I didn’t want to go. The way I didn’t want to go on my Grandmother Ceremony journey and the way I didn’t want to go to Vipassana.

That kind of resistance is a sure fire way for me to know there is deep reckoning available.

I dreamt the night before of a dear friend who was my first entrance into this community. I was in his arms with my hand on his heart.  I knew I should go, there must be heart in it.

The workshop was at the Integral Relating Center in Boulder, and it is called, Aletheia. I arrived, found my seat in the circle and sat back to see whether or not I would stay.

Fast forward through introductions, agreements, yeah, yeah, let’s go.

We break off into smaller circles. We meditate together and then see where our attention goes. Who are we curious about?

We just let it flow, with no agenda, and just be aware.

Attention comes to me. My pulse quickens. My temperature rises. My hands are sweaty. I notice my posture: legs crossed, facing slightly side ways. I flush.

I uncross my legs, open my scarf, plant my feet on the earth, and sit tall.

The facilitator comments. You just took up three more feet of space. You just came alive. You like this attention, huh?

Me: Yes, why not, that’s why I am here, right? I want to be seen and known and so I am going to take full advantage.

Suddenly, all eyes on me, I think, now what? Now I have to perform?

Me: I realize that now that I have your attention, I think I have to make it worth your while, or please you and I don’t know what to do.

I begin to cry. The realization is important. I say it out loud, I am witnessed, I have time to speak it and have it received.

They are not telling me I shouldn’t feel that way. They are not telling me I am being a baby. They are not telling me to relax, calm down, chill out. Don’t be emotional.

They are honoring my experience.

I realize that I want to be seen and yet fear it immensely. In the moment, I see the pattern. I seek attention, get it and then feel the pressure and freeze.

I feel so deeply. Deep in my belly, rising up like the snake, through my heart, into my throat, I let out the sobs, oh no, the ugly cry.

I shame myself in front of them, you can’t see me ugly and crying.

Facilitator: Ah, a lot just happened. You were nervous, you got attention, you liked it, then you felt you had to please us, you shut down, you started crying, now you are criticizing yourself.

Me: I have to hold it all together, be pretty, be proper. I hear the voice of my elders, don’t take up too much space, keep it clean, be nice, BE QUIET.

Realization comes:

I’m living in half. Embodying only half of the circle. The light, the bright, the nice, the good, the holy, the clean. This is the safe ground of a little, middle class white girl.

The other half, the dark mother, the deep underworld, the raging river, the eruptive anger, the mad, the jealous, the loud, the big, the mean. She is not allowed.

I want to know her so bad.

Merging. Integration. Fullness. WHOLENESS.

In the circle of hearts, people are keen to listen, to see, to know. Honoring one another as sacred parts of the whole, seeing that I am you and you are me, we learn from one another’s experience and we honor it. Wow. Novel idea.

In this safe container, I see…

I want to be seen but I am afraid you will kill me. I am afraid that if I go to the dark side, where all my juicy, deep, rich, creative, expression dwells, untapped, yearning to bubble forth, that I will never work another day in my life as a teacher. I will be shunned, shamed. If I dive deep, bring the dark into the light, integrate the whole, share my truth, embody my feminine, you will burn me at the stake. 

I am heard. I have revealed. I understand a little better what’s next for me.

Them: I feel alive. I feel curious. I can relate. I want you to go there.

Me: You do? You want that? It’s okay if I am messy and bloody and hanging out for you to see?

Them: YES!

That was only day one, a first circle. If nothing else happened for me it would have been worth my time and money. Through the course of the weekend I participated in seven more circles.

I got that we human beings want and need nothing more than deep connection and relationship with others.

We all have trauma to some degree, trauma being an unmet need. Then, based on what wasn’t met in our early years, we make up stuff about ourselves. We don’t belong. We will be rejected. We are unloved. We are different. There is something wrong with me.

If we bump up against conflict as we attempt to get our unmet needs met through others unconsciously, we falter sometimes, we get hurt, we blame, we project, we damage relationships and we leave, or, we just relate at a surface level, leaving the dark, rich, juicy mess of being alive untapped.

Given agreements, a safe space and a lot of heart, we can find people who want connection too, and we can stay with the conflict inevitable with contact and see it through via deep listening, presence, and care.

Then, like the pearl that is shined by grit, we see it’s the rub that offers the beauty.

We can meet one another on a deeper level, having integrated all our parts, having told the truth, having owned our own experience, having honored ourselves and others.

Then, the saying by Robert Frost is experienced as true. The only way out is through.

The weekend started with those agreements that I thought were fine, yeah, I know all that, I’ve been in lots of workshops. The weekend ended with me integrating the agreements at a much deeper level, remembering the difference between knowing them and living them.

1. Integrity- Honor your word, do what you say you are going to do by when you say you are going to do it. If not, tell someone.

2. Honor Self- Oh, this is so deep! Honor yourself, your desires, your needs.

3. Honor Other- again, rich!

4. Own your Own experience- own that your experience is yours and not the fault of, or created by anyone or anything else. Know that you can own what is so for you in the moment too. Feeling angry? Can you own it? Say: I am angry right now.

5. Hide Nothing- Though a game towards intimacy doesn’t necessarily thrive by ‘Sharing Everything’ i.e. every single thing that crosses our minds, it does tend to thrive when we notice anything we would hesitate to share and commit to sharing it with anyone it’s arising with:

This commitment sometimes helps nudge us beyond shyly holding back when we’d prefer to engage…well, since I committed to Hiding Nothing I’m gonna share this
This commitment doesn’t preclude privacy, some things might be best honored by not speaking them…the most artful way to Honor Self while also keeping Integrity in these situations is to at least acknowledge with those involved: “hey, just so you know there’s something I’m choosing to not share with you” (and maybe ‘it’s more about honoring my privacy than hiding anything from you’)

Practicing these agreements in our relationships can create huge shifts.

In Greek Mythology there is a river called, Lethe, it is one of the rivers of Hades in the underworld and it is knows as the river of forgetfulness. Lethe literally means, oblivion.

Aletheia is un-forgetfulness, the opposite of oblivion.

In this weekend, I swam in deep currents of the river Aletheia, which woke me up to the truth, again.

I forget that I can’t just know these deeper truths and call it a day. I have to live it as a practice, on-goingly pushing myself to stay awake to the way I relate.

We are love. We are connected, like the spider web that feels the slightest vibration, no one or nothing in the whole is alone, isolated. We all feel so much, so deeply, or at least we did until we shut it down.

Let us remember who we are, a united humanity, a conscious web, each one of us here on purpose, a miracle, a vital part of the collective.

Let’s get down and dirty and grity, make contact, feel the rub, and see it through.

Care enough to cross the threshold and love in, ever further, rather than pulling out, shutting down, putting away.

We are all made up of heart, really. Just stars, earth, sparkles and bloody, red, pulsating heart. I want to see you bleed. And I mean that in the nicest way. 😉

If you are interested in the Aletheia program contact Erin Needham at erin@integralcenter.org or visit the web-site at http://integralcenter.org/aletheia/

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