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Pain, hope, time, "I," and doing: it all goes together.

It’s been a minute, I know!

I’ve been wrestling mightily with the alligator that is getting my novel audiobook together and herding the 61 frisky and insolent cats that are its chapters. There are no words for the frustration I’ve experienced. But it’s coming along. The end, it seems, is in sight. HEAT, my shadow-play group game, is also sprouting some tender buds.

I’ll share more about these other endeavors in some other right now.  

In this particular right now: I am very happy to be here in this space, writing beloved IM content.

It’s gonna take a minute for all of this particular topic to come together, but it will! Just stick with me—the journey will be a cool one.


And so, IM friends, I’ve stated in other posts that healing must feel good, and I’m pretty adamant about that point.

I’ve posited in some capacity that nondoing inherently feels good and that nondoing is a reflection, a ray, of the Pleasure/Feel Good frequency, the Tao.

I’ve said that healing must be of nondoing.

And what is nondoing?

It doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. It doesn’t mean we’re inactive in the face of our pain.

To the contrary, nondoing is quite active.

It’s just active in the opposite direction from the one we normally go in when we feel pain.

Normally, when we’re in pain, we (metaphorically or literally) feel/say/scream/shout: No. No no no no no this can’t be happening, I have to stop it from happening, this is bad and I must do something about it, I have to do something about it.

We feel discomfort, and we set out to do something to stop the discomfort.

Could be about money, health, aging, traffic, a break-up, getting fired, frustration or embarrassment that your kid is throwing a tantrum, an unexpected setback, someone made a slick comment at your job and you’re on a loop the rest of the day thinking of the perfect comeback.

The content can be anything and it doesn’t matter the size/degree/depth of the content. Nothing is too big or too seemingly petty: we feel discomfort, and we set out to stop the discomfort.

We disapprove of something that is happening, and we act, we do, from that disapproval.

To be in disapproval is to be in pain.

And some degree of pain, some degree of disapproval of our experience, is the norm in our culture. The culture pretty much runs on it.

Which is why nondoing is so goddamn cool. And healing. And loads more effective than “doing” and “problem-solving” in the way we have come to think of those terms.


Essentially, nondoing is being in a state of approval.

To non-do is to approve.

How can I approve of the bullshit happening in this world?

Fair point. Let’s back up. How about this:

Nondoing is a state of compassion. 

To non-do is to feel compassion.

Can we feel compassion for all the bullshit happening in this world? For all the suffering?

We must start with our own suffering, though.

Can we feel compassion for ourselves when the kiddo has flung herself to the floor screaming in Sevananda, the Atlanta health food store, and we’re embarrassed and furious and already wrung the fuck out and have no emotional resources left? (Not that that’s ever happened to me.)

When we disapprove, we don’t feel compassion. We can’t. Compassion is unavailable in the face of our disapproval.

But if we’ll start with compassion…

We soften.

And this softening…this is what approval is made of. It’s the very makings, the very threads, the tendrils, of approval.  

And so, all the healing modalities that encourage us to soften in the face of our pain, that encourage us to engage approvingly with our pain: all of these modalities are of, are made of, nondoing.

Examples: Existential Kink, Regena Thomashauer’s work, Byron Katie’s The Work, Kyle Cease’s work. Vipassana meditation.

These are modalities, and these are teachers that I know of, who encourage us to truly do nothing about the pain we’re in while we engage actively, and approvingly, with it.

And, of course, there is Inquiry Meditation.

Laughing meditation, for sure, is another one.  There are many other examples, too, that I'm just not thinking of right now.


I’ve said all of the above before in some capacity in other posts.

Here’s what’s new.

It’s that the “I” that we think of as me, as our individual personality selves: this separate sense of self is the source of our pain—or rather, our identification with this separate self is the source of our pain.

And nondoing inherently feels good because when we non-do, this sense of “I” diminishes…and we feel our true Oneness. It’s not just a concept, it’s a felt bodily knowing-experience.

