Information About Jerry DonoghuePlease allow me to introduce myself...
A Personal Introduction
Hello, and thanks for checking out the Inner Presence program. I’m an Inner Presence coach who helps people deeply connect with their inner experience in ways that support wholeness and clarity.
It is hard to live in western culture and not feel a sense of disconnection from ourselves and others. We are heavily conditioned with our language habits and a materialistic subject/object orientation that keep us disconnected.
Consequently, many of us sense a general lack of connection, on a deep unspoken level, or feel as though something is wrong or missing in our lives. Many of us turn to enlightenment studies and hold intentions to transcend this world.
Some approach transcendence by renouncing the world or daily life as illusion, ‘maya’ or a dream. It is possible to then adopt an uncaring attitude in which one devalues daily life. An ideal transcendent state is imagined to be something one can attain that is different or separate from daily life. This state is often glorified with projections of perfection.
On the other hand, some of us use enlightenment studies to make our conditioning more pleasing or tolerable. We attempt to soothe ourselves and reduce the stress of our fast-paced conditioned daily lives, without questioning or seeing through the very inner and outer structures that give rise to such conditioning. This severely limits the potential benefit of enlightenment studies.
I have found it useful to approach enlightenment studies from a perspective of treating daily life as your meditation retreat. On retreats, we typically calm down, gain perspective, and connect with what is arising and then go back into our lives. In the same way, we can learn to create a permanent meditation retreat from conscious and unconscious identifications with our daily life conditioning. This provides the conditions for spaciousness and effortless transformations.
Since we don’t have to look for some ideal transcendent state, we can transcend our daily life and still live in our daily life, be in our bodies, and experience a deeper sense of connection, non-separation, and oneness. In this course, I invite you to experience just that.
Why I Created the Inner Presence Inquiry Work
As I progressed in the study of nondual enlightenment, it became clear that seeing through or actively deconstructing certain beliefs, especially about the self, was the essence of liberation and fulfillment. One burning question arose from my psychological studies:
How can we deconstruct or see as illusory the sense of self, if it is mostly abiding in the subconscious?
This was a very practical question that wasn’t answered by the Eastern approaches I studied, except maybe the Tibetan dark retreats. Yes, things bubble up in meditation over time, but often the major self constructs that have dramatically impacted one’s life are hidden deep in the limbic system of the brain. I learned that these could only be accessed and changed in very precise ways. To answer the above question, it became evident that I had to figure out a way to use psychological and personal growth information, in conjunction with nondual enlightenment studies. This led to two more questions:
How can I use depth psychology in a nondual enlightenment framework without detracting from the nondual enlightenment framework?
If I use the nondual enlightenment framework as the overarching context of the inquiry work, how can I integrate depth psychology work without diminishing psychology’s effectiveness?
Deeply exploring this question led to the development of inquiry practices for myself and clients. These practices acknowledge and precisely access the subconscious constructs that comprise our self-sense. We all hold constructs such as these, that limit the way we experience life.
Personal Qualities That Have Influenced The Inner Presence Coaching
Below, I’d like to share the specific qualities and gifts that I consider a part of my true nature, qualities that have influenced the creation of this powerful inquiry system.
I have an intensely nurturing nature. Some of my nurturance of others comes from my longing for nurturance in my own life, some of it is just my nature. One way or another, I have always found myself in a context of supporting or nurturing others. This nurturance is reflected by the protocols I have created for the facilitators.
I have an emotionally sensitive side that was hardened off and hidden for many years, but has found expression in the form of empathy and compassion for self/other, and has shaped the Inner Presence work.
Another quality I exemplify is appreciating depth, always wanting to swim in the deep end of the pool. Besides it being interesting, I have noticed that there has been a strong correlation between the level of depth of inner exploration and the magnitude of impact of transformation. Why spend years with surface level changes (in the kiddy pool?), when an intention to focus on depth can yield life-changing transformations that take a fraction of the time?
The efficacy of the depth inquiry is relative to the efficiency in plumbing those depths. It is one thing to want to go deep, and quite another to efficiently negotiate the gauntlet of self protection mechanisms. Efficiency is one of those qualities or traits that gets expressed in all areas of my life. I’m not sure why, but my bodymind system loves efficiency. So, the Inner Presence work was naturally designed to efficiently go deep while maintaining safety.
Personal Talents and Skills
I have a pragmatic deductive side that seeks knowledge and understanding for functional reasons. This part of me keenly penetrates useful high-level abstractions and distills them into down-to-earth understandings to benefit others’ quality of life.
Related to the intellectual side, is the passion for systems thinking. I learned that static concepts, devoid of relationships, are limiting in many ways. I believe it is more useful to see the internal world as an alive system of interrelated parts, as opposed to some mechanistic, static view. This systems thinking is very much inherent in the Inner Presence work.
I have a strong talent for creating safety when doing psychospiritual work. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people about how safe they felt when doing group work with me. This allows them to connect with themselves deeply. I have experienced support that was subtly invasive, or authoritarian that didn’t feel helpful. I also experienced helping professionals projected their shadows onto me when receiving their support. As a result, I questioned everything about support and vowed to figure out how to device a different kind of coaching support that inherently protects clients. The refined structure and protocols of an Inner Presence session work is product of such exploration.
What I bring to the Inner Presence Inquiry project is my background as owner of a training and development company that created many highly acclaimed training programs.
I combined my 16 years of experience in developing highly successful training programs with my passion for integrating Eastern nondual enlightenment studies and Western depth psychology, both of which, I’ve been studying since I was a teen. This was no small task.
