Even with Covid, I arose earlier than Barb to spend some birthday time “where God lives.” Typically, it takes me a while to shift to a different state of consciousness to be in a place of being actively receptive. I hardly sat down, was just pulling a blanket over my legs against the morning chill, and I was visited by a clear image. I believe I was being given a shortcut in honor of my natal day.
In the image, very dream-like, I was looking through an opening in a bank of clouds. On the other end of the billowy corridor was blue, a lovely blue sky, and beneath that, Earth itself. I was viewing it all from a non-physical realm. But I’m still embodied, aren’t I? Why am I on this side of things, on this side of my hybrid existence?
We are, in fact, hybrid beings, but for the moment much of my I-ness was invested in my non-physical spirit. Usually, it’s the reverse. I wondered why this was happening now? Shouldn’t I be down there, at least my consciousness?
As I sat with the experience, I felt close to, bonded with the disembodied existence. I felt as if I belonged, something that has been an issue for much of my adult life. It was, as if for my birthday, I was given a day pass and allowed to come home for a short visit.
And perhaps it has something to do with age, as I begin my 80th year on the planet. I expect to be around for a while, but I am closer to returning “home” than I was when I was 70 or 75. That imminence sits closer to me these days. Not in the sense of a finality to be feared, not in the sense of pack up your things, we’re leaving tonight. It’s more that the inevitability of this home going feels more palpable, more present. It also feels like an invitation to bring the experience of my spirit-ness into space and time with whatever chronological time remains, to escort the “I-ness” as spirit into the body and earth consciousness that often only knows spirit as other, as object.
Similar to the “empty chair strategy” in Gestalt practice, it seems as if both halves of my hybrid nature have been invited to inhabit each other’s skin, bringing a first-person awareness to both. My earth-bound awareness has cornered much of that “I-ness” over these eight decades. The visitation early this morning was surely a calling for greater balance, to know the truth of “spirit having a human experience.”
It was a full day of texts, phone calls and emails from dear ones over eight decades. As evening settled in around our home and draped itself over the lake, I sat on the couch, looking out over the water, Nellie (our Westie) resting beside me, I felt full, enwrapped in so many relationships in this life, as well as the relationships that met me early this morning. It’s bewildering, being blessed with the presence of so many, and, yet, so often fighting the perception that I’ve been left out or left behind.
Which brings me back to “I-ness.” In the Existential-Gestalt tradition of psychotherapy, there is the strategy of the “empty chair,” which many have heard of, but few realize its purpose and the depth it can reach. When a person sits in one chair and addresses some “part” of him/herself, that person’s sense of self as “I” typically, at first, addresses the part as “other”, not connected, as an object. However, when the same person is asked to bring his/her first- person experience and invest it in the part by becoming that part, the eyes of “I” are looking out from the part in an effort to become known to that person. The “I” consciousness is now being shared, leading to internal understanding, acceptance and collaboration.
It strikes me that this may be highly analogous to what happens in meditation. The meditator moves back and forth between here-and-now, space/time consciousness and non-physical consciousness, breathing the life of “I” energy into both. Am I, then, one or the other? I am both… and. As Walt Whitman wrote, “I contain multitudes.” How can it be otherwise, if we are all of the same stuff?