All Life has the Quality of Emerging into Being, meaning that the qualities of previous stages of development and organization grow out into subsequent and greater, emergent stages of development and organization. What does this have to do with our human experience? To “emerge” is a very yin-yang kind of term, coming from the Latin ex- “out of” + mergere : “to dip in, to immerse, to plunge.” In growing, we rise up out of our previous stage of development while, at the same time, plunging, even rooting ourselves, more deeply into what we are. Life is emergent. Picture a plant growing, for example. The new growth “outward” emerges from the most inward parts and characteristics of what is already there while at the same time, deepening its roots. Can you get the sense of that?
As humans, our emergent characteristics are peculiar and fascinating. We are born six months premature.
How is that?
If we look at the developmental capacities of other newborn primates to crawl, to walk, to achieve levels of autonomy, it takes us about six months after birth to come to the level of a newborn chimpanzee, or a month-old chimpanzee, for example, and over a decade to get by on our own.
One day my Cheyenne friend explained to me that they bundle their newborns who stay with their mothers continuously for the first six moons after birth. Why? “Because we are not fully made yet, at birth. We still need to be contained in a womb, with our mothers,” was my friend’s reply.
It took me over thirty years to begin to realize the profundity of what my friend said to me to simply and directly. My cultural programming emphasizes speaking to convey ideas as something to think about. My Cheyenne friends, on the other hand, speak to invite coherent attention to a Living, Relatable Reality that we are fully equipped to know and comprehend in the measure we pay attention and not just “spout off ideas.”
We are not just a part of Reality or inside of it. Living Reality is what we are made of. We are woven of Living Intelligence. True Intelligence is True to Life. Intelligence is not a bunch of “ideas in our heads” but a coherent, sensible, capable way of orienting in and with living reality, in favor of a Greater Aliveness.
When I heard him say this I thought it was “an interesting ‘Cheyenne’ way of ‘looking at life.’” Of course, it was, but in a fundamentally different way than how I took what he said: to get the sense of it requires act-ually LOOKING AT LIFE, real life, with real eyes, in this case, our lives, as children, as expressions of Life designed to grow in profound and coherent connection, with profound results and consequences, not only to ourselves but to the entirety of relationships we participate in. When we reclaim our connection to LIFE, as ourreference for living, we Re-Member ourselves in the Wisdom that is present in LIFE-ITSELF, ours included.
Our development occurs as a Journey of Emerging into Being. The characteristics of our earlier phases grow out of and express themselves during the entirety of our Journey. Qualities of previous phases get further embodied into the characteristics we grow into.
We are born at 9 months while our heads can still fit through our mothers’ pelvic openings. Our development is subtle, profound, consequent and highly sensitive and impactful. The structures we will relate to self, other and world are laid down in our first two years of life, long before our conscious memory kicks in. We not only emerge out of our mother’s wombs but into the womb of relationship with our primary caregiver. Her neurology and relationship to everything, is what we embody, in our first two years. If she is absent, not present, then we learn to embody absence, not presence. If she is replaced by substitutes, we learn to embody replacement, with substitution.
Our Journey, as Natural Human Being (the verb), is to travel through the boundaries that contain and connect us into Greater Dimensions of Containment and Connection as Our Journey Reveals Greater Dimensions of our Aliveness, Capacity and Abilities to Respond, to Relate, to be Cared For Fully and Well that we might then blossom into Caring and Relating Fully and Well, as well.
The Nature of the Places that we are received in and travel through, along with the Qualities of Attunement we experience with the people who receive us, are precisely what we develop into; whether that’s being bundled and carried for six months in the Presence of a Mother and Relatives whose Connected Heartbeats set ours into Pulsing and Connection and Responding, or whether that’s staring at plastic, colored toys floating above us, self-soothing, alone, crying until there’s no more point in crying and surrendering to numbing, to shutting ourselves down and waiting for our next tentative, short-lived opportunities for connecting as best we can to a “busy” Mother. That relationship brings us into Intelligent Coherence with the entirety of our Embodied Intelligence, or doesn’t.
