Monday, February 13, 2006

being "all there"

much of my work during the past two years has been that of becoming as fully present as possible. until two years ago i had almost no understanding of what people mean when they say "being present" (not that prior to that time i was around many people using that expression). during the past two years i have learned much; it wasn't easy and it usually wasn't painless, but it was worth every effort. i still have much ground to cover but i am willing to continue working.

people often talk and write about being present, particularly being in the present moment. however, being fully present takes us even deeper. being fully present calls for every part of us being present in our current moment and current situation, all of our parts. this is far more challenging than it first appears. we have many parts to us, and from childhood we become accustomed to being present in one or another part without embracing the whole. in fact, we find some parts of us so unattractive or undesirable that we consistently deny or repress them.

in addition to conscious choice, many things prevent our being fully present. emotions are perhaps the most frequent cause of not being fully present. we get caught in an emotion and we are carried into it while other parts of us disappear or become paralyzed. even if for just a split second, we come fully into an emotion (elation or anger or fear, for example) and for that second no other part of us exists (for most this lasts more than a second). our stories are another frequent cause of not being fully present. listen to everyone around you and you will recognize people get caught up in the telling and the retelling of a story and they are not receiving any other information through their senses while they are storytelling. we have all been susceptible to this. only part of us is operating at any given time unless we practice full presence.

work on being fully present (as fully present as possible) has changed some of my habits. i am more careful with the use of charm, being attentive to use it only when my intentions are deeply honorable. i am less likely to exaggerate or dramatize even in slight ways. i am more likely to speak slowly and more thoughtfully and more quietly. i am especially attentive to (and quicker now) catching moments after i was not fully present (especially in a split second of laughter, this still seems to pull me out occasionally).

when i was growing up, one would occasionally hear someone say of another, "he is not all there." usually this expression was made when another exhibited behavior that appeared to be unstable. i have come to use this expression for my own self when i am aware of not having all of myself fully present. sometimes i recognize i am "not all there." and my work deepens.

in an effort to become more fully present, sometimes i spend time in a practice of calling forth each part of me, giving each part time and space to express. the first time i did this was one year ago (one year ago this week, actually) during a troubling time. after a disturbing day, that night i decided to listen to every single part of me. i called every part of me to join me at a table (metaphorically speaking) and attempted to identify each part. every voice was claimed to be valid and important and necessary and i listened to each one. i spent time listening to what my angry girl had to say. i listened to the complainer. the victim. the judge. the fearful one. the compassionate one. the understanding one. the rational-thinking one. i struggled to hear what every part of me had to say about the pain i was in. i cried and listened and held each one. i gave thanks to each one for the beauty and contribution of that part. i did this for hours and from time to time worried that before the night ended i might be insane. surprisingly, by morning (i did this pretty much all night long) morning i felt more whole than i ever had before. i felt strangely so, strange that i had for the first time in my life addressed my seemingly separate parts and came out feeling more whole than before. it was a deeply moving experience that taught me much in one sleepless night.

i practice this from time to time to find a missing voice, to discover a repressed part, to accept an undesired part of me. i still have a lot of work to do to become more whole and to become ever more fully present.

those beginning steps opened me to my emotions. next steps delved into behaviors such as the nurturing part of me, the generous part, the inquisitive part, the resistant part. i now explore those fundamental parts of myself such as the spiritual, the physical, the emotional, the social, the sexual, the masculine and the feminine. i seek to hold the depressed and the exuberant at the same time, the strong and the weak, the optimist and the pessimist, the light and the shadow, the beloved and the unloved, for i am all of them. the more i discover and accept my various parts, i discover i am One.

the parts of our own self work much the way a team works. if any one part of a team diminishes another part of the team, the whole is affected. if any one part of a team rejects another part of the team, the whole is weakened or destroyed. my work is to strengthen all of me, to accept and love and listen to every part of me. every voice is valid. and every voice is needed. as much as lieth within me, i want to be fully present.

art by permission cindy lee jones


cindy lee said...

I enjoyed that so much, thank you for your openess.

diana christine said...

cindy lee ~ it felt a little scary to me to write such a personal experience, but it is an important part of the work i am doing. your comment is deeply appreciated...