Witnessing Silence

jesus-love-lightThe physical and emotional memories of the ear infections I got as a kid are now processing themselves.  It’s trauma and pain I’ve blocked out for most of my life, partly because those illnesses are a part of childhood, partly because I don’t want to remember what they were like.

But now, as an adult, after suffering through this season’s flu, I’m moving through a healing journey that is bringing up these old memories.

I don’t have a memory of my first ear infection, but I am sure if I did some deep bodywork, it might come up.  I remember all the ones that came after, because I knew what was in store for me:  Hours and hours of having terrible pain in my ears, loud and relentless sounds of the beating of my heart through my head.  The outside world would sound distant and far away.  I could hear sounds, but they were so muted.   I would feel locked in, alone and scared.  It was tough.  Each infection lasted days.  Mom helped, taking me to the doctor, getting the medications.  But the feeling of being shut out from the world, because I couldn’t hear, because I was in pain used to just bring me to a state of almost emotional detachment.  It was almost too much to bear each time.

Currently, I am left with a temporary hearing deficit at about 50 percent of what I normally hear following this recent illness.   The ear pain wasn’t as great as a before, but the silence that I am hearing is familiar territory.

Only now, with twenty plus years of a spiritual practice, the emotional detachment I am experiencing is actually a relief.

I could choose to grieve this loss or I can embrace it at part of a new experience.  I don’t know where it will lead, and I’m not fully recovered from my illness, so this all may resolve in a week’s time.  Or not.

I realize how much my senses have enabled me to navigate this reality.  Without full hearing, I have more freedom to actually move through the world.  I am spending less time having to interpret and figure out sounds, whether conscious or not.  There is a lot of noise in this world, I realize, and not being able to hear it all is quite peaceful.

I can hear people speaking  to me in person so that I can continue to do my work, to teach, to counsel, to assist.  Phone calls are harder.  The clarity of the voice is not there as it is in person.  Music is harder to tolerate because the note ranges are much flatter, and the familiar songs sound kind of ‘canned’ or ‘tinny’.  Live music seems better, the ability to ‘feel’ the sound helps me hear it better.

But I am newly walking in this more quiet world.  As I continue on this unexpected journey, I will be curious to see what other observations I witness and experience.

If you’ve had experience with an illness-induced hearing loss or any resources you think would be of assistance, please feel free to share.

Eileen Dey Wurst Copyright 2017


Witnessing Christmas

snow-covered-christmas-tree3Not having to be anywhere for Christmas this year has made all the noise of the season quietly come to a mere whisper.  It’s very quiet in my home.  I did put up some lights and small decorations as an offering to the season, but they aren’t what connects me to it.

This, for me, is a witnessing Christmas.  I’m still a part of the holiday, but this year, as a curious observer.  Watching other friends and family wrapped up in their own celebrations, I realize I have the opportunity to go deeper into the moment, then perhaps even they do.  Not burdened with planning or hosting dinners, parties, or celebrations, I get to ‘show up’, be present and see what transpires.

This state of being feels in direct opposition to what is being expressed in homes, stores, churches, and in the media.    I am aware of the non-doing quality of being present as opposed to the doing quality of  being ‘in action’.  I’m passively, but consciously participating.  This way of walking through the world has given me a great deal of freedom.  After this holiday has passed my hope is to keep this awareness as life becomes busy and full again.

But for now, I quietly witness a merry Christmas.

Copyright 2012 Eileen Dey

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The art of witnessing

This requires you to be really really present to ordinary reality.  To allow yourself to fully immerse within it and be totally willing to feel and take in absolutely everything going on around you.  This is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a good exercise to enact when you want to learn more about this realm.

Being with kids is a good place to start.  Whether they are yours or they visit, the occupy the realm of ordinary reality whole-heartedly.  Basic needs are requested:  sleeping, eating, comfort, love and security.

Once these needs are met, children, I’ve found in my training program and with my partner’s kids, can feel safe and curious enough to explore beyond the pale.  Maybe at first it’s delving into art or music, getting a sense of something beyond themselves.

As the adult, watching and witnessing their own development and journey is akin to holding space for their transformation.

I have the privilege of watching my partner’s children when they come to visit.  Free from having to ‘parent’, I can attend to their greater expansiveness in the realm of creativity.

I create a space for that creative urge to take place, a rec room with art, music, toys, lights and magic.

What happens is a blossoming of children’s potential, to become what they were meant to be.

As a counselor, it’s also fascinating to watch the levels of development of each child and how they process information.  Not judging, just observing and also sensing what is going on internally with the child even when they are quiet.  Sometimes they too are witnessing and observing, taking things in.  Other times they are unsure, other times confident.  When they discover something new in the task at hand or within themselves, I feel my job as witness has been achieved.

But that witnessing is not a ‘goal’, it too is a process.  Not having to exert any ‘result’ is liberating for both myself and the kids at hand.  Not all parents have this luxury, they are usually juggling the needs of other kids in the household as well as issues going on in their own lives.

I think this is why it’s important for kids to have grandparents, extended family and other playmates to go to so that all parties involved can get the space they need to foster this creative development.

In the observing also comes truth.  Because there is no judgment, no agenda and no goal, there ‘is what is’.  I honor this practice and hope you too will give space for it.

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