by Golnaz, Bsc, London, Uk
I have often giggled watching people’s response to a young baby and how self-consciousness is abandoned – all manner of silly behaviours come out and anything goes, just to keep the baby’s attention a few seconds longer. The baby looks straight in your eyes, smiles, and even a big tough adult melts and is disarmed. I have often wondered, what exactly is melting? What is being disarmed? And what is it about the baby that is causing this?
I live in a densely populated city and during rush hour train rides everyone avoids each other’s gaze.
This ritual is repeated at least twice a day, 5 days a week. It’s crazy…. we have to stand a few inches apart, no choice but be aware of the person next to us, but instead of making contact, everyone grabs something to read – and if there is nothing to read, everyone stares intently into thin air!
But in this same city early in the mornings, or in quiet places as I walk past a new person, when no-one has had a chance to prepare themselves for the unexpected meeting, the person often looks up, we catch each other’s eyes, there is often a nod, a smile or a hello. There is a natural joy of meeting another and a desire to make contact.
I have often wondered why we have this discrepancy.
I have learned that I have carried an invisible shield of protection most of my life. This shield has closed the possibility of my meeting others with the openness of a baby. I have not been able to connect to people to the extent that I wanted to, and that has brought me great sadness. I knew I was selectively more open to some people, but when I became honest I realised even that had strings attached, so I wasn’t fully open. Did I even know what fully open was anymore?
Then I saw the whopper. I started observing people; I noticed this layer of protection on almost everyone on the train, at work, in the supermarket, on the street! Whoah! If pretty much every one learns from young to create a shield, and there is no true interaction possible, no wonder the world is as it is – how ungracious people are with one another on a daily basis, the rising rates of mental illness, depression, family and community breakdown, crime, violence and wars. And it all starts with us hiding behind our shields.
The beauty of what I have learned since is how – through our daily choices – each of us can make a big difference, not only to our own lives, but to all around us. The fact that so many of us are invisible behind our shields does not need to be the end of the story.
A responsibility I have wanted to shirk off has been the fact that the more I hide behind my shield, the more I prove to another that it is necessary for them to hide behind theirs. If I continue in this way I am actually helping the people around me to not connect to one another and, like I did after a while, to think they ARE the protections and games they have adopted as their shield.
BUT… and it is a big gorgeous but… the more I express the love within me without protection and strategising –just like the smile of a baby – the more it allows others the space to reduce their reliance on their own shield.
I have had the opportunity to feel what happens when I meet another who stands as they truly are – no protection, no expectation, just love: I can breathe easier, I try less to prove anything, I give myself permission to be myself, all in an instant, without even thinking, it just happens, it is completely natural. What a beautiful gift. And I too can offer that gift to another.
Now my daily focus is to build my life so that it is loving, so that I know and deepen my connection to who I am. It is becoming easier to recognise when the old protection and control comes out to play, and more natural to choose a more loving way.
LIVING THE LOVE THAT IN TRUTH WE ALL ARE when the shields and the lies are removed is the most natural thing.
I am today more open and joyful in my life than ever, and I know I have just scratched the surface. It is all unfolding to a greater level every day. One delightful outcome of this is that I meet loads more people: they are meeting my eyes, nodding, smiling, sometimes starting a conversation, even on busy packed trains… even when there are no babies present!