Have you ever been in a situation when you were going about your business, moving and acting as one does when one feels nobody is looking, and then be totally surprised when you turn around and notice someone was there, watching you all along. Suddenly you realize, 'I've been seen.'
Being seen feels like the ultimate way to trust. In order to be seen, I feel that I need to first SEE myself. This is at the core. Without this ability to see myself, it would seem difficult to recognize when I am being seen or see others for that matter. This is no easy task, I see it as a lifetime process and yet it feels that we are given an opportunity to do so, to SEE ourselves, at every moment, with every interaction. Looking back, I see all the ways in which 'being seen' or seeing myself for that matter, was often not available, not allowed, not accepted. Fear and the need for conformity was handed down my family’s lineage like a heirloom worth preserving. As I became aware of the limitations around and within me, seeing myself and being seen became a necessity, a survival tactic that continues to morph and deepen to this day.
Being seen can be thought of as something that can happen when we become engrossed in our own exploration of ourselves. The healing and integration that can happen when you catch yourself being lost in a moment, can bridge the gaps created by rejection and lack of self acceptance. Being seen can restore hope in ourselves, it reminds us that we're not alone, that we are a part of the whole and that we belong somehow. How we're seen can take so many forms, each instance individual and perfectly fitting for that moment, that relationship. Finding that moment in which we feel seen, is as individual and specific as there are people and moments in a day. It's also in our ability to SEE that we are being SEEN. Our interpretation and meaning derived from that moment in which we have felt seen is as important as the act of being seen.
These past two months have challenged our yearning to be seen. Seeing ourselves in the eyes of another has been mostly a reminder to remain distant, to maintain a necessary separation. Confinement has forced the curious gaze back on ourselves, it reminds us that we are at the center of our desire and ability to be seen. This is not easy transition given our profound addiction to being confirmed and valued by external sources. Our social structures are platformed on this bond, the way in which I am seen by others somehow, more often than not, translates to the value I assign to myself.
Our current relationships and transactions have shifted almost entirely to the screen and the structure and connections it provides. Being seen here can be pixelated, frozen or out of sync. It is a brave new world and one in which our trust in our own gaze, our own sight of who we are and where we are, are more important than ever. Developing that inner gaze is a practice steeped in acceptance and gratitude. For so many of us looking at ourselves is a difficult challenge, not only because who we are is not a static, set blueprint, (we are constantly evolving), but also because we have been conditioned to identify with only the parts of ourselves that were accepted and sanctioned by whoever was doing the 'seeing' in our early life.
The practice of seeing ourselves, just as we are, of providing that essential confirmation that we are whole in the midst of change and uncertainty, is done moment by moment, thought by thought, word by word, breath by breath. It's in the constant awareness of the challenges and limitations that shape old patterns of action, the beliefs that fuel them and our determination to ignore its warring call, where change lies. Aligning instead with the tender shoots of neutrality, acceptance and gratitude for being who we are, just as we are now, just as we've been then, that is the necessary work of the bravest who has nothing to lose and sees it all as gain. It's in the inventive idea that we can rewire our thinking, that we can shift our perceptions, sensations and experiences of who we are, regardless of where we've been and were we've come from. It's a practice that lasts a lifetime and then some. Being seen is the ultimate gift of ourselves to ourselves, so keep at it, bit by bit, we have all the time we need.