Saturday, October 29, 2005

Inducing Consciousness in Others

Over the last few years, I’ve clocked some serious hours on my meditation cushion. Sometimes, serenity evades me despite my best efforts. But at other times, I get a glimpse of liberation. I’ve come to understand that that state is present and available whenever I’m able to interrupt the constant stream of thought that imprisons me in my self image. Interestingly, although I didn’t choose these professions with that in mind, I’ve spent the last several years working as a hypnotist and magician; careers which are designed to do just that; to interrupt the stream of thought and bring about a transient experience of liberation. As I think about it, I believe that the pursuit of enlightenment is often accompanied by the desire to guide others there as well.

We all have the capacity to deliver at least one of the experiences that induce enlightenment. Perhaps you can tell a joke or a funny story and make someone laugh. Or maybe you can create a soothing physical environment in which people can relax into their essence. You might fill your house with beautiful music, pleasing visual stimuli, and live plants to induce a shift into harmonization with nature. If all else fails, you can always use your skills as a great lover to induce enlightenment through sexual ecstasy!

Even if you possess none of the skills I’ve described, however, you still have one thing which can stimulate liberation in others, and that is presence. Merely attending to another person creates an environment for spontaneous growth and healing.

Suppose you were to make a commitment to giving your undivided attention to everyone you encounter, to empty your mind of all thoughts and be so completely present that the other person had nothing with which he or she had to compete.

Have you noticed that it’s very easy to tell when someone is really listening to you? Attending to you? Have you noticed how quickly you become aware when someone with whom you’re speaking becomes distracted or preoccupied? Have you also noticed that it’s very difficult to talk to someone who’s not listening? I don’t mean that it’s difficult to get them to hear you. I mean it’s actually difficult to construct your own thoughts.

Communication is an organic process. It requires a giver and a receiver. Absent of a receiver, the giver is incapable of doing his or her job. The system backs up, not just to the mouth of the giver, but all the way back to the brain. The mechanism for thought-creation freezes and the giver loses the ability to think clearly. Once that ability is suspended, the giver becomes edgy, confused, and blocked. You’ve no doubt experienced this state and have wondered why you felt that way. I call this the inability to show up. We must be witnessed if we are to show up. We talk into someone’s listening. Our essential message, the clarity of our expression, and the recognition of our own truth require a receiver or they can’t become manifest. The enfolded remains enfolded. We cease to be creative. We become depressed, isolated, and insecure.

That is what we do to others when we fail them as listeners. We wound their souls and cast them into suffering. Don’t think for a moment that you can get away with providing inadequate attention, that it goes unnoticed or that its effects are unfelt. If you know it when you’re not being received, you can be sure that others know when you’re giving less than your full attention.

Conversely, when we resolve to give others our undivided attention, they can show up. They can touch their own essence. They can discover their own inner resources. They can become who they’re truly meant to be. And as they unfold, we get the benefit of seeing who they really are. We get to discover bridges between us and them that we never knew existed. Not only do we end their isolation, we end our own as well. Life is more fun when we take the time to make real connections.

The act of connecting is a deliberate one. We must decide to become and remain present. We can’t wait for the circumstance or our mind to make that decision for us. If we do, we’ll be distracted by the constant stream of thoughts in our head which are completely unrelated to the interaction at hand, as well as by the mental chatter evoked by the interaction. Judgments, evaluations, questions, and uncomfortable emotions are all likely to surface as we stand face to face with another, and, within a very short period of time, left unchecked, our mind will create a movie screen of images between us and the other person. It’s only our commitment to presence that prevents us from withdrawing our focus of attention. We must do our very best to direct attention back to the present moment and to the person or group with whom we’re interacting. In doing so, we’re giving a gift that won’t go unnoticed.

As we become clearer channels of presence, we provide an environment in which those around us can touch something profound within themselves. As they do, they can become liberated from their own mental limitations and from the suffering those limitations create. It’s remarkably gratifying to know that just being present can, and often does, bring about incredible growth!


Blogger Franklin said...

I have spent the better part of my life communicating while invisible and mute.

4:18 PM  

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