Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poured into the unknown forever...

Winnicott’s notion of the holding environment is such a precious metaphor for how we can make contact with and warmly touch our own and another person’s experience. We can allow ourselves to care so deeply about subjective experience, to resist the temptation to stand back as the “witness” or to otherwise “transcend it,” to dismiss it as “just your story” and all of the rest of the ways we have found to avoid the raging fires of intimacy. It’s a risk to go into our embodied experience – and the embodied experience of another – in this way, we know this; but we just care too much. We want to know how the other is making sense of their experience, how they are organizing their lives, what meaning they are making about what happens to them, about the images, ideas, hopes, dreams, and fears which move them.

In my experience, open awareness itself is the ultimate holding environment – a  naturally perfect field out of which pour the luminous qualities of both contact and space. Whatever arises in immediate embodied experience is of the same nature as awareness itself, that same substance, made of those same particles of awareness. How could there be a contact more intimate than this? Whatever arises is simultaneously met as awareness itself, is that alive infinite space in which experience appears, dwells for a short time, and then dissolves back into that infinity. In this space, whatever arises – no matter how disturbing, confusing, terrifying, or joyous – it is self-liberated into these particles of awareness. We come to see that these particles, of course, are none other than love itself, appearing as these light-shards of awareness.

Relatively speaking, I have always found mother ocean herself to be a raging holding environment, displaying these same qualities of contact and space, embracing this body, these senses, this psyche, and this heart in a way that is unbearably intimate, excruciatingly kind, and beyond this world. In her presence, the nervous system is so naturally down-regulated, her arms are so wide open, touching my heart so tenderly, bringing it to the outside of my skin. It is so unprotected to give my body to her in this way, for I know that she will accept it as she always does, wash it out, polish it with her grace, and return it to me anew. Cleaned out by love, recycled by that kind of sweetness. And then poured into the unknown forever.