Wednesday 12 December 2018

Mind Movies

A closer look at the imagination and how we are constantly watching movies in the Mind Movie Theater, believing that the character on the screen is ME.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Deep Looking Testimonial

Here is a beautiful email I received after just one session of Deep Looking. Receiving such messages makes me even more inspired to do my work. I love seeing the transformation and witnessing your process of awakening to reality. Each session we go deeper and open up more. Whatever comes to be seen is welcomed and honored. I love to sit with you and share this Deep Looking tool. 

“Hi Ilona,

Thank you for the meeting yesterday, it was a very special experience, and so far the change in perception of reality is sticking and is similar to coming out of long Vipassana retreats.

Truly amazing how simply and beautifully this works, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I will try to keep this brief but from the heart of the exact experience as good as I can.

Yesterday evening after our meeting I felt very present in the body, and movements of hands and body were more coordinated than usual, and there was no feeling of having to rush anything, I moved slowly and elegantly with easy in mind and body. It seems like the before omnipresent stress sensation of always having to be somewhere else than here and now is somewhat diminished. I laid in bed before sleeping and felt the bedding and cushions wrap around me like never before, really noticing the sensations, the thoughts had less of a grip on "me" and I slept very well.

I woke up with a tiny smile this morning for the first time in a long time, and instead of my meditation routine, I decided to just be aware of sensations and try to communicate internally with anything that needed to be seen and noticed, loved and accepted.

I have been able to keep that awareness very much all day, and have had moments of butterfly feelings by just watching my daughter, and even just sitting quietly and looking at objects has at times today brought some interesting sensations that I have never noticed before.

Anger, irritability, and confusion has arisen in the belly today, has been acknowledged and loved and have disappeared again before sticking around as usual for long periods.

Everything in life seems now less urgent and has less meaning and tension around it, like the attachment to outcome is less. I went through my facebook feed and unfollowed a bunch of pages with "answers" to some of all my searching and had a feeling I really don't need that clutter anymore.

I also had feelings of more energy, and some restlessness came along with that, I sat with it and accepted that as well.

It feels like everything is the same everywhere around me, but the awareness has grown, and tension in the mind-body connections is less.. There is a growing joy in my being of feeling things and emotions more strongly, and feeling like being a part of life once again.

Tonight I will try some more Deep Looking and ask mind and heart of they are at peace, and see what answers come up - during my day today there has been more focus on raw sensations most of the day, not much inquiry about the messages the sensations bring with them.

I am trained in many modalities, healing, coaching, Chi-Kung etc etc (like most seekers probably) but I never felt the urge or interest in helping people with any of the techniques I have learned, it just seemed a little useless, like a band-aid on a big wound. I feel what I got from Deep Looking is completely different, and the only thing I would offer to anyone in the search for freedom.

I will be all ears and mentally noting how we go about with the process, and would love to learn more, and be able to guide people the way you have done with me, if that is okay with you of course?

Have a beautiful day

With heartfelt thanks and love”

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Blind Spots

 A Short Story

Andrea and Danny, a married couple moved to Costa Rica three years ago. A good friend of theirs named Paul who had been friends with them for at least ten years was thinking about moving there too. He was invited to visit the couple to determine whether or not he would also move. They made an agreement that Paul would pay partial rent, and also help with the daily living while he stayed for three weeks in their apartment.

Andrea liked to have Paul around, he seemed like an honest and generous guy. He knew a lot about food. His cake was delicious. Paul cooked some vegan meals a few times and it was great to taste something new.

Danny introduced Paul to their friend and neighbor Valentina who lived in the same building, on the ground floor apartment. The four of them had some fun times together.

As it was, both Andrea and Danny had birthdays a couple of days apart and Paul kindly offered to buy them a present. He saw that they did not have a blender and while Andrea was at work, Paul and Danny went to the supermarket and bought one. When they got home and tried to start it, it did not work.

The next day, Andrea went with Paul to return the blender for a refund. He said he intended on buying another one.

Valentina had an idea to buy a birthday present too. She was using her blender every day and she thought her friends could use one. That day when Paul bought it, Valentina saw him coming home with the new blender. She thought that Paul had stolen her idea and got a blender for her friends.