This is not about being child-centered, nor of ignoring and neglecting children. It is about coherent connection to an adult living a coherent, engaged adult existence in Connection to a Greater Aliveness.
The Profound Subtlety and Consequence of the Nature of our Maternal Bond is something that psychoneurologist Dr. Allan Schore has done a tremendous work in elucidating in his work Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self.
When I bring up these topics I notice many people hurriedly affirm that “my childhood was just fine.” Here we challenge ourselves to go beyond evaluating on a “good-bad” scale to noticing a much broader spectrum of Qualities of how we grew up, developed, and what we were connected to.
How far back in your childhood can you clearly remember? Few of us consciously recall much of what happened before four or five years of age, aside from a few distinct events. By three years old our deep patterns of relating and our sense of welcome, of unwelcome, or very conditional welcome are deeply developed and laid down as a whole-body neurology that has or has not equipped us to connect effectively and joyfully. With this neurology, we then proceed to develop an “acceptable personality” to navigate our key relationships, either vigorously and vitally flourishing in gaining new developmental milestones, or continually negotiating and suppressing our development so as to not trigger and stress out reactive caregivers already in overwhelm.
How would I know if my childhood was “just fine” or if it laid down a way of relating to be Alive that frustrates my Aliveness? This article may help you respond to this question “How?”
The invitation being made here at Deep Freedom Now is spiritually adult. Adulthood puts us in a relationship of caring that capably responds to our own, and our children’s, needs to be cared for while equipping ourselves to become the source of that caring as well as knowing how to connect to Aliveness as Source. We learn to respond ably to, from and for Aliveness.
In The First Freedom we discovered that the word “freedom” literally points to “the Condition of Free and Beloved People.” We take a Journey toward Mastering the skills necessary to live as a Free and Beloved Person. Whether or not we grew up with people who taught us those skills fully and competently, we choose to master them. Even if it’s a long Journey, Deep Freedom Now is for those who choose and dedicate ourselves to such a Journey.
Life is Emergent. The Qualities of Development at early stages continue to develop with and in those Qualities in the progression of our Development. The qualities of individual experience manifest in the qualities of relational and societal experiences. How are your experiences? What is happening in your social and relational realities?
My teacher would often say to me, “As above, so below.” What does “as above, so below” point to in the Developmental and Relational Journey of a Human Being who Journeys from Womb to Arms, to Family, to Neighborhood, Community, Society, World and So Forth? If we want to connect with this sense of ourselves, then the Journey is not just in this “micro-now” that seems to be all the rage. It is connected, not to the “past,” as some series of events that happened “way back then,” but to a Present seeded very precisely and consequently and growing out of prior, formative experiences and the Living Structures in us that grew out of them, not just personally, but ancestrally as well. We being to appreciate that all of life emerges into connected, related, consequent being.
When we begin to understand how our neurology very much grows out of our primary caregiver’s neurology, which grows out of hers, we start to appreciate how the generative experience of being alive is both consequence and consequent. Once again, here I refer you back to Dr. Allan N. Schore’s work, to begin to get a sense of the living, life-logical, relational poetry and finesse out of which we grow.
The Past doesn’t go away: it seeds the Present. Our ancestors aren’t somewhere “behind” us. They are inside us, as us. Life unfolds in Continuity.
It takes awareness and skill to live a Present that is more than the automatic outgrowth of the Past. An essential component is to discern patterns established in formative relationships and to notice if and how they continue today. Do they serve us well? Do they challenge us to broaden our awareness and skill? It takes Wisdom, literally “knowing the conditions of the ways we came” to discern the Nature of Relationships we adapted to and developed in, growing up. We begin to notice and appreciate the Unfolding, Emergent Patterns of our Relationship to Aliveness.
