Post Contact Episodes
The first time I saw the Pina Bausch Dance Company perform I was speechless for hours afterwards. I walked the cool misty streets of Amsterdam wordlessly with my friend, who somehow understood we had witnessed something so remarkable that our minds needed silence, stillness and time to catch up with our experience.
What has happening to our contact that we rush this necessity for our minds and bodies to absorb our experience? We are addicted to staying connected, to the next stimulating thought, vision, or passing engagement. We no longer value the time it takes for us to integrate our experiences. We have lost respect for the art of reflection.
Major and Minor Events
We are captivated by a passing parade of momentary interests. We bring to our conversations our minor concerns and are embarrassed to speak of what truly captures our hearts and minds. We want to stay connected, stay stimulated, living our lives like a news feed. We have lost the necessary art of integration and satisfaction.
We deny the impact of our major life events, with their necessarily engrossing feelings, that take days, months or even years to process. We want to avoid them, and would do almost anything to do so. We are entrained into a collective pre-emptive and superficial return to positivity, finding relief in all-consuming action, preoccupied by our so-called high-functioning.
Meanwhile the movement of these major experiences gathers momentum in the background. There is a natural ebb and flow to our contact and withdrawal cycles, like a tide coming in and going out. If we ignore our organic need to absorb what has happened to us, below the surface in our inner life, we risk underwater seismic shifts with ripples of aftershocks.
The Power of Self-Reflection
We need to savour our experiences, distilling their essences, extracting the full meaning of them for ourselves and find true nourishment from them. Matt Licata says “it takes presence, attention and care to come to wholeness and totality, to find the wisdom and intelligence in our experiences”.
If we were to more fully attend to ourselves, the gift of that is not only to ourselves but to all those we come in contact with. Cosmologists Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry say that human beings’ gift to the world is our ability to be conscious and to be self-reflexive.
Nourishing our Imagination
Our engagement with others and our relationship with ourselves requires deep self-knowledge. For that we need to be able to reflect. That means every day, after every contact episode every day, we need to offer ourselves stillness, solitude, silence, presence, and attention. Imagine that.