Many big questions had to be considered: What is enlightenment? What is transformation? I spent thousands of hours sifting through the different enlightenment and depth psychology approaches to distill their essence and offer it to others in an understandable way. The resulting Inner Presence Coaching has been twelve years in the making, and has involved lots of empirical research, lots of trial and error when running groups, doing private session work, and supporting myself; all to figure out not only what works, but what works efficiently.
Nonduality and Enlightenment Studies
Although I don’t associate myself with any particular nondual or spiritual lineage, I enjoy learning from them all. Even though I honor the rituals and dogmatic approaches of these various Eastern approaches that arise out of their respective cultures, I’m not inspired by such rituals or dogma. It is more authentic for me to extract the essence of what they offer and bring this into my Western cultural upbringing while being careful not to diminish or contort their offerings.
I’m inspired by the Buddhist viewpoint, primarily having familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism. I took a deep interest in studying the nondual emptiness training of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism. Emptiness studies have supported me in seeing the insubstantiality of the collection of memories that coalesce to form the assumed self we unconsciously refer to in daily life.
Also, emptiness studies have supported me to creatively synthesize nondual and psychological models as I held them as ultimately being empty. This allowed me to work with these frameworks without the burden of trying to assess “how things really are”. In in order words, trying to make absolute truth out of something relative. This led to a focus on the utility of such nondual or psychological tools, rather than being subtly snagged by believing they inherently exist. This gave me the flexibility and agile mindedness to create an inquiry system based on utility.
I also appreciate and have studied the unconditional allowance and complete fulfillment of Dzogchen. This provided a radical departure from my Western orientation of wanting to resolve, solve, heal or fix something. The “Hitting the essence in three words” instructions (View, Meditation, and Action) have proved to be a profound template for instruction and training.
I’ve also enjoyed studying the Hindu nondual awareness practices of Avaita Vedanta over the years. I appreciate they’re approach of developing self-knowledge and knowing yourself as Atman (soul, true self) as a way to experience liberation.
Psychological Personal Growth Studies
I’ve had a life-long interest in psychology. Upon completing my psychological studies in college, I walked away from getting a degree in Psychology. I had become disenchanted at the prospect of helping people with what I had learned. In my early twenties, I began to study nonduality, but at that time, couldn’t reconcile the two approaches. However, I never gave up researching psychological models and different schools of psychology.
After ending a career in training and development, I became interested in experiential group process work. Initially, it was to support myself during a difficult time in my life, in which I experienced a lot of loss. I participated in groups, and subsequently helped facilitate. The group process work inspired me in many ways, and I learned a lot about what is effective, and what is not.
I also had many experiences of going out in nature for an extended period of time, with no food or shelter. Talk about “wherever you go, there you are”. I found myself attuning to the rhythms of nature and merging with her. When I left all of the modern life props behind (phone, watch, etc.) and melted into nature, deep things inside started to emerge. Immersion in nature (the wilder the better) is a great inspiration for disclosing things that would not otherwise come out.
Subsequently, I enjoyed exploring and training myself in Shadow Work, Psychological parts work, and Constructivist Psychology. I have also been teaching Compassionate (Nonviolent) Communication since 2004, and have deeply studied the way we talk to ourselves and one other. I have studied how language creates our experience, and how the way we talk to ourselves is a reliable pathway to access deeply held constructs.
After years of researching many of the various approaches, and experiencing first-hand what was useful and not so useful, I concluded that the most effective depth psychology approaches are nonpathologizing, experiential in nature, non prescriptive, work with people in the present, and allow people to define what is useful for themselves. This is very much reflected in the design of the Inner Presence Inquiry work.
Photography: I do a fair amount of hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Being in nature is a life-long passion of mine. These mountains are the oldest mountains in the world with an unbelievable amount of bio diversity. I enjoy photographing the beauty of the mountains and streams. I have a website displaying my photographs if you’re interested.
Permaculture Gardening: My latest interest is in developing a 1.2 acre homestead that sits between the confluence of two creeks. I’ve developed about 4000 square ft of no till garden beds to grow our own food. I find getting my hands dirty in the garden and attuning to the ecological systems and changes that happen every day, supports me on many levels. The physicality of gardening is a rejuvenating antidote to spending so much time in the inner worlds or writing. Very grounding. Not to mention the delight in growing and eating my own organic fruits and veggies!
Hand Drumming: In the warm weather months, you’ll see me downtown Asheville, NC in the middle of the drum circle in Pritchard Park playing a drum. My drumming buddies and I started the drum circle in this urban park about 14 years ago. It’s a great community event. I also play a little keyboard and it has been a passion of mine to compose music.
Transformational Coach, Writer, Thought Leader, Researcher, Father, Business Owner, Photographer, Musician, Gardener
“I highly recommend Jerry as one of a select group of trainer-facilitators who explicitly extend awareness-based teachings into the area of psychology. Jerry’s highly innovative work fuses nondual awareness with extremely pragmatic approaches for achieving inner harmony. He shows us in a totally practical and deeply experiential way, how to fully enter, embrace and be present to the disowned, painful and rejected part of ourselves. This gentle inner work lets us discover the buddha-heart that lies at the core of our being. We discover a space of self love that is so unconditional that it automatically repairs and heals our relationship to other and the world.” Peter Fenner Ph.D Author, “Radiant Mind: Awakening Unconditioned Awareness“