photo by Andrew Pons
“Life is one great and endless labyrinth. It is a puzzle and a mystery. The need to wind our way through it, from one unknown to the other, is fair enough. It could even be an absorbing activity by virtue of its very abstruseness, if it weren’t for the fact that my life is the maze and I am the mystery. We are all on our way to somewhere, however undefined, however unconscious. Without really knowing it, perhaps, we spend our days looking for the way out of the maze of indecision, of discomfort, of the unfinished that can so easily become the soul’s permanent residence. We struggle for the way to an egress that is not there. We live looking for something that beckons but is not clear. Why? Because we can feel it within us, that’s why. It never quiets; it never sleeps. It just keeps urging us on.”
The foundation for most interpersonal struggle is that we have never learned how to talk about what’s really going on in our lives, or have forgotten how. For most of us, this usually arises through some set of experiences (sometimes from childhood, sometimes later) that was so painful, so confusing, so overwhelming, that it has taught us to hide elements of ourselves and our experiences from ourselves and others. The events seem to bring about some baseline assumption that the truth is just too much to bear, and we believe that rather resolutely, even if unconsciously. And when we can’t or won’t look at some part of ourselves, that part doesn’t go away — it just continues on outside our awareness. So, at any given time, we are operating with a large amount of interpersonal and relational misinformation — things are going on that are interrupting our lives but we don’t seem to know (or want to know). This phenomenon is one way to practically define spiritual and mental illness.
Our work with clients is effective because in that context we are radically honest and authentic with them. This obviously doesn’t mean there is 100% disclosure 100% of the time, and it certainly doesn’t mean that what we say is universally correct (still shitty wizards over here!), but it does mean that we speak plainly and without subtext every time we open our mouths, and that what we say when we do is fundamentally and explicitly true to our experience moment by moment. There is no subterfuge, no hiding. That radical position means that finally, all the puzzle pieces end up on the table. Finally, we can out with the truth. In fact, we develop such a rhythm of bidirectional and symbiotic honesty in our client relationships that if we ever lapse into covering something up or saying something that is too dolled-up or sounds less than true, our clients often know and even confront us about it! This is a reality we are grateful for because it marks real mutual vulnerability and mutual trust between us to keep a “how things really are” way of relating at the fore. It means that our clients, like us, ultimately believe that all of us have the capacity to reckon with the truth because we are not infirm, but whole. As a growing reality between any two or more people, this phenomeon is one way to practically define spiritual and mental health.
So, do you see?
The inability to see things as they are means we can’t be honest with ourselves or others. Quite naturally, we all suffer — relationships wither along with our ability to be in them, and we become spiritually and psychologically ill. Conversely, as we discover the ability to see things clearly through the power of radical presence in the context of a healing relationship, we learn to be honest, with ourselves and others, and life springs forth from the barren forest floor — in time, we discover what it means to be spiritually and psychologically well. We heal.
In your work with us, self-honesty and honesty with another, both requisite for and artifacts of relationship, come to characterize the entire healing endeavor. Thus, our relationship itself — that is the work. There’s nothing else you need to do to prepare.
San Diego, CA