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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.

New Year’s Clarity

By Lisa Meuser.  

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do enjoy New Year’s clarity.

New Year’s clarity?

At the start of a year, I often connect with a word, a phrase, or an intention that is calling out for me to find clarity with. Hidden gifts always await as  I the word, phrase, or intention weave their way through my being.

In 2019 I knew it was time for me to be more in the world, while not getting lost in it, as has always been my patterning. My intention for the year became Being in the world and Being of Love. This was a radical change for me in that in the years prior I had been focusing on my clients and my personal life.

Since jumping out of that bubble, I have participated more fully than ever as a waking being, in an unwoken world, and it has been one of the most rewarding and learning endeavors of my life. It revealed internal territory I hadn’t worked through, as well as a depth of agency and resourcing that I hadn’t realized was waiting within me to embody.

I have yet to identify where clarity of focus will land for 2020, but my journey of 2019 helped me to stay turned towards some vital questions that I’m sure will help. It is powerful, and necessary, for me to connect with what truly aligns in my being, in whatever it is that I’m doing – on a day to day, moment by moment, basis. As such, connecting to these questions has been immensely profound:

  • Are the activities of my life in simple alignment?
  • If not, why am I engaged with them?
  • If not, do I need to step away from them, or
  • How might I bring more of me into these areas so that I feel an alignment with what is important to me?

A year of increased integrity, a year with more alignment, a year of discovery and deep learning all came as I continued to keep asking myself these simple questions. Throughout the course of the year, these questions became living embodiments. Did I stumble along the way? Absolutely. Were there challenges? Yes! Through difficult times these questions helped me to return to what was important for me, over and over again.

Without even trying, I noticed that the various aspects of my life were aligning synchronistically with one another as I journeyed with being in the world and being of Love.  Acknowledging my hidden racism; deepened clarity of living from Love first; moving from head wisdom to embodied wisdom of Love; an amazing  conscious leadership training that helped me further awaken to ancestral wisdom and the healing power of our stories;  conscious social justice engagement in my community; a weekend of  discovering 5 Rhythms; a powerful Heal Thyself Diversity Training; continued explorations into unwinding the dominant narrative that is perpetuated by culture, and lives in all our psyches; and lastly, the paradoxical co-existence of fear, hope and dreams.

Although being in the world and being of Love will no doubt be a life long journey these questions helped me get more deeply resourced clarity again and again. When I wanted to give up, when I doubted, when I didn’t know how, I gently and compassionately returned to these simple yet wise inquiries. And of course I got help from my support team, who help me to journey into my hidden areas.

These questions – and many others(!) – will continue to burn alive in my being as I move into the unknown of 2020. I look forward to further deepening, creating, and relating with, and to, Life and Love.

What about you? What draws you into conscious participation with 2020?  May you find some clarity, and let it be so!

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

The Sceptical Art of Inquiry

By Fiona Robertson.  

I read today that the ancient Greek word for ‘inquiry’ is skepsis, hence the word sceptical. Sceptical philosophers, from around the world in both ancient and modern times, have doubted our ability to know, either partially or completely. Their view is some variant of the idea that we can’t know anything for certain, and we can’t even know that we can’t know anything for certain.

We inevitably come to inquiry with a knowing or belief that feels certain. In fact, we don’t usually call it a belief. We don’t generally say, “I believe that I’m not good enough”, but rather state it as a fact: “I’m not good enough”. There often comes a point in a session when a slight crack appears in the certainty, and we begin to entertain the possibility that what we thought we knew for certain may not, after all, be the case. Even though the belief in question has been painful, there’s a kind of security in the certainty, so it can be disorientating to open up to the possibility that maybe we don’t know what we thought we knew. There’s often a sense of fear – if I’m not this, then what? Or the realisation that we may have spent many years trying to solve an issue only to discover that it’s not the issue we thought it was. Inevitably, we end up feeling emotions or sensations that the belief or knowing has somehow shielded us from.

In a session, I once had an image of seeing the outline of an island through a telescope from on board a boat. I saw that I was seeing the hint of the possibility that maybe what I thought was the case wasn’t. And even in reducing the certainty to 95% (rather than the full 100%), there was some relief in my system. Even in asking the questions – including questions like, “how do I know that?” or “what’s telling me that?” we open up to the possibility of uncertainty, that maybe we don’t know for sure. 

For the ancient sceptics, the idea was that having an experience of not knowing led to the possibility of calm, which feels deeply familiar from our perspective. It’s good to know people have been inquiring in this way for thousands of years.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.

Two Little Fussbudgets

By Sumitra Burton.  

This morning I was facilitated in an inquiry session where I was feeling “desperate” about needing to earn more money. Old, familiar story!

There’s enough money for today, tomorrow and probably a couple of years. But what about after that? I need to earn more, to save more, to build a large savings account so I won’t be a burden to my family in my old age!

I could feel the pressure of desperation in the left side of my belly, two small balls of energy there that seemed to know this was true – that were actually pushing me to try harder, to do something more, to earn more money. I sat with these energies, the two little balls, and allowed them to be felt, with curiosity. What were they all about?

