I was participating in a healing circle training recently and during one of the sessions we were given a writing prompt, “what showed up this morning?” For five minutes I wrote about what had shown up for me that morning: death. I had experienced a vivid dream in which a horse had charged and deliberately stomped on a person in front of me. The experience was both jolting and awakening.
Witnessing, being present, and showing up for others and myself in a world where eyes are shut wide open now is frightening. We have eyes but do not see! I will start with myself. There are parts of myself and behaviors that are not fully in alignment with my true being or values, and unless I take time to explore them, I continue to do them, habitually. These thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are so integrated in my mindset, I do not recognize them until an outside factor jolts me, such a vision of a horse stomping a person!
Something or someone shows up in my life in the form of cancer, estrangement, loss, illness, or life transitions, and grabs my full attention and invites me to stop, ponder, consider, and evaluate changing what is not in alignment with my inner being and values. It is an opportunity, a gift, a moment to shift my focus on what may alter the course of my life. Over the past several years, I’ve had a lot of things show up and I have chosen to examine myself and my behaviors.
I had to start by bearing witness to myself, my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and circumstances. I had to ask questions such as, what am I feeling? What can this teach me? How do I want to live? Who do I want to be? What do I want? I showed up for myself first and leaned into what I was experiencing without changing anything. That is what bearing witness to oneself is, becoming aware and conscious of what shows up at any one moment.
It is hard to do!
I’m a people pleaser, performer, suck it up even though it is killing me, stoic! Asking for help or letting others know I am struggling has been non-negotiable in my life up to this point. After sitting with myself for a period of time, I discovered I had cheated myself out of something that could have been life transformative, LOVE! I didn’t allow others to love me. I didn’t even give anyone the opportunity to love me, walk alongside me, or offer support.
So, nobody showed up for me and it hurt. I embraced something I had tried to keep out of my life for over five decades. My eyes wide shut suddenly opened to new possibilities, experiences, and a deeper connection to myself.
According to Dr. Barbara Dossey (2015) “bearing witness is being present to things as they are, which involves developing qualities of deep listening to understand what another person is expressing or not expressing.” When we are fully engaged with another person, listening with our full body, and allowing space and time for one another to share both verbally and non-verbally, we become open to whatever will transpire in the encounter. It is nothing short of an act of self-less, engaged, open, love energy, flowing and encircling each person in space and time.
What I find so refreshing about bearing witness to others is that I can transform in an instant or over a period of time just as the other person may. It is an act of love that plants itself in both. A smile, an acknowledgement, a thank you, a moment of kindness can bring about the same results as spending hours with someone. No words ever need to be spoken to initiate this experience either!
As an Integrative Nurse Coach, I explore bearing witness daily. I recognize this must begin with me so I can become the vessel of healing to others in which a container of hope encircles those who are present with me. I leave the labels, diagnoses, preconceived ideas, past, future, and become fully present in the mystery unfolding in the now. Nothing short of a miracle reveals itself each and every time. I know I am witnessing something with eyes wide open and have nothing to do, except radiate LOVE.
Holly Kapusinski is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Integrative Nurse Coach® with a passion for nurturing children and families. With a background in healthcare and a focus on nutrition and alternative healing, she established Life Cycle Balance LLC to promote holistic wellness. Her expertise extends to stress management, brain health, and non-violent communication. Holly's dedication to community extends to volunteering and leading wellness seminars. She dreams of creating a wellness center and authoring a book on healing from trauma as a Nurse Coach. Her interests include languages, cycling, hiking, and exploring new horizons.