By Stina Deurell, May 2020
Welcome to a deep dive into the fullness of the Wider Embraces method. I’ll explain all the steps; how and why to take them, where they lead us and what it’s good for.
The Wider Embraces method moves us from the manifest world to the subtle realm, to the meta-aware perspectives, and back again. We go back and forth between looking inwards and outwards, and we change our viewpoint. The method corresponds very well with Terri O’Fallon’s Stages Matrix, you can read more about that in the blog post at belongalign.org (new window).
The Embraces – Physical, Biological or Cultural
The word’ Embrace’ can at first feel a bit odd, but it is a very accurate description, and it was the question ‘Who is Embracing?’ that started the whole endeavour.
An Embrace, in this context, is the subtle and meta-aware aspects of any object. An object is anything with boundaries; it can be physical, biological or cultural. Anything from a particle to the Universe, from a single cell to a species, from a family to humanity, from a small gathering of people to a global organisation. You can read more about the Embraces under Key Concepts.
Holographic, Ever-present Embraces
We don’t create our Embraces. We can create the foundation of them; forming a group, building a company, but the Embrace itself is not made.
The whole is present in all its parts, but in a lower resolution, like a hologram. And the parts are making up the whole, but not as parts, but as the whole. Just as I’m not the sum of my cells or organs; I’m a human being. And my cells don’t understand what I’m writing right now, but they can sense what mode I’m in.
The Wider Embraces Process
Before we dive into the different steps and levels, I’ll give a short overview of the Wider Embraces process for those of you who haven’t yet experienced it. If you have, you can skip this part. And if you have not, I can assure you that it’s easier to understand this text, if you are familiar with the method, though it’s always good to know a bit before joining. Explanation first, or experience firs, the choice is yours!
A Guided Co-creation
We meet in person or online; we can be two or many. The whole process usually takes a bit more than an hour, including checking in and out. Typically one person is guiding, and everyone contributes, though the more advanced the group is, the more the process is a dynamic co-creation. Mostly we sit still, but we can also walk around in the room and move with the Embraces.
The Wider Embraces process is mainly active and full of experiences, though we can also slow down and rest in the stillness of an Embrace.
Everyone has to Belong to the Embrace
We start by deciding what Embraces we want to experience. Everyone has to belong to the Embraces we choose; you can’t take the perspective of something you are not part of. Though, it is possible to guide people out into their personal Embraces from the outside. For example, as a leadership coach, you can guide members of a company out into the Embrace of their organisation, or as a therapist guide a client out into the Embrace of his or her family.
Resting in Our Widest Embraces
We always start with a deep breath, being present here and now. The guide then leads the group out into our three widest Embraces one at a time; The Embrace of our material Universe, the Embrace of our living Biosphere, and the Embrace of the human Culture. Resting in each Embrace and feel our unconditional belonging.
From here, we move into the Embrace of me, the first shift of our first-person perspective. Next step is to take the group as our perspective, shifting into a collective first-person perspective. As the Embrace, we hold all members of the group unconditionally. From the Embrace of the Group, we can move out into any Embrace we like to explore. Sometimes we shift out into the meta-aware perspectives, and sometimes we stay at the subtle level. After the session, we share and reflect together.
Becoming Aware of our Deep Belonging through Facts – The Manifest Realm
A Wider Embraces session always starts in the manifest everyday world. We share our knowledge about the Embraces we want to work with, focusing on how we are an integrated part. This manifest level is designed to set the stage, become aware of the parts and boundaries of the Embraces. The more facts we have, the easier it is to tune into the Embrace.
Science is our Runway
We use the latest scientific findings and our own experiences. Our modern scientific world-view is so full of awe-inspiring facts about how deeply interconnected we are. Cosmology, ecology, particle physics, evolutionary biology, DNA sequencing, systems theory, archaeology and much more have opened our eyes to how deeply we belong together with everything around us. To ponder these facts, sense into them, is the first step of becoming aware of our wider Embraces.
The More Knowledge, the More Interconnections
It was impossible to take the perspective as the planet before we knew we lived on one. And with the images of Earth taken from space, it became much easier to Embrace our cosmic home. Before we developed an understanding of evolution and ecology, we thought we were separate from all other living beings.
I find it strange that our modern culture, that has brought forward all this knowledge of belonging, still behaves as if it didn’t know. Let’s change that.
Step 1 – I Consist of / Personal Inwards
A Wider Embraces session always starts with a dive into ourselves, exploring our parts, what we are made up of. We may focus on different aspects, but these three are the ones we usually touch on:
– I am a physical material body.
– I consist of particles, forming atoms, forming molecules, forming this complex body.
