Deep Witnessing

I went away to a weekend intensive hosted by Expanding Inward this past weekend.  It was a wonderful weekend, full of revelations and tears…and not once during sessions was I hugged by another participant.

I was not hugged because I didn’t ask for a hug.

I was not hugged because one of our ground rules for the weekend was to allow others to feel all of their emotions without moving to hug, or say a kind word, or offer comfort in another way, unless there was a specific ask for that kind of help or support. It is my personal belief that in moments when we give a hug or kind words without asking or being asked, we are really attempting to comfort ourselves, trying to move away from the pain of watching someone else’s pain.

And so, I was not hugged. I was not comforted. And I did cry a fair bit, and I felt very deeply. I was glad for it. Having my peers listen deeply to me, without attempting to define or to fix what was going on inside of me, was very freeing. I felt witnessed.

How do you witness others? As Oriah Mountain Dreamer asks in her poem “The Invitation”: Are you able to “sit with pain,  mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it?”