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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Self and Others

How we perceive and experience emotions and somatic cycles, how inner processes of awareness unfold is unique to each person. I find I am constantly discovering for myself newer and more skillful, effective, and even compassionate ways to open and surrender into my body, psyche, and heart. There is no right way to awaken and no other can reveal to me a “right way.” The journey is individual and unique by nature. The Divine is not seeking sameness but rather infinite variety. The opportunity of being human is knowing with profound intimacy the primary experience of this body I inhabit. While fellowship and sangha are incredibly supportive and encouraging, ultimately no attempt at collective spirituality can resolve the truth within. That said, at times I find it challenging to attend to my shadow, the darkness of anger and resentment, the resistance and dejection, on my own. So I have found that an empathic, attuned relational field established with a close friend or partner, a therapist, a spiritual teacher, a small process group or larger sangha can be of powerful assistance in co-regulating my system and helping me to integrate slowly. The “relational field” itself, the matrix or network of interconnectivity with another or others allows for the “borrowing” of the more soothed, calm nervous systems of others as I enter into challenging, unknown territory. The spiritual journey is one of re-cognition, revelation and realization, and it is not an easy path. It is not a personal growth path of behavioral improvements and empowerment that leads me to permanent happiness in five easy steps. Of course, it would be nice to have clear methods and direction, and the ancient texts like the Gita and the Vedas do provide a map. But ultimately this human journey is too wild; the map points out stages and direction, but what and who I will encounter on the road, how the road is revealed to me, is a continually unfolding mystery unique to my existence. Humiliating and heart-wrenching at times, my disowned parts will inevitably ask for attention and inclusion in my conceptualization and manifestation of what I AM. Importantly, my intention is not to become dependent upon therapist or sangha or spouse or spiritual teacher for regulation in an unhealthy way, but rather, over time, to practice and develop the capacity and ability of self-regulation; to be able to shift wisely, skillfully, consciously and compassionately between the two, according to my capacity. In addition to a therapist, mentor, or friend, I have learned from Native American teachers that I have access to and can ask for an inner guide to move with me into inner territory that feels threatening or overwhelming. Nature, too, is a resource. A tree, a bird, a mountain, or an animal; the sky, the sun, the stars, or the earth; a God or Goddess or a being of light . . . these resources are always standing by. I notice that at times my inner guides and protectors will take on my rage or fear allowing me to better discern, dialogue with and digest the experience with some detachment. I can become more intimate with the issues, with the roots of rage, when I am not fused with or identified with it.

It seems pretty clear that understanding or resolving the mystery of “what I am” and how that relates or connects to “what others are” is one of the primary and ongoing opportunities of this life. I am grateful for the dynamic interplay between my SELF and others, that thankfully is pointing me toward home.

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