I am discovering something about intimacy. Listening to a tape of Thich Nhat Hanh yesterday he mentioned that we learn in relationship. He said it with passion and I have no doubts that he has come to know this through his own direct experience. And Yes I have heard this before and it certainly does sound ideal. We grow in relationship. As a social worker we were told this in our training and it is one of the tenants of that profession. But in all the counselling that I have done as a counsellor and that I received for myself I never came to realise for myself what it was to experience this. I believed it, but I had not come to know it directly.
In my own relationships coming to know enough about myself that I can begin to be more authentic with others I have had a glimmer of what this means. I think that I could only come to know this after having shed my armour of self and by exposing the truth of myself in vulnerability. And n coming to join and explore with another, in authenticity and truth, what it is that we are in this unprotected act of intimacy we actually open to a wisdom that is beyond the result of the methodological acquisition of a skill. In that interaction something is revealed to us that is beyond the self that shines a light on our understanding of self. It is beyond what we can do in isolation.
Thich also talks about active listening and how beneficial it is to the speaker. This is something again that is encouraged as a skill for social workers and over the years I certainly realised the value of being aware in this way. But there is something even more profound to be experience when this occurs out of openness and an authentic letting go of the self; in presence. In that joining with another there is something for the listener in that moment of openness and receptivity to the other. It is something other than what can be experienced” in role” as a counsellor or helper. It is an unfolding and expansion of a more fundamental quality that has been occurring far before the existence of any profession or skills program that humans have created.