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Monday, 17 September 2018

Presence is greater than words

Presence is greater than words

Like most people in today’s human focused world, my thoughts are often running around like a little rodent in an exercise wheel. I think I’m going somewhere fast but in fact, I’m just going around in circles. It’s the same old ego doing the same old ego tasks, keeping the status quo safe and making sure that changes are kept to a minimum. That’s the ego’s job; it’s what it was created for. It is the guard at the door that checks every new thought that tries to come in. Most new thoughts are turned away, only a few are let in, after much scrutiny. That is why humans are in so much turmoil in these times. We know we are committing species suicide that we just can’t stop ourselves. Our survival strategies that served us well for thousands of years are now obsolete and life is demanding that we change. But it’s hard. Not impossible but almost.

During one journey with Ayahuasca in Peru, I saw a great black form which I couldn’t make out at first. I could see carvings in the form, strange Aztec like designs glittering in the back light that is common with Aya’s visions. Then I noticed that it was carved from black obsidian, shiny and was embedded in the jungle. Vines and plants grew all around it. At first I thought it was just a statue, but it transformed as I looked at it. It had face, a man’s face and his eyes were shiny and sentient. I realised with a shock that this wasn’t a statue but a living organism. I stepped back from the vision and asked Aya who this was and she replied that he was a great healer.

“How can he heal when he can’t speak or move? He is made from stone.”

She replied “Presence is greater than words.”

With those words, the vision disappeared. I wrote the vision down and drew the black stone man I had seen. After the journey, I asked the Shaman if she knew who this could be. She replied that her own teacher spoke of a stone man whom he worked with. I wondered about this for a time, then like so many of Aya’s visions, I had to put the wisdom aside until I could make sense of it.
Going forward several years, the vision stayed with me, informed my practice at some level, guided my thoughts, walking thru nature, gazing up into the branches of the vine maples and Garry oak trees back home, teachers of another kind. How did they participate in the world when they were rooted into the earth? They could only move by extremely slowly by my standards. Yet they are powerful participants in the greater soul of the world. They are silent healers, cleaners of air, producers of food, perhaps they are also sending out signals of distress which so many sensitive people feel today. They are the plant sentinels at the threshold of life and death; they protect all beings who carry DNA within their consciousness.

I began to realize that the most healing aspect of my work is to simply sit with people, ask them to close their eyes to begin to make friends with themselves, with the way their consciousness is embedded in their bodies. To mirror their struggles and to notice and then reflect back questions or observations. To speak the un speakable. Sometimes with words, other times with simply…presence. And to hold for them the vision of interconnectiveness. Everything is significant in this understanding, and by nourishing the higher aspects of ourselves, we lose ourselves and find ourselves again in a larger, more mysterious and wonderful gnosis.

Then a family member came back into my life, someone I’d had a lot of conflict with in the past, but someone I loved very much and wanted to continue being close to. I realized that when we engaged in talk, especially about the past, we tried to re-interpret the past for each other. We became trapped in in sticky arguments from which there was no escape. A downward spiral into frustration, anger and lack of understanding. But when I just sat with him, we often smoked some tobacco together and drank coffee, these were times I would simply cultivate a loving presence. Not try to convince him about anything. Just be there in an interested and compassionate presence, then gradually our relationship started to untangle, to become simpler. His defenses came down to reveal a vulnerable young man whom I had never really seen before.

I sometimes joke that the best thing I do with people is to sit and breathe with them. Of course I’m doing much more, I’m turning up to hear their fables of tragedy, of pathos and heroism and of triumph. I’m modeling how they can turn up for themselves, open, curious, alert and accepting. I’m sometimes checking out their bodies to see if I can ‘see’ some energetic dysfunctions or illnesses. 

Or I stare out the window and notice what the environment is telling me in that moment, that moment when they are struggling for words, or lost in confusion. Once a feather suddenly flew by as a young woman spoke about an abusive relationship she was trying to free herself of. This sent me the message that she was like a feather in the wind, and needed to ground herself more firmly into the earth, to develop a sense of life purpose, of significance in the world. I asked the question which anxiety and depression ask of us, “Am I worthy of life?” The answer to that question can’t be spoken in words, I can only hold a surety in myself and hope that the other person finds something similar in themselves, mirror back a sense of their own inner worth. I can offer presence, it doesn’t interfere, it doesn’t intrude, it respects the path of the Other, and at the same time, I hold firm in my calm abiding in the preciousness of their life.

Try this!

1.       Next time you are faced with a difficult situation, a potential or actualized conflict with another, return for a few moments to return to a state of calm presence. Simply be present in that moment. Then set a positive presence, stay in that place until you feel a more expansive way to be there. I’m not looking forward to see Shea today; I will have to let her go from my team. I hate these kinds of confrontations, what will I say to her?

2.       Understand in this state of loving presence, you don’t have to think about what to say, or how to try to problem solve the situation. I don’t have to say anything profound of even anything that she will be able to hear. I’ll turn up, I won’t be angry but I’ll be firm. I’ll tell her thanks for her work so far, and I need to let her go.

3.       Remember that the Other is your teacher. Accept the lesson. Be grateful for the gift, even if it seems very small and ordinary. I have learned from this situation not to engage workers before I have a chance to really get to know them. Don’t give them access to my work space until I’ve tested them to see if they are a good fit. I’ve also learned not allow pity or lack of self-confidence to cloud my decisions.

Trust the Other will be alright, even if you have to let them go from your life. Trust that you will be OK and you can move through the conflict successfully and find better people or ways of living. She’ll be OK; there are other people who seem to be happy with her work. I can wish her well, where ever her destiny takes her.

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