And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father.
The more I reflect on the forgiveness circle, the more it seems to encompass. In my last post, I wrote about learning (through trial, in both senses of the word!) and much error, that forgiving is circular. When I forgive someone for hurting me, I also understand that shadow in myself – and can be kinder to myself. And when I am able to forgive myself (so much harder) then I also start to understand how others have failed or hurt me.
When I can be in that blessed place, life is generous and welcoming. When I go back into my scratchy ego, the world feels gray and out of sorts. I once read a book called After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. The title said it all: how often we have a moment of understanding – everything seems clear, and then we are thrown back into greater confusion as our subconscious throws unfinished business at us.
So I have tried to stay within the forgiveness circle in my daily life. It changes the perspective – I am looking from what neuro-linguistic programming calls the third position.
According to their theory, we can see from three possible viewpoints:
First is when we look out of our own eyes. We are the drivers in our lives, defending, claiming, seeing everything from our point of view. Our instructor (I am distancing myself from a sexist comment) told us that men tend to use first position, which makes sense historically and is how they used to be raised.
Second position is putting yourself in another's shoes, as anyone who cares for a child recognizes. Women, we were told tend to operate, often too much, from second position.
Third is observing as an onlooker, not caught in the needs of either side. It can also be a cold, detached place.
One is not better than another, but understanding the choice and having the flexibility to move between positions makes life much richer. So my circle enables me (when I can do it!) to see first my, often shortsighted, take. Then flick across and look out of my partner's eyes. How does he feel? Where was he standing? What is going on in his life that affects this?
Of course, this is where I tend to be on a schizophrenic teeter-totter, seeing both sides at once and beating myself over the head. So third position enables me to step back and watch both sides like actors on a stage. In all three positions, not only is it where you are looking from, but where your energy is. Is it in my space, or yours – or over by the wall, looking on. It makes quite a difference to how together I feel and how protected I am.
And from practicing this, when I don't fall off the horse, I have noticed two revolutionary things;
We can both be right – and that's OK.. Each, from our individual perspective, can have a valid case. If I can see this, then the power struggle stops. Both of us are reasonable, it can be resolved and accommodation made without either feeling one-up or one-down.
Today's example: while driving along a crowded street, a parked car started reversing out, almost hitting us. My husband leant on the horn, not very aggressively, but enough to alert and stop the driver. Her window came down, teeth snarled and expletives sizzled. How to react? Well, we could get indignant and justify the horn, but simpler by far to think she must be having a really bad day – and let it go. As I used to say to our kids: “Who would you rather be, you or her? It must be so uncomfortable inside her.”
Each person is an energy spiral. Let's face it, we are all just energy, even if we think we are blue eyed and blonde. I find myself seeing more and more the whirling energy, the soap opera, positive or negative. Each of us spiralling away in our own little world. Perceived like this, we are like fairground bumper cars, bumbling round each other, sometimes crashing. But, and this came like a lightening bolt, we are separate and do not have to take on the emotions and garbage of the other.
So, I promptly flagellated myself, is that self-centred, uncaring? Get out the whip – I have been raised, after all, to put everyone else first. So I ask: what do I want from a friend and, in turn, what do they want from me?
I want my good friends to be affectionate and kind. I also want them, in extremis, to be calm, unpassioned and make me a soothing cup of tea. Which is exactly what my friend Margaret did for me when my mother was dying. God forbid she had wept and raged with me. I needed an anchor in a storm.
What do my friends want from me? What I try to give, and hope it is enough, is from third position – I have often felt as if I am on the bank of a fast running river, holding firm the hand of a flailing friend. Third position gives me an overview and enough emotional distance to stand anchored by their side. From this grounded position I then try to see with their eyes and, almost by osmosis, understand how they feel. But weeping with them doesn't help, though my heart is wrung. I ask myself, what would I need to hear if I were them? And third position helps me deliver what I can.
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield.
Returning to Oneness:the Seven Keys of Ascension by Leslie Temple-Thurston and Brad Lauchlin.