My tuppence worth

What do you see??????

“We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.”  Roshi Joan Halifax

I have been noticing lately each time I hear “we are all in this together” I have a very strong visceral reaction. And with years of practicing mindful movement I decided to investigate this visceral embodied reaction. I noticed my mouth was clenched, my throat was dry and my shoulders were tighten up around my ears. As I stayed with the shape this made in my body, I began to feel a scream come from deep inside. As I let it out I heard a scramble of half formed sentences emerge,” What are you talking about…who is in this together…what does that even mean????”

As I took a step back from this reaction I realised that I truly do not know what “we are all in this together” actually means. It makes no sense to me and I begin to feel a confused cascade of thoughts going off in my head usually ending in ” I must have it all wrong, I must be missing something or finally I must be very thick!!! ”

As with so many times in my life I was planning the next workshop for my Embodied Presence/Embodied Brain group and integration was one of the main themes. It is the work of Daniel Siegel a neuropsychiatrist I have studied with. I have incorporated much of his work into my movement work.

He talks about Integration as being the “linkage of differentiated parts.” This was like a “light bulb” moment for me in the midst of my chaotic thinking and reacting.

So I began to look at pulling apart-differentiating-  ” we are all in this together” to see if I could come up with to some ability to respond rather than react.

I am not living in a high rise apartment with no balcony; I live on the West coast of Ireland with the 12 Bens mountain range or the Atlantic Ocean as my landscape. I have a huge sense of space even within 5km both visually and physically. So I have never felt ” Locked-in” whatever the restrictions. I have not lost my job – I have been challenged to adapt, to embrace zoom with all the challenges that brings.

I thought of people homeless and still living in hotel rooms; people in direct provision sharing rooms;  people owning two homes which can allow them to  vary the part of the country they choose to live in depending on the restrictions; people owning multinational online corporations making millions from this pandemic, and their workers barely receiving a living wage ; people still living in war zones that we rarely hear about nowadays and on and on……..

I wondered if it was possible for each of us to fully own and embrace our circumstances, and rather that thinking it is the same, could we honestly differentiate and then ask the question ” how can we support each other, how can we be in solidarity with each other”?

How can I fully listen to another whose circumstance are  so different from mine and ask the compassion question “how can I be in solidarity with you” without any taste of being patronising or denying our differences. How can you wonder what might I need in ordered to keep going and venture to ask?

This began to allow my nervous system to settle a little more, to wonder a little more about the people who seem to have a great need to keep saying “we are all in this together”  and maybe ask “what do you mean by that”  “What do you need  ?????”