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The Living Inquiries Blog

When The Child Within Needs Tending

By Helena Weaver.

These are challenging times. Today I was able to drop into meditation for the first time for a couple of weeks. I sat for a while, settling in, while my breathing slowed and deepened. Then I started to scan through my body and feel gently into the physical and emotional sensations within, gradually becoming more and more aware of how I felt in my body.

After a while I began to sense this layer deep down inside that felt shocked and frozen. A subtle, fizzy, tense feeling, capped by a floaty sensation. I understood then that I’ve been skating over this layer, distracted and disoriented by events of the last few weeks, feeling ungrounded at times without quite knowing why, other than that the times are extraordinary and shocking. But this inner frozenness also felt familiar – there came the knowing that this layer is always frozen to some degree.

Gently feeling into it, I began sensing that it holds the feelings of a young child – memories of Bahrain floated up – we were there between my 4th and 8th year. I began a gratitude meditation which had the effect of beginning to open the heart with love, which in turn began to unfreeze the freeze – which was scary for the frozen part as it had been freezing to protect itself from all the uncertainty and instability and all its fears of being unworthy and incapable of coping and holding itself. And a lot of sobbing began to happen that was a howling at times, coming up from deep in the heart and solar plexus, rocking the body. Back then, the parents used to have fights – there came memories of a scary one with things being thrown by him and me huddling with her. And the shouting, the shouting, the unpredictable explosions, the sudden way he’d burst into rooms and pace around them raging, complaining; his acid rain. All the endless dramas that fused them together consuming all their attention.

And remembering how that lonely young child growing up alongside these volatile, warring parents turned into herself, into her imaginary world, her secret garden and shut herself away inside herself, as we moved from country to country, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, Libya, here and there for a couple of years or so at a time, each move a loss of home, garden, friends, school, familiarity of local streets, and routines and habits of living, each new arrival a starting over that tested my adaptation skills and underdeveloped social skills past their capacity. I grew up introverted, shy, insecure, easily shocked, easily triggered, endemically wobbly. Actually, I’m not sure this little part of me grew up at all. It feels like she has always been in there somewhere, frozen, tucked away, hidden yet able to exert her influence through her anxiety, when triggered, and inhibit me.

Today, I realised for the first time, listening and feeling inside, how this external situation of Corona is mirroring this early past in the sense of being an echo of living choicelessly with a big, external cloud of dramatic, continual threat. Ah, yes. Those of us with early trauma know the reality of coping with unresolvable anxiety, with never feeling really fundamentally safe. But I hadn’t fully seen that this young part of me is so triggered by what is happening around her. That this is why I have periods, whole days sometimes, of feeling disconnected or floaty, or close to tears.

It makes sense now, though. I’ve been noticing the tendency to want to turn away and retreat and bury myself back in my magical garden. At times, I do need this, she needs to do this – and I let her. She loves to study languages, to play with words and sounds and the fun of working out what they mean – like code-breaking – so we’re learning Greek and French. This garden is protective and restorative, but not a place to vanish into all the time, (which is what she wants to do).

So today, it felt so good to meet this young part consciously and to listen to her, to receive her distress completely and validate her memories, acknowledge her fear. To gently embrace her in that fear, with acceptance and understanding, which made it easier for the fear to be fully felt without shame of it so that there could be release.

With that, she opened up, felt held by me, seen and even loved and some of the protective freeze dissolved. And then the gratitude meditation began to suffuse my whole system and the knowing came that we are all being held, all being loved without exception or question, just how we are in each moment, as we go through whatever we are experiencing, by something none of us can really name, whether we are aware of it, or not.

 

Strange times

By Fiona Robertson.  

These are such strange times, and it feels like they’re getting stranger every day (especially for those of us who have never lived through any other major disruptions or pandemics).

I’ve been feeling my fair share of anxiety and worry for those most at risk, along with a kind of fascination about where this is all going. Inquiry has been my navigation, as always. I thought that what came up in my looking today might resonate with some of you, so here goes:

As I settled into my body, I could feel a deep sense of exhaustion, and the need for time off. There was a falling into that, that felt so gentle, so tender and exquisite, along with plenty of tears.

‘Exhausted’ kept resonating, so I looked it up in the dictionary, and the full description resonated: ‘to exhaust is to draw off, to empty by drawing out the contents, to use up the whole of, to consume, to wear out by exhaustion, to drain of resources, strength or essential properties.’

Then it hit me: I’m exhausted. We’re exhausted. The earth is exhausted. We’re exhausted by the world (as it currently is).

And much as I’m concerned about what’s happening, I can feel the relief in shutting up shop and staying home for a while. As I lie here, I can feel the relief in my nervous system (which is often challenged to be out in the world) of everything closing, being cancelled, being shut. It’s been one thing after another, and I’m exhausted. There’s a deep relief in naming that and allowing the exhaustion to be.