And then, there they were. I could see these two little fussbudget owls, right there in my belly (I had seen this image of the little owls online earlier in the week). I could both see and feel them, fussing around, trying to stir up some energy. The more I stayed with these little fussbudgets, the more they became like cartoon characters. I started to laugh, and so did my facilitator. Their energies were contagious – so authentically busy, and at the same time going nowhere fast.

The laughter allowed me to relax a bit, and as I brought my awareness back to my body to look for this “desperation to earn more money,” these little owl fussbudgets had softened and become quiet.

It was clear then that whenever I wanted to be a fussbudget and worry a bit about money or anything else, these little owls would be there to “fuss” with me. We could stomp around, fluff our feathers and make squeaky noises all we wanted. And when we grew tired of fussing, we’d become quiet again and rest.

Ah, the wonders of inquiry!

To read more about Sumitra Burton, click here.

Both Individual and Collective: Meeting Rapaciousness

By Fiona Robertson.  

When we engage consistently and deeply in inquiry, our experience of it changes over time. Embodied inquiry develops and evolves, the process itself deepening as we individually and collectively deepen. True to its name, this inquiry is indeed living.

I’ve been inquiring for over seven years now. While self-focused beliefs took up much of my looking in the early years, what comes up now is often collective as well as personal. There’s a sense that what I’m looking at isn’t just mine; sometimes it’s obviously from my family system or ancestry, and sometimes it feels like an aspect of the archetypal human pattern.

Last week, for example, I was aware of some strong energy that felt like a residue from the old beliefs about myself. I sensed that it belonged to my creature-self. (When I’m inquiring, I often find words and descriptions arise that I wouldn’t ordinarily use, and which I may not understand intellectually). As I stayed with this residual creature-self energy, little spurts of emotion or thought sprang up, then quickly faded into almost-nothing.

After a while, the word ‘rapaciousness’ came and fitted the energy perfectly. Not entirely sure of its exact meaning, I looked up the dictionary definition:

Rapacious: from the Latin rapare, to seize. Grasping, extortionate, given to plundering or seizing by force, predatory.

Yes. This was the energy of never-ending rapaciousness, of covert, manipulative wanting, of taking what you are not entitled to, the energy of predation. As I felt it through my body, I sensed how I had cut off from it, how consciously I abhorred it, yet here it was within me, as it is in so many of us. As I felt it, I began to see memories of times when I’d taken more than my fair share, times when I’d lied to get what I wanted or to conceal my greed. I had to acknowledge this rapaciousness had manifested in me over the years in all kinds of ways. Taking that extra doughnut while no-one was looking. Lying to myself that the brief dalliance with a married man was justifiable because we hadn’t had sexual relations according the Clintonian definition. Staying in relationships that I knew weren’t right because having something felt better than the nothing I assumed would result if I left. Minor crimes by comparison to the more extreme expressions of this energy, but expressions of it nonetheless.

After a while, it became apparent that the rapaciousness tries to magnetise things and people, pulling them towards itself. It wants to take things without having to make any effort to earn them. Recognising this rapaciousness as the energy of abusers, predators, conquerors and takers – the energy that fuels capitalism, putting profit above all else – I began to sense that monks, nuns and their ilk withdrew from the world in an effort to control this energy, attempting to rein it back by taking vows of chastity, poverty and simplicity. As we know from the history of the church, both ancient and modern, this strategy didn’t work too well. We cannot simply lock out or deny the rapaciousness, because it gets through in whatever ways it can, and will not be naysaid.

More insights came as I continued to feel the energy of rapaciousness. Envious of others, it is underhand and conniving, finding loopholes, justifications and get-out clauses, sneakily framing events or situations in ways that allow it to believe its actions are okay, or even noble. It has no idea what or where ‘enough’ is. It is very different to desire; desire feels simple, natural, gentle. Rather, this energy is greed and avarice, unchecked appetite which knows no limits. I saw that some people who are bad at controlling their rapaciousness end up imprisoned or vilified, while others, equally bad at controlling it but afforded privilege by dint of their class, race, gender or background, end up in powerful positions, feted around the world. A question came with a wave of emotion: How did it come to this, that we are run by our rapaciousness?

Suddenly, I noticed: the rapacious energy is utterly desperate for attention. Its mantra is like me, like me, like me, with the emphasis on me. But however much attention it gets, it remains insatiable; in fact, giving it unquestioning attention seems to make it even more pronounced. I sat with the energy for a long while, unsure how the session would unfold. Even though it was deeply uncomfortable to feel, I began to feel grateful to have identified it, to have seen it for what it is. Gradually, another part of me emerged, a part that can’t bear the pain the rapaciousness causes. My sense is that more and more of us are connecting with this part within us that cannot countenance what the rapaciousness gives rise to, both within ourselves and the world.

Over the next few days, the rapacious energy itself began to change. An insight into its origins came; when I was young, my creature-self needed support to be itself but no support was forthcoming, so it became rapacious as a way to support itself. The rapaciousness developed as a way to deal with the pain of not having my dependency needs met. It is a distorted outgrowth of that original, natural need for support. Only by becoming more fully conscious of it, and meeting it as it is – neither denying it nor feeding it – can we hope to integrate it and so end its excesses, however great or small those excesses may be.

Fiona Robertson is the author of The Dark Night of the Soul: A Journey from Absence to Presence and a Living Inquiries Senior Facilitator/Trainer.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.