In exercise during retreat at Naropa yesterday, I was asked to place myself in the center of a circle of seven classmates. The instructions were to control the movements of the people in the circle, non-verbally, through body language, primarily hand signals. It was suggested we control placement of each person’s gaze, as well as body.
In reflection this morning, I wrote the following:
I desired to (needed to?) take care of all others’ comfort. To this end, I looked each person in the eye. What I wanted to say was “I won’t fuck with you. I will not confuse and manipulate you.” The challenge was, do I know how to not do those things in relationship.
I moved each of you around for a moment, trying to place you in the shade, where I felt you would be most comfortable. Since I accepted control, I did not consider that I could communicate non-verbally with you to ask if you were comfortable.
Further, I realize now that just because I thought I should or could be response-able (my new spelling ) for your comfort level, does not mean this is true, especially from your perspective.
But since I am a kind person with a huge and open heart, and you sense this, you want to be kind to me and allow the controlling, so as not to hurt my feelings by refusing to move when I so direct you. All this as if you could or should be response-able for my feelings.
My strength in pushing against your boundaries found your permeability and before we both knew it, or even if we did know it, the merging of boundaries became confusing. For one thing, it was clear to you that I had your best interest at heart, and you did not mind my taking good care of you as best I could. You agreeably placed yourself in my care.
Could a situation like this in real life be the initial stage of co-dependence?
I think that by bringing awareness to this inter-play of energies, co-dependence may be arrested, not gotten rid of as though bad, but given refuge, so to speak, in the form of maître (Pema Chodron defining maitri:(http://maitrimatters.blogspot.com/2009/12/definition-of-maitri.html)
In so doing, co-dependence might be transformed into dependent co-arising.
A decision I made during the process demonstrates, I believe, some recent growth in my own struggles with co-dependence.
I finally looked into the eyes of each, invited them one by one to stand close to the inner circle, then invited them to lower their eyes with me. We stood close enough to experience inter-connectedness, but within a refuge of individuality and stillness.
At least I recognized the futility of the situation as it was being played out, as well as the opportunity to stand together in connectedness in the moment, whether experiencing suffering or happiness.
I am thinking now about spontaneous co-arising in a new way; that manifest conditions are dependent on spontaneous co-arising. Human consciousness evolves according to individual awareness of its contribution. Relationship of individuals offers opportunity to communicate accurately verbally and/or non-verbally to support the ground of spontaneity.
I call this a good start. I am grateful to Naropa teachers and students, for offering me this opportunity.