As we walk our way into 2017, I continue to hear from friends, patients, and colleagues, questions about how best to respond to the tumult of recent months. What’s to be done? What am I supposed to do? Does it help to write letters, call my senator, march in Washington?
As I too have asked and considered these questions, I find myself feeling the need to let the answers emerge in their own time. This is not a passive process, or a turning away. But what I have come to understand as the feminine capacity to allow for, to receive otherness from within, and to let things grow. The psyche pushes for wellness – this was Carl Jung’s sage insight. And it seems primed to do so when given the psychological space necessary for working things through, and digesting what can seem at a given moment, un-digestible.
This gentle and respectful approach to psyche is true of both psychotherapy and Buddhism, two traditions that appreciate our need for unhurried time. To contemplate. So slow down, and then slow down some more. These processes, as practiced in the Dharma and psychotherapy, are meant to be generative, to help us better understand what’s happening in our minds, and find skillful non-harming ways to utilize what we discover. It’s a feminine process and a highly receptive one. But it is also powerfully active, where our ensuing actions are informed by increased awareness and attunement.
From my perspective, one of the great losses of this election was the way in which the feminine within us all was denigrated. In watching a candidate, whose orientation and record indicated an other-centric world view, suffer endless public condemnation and disrespect, it seemed that the world in turn suffered a powerful deflation of needed feminine capacities. I continue to hear intelligent people, including women, express virulent criticisms of Hillary’s character, criticisms that seem unbacked by fact or history. What saddens me as I listen, is a sense of unconscious splitting from what may be most critically needed in this complex, economically and spiritually pluralistic world: the need to be actively receptive. To grow curious about ourselves and others, and to listen to what we hear.
So, I offer this brief reflection as a way to affirm your need to take time as you consider how best to enter this New Year. It may not yet be clear. For me, it isn’t. But I look forward to discovering what’s needed, to hearing and learning from you what has been helpful, and to finding our way through together.