Last week we talked about letting go of our conditioned experience so that we can approach life from a place of curiosity and freedom. I want to go one step further in this thinking and unpack what being really present with someone can feel like. What I miss the most from "normal life" are the long coffee catch-ups where time feels elastic and everything around me disappears. I love being so absorbed (from Latin absorbere "to swallow up", "devour") in the conversation that I momentarily disappear. These intense moments of flow are often experienced in nature, while listening to music or other immersive activities. But to experience this together with another person, to be mutually so present that you dissolve into the moment, that is what the magic of connection is about. Of course, you can experience this in romantic love, but human connection contains so many layers of love. It can seem counter intuitive, but it's only by getting out of our ego-driven perceptual modality that we can reach a strong sense of belonging.


  • In the latest Sam Harris Q&A sessions (on the Waking Up app), Loch Kelly differentiates between a traditional flow state, absorbed flow, and what he calls panoramic flow. The former is about being absorbed in an activity and paying close attention to it. There's high amounts of concentration. The latter, panoramic flow, is when time slows down, you're in the now and your ego is quiet. It's all about simultaneously being aware of different stimuli and holistically taking in the experience, without attention or concentration being directed somewhere in particular. Isn't this a brilliant way of describing the different ways of being in conversation with someone? You could be paying close attention to what someone is saying, but it's only when you are aware of their entire being (emotions, gestures, words, context) that you get to a state that is linked to awe
  • In the brilliant meditation guide The Mind Illuminated, John Yates and Matthew Immergut talk about how conscious experience takes two different forms: attention and peripheral awareness. When we focus our attention on something, it dominates our conscious experience. At the same time, we are aware of things in the background (sounds, music, temperature). How do these meditative states relate to how we can be present in community? Can community be a spiritual practice? 
  • Anne Bogart, in And then, you act, talks about attention beautifully: 

    The one gift we can give to another human being is our attention, and that attention, in tern, allows the possibility of change. We can be available and open to their change. Which means concurrently that we will change too. The gift we give is not to hold onto some way we have decided that this person is. Perhaps the gift of attention is also the gift of love. 


Conversations communities around me are exploring this week: 
  • What's the spiritual side of community? 
  • What is belonging made of?
  • If we talk about the different layers of love, what does love look like in community? 
That's all for today!

With gratitude,

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