As I was walking today along a favourite track above the river, I felt very aware of the kinship of other beings – the magnificent old trees, sheep soaked by the rain, grasses blowing in the wind. How easily I can believe that I am alone when I don’t notice all these other beings who are here with us humans.
In a world where we are brought up with the importance of looking cool and keeping it all together as indications of success, it can be difficult for us to acknowledge and allow our vulnerability. When we have been deeply hurt in the past, we may have made a decision not to let that happen again and hardened against the soft and vulnerable places inside. And yet, vulnerability is an essential part of intimacy, and allowing ourselves to touch and be touched by another. Otherwise, it can feel like two images meeting each other, while the unmet needs to connect and share more deeply go unrecognised.
In my own experience, I find it takes a lot of kindness and compassion towards the defensive structures in myself to allow them to soften and open. Any sense of forcing or demanding actually reinforces the defences as they feel threatened. We put these defences in place for good reason as part of our survival structure in life, and we need to approach them with gentleness and respect. Our sense of self can be defined by these structures, and it can feel disorienting to let them dissolve. At the same time, this dissolving can bring much more openness and receptivity to ourselves, others and the whole experience of being alive in a human body.
After experiencing a deeper vulnerability in myself this morning and allowing that to be seen by a friend, I noticed such a freshness and aliveness in all my senses when we went out for a walk together. It was as though the trees, the grasses, the river were all singing to me in their vibrancy of colour and shape. This feels like returning to a natural connectedness and welcoming of the life in me and all around me.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense. – Rumi
When we are facing a choice or decision in our lives, we often ask ourselves “What is the right thing to do?” This, of course, seems like a valid question. However, what I have noticed, is that this question can often cause a lot of mental turmoil, and going backwards and forwards between different options, outcomes etc. It can also be interesting to consider who or what is defining the “right thing”. It is an external authority? Is it the voice of our parents? Is it an internalised judge? Who is defining “right” and “wrong”?
So how do we find our way through this potential confusion? It can be really helpful to take time to sit quietly and simply be aware of how we are feeling in our bodies and emotions – to literally give ourselves some breathing space. From this quieter place, we can place a question in our hearts “What is it that I really want?” or “What would be of most benefit at this time” “What is life asking of me?” It can be like the experience of dropping the question into a still pond and seeing what comes to the surface of the water. If we can allow ourselves to be open and curious. we may be surprised by what we hear or we may receive confirmation of what we already intuitively know.
This is really a practice of allowing and trusting the deeper intelligence that lives within all of us when we take the time to give it our attention