Interbeing: A Deep Consciousness of Community
Hearing the latest news reports or even just driving down the street, it often seems that we’ve become overwhelmed by a sense of separation and conflict. As a psychotherapist with more than 35 years of practice, I am seeing more children now caught in the swirl of anxiety or lost in depression than at any time in my career. From adults, I hear expressions daily of isolation, overwhelm and a longing for a sense of purpose and connection.
At a time when we have more access than ever before to the world and all beings, there seems to be an unfulfilled yearning for authenticity, deep relationship and community.
Feeling a sense of belonging is a basic need of all of us human beings. It’s right up there with safety, competency and purpose. When any of these needs are not met, we suffer.
When all of these needs are met, we thrive, we create, and we evolve.
Sitting in a meadow, watching a hummingbird dart between blossoms, feeling the breeze on my skin, hearing the sound of a crow’s wings passing overhead, smelling the deep green scent of the nearby forest… I am nearly bowled over in wonder, awe, and gratitude.
I realize at a very deep level that I am not alone… that I am part of an unimaginable matrix of being that is in constant motion, floating on an orb in infinite space, with each part of this matrix being unique, essential and impermanent.
As we develop instruments with greater capacity to detect and measure energy, particles and space, we find that everything is, indeed, connected – something sensed for thousands of years by wisdom tradition mystics and people who live in close relationship with the earth, oceans and stars.
The mountains, I become part of it …
The herbs, the fir tree, I become part of it.
The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,
I become part of it.
The wilderness, the dew drops, the pollen …
I become part of it.
— Navajo chant
Perspective Determines Experience
Interbeing is a word that became known through the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn. It points to the interdependence of all beings – the fact that our lives directly affect and are directly affected by the lives of everything in and beyond this world.
Nature is a great teacher of Interbeing. Elements of air, earth and water nourish plants; plants nourish animals, microscopic and hooved; animals nourish humans; humans (have the capacity to) nourish the elements, plants and animals.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
– John Muir
This whole interconnected system started about 14 billion years ago with a huge explosion of matter into the void. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that we’re all made of the same stuff, AND that we are all expressions of an infinite evolutionary urge for increasing complexity and connection.
Our mental focusing has been trained to see differences (“One of these things is not like the others…”). When we base our perspective in the perception of differences, there is naturally a feeling of separation and other-ing. This way of seeing easily leads to conflict – some one/thing is right and some one/thing is wrong. The set-up is for duality, polarity, and partisanship. Three qualities of life that are reflected in each night’s news reports.
This perspective comes at great cost – we lose touch with what we share with all beings, we feel alone, and we tend to be cranky.
Our literal and figurative hearts naturally seek connection through our natural qualities of caring and compassion. When we understand the heart of something, we feel a sense of ease and relief from the tension-of-differing. We recognize what we share with all beings— the desire for safety, happiness and belonging, as well as the shared experiencing of fear, sadness and anger that are part of being sentient.
A friend of mine once said, “If you feel animosity towards someone, you don’t know him/her well enough yet.” The reference here is to a heart-knowing or the deep sensing of being in the world, which is very different from a mental knowing or the stories we tell ourselves.
Possibility and Paradox
What if we developed our capacity to see what we share, as well as how we’re different?
What if we experienced the space between us as connecting rather than separating?
What if we could live in knowing that we are fundamentally, elementally, and inextricably connected to every being – both seen and unseen -- in the neighborhood? … the world? … the universe?
As Charles Eisenstein so eloquently describes in his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, this change of our story would shift the present and future of this planet.
What if we could realize that all beings live as unique expressions of an evolutionary impulse – an irrepressible energy driven towards complexity and connection?
“Everything I encounter permeates me, washes in and out, leaving a tracery, placing me in that beautiful paradox of being by which I am both a solitary creature and everyone, everything.”
- Susan Griffin
What if we realized and honored that our True Community is far more expansive, diverse and cohesive than we ever imagined? … And that we have the opportunity to live this knowing through our relationships with ourselves, each other and the universe in which we live?
What would life be like then?
Exploration and Manifestation
What if we imagined and embodied this together? …
Throughout 2019, Monterey Bay Meditation Studio is taking a deep dive into sensing and cultivating Conscious Community through retreats, courses, drop-in’s and simply being.
Some of the offerings in this exploration include:
“Awakening to Interbeing: A Paradigm Shift for Conscious Evolution,” Feb. 28-March 3: A retreat filled with experiences, meditation and practices to cultivate embodied and explicit awareness of our connection with all beings.
“Mindful Relating Retreat,” February 2: A day-long retreat exploring and experiencing deep, authentic connection through the cultivation of relational presence, curiosity, and compassion.
“Conscious Living Series,” throughout 2019: A course series for cultivating a life of awareness and compassion:
“Intentional Living: A Supportive Community,” Jan.-June 2019: A 6-month group sharing dedication to catalyzing and sustaining coherence and well-being in their lives.
Community Events, once a month: Free gatherings for new and long-time members of the Monterey Bay Meditation Studio community to come together and explore specific practices of “being aware” and “being kind.”
“Enter Being” Drop-in Meditation Classes, on the 3rd Saturday of most months: A series of classes exploring qualities of being and living that cultivate our sense of connection… our interbeing with all. Each class engages secular teaching, guided meditation practice, and discussion, appropriate for experienced meditators AND for those new to the practice. The first class is Saturday, Jan. 19, “Enter Being Present.”
Forest Bathing (Shirin-yoku) sessions, every other month: An extended, slow walk in the woods with invitations to assist in dropping into a contemplative, receptive, and inspirational relationship with the natural world of which we are part. Our first walk of 2019 is Saturday, Jan. 12.
I hope that you will join me in giving attention and energy to accessing consciousness of the of Interbeing… Realizing that we are more alike than we are different, along with the miracle of being aware of ourselves and each other in an interconnected universe, and what these realizations mean in how we experience and live our lives.
Shifting into this perspective is changing my world … and having me feel more engaged, alive and awed by this mystery we call Life.
“We can’t limit ourselves to the understandings that we have already. We have to step into the unknown, which really means stepping into service, stepping into the gift, stepping into the thing that can happen that’s outside of ourselves, that we don’t know how to make happen. Because we have to believe in a more beautiful world in order to serve it. Or let’s say to the extent that we believe in it, we can serve it.”
— Charles Eisenstein