I think it’s accurate to say that for most if not all human beings there is a backlog in us of “unfinished business.” The psyche holds the residue of past hurts, past joys, past difficult states, past conflicts and traumas. For some reason these experiences in us are usually unable to completely clear away. This is different than in animals, who much more easily shake off – sometimes literally – difficult experiences and then move on, life continuing to flow through them unimpeded.
As we move from relatively blissful childhood into challenging adolescence and the responsibilities of adulthood, the weight of the unfinished business becomes heavier. Underneath all of the surface activities that our minds have to engage in for daily life, the tug of the unfinished business sometimes makes itself felt. And, it feels to me, unfinished business begins to “fester”. The longer it remains embedded in us without being brought into the light, the denser it becomes. After a while, it may be that the weight of this burden becomes itself another source of trauma.
Of course, after a while we have no idea of what is actually bothering us. We learn to ignore what’s under the surface, to find strategies to get rid of the feeling that something needs attention. Naturally some people carry less of a burden of unfinished business and some people are more easily able to ignore it. But it feels to me that the most important, the most loving thing we can do together, is to share a space in which the things below the surface can begin to come to light.
If one spends extended quiet sitting time, the surface activity of the mind may quiet down and the deeper parts may start to become awake and sensitive. Spontaneous opening up of these past experiences can happen. But for me it has often also been true that certain things that are very tightly held and guarded in the nervous system/mind/psyche only begin to open up in relation to others, mostly during group or individual meetings together.
Becoming an open space for each other is a gentle and gradual process. As we have the chance to meet together from time to time, we begin to learn about each other, to have more trust in being able to be honest and open, to learn each other’s vocabulary so that we can understand each other, be careful of each other’s sensitivities and become more intuitive about each other.
To me this is a most amazing process together. It’s the most precious interconnection, helping us both heal and open, which is so sorely needed. There is no guarantee that this will happen in meeting together but if we don’t at least give it a try, with some patience for the process of opening, it’s pretty guaranteed that it won’t happen.
It doesn’t really matter if what happens is the opening of issues or the opening of simply being together without agenda. What’s important is the openness itself and I find that that is fostered by meeting together, listening, talking, breathing. And that is a rare and very needed kind of relating of human beings.