An unsettling experience in New Zealand

When asked by friends about a recent consciousness workshop with Peter Ralston in New Zealand, I’ve most frequently responded that the experience was

‘unsettling for me i.e. it exactly achieved the purpose of increasing consciousness!’

Here, I want to explain further why loosening the grip on myself, my experience of reality and being more open to inconceivable possibilities is such a positive experience.

The workshop I did is called “Experiencing the Nature of Being” – created and facilitated by Cheng Hsin founder, Peter Ralston. The purpose is to increase the consciousness of participants through experiential ontological inquiry: seeking direct consciousness of the truth of self, experience, and being.

Peter is a truly enlightened being and remarkable facilitator. He, and assistant Brie, guided us through a mix of: structured content, insightful stories, guided meditations and contemplations (solo and in pairs = “dyads”), directly responding to participant questions and facilitating realisations. Peter skilfully guided participants while explicitly avoiding and undermining dogmatic assertions. Instead of telling us ‘the truth’ Peter provides a process and invitation to self-experiments so that we can directly experience the truth for ourselves, in this moment.

My experience in the workshop is hard to communicate in writing, but positive beyond my expectations. I’ve done the ‘ENB’ before (documented in a previous post) and other body being / martial workshops, contemplation intensives and eCourses (described on the Cheng Hsin Geraldton site). This most recent workshop in Auckland, NZ stepped me beyond all of those, and I will do it again in the future.

By ‘unsettling’ I refer to the simultaneous loosening my certainty about what I am, how my experience is created, and what reality is.

This loosening came about through questioning deeply held assumptions, interpretations of my experience and noticing that what I thought to be ‘true’ wasn’t at all. I’ve picked some of the more significant and easy to articulate insights or impacts below:

  • Taste for Truth. My appetite for truth and its pursuit have increased. Rather than accept mine or other assumptions or interpretations, I want to investigate the truth: honestly, accurately, openly, unendingly, continuously. The Cheng Hsin community and teacher provide a means to pursue this outside the workshop. State experiences, ‘stage development’ and once-a-year retreats have been put into context, as being no substitute for continuous open inquiry into the nature of consciousness.
  • Insights into Unknowing. I had deep insights into process of perception and cognition, who/where and what “I” am, some of my fundamental operating assumptions and the reality-generating nature of mind’s mechanism of making distinctions. Rather than concrete foundations to stand on knowingly grounded in my self-identity, these insights direct my gaze outwards, unknowing in wonder at possibilities.
  • Substitutes for Self. A crack has been opened in my perceptions of what’s possible: rather than ‘self’ being a distinction within reality, it seems that self – as a principle or the context – frames every experience, every relationship, every object or concept I interact with. This opening creates the freedom to substitute other principles (e.g. honesty) or perspectives (e.g. others’) as the context for experience and interaction.
  • Being Direct. Historically I have doubted, misrepresented, been indirect or inaccurate in communicating my experience. This has multitude effects, including on relationships, decisions and learning ability. I am now more truthful and responsible in communicating my experience, enabling greater integrity and clarity than ever.

If this summary sparks some interest, I invite you to get in touch. Or, my strongest recommendation would to engage directly with Cheng Hsin and Peter through the books, podcasts, eCourses and in-person workshops.

Here are the links to WorkshopsBooksPodcast, and eCourses. I’ve read, listened to and participated in many of these, and facilitated an Increasing Consciousness Group in Geraldton. So, if you want to discuss further or specific recommendations get in touch with via comments on this blog or on Twitter.


  1. Andrew, thank you for this post, it deeply resonates with my internal experience since recently returning from a 2 week retreat at Oneness University in India. Paradoxically, I have witnessed a simultaneous disquiet and freedom, when I notice that familiar, internal way of operating/ perceiving self and world have dissolved. In this moment there is a spacious opportunity, where I feel receptive, alert, clear and awake. Also softer, more spacious and less mentally occupied.
    Mine was an embodied process guided and held by traditional and ancient Indian spiritual tools of philosophical engagement, mantra, mudra, prayer and pranayam as well as contemplation dance & what I would call a form of shamanic journeying.

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your resonance and reflections (and sorry I missed it earlier!). How you describe your experience sounds remarkable, and would be interested to see how it’s continued or evolved? In my case it’s been a fascinating few months and I’ve learned a lot about transitions, and seem to finding a new coherence….though am very suspicious when it feels too comfortable, familiar or similar to old patterns!

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