Ok, so Diego PMed me this question and we had a good back and forth. I asked him if I could post it as other people might find it useful and he said go for it, so here it is:
I am very curious about what your inner work path has been to get you to this point. You share a lot of stories including volunteering at zen monasteries, hiking in South America, running your own businesses, and my favorite: the bird in an oak tree metaphor, however, I am not clear on the groundwork that got you there.
I have some ideas and conjectures, but thought it is better to just ask you outright. I would love to pick your brain on that matter if you are open to sharing.
What specific strategies have failed for you in your path to inner wellbeing and indifference? How have you actively released and let go of attachments that were pervasive?
The reason I ask is because in the past I have struggled and been too goal oriented when it comes to inner work. One of the key lessons I have drawn from others who are more advanced on this path, is that they tend to stick to doing the inner work, and consistency yields exponential rewards. Correct me if I am wrong on that statement.
Also, I have noticed that trying to take on too much and overexert pressure in the hopes of forcing an outcome or result, is just ineffective and dumb. I learned that trying to dive right in and frantically practice inner work techniques would lead me to burnout and stop doing them altogether.
I'm happy to share about my process. Basically, I was heavily motivated to figure out how to relieve the suffering I experienced for ~10 years over my parent's relationship and how it affected me growing up. I wrote about my parents as literally my very first post on the forum, go look it up if you aren't familiar with it.
So, at about age 16 I started to become conscious of how fucked my parents were, and when I turned 18 and went off to college, the space I got from my parents allowed me to really start reflecting on them and my childhood and I got very angry at my mother. This pretty much continued unabated till I was maybe 27, and basically the only thing that modulated it was that the more contact I had with my parents, the more angry I was. So I moved away, only talked to my parents on the phone a couple times a year, stopped coming home for holidays, and didn't see them in person for a little over 2 years at one point.
But none of this really changed anything at a fundamental level, and when I was 27, I decided that space and avoiding my parents clearly hadn't made any progress towards solving the problem, so I needed to figure out and do something about it.
So, I had been volunteering at this Zen monastery for a while because it was a really fascinating and cool place, and being exposed to zen concepts had definitely given me some good insights that helped me through some stuff. When I decided I really needed to look into it and start working hard on improving my relationship with my parents, I decided to keep working down the Zen track. The problem with Zen, however, is that in a vacuum, a lot of Zen concepts and teachings are just straight up confusing. Some of that is the translation from japanese, but a lot of zen is intentionally obtuse and more or less meant to confuse the mind.
I'm super logical and analytical, so while some zen concepts were really helpful, I needed something a little more concrete/applicable. I dabbled in some other eastern or eastern inspired teachings for a while, but didn't really find anything that really worked for me until I came across the Balls Project and GP Walsh. So much wisdom there and both he and Evan are also really good at explaining things in a way that makes them understandable and useable.
So, over the last 2-ish years, I've really made wonderful progress. I was able to finally let go of my anger over my parents almost a year ago. I won't say that I've reached some place of totally permanent inner peace, but I'm internally peaceful almost all of the time now (which also means external results come more easily to me now too, since I'm not fighting myself very much anymore either).
The process I've settled on that seems to work for me is trigger > allow > inquire. First something triggers me in some way, then I focus on allowing whatever is happening, whatever I'm feeling, whatever is coming up, whatever is triggering me. This isn't always easy to do, but the more I've worked at allowing all the things that arise, as they happen, the better I've gotten at it. Allowing becomes more of a default posture that I take towards everything.
Then, after I have allowed whatever it is, I inquire as to why it came up, why it bothered me, etc. So lets say a girl I'm interested in seems to be interested in me, things seem to be going well, and then all of the sudden she clams up and starts being standoffish and avoiding me for no apparent reason. So, if this were to happen I'd probably feel a bit miffed for a little bit, but then I would recognize that I'm wanting things to be different than they actually are, that I'm resisting reality, that I'm not allowing, and just recognizing that I will just let go of being miffed and allow everything to be exactly as it is. Once I'm no longer feeling upset or like I want things to be different, it really helps me to think and journal for a little bit about why the girl changing tack bothered me. The point of this inquiry isn't to solve anything (its all already solved just through allowing, and therefore there is no goal because everything is already fine exactly how it is), but rather just to understand my reactions and my experience, and just understanding it helps me to allow it and helps it to not arise as often in the future. For me this is what "doing pushups" is.
Finally, the other big part of this is that I discovered non-duality/advaita, and I really dove into that pretty heavy as well. I didn't go into it in order to get any sort of relief or improvement in my life or anything, but rather I was just really curious and really wanted to understand it. That said, once I really got down down right to the depths of non-dual inquiry, the realizations I had made it much easier to allow and inquire about more 'superficial' things that were triggering me. Its not like non-dual inquiry is a way to make your life better, but at the same time I cannot deny that non-dual inquiry certainly did change my life and my perspective in a positive way.
Anyway, I hope that answers some of your questions. Let me know if you have followup questions.