To merge or not to merge

September 25, 2008

I had an epiphany last night. After years of working with Brooks, after graduating from his program, after countless private sessions, after all the years I spent on sitting in zazen before I met Brooks, I finally got the most basic, most fundamental, most obvious really, lesson that Brooks teaches. Talk about slow learners! I’ve been paying a lot of attention to being myself, staying as present as I could, as unique as I could. And yet I would merge left and right, hardly a week would go by without the warning call from Brooks: you are merging again! With my husband, with my clients, with the society, what have you… My reaction to those warnings was to stop, turn around and retreat. I didn’t want to merge, I didn’t want to get lost in someone else, I didn’t want to loose myself, start running on autopilot, get controlled by any rules other than mine. I would retreat into myself, hide inside where I was strong and stable, stay where I feel grounded and present. Last night I realized: this is just another side of merging! Whether I get engaged and loose my presence, or whether I withdraw from fear of loosing my presence – those are two sides of exactly the same thing. Both are merging, both are me not being fully myself in a situation, in a relationship. I realized that being who I am only, fully and completely, means being absolutely present in every situation, with every person, in every place. No matter what happens, no matter what trauma is coming up, no matter how scared I may be or how distasteful or boring the situation, no matter how stupid or nasty or angry the person I talk to may seem. This is what not merging means – being present at all times. Not just when it’s easy. Brooks teaches a way of dealing with trauma, with pain, when it comes up: stay present as who you are and allow the trauma to open, fully and completely. Stay present. Don’t merge. Don’t identify with the pain. Let it open, let it pass. It isn’t just about dealing with what is happening “inside”, I realized today. It also applies to what is happening “outside”. No matter from what direction the pain comes, no matter what exactly is scary or angry, the routine is still the same: stay present, don’t merge, allow it to open fully and completely. Stay present.

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