Undemonizing Spiritual Practice

To be fair, not everyone or every teaching demonizes spiritual practice. I don’t want to overgeneralize here. But there is a sort of demonization of spiritual practice that happens in certain spiritual and therapeutic circles that I think lacks wise discernment. One of the main arguments against any sort of practice is the notion that there really is no ego, no self, that lies at the core of our experience. The argument proceeds: any self that would try spiritual practices is merely reinforcing a false identity, which can create seeking endlessly towards some future moment of freedom that never comes. Point taken! It’s a very strong argument on its own. And there is wisdom in it. But like all good arguments, it loses its potency as soon as it is applied across the board or turned into dogma that lacks a wise discernment about what good practice is and what it is designed to uncover or reveal in our experience. Almost any pithy, neatly packaged spiritual cliche, like “all practice is ego-based,” becomes dead in the water when it is believed and followed with the same kind of rigidity that accompanies dogma of any kind.

When a practice is employed through force of personal will to change or get rid of uncomfortable states, experiences, thoughts and feelings, it may be used as a means to strengthen the sense of a self that lives in time, that is trying to avoid something now and get to some place in the future. That’s really the nature of seeking, isn’t it? It’s the nature of escape itself. So the argument against practice fits well in those situations. But, when a practice is doing the exact opposite, the argument fails.

When a practice is employed in order to help the surrending, releasing, and resting into a deep acceptance of what is, that practice can be highly valuable. It can be employed for the purpose of seeing or realizing that lack of a self at the core of experience. It can reveal a natural being with what is, whatever that is, in a loving, gentle way. In that sense, a good practice can be deeply transformative. It can even obliterate dogmatic thinking.

The key is the discernment. Take, for example, the Living Inquiries. If one is employing the inquiries in order to avoid, escape or rebel against one’s present experience, then he is using it to strengthen the sense of ego and all the seeking, suffering and escape that comes with that. But if one is employing the inquiries in a way that reveals the allowance of everything – every word, picture, sensation and emotion – to be exactly as it is, then he is not employing it to get anywhere or to strenghten any false identity. Quite the opposite really! The inquiries used in this way reveal that there is no entity at the core of experience. There is only experience, happening exactly as it is happening in every moment. This depth of acceptance transforms experience thoroughly. Another example is body moment. Body movement, as I use the term here, includes Yoga, Qi Gong and the myriad forms of body movement that have been employed as practices for thousands of years. At the Kiloby Center, we employ certain forms of movement. Not just Yoga but also forms that we have developed on our own or refined from previously developed practices.

These include Aperioga and Natural Flow Movement. If these forms of body movement are employed to get rid of, change or react against our present experience, they can have the effect of strengthening the sense of self. But if they are employed in a manner that allows experience to be exactly as it is, the self is being seen through with these practices. The important point about all practices is context.

What is the context of a practice? What is its purpose? How are we using it? What beliefs are we reinforcing with it? Can it be used in a way that creates a natural, flowing acceptance of experience?

If these questions are asked and answered and then the practices are employed with the right context, these practices can make all the difference. They can be just the right medicine that is needed to recognize a deep and profound surrender and acceptance to what is.

Before you throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to spiritual practice, take a closer look at all this. Dismissing all practice in the name of a rigid, dogmatic argument can lead to a lot of suffering. I’ve gotten many emails through the years from people who have taken these anti-practice stances, only to reveal to me in a moment of honesty that they are still suffering because the sense of a self trying to exert control over experience is still operating. Look for those practices that question that self and that provide a skillful way of seeing through all that control, manipulation, resistance and personal will behind it all. Undemonize practice! Throw out only the dogma! Discern wisely!

"Working with Dan has been nothing short of transformational. His open heart, honesty about his personal experience and permission to be real and not hide have helped me unlock those qualities in myself. And that has been a total game changer. I've been truly blessed, not only to have him as my KI Facilitator, but also as my mentor. Without a doubt, working with him has helped me to show up authentically, helped sharpen my tools and made me a better facilitator than I would've been on my own. I can't recommend him enough."
Darby Totten
Certified KI Facilitator

Dan McLintock is a Certified Facilitator, Trainer and the Co-Developer of the Kiloby Inquiries method/approach the New Model of Recovery along w Scott Kiloby. 

A Jacksonville, Florida native, Dan graduated Flagler College in 2004 with B.A. in Theatre Arts and English Literature and has played music professionally in bands for over 20 years. But his true passion lies in sharing the context, possibility and practicality of healing, awakening and release. 

Dan has worked one-on-one with clients in and out of the Kiloby Center since 2017 and has an unconditionally loving and earnest approach to healing trauma, dissolving the drivers of addiction/suffering and unhooking long-held toxic beliefs about ourselves, others and the world at large. 

He’s also worked intensively, side-by-side with Scott Kiloby for the past three years to develop the transformative tools of the Kiloby Inquiries as well as the principles and approach of the “New Model of Recovery” rooted in unconditional love and non-judgment. Much of this approach was borne out of Scott and Dan’s work with each other on their own personal traumas as well as their work with clients at the Kiloby Center. 

Scott and Dan have simplified, demystified and condensed some of the principles and practices of eastern/non-dual spirituality into an easily accessible set of tools most anyone can understand, learn and utilize to free themselves from their own suffering. 

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Valerie Vinger is a thriving survivor of life’s painful challenges and growth opportunities. She has worked with 12-step programs and is currently a 13-year stage-III cancer survivor. Her cancer recovery journey started with the traditional “cut, poison, burn” approach but eventually led her down a natural path to healing her body, her pain and suffering, and her buried emotions.

