Welcome!

The Pathways to Liberation project was started in 2008 by Jacob Gotwals, Jack Lehman, and Jim and Jori Manske.  Read more About our project – or read our latest blog postings below.

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Update on My Work (July 2013)

In January, I finished writing my first book. Since then, I've been polishing up both my offerings and my website. Here's what's new. (read more)
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Avoiding Fundamentalism in Spiritual Practice

When we're in community with others who are enthusiastic about a particular approach to life, it's possible to fall into a kind of fundamentalism in which we limit ourselves to viewing life through the lens of that approach. I experienced this myself when I was learning Nonviolent Communication (NVC). In this article, I describe my experience of fundamentalism, I explore how fundamentalism can follow from the stories we hold about our spiritual practices, and I suggest how we can translate these stories so we can maintain our open-mindedness, awareness, and flexibility as we participate in spiritual community. (read more)
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Feeling Your Feelings (When They’re Hard to Feel)

You might imagine that if you can name your feelings, you should be able to feel them—but in my experience, that’s often not the case. Sometimes our feelings are obvious—but more often, they’re either suppressed or hidden behind thinking. And feeling your feelings is especially hard when you’re triggered. Reactive emotions are uncomfortable to feel; they compel us to react, instead. Generally, the last thing we want to do with reactive emotions is simply feel them. But feeling your feelings can be a powerful way of freeing yourself from reactivity. (read more)
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Feelings and Emotions: Describing Them vs. Feeling Them

Describing feelings and emotions and feeling them are two important—yet distinct—skills to have. Lets explore both skills, and see how they can be helpful. (read more)
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A Young Woman’s Dream: When You’re Triggered, Feel Your Feelings

Once a young woman was in a relationship with a young man. She was happy with the relationship, except for one thing. She often complimented her partner, but he rarely complimented her. Over time, she grew resentful about this—but she never spoke about it. Gradually their relationship soured, and eventually it ended. Her next relationship started well, but soon the same thing began to happen. She often complimented her partner, but he rarely complimented her. She wanted things to be different this time, but she wasn't sure what to do. One night in a dream, she met an old woman, and asked her for advice. The old woman said, “When you're triggered, feel your feelings.” She didn't quite understand what this meant, but she woke up before she could ask. (read more)
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Observing, Interpreting, and Experiencing in Conflict Resolution and Personal Growth

Making observations, interpreting, and experiencing are three ways of approaching experience. Let's see how they relate to conflict resolution, personal growth, and spiritual growth. (read more)
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Welcome to the Pathways to Liberation Blog!

Hello, and welcome to the Pathways to Liberation blog! I'm Jacob Gotwals, co-author of the Pathways to Liberation Matrix. It's been a couple of years since we published the Matrix, and I know you haven't heard much from me since. This has been a time of transition for me. (read more)
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Jim’s take on Presence

Presence For me, if there is one skill underlying all of the others presented in these pathways to liberation, it is presence.  Without presence, we can not deliberately engage the other skills because we lack real-time awareness; similarly, the practice of the other skills support the cultivation of presence.  Presence is the foundational skill of maintaining moment by moment awareness of our unique personal human experience.   With insufficient presence, our “aliveness” falters and suffering (read more)
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Presence (Part 1): What are Reactive Patterns?

I can't describe presence without describing reactivity first—so let's start by talking about reactivity. Reactive patterns are habits that affect everyone. They're driven by our attachments—our internal demands that things be a certain way. (read more)
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Presence (Part 2): Dissolving Reactive Patterns With Attention

What frees you from reactive patterns? Attention—that is, your own awareness, directed toward your patterns. Attention dissolves patterns like heat melts ice—like love heals hurt. (read more)
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