Field Notes


April 30, 2022 - 2 Comments



Welcome to my Field Note for May 2022.
The current Field Note arises out of some thoughts I have had over time and particularly arising from last month’s Field Note. I realized that there was a further conundrum that challenges all of us, and it goes something like the following: “Okay, I have done substantial inner work, and I am aware of and understand many of my egoic selves and their relationships. That is, how these have formed initially as a perceived survival, love-getting effort, which for very young children is an autonomic survival response to challenging situations that are encountered and that over time constitute and grow reified identities. I am familiar with my personal history even from infancy that led to my developing specific egoic selves and the necessity, purpose, and intent of these structures. I am aware of the multi-dimensionality and interconnectedness of these selves in the way they operate within and through thinking, emotions, body sensations, behaviors, and lifeforce energy. I have become increasingly aware of how these structures have both protected and compromised the free flow of my life force energy. Such clear understanding notwithstanding, understanding alone is not going to free me from my egoic selves hold on me. What must we do to become free?”

What we are looking at is the optimal continuity between what is authentically in our inner world and how we show up in the world. In the way I understand and experience these egoic selves and their deep structure they are what our personality is about. To speak in personal terms, my personality may look just fine to everybody including to myself; and yet it may turn out to be a form of armour. (You may wish to pursue some of the early work by Freud’s former ‘student, Wilhelm Reich ( It is the rigidified and repetitive manifestations of expression that control me and oppress my life energy, and oppress its free-flowing expression. Consequently, I may well still feel blocked in manifesting anything different in my personality expressions.

While it is true that I have learned to contain many of my previously reactive and programmatic responses, and that the ‘new’ personality structure and fitting expressions are often still elusive, and even when I do have something showing up that is different and optimal, I do feel vulnerable and awkward. How do I discover and develop these aspects of myself and how do I deal with the vulnerability and awkwardness that I feel when I make my efforts to manifest them? How do I discover and develop them, and how do I deal with the vulnerability and awkwardness that I feel when I make my efforts to manifest them?

What we are looking at here is the point at which many therapies, as well as spiritual and meditational processes, begin and end. There is all too often an imperative that “now that you know what the problem is and what to do, you will do it!” If it was that simple we all, would have already done it! Of course, as you all know, it is not that simple, not at all. From my perspective, we are looking at the processes required after the inner work is well under way. Of course, there are times where it is good to challenge yourself in the service of finding out what comes up and points you towards your inner work, and this challenge can take the form of trying out a new way of being that is not fully rooted within you. The purpose of this is twofold; first to have some practice of the possibilities, and second to get a good sense of what is still keeping you anchored in the old way.

Let me offer you an outline of the possibilities as to how to proceed in creating the ‘new’ personality forms and expressions. You have opportunity to use your creative imagination and dream your highest dream of possibility. You can also draw on people you know who represent what you’re looking at and for, artistic expressions through film, theatre, and any other art forms that offer what you’re looking for, identifying someone you know that has the way of being that you would like to manifest, and on and on with possibilities. Mind you, I am not implying, let alone suggesting, that you can become anything you want to be, and I am implying that dreaming the impossible is a helpful process in terms of expanding your horizons and growing your creativity, and it does imply you can move in the direction of your highest dreams.

Perhaps a personal story may be helpful. I will share with you a dream, an outside world dream, I had as a teen-ager. I wanted to become a major league baseball player. I loved baseball. However, there were some very real problems. I wasn’t that big, and an even bigger problem was that I was on my good days, at best a mediocre player. My brother was much better at baseball than I was. He was even scouted briefly by the New York Yankees when he was 15. However, he was certainly on the very low end for size, and even worse, he threw a lot curve balls when he was in Little League. He was told that throwing curve balls at that age had a great potential to cause serious shoulder damage. I don’t have to tell you the rest. So, he went on to become a math and computer software whizz and did extremely well with those talents. I, on the other hand, struggled but eventually found my niche, which, if you are reading this, you already know what that was and still is. Okay, without further edifying distraction and delay, then, I offer possibilities as to how to proceed. I will illustrate some of these ideas with my own personal examples.

Pay close attention to various challenges that you encounter when attempting to enact the new way of being—that is, this new self. When I paid close attention, I discovered a pervasive, and subtle ‘mindset’ within myself that pervades my consciousness to a greater and lesser degrees depending on the environmental triggers: a pervasive and near-invisible egoic force, that was insidiously buried in my overall structure of being. The force-field I am referring to, and that I discovered one day by suddenly noticing something about my response to a simple comment made by someone, along with my simultaneous realization that this was something so common and familiar in me that it was a case of not noticing the obvious that was ‘hiding’ right out in the open. What I noted was that the person said something which I felt was unimportant and not worthy of note or comment. I would characterize my behavior as “dismissive.” In a flash I suddenly realized that this dismissive way of being was a very long-standing part of my identity. Just as suddenly I realized that this was in place of, and a cover over my much more expressive and, ‘positive and life-affirming nature.’ My dismissive self and tendencies were an atmosphere that hung over many events and people in my life. I did not have available my open, accepting, curious, and kind self at those moments; yet I know this exists in me. I have certainly seen him, at times an increasingly so as time has gone by.

