What quality of Presence do you yearn for and cherish?
How do you bring this into your life and relationhips?
My 92 year old mother has been diagnosed with advanced Lewy Body Dementia by the hospice staff who are caring so tenderly for her.
In the rawness and vulnerability of this time, I want an open and clear spaciousness around my experience so that I can touch and receive whatever is available to me in her time of transitioning.
I'm struck now how this parallels what I want to give and receive in friendships and relationships: the quality of presence (empathy) with each other that holds the space for the full range of human experience.
There is no pressure to affect each other's experience—no fixing, educating, comparing, soothing. Like comets in the night sky, we are travelling through the same space, to the same space, burning our own bright lights, leaving our own traces.
A few afternoons ago, I heard my mother laugh. It was like a chuckle combined with a giggle. I felt such delight to hear that laugh—truly, I don't recall ever paying attention to my mother's laugh before this, yet it was totally familiar and known to me.
In that moment of paying close attention, there was connection for me with her life force, with a spontaneous melodious utterance of pleasure in reponse to life. Something so familiar and completely new and alive in the same moment.
Why was I able to receive it effortlessly and in this way that made my body shiver with delight?
In what appears to be these final stages of her life as we've known it, I'm finding fulfillment in just being present wth her journey. And being present in this way is a deeply satisfying journey for me too. So we are both journeying with the flow of life, not knowing what is next. I want to hear each word she speaks, so I lean in closely with total focus to hear anything I can.
I feel so curious to hear, to touch, to have a glimpse of, what she is experiencing as she approaches death, as she travels through consciousnesses that are unknown to me.
I feel delight and wonder when I do experience connection with anything she has said.
And it is especially sweet when I have a sense that the quality of my presence is really holding the space for her to journey wherever her life force takes her.
This is the quality of presence I yearn for: a quality of being where we accompany each other without any interference in the others' experience.
And yet, the company, the loving presence, is there. It is, perhaps, a reverence for each person's experience.
Awe and wonder at the life force in the other person.
Curiosity about where it is and where it's going.
The vulnerability I feel being with my mother now has opened my heart and being to this quality of presence.
I feel so grateful for the practices of NVC and Mindfulness, and the teachers and friends who guide and accompany me on the path of compassion.
For those of you who are already familir with NVC, I invite you to join me on Sunday, December 18 in Asheville for a day of accompanying each other in the energy of empathy, compassion and presence. We will focus on opening our hearts to empathic presence, making requests and practicing empathy skills.
Roberta Wall was a civil rights lawyer in NYC and a mindfulness practitioner and coach. She is a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication. She has led trainings and retreats in Compassionate (Nonviolent) Communication and Mindfulness on five continents, focusing on the Mideast, and has been the recipient of numerous peace fellowships. In Asheville, NC she has recently joined the Board of Congregation Beth Israel, participates in the Thich Nhat Hanh Buddhist meditation community, and participates in human rights movements.
Click here to register.
Roberta's website : www.steps2peace.com
Roberta's blog: robertaindia.wordpress.com