The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

Free Expression, Part 2: The Witness Mudra

witness text

I got a text message from a friend today that said she was “caught in the swirl.” She said, “I need to relax.”

I replied asking if I could help. I said I had a Ph.D. in resting. “Dr. Carina,” I said, tongue in cheek, but anyway . . .

After sending that message, I recalled a few days ago (the day I wrote my last post here, in fact) when I’d messaged the same friend with the words Having kind of a sad and scared morning. I could use a big purging cry. Needed to tell someone other than myself.

My friend’s reply that day?

/m\ <3 x 100

I’ll provide the glossary for that first symbol in a moment (the one followed by the heart x 100), but first, I’ll share what I was present to as my friend’s text came through today. I felt the lack of being caught in a swirl, an emptiness and openness from which I could confidently ask my friend if I could help. I also noticed a little thought along the lines of Wow, I was going through such things a few days ago, and she heard all about it; would she feel I could be of use at all?

It’s as if there’s an idea that going-through-it (whatever that even means, and what I’m sure is unfindable if brought into the light of direct looking) is something that sticks around. That it means something about me or anyone else. That it stays with us, when, as evidenced by this morning’s feelings, it does not, in fact, stay. Nothing does. Hesitant to give lip service, I will say from experience: nothing but nothing sticks. From the most intense to the most gentle, from the deepest delight to the wildest fears, no thought, image or feeling stays. And once it’s gone, it doesn’t leave a trace.

And one thing I’ve found to be so supportive and generous during any and all times is the symbol my friend typed to me (and that I’d love to see go viral): /m\.

I call it the Witness Mudra, taken from the image of the Buddha with one hand folded in his lap and the other across his knee, touching the earth. (Although the other day a friend told me she’s pretty sure that’s also the fist bump icon, but I’ll have to check with President Obama to confirm that. I say it works as both.)

The Witness Mudra, when shared this way, is a powerful and supportive tool. It gives us the chance to listen to our people, to empathize, to witness, without attempting to solve or change or contradict or point out opposites or anything else. It gives us, as the witness, a chance to see that there isn’t a problem in what’s coming across. That it’s life expressing itself and it can be felt and heard and allowed to be. And on its way it will go. Like everything else.

For those of us venting or unloading or outpouring,  a Witness Mudra can be a relief. It’s an acknowledgment of being heard and comforted, exactly as the moment is appearing, alive in its mystery and innocence. At the same time, it’s a beacon of impermanence: all appearances are allowed to be, in that they are all known to be transient. Both as the ones expressing and the ones listening, we can rest.

I’m so passionate about this topic, I could go on and on, but for now I’ll just leave you with this invitation. Join with us in witnessing for one another and in holding that space where everything comes — and goes — and is compassionately and comfortingly seen. We can rest together in all of our states and reactions and keep quiet, trusting that each being is moving through whatever it is beautifully.

This isn’t to say that a word or two of encouragement isn’t appreciated from time to time. But perhaps there’s something to be said for not saying anything, too.

With love and exploration,

Carina

witness mudrea

 

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Things Deep in Your Own Heart

moon_girl38

It’s a pity, a gentleman in refined retirement composing poetry:
He models his work on the classic verse of China.
And his poems are elegant, full of fine phrases.
But if you don’t write of things deep in your own heart,
What’s the use of churning out so many words?

– Ryokan (Japan, 1758–1831)

I came across this beautiful passage today from a Zen poet living nearly two hundred years ago in Japan. I’d first come across a different passage from him that touched on the quiet of this day, the laziness of a rainy morning, the comfort in stillness.

I’d woken with a mixture of restlessness and heaviness. A strange combination. The head, foggy, as if I hadn’t had enough sleep or I’d been trying to unplug my nose with a Benadryl (which I hadn’t). Emotions warm and watery, feeling like I could use a good cry — you know the kind. Talking with my housemates last night and setting a date for me to vacate this place where I’ve been harbored for almost a year now. It can lead the mind to tales of aloneness: words like lonely, scared, on my own can come through. A feeling of heaviness across the forehead. A feeling of fatigue.

And still, at the heart of it all, a stillness, a settled quiet, a sense of resting in the midst of it all.

This phase I’m in — sometimes fondly called my mid-life crisis — is woven with ups and downs, joys and fears, departures and arrivals.

And when the river seems to be dammed up, clogged with swirling thoughts and attempts to manage one feeling or another, few things soothe like the flow of expression. Weaving stories from the heart of woe or fear or love or longing or delight or bliss or any other avenue that feels alive in the moment: what joy, what natural relief, what undivided love of life coming through.

This little post on my other blog came out of that warmth (and those beautiful Ryokan lines) today: http://whatamidoingup.tumblr.com/post/44873964742.

Few things comfort me than the true showing of my heart.

I made a little video recently about a few of the things I love about facilitating and practicing Scott Kiloby‘s Living Inquiries. This seems like a good time to share it, since I talk about relaxing (always a favorite topic) and creative expression. And as I leave you with the video, I also leave you with an invitation to do a little expressing yourself today. Throw a little poem to the wind, giving of your heart and its deepest loves and longings. Free to tell, free to let the river flow, free to relax back into the great movement of life, letting the unique expression of the seven billion fingers on the hand of God come through.

Please feel free to share here or write to thethearpybooth@gmail.com.

P.S. In the evening yesterday, I wrote the following note to a friend. I felt to add it here.

It’s been a sweet evening here. The passing of states never fails to amaze me. This morning was so foggy and rainy in my head and heart. I kept getting these glimpses through it, like a door opened a crack, where there was no trace of the emotion at all. I just looked after myself and did what felt good at the time. Fascinated, later in the day, to find no trace of it at all. I love that. To marry the feelings and cuddle up with them somehow has them go on their way. Quiet continues. Love you xxxxx

I love you. And now, here’s the little video:

 

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rest here

 

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