Paying Attention reveals the Qualities of Connection, Disconnection, Welcome, Unwelcome, True Intimacy or Continual Struggle and Striving in Intimacy, Intuitive Attunement or Relationally-Frustrated Misattunement and the Freedom or Unfreedom to SEE what’s REAL with our real EYES, and to feel and to know with the entirety of our embodied intelligence.
Something is happening in our World, our economy, our politics, our society, our families, our intimacy and all of the Aliveness that surrounds us. The relational qualities of what is occurring in larger Living Systems reflect the qualities occurring in the smaller Living Systems that compose them, all the way down to the qualities of our social, familial, individual, cellular and intracellular vitality.
Aliveness does not emerge in bubbles of disconnected “individual moments.” Don’t take my word for it. Grow something and pay attention to it. To “be Present” is not to seek refuge in some momentary bubble of “Now” cut off from all other Awareness but to begin to tune into the Great Presence that Aliveness emerges in. To BE Present is to Notice how we are, how we are related and to consciously re-cognize ourselves unfolding in a web of profound consequence and patterning. We are connected, deeply. We are patterned multi-generationally through neurological structures, Bio-Logical processes, and relationships.
To re-cognize comes from the Latin re: “again” + com: “together, with” + gnoscere: “to know.” We reawaken our capacity to “know together with,” in connection.
Consequence comes from the Latin com: “together, with” + sequi: “to follow.” This words also points to emergence as a Quality of Aliveness: Aliveness follows from and together with the Aliveness it follows and is surrounded by, not only in space, but in the emergent process of our development.
In the appreciation of the Emergent Qualities of Aliveness, OUR Aliveness, there is the possibility of Noticing what, exactly, these Qualities are. What Qualities of your experience and development concern you, perhaps upset you, seek comprehension, connection and completion? Can you feel this? Can you connect to this, in you, experientially? What were the Qualities of your relationships with and in the places and people who have been formative in your Life? How about with the places and people you live in and with now?
The Qualities that define our Development fulfill our Aliveness… or frustrate it, and certainly both in a whole variety of combinations. To grow up as Welcome is not just a matter of emotion. It is growing up in the company of someone with whom there is attunement, with a Quality of Presence, Availability and Noticing. Parents’ Capacity to regulate their own affect and to model that affective regulation allows them to serve as a critically-essential affective “ground” for the normal stress of development. With the emergence of new capacities and structures which are not yet integrated, a child experiences developmental stress until she grows the capacity to master each emerging ability. This stress causes a slight elevation in cortisol in the child, which the mother, if she is in connection with her child, will also experience as her stress, with resulting elevation in her stress hormone. When the mother regulates her stress, she grounds her child’s developmental stress by regulating her own stress and her own cortisol levels go back down and her child’s follows suit. There is attunement. If you are interested in this topic, I can’t stress enough how important the work of Dr. Allan N. Schore, and many other contributors to his work, is.
If, on the other hand, the mother is in overwhelm or the connection is not continuous, the child’s cortisol levels, which is toxic to new nerve cell growth, remains elevated and our entire development takes a radically different course. Our development not only deviates toward emphasizing more primitive, survival and crisis-based, fight-flight-or-freeze structures, but our higher potentials fail to develop fully without the continuous, connected attunement which drives neural development throughout our emotional, intellectual, creative, and regulative centers.
Many of us did not grow up with the kind of continuous, in-arms, on-the-body connection with inwardly-connected and outwardly-supported mothers that has been our evolutionary norm for millions of years. Few “modern” mothers I know provide this level of constant connection and affective regulation for their children or have had it provided for them. Patterns established become adapted to, embodied and we relate to Life out of and repeat these patterns, not just in future relationships but multi-generationally, as well.
I see many “adults” yearning, still, for Connection as if it were something that may or may not come to them. We may wait for it, passively, from others. Some simply dismiss the Fulfillment of this foundational human desire as an impossibility. Many spend most of our lives stuck in the denied grief of what we yearn for yet don’t experience beyond yearning.
