Saying hello to a "no"

Saying hello to a "no"

It's hard to say hello to something in us that says no. It takes a lot of trust to stay with it enough to listen and hear what that is all about.

Very often my first reaction is to want to push the no away. For so many reasons the no can be unwelcome; maybe we are in a situation that does not welcome it, others may find it hard if you express it or maybe inside of us, we find it hard to hold ambivalence or conflict. A no can be awkward and difficult to have.

But what would happen if we turned towards it, is it just a no? Of course not. This no, the one you might feel right now is actually very specific and is saying no for a good reason. Our job in focusing is to show up and listen.

To illustrate this I want to share a focusing session I had on a retreat a few weeks back. It started with noticing an ambivalence, some kind of not wanting to be there. This was very familiar and made it even easier to push away. It used to be easy for me to then start giving myself a hard time about that... Luckily this time I was curious. I said to myself "something in me doesn't want to me here". This kind of fitted but there was no sense of relief or yes. After sitting with it, I noticed thoughts about my family at home. With a 20 month old son. I find it hard to be away from home. Did I want to be at home? That didn't feel right either. What came then was an image of my family walking around the garden where we were. Ahh, that's what was wanted, for us all to be here together. As I sensed more, I realised that some part of me was really upset that there was a split in my life between retreats and family, and from that a whole sense of that split being there in the wider community I have been involved in. Something in me had not liked that all along! From there came a wanting... A wanting to live a more integrated life, where family and spiritual practice where not two separate things. I moved from a no to a wanting, a longing even... And there is still more there to explore.

I am aware too as I write this that this is my particular meaning and wanting. It would be wrong of me to then want everyone to want this situation in their lives! Eugene Gendlin calls this implicit intricacy. As far as I understand it, this means that because each situation we are in is unique and each of our histories and life is unique, that from the outside of it, we cannot really say what is best for someone. We cannot say that this way of living, being or feeling will bring change and fulfilment. We actually have to "get inside" the direct sense of it to really know what would be right. I think this truth has profound implications, but at the very least invites us to be curious about what is happening right now when we sense a "no". Next time you hear one, take some time to be with it and hear its story.
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