The Starting Point is Always Awareness – Episode 59

The Starting Point is Always Awareness - Episode 59

The Awareness that Heals is a never-ending cycle of self-inquiry. Even as you may feel you have reached  development of several levels in one area of your life, you may begin to recognize that you, and all of us. are rookies in another. Identifying yet unseen aspects of your life with awareness need to be met with compassion and a sense of appreciation.

It takes great humility and courage to look at what areas aren’t yet developed. You are opening vulnerable areas that many of us avoid! Yet, we are being guided to meet these challenges with a compassionate inquiry with a tone of support. This week Robert encourages listeners to take a brief review of The Awareness That Heals process and ask, where am I able to implement these steps quickly? Where am I yet unaware? This work is a dedication to expressing what we feel is difficult and aren’t sure how to move forward. Then, we can focus on what it is that we really need and how we can get there. Ultimately, this is the roadmap for being able to not suppress what is difficult, identify with this being a universal tendency and make that courageous turn to care and move in the direction that will create the most benefit.

Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Robert’s Book, Awareness that Heals
Free Downloadable Introspective Guides

Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. For an exact quote or comment, please contact us.

Announcer: (00:00)
Awareness That Heals, Episode 59.

Robert Strock: (00:03)
It’s easy to love when you feel love. It’s a lot harder to have loving thoughts when you feel lousy. And I’m proud of you that you’re not demanding that you feel better.

Announcer: (00:21)
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity, to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book, “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges. Especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.

Robert Strock: (01:02)
A very warm welcome again, to Awareness That Heals where we do our very, very best to focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life challenges. We start again and again. And for those of you that have been listening to the podcast from the beginning, you really know what I mean by starting again and again, because the emphasis is so profound, necessary, needed to be grounded. Beginning with being aware of what is most difficult for us, where these difficulties and we recognize where these difficulties are really universal for us all, whether we recognize them or not. And in this recognition, it really dignifies being aware and holding ourselves with what’s challenging and recognizing that’s just one level. And then we are focusing on how we can best care for ourselves. At these crucial times, this really sets us up for the ideal conditions to be fulfilled in our individual lives and to contribute to the world by finding and living from our best selves.

Robert Strock: (02:36)
And today we’re going to continue to what I really consider to be the ultimate fruition of all the podcasts of the whole premise into the key practice. That’s helped thousands of people to make a real link between the most challenging feelings in situations we face each day or most days, and how we can move forward toward healing and well-being. This is truly a grounded inspirational way to live. And I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back, I’m saying that because it includes suffering. It’s not trying to rise above suffering. It’s trying to utilize suffering as a way to support ourselves and to support those we love and to support our world. And it, it starts with authentically facing what is difficult and it naturally leads us to inquire, how do we best take care of ourselves? How do you best take care of yourself?

Robert Strock: (03:56)
This is truly what I wish was taught from earlier in life. And no doubt if it was in my mind and we weren’t suppressing or absorbed in our challenges, it would’ve been one of the major antidotes for war throughout history. And hopefully will be something that will support us to be able to identify the whole human race as going through a very parallel experience and that we need to learn how to band together in caring for the suffering in the world. And by doing this, the boundary and the separations will be greatly limited. I’d like to start off by introducing Dave, my dear friend, who those of you who have been listening are probably, uh, have heard this enough where he, you know who he is, but he’s also the partner at the Global Bridge Foundation for me.

Dave: (05:01)
Thank you, Robert. Uh, I, uh, wanna just key off of something that you said that I, I would like you to elaborate on, which is, this is the culmination of the practices thus far. I having been through the many dozens of podcasts that relate to each and every practice and how important each step is and how they cumulatively come to this point, uh, would like you to speak to, uh, that they can’t be skipped or can they be skipped, or how do, how do, uh, people that are having issues with one or the other earlier ones kind of take in this being the culmination of?

Robert Strock: (05:50)
So, thanks for the question. Uh, when I say it’s a key practice, what I really mean is for anyone that’s gotten this far, and for people that I’ve worked with through the years, or really the essence of my close friendships, which I cherish as much as, as anything in the world, this is really what we do. And we live our lives. We all have our individual places that we dedicate our, our work life to. But on an inner world level, we are really used to expressing what it is that we, you feel that’s difficult. Now I’ll throw in a little curve ball for a second. We also share what is most inspirational and fulfilling, but for this podcast we share what’s difficult. And then we really focus on what it is that we really need and how we can get there. So ultimately for anyone that’s really doing this, this is the roadmap for being able to not suppress anything, to identify with everybody on the planet and to wanna make that turn to care.

