If I am busy within myself trying to apply a protocol, assess a person, formulate a treatment plan, or select which evidencebased practice to employ, I am not present with the person who comes into my room.

When Richard asked me for some thoughts about important
directions, about what comes next, I began thinking with the sense of how much
relational neuroscience has offered us in the last few decades. Shortly after
that, I began to wonder what we humans, our societies, and our planet need most
right now. No day passes without a sense that our time as a viable species on
this gorgeous, but suffering, planet may be quite short. How did we become so
neglectful of our home, of the body of the Earth? And what would relational
neuroscience offer as wisdom to guide us toward more sustainable living?

We might begin by recognizing that almost every new
discovery deepens our awareness of how thoroughly interwoven we are with each other
and with all other living systems. Stephen Porges tells us that “connection is
a biological imperative.” We could sit with the meaning of that for a long
time, allowing it to shape how we see our place in this world, with each other
and with the natural world. It also helps us become sensitive to how much of
our nervous system is devoted to this biological imperative. James Coan says,
“…it is possible to think of the entire human brain as a neural attachment
system.” Pointing toward the depth of neurobiological entanglement with each
other, Marco Iacoboni says that “we live within each other.” If we are able to
feel into this, we might begin to sense that in every meaningful relationship, including
the way we experience our connection with this earth, there is a third entity
created. It is the joining of two (or more) into one system that is neither one
nor the other, and certainly not the sum of the two, but its own third thing.
My friend, and GAINS board member, Jim Finley tries to reflect this state of
unity that preserves individuality this way: “Not-one, yet not-two.” Dan Siegel
tries to touch it with “mwe.” It is a paradox that we can experience but not fully
define. When we are in this state
(but not when we are thinking about it), there is a flow of respect, of
dignity, of tenderness and cooperation, and of co-suffering as well. This leads
to acts of support and kindness, and willingness to make sacrifices for each
other. We cease being and seeing objects, and instead inhabit a world of living

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This has been an excerpt from The Neuropsychotherapist Volume 7 Issue 6 – for the complete article and more interesting content, please subscribe to our magazine.

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