QUESTION: I have been going through a certain change of consciousness, as you know, since working together. I have been moving out of the conscious mind to the deeper self. Out of the thinking brain and into the seat of who I am. The challenge in this is that it begins to feel like a certain state of psychosis with two different minds operating someone tenuously. One busy in the act of thought, and the other deeply seated in some kind of repose.

As I no longer cling to the active mines: ideas of what I think my reality should look like, I feel a certain alienation and distance from my own reality. Decisions become much harder, as the mind and nervousness that were driving my reality no longer have control. Identity becomes problematic as I let go of ideas of who I am or who I may be, in an attempt to embrace a wider understanding of the self. It feels like a dissociative state. But perhaps this is spiritual growth? Have I lost my shit? Or is this the next step? Also, my heart is much more banged up than we had known. Insights?

ANSWER: It is exactly as you say. As one moves deeper into oneself, it is a whole new way of being in the world. For all of us, we have white-knuckled our existence into a jumble of opposing forces, ones that feed us and ones that poison us. Shifts happen through the hard lifting that you have been doing. Your sobriety work, 12-step program, psychotherapy as well as shift in diet and exercise have direct effects on the psyche and how you relate to the world at large.

The hypnosis of our false self loosens with inner work, requiring an adjustment to how we live our lives. As the inner voice takes over, it is disconcerting at first since the old does not fit and the new has not fully revealed itself. So yes, this is a sign of growth and no, you have not lost your shit, you are gaining your sight. It is a paradox that finding our shit feels like losing it. Initially. As you say, embracing the wider knowing (as opposed to understanding, which is the old mind) of self is a process, and not an event. And it takes time, and there can and is some discomfort to learn to trust it. But it does get easier as we let go of wants and allow in the needs that feed us.

The heart feeling banged up is part of the adjustment. It’s not that it is getting banged up as much as we become aware of how much pain has accumulated in us from years of self-inflicted emotional abuse and neglect. The awareness of this pain is part of the healing and will pass. Through years of forgetfulness, we all at some point have groveled after what poisons us and rejected what nourishes us. Keep your heart attentive to what still needs to be purged and what needs to be invited in. Remember what I always tell you: at this juncture, the next level is only revealed one step at a time. This is not an accident: the monumental shift that is required of us is radically different than how most of us have lived. So it can only be traveled one step at a time. Keep quieting down inside and keep your inner eye peeled. We do not get abandoned mid journey.