Witnessing bi-directional attention & the experience of happiness
Updated: Oct 28
Our experience of having a body is regulated by physiology, not by psychology. Psychology is simply a biological process that is poorly understood.
If we understand this we can make true progress in regards to our enjoyment, happiness and well-being for as long as we are sensate to the body. In this view, it is also of fundamental importance to have some lived experience of the reality of consciousness, the only true intelligence.
Right now as you are aware of your body reading, is it not true that what matters is awareness?
Our focus on physiology is not to give it undue importance. Our conditioning is to habitually ignore, bypass or neglect our world below the chin. But how then can we properly use the body as the sensor that it is? Therefore, we must bring common sense back to the equation of our lived experience. We do so as the the intelligent reality that is right here and right now registering every word, thought, feeling and sensation.
Following is an edited transcript from one of our recent meetings. Below you will also find a video clip from that encounter
Our Authority is not some imposition. It is the realization of a fact which is inevitable. I am - you are. We are the same. Some part of our experience may resist this. You don't even need to affirm it. You already know it so, there is no force required. You become aware of who you are and then inevitably, any part that is is there will realize this. Here we just open our attention to include this inevitable fact.
It is true, however, that this is very simple - but it may not be very easy because our culture is not a culture of facing the unpleasant side of our experience.
We have a culture of running away from unpleasantness, so that is a challenge. But if you really verify this is an experience right here, right now, you see there's movement of energy that ultimately is just a sensation that wants to be free in your recognition of it. So part of me which I have not recognized may be actively resisting, preventing that energy from flowing.
This part of me with with which I identify is also regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) on the dorsal side of things, in the more mechanical and animalistic side. It's the engine of survival. When the threat is too great it goes underwater and remains there with an iron grip.
But we can just look at it. Go underwater where it lives and see; there some part of me is holding on with an iron grip. Then we just look at it with great equanimity and wait to catch its attention.
Simply, lovingly gazing upon it without any intent or agenda. Maybe at some point it will look back, know that you're holding back the fort, that it is safe, and let go its iron grip on your humanity. It looks straight at you, knows that the intelligence from which it came is present, and release it's energy to you - because now it knows that you know that it exists- that IT is you.
It's quite interesting that all of these relational experiences which cause us suffering, or at the very least, to be uncomfortable with ourselves, have at their source psychoenergetic structures. They're not really mental or psychological.
When we venture with reason beyond what are called "psychological theories" in ordinary parlance, we find that the foundation for all of them actually is our physiology, the biology of the nervous system. Without a working nervous system, you could not have a so-called psychology at all.
Further, we don't even need to understand the entire nervous system, we just need to have a working understanding of a small part of the autonomic nervous system - namely the functioning of the vagal network as described within the polyvagal theory by Stephen Porges. The vagal network comprises the 10th cranial nerve and all of its associated structures.
Here I mean especially the parts that are connected to the amygdala, which is in the middle and lower part of the brain and works together with the nerve plexus of the middle abdomen (the dorsal vagus) in regulating and executing anxiety, fear and terror responses. Most of the dorsal vagus neuron pathways are unmyelinated, and are involved in primitive defensive behavioral responses that we inherited from amphibians way back in pre-history.
It just so happens, actually, that the point where anatomically it becomes myelinated is called the nucleus ambiguus - the center of ambiguity. Here, the myelinated nerve fibers carry the information conducive to experiences of safety and positive affect which lead to warm social engagement with others. This also affords the animal the opportunity of pondering, which can lead to a natural curiosity about one's existence within the realm of life as a whole.
The nucleus ambiguus is the anatomical juncture where the dorsal vagal network becomes the ventral (human) vagal network, the part of the autonomic nervous system which can be modulated and regulated by volition.
When there is tension anywhere within or below the nucleus ambiguus (at or below the bottom of the breastbone, in the area of the solar plexus) we can determine that the prehistoric nerve fibers are carrying and propagating signals which are registered by the brain as threats.
In that instance, something is sensed to be really dangerous somewhere, and this part of us will not be easily satisfied that it IS safe until it is able to cause the body to complete the threat response cycle or otherwise discharge the physiological energy within the ANS that is carrying the signals of distress.
However, just as we are here together, simply by speaking about it we can allow ourselves -if they are present- to experience these threat signals as bodily experiences :
bodily sensations-emotions (sensations of breathing, pleasure, pain...)
sense perceptions (sight, temperature, sound, atmospheric pressure...)
thoughts-images-emotions (imaginal thoughts of past or future events with their associated emotions...)
These are happening right now, as we speak, though sometimes we feel uncomfortable with ourselves because these signals appear threatening. Simply to recognize that there are only these three categories of human experience can enable us, as intelligence, to release any fear there may be regarding them and to afford ourselves the unedited manifestation and freedom of pure energy right here, right now.
Whoever you are, you are that intelligence which is aware of them, you are NOT them. I am who -as my body thinks and writes, and as your body reads and thinks- is here now, aware of it all.
But they (the dissociated signals of threat coursing through the nervous system) don't know this, and depend on us to acknowledge and welcome them with understanding - which is love.
We exercise the ventral vagal network (by witnessing our face, chest and solar plexus) -noticing those experiences without any intent to modify, correct or control. In fact we open our hearts to them. The system is already under threat, it's not open to the violence of interventions. It requires assurances that I am safe.
Instead, we can exercise the authority of the witness, which renders all manifestations into perfect as-is-ness.
It is within the range of reason and intelligence (the range of the knowable) to understand that unhappiness is the result of a biological response and not the result of a complex psychological process.
The original causes of unhappiness don't matter insofar as the details are concerned. The fact is that it may be there, and you also are here experiencing it, so you can witn