What is Enigma?
Enigma offers a grounded, authentic approach to regaining an intuitive sense of who we are and ending the outer search for inner peace.
It imparts a lucid, practical, non-philosophical pathway to inner work and embodied self-awareness, inspiring and shaping a conscious, purpose-imbued life and restoring harmony to the relationship we have with ourselves and those around us and ultimately our intimacy with change and impermanence. Stillness, breath, movement and various forms of tactile, visual and proprioceptive interactions are used as entry points through which to realise timeless awareness and explore our sense of consciousness. This inner exploration initiates a shift in the fundamental paradigm that governs our perception and experience of ourselves and our world and encourages us to return to a state of inner, intuitive, felt-awareness through a journey that gently moves us from the conditioned idea of ‘who’ we should be to the ever-changing sense of ‘what’ we are. The nature of this journey changes as we change and can never be confined to a mere intellectual description or explanation.
This paradigm shift is accomplished through reactivating our ability to feel our feelings, which include, but are not limited to our emotions. At Enigma we are therefore not focused on an outcome, results or a premeditated constructed process, because regaining authentic inner awareness is not an act, we can't try to do it. Rather, it is the consequence of immersing ourselves in whatever is in our experience at any given moment and embracing that; living it, feeling it and remaining consciously present through it.
Self-enquiry through verbal discussion can lay the foundation for an approach to inner work, but must not be confused with inner work itself. Analytical thought has no place in inner work. Whatever physical, mental or emotional discomfort we are currently expressing in our body, is a manifestation of deep-seated aberrant sensory patterns of consciousness that we can only access and liberate once we are willing to feel our feelings and take increasing responsibility for our own life experience. There is no need to analyse, interpret or understand our feelings. Obsessing with the question: ‘why am I feeling this way?” simply leads us down the cul-de-sac of thought that is attempting to make intellectual sense of our experience without ever actually being in it or offering any real and lasting change to it.
Consider the world of a 1 year old child who is so utterly engrossed in their own body and experience that there is little need for comparison or judgment. The child has an intimate sense of being. It feels, therefore it is. At this early stage it has no concept of comparison, it has not yet become thought obsessed and is innocently free. As adults we think, compare and then try to be, exerting enormous effort to become what we mentally think we should be, based on the assessment we have made of our surroundings, the expectations of others and the constant reactive comparison that ensues. In this way we gradually lose all 'sense' of who we are and replace it with an idea, a construct, or an abstraction. It seems quite absurd that while generally considering ourselves rational people, we have such an irrational approach to what is real and actual. We intellectualise and replace an awareness of feeling what is actual and real in a given moment, with a story, an idea, a conceptual interpretation and then call that dealing with our feelings. We try to "build our confidence", develop our self-esteem, achieve and acquire so that we can at least appear to be fulfilled in the world in an attempt to overcome the deep sense of inadequacy most of us feel every day.
Reason is not the source of feeling, nor is it superior to feeling and therefor has an entirely different place and application. Mental analysis through identification with the content of thought cannot resolve our inner discomfort, because it cannot touch the actual discomfort. Analysis doesn’t take us there. A single thought gives rise to time, past or future, while our discomfort is only ever experienced in this timeless moment. When we reason with feelings and emotions, we ‘trap’ them in a cycle of time where they are unable to liberate and move freely through our experience. This is an interruption to the flow of consciousness that is now, the ever-changing, sensory experience of being human. Mental interruption creates havoc in the body as this energetic flow is stifled, resisted and consequently held in place.
Where does it go? We have to look deeper to find the answers and this is where sensory exploration becomes inevitable if we are to move from an intellectual understanding to an experiential awareness; from realisation to actualisation. It can be relatively easy for an active, intelligent mind to assimilate and understand interesting information especially pertaining to what appears to be existentialism, a philosophical approach to life or a way to control outer circumstance and inner experience.
However, realisation is a far cry from actualisation and this chasm is often avoided and replaced by a fervent, intellectualism that outwardly projects an air of understanding and authority, while inwardly wrestling with the same predicament it purports to have resolved. This chasm is not easy to cross, because it requires a relinquishing of the reliance on intellect alone to explore the mystery of our existence.
What is written here, for example, is merely a description in an attempt to prompt enquiry and must not be confused with the actual experience of inner work. When we begin to explore through sensory (inner) awareness or in the absence of thought, we begin to see the nature of our discomfort with greater clarity. We see the root of our imbalance.
Taking responsibility for our experience is not purely a mental decision followed by physical action in an attempt to change our uncomfortable experience and manipulate and control our world to become what we want it to be. Nor is it to engage fantasies of how we would like it to be in an attempt to find relief from our discomfort. This responsibility is predominantly emotional (sensory) as this is the source of our discomfort in the world and the area we have generally least explored. Our approach to sensations is often limited to suppression, rationalisation, distraction, repression and sedation. Whenever pain arises in our experience we react to it through aversion to its existence followed by an immediate attempt to explain its origin and finally devising ways to promptly put an end to it. We have forgotten how to feel our feelings and have become somewhat obsessed with explaining our experience even though our explanation comes from memory, which is the past and therefor dead. Our sensory experience of a living, ever-changing ‘now’ is replaced by an idea, supposition, abstraction or conceptualisation drawn from memory in order to make sense of what is happening in this moment. In other words we replace the actuality of what is happening right now with an idea of what we think is happening and call that rational living. The moment there is discomfort, we live away from our feelings in a place called time, generated and perpetuated by thought. But who or what is the thinker and where is the actual experience occurring?
