Saturday, March 26, 2016

Midwives of integration

At times, you may find yourself with a friend who is upset, falling apart, confused, hopeless, sad, and afraid. Nothing is making sense anymore, they are overwhelmed, and the emotions are unrelenting.

You are unsure how to help.

While their pain may trigger you, and bring alive an avalanche of urgent, anxious, fixing energy – activating the shadows of your own unlived life… a doorway has appeared.

Slow way down. Ground awareness in your body and listen. Not just to the words they are saying, but to the secret request that is emerging out of their heart. Perhaps they are not asking for you to fix, cure, or even ‘heal’ them. For they are not broken.

Join together with them, get on their side, as you proclaim together that pain is not pathology. That sadness, grief, anxiety, depression, fear, and confusion are utterly valid and not evidence that they have failed and are unworthy of love.

This may not be the moment for you to give them an answer, but rather to hold them as you confront the vastness of the question together.

While you may be burning with the need to talk them out of their experience – overflowing with solutions, techniques, and processes – return into spaciousness. Infuse the environment with pause, rest, and resonance. With the slow circuits of empathy and presence, walk together into the aliveness of now.

Give them the gift of a regulated, calm, soothing nervous system. Provide a permission field where they can come to be, exactly as they are, without needing to be something different in order for you to stay close. Together, you will be midwives of integration, a holding space for the unfolding of what is longing to be met within them.

Never, ever underestimate the power of love. Even one moment of empathic, attuned, contact can change a person forever. Please don’t forget that for many, they have never actually known this – or have had it in only very small amounts. For it is rare in this sweet, tender, fragile, weary star in which we find ourselves.

As you wander on this new day, look at those you meet, into their eyes so that they feel seen. Receive them not as just another object in your awareness, as someone who may be able to meet one of your needs, but as a raging subject in their own right. Just like you, longing for love, intimacy, aliveness, and connection, and making meaning of a world that is often gone mad.

Listen to what they have to say and hold their experience with your presence, ensuring that they feel felt. Offer a home for their pain, their confusion, their fragility, their joy, and their fear… validate their feelings as you simultaneously invite them into their true nature, as that of love itself. They are not broken and have never been unhealed.

You have tremendous power to help another to see this, and to re-author the story of their lives. To dissolve the trance of unworthiness, and to return home. Please do whatever you can. And please never, ever give up on love. It will never, ever give up on you.

Photo credit: Friends comfort each other outside the residence of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, shortly after his death. Photo c/o Thomson Reuters.