Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Transparent to the play of love...


Is it a problem that sadness is there, that we are feeling intense fear or anxiety in the face of an argument with our partner, or if we are feeling anger, confusion, loneliness, or depression? Do we need to take immediate action? Have we checked to see if there is actually a problem that we need to fix? What would our lives be like if we were unconditionally committed to the truth of our immediate experience, whatever it is; if in the face of such challenges we become increasingly embodied, present, and most of all curious? How committed are we, actually, to remaining embodied in the face of our lived experience, trusting that whatever appears is a doorway into love's mysteries?

The habit of course, in response to unwanted feelings, emotions, fear, uncertainty, panic, and so forth, is to quickly become convinced that our very survival is at risk, that the very integrity of our being is compromised at the most fundamental levels. There is a place deep within us that feels quite sure that if we allow in our immediate experience that we may in fact not make it, that we might actually completely break down and fall apart, in a way that might be irreparable and permanent. And then what would happen? What about our jobs? The kids? The mortgage? Our spouses? Our physical health? Our friends? The bills? Our sanity?

Those of you familiar with research in attachment theory know that when we were infants there were times when life was so overwhelming that we were unable to organize and digest our experience. In order to survive – psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, or even physically – we had to make a critical choice: to unplug, to move away, and to avoid our present experience; or, to panic, following the frenetic energy in the hope we can find a solution, get our needs met, and return to security and safe ground. Adult attachment researchers call these two primary responses deactivation and hyperactivation. We can all observe these movements in our own experience. As little ones, these strategies very often saved our lives. But, as adults, might there another way? 

Well, yes, the way of love. 
 
Here, love is that energy of willingness to turn toward whatever is arising in our experience, to not dissociate from it (including through our “spirituality”), and to care about ourselves so deeply that we allow ourselves to fall apart, to stop for a moment avoiding the reality of groundlessness and uncertainty, and to be willing to be burned up in love’s purifying flames. We enter this fire not because it feels good or so that the intensity will disappear. Rather, we do so because love wants to know itself through us, in all ways – through our bodies, our feelings, our emotions, our sensations. In this fearless courage to be fully who and what we are, we are given the opportunity over and over to behold the dance of love in our lives. 

And then when we sit with a loved one, a child, a colleague, a client, a stranger, a dear friend who is facing difficulty and challenge, we are able to naturally create a healing space together, like an attuned mother expanding to contain the emotion and pain of her little baby. In this space, our friend is given permission to meet whatever experience that is arising for her, to spin if needed into the groundless, uncertain dimension of being, knowing that you will be there for her if she needs you, to help her to metabolize the confusion and intensity. It is never easy to watch our loved ones suffer, but what they need more than anything from us is validation, attunement, and our presence, knowing that who they are and what they are experiencing is valid and true for them, is an integral part of who they are, and they need not change, fix themselves, be different, or be “more spiritual” in order for us to love them. 

When we commit ourselves fully to our immediate embodied experience, whatever it is, a portal opens to connect our hearts with the infinite, and we yet again become transparent to the play of love in this world, in all of its qualities and ways of expression. And then whatever Life sends to us – whatever sweet or fierce grace comes our way – we somehow remain committed to staying close to our experience, allowing everyone and everything to deeply matter, and to be willing to have this precious human heart be broken open forever.



2 comments:

  1. Its a valid theory but when groundlessness occurs love may not necessarily be present, instead fear and anxiety can overwhelm everything. I've found over the past year that I have opened up to feeling uncomfortable feelings and somehow come through because I've had no other choice to face them and survive. It hasnt made me love deeper as yet, but just to think that life is sometimes harder than we ever imagined. It's certainly taught me to pray though.

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  2. Thank you, BM, I think you raise a really important point here... the way the word "love" is usually used in these sorts of contexts is as a feeling or emotional-state, with of course all of the conditioning that is wrapped around what that means, feeling a certain sweetness, etc. In my experience, what you are sharing here is very true; in the wake of encountering that groundless nature of reality, fear and anxiety can overwhelm everything; I think this is very accurate. When I use the word "love," I am not referring to a feeling, but rather to the capacity of each human being to meet whatever arises (including themselves) in a holding environment of space, of kindness, of warmth, of real genuine human contact. The qualities inherent in this space are a certain kind of allowing, an often unbearable caring to allow everything to matter, and always entailing a tremendous risk, the risk of heartbreak in its many faces and expressions. Your comment that facing what is there has not led you to love deeper is a very very important one, in this context. Thank you again... love, matt

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