It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and Innerlife Health Services - my practice, my business and clinic - was and is my soul's response, not only to my personal need to keep enriching my own inner life, but as I see it, to our cultural need too.
Innerlife Health Services my business, is the space, practice and the art I make and have created, produced, and am stewarding in collaboration with other practitioners, visionaries and artists. It invites us and others into community, and supports us to cultivate richer and wiser innerlives. And through this, deepen our connection with ourselves, with each other, and with life.
But I want to make the distinction here between my Innerlifeand my innerlife.
The infrastructure of my personality, psyche and soul, what I call my innerlife (small "i"), is the responsive, reflexive relationship I have with my emotions, feelings, and needs.
It is a dynamic structure that has been cultivated slowly over the last 44 years (and lifetimes before) on the pottery wheel of life in the hands of my relationships and this larger evolving culture we are all creating together on the planet. My innerlife helps me navigate my outer life in ways that are responsive to the needs of others I am in community with too.
We all have one of these: an innerlife - although you may know it by a different name. And we each cultivate our innerlife in ways that nourish it, stretch it, and claim it. I see it as fundamental to humanity...and to connection. I am not alone in this.
As we grow physically, but especially as we evolve emotionally/psychologically/spiritually through experience and archetypal transformation, the landscape of ourinnerlives changes. We shift internally through an evolution of soul Bill Plotkin has so deliciously detailed in his book, Nature and the Human Soul.
Seriously, do you not swoon a little...or at least lean in a little as you read these?:
The innocent in the nest
The explorer in the garden
The thespian at the oasis
The wanderer in the cocoon
The soul apprentice at the wellspring
The artisan in the wild orchard
The master in the grove of elders
The sage in the mountain cave
Perhaps you are more familiar with the more traditional: child, adolescent, adult, elder. Or maiden, mother, queen, crone. Or youth, warrior, sage. Perhaps you look to astrology, tarot, tea leaves, the weather, politics, the stock market, climate change, or the bend in your grandmother's back to guide your movements.
Personally, I subscribe to a good solid conservative portfolio of: all of the above.
Regardless, these personality, archetypal, ecological and cosmological relationships mature us and help us understand the innerlife design and revolutionary forces that shape our perceptions, direct our thoughts, and compel our actions. But they also shape our collective culture...which itself is going through it's own soul transformation...and shapes us in return.
I am continuously humbled by the power of our individual and collective souls. I am re-formed again and again by our capacity for change and evolution. And for love.
And the landscape of my innerlife is constantly grown by the dynamic responsive relationship we each and all have to place, space, design, and each other.
Witnessing circles are just one of the ways I am exploring this more deeply.
This practice is uncomfortable sometimes...intimacy often is.
Here is a break-down of what often runs through my head as the talking stone is handed to me and a surge of sensation moves it's way through my body, and the process takes hold:
1. Nothing. No, really. Nothing is in my head. It's entirely in my body. I have zero thoughts. They have completely disappeared and my system is flooded with stress chemistry.
2. My next thought is along the lines of "Where's the door?" or "I wish the earth would open and swallow me right now."
3. Then a mentoring voice comes online and I begin soothing myself. "Whoa. Breathe Fiona." My eyes close. I draw myself deep inside. I force myself to take deeper breaths.
4. I check in more fully. What wants to be said? What wants to be shared? What wants to be offered into this space of connection?
So why put myself through this seemingly unnecessary process?
Because this happens in connection all the time. Because authentic relating is hard. Because I want to connect more deeply with myself and others. Because so many of my responses are filtered through conditioning I wasn't aware of or have come as afterthoughts to the actual moment...moments where I was paralyzed and emptied of rational thought...so wasn't heard, understood, and respected....moments I wished I'd been able to express myself verbally rather than just through the overwhelming scream of my animal body.
I want to be heard, understood, and respected. So I have to practice. I have to train my nervous system that has been conditioned to believe that I won't be heard, understood, and respected...that I can be...and will be.
Witnessing circles offer me an opportunity to connect with myself and others in an authentic way...that is fully accepted...just the way we are.
This is rare. And precious.