How many of us know Connection as a state of Being to, literally, grow into, individually and together? During most of the Human Adventure Connection was the Adventure because it’s the very intelligence of how Aliveness flourishes in Aliveness. Connection is the logic of Living Intelligence.
“It became clear that the immeasurable harm caused by even the most loving and devoted parents in Western culture, and abetted by the most well-intentioned “experts,” was the consequence of a long-standing and profound incomprehension of the eminently respectable nature of our species, especially in our perception of children.” Jean Liedloff, Normal Neurotics Like Us
As I began teaching I noticed how many adults, even seniors, have a profound yearning to be Cared For Fully while having profound challenges in Caring for Themselves and Others. We can have uncompleted developmental steps from infancy and develop a whole “adult” personality around that, but it, too, will grow out of that incompleteness. Life is Emergent.
Do you, and the people around you demonstrate care-FULL-ness or care-LESS-ness? In what areas? How do you care for yourself and those around you? This is not an either-or, good-bad proposition. Instead of responding to that with “well” or “poorly,” notice how? I’m inviting you to pay attention to the entire ecology of your experiences, not in order to judge them, but in order to notice their qualities and what you deeply desire. What you discover will reveal much about the nature of your foundational relational imprinting during the first four years of life.
A Being that has been Cared for Well, fulfilling, rather than frustrating, our Developmental and Relational Nature; in terms of transmitting a profound sense of Welcome, in our Being, in our Body, in the midst of our People and in this World of Aliveness, will grow into, or emerge into a Being that Cares Skill-fully and WELL.
Those who grow up in misattunement and frustration develop structures adapted, as best possible, to misattunement and frustration, often recreating these qualities in their adult lives as the very Qualities of the “intimacy” most familiar to them. It takes courage, humility and a willingness to learn in order to guide ourselves on ever more fulfilling Journeys of Emerging into Being.
Creating a different intimacy implies learning to care fully for self and, eventually, others. It also requires setting healthy boundaries and putting an end to our complacency with abuse and neglect, or excuse-making for abusive people. Few wait to complete that learning before bringing others into the world.
A child becomes a mother who then mothers as she was mothered, not out of any “choice,” but out of these deep, pre-conscious, neurological structures laid down in her earliest experiences of relationship. Modern culture normalizes and promotes a brutish way of relating to each other, our children and our world. What has become normal for us is far from natural. Disconnective relationship has been promoted for several thousand years and is now a multi-billion dollar cultural complex spewing forth socio- and psychopathology from Hollywood to your television. Many children around the world today receive more “mothering” from those television sets than from their own parents, with the neurology to match.
Whichever way we “care” will always seem “normal” to us, whether that’s laughing and bonding deeply with our children and intimates or leaving them physically or emotionally hurting, or abandoning them to be raised and mesmerized by Hollywood’s very well-named “programs.” We are adaptive Beings and adapt to, out of and back into the Living Structures we are.
When I started traveling and teaching in 2009 one of the things that surprised me the most, and continues to, is the level of dissociation I see has become widespread. I meet very few people who are “all here,” whether that’s in conversation, a course, or a task they are doing. “Dissociation” comes from the Latin dis: “apart, separate from” + sociare: “to join,” from socius: “companion.” There is a very peculiar quality of relating that is widespread among the vast majority of “modern” people that is profoundly different from the quality of relating among People with a rooted sense of Belonging, of Welcome.
I see many people seeking connection and destroying it at the same time. This goes back to our primary way of relating with our mothers: the confusion engendered by the promise of connection that is repeatedly cut off to the point where “cutting off” becomes our reference for “connection.”
Dissociation is something I saw a lot of during decades of working with head-injured and trauma patients. It surprised me to see it so prevalent in society at-large. It is a classical hallmark of trauma. Trauma is much more subtle than what we associate with that word and what I saw in my decades of Critical Care Nursing.