To elaborate a little more: I realized that I had an automatic default ‘dismiss’ function that automatically was in the on position. For example, a person says something to me about what psychotherapy is, such as; “I think all therapists are just as messed up, or even more so than their clients!” I automatically don’t like the language choices, I believe that the person has little knowledge about what therapy it is and how it is performed, and I have a number of thoughts and feelings just below my conscious awareness, and perhaps the most powerful event is a feeling of downward pressure in the inner space of my cranium coupled with a thought that essentially turns the speaker into a thing, an object. They are no longer a person for these moments. This is not about what they said, their understanding of the practice of therapy, or their knowledge. It is about pushing away any possibility of seeing them as human in the moment. Their words are threatening to my sense of the world, my world, and my world view.

I suggest that you do not be too concerned about the content of this example rather pay attention to the process and the pattern I have demonstrated with this narrative. My personal example is about an over-riding atmosphere within my consciousness that has a history and has had manifestation in my current life, and still does on occasion. The name I have given to this inner blanket experience is ‘Dismissive’ and this is performed by an inner egoic structure within me that I have named ‘Dismisser’ I cannot overstate the pervasiveness and power of this egoic structure, which I now know to have a very good intention, which is/was to have things be as honest, authentic, and real as possible. I certainly encourage you to be on the alert for your own patterns of this nature, both large and small. Even the small ones have a ripple effect.

However, this aspect of me has in retrospect been most unskilful in its efforts that at that point in time were mostly unconscious until my moment of awakening. I finally noticed the flicker. (I will explain what a “flicker” is shortly.) At that moment I had a very familiar sense of dullness of feeling, and which many of you as you read this will recognize as a cover for various levels of anger, even rage, and for me all covering the sense of not being recognized for who I am. It was a physical sensation and it came in full view of my awareness. The flicker showed up as a dullness of feeling. Someone said something with which I disagreed and they were automatically dismissed and in a very real sense I dismissed myself, as well
This all happened in a flash and if I had done what I usually do I would have done an internal dismissal so quickly that I would not have even noticed. I would have ‘cancelled’ both this other and myself; hence the dull feeling. The programmatic process of the body sensation of sudden dullness was so ingrained and familiar that for a very long time it passed by unnoticed as ‘the usual,’ until it didn’t! This was truly a moment of awakening to what I was doing to myself, to the other person or persons, and to the relational field. In the contemporary culture I could call myself, the purveyor of ‘Cancel Culture.’ My egoic structure could then well be named the Canceller.

I will do my best here to convey to you how pervasive my inner cancel culture was, and on occasion still is, and how alert I had to be to catch these very consistent experiences that are like a dullness, a very subtle dullness at times, that is like an atmosphere, a fog, hanging over many of my life experiences in every moment; of course, sometimes more and sometimes less. The important part in discovering these somewhat monolithic egoic structures is the noticing. This is where what my teacher, Arnold Mindell, refers to as “flirts,” and what I like to call “flickers.” And, of course, I was also looking to begin to integrate a different internal experience that was connected to a different way of expressing myself.

Flickers are experiences that are hard to detect, and yet are major pointers towards what you and I need to work on. These can serve as the launch point for an expanded way of being and showing up, and that is truly closer to who we authentically are. These experiences are hidden and yet in plain sight as part of everyday consciousness and self-expression. Most often, they are not even identified as anything at all. Sometimes there is something just out of awareness that is ‘signalled’ by a slight feeling, or a vision, or a random thought that is easily dismissed as not important and barely noticed. In order to catch these clues, it is important to be like a cat watching for a very small, very furtive mouse in the dark. We are literally trying to notice clues that by their subtleties and pervasiveness as part of yours and my everyday life seem to be what we call normal, merely who we are. In psychological language they are in the unconscious, the shadow, secondary or even tertiary process, and out of our everyday awareness. Finding them may require your non-ordinary conscious to be awakened. Watch for them out of the corner of your eye!

Such noticing as above points you towards your inner and archival work. What are the roots of this phenomena in my consciousness and that heavily influence my ways of being? I will not repeat what I have talked about in previous Field Notes about inner work. Our focus in this Note is how our new growth, our changes, will actually be cultivated and eventually show up as part of our more authentic self. For example, if I am a person who almost never smiled, how do I work to develop the musculature and emotional shifts that are needed to smile? And, of course, I am not talking about a smile that is for photographs. I am talking about a genuine smile that comes from the inside and beams out warmth, friendliness, mirth, acceptance, and good energy.

