The dance of Being

When we have painful experiences as children without the support and care from loving adults to preserve and restore our sense of innocence and wholeness, we can easily begin to believe there is something wrong with who we are.  This can result in a rejection of ourselves as an attempt to get rid of the perceived wrongness or badness.  We then look outside ourselves to find out how we need to be in order to be loved, and how to create a socially-acceptable self.  As children we are so sensitive all the minute clues and signals we pick up from those around us, and we use those to decide how we should be.  In this way we create what can be called a “false self”, in that it is a self constructed by external definitions rather than a natural expression of who we are.  This can serve us very well for a time until we begin to feel internal rumblings of unease and discontent that remind us how we have disconnected from ourselves.

Initially, it may be hard to pay attention to  what is stirring within us, because we have put in place defences to maintain the sense of self that we have established over years of living.  We may notice that we are feeling irritable or frustrated, resigned or depressed.  The process of opening up to what is stirring within us can be a delicate one, because the defences are very linked to our very  sense of survival and have served an important purpose.  It requires sensitivity and patience to begin to dismantle internal structures that no longer serve our best interest.    What has defined our sense of self can begin to feel as though it now confines a new expression of life through us.

To support this emerging self, it is very helpful to connect with a sense of a greater Presence which we could say is our essential Being that has been there from the moment we were born.  It is like the stillness at the depth of the ocean which remains even while there are crashing waves on the surface.  This is a place where we can rest and take refuge from all the changing tides of life that we experience.  When we feel shaken up and disoriented by the process of letting go of old ways of thinking, feeling and acting, we can touch back into this place of timeless Presence and find a spaciousness that can hold whatever we are experiencing.  This takes practice and there may be times when we feel completely lost or caught up in the challenges of our life and our habitual ways of addressing them.  And yet, when we are able to remember and return to the ground of Presence within us, we can begin to develop confidence in our capacity to meet life in a new and fresh way.

It is like an eternal dance between our invisible and infinitely mysterious Being, and our unique and quirky human expression of life.


Being patient with ourselves

Sometimes waiting for ourselves can be a great act of kindness when we live in a culture where so much premium is placed on speed.  It seems that our internal processes and unfoldings cannot be rushed and any attempt to hurry ourselves up can be counter-productive as it activates the defences that are shielding our deeper vulnerabilities and fears.  It is as though we need the same attitude of someone sitting at the edge of a woodland, patiently waiting for a shy creature to reveal herself.  We need to be quiet and receptive, with a warm invitation in our hearts.


Kinship with all beings

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.


Allowing vulnerability

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.

open to vulnerability









Beyond right and wrong doing

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