Robert Strock: (07:20)
So, it’s based on a very grounded assumption. However, it is crucial that we understand as we did in chapter one, that we were aware of our challenging emotions and we found that intention to heal. So, if we didn’t have that as something we learned at the beginning, we’re going to miss something very key to us. And if we didn’t learn about friendly mind and how friendly mind was there, when we’re in our very worst state and we can’t help ourselves emotionally feel better, that the incredible power of having a wise friendly mind that can guide us. And again, as we focused on a lot there friendly in thought, not necessarily in spirit, because we may be in such dire straits that we can’t be friendly, but at least we can really, immensely value our mind having a wisdom. And then we see the dangers of self-rejection and how we can lose ourselves by not liking our feelings.

Robert Strock: (08:39)
And if we don’t like our feelings, our, our difficult feelings, and we can, it stuck there, we’re not gonna be able to find our intention to heal so we can see the connection between self-rejection and how intention to heal really moves us into that place. And then we, we can move right from there to really developing our ability to ask questions of ourselves as to how we can best care for the situation or difficult feeling that we have. And that focus on wanting to care in a practical way, by asking questions is again, part of moving from feelings to needs. And then from there finding wisdom. And, and then from there using tone of the tone of voice, as part of the wisdom, all of that is crucial to be able to get to this ultimate crescendo of recognizing what we feel. And we can embody all of those pieces in understanding how to implement our needs. Go ahead.

Dave: (09:52)
As you speak, one of the, one of the threads that keeps coming back to me, that that of course feels at this point after our, our long relationship and, and, and doing these things for so long, but it’s, it can’t be taken for granted that without paying attention, without awareness, none of this can really happen. None of it can really happen. All those stages. That thread has to be there. Does it not?

Robert Strock: (10:25)
Absolutely. And it’s, it’s not only awareness, it’s and I know, I know you know this, but, but it’s awareness of our, our challenges and awareness of all these other things, because awareness can be looking at flowers or awareness can be looking at the sky. It’s actually an awareness that’s tied into our inner experience and it’s awareness that’s tied into the best qualities that exist inside all of us and an instinct that wants to go for those and particularly important when we’re least in those qualities and understanding, you know, that the really by far, the biggest heroic act is when you’re wounded and you remember and you’re practice. And so yes, aware is a prerequisite at every one of these stages. So, when I’m focusing on this, being the ultimate practice in, in this work or in this, uh, joy, or in this, uh, complex mixture of our human, our fellow humanity, sharing it with, with everyone and finding the best inside all of us, which some people might call God, some people might call wisdom,

Robert Strock: (11:49)
some people might call heart, some people might call compassion, some people might call mindfulness, but whatever you call it, it, it combines all of these key elements of awareness. So yes, it, it is really going to be, let’s say, missing an element if the other pieces are not part of your awareness. So it, it would probably be helpful at this stage for you to do an assessment of yourself. And you look at the five levels of using Dave’s word of awareness or awareness heals. And you look at your being aware of your challenging emotions. You look at intention to heal. You look at inquiry, you look at wisdom-guidance, and you look at implementation of wisdom- guidance. Where would you say you’re most caught? Is it hard for you to see what you’re, where you’re suffering is and identifying it specifically, is it hard for you when that’s happening to find an intention to heal, you know, et cetera, all the way through where is it most that you’re stuck or you’re, or you’re stopped and view that awareness as again, a part of awareness that heals, because that’s where your challenge is.

Robert Strock: (13:14)
The challenge is where on the spectrum, you have a tendency to stay and not move forward. And hopefully as we keep emphasizing with every awareness of any challenge, that it’s much more congratulatory than it is critical that you realize the starting point is always awareness of where you are. It’s not okay. Now I’m gonna go to feelings to needs, even though I’m hating myself underground and I’m focus on a need that’s relatively superficial and I’m ignoring the, the much more difficult challenge in my life. No, the, the key is always appreciating when awareness shines its light on wherever you are, even if it’s something that you’re gravely disappointed by it this time, oh, I should have been all the way to feelings to needs. No problem. I’ve, I’ve been studying it now for three months and I should have it down. Okay. Now you see that you’re criticizing yourself.

Robert Strock: (14:22)
Now you see that you’re in that self-rejection and you say, oh, I don’t want to, I don’t wanna reject myself. I actually would rather care for myself. Oh good. I caught myself right there where I was caught, but that’s fantastic. So, every single place for cost is experienced as an opportunity, truly, not just in a trite way, but truly as an opportunity to be our best self. And there’s no places that are disqualified. So, hopefully you can see, you know, of course it’s not just one level, oh, I’m caught in number one or number two, you might see that in this area of my life, I’m, I’m caught where I can actually not even identify, identify my feelings and this level of my life, I’m actually caught where it’s hard for me to implement the wisdom or to find the wisdom. So, you might look at a variety of situations that are really important to you and see where you need to join yourself, where you need to progress.

