What if the leading energy in our lives were to be our heart and our heart’s cry? What if living a “spiritual life” was actually synonymous with living a “heart-centered life”? These are some of the questions I have been asking myself—and the answers have pushed me more and more into prioritizing what I am calling “spiritual friendship.” What is spiritual friendship to me? It is the genuine meeting of two people who are vulnerable and open and truth-telling and available for actual contact and communion at the feeling level.
For the past eight years, I have been working closely with a Hakomi therapist (Hakomi is a type of therapy that works with mindfulness in a body-centered way). One of the principles of Hakomi is that the interpersonal wounds we have experienced in our life (for example, early wounds from childhood in relationship to our parents … sound familiar?) can only be healed in relationship with others. What this means is that interpersonal challenges can’t be healed on the meditation cushion or in solitary retreat.
Wounds from relationship require the context of relationship for healing. This seems pretty obvious, huh? But as someone who has been a meditator now for almost three decades, this was not something that was obvious to me in the early stages of my journey. Somehow I thought I was going to open completely to the universe and all of its mystery without ever needing to relate closely and vulnerably with others.
What I am actually finding is that connecting with other people in a heart-centered way is not just about healing. It is actually the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my life. Period. There is something about being fully received by another person and fully receiving another person, without the need for any part to be edited or left out, that feels to me like the giving and receiving of the greatest soul nourishment that there is.
Recently, I found myself in a room alone with a renowned scientist who specializes in the field of perception. We were at a conference and were sitting with each other in a room that had been set aside for presenters at the event. Finding ourselves alone in the room together, we both seemed a bit awkward at first. What would we talk about? I decided to bring up the topic of uncertainty as I knew that he taught quite a bit about uncertainty in the context of perception (for example, how we never know if what we are perceiving is the same as what someone else is perceiving, even when we are looking at the same thing).
Right at the beginning of what I feared would be an awkward conversation, this scientist said to me, “When you really start investigating how uncertain everything is, it’s enough to make you feel totally insane. There is only one thing that has kept me even the least bit sane, and that is loving relationships.” When he said this, I leaned over and said, “Would it be okay if I kissed you now?” He looked quite shocked. I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and said, “I never thought I would hear a scientist say such a thing. I have come to the same conclusion, but I thought that was just because I was some kind of a mushy-mush person.”
That moment in the green room was a moment for me of spiritual friendship, a moment of genuine connection where the heart breaks through any awkwardness or fear or holding back. I am finding those moments occurring more and more in my life, often in unexpected ways, and it is those types of moments that I hope will fill the Wake Up Festival from start to finish. We need each other so much. We need each other’s acceptance and reflection. We need each other’s unhurried presence. We need our love to break through. We need “community” in the sense of knowing that we are connected to others who are on a similar journey, where the vulnerability and tenderness of our hearts are leading the way.