My name is Nic Higham, I’m a nondual therapist based in Leicester, UK offering nondual therapy, spiritual mentoring and coaching both online and in person.
Suffering is part of the human condition and can be a catalyst for spiritual insight if we are able to mindfully hold and attend to it. Sometimes we need the help of a caring teacher, helper, guide, healer or therapist to safely and effectively do so. With facilitated inquiry and someone to compassionately hold space, we find that our suffering consists of thoughts, feelings and mental images of desire and fear, and ultimately a sense of separateness. These can naturally loosen and unfold if given understanding and space.
Suffering is Caused by Imagined Separateness – Duality
As I write in my nonduality book, in a multitude of ways we seek an end to the brokenness we experience and with which we have wrongly but innocently identified. ‘Nonduality’ simply means ‘not two’, or ‘one without a second’, and points to the fundamental wholeness of life.
The way I work with clients is based predominantly on the teaching of the great Advaita teacher Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897 – 1981), specifically what he called Nisarga Yoga, meaning ‘Natural Unity’. This kind of yoga is not a physical practice, but a blend of simple and effective principles of meditation and self-inquiry which I bring into a therapeutic space. Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuating states of the mind. With the essential help of consciousness, the mind acknowledges the limitations of its own nature and deconstructs itself through inquiry. The goal of yoga is to liberate consciousness from its embroilment with the mind.
Understand, Discern, Focus and Unravel
According to Nisargadatta, the five senses and the three qualities (gunas) are our eight steps in yoga. And the knowledge that we are (our sense ‘I am’ or presence) is the Great Reminder (mahamantra) which we can meditate upon. We can learn from these steps all we need to know, he says. But we must be attentive, and inquire ‘Who am I?’ beyond the inherited and inferred ideas of ourselves. We need to become aware of our own existence and identify how we function, witness our motives and the outcomes of our actions.
The Building Blocks of Experience
Everything we experience is as a result of information we take in through our senses: visual (what you see), auditory (what you hear), kinaesthetic (touch, movement, feelings, sensations), olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste). In Neuro-linguistic Programming, these experiences are known as modalities and each has a level of fine-tuning known as submodalities. Because submodalities are the basic building blocks, or patterning, of our experiences, they are essential tools in understanding and managing our mind and your emotions. “Change the pattern,” Said Nisargadatta, “And you have changed the man.” These building blocks encode our memories. Nisargadatta taught that what we know shapes us and our perception of life, and this knowledge is based on memory and habit. Memory produces the illusion of continuity. Memory is the warp of mental life and identity is a pattern of events in apparent time and space. He asks “Without memory, what are you?”
The Three Gunas: The Forces of Personality
The three gunas are: Sattva (harmony and virtue), Rajas (energy and passion), Tamas (restraint and passivity). The gunas blend and produce the play of individuality – the temporary false self. They describe the basic forces of personality and our unique psychology. The guṇas underpin the philosophy of mind in yoga. Their activation and interaction also result in the creation of physical forms.
Rajas and tamas are the influences in the generation of the changing states of the mind. Without being attentive and earnest, the mind continues to repeat the same ingrained habitual patterns of personality. All three gunas are constantly present in us, and their influence and intensity fluctuate. Nisargadatta pointed out that it is in the nature of sattva to reconcile and neutralise tamas and rajas and recreate the personality in accordance with the true nature of the Self. When we identify ourselves with the gunas, we are their slave. But when we watch how they move in us, we become their master.
Meditative concentration stills the states of mind through keeping the mind fixed on the knowledge ‘I am’. Yoga can be viewed as the work of calming the influence of rajas and tamas, and allowing the full power of sattva to manifest. By concentration, the distracting influences of rajas and tamas gradually dissolve, and the sattva quality of mind can blossom into its full potential.
