There are those moments in life where, for some reason, the veils get drawn back a little and we are thrust into a deeper experience. Perhaps we are struck by seeing more of ourselves, perhaps we get a glimpse of some aspect of another person, or we see some subtle facet of reality itself. Often times we may have intuited these things and when the insight comes it’s almost like a slap on the forehead. Of course we may say, it makes so much more sense now. Once we see these things, the world seems to expand and change and with the right kind of nurturing we grow to fill this new space.
In a practice called circling these moments are fondly called Aletheia moments.
The word Aletheia is a greek word and means “the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident”. It is used to represent a disclosure or truth, that something in the background is brought into awareness.
We are incredibly complex creatures, so complex that there are many things about ourselves that we do not know or see. One of the purposes of life, for those of us with a spiritual disposition, is to discover who and what we truly are. This process seems to be facilitated by consistent work to reveal more of ourselves, to become more conscious of our inner workings and to see our own inner matrix as well as that of the reality we inhabit.
An ancient Hindu proverb states that the three greatest mysteries are “a fish unto water, a bird unto the air and a man unto himself”. This proverb states that as humans our own selves are a mystery, that in fact the way we are is so often unconscious to ourselves that it is much like water is to a fish. We are in it all the time yet never really see it for what it is.
Through many great and ancient traditions we have been handed down a variety of tools for this personal unveiling. Practices like meditation, yoga and chi kung have become widespread and accessible to all as a way of working with the personal, subjective experience. Through these practices we are presented with the opportunity for seeing more of ourselves from the inside and some form or another is highly recommended for anyone seeking to become an increasingly ‘better’ and conscious version of themselves in this life.
From an Integral lens, however, this domain is only one facet of working with the subjective experience. These practices are about turning inwards and deepening relationship with ourselves yet we do not live in isolation and for most of us retreating to a cave or monastery to live out our lives is not a feasible option. We live in relationship with others almost all the time. Interactions with friends, family, partners and lovers, colleagues and our general community are usually part of our daily experience. Acknowledging the inevitable relationship with others there is an opportunity to practice here, with others, in relationship as a form of increasing awareness. To create deeper connections and intimacy with those in our lives and to have these connections add more to both us and them. Like the fish swimming in the water, it can’t see the medium it is moving through… yet the bird, from an outside perspective, can. It is this way with others in our lives. Many of the people closest to us can see, or with the right circumstances can begin to see, aspects of ourselves that we may not be fully aware of. When we are with them we are impacting them constantly in subtle ways, as they are to us. This is where the practice of circling comes in.
Circling can be considered as an intersubjective meditation. This means that it is not just ourselves turning into the experience, rather we are entering it through interaction. The invitation is to become more fully present, here now IN our relationship with another. Through putting our attention on the relationship as it is occurring in the moment a possibility arises to see more of ourselves, more of an other and more the space or reality that we all inhabit. Our differences and similarities are drawn out and celebrated, we become increasingly present to our shared humanity.
Aletheia as a weekend intensive is a deep dive into this shared space between us. Through circle after circle we are revealing and revealed. The experience of several people sitting with us, wanting to know us, allowing us to show up as we are whatever that is can be exhilarating and opening. From a participant’s perspective having an experience like this changes us in beautiful ways. Most of all we may realize that we are truly not alone.
Anything more about the weekend has to be experienced first-hand to truly know what a gift it is to enter relationship as a practice for growth and awakening.
About Damien Bohler
Damien Bohler is a nomadic soul sometimes confused and other times delighted by his existence on this strange and wonderful planet. He enjoys writing, climbing trees and being barefoot. You can read more of his stuff on his blog.