"We are not the survival of the fittest. We are the survival of the nurtured." --Louis Cozolino, PhD, Author of The Neuroscience of Human Relationships
On a morning walk today I passed an elderly couple, each was holding a leash to a miniature dachshund. Seeing my large black lab triggered hysteria in the tiny dogs. This caused my Jakie to sullenly put down his head in rejection.
The woman immediately began scolding her frantic dog, and when he wouldn't stop she swatted his snout and dragged him away as he continued to snarl and pulled even harder to get to Jakie.
After she hurried off, her husband did something interesting. He got down on one knee and spoke softly to his barking dog, "it's quite okay," he said. He then apologized to me and Jakie and began scratching his little dog's ears and cuddling him, the wiry dachshund's tail wagged and he rolled on his back for more attention, completely ignoring the drama. His wife did not wait for him to catch up. Visibly annoyed, she continued to walk at such a fast pace her dog's tiny legs were struggling to keep up.
Watching this unfold reminded me of the power of presence. It's so easy to get triggered and reactive. It takes conscious effort and practice to notice inner experience and respond from a place of love. While I can't know what the woman was dealing with, I felt sad that she missed a moment to connect with her heart.
So much is possible from the place of inner love and coherence. There is magic in the space between stimulus and response. It's the unknown where what was impossible becomes possible. Hope lives in this "liminal" space. When we learn to stay with our discomfort and not abandon ourselves by forcing solutions, we are able to harness the power of our whole greater 'selves' to help solve the perceived problem with curiosity, patience and wisdom.
The ability to offer unconditional love comes from our own ability to love ourselves in all our darkness. Seeing what we do without judgment is the first step to nurturing what needs attention.
The barking dog could be a metaphor for our own insecurity and reactivity. The older man's ability to sense what was needed is our 'loving self energy' that can be applied to our fears. Instead of scolding our fearful selves (creating separation), we can attend and befriend that which is dark within us; integrating the disowned parts and reestablishing coherence to the system.
Although underestimated in our western culture, the value of nurturance is self-evident. What is not watered and fed cannot grow strong and bear fruit.
Learning to nurture ourselves in the dark places will not only feel better, it insures the survival of the planet.
With That Moon Language
Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to
them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise
someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us
Why not become the one who lives with a full
moon in each eye that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language, what every other eye in this world is dying to hear? – poem by Hafiz – translated by Daniel Ladinsky