I am redefining what awakening means, to be more whole, inspiring, alive and in touch with the true nature of both your deepest self and the deepest parts of the Universe.
My framework for awakening describes how each of us is a living body, heart, mind and soul eco-system; and on a Universal level this corresponds to how life is a combination of form, relationship, consciousness and cosmos.
The core of the model is that you can get much deeper clarity on and connection with all these different parts of experience than most people think is possible, while also recognising that there is no single or final source of truth. Getting in touch with true nature has a Universal aspect, while it also expresses itself in each individual in a very unique way.
In my definition of awakening I am pointing to the process of becoming more connected to the truth of experience. In practice this combines Buddhist emptiness, shadow work, tantric embodiment, the archetypal realm, mysticism, individuation, a radically new way of relating to heartfulness and more. It involves connecting with both the most personally unique and the most transcendentally Universal aspects of experience.
The framework is sufficiently sophisticated to meaningfully include a high level of complexity and rigour, while also encouraging a deep connection with what is simply here in the present moment that we share.
The practices that stem from this framework are about getting out of the way of truth. They include embracing the full range of experience and bringing the deepest and most personal parts of you (which perhaps have never been felt) to life. This includes integrating your darkness.
I have turned the framework into a 16-part awakening path, which I am developing into a course in collaboration with 10 other teachers.
If you would like a more in-depth introduction to the model, I did a 40 minute introductory presentation on the Stoa, which you can watch below or here.
a recognition, realisation, or coming into awareness of something
the act of starting to understand something or feel something
I am developing a course that acts as an introductory overview to the eco-system of experience.
The 16 parts of the awakening path are like 16 worlds of embodied insights that are possible and meaningful for people to learn to connect to and cultivate in their own experience, which includes getting in touch with both a transcendental aspect and a deeply personal aspect of that world.
Each step of the course will be a rich window into this aspect of experience.
The course is designed for:
- Contemplative practitioners who are interested in adopting or transitioning to a holistic practice
- Spiritual teachers who want to understand how their teaching fits into a wider eco-system of experience and practice
- People who work in fields related to human flourishing (e.g. academia, healthcare, social enterprise) who want to gain an understanding of how awakening can support people and systems to become more oriented towards wholeness, integrity and wellbeing
Each aspect of the path could be an entire lifetime’s worth of exploration. The aim with this introductory course is:
- To introduce each topic and share the importance of its role in the eco-system
- To give people a flavour of different practices that they may be interested in exploring further
- To demonstrate how these different aspects of experience weave together into a cohesive whole
If you would like an introduction to how each aspect of experience can be understood and how they relate to the wider model, I recorded a 30 minute conversation with each of the teachers to explore how their topics intersect with the wider map.
You can listen to them on Youtube here.
Awakening Individual Experience
Awakening To Collective Experience
Some of the core values of this approach to awakening are truth, wholeness, connecting to something bigger than you, integrating darkness, empowering the practitioner to open to the full richness of their inner world and weaving all this back in with how they personally experience life and engage with the external world.
All of these teachers and practitioners have embodied these values on their own journeys and are sharing the richness of their lived-in insights from a place of grounded and inspiring presence.
The path can be approached in a number of ways and the course layout and structure will reflect this flexibility and interactivity. To give an example of how this might work, here’s a lovely User Interface that I am inspired by, designed and built by Eli (one of the teachers).
Below are three key ways of laying out the path that will be included in the structure:
- Cultivation-based path, creates inclusivity and breadth, more yin
- Practice-based path, creates precision and depth, more yang
- Bottom-up, middle-out and top-down starting points, works with the nervous system
Technical & Creative
The course will be an expression of both intellectual rigour and creative expression. Both of these are true: experience is already right in front of you and the deeper and more efficacious your practice, the richer and more whole your immediate experience will be.
For the technical side, we will share detailed and specific information that includes things like stages of development. For the creative side, we will invite you into an inclusive and immediate approach with practices such as meditating to music.
The course is designed to be an overview of the eco-system of experience. It is showing people the different aspects of human experience that is it possible to awaken.
It will be possible for people with no prior contemplative practice to understand some of what is being shared. It will also be relevant for teachers who want to get an understanding of adjacent and complementary areas of experience to the ones that they teach.
If you are on your own path of awakening and want to use this course to deepen your own practice, you need to find your own practice path to work with, prior to engaging with the content. You need to have both a meditation practice and a transformative therapy modality that work well for you. You should be able to sit in silence in a meaningful way and have a way of working with challenging emotions.
This is marked on the map in the top left hand corner hexagon as ‘foundation practice’.
The meditation practices that work best with this framework are ones grounded in Buddhist philosophy that retain high openness to experience. Examples of this are Michael Taft’s recorded guided meditations; Daniel Ingram’s Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha; and Rob Burbea’s work.
The therapy modalities that work best are something that contain an imaginal or embodied element, or ideally both. Examples of things that work are Somatic Experiencing, Bio-Emotive Framework, Internal Family Systems therapy, Core Transformation and Shadow Work Therapy.
An example practice
Choose a playlist for a topic that you would like to get in touch with. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and start by taking a couple of deep breaths.
When you start the playlist, pay attention to how the music inspires feelings, thoughts and energies in your inner world and creates the shape of your experience as you journey with it.
As a concentration object, feel how your body, heart, mind and imagination are creating an artwork or story in your inner world that is inspired by the connection with the music.
Example music meditation playlist for Spaciousness
“Colours and shapes appeared behind my closed eyes.
Just the tip of my finger was so full of bizarre life,
I stroked it along the arm of the chair
And tears of overwhelm sprang to my eyes”
Rosa Lewis, Fierce Grace – 2019
One of the coolest aspects of the fractal nature of the map is that each of these boxes can contain the whole path. Each way that you do that will inflect how the larger landscape is viewed and experienced.
I’ve played with creating example images of the path viewed through the different windows, to demonstrate how each one creates a different feel and vibe. A few examples:
- When you look at the map through the frame of the Subtle Body each of the squares becomes an energetic form that you can feel and connect to in your body
- Through the frame of Present Awareness each of the squares is something that you can notice is here in your present moment experience
- Through the frame of Absorption each of the squares becomes something that can flood your entire experience
- Through the frame of Mysticism each of the squares is a portal into the Universe connecting more deeply to itself
This path is about understanding the true nature of both the Universe and yourself.
This will be in part shaped by embracing your unique expression in the world; I encourage you to go on your own path of exploration and to allow room for mystery and unexpected things to arise.
Having said that, there are some key themes and aspects that will be awakened by engaging with this approach. Here are some things that capture aspects of that.
This Twitter thread, created by River (one of the teachers), is a nice allegory of the path. The thread depicts a version of the path in story form, like a cute somatic-imaginal infused version of the ten ox-herding pictures from Zen Buddhism.
This illustrated guide (PDF) brings to life some of the aspects of experience that you will be touching into.
These vignettes of people with an awakened experience give an insight into integrated realisation and what it can look like for different people.
“With A it’s like everything is a magical flowing river. Everything is always moving and going somewhere and yet it is also just being an expression of its river self with nowhere else it needs to go.”
The body, heart, mind and soul framework can be modelled a number of different ways. Here is the most simple expression of it, with some of the qualities that are being cultivated through this practice.
You can read more about this and the other ways of understanding the framework on my maps and models page.
Check back soon, or follow me on Twitter, for updates on the development.
This course intersects with ‘The Journey That Opens the World’ – a collaborative project exploring how the imaginal realm can be propagated for the benefit of humanity.
If you would like to support the development of this course and related materials, please consider subscribing to my patreon.