There is a completely different way of existing that we can shift into, where we are a container for receiving the world directly in this moment rather than something that is actively generating a version of it.
Being in this way is incredibly powerful for deepening our connection with other people, the content of our lives and the Universe.
This way of being also creates a whole new world of freedom for the Universe to express itself through us and is one of the deepest awakening shifts that I have gone through. It feels a bit like leaning back into experience.
We are open to receiving what is here, without judgement or separation between us and it. Our senses, thoughts, emotional responses and actions are all happening through us without a filter and not being seen through a projection.
It requires a level of vulnerability and courage to show up in this way – we are allowing things in and noticing our reactions in a sincere way, without dressing them up or trying to make them different to how they are. It’s like taking off the armour that you normally have to wear in everyday life.
I feel it is important that being in this state doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is pleasant. A lot of spirituality tells the false story that everything in this moment is somehow perfect.
People describe opening to states like this as being the route to bliss or happiness. I actually believe the causality is the opposite – it is much easier to be with experience in this way when experience is pleasant.
It requires a lot more work to be open to the world in this way when what we find is unpleasant, complicated or in some way challenging for us. But it is here that the practice becomes the most fruitful.
It is our challenges and our darkness that offer the biggest opportunity for transforming how we relate to each other and life. If we can turn things like greed, hatred, judgement and fear into a capacity to really be there with the pain of experience in a brave and compassionate way, then instead of being stuck in a reactive cycle we will create opportunity for connection, for understanding what matters and for acting from this place, to build a better world.
It’s actually the challenges and darkness that stop us being present, so facing them and increasing our capacity to be with them is really the only route to making any progress in spiritual practice.
While these practices are in the shared practice section, some of them are used best as a shared practice between you and the Universe. This way of being is inherently mystical – we are letting go of our sense of control and opening up to some life-force, higher power or energy to express itself through us.
We are allowing the soulfulness, creative energy and forces that create experience to be there and to move freely without trying to rein them in. We are trusting that they are expressing what they need to express in this moment.
One of the most important things with these practices is that you are letting go completely of outcomes or what you believe is right or wrong and holding an open space for whatever content is there and wants to be expressed through you.
If this sounds overwhelming, start by feeling into it gently and in small ways. You can build capacity over time.
This is a really straight-forward practice that allows you to feel into the difference between looking and receiving.
Stand or sit in front of a mirror and notice the difference between what it is like to look into your eyes and what it feels like to receive your eyes.
There should be a sensation that feels something like relaxing back, softening, opening and receiving more of your vibes and emotions. Lots of people cry when they first shift into this state and receive the fullness of their being.
Play around with shifting between looking and receiving so that you can remember a sense of what receiving feels like. Notice where you feel the shift in the body, what direction it feels like, how you make the move – it helps the other practices to have a memory of moving into a mode of receiving.
You can also do this in pairs. Look into each other’s eyes and take it in turns to move between looking at and receiving each other. See if you can notice when the other person is moving between the two modes and if it feels different to you.
This is a practice that I recommend for a lot of different reasons. In this case it can be perfect for sensing into a receiving way of being.
Music increases the range of emotions we are able to feel present with and creates a sense of flow in experience – both of these make it easier to drop back into a receiving way of being.
Choose some music that you feel matches your current state of being. Part of receiving is that we are not separating the inside from the outside, so making your environment match your inner world is helpful for this. If you are sad, putting on some really sad music, if you are chilled choosing some chill music etc.
We then can remove the barriers between us, the music and what it evokes in us and just give ourselves over to being carried on a journey by experience. Trust that it will take you where you need to go – any sense of resisting your inner world or trying to make it something different is what gets in the way of receiving. Remember that you can’t get it wrong.
Allow things to be evoked in you – body sensations, emotions, thoughts, imagination, memories, the sounds of the different parts of the music.
Allow the music into your experience and just let it do whatever it does to you.
You don’t need to control the experience or direct your attention, you can go with the flow of it and let it take you on a journey. You may find that you are carried off into the imaginal or other aspects of experience, allow this to happen and come back to the sensation of the music washing over you and into your experience when you are ready.
This can also be a shared practice with another person or in a group. If you do it together, make some space before you start to do some heart sharing and afterwards sharing the journey you went on.
Deep listening is one of the skills you need to cultivate to access this way of being in yourself.
Rather than assuming you know what you’re seeing or hearing, you’re opening to a deeper way of receiving the meaning of what someone or something is communicating to you. You allowing for mystery, depth, resonance, emotional truth and mysticism in what is being shown to you.
To do this, you need to open your heart more to receive the emotional impact of what someone is communicating. If you are regulating your response or managing yourself, then you aren’t able to relax into a sense of receiving. It becomes easier to access this state of being when we have experienced it from another person.
This skill is really important to practice if we are doing shared practices with people – to be able to be there for someone and receive what they are saying is a huge gift to give someone.
These inquiry questions reframe the world as if we are here to receive it. You can use them as a self-inquiry in your practice or you can use them to journey together in pairs. If you are using them together, sit facing each other with your eyes closed.
When it is your turn to ask a question or share, imagine that you are picking up a stone and dropping it into the middle of a pond. When either of you speak, allow the words to sink into your experience, in the way the stone would sink into a pond. The ripples spreading out are like the words resonating through both of your experiences.
There is no rush or pressure to respond, the conversation can go as slowly or as quickly as feels natural and comfortable. Take some time to weigh up what feels safe to share and what feels meaningful to share.
You can take it in turns to ask and answer questions or you can nominate one person to ask and one person to answer and then swap roles. The person who is asking the questions may want to go off piste and follow their curiosity – asking the person questions about what they have shared.
Here are the basic questions:
‘If everything is happening by itself, how does your body feel right now?’
‘If everything is happening by itself, what emotions are present in your experience?’
‘If everything is happening by itself, how would you describe your heart right now?’
‘If everything is happening by itself, how does your mind feel?’
‘If everything is happening by itself, how would you describe your experience right now?’
When working with people, I would use these as a spring board for exploration and often go into some guided imaginal practice to explore aspects of experience in more depth.
Here are the instructions for working with the imaginal together in pairs or threes, including a recorded demonstration.
Sharing this experience with others is one of the most powerful and transformational practices there is.