When I sit with a client in psychotherapy, I practice presence. I want to experience what it is to be her. I want to see through her eyes and feel as she feels. I want to live in her skin for a few moments. At the same time, I am anchored in my Observer.
In meditation I look at my feelings and my thinking from my Observer. I experience my feelings while I watch them. I notice my thoughts, but I don’t think my thoughts. My feelings and my thoughts exist. My relationship to them shifts in meditation.
By identifying with my Observer, I move below the level of thinking and feeling to the level of being. I simply am. Whatever is, is. I don’t judge my thoughts, my feelings, another person’s words, my choices in the past, or anything else that moves through my mind during the time I sit. I simply allow what is to be, just as it is, and I notice.
Over many years meditating, I have noticed that when I maintain a detached Observer stance and I allow, I am carried deeper. I’m not consumed with the details of my life as Ruth. I experience “being.” I am. I pay attention.
I don’t focus on the object of my attention but on the process of attending.
With this alert passivity, an invisible curtain rises and I glimpse a reality behind the everyday specifics. I can only access this deeper level of reality when I practice presence. One part of practicing presence is noticing and allowing. Another part is accepting vulnerability. Usually, our intellects tell us to dismiss the places in us that hurt or rage or fear. But moving into this deeper level of our own personal reality invites us to integrate every part of who we are. So, we notice what is and we say, “Yes.” “Yes, I am furiously angry.” “Yes, I am scared to death and I have no idea what to do.” “Yes, I feel totally humiliated and I wish I could disappear. I don’t want anyone to see me in my shame.”
In addition to noticing and accepting what is, we experience what is. By experiencing whatever moves through us, we integrate our vulnerability. We notice and allow and accept and experience what it is to be ourselves this moment. That is the definition of practicing surrender. When we surrender and we don’t resist our experience, it shifts naturally, and we are carried even deeper.
Eventually, we move into a serenity that already exists. Here we continue to breathe and notice and allow. We may feel overwhelmed by a sense of well-being. By moving deeply into our personal dynamics and accepting ourselves just as we are, we are carried into another dimension. Accepting vulnerability while practicing surrender and presence opens us to partnership with Life.
We notice that Life works with us in the details of our own experience.
Acknowledging our partnership with Life in completely personal terms is the defining element of transformation. We can only allow and recognize partnership; we can’t create it. We experience Life responding to our vulnerability. Our practice of surrender allows partnership, so we always pay attention.
We learn that our partner, Life, is wiser than we are and knows us better than we know ourselves. Our partner shows us our unhealed spots and then offers us opportunities to experience healing. Acknowledging an inner wisdom operating at this depth humbles us. Gladly, we accept that we are not “in control.” We respect everything that happens to us, everything that is said to us, and everything that flits through our minds. We are aware in the moment. We practice availability.
We allow ourselves to be carried from our personal limited consciousness into an arena of unlimited possibility. We discover that a power greater than our intellects already exists at our deepest center. Allowing ourselves to be carried tells Life that we are available. We are available to experience our own dynamics as well as being available to experience Life in a grander perspective. Working in both the deeply personal and the transpersonal levels of consciousness simultaneously invites transformation.
Life knows better than we do exactly what we need to grow and to heal and Life draws the precisely perfect experiences to us. If we stay open and present, we allow healing. Life always carries us deeper. In our deepest center we participate in a healing consciousness and, by doing so, we allow transformation.
Ruth Cherry, PhD is the author of