We create the illusion that we have addressed our discomfort, but what we have actually done is temporarily dissociated from the body in an attempt to find comfort in the mind (time), where we can observe our feelings from a relative distance without being consciously in them. But thought is like a fickle boss. One day she builds you up as being amazing, significant and needed and the next she breaks you down as being incompetent, inadequate and redundant, and you react accordingly. Thought will do this within a matter of seconds. One moment we are feeling top of the world because we have achieved a goal or conquered (suppressed) a fear or insecurity and in the next moment we feel useless and lacking in self-esteem after a passing, often innocent, comment from an authoritative or significant person in our life.
Of course observation of our thoughts and feelings definitely has value in therapies designed to restore functionality in those who find themselves in the agonising situation of being so constantly overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings that they cannot function in the world. This is a truly painful state to be in and medication is often necessary to assist in the transition through, or chronic management of this state.
However, once we become conscious of our consciousness- an illusive moment that appears unpredictably- and feel willing and ready to take responsibility for our experience, we can begin the journey of realising that we are the source of our outer experience of the world and that the only way we can initiate lasting change in awareness is by beginning to pay attention to what we feel and feeling it without analysis or interpretation.
Enigma provides a context within which to experience and begin to embrace this awareness of our inner world, while simultaneously prompting a direct enquiry into the nature of consciousness expressed as human form. Through the use of simple, yet profoundly effective tools, we can initiate a process of discovery that will free us from any further searching outside of ourselves for inner peace. We can experience a new way of perceiving and being in our world that can be applied practically to daily life. Some of us may call this a spiritual journey or search, which often leads to a philosophical discussion as to its validity and initiates intellectualisation of our felt experience. None of this is required. We are not offering a philosophical (mental) view of life here, we are simply offering an entry point to seeing reality as it is. We are not trying to "create a different reality" as this leads to more delusion as we mentally try to figure out what we want from the world and how to get it or make it come to us. There is no longterm benefit to these approaches as they make absolutely no lasting impact on our inner world and are the result of a deluded, though popular perception that by changing our environment we can effectively and consistently change how we feel.
By learning how to simply pay deep attention to what is actually happening, we are discarding our perspective and judgement of our reality and exchanging it for a direct experience of what is occurring. What we really are, our true nature cannot be described or thought. Thinking is not required here. Thinking is a product of the brain that is directed at the past and the imagined future and is essential in order to live and function in the world. However, when we are attempting to find harmony in the quality of our experience, the moment there is thought, we are trapped. Thought is the origin of psychological time and our predicament, our emotional and sensory imbalance, lies in the present. Consider the possibility that there is no place for thought in inner work. The only way we can elicit change in the inner world is by being still with it, by feeling it. Thinking here only creates further confusion through conceptualisation and abstraction, opinion and belief, an insistence on understanding the stories that have led to our emotional upset and a desire to move towards something else that appears to be better than what we are currently experiencing. This is madness.
Our relationship with ourself, others and everything around us forms a pivotal role in this work. Appreciating the purpose of relationship and approaching it with increasing self-responsibility is crucial to this work both as an unfaltering trigger for our unconscious reactivity as well as a feedback mechanism for whatever realisations we have actually embodied. By providing a context for exploring our feelings at an intimate level of our being, we can safely regain the ability to be in our lives without the fear of feeling our feelings. We can embrace our life circumstances and the sensations they initiate as exactly where we need to be right now to grow and evolve emotionally. We are learning to be with what is real, because until we can be with what is real, we have no hope of any part of our experience actually changing. A delusion cannot be made real through thinking or hoping or believing. Similarly, fear cannot dissolve through these approaches. Fear can only dissolve when we are willing to feel it and are no longer trying to suppress it, control it or distract ourselves from it. As fear begins to dissolve, we gradually give up trying to change anything in our outer world, because we directly experience our outer world changing spontaneously in relation to our inner world.
This change evidently manifests equally in the physical body as it does mentally and emotionally while we move toward overall natural balance and wellbeing. Although change is palpable from the moment we start, the journey is ongoing and can be profoundly challenging as we uncover deep patterns of unconscious reactivity and discomfort.
At Enigma, deep experiential observation through stillness, movement, breath and other sensory exercises, guides us through the integration of deep-seated, suppressed emotional and sensory memory while gracefully dissolving into the fluidity of internal movement. This ends the fear of feeling our feelings, reconnects us to our shared essence- the intelligence that animates us, lives in our cells and breathes our bodies.
The Enigma approach is offered on both an individual basis as well as in group format in the form of residential retreats and non-residential workshops. Self-responsibility is a focal point of this work and is cultivated and encouraged throughout, as emotional awakening and integration can be an intense and often challenging process. Every person entering this exploration will experience it differently and express the inevitable consequences uniquely in their life. The joy is in the journey.