When I began teaching in 2009, I thought I was leaving trauma care behind. What I discovered is a form of relationship and culture, now gone global, that is traumatizing most people who grow up in it in very subtle, yet profoundly destructive and multi-generationally lasting ways, all the way to our neurology. We effectively have a head injury that didn’t come from a physical blow or a neurological illness. It comes from a relational illness that we have normalized, even institutionalized, culturally, and our neurological adaptation to growing far from our biological, relational and evolutionary norm.
As I was challenged to comprehend and address what I was seeing with clients, I also discovered tremendous resources for growing and connecting through and beyond this relationally- and culturally-engendered trauma.
Few of us are aware that out-of-tune mother-child bonds and family dynamics can be profoundly and permanently traumatizing in ways that the traumatized have no recall of and without any of the crude manifestations of physical or emotional abuse. Our society still is not prepared to acknowledge even physical, emotional, or sexual abuse honestly. Abuse and the false promise of “connection” is the very basis of how our social, economic, educational, political and medical institutions function. Our subtleties and sensitivities are much more profound than we dare imagine or that the culture supports.
Few of us are aware that we are extraordinary beings with a tremendous capacity for reconnecting ourselves at all ages, provided we create the conditions for that.
Dr. Allan Schore notes:
The massive ongoing psychobiological stress associated with dysregulated attachment trauma sets the stage for the characterological use of right-brain unconscious pathological dissociation over all subsequent periods of human development.
In Affect Regulation & the Repair of the Self (©2003 Allan N. Schore, W.W. Norton & Co. Inc.) he states:
There is now a growing body of evidence indicating that the massive caregiver misattunement of abuse and neglect induces not only intense attachment ruptures but also severe dysregulation of the infant’s nascent, fragile psychobiological systems especially in the early-developing right hemisphere. Furthermore, the primitive avoidant strategy of dissociation that is accessed in order to cope with this trauma (Liotti, 1992) is known to lead to permanent alterations in the maturing brain (Schore, 2001c; Weinberg, 2000), and these events, stored in implicit-procedural memory, thereby increase the use of dissociation in later life (Siegel, 1996).
Dr. Schore’s work helps us gain an appreciation of how delicate, sensitive and varied the processes involved in our development are. It is a surprising source for comprehending the nature of the challenges facing us at all levels of our emergent human relationships and the ecology of living structures we relate to ourselves and all of Life with, how they are shaped and how we can learn to regulate ourselves when we have grown up in dysregulated and dysregulating relationships.
Humanity, right now, is at the crux of a dilemma, of two different propositions: to care fully while facing often unpleasant dynamics in our lives and society, or to care less while avoiding lending any attention to the unpleasant dynamics in our lives and unconsciously reproducing them in the lives of others.
I once heard someone ask a Lakota friend if he could see spirits. “Of course I can,” he said, “so can you. It’s much easier than you imagine.” “How?” the man asked. “Just open your eyes and look all around you. You think your spirit is just inside of you, but your spirit is all around you. To SEE your spirit notice how your Presence leaves the world, the people and the Life all around you. This is your spirit. Its Nature is so Obvious, often so painfully obvious, that we would rather close our eyes and pretend that our spirit can’t be seen. But it can. Our tracks and the ways in which we touch, talk to and treat our world and each other reveal our spirit.”
Many of us live in a very tenuous relationship to Being Welcome in our world. Our world is now also caught up in our very tenuous sense of Being Welcome. I once heard a Lakota friend comment “how extraordinarily tedious relationships are between so many white people.”
I noticed this contrast first-hand and became more aware of my own “tedious relational habits” during three years spent in relationship with an indigenous woman and much time spent with her various family members who, surprisingly to me, didn’t have all of these very attention-demanding, conflictive ways of constantly negotiating, explaining and defining relationships, of aggressing or neglecting, being completely oblivious to repeatedly given or stated clues, and then apologizing and renegotiating. These are typical and exhausting ways of relating for so many people who descend from conquered peoples, like most Europeans and those who have been Europeanized, among many others. No one is to blame. Some of us can become response-able.
