Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sedona Method

A few notes on the Sedona Method.

My first introduction to Sedona Method was about 15 years ago. I took both courses by Hale and Larry. Although I found it momentarily helpful, I had doubts about whether I was 'doing it right', and also found that my mind often used it in order to seek out non-existent issues and 'release' on them, rather than just be at peace in the moment. The courses, which are self-led, are excellent and both parties have done a great job in delivering the content.

Through some random events, I had been led to the idea of 'releasing' via another avenue. In particular, a Buddhist teacher was recommending 'releasing' and 'letting go', 'relaxing' etc. when performing meditation on an object and after having been distracted.

While I liked the instructions offered, I kept thinking that there may be another way. This reminded me of my previous attempts at the Sedona Method, which is an indepth course on the whole topic of releasing.

I was able to find a nice audio workshop on iTunes by one Sedona Method teacher (KISS - Stephen Seretan) whom I had not been acquainted with before, and went through 6 sessions on the CD. It was actually very good. SS presents Sedona Method as he learned it in the 80s, and in a simplified version, which is likely very close to what Lester Levenson taught.

Lester Levenson is a whole other topic. A total enigma, and like most guru teachers that founded orgs, a lot of myth seems to have been built up around him as well as truths. Some of the more far out claims seem to be around him being a 'Master' in some kind of lineage with 'all the masters' who appear to be mostly from Indian background- ie. Yogananda, Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna etc. etc. -- likely also due to the groups floating around the US at that time. Other lineages aren't mentioned much. Further, lots of weirdness about Lester seems to be accepted, such as he could sleep just a few hours a night, even less, maybe 30 minutes, and be OK. He was financially self-sufficient. He healed himself from life threatening illnesses when given 3 weeks to live. etc. etc.
I have to say, Lester's own recordings (which there are plenty) are excellent in themselves, and one can see the group progression from the recordings in the 60's up until the 80's. A LOT can be gained without even doing Sedona, but just listening to Lester's own audio recordings, where he covers many topics, but always around the central idea of happiness, freedom and the task at hand (as he saw it) which was to release on tendencies, and return back to the nature state of beingness and love.

A discovery for me- was that Lester actually seemed to attain Self-Realization from self-inquiry and inquiry on the nature of love (and performing heart-type practices which would be similar to Metta meditation) .. NOT using his Sedona Method. The standard gist is that he healed himself via releasing, and overcame his physical-mental issues this way. If one listens to Lester's talks in the 60s, they are very Advaita Vedanta flavoured. They are mostly talking about standard ideas in Advaita Vedanta (and early Buddhism), with some minor talk about living in the world, manifesting 'ones desires' etc.. which has always been the rage in the US since Mentalism took hold in the early 20th Century.

I recommend listening to many of Lester's talks (satsangs), which are available on the Internet. His earlier talks are excellent, and present an easy to understand explanation of Advaita Vedanta, and the basic philosophy underlying most Eastern / Indian systems. There is also a pdf floating around which was taken from the transcripts of "Keys to the Ultimate Freedom"- a book written by Lester, now out of print, but thankfully transcribed into a pdf for posterity.

Returning to Sedona, it appears at that Lester didn't invent the Sedona Method until the 70s. The first cut of the course seems to have included only one question, and was quite simple in steering all desires/arisings into the 3 main categories (wanting control, approval, security) and directly asking 'Could you release that wanting ...?'. Later versions of the course added new questions, and came up with different ways for releasing. Hale's course, which is the legit 'Sedona Method' with rights, has about 5 ways to release currently, and probably has the most comprehensive course on the subject. Larry's course is a bit simpler, and tends to use the body and feeling tone as a platform to release directly. Larry is also a bit of a character and quite abrupt in his presentation, which can suit some people.

From the above ideas about Lester, the thought kept coming to me 'But why not go for self-inquiry then, if that was what Lester did originally? And also what he did to 'heal' himself'?' Then a piece of information came through one of the recordings that apparently Lester himself had said it was the highest form, but people weren't ready for it, or had too much garbage present to do it. -- I have to disagree with this a little.. It was Ramana Maharshi's view that anyone could do self-inquiry, and although some preliminaries might be necessary first, such as establishing decent concentration, in the end the actual practice would take care of things. The other major avenue that took Lester to freedom was in doing love/heart practices. One of the audios goes into much detail related to how Lester looked at all of his life events, and meditated on feeling love towards the people, events etc. rather than the need to be loved. Through these intense heart-practices he seems to have entered into the Jhanas (it seems obvious he was going through rapture, energy, tranquility etc.), and most likely attained Stream-Entry via this means (aided by some self-inquiry).

Back to my own recent experience. I used the questions again for several weeks while regularly making use of the Sedona Method in daily life, and in meditation sessions. I had used the method about 15 years back quite intensely, and done all available courses properly. This time, I performed the method very regularly, as I always do with my 'experiments', and as 24x7 as possible.

In the end, I found the repeated questions to be too tedious in the end and had the tendency to place one back 'in their head' rather than release and be restored to beingness/presence. Further, the mind seems to latch onto the idea of continued 'seeking out' further disturbances to release (ie digging up the ground when not necessary).. most of the time, there are no active disturbances operating in the mind. The other ways of using Sedona which don't make use of the 3 Questions may get around this issue. Just welcoming present feelings, for instance, seems a lighter method.

After a few weeks however, the method did work more seamlessly in the background, and aided in spontaneous releasings when tension, or emotional hiccups became obvious. This is likely the intended outcome, rather than conscious interventions where the mind needs to analyse a situation before releasing.

I do find that placing all arisings (disturbances, hinderances) under the 3 Wants, to be a nice trick and helpful. I am not convinced that if one just keeps releasing that eventually they will 'Go Free' (one of the common tenets in the system). Desires / tendencies seem to be endless, unless one gets to the root cause (being the 'I'-thought according to RM, or the ignorance that has created the sense of a separate self (Buddhism)). There doesn't seem to be too many who have been using Sedona for a while who proclaim that they have 'gone free', with the exception of Lester, who himself 'went free' via another route (intense heart-practices + self-inquiry). Incidentally, the only other person I can find who 'went free' via the SM seems to be Pamela Wilson.

I find the Sedona Method to be a valuable tool, and very very helpful for some. Others might find it a bit ho-hum, and take to other forms of releasing (such as through loving-kindness practice, forgiveness, surrender, and many, many other possible forms of release/acceptance). The system is definately worth checking out.

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