Friday, December 18, 2015

Safe passage for the unwanted

At times, the kindest thing we can offer a friend in pain is to sit in the chaos and the confusion with them, removing the burden that they change, feel better, or heal in order for us to stay close. It may feel like immediate action is being called for and that we must urgently shift their depression to joy, their sadness to bliss, or their hopelessness to hope. But in doing so, we may invalidate the aliveness and the intelligent unfolding of their experience, exactly as it is.

It requires a profound degree of courage and trust to no longer pathologize the surging activity of the somatic world, and to vanquish the trance that disturbing emotion is that evidence something is wrong which must be corrected or ‘cured’ by psychological or spiritual process.

During these times, our friends need us more than ever, to remind them that they are not broken, that their experience is valid, and that we do not need them to ‘get over it,’ ‘raise their vibration,’ focus only on the ‘positive,’ or experience something different than they are. We can release them from the burden to confirm our personal and collective fantasies of happiness and light.

As we are willing to provide a home for our unmet sadness, disappointment, and despair, we withdraw the projection of our unlived lives from those around us. As we are able to provide safe passage for the unwanted, it is to this degree that we can rest as a field of loving presence for another.

Photo by James Estrin/ New York Times