Peter: Normally when we engage in a course, or a retreat, we do so with an expectation that our participation in the work, exercises, processes, and so on, will bring us closer to “it”. We attend the course with the assumption that we haven’t got “it” and that the course will either give “it” to us, or at least bring us closer to “it”.
Penny: In this work you have an opportunity to question what would really satisfy you. You are beginning to question what “it” could look like. Some of your strongly held assumptions, about what “it” is and how or why you should get “it”, are simply not computing any more. Some of your more sacred beliefs are not holding water. They just aren’t being maintained in the same way as they have in the past. In fact, many of you are discovering is that it is hard to successfully project your assump- tions into this environment, and get the desired feedback that would confirm, or disconfirm your beliefs.
Participant: This conversation feels pretty unusual. (Light heartedly) Actually it feels danger- ous. (Group laughter. )
Penny: That’s not surprising since we aren’t colluding with you about what you think should, or shouldn’t be happening. As you begin to see the constructed, fabricated nature of your beliefs, it can certainly feel different, especially when no answers are being automatically dished out. (Group laughter)
Peter: Part of what makes this feel unusual is connected with the whole way we generally relate to feedback. You’ve noticed that we are not operating within a standard model of giving positive or negative reinforcement. We aren’t resisting doing that. It’s more that the space that we are operating from doesn’t have a reference system that allows for giving positive or negative feedback. And, at least initially, this can introduce some ambiguity in terms of how you relate to us. (Group laughter) This experience is also unfamiliar because you are beginning to break out of the need for positive or negative feedback, itself.
Peter: Some of you are experiencing quite a variety of emotions through engaging in this perspective. Sometimes it is invigorating. At other times it can be draining. This work can also stimulate all sorts of questions. It can have you urgently wanting to seek clarification, or validation of what you are thinking or feeling.
Penny: Normally we don’t pay a lot of attention to what drives our interactions. When we try to alleviate a problem or a concern, or hold onto a breakthrough, we tend to do this pretty automati- cally. As you become more sensitized to your own patterns you can begin to follow the gentle guide- lines we suggested earlier on. Practically this might mean not sitting on some thought or feeling, internalizing it and letting it intensify, but instead having a conversation with us. Or it may mean not avoiding certain feelings as soon as they arise by distracting yourself or trying to alleviate your discomfort.
Participant: When I first experienced what seemed to me as a lack of feedback it made my story even louder. It made me want to seek out feedback even more. I felt so anxious that I wasn’t getting any. And then I created a paranoid twist to this.
Peter: Right. Certainly that is what can happen with so few ground rules being imposed in this environment. This gives you the opportunity to construct that we are doing it to you! You can create a sense of anything out of it, and it can be painful. You can believe that you are doing it to yourself- that you’re just not getting it. Or you can create that we are doing it for you.
Penny: You are also beginning to experience how this can be constructed as heaven-a paradise, a perfectly blissful space. We can experience this as an exquisite environment with all the qualities that we want to create in our own life, right now. When you create this as a sort of paradise, you can similarly think that we are doing it, because we have some special skills that make this possible. Or you can believe that you doing it-you are getting it right and creating a blissful state as a result through your own perceptions.
Peter: You’re already aware of some of these energies, that we’ve been describing. In just the day and half we have been together a lot has happened, particularly in terms of your appreciation of what we are doing here, and what you have done in the past. What I observe is that you are stepping in and out of expecting some reality to be confirmed. You are beginning to experience a space within which you neither reject nor accept your own, or other people’s constructions. We are offering this experience to you as a way of relating with your- self and others. This is not just a unique event that transpires over six days and ends, but rather it is a subtle ongoing embodiment of a perspective-a perspective that you can begin to apply, right here and now, and throughout your life. It can begin to transform your relationships. You begin to carve out a lifestyle which supports a more spacious and serene way of being. You enter into relationships that support a space that vibrates in resonance with where you are.
This transcript is adapted from group meetings at Intrinsic Freedom courses in Portola Valley, California, April 1995 and Gembrook, Victoria, October 1994.