As two beings come together, the space between precedes them. We emerge from an energetic field, and move within it throughout our lives, and through our relationships.
We meet another within a larger matrix that does not judge us for our appearance, thoughts, preferences, history, or personality. The pain we may associate with relationship is not inherent to relating. It is something we bring with us. On some level, often unconscious, we expect the pain to show up, just as it has in the past. When it does not, we wait. We wait for the other shoe to fall. Does this sound familiar?
Who are we, really, as we come together? Two beings. Two beings with faces we have carefully painted over the years. We have created ourselves so perfectly to meet our circumstances in life that we may have forgotten who we are beneath the façade. Who do we be?
Perhaps an even more important question is “How do we be together?” How can we be together, allowing our history to be there with us, without it determining our interactions? What would it be like to just be with one another? What would it be like to have no conscious or unconscious demands for how our friend, spouse, teacher, neighbour, or that person on the street must act? How would it be to be?
The Relational Field
Franklyn Sills in his book due out this month, Foundations of Craniosacral Biodynamics, refers to “the relational field” between two individuals. This is where we meet each other energetically, sensing the other via resonance. We seem to have a direct knowing of one another.
We all have this experience. Have you ever walked into a room full of strangers, like a party, and immediately felt drawn to some and repulsed by others? What information were those feelings based on? Some might be visual (a field phenomenon). One of the strangers looks like someone you have unfinished business with, and you want to avoid. Or you see a woman who has dark hair like your favourite aunt, and you want to get to know her.
Whether you process these visual cues consciously or not, they contribute to your perception of others. We sense each other in many ways, however. Like visual stimuli, other information comes to us via the space between us.
Visually, we sense patterns of light. We may perceive movement, or facial expressions. Our bodies respond to these stimuli, often without our conscious awareness. Mirror neurons in our brains register certain movements as if we were making them, ourselves. The same neurons fire when we watch someone lick an ice cream cone or when we have our own cone to lick.
These mirror neurons are believed to explain children’s ability to learn through imitation, as well as our capacity for empathy. They may begin to explain the subtle communication experienced within the relational field established between a practitioner and client.
As practitioner, for example, I may sense a pain in my shoulder reflecting that of my client. I can use this information to help me understand what is happening within the client. Similarly, how I am in my own body-mind can influence how the client is. In Biodynamics, we practice calming and grounding within ourselves as practitioners, which facilitates such settling in our clients.
A Larger Field
The relational field between us begins to settle and come into resonance as we get to know each other and feel safe. When we have a sense of trust for another, our sympathetic (fight-flight) nervous system can relax. We can begin to rest together in the present moment, settling into a state of being. This is true when we come together as practitioner and client, as two friends, or as a group.
When I teach classes, I generally ask the participants to say something in the group, even if it is just their names. I usually make a point of speaking for a few minutes first so those who don’t know me can begin to settle in relation to me, as leader of the group. Then, they can feel more comfortable to speak in the group. Once each person has spoken, there is usually a sense of the whole group field settling. We begin to relax as we have more of a sense of those we are with.
Interestingly, this is true for little ones just born, and even before birth. While these little ones have less developed brains and nervous systems, there is abundant evidence from the field of Prenatal and Birth Psychology that prenates and newborns are extremely sensitive to the relational field around them. How do they sense the nature of this field, even before their eyes are open, or their ears are developed?
Even single-celled organisms respond to the energetic field around them. Within our own bodies, our cells communicate mysteriously through resonance. While scientists effort to explain how we know what we know, all we can really ascertain is that we know.
There seems to be a direct knowing, a communication not only between our cells, but also between our beings. The space between is relationally full!
Visual and auditory perceptions are amongst the more obvious aspects of our common field. There are other, more subtle expressions we are usually not consciously aware of.
Ancestors in Action
On a personal level, each of us carries the field of our families. This is expressed in part through our genetic appearance, but our ancestral field includes expressions we may not see or hear. We do, however, sense them on some level. Those raised in a violent household, for example, tend to be drawn to violence in their later relationships. The violence may, however, skip a generation.
We may find ourselves participating in relational experiences akin to those of our grandparents or great grandparents. Lets say your great grandmother lived in a Jewish village ravaged by Russian pogroms. The resonance of that terror may have been carried down through the generations, with each new child, including you, going through life with a mysterious sense of fear. Perhaps, as a child, you were extremely shy and no one could understand why. An unconscious expectation of unpredictable violence plagues you and your family without even being acknowledged.
When I was a child, I remember people commenting on how scared I looked and how shy I was. I didn’t experience myself as either frightened or shy, but that unconscious shadow material inherited from my ancestors was blatantly apparent to others not involved in my family system. I carried this energy with me into every relational field I entered. Years of work on myself enhanced my awareness of this influence, reducing its unconscious expression in my relationships.
Prayers for the Suffering
Fortunately, we are attuned not only to our own ancestors, but also with all other beings. I have been deeply touched by the news of the recent tsunami in Japan. A few days ago, I watched a video of the tsunami emailed to me by a friend. Observing the waves destroy the town, I was struck by the sense in my own body of a resonant motion. It was as if the giant wave were sludging through my tissues, rocking my own fluid body.
Feeling the enormity of this natural catastrophe so directly led me beyond my previous sadness and compassion. It reinforced my sense of need for prayerful being in relation to the Japanese tragedy. I could not deny the connection I felt with the people on the film helplessly watching the watery devastation. It didn’t just happen to them. It happened to all of us.
I feel the pain and chaos in Japan as if it were inside my own body. I sense a similar connection with the people suffering in Japan as I do with my clients settling in a Biodynamic craniosacral therapy session. Similarly, I can offer Japan the depth of stillness I know in my own system.
I know of other practitioners who travel across the planet to troubled places like Haiti and Japan to help. This does not seem to be my role here. My place seems to be to offer and teach the power of what I tend to see as prayer, of communing through intention and stillness.
Prayer has been shown to have an effect on others, even across great distances. One explanation for how this might work is that we are composed primarily of water, a highly resonant element. Research has shown that meditating with an intention to change the pH of water, can have that effect, even across the planet. If I sit in awareness of the dynamic stillness within each of us, with an intention to share its beneficial effects, others can benefit.
One with the Cosmos
Our relational field seems to be much larger than we might have imagined. If our fluid bodies resonate with each other, is it possible to not be in relationship with all beings?
When we consider the composition of the cosmos is also water, we can begin to appreciate how vast our relational field may actually be.
Rather than unconsciously, habitually re-enacting the historical influences we carry in our field, we can begin to rest in the larger space between us. Instead of just resonating with the pain and the past, we can settle into a state of being where we resonate more fully with the spaciousness of the cosmos.
We return to source. Possibilities emerge that we had never imagined in our more narrow perspective. Our hearts open. Ah, there is love…