About Flirting ....
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned in previous recent newsletters that I have taken up the joy of studying recently.
I’ve been flirting with the idea for some time. Arnold Mindell’s wonderful work introduced me to the idea that life flirts with us. So, whilst I’ve been flirting with the idea of studying, I paid attention to life’s flirtations with me as to what I should study and with whom.
Life flirts through many channels – other people, Facebook, road signs, snippets of conversations overheard “by mistake”. Through these channels came word of the launch of a wonderful film about the work of one of my heroes – Dr. Gabor Maté, a deeply compassionate champion for the treatment of addiction as a response to trauma. The launch of the film - The Wisdom of Trauma - was accompanied by a week of conversations between Dr. Maté and a beautifully curated selection of experts in the arena of healing, holism and health. One of the conversations he had was with Dr. Dan Siegel.
Now life had been flirting with me regarding Dr. Siegel for the last two years or so. His name kept cropping up, and snippets of video clips and quotations of things Dan Siegel had said kept finding their way into my awareness and attention.
I tried to navigate his fairly complex Mindsight Institute website of offerings, and ended up in a conversation with one of his wonderfully efficient staff members. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was registered for a much longer (and more expensive!) course than I had ever anticipated at the start. (Said staff member was also a great salesperson!)
So, I’m studying Interpersonal Neurobiology! This is very exciting. Being a fan of the human mind, I am loving this opportunity to understand more about it from a scientific perspective. And I’m deeply thrilled with everything I am learning, even whilst I don’t necessarily understand all of it all the time!
At the moment I’m exploring the Integration of Consciousness. So, get this! The brain is an anticipation organ. In other words, it is always getting ready for the next moment after this one. It does this by creating expectations, which are – of course – a function of memory. (How would you generate what to expect other than by basing it on past experiences?) And, when the expectation is not fulfilled, we are disappointed, and react to what is happening accordingly.
This means that our expertise, the very thing that we spend so much time honing and perfecting can become a prisoner of the past. As we learn more and more, we perceive less and less. The filter created by the top-down processing of the brain limits our capacity to see what is right in front of us.
The antidote to this is openness. We call this many different things: beginner’s mind, receptivity, being non-judgemental, willing to dive in. Being open is humility. It is a moment by moment being with the way things are rather than the way we expected them to be. Being present means not controlling things, instead joining life in the present moment as it unfolds.
As I listen to Dr. Siegel’s words, I hear him describing the role of being a Thinking Partner, and I am so grateful for the daily opportunities I am offered by my work to practice being open and present to the beauty of the unfolding of a person’s independent thinking. And in my own thinking sessions I get to undo the expectations that could otherwise imprison me in repeating my past.
So, dear Brave Hearts, this month’s newsletter comes with an invitation to us all to be open to the experience of our lives, with courage, humility and the willingness to discover what lies on the other side of letting go of expectations and allowing life to unfold.