Valerie first stumbled upon Scott Kiloby at a workshop of his in Boulder, Colorado in 2012, which she says is one of the most transformative experiences she’s ever had. She is filled with gratitude for the person she has become through her journey with cancer recovery and with the Inquiries, which she describes as “coming home to myself.” She loves working with people who are ready for relief from their pain and suffering.

Julianne Eanniello is a Certified Trainer and Facilitator of both the Kiloby Inquiries and the Unfindability Inquiries (formerly called the Living Inquiries). She is also a Certified TRE Practitioner, and the developer of the somatic movement process called Natural Flow Movement. She works with clients all over the world on virtually any topic, including spiritual seeking, stress, anxiety, depression, pain and health related issues, traumatic experiences, repression, relationship issues, and general unhappiness with ourselves and our lives. She does this through online sessions, deepening courses, workshops and facilitator certification training.

About Julianne:

For most of my life I’ve wondered who I am and why I am here. As I was growing up, no one else seemed to be talking about these things, or even thinking about them, so I buried it deep inside and tried my best to fit in the way I was “supposed” to, all the while feeling like there was something desperately wrong with me and that I needed to fix it.

In my early thirties, the death of a young relative left me feeling hopeless and helpless, wondering what is the point of life if we’re all just going to die anyway? This launched me on a search. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I just knew that there was a longing – a desperate longing for something that actually made sense about life. I learned several alternative spiritual and healing techniques. I meditated. I read books and watched videos. I eventually learned of non-duality teachings, and I read more books, watched more videos, and even sat with several ‘awakened’ teachers. Yet I was still searching, something still felt missing. I was looking for the key that would unlock the mystery of me and of life.

In my early forties, I developed a chronic health condition that left me unable to work for several years, and most days barely able to get out of bed due to extreme fatigue, brain fog and pain. I lost my banking job, and eventually lost my home. I saw a multitude of doctors to try to find out what was wrong with me, and used every tool in my metaphysical and alternative medicine toolkit to try to heal myself. My seeking became even more intense, and I was looking for a way to escape my pain.

In 2009, I met Scott Kiloby. Since I started working with him and doing the Living Inquiries, the seeking for enlightenment has stopped, and the question of ‘who am I’ is no longer relevant. My victim stories around my health started falling away. Once I started looking at my experience through inquiry, everything changed. I stopped chasing something ‘out there.’ I no longer seek some future state of happiness or peace. This is not to say that I don’t have problems, or ever experience pain. Quite the contrary. I still use the inquiries regularly, and now there is much less avoidance or resistance to what I’m experiencing. I experience more and more freedom in the present moment, exactly as it appears.

Having trained with Scott, I was one of the first to be certified as a Senior Living Inquiries Facilitator and Trainer in early 2012. In 2014, I moved to CA and became a business partner with Scott at The Kiloby Center for Recovery, where we worked with people suffering from addiction, anxiety, depression and more for the next 8 years.

I can’t imagine my life without these inquiries. They saved me from myself. If you are still suffering, searching, longing… I encourage you to give this a try.

As a young child I saw a picture of Jesus gazing lovingly at some children around his feet. I immediately longed for the unconditional love I saw in his gaze. At the same time, I was being read fairy tales, like Cinderella, and came to believe that romantic love would satisfy that longing for love.

So, I married my handsome prince at age 19. But then, by age 29, I found myself alone, as a single mother, with four young children. I was devastated and convinced that something was terribly wrong with me, to have ended up in such a predicament. 

I had learned to love and please others, but not how to love and respect myself. I was a “good girl,” and repressed my urges to have my own needs acknowledged and met. A wise teacher later told me, “We need to love everyone, including ourselves.” This was an amazing revelation for me!

Learning to meditate helped immensely to bring moments of peace, while I was sitting still, though I was still being triggered regularly in my relationships. Finally, the Kiloby Inquiries taught me how to turn my attention inside in daily life – towards the trapped thoughts and emotions I’d been running from – so that I could face and release them. It was like some tender, lost children began coming home, to take their rightful place in my inner world. 

I am honored and excited to be able to facilitate these wonderful inquiries for others.

Sumitra lives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with some of her family. She has four grown children and six grandchildren. For many years she lived and worked in a yoga retreat community in California, and has taught yoga, meditation and Compassionate Communication in addition to facilitating the tools of the Kiloby Inquiries (since 2013).

Sumitra also loves working with couples and others with relationship challenges in a simple (though not always easy) deep listening practice that allows each person to be truly heard and acknowledged.

Alina is a certified KI facilitator & a founder of Presence Alchemy – An advance mindfulness platform dedicated to liberating suffering & limiting core beliefs through Kiloby Inquiries & non-dual awareness. Presence Alchemy was born eight years into Alina’s embodiment journey of an inner shift from ego to wakefulness. Alina works one-on-one with clients, hosts online intensives and training, and organizes local retreats & workshops.
Alec Rodrigues has been certified to facilitate inquiry since 2015 and brings a keen sense of intuition to his work. He believes that in connection, the deepest healing takes place, that the mirror of relationship is the best crucible for transformation. Through rest and inquiry, Alec has found the empowerment to meet others authentically and stop running so damn fast from the seeming “ordinariness” of life.

He currently lives in Washington state with his girlfriend and works as a training assistant for the KI Personal Mentorship Program, where he empowers enrollees by teaching them the KI tools.