30 Nov
2017
Posted in: Practice
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Not That. Not Only That.

I’ve been re-listening to talks from several of my favorite retreats from the past couple of years, and I came across a wonderful exercise that I had forgotten about from the 2015 retreat for experienced students on The Nature of Awareness.

We were instructed to break up into groups of two, and to sit facing each other. One person in the group would begin the exercise by saying “I am….” followed by whatever came into that person’s mind at the moment. For example, I might say: “I am…a woman.”

Then the second person would pause for a moment, then respond: “Not that. Not only that.”

Then the first person would do it again. For example: “I am…. nervous about doing this exercise.” And the second person would pause again, and then say: “Not that. Not only that.”

It went on like that for about 10 minutes. (And then the rolls were reversed.)

It sounds trivial now, as I write this, but at the time, it was not. At first it was awkward, and then unsettling, and then quite liberating!

This all came back to me as I was listening to the tape (which, unfortunately, is only available to those who were on the retreat). I can feel a loosening even now as I’m remembering it. How profound it was to keep naming/characterizing myself as something…something that was true, at least at that moment…and then to have it released (“not that”) and to be given an opening into something way beyond that (“not only that”).

Try it! Even if it’s just with yourself. (Whoever THAT is!)

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