Many thanks for your last response, Open. I initially had an angry reaction to reading it, like I felt you didn't understand or weren't hearing me correctly.

After 3 days of pondering, my anger has now subsided & I can now respond to your post in a more calm & detached way.

During the experience I described in my post above, & in my longer post on the "Alex's Experiences" thread, I mentioned how I'd "felt into" my painful, acute feelings of envy, which seemed like a "surface level" experience, & had then briefly touched the emotion of despair, which seemed to me to be the "source pain".

You wrote:

"The deep subconscious source pain, once you get through this fizz, may only begin as a slight vibration - barely recognisable as anything. But this is where you need to be."

I understand & agree with your suggestions, but my point was that it was difficult enough for me to do what I did on that day - to feel into my envy & briefly touch my source pain of despair - although I think it may even be that the despair isn't yet my true source pain, but a "stepping stone" towards that.

For me, it felt like progress just to get to that far, it's like my "being" won't let me go any faster, much as I'd like that. I seem to have some internal self-regulating mechanism that will only allow me to experience a certain level of pain at a given moment in a given situation, & will then "shut down" the pain by some "distraction" as you call it - numbing out, boredom, depression, anger or rage. This is something I appear to have no control over - I can't force myself to experience more pain (or to "dive into" it as you so often say) - it just doesn't work that way for me.

The analogy that comes to mind is trying to drive a car by depressing the gas pedal when the brake pedal has been strongly applied - however much gas you apply, the car will slow down & stop because the brakes are more powerful than the engine. In my analogy depressing the gas pedal is my attempt to feel into (or dive into) my source pain, & depressing the brake pedal is my unconscious & automatic self-regulating mechanism of shutting down the pain when it becomes intolerable.

Another way of putting it might be that my resistances to "diving into" the pain are still much greater than my willingness (or desire?) to do so.

You might be one of those fortunate people who can just "dive into" their source pain, but I am not. Believe me I've tried, in various ways over the last 20 years or so to do just that, initially through various forms of psychotherapy & more recently through more spiritual approaches, including most recently, the Openhand approach as described in your article above.

My intuition tells me that I will experience a breakthrough with this at some stage (perhaps that will be what you describe as passing through Gateway 1), that I will be able to go fully into my source pain & through that into presence, but for me it's slow progress - one step at a time.

I sometimes wonder, if I'm honest, whether the 5 Gateways sequence will be the one I experience, or whether my spiritual path will take me on another route. I sense that "trying too hard" to follow the 5 Gateways model might be counter-productive for me - seeking a particular outcome, when the Universe might have a different way for my soul to evolve & self-realise. That last part was a bit difficult for me to admit & to share on this forum.

It's been a recurrent theme for me that I've experienced spiritual practitioners & others pushing me (or pressurising me) to go faster in my process than feels right for me. Ultimately, I have to decide for myself how quickly I can go. There may be hidden karmic or other reasons for my apparent slow progress, & I don't mean to say that to excuse myself from anything.

Nevertheless, I'm glad that I'm part of the Openhand Community, & I do appreciate & welcome your comments & suggestions, Open, & those of others on the forums too.