What’s that? A witness?
No, a WITHNESS: A felt sense of being with another. Being a witness is part of it, too. Maybe it’s the first step. But it isn’t the last.
Just being seen is vital but it’s not enough to forge the kind of love that is not storm-shaken. Merely tolerating another isn’t the basis of a flourishing friendship.
But Withness isn’t blindly agreeing or going along with someone else’s agenda either. It isn’t a mucky merging of Self and Other. And it sure the f*ck isn’t a domination of my will or thought or experience over yours.
It’s that exquisite, tantalizing dance of you and me. It’s a delicate and daring tango of differing insights and desires. It’s a willingness to be honest about what’s actually going on inside me, inside you, and between us.
When we’re with it, we’re cognizant of alchemy and accountability. We acknowledge and relish the power we have together. We can see how what you do or say impacts my world— for better or for worse.
And when the dance gets hard or hurtful (because it will), we can learn how to dial up the curiosity and compassion: What does that feel like inside you? What made you say that? How did that land for you? Tell me more...
We can take a deeper breath and remember who we are— every single one of us is worthy of being understood. Every single one of us is worthy of being loved.
We are all miraculous and precious beings.
We deserve to be here. It’s ok to feel what we feel. What an incredible thing it is to be with those with whom we choose to share our lives. What a wonderful gift to be willing to continually refine our stories and our experiences, as we evolve together in this heartbreakingly beautiful and confoundingly complex world.
Because this is it. We will either emerge into a higher consciousness together, or we will drive off the cliff of climate change and capitalism-gone-bad (condemning our species to extinction while entombing much of the world’s complex life with us).
So no, I’m not interested in going to some cave or workshop to "get enlightened." I don’t need a psychoanalyst to tell me what’s "right or wrong" in my heart or mind.
I will not participate in a spiritual bypass that refuses to look injustice in the face. I refuse to join religions or cultural frames that forget to demand better here and now, for everyone, on this Earthly plane.
I’m in this with you. Are you in it with me?
Withness is a willingness to actually deal with the feelings and experiences of the other with curiosity and creativity. It’s truly saying YES, both in word and in spirit, to any relationship you choose to enter. It's built on a foundation of profound respect.
It's a knowing that when you diminish another, you diminish yourself.
Withness creates an experience of being deeply seen, lovingly held, and truly honored— even if we disagree. Even if we’re in conflict, even if I wish everything were different, I keep lowering the walls. You keep extending your hand.
We build bridges, not bombs.
And when someone isn’t capable or willing to be in a Withness with me…when I feel alone, attacked, or dismissed, well, I can be with that too. I can offer myself the Withness I yearn for with another.
And then, no one and nothing can stop me from re-entering, at any moment, this magnificent playground of life on Earth.
Withness is a living, breathing poem, let’s make it up as we go.
Founder & CEO
Photo by Sinitta Leunen.