Today I realised another important reason why I became drawn to these various practices that include collective presence. Whether it is a group meditation, collective processing, circling or other collective enquiry framework, all of them are united by the requirement to be able to own your own experience. When I first heard this invitation, I wasn’t fully connecting with it. It sounded too abstract and it just faded away compared to other exciting stuff that was going on. Bunch of strangers, excitement that comes with honesty, bodily experience, novelty of the setting, all these things were overshadowing this own your experience statement. But as my practice progressed it became more and more important. I started to observe my day-to-day activities and noticed that this is actually a very important part that I have difficulties with. Especially when I was writing about hypnotism and default purpose, ownership over the experience came up with intensity I didn’t experience before. It feels like a superpower and I am excited about the possibility to gain it.
I can see many reasons why it can be difficult to own your own experience but first of all one must know what this experience is and how to connect to it. Sounds simple but mostly we struggle with being in sync with our experiences. I think that more often I just find myself in an experience rather than I actually follow some sort of decision-making process and arrive where I am. So when I have to own it I experience dissonance because l have little to do with it. At least on the level of conscious experience. To own the experience one has to be part of it.
I see dissociation form one’s own experience as a side effect of social conditioning and the overpowering need of attachment. In order to fit in, we sacrifice authentic behaviour and eventually lose the connection with what is important for us. With what makes us to be the way we are. We end up with an experience of something that we think is a good way to be in a particular situation. By doing so we strive to eliminate the danger of being rejected, minimise conflict and secure the connection. The desire to please others is another symptom of inability to own your experience. This can come from different places. For me, conflict-avoidance and obligation to comfort everyone are two personality traits that obstruct my ability to take ownership and rule within it.
Our bodies can help us to own our experiences. The body is a mediator, a membrane that connects us to the world around and it constantly sends us signals about what is happening. These signals are translated into feelings, emotions, actions and memories. It happens all the time without the need for activation from our side. These bodily sensations are bridges to understand what is happening. As we are mostly neglecting the signalling capacities of our bodies, we also diminish our opportunities to own whatever we are being part of in the moment. Another way to connect is to look at other people and try to feel through them where we are. It sounds a little abstract but just give it a try, place yourself in the shoes of another person and see what happens. Owning your experience is a wonderful superpower that enhances connection with others, it allows for real presence with all imperfections, excitements, opportunities, disappointments and expectations. Owning the experience is not always to enjoy it but to have it the way it is. Positive or negative, everything is welcome, each emotion either comfort or discomfort - all the spectrum belongs to you. I have to be honest, for me this one is very difficult to practice, but I also feel that it is a fundamental skill to become good in, it is a key to understanding what is yours and what is not and being able to speak out about it without fear.