Journeying with Generational Trauma

By Lisa Meuser.

2019 came to completion with clarity that some endings were coming. Historically speaking, it’s powerful when my system undeniably lands on an ending, often because the joy of a new beginning is already en route. The clarity ushers in more momentum for the new beginnings, which can be both exhilarating, and also messy. Exhilarating because, “YES! (and, Finally!)”, and messy because, hidden in that “Finally!” is some clutter due to how long it took me to achieve said clarity. Have you ever had the knowing that something was done or complete, but you delayed? It’s like keeping cream in the fridge way past its expiration date- it’s just not going to end well.

So, in comes 2020, and I’m in the midst of 3 “letting go’s.” Life is taking me forward, and a part of me has already moved on. But also, I was in the middle of some messes. Why had I delayed these endings anyway?  Why hadn’t I acted on this clarity sooner? It felt prudent to explore what was going on with my resistance to letting go. What was I afraid of? It was time to find out as my resistance was impacting my integrity and affecting others.

 

Who Would Have Known?

A lot of profound discoveries and releasing happened as I journeyed into these questions, revealing more and more clarity, but at some point, I kept feeling stuck – like I was going round and round, unable to fully move forward. I felt entangled, but it just didn’t make any logical sense. At one point, when I found myself triggered yet again, the word “displaced” came up. It felt random, and I couldn’t quite connect to the word, but I journeyed through the sense of pain and sorrow that I was experiencing, and things settled for me.

Days later, I found myself lost in thoughts again. I could feel a sense of fear, but when I looked right at it, none of it seemed real – but the word came back: displaced. I sat with the word, and it took me to remembrances of my young years, where I experienced a sense of being displaced in my own home due to various circumstances. Then my grandmother flashed into my attention, and I named how, coming to the US as a refugee of sorts, she must have felt very displaced. I saw the continued link to the word “displaced”, and knew it was pointing to some generational trauma, but it didn’t go super deep.

The next morning, I found myself once again having fears about these various endings. Again, the thoughts didn’t seem to be real, but at the same time I knew something was there. The word displaced came to me again, and this time it went right into my being. All of a sudden, a dam broke open, and I saw and felt what it must have been like for my grandmother to leave her own country because of her ethnicity. I saw generations of “her people”, being persecuted and killed for their beliefs and alignments. I saw the immense suffering she/they experienced by being who they were.

As I stayed connected to this download, I felt immense shame, confusion, pain and terror in my own body. There was a deep sense of not being safe, of being targeted, of being treated violently – all because of one’s innocent affiliation. The images were powerful. The felt sense was intense. My body was shaking, as if I was living out the images I was seeing. My very survival seemed in question. I felt like it was almost too much to be with. I reached out for support, and let my heart keep breaking open, wider and wider. Eventually breath found me, and my system shifted into the loving and life-giving flow of breath. Phew.

 

Confessing our Stories: “The heartbeat of racism is denial, the heartbeat of anti-racism is confession.”  Ibram X. Kendi

This kind of inward journeying, as uncomfortable as it may be, is an essential part of my life. I journey with those who have been horribly oppressed due to the infrastructure of our culture, in ways I will never directly experience or understand, and so I must explore my own oppression, as well as how I have oppressed others. The world is riddled with white, black and brown bodies bursting with somatic trauma, in all the nooks and crevices, with black and indigenous bodies continuing to pay the highest price, while those from south of the United States borders are being overtly tortured. These stories of oppression are sacred. Connecting with the stories and realities of oppression, and of oppressing, are vital to our existence.

It is a lot to feel. It’s a lot to acknowledge. It’s a lot to get honest about.

When we confess to the pain, suffering and legacies of our ancestors, and feel into the depth of that with loving support and compassion, we may discover our hearts opening to the suffering of /within our own lineage, and also to the suffering that others have experienced or that we’ve contributed to. What we often discover is that compassion yields more compassion; compassion for ourselves/others allows us to have compassion for others/ourselves. Through this process we may find that we are able to open our hearts to life more fully as we are no longer in denial.

 

Safety in Presence

The week of that ancestral download was a hard week for me. While processing through such deep territory brought relief from what I’d been struggling with in my personal life, it left me feeling exposed and vulnerable, without much surface area to land on. It took time, but eventually my system acclimatized to that, and left me feeling open to include life, and be held by it at the same time.

What was it that allowed me to feel to the depths of such pain and suffering that day? I’d travelled into these territories before many times, but this felt deeper – both personal, and way beyond me.  As counter-intuitive as it might sound, it seems to me that it was safety in Presence that allowed me feel into such abysmal darkness. It has been my experience many times that the safer our systems are, the deeper we can feel into the existence of humanity – into Presence itself. While this may not be the gift we think we are waiting to receive, it is truly a gift to sit within Presence, and safely feel into the pain of our being and the pain of other beings. When we are able to do this, there is no where we cannot go, nothing we cannot feel, and nothing to hide from.