“With no disturbing influences, sattva is maximized, and the inherent lucidity of the mind can manifest. Tamas and rajas taint the mind, which is filtering consciousness, distracting it from its source… When these two guṇas are stilled, the mind’s natural lucidity of sattva allows it to peacefully and blissfully contemplate the distinction between the guṇas…”
– Edwin Bryant
According to Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, “A person is said to have transcended the guṇas who is situated in detachment and not disturbed by the guṇas; who stands firm and is not affected, thinking: “it is only the guṇas that are operating”; who is situated in the self… he transcends these guṇas and is qualified for absorption into Brahman [the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena]…” We are not the body’s senses or memories and we are not the mind’s psychological programming or fluctuating qualities. These are just some of the ways we express ourselves as the Absolute – the ultimate Self.
“…you feel separate from your true Self, and you are trying to become reunited; that is yoga.”
“The Supreme State is universal, here and now; everybody already shares in it… Who does not like to be, or does not know his own existence? But we take no advantage of this joy of being conscious, we do not go into it and purify it of all that is foreign to it. This work of mental self-purification, the cleansing of the psyche, is essential… [The] mistaken idea: ‘I am the body-mind’ causes the self-concern, which obscures… It is useless to fight the sense of being a limited and separate person unless the roots of it are laid bare… Clarification of the mind is Yoga.”
– Nisargadatta Maharaj
“I don’t ask anybody to follow any particular path. I just tell them to be what they are, in their natural, spontaneous state. Stabilize there, in the beingness.”
“Relinquish your habits and addictions, live a simple and sober life, don’t hurt a living being; this is the foundation of Yoga”
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisarga Yoga Means Natural Unity
Nisarga Yoga, which was first defined in the book ‘I Am That’, is a powerful exploration of one’s body and mind, and life as a whole. It’s the work of Consciousness (Being, I-Am-ness, presence) of identifying, embracing and releasing the limiting self-concepts we take ourselves to be in order to unveil the truth of what we are. We are always in perfect unity with our true Self, but due to the play of duality we feel separate and therefore suffer.
I offer a caring reflective setting for the clarification of the body-mind (often characterised and clouded by energies and stories of desire and fear) and the blossoming of Self-Awareness.
“Nondual healing is fundamentally a process of relaxation, opening and falling back into the essential layers of experience. As energetic blocks or contractions unwind and return to Source, the sky is cleared for a deeper relaxation of the whole system – mental, psychological and physical – into naturalness and health. The release of obstructions can liberate both past and future.”
– Johnson, Georgi Y. Johnson in Nondual Therapy: The Psychology of Awakening
“Inquiry is not a kind of analytic digging… [In contrast to] Western psychology, in which we might delve into further stories in order to understand what caused a current situation, the intention of inquiry is to awaken to our experience exactly as it is..”
– Tara Brach
Nisarga Yoga is the ultimate search within, and to delve into our immediate sense of Being in order to connect with its non-dual source is the heart of Maharaj’s approach. I do not, however, negate our miraculous humanness and the sometimes painful stories it ensues which I believe need and deserve understanding, compassion and attention. If we take time to look within and learn to trust and follow our knowledge and feeling ‘I Am’, we gradually unveil the natural unity (nonduality), security and fulfilment that we already are.
Desire and Fear – The Forces of Seeking and Suffering
Our habit of inattention and inadvertence causes us to lose sight of our underlying Beingness. Because of this distortion, we perceive a world divided into separate parts (duality), making us view ourselves as fundamentally isolated, incomplete, and insecure. Existence gets distorted by concepts and projections and from these springs the cycle of desire and fear: solitary confinement by way of an obscured lens. According to Nisargadatta Maharaj, desire (rajas) and fear (tamas) are the obscuring and distorting factors.
Raw data get filtered through your conceptual model of the world, a world that’s made of a bundle of ideas, desires, and fears. What you see around you reflects your self-conditioning, your repeated patterns of thoughts, feelings, memories, and habits.
Desire and fear flavour our entertainment, politics, and culture and the messages they broadcast. Just turn on the news at any time or choose a random movie. Desire is deeply rooted in us. It’s what makes us curious about discovery and hungry for fresh understanding. It’s what connects people and what helps us achieve the impossible. On the one hand, desire inspires in us our childlike wonder and our innocent playfulness, and on the other, it makes us childishly greedy and egotistical.