The experience of making such changes certainly requires focus and intention, and also requires working with feeling vulnerable and exposed. For, indeed, these are the realities of such change. You are literally taking off your mask that you have been protected by for many years, decades really. In fact, these masks work bi-directionally. They serve to protect against what are perceived as incoming threats, which can be a most diverse possibility, and they also serve to keep you ‘in.’ You cannot express the very feelings you will hopefully be learning to express, which is an outcome of your Shadow zone discoveries, and your inner work. Who or what was/is identified as the reified identity structure? What is its history that is, how did it come into being? These questions are all to do with awareness and inner work focused on the discovered egoic structures and their manifestations.


Imagine what your face would look like in your much more alive version of yourself, which emanates from the core of your being. You can do this by looking at a mirror, and imagining how you will look and feel, and/or thinking of someone who exemplifies the look you are after, and/or acknowledge your fear and misgivings about this. After all, “This is so not me!” Of course, our hypothesis is that, this in fact truly is you.

Changes to your external representation of yourself will very likely shake the very ground on which you have stood for a very long time; the tectonic plates will shift. This will likely be a personal, interpersonal, and relational earthquake. In fact, something you almost certainly will have to deal with along with your incredibly vulnerable feelings is questions and statements from others that really offer an unconscious push to move you back to where you were. “What’s wrong with you?” “You seem very strange.” “Are you okay?” I am uncomfortable with how you are behaving!”

Of course, some will recognize that something is opening up in you. “Wow! You are incredible today!” I really like this part of you that is showing up!” “I appreciate how hard you are working to become more of you!” “Thank you!” And, even these great comments may well set off your discomfort and self-consciousness. What I am wanting you to know is that there is a very good potential for you to feel vulnerable and, I encourage you to anticipate this possibility and how you will work with it and perhaps the persons who are talking to you in ways that support your work, and also potentially support the other, and the relationship.

As well, as you attempt to work with ‘translating’ your inner work into a way of being that is more authentically who you are, more aware, relaxed, and alive’ you are literally supporting the connections between your inner self, your expressions of yourself in the world, your connections with others, and your connection to whatever the Universal may be. For sure you will notice a complex of thoughts, body sensations, emotions, and likely an increase in life force energy. This latter often shows up as expanded awareness, brightness of vision, physical and/or ephemeral energy, increased sensing of all aspects of the world, and/or heat.

All of this, as described above, can certainly be a lot to deal with. As an example, my experience has shown that very many people are frightened by the emergence of heat, which can be quite strong. I encourage you strongly to embrace this heat should it show up in you. It is a very good sign of life, your life force, emerging closer to your true and optimal capacity. As well, learning to be fond of, curious about, and eager to learn from your vulnerability are huge processes that will over time increasingly facilitate your growth and development. As well, that which arises in the service of ‘stopping’ you from developing your new ways and curiosity about your ‘tough’ places is also facilitative of your ongoing project of becoming yourself as these will be instances of inner work possibilities for you.

The old saying is that, “practice makes perfect.” The problem here is ‘What do I practice? For sure, constructing a sentence that includes, “I feel quite warm and full as I write now,” is an example. This is the beginning of this process, and it is only a small clue about developing the expressive capacities for profound change into more of who I truly am, and hopefully gives you some ideas about how to identify a core piece of yourself that has been developmentally arrested/oppressed, and that you can begin to explore in your inner world, and that you can move on to learning to express along with the associated vulnerabilities. What will emerge for you and within you is all manner of awareness about all the ways your entire psyche-soma has configured itself to support the existence of the egoic structure that has been in place, and which over time will morph into a more fluid, flowing, and integrated self that will grow and mature your care-full and sensitive self-nurturance. Over time you can identify and address the inner and expressive frozenness. As Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés describes, you can begin to warm your own stone child, and support this warming for others.

For sure, we are all in a process to warm our many inner stone children, to support their capacity to express themselves and develop their inner relationship with each other, and to free up the connections within in the service of facilitating our truest expressions of ourselves.

As always very many thank you’s to Heesoon for support with this Field Note.


  • Karen Meyer May 23, 2022 at 10:54 am

    This note is quite useful for me; stays in my inbox. The old shadow default can be strong, for me, even grabbing the enteric system/brain to set things off balance. Wondering how to not make this a battle, old and new. A working project …

    • Avraham Cohen May 25, 2022 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Karen, I am glad to hear that this Note was useful to you, and earned a place in your inbox!
      I think you have hit on a key point. All shadow material has a direct connection to and with our enteric system; our bodies. I think of battles as comprised of the aggressor and the aggressed within, and both representing new and old battles. I like to work on getting inside these egoic structures; really increasingly owning the two sub-identities, getting to know them from within, ‘facilitating’ their inner relationship, and supporting their growth and development. For most the idea of identifying with whatever part or parts are most unlikeable, most unlike who I might see myself to be, is anathema. Yet a deep identification with the not liked egoic structure is the path to a deeper understanding of ourselves, and, particularly the often surprising discoveries about the gifts of these parts, for us and for others.


Post A Comment