The gift of engaged presence
Our greatest longing is to be seen, felt, and loved by another. To deeply connect. To have our whole self met -- body to body, heart to heart, mind to mind. To be fully embraced exactly as we are. This kind of meeting is life-giving. And yet, how rare it is that we encounter this gift of attuned attention, presence, and connection with another.
Our longing to be deeply met by another is neurologically hard-wired. As infants, we require the love and presence of a caregiver to mirror and meet our needs. We quite literally come to know ourselves and grow our sensitive nervous systems through this exchange. Optimally, our parent empathically attunes to our somatic-emotional world -- holding, containing, meeting, and validating our experience -- so that we learn what we think and feel and how to regulate our responses to life. Of course, many of us don't receive optimal caretaking. Lacking an attuned caregiver to mirror our wants and needs, we became lost to parts of ourselves. We didn't learn how to recognize or validate aspects of our own experience. We ended up suppressing our feelings because it was too painful to remain open to them. In this way, we lost touch with our inner experience. We closed off and buried parts of ourselves. These parts are not gone, our bodies and nervous systems hold the legacy of these attachment inadequacies.
The greatest gift we can give someone is our engaged presence. Our engaged presence is the sanctuary we offer another with our attuned body, open heart, and spacious attention. This is love in action, as we allow another to be exactly as they are and allow their experience to be what it is.
Our engaged presence doesn't pathologize another for their feelings; tender emotions of sadness, shame, fear, and despair are welcomed. Our engaged presence doesn't demand another be different or change in order for us to love them. Our engaged presence doesn't overwhelm another with our needs, expectations or agenda.
This intimate contact brings about wholeness. By offering this gift to another, we nurture the organic unfolding of their inner process. Lost and buried parts of the self are illuminated and welcomed to be known and integrated. All experience is seen as valid, workable, and part of the path to knowing our fullest self. We can offer ourselves our own engaged presence. Always here is our own naked awareness, which is none other than the loving field of presence we feel with others and is none other than our own heart and somatic splendor (see previous post awareness is what you are).
Can you be curious and open to what is arising in this moment? Can you give yourself unconditional permission to be as you are? Can you offer yourself a warm embrace within which to deeply relax and know yourself? We commit a not so subtle aggression against ourselves when we believe that we are unacceptable in this moment and something needs to change or be fixed.
Action: The invitation is to be radically intimate with your experience in this moment. Slow down, place your attention on your body, and drop beneath the verbal story that says "This experience isn't okay, I need to escape it or fix it." See if you can feel into the pulsing, spiraling, surging current of sensate-emotional flow. You are staying close enough to make contact with your felt experience but not so close that you fuse with it. You are offering yourself unconditional engaged presence, allowing the vulnerable and tender parts of yourself the opportunity to be felt, seen, and loved. You are metabolizing these parts of yourself and integrating them back home.
As you stay near to your experience, not overlaying it with harsh self-judgment and conditioned stories, you are witnessing your radiant unfolding in every moment. There is a majesty and unprecedented aliveness here. May you know this field of presence is love and your true self.