The thing is, Paul did not buy another blender. He took the money back and forgot the whole birthday present idea. It seems that along with forgetting to buy another blender, he too forgot about the rent. He did some cooking and bought some food, but only once did Andrea and Danny not pay their share for the food.

While all this was happening, Paul was very confident and self-content with his own image of who he was. He took pride in how much he knew about food, what to eat and what not to eat. He watched some videos of a guy talking on YouTube--and now he was an expert! He was very attentive in teaching his friends how to eat and how to live. It seemed that he had it right.

One morning, after a week of Paul staying in the apartment, some friction happened between he and Danny. They threw some words at each other. Andrea overheard Paul say, “But, that’s not how I am. I am always paying for everything, I am a giving person,” which in his mind, was really true. He saw himself as this amazing generous friend with perhaps an idea that the couple owed him something.

That morning, he wanted to go to explore another town on his own. He got in a taxi, took all his stuff with him, and left, for good.

Danny and Andrea never heard from Paul again. Days went by. Paul showed no sign of wanting to communicate. He took a flight home without saying goodbye. The mysterious disappearance of an old friend left an uneasy feeling, there was something that felt annoying and unresolved.

A few months passed by without any word from Paul. Andrea and Danny did not know what to think. They stayed quiet too.

One morning, Andrea was awakened by a horrible itch in the foot. “Not another mosquito!” These hungry bloodsuckers are one annoying thing about living in a hot country. She was bitten in a few places and could not sleep for a while. She tried to chase the mosquitos away and finally got one, right on her arm. A splash of fresh blood, a sweet revenge. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep again and had a dream. She was facing Paul and felt she had to say something very important and honest to him.

The day started slowly and Andrea was leaving the apartment to go to work. As she was walking down the stairs she noticed blood. There were a few drops of fresh blood that led to the apartment in the middle, below theirs. She went out of the building looking for clues, but could not see anything. Then she heard Renny, Valentina’s thirteen-year-old daughter, calling her. She was in tears. Blood was dripping off her hand. Rennie was washing their blender and the glass broke. It cut her in two places, badly. Afraid and panicky, she went to the neighbor Sonya, upstairs. Her mum was out at a gym, so Sonya put a bandage on what appeared to be deep cuts that needed direct attention, and went to get Valentina. Andrea asked Rennie if there was anything she could help with and Renny said, “No.” Andrea hesitantly left for work.

When Andrea got home, during her lunch break, Danny, not knowing that Andrea already knew about the accident, began to tell his wife about Valentina messaging him about Rennie having stitches. (She hadn’t mentioned anything other than that.) Andrea then told Danny that she saw Rennie bleeding when she was headed back to work. She didn’t know that it was that bad.

Being hungry, Andrea decided to get some take away food from around the corner. On the way out, she knocked on Valentina’s door to check on Rennie. (Who now, come to find out, had 8 stitches and a scar for life on her wrist)

Surprise surprise, there he was, Paul. What a shocker. “What was he doing there?” she thought, as she saw him sitting on the sofa and smoking a cigarette with a dumbfounded look. She had no idea that he had come back after nearly three months of not hearing one word from him.

“Hello, hello there,” she said. “I had a dream about you last night and here you are.” “Here I am,” said Paul, with an obvious look of discomfort.

Apparently, Paul showed up at the door without saying anything--just a couple of minutes after Valentina got home from the gym and organized a taxi to take her daughter to a hospital. So all three of them ended up going to take care of Rennie’s hand and literally just returned home some five minutes earlier.

The blender broke and Rennie got injured and stitched. That made Andrea knock on Valentina’s door and find Paul there. Paul showed up at the door a minute before the taxi arrived. Was it a chance? Andrea asked Paul if he was going to come upstairs to visit and Paul, looking a bit lost said, “Yes, yes.” Andrea told him that they didn’t even understand what had happened, why he left like that without saying goodbye. Paul told her, ‘’Mm, eh, things happen, you know, and now we are in the same country, so we will meet and talk.” Basically having no intention to clarify.

Andrea felt awkward and strange because Paul was seeing their friend in the same building and did not even have a wish to come upstairs. It was also strange that Valentina held back from Danny about Paul coming. She was texting about the accident that Rennie had and getting stitches. Why didn’t she tell him? When Andrea asked her the next day why she did not tell them that Paul was here, Valentina said “There was no time. We only just got home and you showed up.” As if caught in an awkward situation, she was trying to make it look right.

