the part of you that’s outside of you

Photo by Azrul Aziz on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 1/8/19

I’ve had some interesting conversations over the past few days with people who took my recent online class, Finding Comfort In Your Own Skin.

One of the big themes we kept returning to is something I began to think about a couple of years ago, the idea of paying attention to how we connect our insides to the outside world.

I referred to it often in the class, and pointed out that this skin that we all wanted to be more comfortable in was the boundary between.

It’s an extension of one of Moshe Feldenkrais’ ideas, from the Potent Self, the first of his books that I read, where he describes the self as having these three parts – our internal self, the envelope of our body surfaces, and the external environment.

Of course my insides and my skin are mine!

But when I first encountered the idea that outside world is also part of me it was something totally new.

I didn’t find it to be impossible, but the more I thought about it, I realized that living my life based on that understanding would be something entirely different.

I didn’t have to look far to see this possibility:

As I speak,  your facial expression changes in response to my words – and my insides change in response to your face.

I wake up in the morning and see the sun – and it’s part of how I feel.

I wake up in the morning and see the rain – and it’s part of how I feel.

We dance together, feeling the same music deeply through our insides – and I can no longer tell who is directing this movement.

A sudden loud disturbance erupts on a busy street – and every single one of us changes posture in the same instant, all our eyes turn in the same direction.

(Imagine how it looks to the bird looking down from above. Perhaps it’s similar to things that scientists observe under the microscope when certain chemicals encounter each other.)

Of course, it all began in the womb.

Mother and I, no difference between us that I can sense.

As my consciousness awakens to the world for the first time, I am already integrated into her movement, her sound-making, the vibrations that pass through her.

When I feel most peaceful, in my lover’s arms, I feel again a womb-like serenity.

I could continue this way, but you were already convinced or you weren’t.

The idea that “we are all one” is common to all spiritual traditions and is also justifiably ridiculed when it’s expressed carelessly.

But supposing that you already did take this idea for fact of life – how would you live differently?

I sometimes think of it in terms of microcosms and macrocosms. One idea already popular in the world is that of Gaia, that the planet and all its life forms are simply one organism.

You and I may think of ourselves as unique beings, but perhaps our blood cells have similar thoughts.

Would you argue with them?

Maybe the stars think similarly as well, but would laugh to the think that the microscopic cells that blip about  a rocks in one of their orbits claim their existential individuality.

We can argue about it forever, but just suppose for a moment that we are all connected.

Just imagine if it were true that the tiny ripples of cellular motion inside of each one of us had the ultimate potential to realign our entire microcosmic and macrocosmic self.

Try creating the feeling you might have if you knew that each one of us contained the tiniest spark of a process that, when set in motion, would allow all of us to glimpse more of our collective whole.

What if all of our thoughts, curiosities, dilemmas, spontaneous desires, and creative intuitions each held the possibility of changing everything for all of us – or even just for many of us – would you live differently?

Would you be a little more willing to consider making a contribution if you stopped thinking what you experienced inside was not part of a larger process that depended on communication with the outside world?


The Finding Comfort in Your Own Skin online course from December 2018 is now available as video course for self-study.