Opening up to becoming more conscious can be challenging – Peter Ralston Newsletter

Hi Peter,
I want to thank you for the ENB workshop. It was much more than I expected it would be, discovering how I operate in this world, and examining ways I might change my relationships with myself and others. I also came to the conclusion that all the reading and studying I’ve done, the philosophy, religious studies, etc., are only a reflection of the truth and just hearsay to me at this point. A true experience is now what I’m seeking. Thank you for setting me straight on that.

I have a question. I have felt physically strange since the day we began the contemplations. I can attribute it to perhaps an expanding awareness of my physical body, heart, blood flow, which I would consider a positive change; or to my self throwing up impediments to my progress by physically threatening me with panic attack symptoms; a dragon, as it were. Have you had participants experience these kind of post-workshop changes before? I was wondering your take on this situation and if you had any advice.

Thanks again. I will let you know when I discover who I am.



People go through all sorts of things. Changes in consciousness always emerge with a positive sense to them, but committing yourself to such a change, opening up to becoming more conscious or challenging what has been accepted and assumed, can easily lead to a sense of panic. The self-mind has the job of persisting, and this means persisting as it is. Unless the as-it-is is seen as detrimental to the self for some reason and change is more readily embraced, change in a self will be resisted. A sort of primal fear can arise when your mind grasps that you are open to changing it, or perhaps discovering something unacceptable in yourself.

Another symptom that can occur is what I call whiplash. Following a breakthrough, or opening one’s mind in a way not previously done, the self-mind can suddenly react in a negative way. This “whiplash” is a result of a primal mind fear to the implications of the openness or increase in consciousness, which is seen as a threat to the old “order” of beliefs and assumptions, world view, or self-identity. With time and attention these will tend to subside as consciousness wins out — given that’s your commitment. Otherwise, you’ll just close the mind and return to ignorance.

There are other things that can come up, but mostly physical feelings or even perceptive states tend to be benign and shouldn’t be the focus of worry. When you contemplate and question in earnest, you can go through all sorts of stuff, both positive and negative as you encounter new experiences or run into previously unrecognized personal “truths.” This is to be expected and is just part of the process. Don’t get stuck with any of it. For you personally you may discover some long held belief or personal assumption is under attack, and your mind is automatically reacting. This is a good thing. It means you investigating and are up against something that needs some light shined upon it. Sometimes it might seem like the climb is steep and hard to manage, but the goal is to reach to the top of the mountain where the view is worth the effort.

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