Nothing in this situation looked right. Paul did not come up and Valentina hid behind a lie. Suddenly Andrea remembered the dream. In the dream, she was looking Paul in the eye and heard herself saying these words: “Awareness sometimes has blind spots, we do not see clearly. You have a very nice image of yourself, but you do not see that it is just an image, it is not real.”

We all walk around with our images about people and situations, colored with our judgments of right and wrong. We carry our own image as the most precious thing and those that challenge that perfect image become a threat to our identity. If someone shows us that our idea of ‘perfect me’, is not how they perceive us, it can be easier to break a friendship than to face the fact that our imagined self is fake.

An image is just that- a mind created story about, “….how awesome I am, how perfect and kind and loving I am.” But when behavior shows otherwise, we have to choose to keep the image or keep the friend that shows us that we are not as great as we imagined ourselves to be.

We all fail sometimes and that is how we grow. Failing is an opening, an opportunity to start fresh, to clear old ideas and look for more authentic and honest connections. But admitting failure requires honesty and courage. The image of perfection cannot take that blow. As long as we are choosing the mask, we are hiding behind our own story of greatness. That does not give us peace. We have to distance ourselves from people that see through that mask. Being real, honest and open is not an option to someone that builds an identity about themselves and prefers to keep an image over a real connection.

Without the image of "a perfect me", there is not so much to be proud of. To wake up to the real you need to see that all images, that you have about yourself, are not you.

Friday 3 August 2018


Another look at resistance. I have to say, that every time I had to write about resistance, an article, or a reply to a question on LU forum, resistance was playing its part. I mean that it felt like some kind of mysterious force holding something up. Even with this video, it took me a long time to get it uploaded, as the internet connection was playing up.

We all feel resistance sometimes and it can be like a blind spot. How to get rid of that unwanted resistance?

What if resistance is really a friend?

Sometimes just seeing it in a different light can change the whole show.

Tuesday 15 May 2018

From Seeking To Seeing

I was a seeker once. I was looking for something. I did not know what that was, but I had heard stories about enlightenment, awakening, constant bliss—I wanted that. I knew that where I was at the time wasn’t it. I had an urge to find out what the holy grail was that would make my life better in every way.

Somebody once asked me straight, “What are you looking for?” And I replied, “Enlightenment.” Did I find that? No, but I am not looking for it anymore. I stopped chasing ideas and found something else instead: peace. Not in a way that everything is quiet and slow, but in a way that there is much less internal narration about what is “not enough.” Everything is just fine. There is no more judgment of good versus bad, no more fight of good versus evil. There is a silence of mind that is much more delightful than fighting what is.

The seeking pattern has stopped running. The drive that was here before, trying to get/achieve/improve something, is now absent. There is openness instead, a spaciousness that allows all happenings to pass without internal friction. If I get annoyed, which I still do, it lasts only a short time and gets resolved quickly.

Seeking is a form of striving energy that wants to get somewhere. This, here and now, is not what it wants. There is something else to get so that the tension will cease. But it does not cease; it only takes small breaks. The “happy tomorrow” does not arrive; it feels like you are trapped in an unwanted time and place, a prison that has no doors. The seeking continues. New books, videos, talks, gurus—they all seem to have something desirable, yet not achievable. How to get off of the seeking merry-go-round?

There is a flip from seeking to seeing, and it is not what the mind thinks. It is not about making something external change so that I will feel more comfortable; it’s internal. The energy that feels intense wants to be felt—fully, openly, purely felt. When we look at what seeking itself is, rather than toward the direction of where our attention is going, seeking can be seen as a mechanism, a pattern, a strong energy. Observing it with conscious awareness, recognizing it, and then feeling the sensation melts it like a sun melts a cube of ice.

So, if you are looking for something, stop for a minute and feel the sensation that is driving the search. This sensation is here, and it does not matter so much why it is here, or who put ideas of “not enough” in the mind. What matters is that this sensation is recognized and fully felt. Seeking for flips to looking at. Once the energy is allowed to be fully present and embraced, the mind becomes relaxed, spacious, soft; it no longer feels the tension.

