Monday, May 29, 2017

The magic of attunement

On a flight from Denver to Oahu, I sat next to a lovely couple who must have been in their early to mid-70s. I was struck by how attuned they were to one another - the slightest cue from one was received by the other and responded to. I could literally feel in my body each time they experienced this linkage, right-brain to right-brain holding in all its purity. At other times, they would return into their own individuality, weaving together and dancing in the middle, totally connected and totally separate simultaneously. It was like magic.

As soon as I thought they had lost contact, they would meet one other's glance spontaneously, as if to behold together the unspoken holiness of the relational field itself. No words needed. It was as if I could feel their mirror neurons coming online together, empathically in resonance, attuned to one another's arising emotional subjectivity. They were alive to what was needed in a given moment, but not more. Intimacy without fusion. Communion without impingement. All in a perfect flow of mutual co-regulation.

For some reason their dance, their play, their love... it really touched me, so much that I found myself weeping a bit. I didn't want to cause a scene or make them uncomfortable so kept to myself as much as I could. I know, those that know me, it's not like me to "not make a scene" or refrain from "making others uncomfortable." I really was trying to behave, though; it was only 45 minutes into a long flight after all.

After a bit more time passed, they pulled out their video player and were going to watch a movie together. I was curious how they would be able to remain connected and do this as there was only one headphone jack on their iPad. Would they alternate? Knowing them (as I had for about an hour now), I was sure one would just sacrifice the sound for the other, and they'd switch periodically, trusting they would be able to dialogue about the film after it was over, catching each other up to what parts each of them missed.

Before I realized exactly what was going on, the gentleman pulled out a Y-shaped thingy which allowed them to both plug their headphones in at once. I lost it. It was so perfect, and so them. Just more attunement and connection, this time taking shape as some weird looking modern electronic device. The tears flowed even more in reveling at their sweet connection.

They finally glanced over at me, my intention to not create a scene lost to the crushing power of love that flows between two people. They both smiled and the man patted me on the shoulder, his eyes near bursting into tears himself. We stepped into some sort of crucible outside time and space where the veil parted and only love remained.
I was so grateful that they allowed me into their sacred world for a moment, and into the mystery of lover and beloved as it unfolds here, into eternity.

Postscript: just before landing, I shared this post with them. The three of us just sort of silently wept together, holding hands... as we descended into Waikiki... three new friends, held by the beloved and her mysterious ways, and the sweetness of a Hawaiian sunset. There is truly never any such thing as an "incomplete" moment.

I feel quite confident I could die now. To know even one sliver of this love... I've been given so much more than enough.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Saturday, May 27, 2017

If a child were to appear at your door

If a child were to appear at your door: cold, scared, and tired from a long journey…

If he or she were anxious, in despair, full of rage, or confused…

Would you refuse entry to the little one? Would you tell him to come back once he dissolved his fear, replaced his anger with gratitude, and clarified his confusion? When she healed her anxiety, mended her broken heart, and transformed her deep feeling of unworthiness?

Would you require these things before you allowed the little one in, held him, and provided shelter for her raw vulnerability to rest from an ancient voyage of becoming?

In your most authoritative spiritual voice, would you urge the little one to "get over it,” scramble to accept everything the way it is, return immediately to the present moment, urgently forgive those who have harmed him, quickly rid herself of her “ego,” or manifest a “higher vibration?”

Or would you offer sanctuary and safe passage from a long passage? A warm home in which the stories, the emotions, and somatic trauma of the little one can be illuminated, contained, and held in a tender womb of care and loving kindness? A place of respite for the little one to find some new meaning in a world that has forgotten and let them down.

As you provide a temple of refuge for the tired children of the heart to dwell, the gates to the mandala open and you will see just how relentless love is. It will never stop sending its emissaries here to find you, as the ultimate act of mercy and grace, to remind you of your innocence and your vast, majestic wholeness.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Thursday, May 25, 2017

To have a need

Many I speak with have come to the conclusion that it is not okay for them to have a need. Or that it is certainly not very “spiritual.” As little ones in our families of origin, expressing a need wasn’t always very safe and often met with dysregulating empathic failure. We learned that having a need was the fast path to hopelessness, disappointment, and shame, watching as attunement, contact, and affection was removed from the field around us.

Because it was too anxiety-provoking to allow for the reality of any sort of limitation in our caregivers, we defaulted to the conclusion that there must something wrong with us and that we are not worthy of having a need. While that realization was painful, we could temporarily rest knowing that someone was there to protect us … all the while shifting the blame to ourselves, laying the foundation for the deep shame that so many experience later on, especially in intimate relationship.

As adults, often this core belief gets validated by teachings which confirm that having a need is a sign of lack of progress on the path, evidence of not enough faith or trust, too much attachment, failure to “stay in the now,” to understand the teachings on “no-self,” or that we are lost in the “ego.” The shame and blame continue, but with flowery spiritual language replacing the voices of the original bad other.

Let us stand on the rooftop and shout out together, with the sun, the moon, and the stars as our witnesses: There is nothing wrong with having a need. It’s so human, to have some yearning in the heart, some longing for connection, to be met in presence, to be seen, to be heard, to be touched, to be held. We are relational mammals. We will not be overriding millions of years of evolution anytime soon, in the wake of learning some new teachings.

While having a need is perfectly natural, the reality is that it is unlikely your needs are ever going to be fully met, especially by another. With your heart open, make requests to your lovers, your friends, and your family. Know that they will sometimes be able to meet you, to see you as you are, and provide what you are asking for. When they do, you can rejoice and give thanks. And when they do not, you can likewise rejoice and give thanks, for the opportunity to tend to yourself in a radically new way.

At times we will feel complete, resting in the wholeness that we are, and not in contact with any particular need or desire. At other times we will be drawn to assert a need, to ask for help, to enact a firm boundary, to honor a longing in the body or heart, to state very clearly what we want. We can stay committed to both of these experiences as perfectly valid and authentic expressions of our true nature, willing to be utterly chaotically gloriously human, without apology.

Please continue to make requests of your lovers and friends, in all of their forms, while simultaneously remaining committed to the empowered, alive realm of self-care, no longer willing to abandon yourself, even if you are abandoned by another. To dare to be your own best friend, to attend to your body and your heart and your soul in wild and wise ways, even when the other is nowhere to be found.

And when some of your needs do go unmet, as they inevitably will, to no longer be seduced by the ancient conclusion of the little one who deemed herself unworthy as she longed to make sense of an environment that could not hold her as the mystery that she was. Instead, to slow down, breathe into your lower belly, open your senses, and step into the sacred world which is here now. To honor the power and holiness of the relational field, which is not oriented around meeting all your needs, but revealing how whole you already are.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now 

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June