At times, we can get so caught up in tending to the changing demands of our lives in the world, caring for loved ones or family, and bettering ourselves that we can forget to nourish our relationship with our deepest self.
We may give more and more energy to life, work, people, and even spiritual progress, hoping that will fill us up - and at one level, it does. We experience the profound satisfaction of participating in a dynamic, relational, meaningful world. We strike a note of imbalance, however, when this becomes a substitute for nourishing our inner love.
No matter how much we have evolved in life, typically there remain places in us where we still seek the approval of others, doubt our own value, hope our relationships will provide the love we need, or tolerate behavior from ourselves or others that is not genuinely enriching.
These wounded aspects of ourselves may have roots in life traumas, childhood experiences, or impressions we have carried for the entirety of our lives and beyond.
The key to living and loving in a truly fulfilled manner lies in knowing that the love that we feel and share is our very essence.
To relate to life knowing we are love allows us to be in relationship from our center, rather than from a place of lack or need. This doesn't mean we don't have needs - naturally, we will - but instead of immediately seeking fulfillment of those needs from others, we can find ways to sit with the discomfort or pain they may bring and be with them fully.
When we place our needs onto others and they are not able help as we wish, we may take it personally and feel abandoned, rejected or unloved. This is the source of many problems in interpersonal relationships. We strike a different note when we enter relationships with a sense of wholeness, recognizing our innate completeness, even if we don't feel in touch with it all the time.
When we move from wholeness and can fully acknowledge our needs to ourselves, others are free to be as they are, and we are free to enjoy them as they are, rather than straining to fill a hole in ourselves.
Truly acknowledging our inner feelings, we are also then free to reach out from a more centered place. It feels quite different to reach out from a place with a certain level of equilibrium and trust than from a place of desperation. Most often, when we truly own them, we may also find that our needs are met, perhaps not by the person, situation, or timing we imagined, but in a way that arises from the natural unfolding of life, rather than our striving, and perhaps even serves everyone more fully than we could have hoped.
That's great, one might say, but how can I relate from a place of wholeness, when I have had a series of traumas, childhood experiences, or other conditioning that has led me to believe that I am not complete, that I will not get what I need, that the universe or my loved ones will not provide the support I need and long for?
As with any real movement of growth, there is a point where we must be willing to take a leap. Here, we must have faith in connection.
All of life is interconnected, and indeed is connection itself. Observing the natural world - the growth of a fern, a spider building its web - we see the unfolding of a pattern that both has its own innate intelligence and is interlinked with everything around it, all of which assists in bringing its moment of fruition. We see the same in the workings of the human body, traffic patterns or any natural or human-created system - the part functions uniquely, each on its own so to speak, but it is always embedded in layer upon layer of interrelated systems.
Everything is both part and whole, and we ourselves are both part and whole. We experience ourselves as individual entities, but in reality we are made of many diverse organ systems and microorganisms, each with a life of their own, and we are in turn part of whole macrosystems of human relationship, family, culture, and ecology.
You do not have to believe in God or a transcendental principle to see that life is whirring along as a great multidimensional conversation among an infinite variety of aspects. We are both part of Life as a whole, and we are ourselves are a Whole in life.
Taken one step further, we can see this life is a living expression of love, or what we might call the activity of God. Love pervades every atom and molecule and every unfilled space and every part and whole, no matter how simple or complex. Given this, we ourselves participate in love in its wholeness. We may or may not experience the totality of All Love on a universal scale, but we are in it, and it is in us. This is what the mystics have called the spark or the seed of God in us.
Even if you don't believe that love is the essence of all life or that God enters into the equation at all, you may still see that you are part of the vastness of Life, each aspect of which has its place, its value, its deeply significant and unique contribution to the unfoldment of all, and that each is worthy of kindness, respect and care.
Thus, wholeness is what we are. It is not something we have to seek, make, or find ways to complete. It is the nature of our existence.
The key lies in not only experiencing this as an existential or spiritual condition - finding the place within where we can affirm our wholeness as real - but also in practicing it as we greet life.
As I said above, this often means turning within and sitting with our discomfort, when our habitual impulse may be to first seek support or comfort from the outside. Often it is our reluctance or refusal to be with what is arising within us that leads to blockage or suffering.
Sometime we must face great feelings of loss, or abandonment, or ways in which we haven't felt whole or loved, in order to find our relationship with wholeness. Most of us have wounding which can make sitting with such feelings acutely painful, and at times, even impossible to tolerate alone.
This is where our journey comes full circle, and we realize that we can have the love and support of other human beings sitting with us, as we face our inner emptiness and needs.
We can hold space with each other, not to take discomfort away, but to provide a safe container in which we can experience and release long-held suffering, feelings of shame or inadequacy, and alienation from our own essence.
Loving oneself and being loved by another provide a reciprocity in understanding that love itself is not a separateness. It is all-pervasive, in us and in everything. Sometimes we can feel that most strongly with a trusted friend or companion. There is our self, our friend, and somehow also a grace...an unexpected opening.
I recently led a small group retreat in which we held this theme as our focus, as a container in which we could each seeker deeper roots in our wholeness and support each other in doing so.
If this is an area that you see needs addressing in your spiritual and emotional life, have confidence that there are ways to access the connection you seek and to tap into an inner experience of wholeness. If I can help in any way as you seek to discover what tools might be most helpful, I will be happy to.