– I am a biological being.
– I consist of cells forming organs, forming this complex living being.
– I am a node in the human culture.
– I consist of language, knowledge, memories, expressions, ways of being. Everything I’ve learnt from other humans.
Step 2 – I’m Part of
After looking inwards, we look around in time and space, becoming aware that we are part of larger systems and connected in time through evolution.
If we, for example, work with the Biosphere we may touch on something like this:
– I am the result of a four billion years-long unbroken chain of life.
– I am related to all living beings on Earth; we are one huge family tree.
– I am part of our planetary ecosystem, living and breathing together with all life on Earth.
To not only read through the facts but to give them time and rally ponder the implications, can be quite mind-blowing. So already on these manifest levels of the process, hints of a more profound and healing belonging may occur.
Deconstruction of Self
We realise how every part of me is in a constant flow in time and space, how everything that is me today was something else not long ago. I’m a fluid node in the cosmos. It’s a deconstruction of the self, in very much the same way as in the Buddhist practices when you over and over again ask the question ”Who am I?”. When the boundaries of me have loosened, it’s easier to widen them and take the perspective as a wider Embrace at the next step of the process.
Becoming Aware of and as a Wider Embrace – The Subtle Realm
When we have established the parts and boundaries of the Embrace we wish to work with, it’s time to become aware of the subtle aspect of that Embrace – noticing that it has been there all the time. We can create the foundation of an Embrace; forming a group, building an organisation, and when we do, the Embrace co-arises. If you are familiar with the concept of subtle or morphic fields, this is what you are sensing into.
Step 3 – I Rest in the Wider Embrace
At this level, we become aware of the Embrace, feel our deep belonging, being at home. Our minds relax, stomachs may make some noises, muscles release their tension. It’s like taking a warm bath.
– I sense the Embrace of the Universe / the Biosphere / Humanity / my Family.
– I rest in this Embrace. I belong here. Unconditionally.
So far, everyone who has given it a try, have been able to experience this level – feeling the shift in the subtle energy and the sensation of being held.
Sometimes it’s fine to just rest in an Embrace, the feeling of belonging and alignment is healing and relaxing in itself, but there are three more steps we can take.
Step 4 – I am the Wider Embrace
Moving from the subtle individual to the subtle collective is the most significant step in the Wider Embraces process, and what sets the Wider Embraces method apart from most other methods. We shift from being identified as single human beings into being identified as a wider Embrace. Where there was a person, there is now an Embrace. An Embrace holding it’s parts, including that person I was before. So in one way, this is an individual level, though the “I” is a collective. We transcend the personal.
– As the Embrace of the Universe / the Biosphere / Humanity / my Family,
– I hold all my parts. Unconditionally.
– They are me, and I am them.
The shift happens in an instant, there is nothing in-between being the person, and being the Embrace. For some people, this is an instant revelation and a natural step. For others, it takes practice; it did for me. At first, it was just a vague intuition of something, a brief shift. Now I can move in and out of my wider Embraces when I want to, though to do it together with others is far more natural and enjoyable.
If you haven’t experienced this shift of identity, you can’t think your way into an understanding. When I’m not identified as an Embrace, I can only remember it vaguely; ‘knowing about it’, not’ being it’.
Speaking with One Voice
Much of the information on the subtle levels comes from emotional and energetic sensations in and around our bodies. We may or not may make sense of it intellectually.
Because we enter into the same space together, we are identified with the same Embrace. It’s incredible to hear everyone speaking as ‘me’. Sharing how it feels to be the Embrace, expressing the same qualities. It doesn’t matter who speaks; it’s a shared experience, one Embrace expressed through several voices. It happens that we end up in different Embraces, or different aspects of en Embrace, that is always exciting, and we learn new things.
You may have had similar experiences in settings like playing jazz; you are the music, or doing martial arts; you are one body doing the technique, or meditating; you look at the mountain, and suddenly you are the whole landscape.
Healing through Alignment
When we rest in a wider Embrace, we can relax into a healing alignment with that Embrace. Feeling a deep belonging and give up our resistance. Many of us have a resistance to either being part of Humanity or the Biosphere, or our Families. When we let go of that tension, we release stuck energy, and we can start to move more freely, in alignment with the whole.
When we are identified as the Embrace, ‘I’ can turn inwards and hold all my parts, unconditionally, letting my parts find their optimal place in the whole. When we do this move, the intensity of the subtle field increases. If you are a healer, you will recognise the sensation.
The subtle level almost always induces a shift into a more meditative state. It can be tempting to let go and space out a bit. Though to navigate the Embraces and experience what is going on, it’s good to keep a moderate level of awakeness and to keep our feet rooted in the manifest world at all times. For the meta-aware level, it’s best not to be too far out, though a slight shift can help.