“From a basic biological perspective, the child’s neuronal system–the structure and function of the developing brain–is shaped by the parent’s more mature brain. This occurs within emotional communication.“
SEIGAL, D.J. (1999) The Developing Mind: Towards a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience. New York: Guilford Press
In living with people who still naturally attune to each other, I discovered intimately what it means to live well together, from an inner intelligence and sensitivity. I experienced what relating from right-brain and heart-centered attunement is like, in stark contrast to the constant verbal, procedural, definitional, rules-based and exhausting way of relating of many Westerners.
We relate with the neurological structures developed, or underdeveloped, in our primary relationships in our first two years of life. Our neurology is not isolated in our heads and spinal chord. In a naturally developing human being, intelligence integrates our entire body. With the advent of organ transplants, Western medicine has discovered that people receiving organs from other people also receive memories and capacities as well. Transplant a heart and you have transplanted a brain, because the heart is the primary organ of organizing, relational, resonant and coherent intelligence.
I first became aware of this heart intelligence when I became friends with three traditional Cheyenne men and started traveling around and spending a lot of time with them back in 1985. Early on I learned to back off from asking a bunch of direct questions, making direct requests or making continual demands on each other’s attention. I learned to answer my own questions by paying attention. Nevertheless, a lot of questions came up for me because my Cheyenne friends were very different from the people I grew up with.
My eldest Cheyenne friend would often and repeatedly answer, out loud, my unstated, silent questions as soon as they popped up in my mind during, for example, a long, mostly quiet car ride together. It was as if I had spoken my question out loud and he had just answered it. But I hadn’t said anything. Often we weren’t even in the midst of a conversation. I experienced this kind of “telepathy” with my Cheyenne friends over years and found it astounding.
My Cheyenne friends, on the other hand, found white and “whited-out” people’s challenges in even “knowing” what’s up with our closest friends, relatives, spouses and intimates just as astounding. They couldn’t believe that people could grow up in such profound misattunement with our closest relatives. It seemed incredible to them to spend a lifetime with people and not have that deep knowing of and deep being-known by them.
It was very sad to them, like dealing with someone with a severe handicap but of the most profound kind: being cut off from one’s own heart and capacity for attuned connection.
As I began to live with and befriend different people around the world, I discovered that this capacity of deep, mutual attunement is the human norm until conquest and trauma alters our way of being human and connecting in our most intimate relationships.
Once again, Life is Emergent. Fully-developed individuals in relationship to other fully-developed individuals naturally evolve a social intelligence that seems surprising to people who grow up in poorly-attuned or profoundly-misattuned and/or mutually-frustrating primary relationships.
One day I expressed my surprise at my Cheyenne friend’s repeated and consistent ability to respond to questions I had never spoken out loud. “I hear you right here,” he said, and pointed to his heart. For me that had a “poetic indigenous” ring to it. I wouldn’t know what that meant, in my own heart, until sixteen years later when I began to reconnect to my own heart as a center of “Intelligence,” a very precise word from the Latin int: “between” + legere: “to read, to choose.”
“Reconnecting to our hearts” sounds “nice.” For me, that awakening, far from pleasant, was quite painful. When it happened, I spent the next four years trying to “fix” what I was feeling. I was that alarmed at my own feelings. Having survived profound physical, emotional and cultural abuse, tossed between two very different cultures and growing up in two other cultures and languages, with years of separation from one parent and then another, I had surprised everybody who knew my history with “how well I had overcome a very rough childhood.” How I survived, however, was by profoundly shutting down a capacity to feel sadness, grief, anger and rage and to cry, at age seven. I then grew into a “happy, well-adjusted,” even “successful” young man who seemed “untouched” by my own childhood. I was a paragon of “resilience,” so to speak. I ignored what the cost to me was.
I was oblivious to how cut-off I was from a whole, natural, integrated, embodied intelligence that is natural to all of us and mostly, if not 100%, anesthetized in most “modern” people. Reawakening and reconnecting these Living Structures had absolutely zero resemblance to the dissociative “enlightenment” fantasies that proliferate in the so-called “spirituality” of modern and many ancient, slave-holding and caste-based cultures and which I had pursued, seeking a better way than the pain and confusion of my immediately family, starting at age 13.