Try this exercise. Feel the sensation of “not enough.” Feel the sensation of lack. This sensation has a location in the body. Observe it. Allow it. Let it be as it is for a minute or two. Don’t think about what should be different or how much you dislike it; just feel it as it is. Be honest with your own feeling. Be curious about the sensation. Let it enfold you fully, even if it is intense. What is behind it?

Doing this a few times a day may feel like practice. But it’s worth it to remember and engage with this, because the more you become honest with the feelings that are arising—the more you look at what is—the less there is striving for something else. It’s a focus shift from seeking to seeing; all it takes is a conscious look at what is actually happening here and now. The mind can find peace, and that’s the end of the seeking pattern. Then a whole new world opens up—the one that was always here, always present, but was ignored or unnoticed, because of that constant nagging feeling of it not being enough. Thoughts stop running wild; there is more spaciousness felt. There is ease and lightness.

Seeking ends, but exploration continues. And exploration is a different kind of energy—it has a sense of wonder, curiosity, playfulness, and childish innocence. There is no more striving to get out of an unwanted situation, but rather resting in the situation that is neither wanted or unwanted but simply is.

Thursday 5 April 2018

The Competition For The Best Identity

At the meeting, they all sat in a circle. It was a competition for the best identity and who owns it.

‘Ok, I will start,’ the first man spoke. ‘I am a breather. I breathe. I am born to be a breather and I do that very skilfully. Look!’ He inhales and exhales through the nose.

Everybody applauds as the man demonstrates his skill.

‘And I am a writer. I write a lot and I published 25 books,’ The guy on the right introduces himself. ‘My books are about how to be an excellent writer. I have been a writer for 33 years. Ever since I was a kid I started to write. First, there were short stories, then novels, now it’s technical stuff about how to be the best writer. I write a lot. I live for writing.’

This guy got applause too and then the woman next to him spoke:

‘Hi everybody, I am a dancer. I dance at a cabaret and I love it.’

‘I am an eater. I eat everything my wife cooks. I can eat a lot. It’s really great that she likes cooking. She is a real cooking pro too. I live for eating and if I would not eat I would die. So I keep doing what I do the best- eat to stay alive.’ He looks proud of his big belly and he is definitely alive.

The next guy introduced himself as a listener, he did not say much, the woman next to him was a knitter and her daughter said, she was a dreamer. Apparently, her dreams were so beautiful, she could not wait every day for the night to fall asleep.

And the last man said he was a thinker. He was thinking thoughts non stop all day long. He was so proud to be a thinker, as it’s not so easy, you know, to think. It’s not like breathing, right. Either you are conscious of it or not, the breathing is still going on. It’s not so complicated, just inhale and exhale. Thinking, on the other hand, was an art, just like dancing or painting, not everyone could do it skillfully.

After the introductions, everyone sat quietly for five minutes. The dancer started to speak.

‘Being a dancer is so much fun. I hear the music and let the body move in rhythm. It’s almost like I don’t need to do anything, the body moves, the dance is spontaneous creation which has a form of its own. I am a great dancer!’ She shows some moves and everyone applauds.

‘I know what you mean,’ said the breather. It’s like this breath here is going on whether I am conscious of it or not, but hey, once I’m aware that I am breathing it’s a whole different thing. I am such a good breather. I have never missed my step. Always in and out. In and out. I am a breather all day long and at night it goes on automatic. I’m not sure how that works, but breathing is on automatic while I sleep!’

‘I think,’ said the thinker, ‘I have the most difficult task- thinking thoughts is not a joke. I have to be always aware of what thoughts I am thinking because if I am not aware if I don’t focus all my attention on thinking, thoughts are not going to come. I am a philosopher, you see, it’s hard work to be constantly thinking right thoughts. And I have no time at all to rest. This work takes all my energy and attention. I can’t let thoughts to just come by itself, like this breather dude. My work is mental! I put 99% of attention and effort on making thoughts appear. If I stop thinking just for a second, I don't even know if I exist.

Everybody applauds the thinker and agrees that to be constantly thinking is indeed a very hard work.

The listener was just sitting and listening. He did not say a word, he was so absorbed in his task. He wasn’t even blinking, just looking at people with eyes and ears wide open. It seemed like a very difficult task too but he was handling that very well.