It would be interesting to investigate this further; which state is best for making the different shifts? Maybe it varies from person to person and time to time?
Seeing As the Embraces – The Meta-Aware Realm
The meta-aware level is about insights. We become aware of structures, connections, systems, and we are those structures. Sometimes it’s a vague sense, sometimes a clear vision, other times an instant download of insights.
Step 5 – As the Embrace, I’m Aware of
– As the Embrace of X I’m aware of my parts and their relations.
– As the Embrace of X I’m aware of the systems I’m part of.
– I see the connectedness,
I take the perspective as the Embrace. Being aware as the Embrace, sensing my parts and what I’m part of. I am the Embrace. As the Embrace, I’m aware of the manifest and subtle structures that are in me and around me.
A little smile arrives. It’s just there. I’m not smiling.
Step 6 – I am all Embraces
– I am the web of Embraces.
– I am the whole structure. Up and down.
So far, we have only had glimpses of this level. It’s an omnipresent I amness quality.
Multi-relational, Holographic Insights
On these meta-aware levels, we are accessing perspectives that transcend our personal view-point, and we unpack the information together. The perspectives are very different from our personal view, and often it’s hard to put words on the insights, our languages are not made for multi-relational, holographic insights.
These meta-aware levels are not for energy healing, though there is a kind of healing alignment that comes from insights; structures shifts when we recognise them. And we can act on our insights, changing the manifest world.
Features and Possibilities
Now, when you, hopefully, have gotten a sense of the Wider Embraces method, let’s look into the features and implications and what it might bring to the table.
We Hold Each Other – Effortlessly
People who struggle with staying focused during meditation often find the Wider Embraces method helpful. We hold each other, and it’s more or less effortless to remain present. When I’m doing the process by myself, it’s much harder, to just be one more person, changes everything.
Scaffolding and Contributing
Because it’s a guided process and we move together step by step, people can experience levels far above their centre of gravity. Starting with listening to the guide, and after a while contribute to the process with his or her own experiences from each level. Later on, starting to interact and move together with the group, dance with the process, and finally guide others.
Transcend and Include
We never leave the manifest behind. The concrete foundation is always there; it’s our map and bedrock. And when we move into the meta-aware, the subtle level is holding us. Wider Embraces is about aspects of our everyday world, and it’s not an escape road into a ‘spiritual’ realm. There are no free-floating Embraces, no separation.
I think it’s immensely important in our time, that our ´spiritual’ practices help us become deeply present and connected to our planet, here and now.
Holons – Reducing Complexity to One
As a human being, I’m immensely complex. Every cell in my body is a living entity in itself, and every organ is a complicated system, it’s mind-blowing that I can walk and talk as one person. It’s the same with our wider Embraces; they are emergent levels, a new perspective, not the sum of their parts. For each level, there is a considerable reduction in complexity. A perspective is always one.
Our brains can only process a certain complexity. Still, when we see as an Embrace, we get an overview from a broader perspective that reduces the complexity and let us see new complex structures from another level.
An Anthropocentric Method and Universal Embraces
The Wider Embraces method is for humans only. But the Embraces holds everything and are everywhere. The moose lives inside the Embrace of Moose, and humans and moose live together inside the Embrace of Mammals. It’s not us inventing, developing or creating the Embraces. They are not emerging because we get more developed. But as we grow, we can perceive and process more Embraces and more aspects of them in new and unique ways.
Belonging and Alignment on all Levels
A Wider Embraces session is a playground and training field, we feel our belongingness, and we learn to see from new perspectives. When we are gathered and hold each other, it’s easy. The real challenge comes after the session. How to integrate what we experience into our daily lives?
To be more deeply aware of how we belong together on the manifest level is the first step. My actions impact everything around me in ever-wider circles. With knowledge and system-thinking, I can understand the consequences of my actions better.
On the subtle level, I can learn to tune into the Embraces that are present, the ones I’m in right now, be it my family or workplace, my village or the planet. Being fully present with all of me, sense into the collective field. It’s quite a difference if I feel separate, trying to change things out there, or if I move as a part, aligning myself with the Embrace and being part of the alignment of all parts. For a postmodern individualist, this can be challenging. But it is efficient, relaxing and healing. And hard in the beginning.
The insights we get from the meta-aware level changes the way we perceive the world. Our sense-making shifts, and we start to think and act differently. Who we are changes.
There is no way we can align ourselves with all our wider Embraces, and there is no ‘One Ultimate Embrace’ to worship. What perspective we choose to act from will always be our responsibility.