Posted by on February 6, 2013
Feb 062013

We are working with the idea of listening
Listening to the part of ourselves that has had no voice
That can reveal itself to us through images

That is a mysterious idea and one that our culture doesn’t validate.
Is it possible that there is a place inside us which holds deeply personal wisdom
Some place that we could drop into
Or listen to
That would be revelatory
A place that holds images
That would give us a  way of making sense of the complexity of our own experience of the world–
A place of universal wisdom
And yet at the same time
A place that is so personal it can be thought of as home
A resting place
Inside the body itself
A place which is not static, but actually offers us a way of being in the world
With a deep sense of belonging

The poet Anthony Machado had trust in this place
He believed
The images that arose in his imagination came from a nourishing inner well
And so he took these images very seriously

Here is his poem called “last night as i was sleeping”:
Last night as i was sleeping,
I dreamt, marvelous illusion,
That there was a spring breaking out in my heart,
I said, along what secret aqueduct are you coming to me, o water
Water, of a new life that i have never drunk.
Last night as i was sleeping,
I dreamt, marvelous error,
That there was a bee hive here in my heart.
And the golden bees were making white combs
 And sweet honey from my old failures.
Last night as i was sleeping,
I dreamt, marvelous error,
That there was a fiery sun here in my heart.
It was fiery because it gave warmth as if from a hearth,
And it was sun because it gave light and brought tears to my eyes.
Last night as i was sleeping,
I dreamt, marvelous error,
That there was god here in my heart.
Is my soul asleep?
Have those bee hives that labor by night stopped?
And the water wheel of thought, is it dry?
The cups empty, wheeling, carrying only shadows.
No, no my soul is not asleep.
It is awake–wide awake.
It neither sleeps, nor dreams,
But watches, its clear eyes open,
Ffar off things.
And listens at the shores of the great silence.
I want to focus on the second verse where Machado says:
Last night as i was sleeping,
I dreamt, marvelous error,
That there was a bee hive here in my heart.
And the golden been were making white combs
And sweet honey from my old failures.

Imagine having an image of a bee hive in your heart

To me that  is a very scary image.
For most people, if that image apperared
It would be something they would turn away from

But because machado had faith in his inner images
He turned toward it
He stayed with it
And let it unfold itself
And the image revealed something deeply profound to him
Something which he hadn’t known before

Machado discovered that this bee hive in his heart
Was filled with golden bees
Making white combs and sweet honey from his old failures

What a healing image
A dream-like image coming from deep inside and carrying with it a blessing
How wonderful it would be to know that in some hive-like place within us, there is a kind of cellular wisdomthat is transforming our old failures into something honey-like
Something both nourishing and sweet

Each one of us has this nourishing well within us
But it is astonishing how seldom we drink from it

So if we want to come to trust that part of ourselves more
We will need to do that through practice

A practice of listenting
This kind of receptive listening
Puts your awareness in a certain place
That grows new sensitivities

So this is no ordinary kind of listening
It is a listening to something subtle and elusive
Machado refers to this kind of listening
In the last line of the poem where he says
No, no my soul is not aslee.
It is awake–wide awake
It neither sleeps, nor dreams
But watches, its clear eyes open, far off things
And listens at the shores of the great silence

It may be that this kind of listening has a feminine flavor
Perhaps it is  part of the power of the receptive
We might say that humankind has not fully explored the power of the receptive

Sometimes when we work in this way of doing collage so that we  let the imagery choose us
We find ourselves picking up images that seem dark or negataive
And we are not sure what that might mean
Or what it will look like if we incude it in our collage

I once heard someone speak of doing a ‘homeopathic’ collage
That  is a good way to think about it
If something dark and unexamined is making its way forward
To let it emerge into the collage
At least recognizes that it is there

One of my favorite quotes from rilke is
Perhaps everthing terrible is in its deepest being
Something helpless that wants help from us

If rilke is right, then to let that aspect of us arrive as part of our collage is at least a way to begin to understand and address what it is that is longing to be heard
Or at this point is demanding our attention so strongly
That it is taking all our energy not to attend to it

And strangely enough
It seems that there is something deeply creative in our essential nature
An astonishing quality of our humanness is that all you have to do is name all the ways that you Are so far away from something, to actually begin to bring it forward in your life

Two weeks ago i said that so many of us, on the personal level and even on the level of humanity, seem to be dealing with whatever it is in our lives that we have not integreated Whatever has been split off
Not looked at
It seems that whatever is in the shadow seems to be arising and asking for attention
And my suggestion was to turn toward that place in yourself–the place that is longing for Attention–that wants to be integrated, metabolized

That was the subject of our inquiry last time
And the collage was our way of connecting with our inner wellspring–that place inside which Holds a deeply personal wisdom–a place that can give you a way of making sense of the Complexity of your own experience in the world

How are the images speaking to you about what is wanting to be resolved in your life?
What are they saying?
Look specifically for places where there are contradictions
Although contradictory things initially feel troublesome
They are almost always an invitation to take us beyond

Audio Post


DeborahDeborah Hill is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Group Facilitator in Sonoma, California.

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