There is sacredness within the space of psychotherapy. So much emotional life is given attention, breath and vibrancy in this shared spaciousness between two people. Between these two hearts, moments are held, of anguish encased, unleashed revelations, honored silences, and all incubating new unfettered life. There is alchemy present in the therapeutic relationship that nourishes the other, deepening and evolving the connection. The result of this strange and beautiful, chemical and ethereal reaction is that we are both transfixed and transformed in the process. This space, cultivated from a place of non-duality and equanimity reverberates in every fiber of the bodies that are present within it. In this primacy of connection, there is a spaciousness that says, “There is space in myself for you.”
Walking down Broadway this morning with my orange and red shawl from Chartres, France, swaying in the warmth of the day’s gentle breeze, I feel enveloped both in my shawl and in my memories of my first recognized encounter with the imaginal realm. My mind begins to wander and I consider what my office might look like if I could re-create in this space the imaginal realm in which I enter. I consider what it might be like to inhabit that space with another.
It would be filled with colors; rich and deep like my shawl, with a sacred texture and warmth that only living with the truth feels like. Like the velvety feel of a white petal flower in my garden gingerly held by their succulent firm green stalks, each falling to the ground with one swift warm breeze. No smell but a creamy tactile taste on the tongue once it’s cooked in milk. It would have the emotional feel of the sweet soft spot of touching into someone’s soul. Our movement from the dark to light that mark our lives would hold those places and moods in an honest gentle embrace, where they could be touched upon and understood for what they are; memories of the past with their own lives that can inform but not control; that can be witnessed, loved and mourned, making way for a yet to be uncharted future with the divine.
This imaginal realm can appear as otherworldly where shape shifting is as common as the breath. Where tears flow from the eyes with the smell of spring rain. We all touch into it moment to moment, in and out of time, catching ourselves with a peculiar smile or a rush to the beat of our heart. There is a sense of knowing when we’ve touched into the realm’s sacred space. Like being awakened from a deep, long sleep of solitude, to be welcomed by a kinship with another. Equally knowing and nestled in its warmth of familiarity. Without words we are surrounded by its embrace and with a flash of recognition, connected to our collective past; to awareness that life is connected not only in this moment but to the past and future as well; for we are of a cosmic, universal consciousness.
We are all sisters and brothers, all carried gingerly in the womb, born from the same sacred mother who dutifully, lovingly breathed life into and cared for our bodies and our souls.
Each ebb and flow of the oceans surf beckons us to dance in its waters, drink from its bounty and connect to the spirit world. Both the spirit world and our day-to-day world of toil and existence have a connection to this realm. It’s called a thin place where the boundary between the supernatural and the natural is so thin to be porous, available for transporting. It is liminal. In Latin, limen is for threshold; one simultaneously of the past and the present. And the canniest of experiences occur at this liminal boundary. If you listen in a quiet inquisitive manner, if you give yourself over, fully open and vulnerable; if you engage in a deep noticing; then the darkness will open up to a sliver of light and then to an arc of illumination where you can be available to witness this realm’s knowing. Like the emanation of God’s light unable to be contained in the vessels, shattered, signaling the heralding in of a rebirth. Something breaks, is unearthed, and transformed through life, then death. For nothing remains the same. This is the nature of our evolutionary advance.
Touching into this realm is felt both deeply within and beyond ones’ experience of the human condition. It transcends the mind’s view and all attempts for explanation. Best to let every sinew of your body experience it first hand. Your eyes, fingertips, the hair on your skin, the foreign, primal human sounds emanating from your heart and bowels. In this way it grounds you to the undeveloped richness of the space. Vast and with no defining imprint other than to be in a place that calls and attracts one who leaves desire for the tangible behind. It is a quiet, pristine and atonal space; I imagine like another planet but of the same solar system. One’s entry to this space requires the discipline of emptying oneself from the attachment to human endeavors. There is no separation or differentiation from the other at this threshold of the liminal. There are no illusions. We have collectively come upon an evolving and deepening consciousness. Engaging our imaginations through a connection with our soul, we can manifest something new and wondrous.
The imaginal realm is akin to a dream state, vibrant, filled with deeply known archetypes, sounds and motions that have the feel of sense memories, like déjà vu. It is a place outside ordinary time and geography, illimitable, a place of kairos, like dreams, a ritual space that has the feeling of enchantment.
So is there a way to be in touch with this liminal space in our psychotherapy consulting room? If we engage with a deep noticing, we are in touch with the reality that we already move into deeper levels of consciousness with ourselves and with another but may remain unaware of its luminous and transcendent possibilities. What can we make of this fertile space? How might we be transformed along with those with whom we work?
Moving from the language of words into the language of the body allows us to take note of what has laid dormant, blocking our freedom to evolve. Making psychological, bodily and ethereal room to engage our imaginative muscle helps us to be open to those uncanny, unexplainable events; swift, barely noticed moments that get lodged in the gut and may sound a brief recognition and then pass by as if they never occurred, or experienced as a day dream, or in the moment not immediately recognizable. At times it may feel as if our experience is occurring apart from the present moment and we are thrown off balance. And then at other times it feels like a signal to not stir, to pay close attention, to sit in silence with our internal feelings and be present to what unfolds.
Engaging at the threshold of this gifted and liminal space might free us from unnecessary or ill-timed interpretations along with the worry and desire to know; to have some claim of insight. For this is not the honest path of knowing. Rather it is experiencing the deeply felt connection that lies beneath the surface, simultaneously in and outside of us, trusting that it will bear fruit along with an honest emerging experience of the other and the self. Not born out of having one see as the head would have it. But to see it as the heart knows it and reveals it in its raw, pulsing, ever changing state.
Contact with the imaginal realm reveals that we are not just the two of us in the room. We have an inclusive connection to a more expansive view of ourselves through both our personal and universal history. This knowledge serves to embed our memories, thoughts and actions in a cosmic view, while supporting the emergence of our self- reflective awareness. The message is we are not alone. Our connective tissue binds us to each other and lifts us up.
Liminal spaces are like attic doorways, rarely entered but full of treasures to be re-engaged with and re-lived anew.