The truth is that my awakening hurt like hell, just like the pain and confusion of my primary relationships which I had long-ago learned to split myself off from. At the same time, all of those feelings were buried in my body and in my heart. Little did I know that I had also, in the process, split myself off from my deepest source of sensitivity, vital knowing and literal wisdom, my capacity to orient myself in coherent relationship to Aliveness. I found myself experiencing what I judged as “infantile feelings,” at age 37, with all of the shame, guilt and implied “betrayal” of my parents and family, as I reawakened to a capacity to feel every “forbidden feeling” that I had spent a lifetime not feeling.
The personality I had developed since childhood shattered. As appealing as it was, it shielded me from my own capacity to both feel and to know bodily, wholly, naturally. I learned to quit bullshitting myself or defending and “coming to the rescue” of abusive people who had very insistently separated me from my own truth. In relation to them, that truth was one of profound pain and a lifetime of frustrated longing for connection. But I had learned to protect them from my authentic experience while ignoring it myself. I found myself reconnecting and reawakening what I later understood to be living structures adapted to disconnection and used to numbing my own feeling and existential knowing.
Reawakening naturally, in our very Aliveness, for people acculturated to cultures that are toxic to Aliveness, starting with our own Aliveness, often involves actually feeling our tendencies to disconnection and dissociation, for the first time, consciously. This is not any more pleasant than walking on a leg that fell asleep, except that what awakens, and often hurts, is not our leg but our heart. It is easy to be alarmed at this process. I was.
Fortunately, years before my teachers had told me what would happen. I just didn’t realize that I was actually living through it, until I stopped resisting my own FEELING.
Then I began to discover capacities, wisdom and vitality that, up until then, had been asleep. This is profoundly healing and revitalizing. Through our reawakened capacity to feel and recognize the nature of our experience truthfully, we also reawaken our capacity for Joy, not just as an emotion, but as a profound, coherent connection between ourselves and our world that has room for our entire sensibility and experience, including sadness and much more. Intelligence is no longer woven of ideas and a false morality of “what we should be” or of “what is spiritual,” but emerges out of our Aliveness which orients us toward what does good and what doesn’t and what we’re prepared to do about it, as response-able adults.
I spent four years devotedly seeking an exit from and a “fix” for my own experience. Finally my own Innocent and Wise Knowing made it clear that I would either journey through my experience consciously, FEELING-ly, or I would die. I was well on my way to the latter.
Eventually, I surrendered to feeling, bodily, every “prohibited” feeling arising and living in me that I had spent a lifetime in refusal of. I came to the recognition and respect of my longing for connection hand-in-hand with the recognition and respect of the incapacity of those whom I had sought it from to connect. Reconnection was no longer something to “seek” from others, it was a capacity to develop and cultivate from a knowing that my body could and did reveal to me. In a profound sense, it required the courage to “not-know” and to discover a different kind of knowing that we are made of. I had to surrender all of my sophisticated ideas and begin to follow my body’s lead.
We are literally in-formed and emerging in an adventure of Aliveness billions of years wise. Our Natural Wisdom has also very skillfully been hijacked, over the course of several thousand years, by a cultural operating system that is sociopathic and psychopathic in the sense that it teaches and even breaks us into becoming immune to our own capacity to feel.
This whole journey is not “behind” us but within every single one of us. True Knowing is natural to us. Almost the entirety of our relational and cultural programming, as “moderns,” is very intentionally, even scientifically designed to create a split between our being and our knowing, and replacing Natural Knowing with a crass, disorienting, idea-based, culturally-sanctioned, false “knowing” and false “morality” that trains us to “be good” while evil is done to us. This is inherent to the process of conquest and the subsequent displacement and dispossession, even prohibition and punishment of our natural capacity to know-from-our-Aliveness. This is how the cultures of conquerors become permanently installed in the very neurology of the conquered and then transmitted from mother to child.