Robert Strock: (15:27)
And when you do that, hopefully you can give yourself at the very least the intellectual or the friendly mind acknowledgement of, I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for going back to where you are as a starting point. And at the very best you’ll feel an appreciation you’ll feel maybe of joy, maybe a safety. You certainly might feel a courage that you’re facing. What’s there and you’re looking to have this life be an endless evolution. And when I say endless evolution that, that really brings up the importance of recognizing that none of us ever arrive, none of us ever arrive at a place that’s complacent. It actually reminds me of an early spiritual teacher that I had that was in my twenties. And he, and he would say, and pardon the expression, cuz he, he spoke in a kind of a mixture of hippiness and beatnik-kind of language.

Robert Strock: (16:35)
He said, “I ain’t getting off till we all get off.” So, we might solve our own issues. And we might really be able to practice this ourselves, which would be a bit of a miracle, but he was an extraordinary man. He was one of three people that I am most grateful for my life who really, really helped me along the way. But even if we resolve things inside ourselves, if we really have that natural urge to want to care for others will just keep expanding. And so, I don’t think any of us have the illusion that everyone on the planet is gonna be on the same wavelength of identifying with each other, suffering, wanting to care for everybody else. And even though we live in separate countries, it’s obvious that we’re gonna want to care and share technologies and give up our defense departments and share energy and share business secrets.

Robert Strock: (17:34)
And we’re gonna do everything necessary to support everyone’s survival, medical, care, food. I don’t think any of us are in that illusion. So, we’re never going to arrive in this lifetime at least to the best of my awareness. And so, there’s gonna be a, a place to dignify this evolution, right through our own desks and right at our own desks. If we don’t have a sudden one where we don’t have enough time, that’s gonna be an ultimate challenge. And are we going to be able to stay with, maybe it’ll be our faith or maybe it’ll be our wisdom or maybe it’ll be some other way that we can bring the ultimate blessings to ourselves while we’re also doing our very best to accept whatever vulnerabilities we might be facing.

Dave: (18:29)
I wanna really have you answer and elaborate on something I think was so important. And I would like it not to be missed, which is that these levels of progression through the five or whatever amount of steps, uh, even within the steps are uneven that in one part of life. And I know this personally myself, I may have progressed to a pretty knowing about myself place, but in another place I’m, I’m a rookie. Uh, I may not even know, in fact, when it comes to being even aware of fundamentally aware of my own needs, uh, I’m embarrassed to say I I’ve been a rookie up until very recently. And so, we all have strengths and we all have places where we need to work. Uh, so it’s, it seems to me it’s always going on at all these levels all the time and uneven in progressive ways.

Robert Strock: (19:32)
Yeah. I, I think that’s a, a key insight with a qualifier and the key insight is if you’ve been doing it for 50 years, what you’re saying is absolutely true where you’ll see. And, and even as you said, even doing it for 50 years, you’re aware of a place where only relatively recently that you’ve, you’ve been really working on a brand new place. And as you said, a rookie, but for most people, they’re a rookie-rookie for most people. Uh, they maybe have, did delved into one place, but I’ll free associate for a moment and talk about all the different places there are and who can be overly confident enough to say, oh yeah, I’ve got all these taken care of. There’s your love life? Well, that alone, I think it’s got about 98% of us, um, humbled or unconscious that we would, would be well off to be humbled.

Robert Strock: (20:40)
Then there’s our family. Then there’s our career. Then there’s our capacity to be compassionate to the world. Then there’s our ability to look at the, the people that we least like and how well we’re doing with that. Then there’s the expression of our own needs or really being empathic and remembering that those that are close to us are as important as we are in the ways that we interact with them. Then there’s our ability to discipline ourselves in areas that are important or to get over procrastinating. There are so many areas of life that none of us that I’ve ever met have really been able to be aware of each one of these areas and that free association. I could do another one in list, 10 more areas. So, for us to be humbled and to have the attitude you’re talking about, and really, I think what it leads to is asking the question, okay, what is outside of my awareness?

Robert Strock: (21:53)
What area of my life is likely to be outside of my awareness? Is it being aware of my needs? Is it being attentive to my lover’s needs? Is it really? I’ve been having sex with my partner for 30 years. If she could have complete control of me, how would she shift how I am? How has it changed through the years? What haven’t you shared with me about the way we kiss, the way we make love? How many of us have done that? How do you feel about affection? Am I too affectionate too, not affectionate enough? You know, do I communicate too much or not enough? You know, am I considerate, or am I not considerate enough? So, being able to ask that question, where am I? And it comes back to, as you said earlier, being aware of being unaware, where am I unaware?

