Two years ago Patricia Albere and I met for our very first planning session in preparation for our debut-teaching event in New York City. I remember walking into her apartment. I was wearing dress shoes and a button down shirt. She was barefoot wearing faded blue jeans torn exquisitely at the knees. It was perfect.
In the days prior to this session I had been worried about only one thing and when I saw her I blurted it out almost immediately.
“One thing you need to know, I don’t do eye-gazing?”
“Why not?” she asked.
I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t feel comfortable with it because in my mind it was associated with overly sentimental ‘feel-good’ spiritual practices. Of course, I had never done any eye-gazing, nor seen anyone do it, so I had no actual experience to base my conviction on.
“I don’t do eye-gazing either, but sit down.” She instructed, “It won’t hurt you.”
We sat down and looked into each other’s eyes for about five minutes. She was right. It didn’t hurt.
It is two years later. Patricia and I have been teaching together continuously the whole time. And we still don’t do eye-gazing, but we do lots of paired spiritual work that we call mutual awakening practice.
In these paired practices you sit face to face with a partner who shares your commitment to mystical revelation and you focus on answering simple guiding questions repeatedly. And if you find the courage to let go you enter into a state of spontaneous sharing in which your words seem to leap from your mouth from a source deeper than you can see.
My primary spiritual practice for the past twenty years has been meditation. Sitting silently on a cushion I strive to simply allow whatever is present to be there. My goal in meditation is to be with reality exactly the way it is without manipulating or controlling it in anyway. As I sit I keep letting go of all of the subtle habits of manipulation and control, and I drift ever closer to perfect union with reality. The consciousness you experience in deep meditation is absolute unity, a oneness within which you disappear discovering the liberating truth of who you are before you found yourself here in this body, living this life, in this world.
The Mutual Awakening Practices of the Evolutionary Collective employ a similar technique, but with a big difference – you are not alone.
Like meditation the goal in mutual awakening is to be with reality exactly as it is, but now you are doing this face to face with another, and you are sharing your experience immediately. As you answer the guiding question over and over something happens. You begin to find that your words are emerging from an ever-deeper source of your being. You find that you are saying things you never imagined before and your words seem to be opening your experience into new realms of being. As these new realms open up your words begin to reflect them and make them more real between you and your partner.
I have spent hours sitting facing a partner, more often than not Patricia herself, engaged in soul-searching spiritual practice. In this practice new realms of myself, and new awakenings to mystical awareness have opened up. It has become a source of deep and profound illumination and growth.
Perhaps what is most amazing is that it all happens in relationship in a spontaneous sharing that gives access to wisdom that is beyond the intellect. When the practice is deep and profound the utterances are free from conceptualization. They are spoken reflections of consciousness as it is being experienced.
The Romantic thinkers of the 18th century believed that true creativity was very difficult to aspire to in words because they were laden with literal meaning. Poetry was the only written form they felt could be truly creative because it contained an intentional ambiguity of meaning that left enough room for real novelty.
Often in our Mutual Awakening practice what emerges from our mouths is poetry. I have found that if you follow the words as they emerge and avoid the temptation to label them with meaning they lead you onward. Like breadcrumbs that spontaneously appear they illuminate the way forward. Following each next utterance you find yourself on an amazing journey of discovery.
I have realized many things about myself that I never knew and things about my practice partners that neither of us knew. And I have followed the trail of spontaneous utterances into new worlds of truth, beauty and goodness.
When you practice meditation long enough you eventually come to realize that there is no end. You can follow that practice forever into deeper revelations. The Mutual Awakening practice is the same. It never ends. You can go deeper and deeper.
Unlike meditation, you are not traveling this mystical journey alone. You and your partner go together. And because you are together the space you are exploring is inherently relational. You are moving into a different realization. You don’t lose yourself in oneness. You find yourself in relatedness.
In meditation you explore a solitary inner landscape of consciousness. In Mutual Awakening practice you explore a new kind of inner landscape. It is an inner world that does not exist inside you. It exists inside the space of relatedness between you and your partner. You are learning to ‘see’ the space of relatedness directly.
And this is important because it affects the very nature of what you discover. When you discover something about yourself in this practice you are not discovering who you are in solitude. You are discovering who you are in relationship. And since life happens in relationship it is very important to know who we are there.
Working with Patricia and all of the other extraordinary people in the Evolutionary Collective is opening up a new understanding of myself and who I am in relationship. And as my understanding of myself in relationship grows so does the quality and depth of all of my relationships.
I was wrong two years ago. I thought that practices that involved sitting face to face were just overly sentimental “feel good” exercises. They aren’t – or at least they don’t have to be. If you engage with this practice with an open heart and a deep desire to go beyond yourself it becomes a doorway to the miraculous. And if you do the practice in a context of ongoing relationship whole new dimensions of yourself will become available.