The knitter reached out into her bag and pulled out a half knit sleeve of some blouse. It was pink and fluffy, matching a bow in her hair. She was concentrating on her work and did not see or hear anyone in the room, it seemed that the pattern was very complicated, so the knitter was totally lost in her work, which just demonstrated how true she was to being the knitter.

The eater was irritated, he could not sit still in his chair as he had nothing to eat. He just finished his sandwich that wife packed for him before the meeting started and now was waiting impatiently for the next bite. He was looking at a watch frequently, perhaps lunch time was coming soon.

And the dreamer explained how she does not need to do anything to dream. Dreams just come. No control. Miraculously dreaming is just happening. And it’s very pleasant and easy. It’s just a bit too long from waking up till the time for bed. She could not demonstrate her ability in this circle, but she assured everyone she was a good dreamer.

So who wins the competition for the best identity?

The thinker, of course!

Why? Because even though we breathe, dance, listen, write, and do other stuff, only the thinker says, I think, therefore I exist. We don’t say, I breathe therefore I exist, or I listen, or I eat. We say, I think. It appears that thinking is not going on naturally, like let’s say we hear sounds effortlessly, or see colors that simply are here. The thoughts are something that the thinker has to do, otherwise, they would not come! Or so he thinks.

What’s your identity that you have to own in order to exist? What is that you are underneath all labels?

Do you agree that thinker is The Greatest Identity worthy of winning the best identity competition? Maybe there are better ones, like doer, lover, teacher, seeker?

Write in comments!

Saturday 13 January 2018

Unfolding Contractions

Last Sunday I held a group Deep Looking event in google hangouts. It was a powerful session where we sat with sensations and invited contractions to come up and gently unfold. Here is something I wanted to share with you after the session:

Sometimes we feel stuck in an uncomfortable feeling and nothing seems to work. Or, it works temporarily until the next treatment, the next attempt to resolve something that keeps coming up again and again. What if I told you there is a hack to that, that is very simple and effective. 

Imagine you fold an origami. It was once a flat paper and now it is a 3D form, it has volume, it's like a container, a new form that holds space in. Contraction is like the origami form, it's folded in and it holds something. What we can do is unfold it and by doing that, it returns to its natural form--which is spacious formlessness.

How does this look in practice?

The contraction/ tension that is felt, is a sensation. That sensation feels like it's intense, unpleasant, unwanted and the repulsion to the sensation is called resistance. (It's actually a protection) Let's rename contraction to protection, there's a lighter feeling already and an invitation to welcome it.

Just look from this angle: Some time ago some hurt happened and there was an unconscious decision to guard yourself from something like that in the future. This is normal human behavior (avoiding the unpleasant and seeking the pleasant). It's like the mind's computer wrote a program that if 'this' happens then it must activate protection. So every time 'this' happens, there is a sensation that arises, the protection is activated and it kicks in automatically and we notice a reaction happening. By focusing on the sensations of protection we have no more access to the sensation that the protection is covering up. We also call this mechanism--fear.

The protection is felt, but what is it about?

Try this exercise:

When feeling protection, ask it- who are you? What are you? What are you protecting?
And just wait. The answer may come up or not. Notice what happens. This way you can look into a feeling of tightness and see what is behind it--what is it that needs or wants protection.

Some other questions you can ask are:

What do you want the most?
What wisdom do you have for me?
Are you helping?
Do you want to relax?

Don't try to fight protections, they are here to help. Only not all old programs are still useful, helpful or necessary. Some programs are very old and no longer needed so they can be seen and let go. When protection comes up, welcome it as it comes up to be reviewed and adjusted. Those that are still needed can stay, but those that are only creating unnecessary tension can drop. It is safe. All it takes is seeing them. By that I mean - really feeling into sensations, giving the sensations 100 percent of your attention, simply allowing them to be fully felt.

This is the unfolding. Forms of protection can dissolve and go back to rest.

Once protection is released, there is a sense of openness, spaciousness, boundlessness, no borders.

You can ask for protections to come up and then watch where they show up in the body and talk to them. Sounds unusual? Try it. Asking direct questions in a friendly way will create an allowing space for those protections to be as they are. This is surrender, letting go, the end of resisting. Try this for yourself.

If you would like to join the next online event on the 4th of February, there are still places available. You can register by email here.

Happy Unfolding!
Much love