Robert Strock: (22:50)
That is an endless pot of gold. Looks like a pot of, but it’s actually a pot of gold. Oh, this whole area I haven’t even looked at. You know, what, what you’re most aware of with, with illness and mortality and death and dying, most people are just, have blindfolds on. So that’s,that, that’s a whole other area of mortality of, you know, could add death. How much are most people aware of mortality and the implications to how they wanna live their life. So, and how could I be more sensitive to that? How do I prepare myself for that psychologically, spiritually, or do I think I’m too prepared spiritually and psychologically, and actually what feelings are likely to be there that I may not be able to care for. So, it’s an endless inspiring question to look at where we might be unaware, but it’s a very developed question to ask.

Robert Strock: (23:57)
Most people would be asking, oh, I’m here and I’m just trying to deal with this. And that would be it. You start with, you start with one and then you realize there’s 40, you know, and if you look at it too fast, uh, and too, too quick, it may be a source of discouragement. So, I think we want to try to really develop a mastery, maybe too exaggerated, let’s say developed skill with just facing one area of our life at a time. And when we feel like we’ve got it down and we’re really implementing it, then that’s really a great time. Or maybe when we’re implementing it half the time to say, okay, what’s next. What’s the area that I actually am avoiding. And can I see that asking this question? What am I avoiding? Isn’t what am I avoiding now? It’s more like, what am I avoiding?

Robert Strock: (24:56)
It actually has a reverence. It actually has a respect because that’s the ultimate of what to me is a real seeker. To me, what is real person that is looking for? How can I really be godlike or a little bit godlike would be more humbly appropriate? How can I be my best self? That those questions are really what I would consider to be holy ground. So, staying with the area that Dave has been focusing on and that Dave is experiencing, and you’re dealing with either for yourself or your lover, either an anticipatory loss or actual loss. And you ask yourself the question, how can I best care for myself? I’d like to end this episode with some of the very most common things that would be helpful in my experience in a pretty universal way as to what you might say to yourself, that would be beneficial.

Robert Strock: (26:17)
And don’t just hear this in a rote way, hear this as a place, if you do. And I think you will, that you want to focus on so you can take better care of yourself. So you, you would be saying some or all of these repeatedly. Appreciate that this would be difficult for anyone and everyone and say it with as much heart and wisdom as possible. I want to gently care for myself. I want to gently care for myself, or I wanna care for myself without any judgment, or I want to catch the judgements and be the one that can catch them so early that it may be, I don’t like where I am and you start with am and then you get to I that you gradually are catching it faster and faster. Or one of, one of my favorites that my experience is most people that are beginning this process forget is, I’m sorry that you have to go through this. I’m truly sorry, you have to go through this. And another is, I appreciate that. I know that you’re gonna do the best you can.

Robert Strock: (27:57)
And then if there’s a flash of something that you haven’t done, you can come back with another one that says, I appreciate that. You’re staying aware of your criticisms and that you’re dedicated to giving yourself the guidance and asking the question. Can I really do it anymore with that? And then I appreciate the fact that you are dedicated as a soul, as a person to do the best you can. Now these statements, they have to be earned. You need to really find them inside yourself and they will have more richness and more depth. The more you’ve practiced them in your life, but they don’t get old, they’re tireless. They really are gold while you’re in the experience of something that feels like smelly, or feels like death, or feels like illness. They are the healing, simple words of items, hard to find at the beginning.

Robert Strock: (29:15)
But when you can catch it, especially when you can catch it, eventually simultaneously, then you can have the ultimate one, which is saying, I really appreciate that. You’re listening to me, even though I know you can’t feel me, I’m gonna say it again. I really appreciate that you are dedicated and that you are letting yourself stay with this dedication, even though you still feel lousy. And I recognize this is the source of true heroism. It’s easy to love when you feel love. It’s a lot harder to have loving thoughts when you feel lousy and I’m proud of you, that you’re not demanding, that you feel better. And you’re using that as the only criteria for living a wise and profoundly dedicated life. So, my wish for you is that you stay with these statements, develop your own, that are most resonant for you and recognize that when you’re at your most difficult, that it is that friendly mind, or it is that mind, that’s gonna give you guidance that you most wanna dedicate yourself to.

Robert Strock: (30:52)
And you wanna be always on the outlook for that part of you that says, yeah, but I still don’t feel good. And when you can not let that, “yeah, but I still don’t feel good,” be met with, I see you, we can’t change the feelings reliably, but we can change the thoughts and we can stay with that Einsteinian revelation of, you can’t solve the problem at the level where it exists when the level where it exists is on a feeling, and you see that it’s wisdom that can care for you in the best way possible when you’re not feeling good, then that truly is implementing the practice of awareness that heals. So, I wish that from the bottom of my heart, for myself, for you there listening and for you to spread that to everyone, close to you. Thanks so much.

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