The Latin term for our species, homo sapiens sapiens, indicates a human endowed with the capacity to not only know, but to know how to know, to know that we know, and to lead ourselves in wisdom. The word sapiens comes from the Latin sapere, which not only means “to know” but also “to savor, to taste.” The word “sapience” indicates wisdom, a word which literally means “knowing the condition of the ways” and, in the case of sapience, indicates our capacity to guide ourselves wisely by savoring the qualities of our experiences and relationships.
Cultures of conquest, especially the current globalizing mono-culture of today, perfect the art of converting homo sapiens sapiens, or humans capable of knowing and knowing how to know, to taste, experientially, the Nature of our experience and guide ourselves coherently toward our well-being, into homo ignorans ignorans, or humans who ignore, and ignore that we are ignoring.
To discover, experientially, the depth of my own ignoring and the fact that I ignored the most elemental aspects of my most immediate, embodied, felt experience blew my mind and awakened my heart. I had spent a lifetime in all kinds of “spiritual” pursuits and practices, never imagining that my “spirituality” was one more defense against my own knowing.
What facilitated my reconnection was a lifetime of spending many months at a time far away from people and in Natural places where Aliveness was the Law, the Intelligence and Logic I had to adapt to. Eventually our Nature attunes and begins to re-cognize itself in the patterning of Nature. This is essential for healing, a word which also means “wholeness.” If we want to make sense of our lives in the Logic of Aliveness we need to literally engage our senses in those Places where Aliveness is the Logic of Place and of the Beings we are adapting and responding to. Life is Emergent: we adapt to what we experience.
To explore this further, get a sheet of paper and map out the “dwelling places,” and key relationships that you grow up in and adapted to. I’m not just talking about your residences. I’m also talking about the schools, workplaces, communities and even “entertainment” you have spent time in. Notice the Qualities of your relationships, starting with who and how your mother was during your first two years of life: was her home environment stable? How available was she to you during the day? Was she well supported or was she in overwhelm? Did you spend most of that time in physical connection or disconnection with her? How were those relationships?
Can you invite yourself into, or deeper into, relationships and places where an Aliveness you do not control and are not domesticating is the ambient Intelligence? Invite yourself. Notice what you do there. Dare to do less and notice more. If you invest a few hours in the process of noticing and savoring Aliveness, pretty soon you will invest whole days, then whole weeks, eventually months, years and decades. Your Aliveness will come into Attunement with the Greater Aliveness. This is the Planet of Aliveness. The word “invest” comes from the Latin in: “in, into” + vestire: “to wear, clothe.” When I say invest in Aliveness I am speaking of clothing yourself in Aliveness and eventually you will become the fabric that Aliveness wears and Enlivens.
For those who are interested in the psycho-neuro-biology that grows out of the mother-child bond, Dr. Allan Schore’s paper on Early organization of the nonlinear right brain and development of a predispositionto psychiatric disorders is a treasure trove of clarifying insights into how our biology is awakened and developed, and the consequences. His Bowlby Lecture is also another treasure that elucidates how our very own neurology literally grows out of our primary caretaker’s neurology.
For readers who notice dynamics of struggle and misattunement in your intimate relationships and wonder how to come back into attunement, Michael Brown‘s book The Presence Process is a treasure for growing these skills. He spent years learning with my oldest Cheyenne friend. The 10-week process he outlines in the book is a self-led invitation to connect deeply with the full range of one’s felt experience while, at the same time, developing other strategies than creating emotional drama in our own lives and with our loved ones around what we feel. Doing the Presence Process three or four times allows us to grow new connections in our Aliveness. It is profound and effective.
May you flourish in your Aliveness as you adventure in Emerging into Being.
Of Wisdom, Which is Way-Finding,
That We May Make Our Way
To Living the Life We Love
By Noticing and Caring Fully for the Aliveness We Are.