Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Regard to Being (a mother) and Being (a child): An Enneagram Excerpt

I found this excerpt from Sandra Maitri's The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram to be extremely poignant. Pages 27-29.

I feel that these ideas, if or even if not adopted, could, potentially, transform parenting and the way in which we exist. I read this and cried, because I could understand so much about Being and Life through such a short paragraph. I don't expect to wake up tomorrow and do things differently, but perhaps I will FEEL differently about the things I do. I have struggled with daily stress (in relation or not in relation to my life with the kids...and I do realize everytime I refer to myself and MY life I'm stuck in my ego). I have struggled - perhaps because of Ego, perhaps because of hormones and chemicals in my body, perhaps because of the ebb and flow, perhaps because of lots of noise and stress. But as I read this, I think of how I label my kids based on things that have nothing to do with their Beings and Beingness. I label them based on my ego and my constructions and my narratives. And by labeling them and their behaviors, I am forming the confining egos that they may live with the rest of their lives.

Elanah's reaction to the loss of holding has always been very strong. It is not her essence that has been reacting. I wish she never has to react to the loss of holding. I want to help her. I cannot even articulate what I wish to say...however I feel things inside that, I hope, will come through in my actions. She and I are the same - we are Being and Beingness. Maybe, together, we can let go of the ego. Maybe not. But I want to do whatever I can to be at one with her (and Darah) in Beingness. That darn ego makes it hard every day, though. I'll go get into bed and get caught up in my ego and my narrative. She'll start fussing shortly thereafter because she is not being held. I'll jump out of bed, surely wishing she could be content in the loss of holding, and bring her into bed with us for milk and holding. She'll return to the holding and the state of Being. I'll fall back into sleep. She'll fall back into sleep. We'll sleep. We'll be united in Beingness. I regret the times in the past when I have said (and the times in the future when I will say): "Oh Elanah, you're so difficult. Elanah, my God, you are one fussy little girl. Elanah is one tough baby, isn't she Darah?" Is there a struggle? Is there not a struggle? Is there a there? Is there an is? I just am. Or I just am not. Ah. Beingness.

(The excerpt below:)

"This cycle of reaction and relaxation repeats again and again, depending upon the environment. If there is abuse or other forms of severe impingement, the reactivity will become more or less constant. Even in the absence of extreme trauma, the environment registers as more or less inconsistently supportive for all normal neurotics, and we therefore grow up more or less disconnected from our essential nature. Almaas describes below how the loss of continuous attunement and responsiveness—holding, in psychological terminology2 —leads to distrust in the environment, which in turn leads to the reactivity at the core of ego development:

By having to react to the loss of holding, the child is no longer simply being, and the spontaneous and natural unfoldment of the soul has been disrupted. If this reactivity becomes predominant, the child’s development will be based on that reactivity rather than on the continuity of Beingness. If her development is based on reactivity to an unsafe environment, the child will develop in disconnection from Being and therefore, her ego will be what becomes most developed. If her development unfolds out of the continuity of Being, the child's consciousness will remain centered in her essential nature and her development will be the maturation and expression of that nature.

The less holding there is in the environment, the more the child's development will be based on this reactivity, which is essentially an attempt to deal with an undependable environment. The child will develop mechanisms to deal with an environment that is not trustworthy, and these mechanisms form the basis of the developing sense of self, or ego. This development of the child's consciousness is then founded on distrust, and so distrust is part of the basis of ego development. The child's consciousness—her soul—internalizes the environment it is growing up in and then projects that environment onto the world.

Implicit, then, in the ego is a fundamental distrust of reality. The failure of the holding environment leads to the absence of basic trust, which then becomes disconnection from Being, which leads to reactivity, which is ego activity.

The disconnection from our original undifferentiated state creates a division or duality between ourselves and Essence, which, along with identifying ourselves with our body, gives rise to the belief in our inherent separateness. This is the genesis of the illusion of duality, the spiritual issue par excellence in which we experience ourselves and Being as two distinct things.
The third factor contributing to losing contact with Being is parental lack of attunement to our depths. The fact that we were raised by parents who themselves believed that they were ultimately discrete entities (unless we were born to totally enlightened parents) profoundly shapes our consciousness. Because of their own lack of attunement to their essential nature, our parents could not perceive, value, or mirror back to us our true depths. Since our consciousness during the first few months of life is merged with that of our mother, what she experiences of us becomes what we experience of ourselves. As Margaret Mahler has said, “Mutual cueing during the symbiotic phase creates that indelibly imprinted configuration—that complex pattern—that becomes the leitmotif for ‘the infant’s becoming the child of his particular mother,’” 4 meaning that we become what our mother perceives us to be. Not only are society and culture passed on to us by our parents, but also the entire worldview that they rest upon is imparted to us. This worldview that we absorb with our mother’s milk is that of the personality, in which the physical is experienced as the only dimension of reality that is real. Because the deeper dimension of reality—that of our essential nature—is not held and mirrored back to us, we gradually begin to lose contact with it ourselves."

To See the work of D. W. Winnicott and Almaas’ Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas (Berkeley: Diamond Books, 1999) for more detailed information on the concept of the holding environment.
3Ibid., p. 43-44.


Maria Teixeira said...

I read during my first pregnancy that babies are like little Buddhas until we tell them enough that they aren't. That really stayed with Travis and I. I think that as Ezaias gets older and more opinions about him are thrust at us it's harder to hold on to the little Buddha within him. People take his shyness and apprehension for moodiness (and, of course, moodiness is bad.) I'm not being very articulate...but I'm trying to say parenting is hard and made even harder by our surroundings and those in it. It's easier to ask our
children to adjust to this world...rather than adjusting our world to them.

Mason McFadden said...

Yes, Maria. I know what you are trying to say. I feel much more peaceful. I want to take a step back and remind myself (very often) about the state of calm Beingness that all children inhabit when they are cradled in the womb, in our arms. Elanah screamed every night at dinnertime for months. I felt so tired out by her. She wouldn't have cried if I had held her, but I wanted to sit down and eat my dinner without her in my arms so i let her scream for that half hour or so each night. I know I can't always give her my arms and my full self, but I can at least try to see her in her Beingness rather than in/as her reaction to the loss of holding...

Mason McFadden said...

And thanks for reading my post, by the way!

Mason McFadden said...

I'll say it again. I wish we lived closer to one another!!!