I think of desire as a magnetic pull which makes the body and mind feel restless, penetrating much of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. This infiltration fashions a profound sense of deficiency and expectancy in our identity as a separate self.
Desire is invariably both productive and destructive. Those of us whose lives have been touched and at times devastated by addiction—whether our own or someone else’s—know all too well the creative thinking that gets what’s needed to satisfy the craving, whether it’s a substance or a process addiction. What psychologically motivates us in an addictive state are narratives of desire (“I need a fix to feel complete”) and fear (“I can’t face not having a fix”). Desire leads to fear and fear leads to desire.
Desire has a very close working relationship with fear, although they don’t always get along. In a desiring state we yearn for experience, while in a fearful state, we resist experience. In this way, desire and fear are polar opposites of the same force: desire pulls, fear pushes. When you have a desire, you find a fear, and vice versa. Fear leads to desire and desire to fear. In overlooking our true Self, we rely on things and people to make us happy and secure, and we go to war with, resist, and avoid the things and people that make us unhappy and insecure.
As with desire, the target of fear is always in memory and anticipation, past and future. Fear emerges because we’re so powerfully led to believe we’re self-contained and different from others. Fear is associated with a state of alertness, for “fight, freeze, or flight” and neurochemicals released in a potentially dangerous situation. Such a disposition consequently drains much of our energy. We have fear that is not related to immediate or past threats of danger because we construct ourselves from impermanent sources and we imagine ourselves to be dualistically isolated.
Even babies, before they can talk or conceptualize, are fearful of loud noises and falling. Our psychosocial conditioning sometimes transfers this feeling of threat to other situations where we may not be physically endangered. However, our fears are often not in proportion to real danger, but a response to imagination gone wild, to ego insecurity. We pull people and possessions toward us to feel safe, but attachment and clinging only ever bring more instability.
Ego is preoccupied with desire and fear and fabricates a world of superior and inferior people; nothing frightens it more than emptiness and uncertainty. Ego’s biggest fear is the realisation of its illusory nature, a far worse death, it thinks, than the body dying. That is to say, believing in difference keeps it alive; its mission is to divide and conquer.
“You are not the sensual, emotional and intellectual person, gripped by desires and fears. Find out your real being. ‘What am l?’ is the fundamental question of all philosophy and psychology. Go into it deeply.”
“[The sense of a separate existence] is a reflection in a separate body of the one reality. In this reflection the unlimited and the limited are confused and taken to be the same. To undo this confusion is the purpose of Yoga.”
“Bring your self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your self.”
“To reach the deeper layers of suffering you must go to its roots and uncover their vast underground network, where fear and desire are closely interwoven and the currents of life’s energy oppose, obstruct and destroy each other. ”
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Seven Principles of Nisarga Yoga
These sessions provide a blend of facilitated inquiry, spiritual mentoring and coaching, nondual pointing, counseling, and guided meditation, based on the seven principles of Nisarga Yoga:
– Non-identification and right understanding
– Interest and earnestness
– Spontaneity and effortlessness
– Attentiveness to being
– Right action
– Going within to go beyond
– Awareness of Self
I believe you have the capacity to realise who you truly are beyond your current difficulties. This approach to nondual therapy and nondual coaching is a safe, supportive space to identify, explore and work through what seems to be holding you back from living the life that you are – your true Self.
I draw from a range of therapeutic approaches and offer bespoke sessions for each client meaning the work we do evolves accordingly with the unique experience of each person. I have 10 year’s experience working in the NHS (National Health Service).
– Level 4 Higher National Diploma in the Theory and Practice of Counselling
– Level 3 Certificate In Counselling Skills
– Foundation Course in Groupwork (Group Analysis / Group Analytic Psychotherapy)
– Results Life Coach
– Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
– Neurological Re-patterning
– Ericksonian Hypnosis
– Individual Member of British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
– I’m also a member of the spirituality and private practice divisions of BACP