I’ll say more.


The “I” emerges only because of pain—only as an attempted solution to it.  

Think of it like this:

We’re little babies. All is well. Maybe we make it to toddlerhood in this state, or even elementary school, or, rather extraordinarily, middle or high school or older.

But at some point, pain happens bigger than what we know to do with. Trauma happens.

It’s too big for us. It’s a real threat to our little selves. It could kill us, we think—and we’re right.

Something must be done about it. Something urgently has to be done about it, something has to be done to it, to make it go away.

But for whatever reason, we don’t have the help we need.

But something must be done. Something legit really does have to be done.

(See where “doing” from disapproval originates?)

And so, out of desperation, and sheer genius:

The “I” arises.

This I will do something. This I will do the thing that must be done to survive this thing.

And this “I” does what must be done, whatever that thing is, however horrifying or unthinkable:

Shut down. Disappear  (dissociate). Eat. Stop eating. Laugh when something isn’t funny. Be nice. Be obedient. Agree. Lie. Manipulate. Suppress.

And forget.

More than anything else, this “I” will forget the origins of its creation.

This “I” will forget it isn’t real.  


And so, our ego selves, our egos—“I”—and doing, and pain, are inextricably linked.

To approve any one of these, to soften in the face of any of these, is to approve and soften in the face of them all.

And so, when we non-do: we diminish our sense of fundamental separation.

In another post, I’ll talk more about how pain also is made of hope and time.  

Not “hope” in the sense of our hopes and dreams—don’t worry, I’m not out here stealing your joy. I mean the anxiety-laden hope that if we can just get through this right now, the future will be better. The anxiety-laden hope that makes the non-existent future more important than our current right now. The hope that has us use our current right now to get to a future that doesn’t exist.

This is the hope that helped us survive, even subtly. Very subtly, even, we relied on it. We needed this hope.

But this hope is made of pain, is borne of trauma. And so, it wants to be seen and released.

This seeing and releasing is what happens when we non-do.

When we approve of our pain. When we approve of, when we have compassion for, ourselves in our current pain, and when we approve of our little inner children selves and the coping mechanisms, the “I,” that we ingeniously developed to survive.


And so, when we will take the great and beautiful risk of nondoing…

When we will surround our pain with approval, with softness and sweetness and kindness and love and compassion…

We’re doing really big shit, y’all.

We’re doing nothing less than dissolving our ego selves—or rather, we are letting them be dissolved in the light, in the considerable power, of our love.

When we’ll sit our asses by the distraught child in the middle of Sevananda and let her scream, even pat her shoulder and say, “Get it out” and let tears well in our own eyes out of self-compassion for our embarrassment and fatigue as people go around us to access the jars of organic tomato sauces:

We are on that Buddha and Christ Consciousness shit.

When we will be with ourselves during an IM session, or some other nondoing modality, and we dare to feel our inherent feel-good nature, we dare to see our deepest pain as our truest love and power:

We are diminishing that pain, and the hope and time and doing and the “I” that that pain is made of.

We become the space for this diminishment.

We remember ourselves as the space for all our experiences.

This space is what is joy is. Or pleasure, or liberation, or non-time. Just call it feeling good.

And when we will see, when we will “be” with ourselves, when we will approve to whatever degree, even in a tiny bit: we will realize that we are in pleasure.

Doesn’t matter the content. This is why, in nondoing, we can be seeing profound grief or rage or even shame…and still feel really really really good.

Because feeling good is our true nature.

And nondoing returns us, again and again and evermore, to this, our original state.


P.S. I’ve touched on it above, but I can’t wait to talk more about the joys of true hopelessness—again, not the “hopes and dreams” type of hope, and again, I’m not a joy thief. The hopelessness I speak of is pure joy, actually.

But we’ll save all that for another post.

(And there's still post #4 of my "It's a bird, it's a plane" series. Haven't forgotten. All in due time.)


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