Embodied Transformation & Evolution

You Are Surrounded

Posted by on Jun 20, 2017 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 0 comments

You Are Surrounded

“We cannot save things. Things pass away. We can only attend to relationships, to the relationships between things. Conversations are efforts toward good relations. They are an elementary form of reciprocity. They are the exercise of our love for each other. They are the enemies of our loneliness, our doubt, our anxiety, our tendencies to abdicate.
~Barry Lopez

I remember the cowboy movies I used to watch as a child, which often reached a defining moment in which a man heard the words: “Throw down your gun and put your hands up. You are surrounded.”

For the man who heard those words, being surrounded was usually an experience of helplessness and defeat, unless he had access to some super powers that could free him from the situation. What I am writing about here is an entirely different way of being surrounded. I speak of the great web of life that we live inside of, and to the fact that support and connection are always available.

It seems to be a dawning recognition in our collective field that we need to give and receive support, and that all kinds of support are available. This growing awareness is a beautiful evolutionary movement; and it has not yet become part of our lived reality. The sense of being a separate, distinct, enclosed person has been with us for a long time. It’s the core of our egoic identity; it seems to be part of our gene pool. Our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents lived with this feeling as well. Unless they were lucky enough to be part of a community in which a living sense of interconnection was the ground of their shared reality.

3 black people hugging

We talk to each other about finding support, reaching out, not trying to do it alone; and this is a good and necessary conversation. But for most of us, the deeper reality, the radical truth of interconnectedness, has not yet emerged. We feel it in moments, and then our sense of being alone and separate reasserts itself.

When I do constellation work with my clients, I often take them through a process in which they are able to make contact with the field of invisible support behind them. If a person is able to stay in their body and allow themselves to actually feel the energy behind them, they will always have a sense of someone or something holding them. I’ve never seen anyone who could not make contact with this energetic reality. Many people who are not religious in any way experience some kind of vast being like an angel behind them. Or they have a sense of their ancestors, or a teacher of some kind-a wise and deeply loving presence.

They are often startled, surprised to discover that they are being held in this way. And then they wonder, “Why do I not feel this, as I move through my days?” My response to this question is that we live in a culture that constantly upholds the truth of our small and separate nature, in thousands of different ways. Even if I have a strong spiritual practice, I’m often doing it alone, with a lot of self-efforting, instead of practicing inside a relational field.

The deeper response to this question is that we all carry trauma, in our minds and bodies, from the times when we felt afraid and very alone as children. Until we are able to process these imprints, they tend to impact our experience from below the level of our conscious awareness, pulling us back again and again, into a sense that real ongoing support is not really available, that it’s difficult to find, and precarious once it appears.

At this moment in our history, it feels critical to me that we find ways to move through and beyond this assumption about the nature of our reality. None of the challenges that we face are responding to individual efforts. We need to come together, on many many different levels. Because we are together already-we have just learned very successfully, to ignore this fact.

In the training I just completed with Stephen Busby, he quoted Bert Hellinger, who used to say that it’s actually quite presumptuous of us to keep assuming that we exist without support.  When we are challenged we do feel alone, frightened and without resources, much of the time. But if we really take a good look at life, this is not what’s actually going on.

I live with an ongoing prayer in my heart that we can begin to awaken to this larger reality, to an appreciation of the fact that we are surrounded by support, and by love, no matter how it may appear.

To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. If we attend with imagination and devotion to our conversations, we will find what we need; and someone among us will act—it does not matter whom—and we will survive.  ~Barry Lopez

with love,


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