When we’re sitting with someone who is struggling, confused, or in emotional pain, it is important that we listen carefully to what they say. But at times even more important than the words they use is what they are feeling, sensing, or thinking, but not able to access consciously. That which we cannot access we cannot articulate, and that which we cannot articulate we cannot make sense of.
One of the real gifts of our presence – that capacity to attune to the moment-to-moment unfolding of another’s subjectivity – is to help them access emotions, sensations, and aspects of themselves that have either fallen outside conscious awareness or never had a chance to come into it in the first place.
If a certain emotion, way of being, or way of perceiving was not made room for in our families of origin or in our cultures and societies – especially as our brains and nervous systems were developing – it becomes lost in a faraway space; in a liminal, in-between realm that we cannot quite reach.
By providing a home where none was originally available, by making room for breath where no breath was once allowed, with the other we step into a sanctuary where it is safe to feel again. Somehow, together, we craft a new dwelling in which we can remember that innate brilliance that is our true nature.
The verbal dimension of our exchange with another is important. At times the nonverbal is even more alive, more relevant, and more meaningful. To provide an environment where the lost pieces of the soul, the forgotten aspects of the heart, and the unremembered dimensions of the psyche can return home… it is a gift of compassion and mercy that we can impart to one another and to life everywhere.
To weave this sort of temple together, to tend to and care for this alive inner sanctuary where wholeness can be embodied and reimagined, where we can touch the mystery and realize there is no end to its depth.
My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available
My next event is a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO.