What a gift it is to be seen, really seen, in a way that nourishes you deeply. It is a gift that everyone desires, but funny enough, we never seem to put it on the list for Christmas. It is something that we want so deeply that we may not even be aware of our longing until it is met, and then, in a rush of deep appreciation we feel what has been missing for so long that we forgot it had been lost.
Recently I had the opportunity to really experience this first hand in a profound way. In my Hakomi training, we had an exercise around the impact we have upon others. Specifically, we were going to speak about an impact that someone had upon us of which they may not be aware. And so, in groups of five we sat, and one became the focus of the work, and the others had a conversation about this person. I lay there while these four people I know well spoke aloud of the impact that I had upon them. My only job was to stay mindful and notice how it was to hear this news, to hear of my affect upon others, and to notice what arose within me as I heard this news. And once this was complete, to give me a bit of homework asking me to stretch into a place where they felt I might have trouble going.
Listening to this commentary was profound, it was enlightening, and deeply moving. It is funny how we often view the world around us, and how we often view our impact upon others. We think of what they must be thinking of us as we go through our day, and oh so often this is a hypercritical review of our shortcomings that we are treated ourselves to once again. Yet our actual impact is far different than the shortcomings we focus upon. I learned of how my way of being, of moving, of speaking, impacted those around me, the frankness with which I spoke of my own struggles and my own work somehow seemed to inspire others to work themselves. I heard about how my sitting with someone without asking them to be any different than they were was profoundly liberating to them. Of how surprised they were that a former Marine would have such a soft touch, and such a soft heart. As well I learned of how my focus and intensity could serve as a wall keeping folks just a little further away than I would have wished, and I felt that connection, in my own heart and head, of how this was just one small unconscious step I took to create a situation where I would be exceedingly self-sufficient and never need any help (more on this soon).
To my surprise, not one of these folks noticed the debris field of work that I had been doing. Not one of them saw the short comings that I tend to focus upon daily, no one mentioned any of the myriad ways in which I seem to come up short (at least when I review my own actions). Instead the pointed out to me the blind spot that I had within my field of vision, they pointed out to me the ways that I was helpful and kind that I never would have noticed. Hearing thee words touched a part of my heart that longed to help others, that longed to have an impact upon this world, and that wanted to be beneficial. To be seen in this way, by those I respect and trust, is to be seen as I am, and to feel the appreciation they have for me, just as I am, nothing more, nothing less. As they spoke, my mind leapt about thinking of all the ways each of us is blind to the impact that we have upon each other (after all, if there is one thing medicine has taught me, it is that I am pretty much just like everyone else in most ways). So if my impact on others is a blind spot for me, I can feel certain it is for others as well.
As I was waiting for the plane at the end of the training, I let my mind drift about this issue, and wondered aloud in my head, what might be done to help others begin to see the impact that they have upon those around them, the impact they are likely blind to having. And it begins with asking for the gift, asking for the gift of being seen. Sending a small email to a few people in your life who know you well, who will be able to give you answers to this question, and whom you can trust to be open with you about the impact that you have had. My emails went out moments ago, to those who know me well, and who will speak to me of how it is to have me in their lives. It was my homework assignment to ask, because my friends who had spoken of my impact felt certain (and they were correct) that I was blind to the impact that I have upon those around me. So, I invite you to consider this as well, to consider the impact that you have, and to ask for that gift that is oh so precious from those that surround your life. To take the chance of being seen, and if I have had an impact upon you that you feel I would be unaware of, feel free to let me know so that my blind spot might get smaller, and I might come to know who I am more deeply.
If you would like to know more about my work, or to work with me, feel free to contact me. I post regularly to Instagram (@gilgrimes), Twitter (gilgrimes) and Facebook (gilgrimes) about whatever arises from my meditation each day. You can also find me on Insight Timer. and if you would like to stay in touch sign up for my newsletter (probably once or twice a month at most).