 

The Journey Continues 

I am constantly humbled by the process of embodied somatic inquiry, and the wisdom present in journeying this way. Nowhere to get to, nowhere to go, no hurry to figure out or fix – just an invitation to gently, lovingly and curiously look at what is coming up, however it presents itself in that moment.

“It is only through letting our heart break that we discover something unexpected: the heart cannot actually break, it can only break open. When we feel both our love for this world and the pain of this world – together, at the same time – the heart breaks out of its shell. To live with an open heart is to experience life full-strength.” John Welwood

Uniting with Presence allows a glimpse into the vast Intelligence of life/love, and the knowing that we are a part of that intelligence – not the center of it, but woven amidst. We can’t know peace when we are not at peace with the vastness of humanity, when we are stuck in fighting, in hiding, and in denial. It may not be not pleasant to journey into “not peace”, and yet once we learn it is safe to feel, even though there is pain, and discomfort, and fear, we learn that the heart has no limitation as to how far it can stretch; that there is no end to the depths of what it includes and nothing that it is not. Love is infinite.

 

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

Just a thought…

By Luke Hey.  

Do you know what I love? Finding new ways to inquire!

And being a facilitator of the Living Inquiries has afforded me the opportunity to find many different and interesting ways to unhook the velcro of thoughts.  I want to share with you some of these ideas to use as techniques during your own inquiry. Think of this as a tips and tricks guide to keep the mind on its toes.

I hope to write this within the context that inquiry can be used in other ways, and at other times, rather than just when we are suffering. It seems more often than not that inquiry is something to pull out when we are in the throes of suffering, rather than as an interesting perspective to see daily life.  Using inquiry in this way has some unexpected benefits, but I will let you find this out for yourself.

I am not claiming ownership for any of this, nor do I imagine that all of this is new to you. Most of the insights about this have come through self-inquiry and inquiry with clients. I am also happy if you want to comment or email and tell me what you think and what your experiences are. So without further ado, here’s the first inquiry.

Where is the ‘my’ of my hand?

When I was younger I used to stay at my aunty and uncle’s house. They have a son the same age as me and we got along very well and went to the same university and work.  Their house was much closer to both places, than my parents’ house, so I stayed there most of the week.

Now this family is a very Christian family, with very strong values and ideas about Christianity.  This was evident in the way they lived and their reference to the bible and Jesus through daily life. On Sunday evenings around the dinner table they would bring out the bible and discuss passages together as a family. It was very interesting to me, although not, I guess, for the reasons they would have hoped.  I would stop them at times, asking various (and probably very annoying) questions. Some of the ideas put forth didn’t make a lot of sense to me (and still don’t) and at the time we would have some interesting discussions.

This came to a head one evening when I asked my uncle how it is he knew there was a God. He looked at me a little exasperated, then looked around for an answer. Finally some recognition came to his face and he beamed at me. Just look around, he said. Look at your hand. And we did. He continued on about how God gave us the use of this wonderful appendix, but I had stopped listening. I had taken what he had said literally. Of course! Why couldn’t God be found in my hand! If she is somewhere here at all why not there. Needless to say, I spent lots of time from then on just staring at my hand, looking for God.

So…sitting here now, I look at my hand. It seems to be my hand but what is it that tells me that? It seems familiar, small like a hobbit’s with stubby little fingers. I recognise the lines on the palm, the fingernails. But all of these are just thoughts that come through the mind. When those thoughts fade away, what do I see? Where is the ‘my’ of my hand?

Maybe they aren’t my hands, but God’s hands.  Maybe not.  But it’s probably worth a look at least.

Just a thought…

To read more about Luke Hey, click here.

When We Can’t Say No

By Fiona Robertson.  

In my experience, ongoing inquiry is bringing about a much clearer sense of my own boundaries.

I was looking this morning, and the words came, ‘I want nothing to do with this’, accompanied by crying. I saw an image of one boyfriend, who on our first date had an empty wallet. (When the relationship ended four years later, he owed me several thousand pounds).

More images came of the many, many times over the years that I have ignored my body’s instinctive gut reactions – disgust, dislike, or some other “no” – in favour of pleasing, being ‘reasonable’, excusing the other’s bad behaviour. Many are the ways I have dismissed or undercut my natural, immediate responses to the erosion or violation of my boundaries, having never experienced (until recent years) what it is to be healthily boundaried.

As I stayed with the images and feelings, I also saw how my inability to say ‘I want nothing to do with this’ in all those situations made true intimacy impossible. In a way that I still can’t fully articulate, I felt the deep sense of being compromised that comes when we can’t say no, and the lack of intimacy with ourselves and others that results. Finally allowing the truth of this “no” is liberating and enlivening, even if a little scary.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.