To be honest, I’m not really a group person. I like spending time by myself and doing my own thing. Being surrounded by other people for longer than a few days, is quite a stretch for me. And yet, I found myself during an entire month in a pop-up community in Bergerac, to learn about ‘Embodying Collective Transformation’. Or as I like to describe it: to learn the art of loving. Deeply grateful for this opportunity to immerse myself in a bath of awareness, honesty, and compassion. It has been one of the most healing and enriching experiences of my life.
The greatest gift for me during the residency has been learning how to love deeply and unconditionally. In the first place, to love myself more fully, with all my parts. Learning about IFS (Internal Family Systems) felt like discovering a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t realise was missing. I have been on the path of self-compassion and self-acceptance for a long time, but relating to my inner world through the lens of parts (or inner children) really takes this practice to the next level.
For instance, a part of me that gets easily activated when I’m in a group, is the one that feels very unsafe. The way this usually plays out, is that I withdraw and become silent. I feel anxious about taking up space and so I swallow my words, not allowing myself to be seen. However, in this group I could express the way this part was feeling, and receive genuine care and acceptance from others. This has allowed me to feel a lot more safe and at ease than I usually do in group settings.
And then, what happened after my system could relax more fully into the group? Suddenly other parts had more space to surface, even the ones that I didn’t know existed or I had lost touch with. Completely buried under many years of conditioning. I discovered silly, playful, and loud parts in me. An angry part. And a very wild and fierce feminine part. They so enjoyed to be recognised and expressed. And I so enjoy getting to know them.
Can I welcome all my parts, even the ones I feel uncomfortable with?
Can I allow all of me to be, without exception, and without censoring?
Beyond right and wrong
There is a field:
I’ll meet you there.
I noticed during my stay that the more I dive into myself and make space for all my parts, the more I can allow and accept these parts in others. When I recognise and befriend my wild part, for instance, or my loud and spontaneous part, it is much easier to forgive others when they are loud or wild. Even if I sometimes find it unpleasant or annoying. Acknowledging that the other person has parts that I also have in me – though maybe hidden or still unloved – relaxes me more into opening up and accepting them.
It doesn’t mean that I have to like everybody. It doesn’t even mean that I have to get along with everyone. It simply asks of me to recognise that when I experience irritation or tension, there is actually a part in me that I haven’t reconciled with. That I feel judgmental or upset about. It is an invitation to go inward and embrace all of my parts, without excluding any.
During the residency, I have discovered a path that leads to real inner and outer transformation. By getting to know others more deeply, I can understand myself better. And the more I accept the different parts in myself, the more I feel compassion and love for others. It is a path that requires patience, courage, and a lot of practice, but it also offers a specific way to grow into the direction of non-violence and love together.