delving in a small circle






Pleasant House
TENDER RELATING Delving In a Small Circle

Nanna Aida Svendsen ©


Seven women, familiar to each other and coming closer in friendship, sit

together in a small circle. They eat fine finger foods and chit-chat for a

while. Then they shift awareness to a deeper level by being still. When moved

to speak, they speak from their hearts. They listen for and seek to express

the depths of their experiences, insights and confusions. They are together

in long moments of soundless presence as well. New meaning or support

often comes.


They endeavour to relate tenderly. To create the kind of safety that can

invite the heart to come forward and be present. And so they endeavour not to

demand or debate. Not to judge, criticize, attack, diagnose or try to fix one

another. Nor do they argue about opinions or try to seek agreement. They know

that quite mechanically these ways of relating call forth the defenses, cause

the heart to close, and soul and deeper wisdom to retreat.


As best they can, they remain present. They let themselves and one another

be. They give space for differing views, and for their own view to evolve.

When their processes get messy they try to hold one another with compassion.


Sitting in that circle the women had all felt safe enough to tenderly open

their hearts for exploration in a way so as to invite soul to come forward.

They had in a sense been delving, mining for gold.


Delving, often a delicate art that can deepen the practice of tender

relating, offers a way to speak of, or listen for, clues to the heart's

experience. It is a way of inviting deeper truth. It invites exploration of

the inner realms, by extending an invitation and then holding the space for

something to come forth in its own time. In the act of speaking, when there

is safety, one can hear one's own voice stating things previously unknown.

Sometimes all that is needed for inner worlds to shift is to have someone

really listen. And sometimes inspiration comes from listening to the

experiences of another.


Delving comes with a desire to receive feelings and experience that may be

obscured in the rush of daily life. When done with compassion and acceptance,

it can invite a profound level of re-membering and re-connection. Though the

art of delving can be practiced alone, it can be enriched by the presence of

another or by being in a group such as the seven women in their circle.


The gentle art of delving can involve a passionate inquiry that threads ones

days together and imbues them with meaning. It deepens whatever story is

being told. It invites an inner stream of consciousness that can be a

constant source of re-creation. It is a way of opening to awareness, yes, of

being awake and awakened. Delving also offers a way of holding emotional

wounds in the embrace of compassion so that they may come to feel eased. Of

holding a deeper often more vulnerable yet creative place inside so that it

comes to feel present and safe.


But the process runs deeper yet. When a feeling experience is accurately

described, is rendered with the right words, when it finds its right name,

movement frequently begins. Sometimes one may actively pursue this. Other

times one may extend a gentle invitation for awareness, which may arrive by

surprise or come in delicately through a side door.


How does one know when one is on the right track? The body may give some

sort of sign, an easing of tension, a sense of opening, or an inner quiet. A

sigh may come, a smile or a cry. Tears, sadness, upset may flow. Then again,

the sign of something within being touched may be more discreet, perhaps

barely discernable, a tug of relief or lightness of being.


Sometimes it seems that some feelings persist, once they have come knocking,

beckoning for awareness, simply until they have been properly recognized.

Perhaps they persist in part because the wrong story is being told about them?


One may from time to time be left with a sense of not quite feeling

comfortable or at ease, even though some movement may have come. This can be

part of the process as well. Part of the mysterious unfolding of life.

Certain things just have their own rhythms and times. And some issues seem to

run so deep one may work them a life time, peeling away the layers.


And so seven women spoke and were heard, were silent and were understood.

They cried, they laughed, they felt their differences, they sensed their

connections, they felt more themselves. And with a renewed light to their

eyes, when they felt ready they hugged one another and went home.

Copyright © Nanna Aida Svendsen 2002