There is tremendous pressure on the separate self these days as we learn that we are not separate: from ourselves, from the earth, and from the movement of life. While we can know this as a mental concept, if it is not an embodied knowing it too easily remains a confused ideal or abstraction that actually further separates us. Here we can become frustrated with lots of good ideas that don’t really alter feelings of separation.
What does seem to initiate powerful change is doing exactly the opposite of what most of us would like to do: develop an engaged and authentic relationship with human conditioning. I have no doubt that our separated/traumatized human conditioning will continue to run the planet until it is seen, energetically met, and integrated into our nervous systems. It may be surprising to read, but we are designed to do exactly this. While our nervous system is conditioned by hundreds of thousands of years of human conditioning, it is — first and foremost — an untapped spiritual vehicle with unlimited potential.
Slowing down to be with — and to feel — life just as it is actually cultivates awareness of the spiritual consciousness running through our nervous system. Our nervous system is designed for this level of connection to life. From here, we begin to learn what life is. This is life on its terms, not as we would like it to be or imagine it to be. These two ways of relating to life reflect different levels of awareness within us: the conditioned fear-based contraction that pulls away from life and the wholehearted trusting connection that engages in life. The former is limited and contracted, and the other liberated and life-infused.
I can assure you that we all have both within us. I believe that we learn to trust in, and live from, the more liberated version most effectively with other people. Practicing within a group that actually has us energetically “wear” the consciousness of connection — especially to the conditioned aspects of participants — grounds us in ways that a solo practice simply cannot do. Conditioned aspects are accustomed to hiding in the shadows, not showing up and being validated as it is, without fixing or shaming. Herein lies the most promising aspect of the Group Inner Constellation work: we heal through presence and attunement, not through fixing or “trying” to change. Of course, learning to presence that which we have designed our life around avoiding, also makes ICM work challenging at times!
ICM challenges our habits of resistance and/or making ourselves, life, or others wrong. Our deeper/higher connections to life manifest through the considerable pressure and discomfort of meeting this challenge, not in spite of it! Meeting life “as it is” grounds the innate spiritual nature within each of our nervous systems. Learning to stay with life “as it is” is a form of surrender or bowing down. This humble gesture changes everything about our relationship to life. It cultivates the ability to listen deeply beneath concepts and words. Surrender is not a collapsed state, but an available wholehearted state of being present with what is (the only way we can be present). We become available for an inner-guidance that allows us to “under-stand” (stand-under) life’s conditioning in new and creative ways.
With practice and time, we become vehicles for change in ways that we never thought possible. These changes seem to occur quite naturally, without effort. They can even feel miraculous. As we become more available for life, it’s natural vitality begins to flow through our nervous system more abundantly and change simply happens. Several years of Silence Practice facilitation has given me a deep respect for the timeless human gesture of surrender. The ICM way of working is a change I did not see coming and it continues to emerge and develop in seemingly limitless forms of expression in the nine-month Universal Heart Series.
What does it take to develop and sustain inner-stillness while living in the world? It takes everything we have and more. Short cuts are not an option because they rob us of the fiery inner-struggle that gives birth to presence! Connecting with the spaciousness of inner-stillness is an important beginning as I have discovered in the years facilitating Silence Practice groups. However, if meditation remains only an individual practice, we eventually miss out on the awkward toddler stage of discovering how to relate from inner-stillness in the world around us. This is where life becomes challenging and exciting! It is in our relationship to the world that our conditioned trauma (or patterns of contraction) show up. I recall the Buddhist story of a monk who meditated for twenty years in a cave in perfect peace. However, as he was making his descent down the mountain, the first person he came across did something to offend him and he flew into an uncontrollable rage!
An embodied spiritual practice is about living in the world with an alive and engaged spiritual intelligence. As this intelligence manifests in our nervous system, we naturally connect to the world differently. We are no longer using our energy to try to get away from difficulties because our body’s nervous system has learned to operate from a more spacious awareness. Through the engaged transparency of a group of available nervous systems, the trauma of our human conditioning loosens as it is seen and felt within others. Within this responsive container, we also begin to hear the higher-whispers of our soul’s emergence.
Lastly, it takes courage and willingness to engage in the world in ways we have not seen before. The immense pressures of our time are calling us beyond the conditioned habit of our separate self-identities. However, seeing and acknowledging our habits of separation and resistance from life are where we must begin. If we don’t begin where we are, we build our spiritual house on shifting sands that will not stand up in the storms of life that inevitably arrive. We are on a steep learning trajectory at this time in human history. Our habits of separation are reliably relentless teachers, neither wrong nor bad. Let’s gather and meet the challenge of past conditioning in creative new ways as we enter this pivotal decade. Investing energy in the myth of separation has been the default consciousness on the planet, but it is surely not the end of our collective human story.