Look into my eyes..
Abi Foss gets up close and personal at a ‘Quantum Heart’ Dyad event
Working mum Abi Foss took part in a QH workshop in September 2009How often do you look into someone’s eyes? I mean, really look. Not with any aggressive or lovey-dovey agenda - just simply sitting and gazing into the windows of another’s soul. It’s not easy - at first. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing it on the tube. But in the container of a well-structured and well-led group, it can be a revelation.
The ‘Quantum Heart’ (QH) workshops comprise speaking and listening partner exercises, known as dyads. The listener is asked to be receptive and completely non-judgemental, avoiding the usual body language like nodding and smiling at the other to make them feel at ease. "At first, I just wanted to run," confided Lorraine, a fellow participant. "For me, talking to a ‘blank slate’ was unnerving. I actually felt quite abandoned - it really brought it home to me how much I look to others for acknowledgement and approval."
The first part of the day is spent practicing these deceptively simple techniques, until the group get the hang of it and feel relaxed enough together to go deeper. Run by Jeanette McKenzie, a humanistic psychologist with numerous psychotherapeutic and Eastern esoteric trainings under her belt, her QH workshops are based on techniques used by Zen Buddhist masters to train the novice monk’s mind for spiritual enlightenment, or the sense of feeling complete oneness with ‘all that is’; ‘like a dewdrop falling into the ocean’, as Osho, the Indian mystic once said.
The dyads each have a theme. The listener will be instructed to ask the speaker searching questions such as ‘tell me what you admire most in another,’ or ‘tell me how you express your love’. The speaker can say anything or nothing. Some garble, happy to have the chance to talk uninterrupted, allowing all kinds of random images and thoughts to come through. Others might find themselves becoming unexpectedly contemplative, silent, emotional or even get a fit of the giggles. As the afternoon progressed, I found myself sinking into a deeply relaxed, thoughtless space, which surprised me. I have been meditating with closed eyes, on and off for the past twenty years. This, however, was somehow more profound, and it involved gazing at people.
As the listener, the idea is to simply be a presence for the other to talk to. As the speaker, this can be liberating. Once I was able to allow my stream of consciousness to flow, it took me to all kinds of revelatory places. ‘Tell me how you like to be loved’ my listener had asked and I found myself shedding tears as I said: ‘I want my partner to really believe in me,,, I don’t think he does.’ ‘Tell me how you love yourself’ was the next question. I reeled a little inwardly and then: ‘Oh my goodness,’ I spluttered ‘I have never truly, properly believed in myself’. All the self-criticism and sense of unworthiness I have struggled with my whole life came flooding back towards me and although I can see how I was ‘programmed’ to do this to myself, this wasn’t about blame anymore, it was about finally taking responsibility. After several other similarly poignant realisations, my heart centre - the point at the centre of the chest also known as the heart chakra - began feeling so deliciously warm, tender and at peace with itself that I just wanted to bask in the gloriousness of it all. ‘I want to stay in this space forever,’ I thought to myself.
"This is the Quantum Heart," Jeanette announced just as I was feeling it. "The place beyond all notions of blame, personality, right and wrong. Ultimately, there is no other," she added forcefully. "Thinking we are separate beings is a complete illusion."
As we all settled into our places in a circle at the end of the workshop, I noticed a distinct shift in the participants’ demeanours. Nervous tension had dissipated; the circle was peppered with serene smiles and a collective sense of inner contentment that seemed to ooze out all over the place. Lorraine, however, looked stunned. "I had no idea it would be so powerful," she whispered. "I wasn’t quite prepared for that".
"How about you, Abi?" asked Jeanette. "Me? I just want more!"I replied in a mock-growly voice, feigning ravenous hunger. "Hey, this was the simplified version" she smiled back at me. "This is just the beginning. As you practice and get more adept, you stabilise emotionally and start really experiencing the QH space. But the thing is you have to keep it grounded."
Jeanette herself had a series of ‘awakening’ experiences that she was completely unprepared for. "I was no stranger to ‘satoris’ (the Zen Buddhist term for peak enlightenment experiences) but back at the end of the eighties my ego identity disintegrated so completely that all I could do was sit around and write poetry for several years. You don’t want to do that; you’re no use to anyone - and its not practical for busy mums like you. These workshops can take you gently and easily into the Quantum Heart space. Step by baby step."
"The thing is" she continued, "when you operate from that space in daily life, everything gets so much easier. Life just flows. Work and money come, the right people show up at the right time. You’re aware that you are not ‘doing’ it anymore, there is no effort. Something else more mysterious is running the show and it really does a good job - but only if you let it!"
Later that evening after I had arrived home, my partner, probably sensing I was in a very relaxed and happy space, asked if I wanted to talk about any of our ‘issues’. Our ten year relationship had been under immense strain and I had suggested a few days previously that we needed to find time to have a ‘proper talk’.
‘Issues?’ I thought to myself, ‘What issues?’ Being annoyed with my partner was the last thing on my mind. I also noticed that what I often find irritating behaviour from our two and half year old son (whose current favourite pastime is saying ‘no’ to everything) had become the stuff of mild amusement. Certain buttons inside me were just not getting pushed anymore. This didn’t last more than a few days but now, when I find myself getting irritable and overwhelmed with the demands of family and work life, I find some quiet time, stare into space and practice sinking back into the QH space... as delicious as melted chocolate. And I can’t wait to do it all again.
Copyright: Abi Foss, September 2009