, but not without its measure of pain and hope and desire. It's just that the growing happiness is bigger than any of that, and I let it (which is tender and loves me) hold all of my pain and hope and desire in its affectionate tenderness and warm understanding. Such processes, I understand, usually involve moments of great emotional and spiritual challenge, and I'm happy that I have courage, now, for meeting whatever comes my way. And tremendous gratitude to those who are my lovely glorious support system in the form of friends and lovers, flowers and sky, rain and sunshine, moon and stars.... Gravity, too, is a nurturing support for me in my process of becoming melted and tender and open and joyful. It holds me, keeps me from falling into the sky. When I count my blessings I can fall into the sky, you know. Having already suffered enough.

And remember this: Your best gift to those you love is always your own happiness and freedom and joy.

And remember this: Your best gift to those you love is always your own happiness and freedom and joy.

Repeat as necessary.

My best gift to those I love is my own joy and freedom.

My best gift to those I love is my own joy and freedom.

marianna 05-12-2009 01:42 AM

going to make that a new affirmation - gotta trust the Universe - i asked for happiness and it brought me to them - it's when the mind starts going and the fears start rifling through my brain that i forget - i create my own happiness, and it brought me to them :)


River 05-12-2009 02:17 AM

I prefer to think that I allow my own happiness, rather than that I create it. I think happiness just happens by itself if we will only get out of the way and allow it.

This reframes the concept of effort, which really can get in the way of happiness. Effort is okay, however. Some is needed. But, for most folks I know, there is a need to stop trying so hard to be happy -- and just to allow it to unfold and bloom in their lives.

It's up to you to find your own way that works, but be cautious toward that part of yourself that would like to bring happiness into your life by effort, I'd say. Effort is always toward something, but happiness only lives and grows in the already present moment. Why strive after it if it is already present? And if it isn't present? You're not present. Arrive!


Danny40179 05-13-2009 04:57 PM

This is such a wonderful thread. JRiver, I commend you! Mari, it seems like you're on the road to being truly happy. I've been down and out over the last couple of months. (Had a mini melt down and have been out of work since) and in that time I've re-evaluated things. Realized what's truly important to me and God I've never been happier.

You really are in control of your own happiness. You can't stress the things that you have no control over, so don't worry about them. The universe will unfold as it should. :)

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