by Amina Knowlan | May 2008
Letting go of our hold on the illusion of our separateness and opening ourselves to the reality of our connection with others makes many more things possible.
A FEW DAYS AFTER a recent two-phase Matrix Essential training, I received the poem that is printed below. It was on a card that had a field of bright yellow sunflowers growing out of a golden matrix, cast on a background of rich, earthy brown. The potent combination of the words, the image and the I-You format struck a deep chord of recognition.
Reading it, I fell silent for a long moment, filled with a tender, unnamable prayer of hope and fruition that could only be carried on the breath. It described the possibility of remembering ourselves as connected; that it is through our connections with each other that we know ourselves as Divine. It was written, not to one person, not to me, but to the group as a whole.
I dance among you
And your presence gives me form.
I stand with you
And find you willing to take my pain.
I sit beside you
And am humbled by your divinity.
I hold your heart
And sparks of your spirit illuminate my path.
I feel life in our connection
And realize I am not alone.
You dance around me— Gig Anthony Todd
And I see the flicker of your essence.
You stand with me
And I offer to hold your hand.
You sit beside me
And I cry when you acknowledge my divinity.
You hold my heart
And allow me to see the light within.
You feel life in our connection
And know you are not alone.
Boulder Matrix Essentials Training, April, 2008z
I REFLECT NOW on images from that training-which followed a very stormy first phase. I remember when one man in the group took off his brightly colored ethnic print shirt (which symbolized his new-found freedom to love and express himself) and gave it to another man.
The man who received the shirt had spent the first day of the training trying to schedule an operation for his son - nothing life-threatening, but urgent for his son's future plans. In the midst of facing the frustrating reality of busy surgeons' schedules booked far in advance, and beginning to sink under the weight of the seemingly impossible task, he realized that he could actually ask others for help.
A phone call to a friend reminded him that a former classmate worked in the medical field. Connections — a web of support — already existed, all he had to do was acknowledge that he was part of it. He reached out to the former classmate and witnessed the connection manifest a surgery date with an experienced surgeon much sooner than he previously thought possible.
He knew in this moment, that this was an example of everything he was learning about the Matrix of connection — in action. As he told this story in the training the next day, tears were streaming down his face as he realized that he could ask for help when it was for his son, but not for himself. It was, in a way, as a response to this statement that he received the shirt. The other man in the group was saying to him, “If you ask, I would literally give you the shirt off my back.”
This event and many others shaped the poem that we all received. At one point in the weekend, we “danced& or enacted our beloved barriers — those strategies that keep us out of connection. What ensued was a veritable comic-tragic theater. The scripts included the ever popular "I have way too much to do," and the sure bet of withdrawing and staying separate. My own favorites included the Cadillac of barriers to receiving love or support: Constantly giving and taking care of others.
From these and many other universal practices of not recognizing or allowing connections, we were choreographed into the dance expressed in the poem. I asked for words to describe the new, possible story we had just charted for ourselves. Individuals spoke phrases of their own personal remembrance. Their learning resonated in our web of connections, re-storying each of us.
I can let myself be taken care of. I have value to share with others. I can meet and be met. There is safety in connection. My strength is in my vulnerability. I can yield to the strength of a man. Individual connection can come and go; connection is everlasting. I can rest in the arms of a woman, sister. I can receive love. I can maintain connection and not lose myself. I am not alone. Interconnected hearts will channel the sacred whole.
Before undertaking this journey to remember yourself as connected, understand that the limitations of your current character and identity are at risk of being dissolved and restructured.
The egoic structures of the self often fight valiantly to cling to the survival strategies that have served so well — up to a point — to keep us separate. We will perhaps confront our deepest personal barriers to love and connection. Those that were formed as fortresses to protect the primal wounds that shaped our character.
We may also confront the deepest and often unconscious stereotypes and prejudices we hold of those who are different. Our core values — or at least our core imprints from the culture we are steeped in — will be called into question.
Anything that separates us will ultimately be up for surrender while simultaneously being honored as our essential uniqueness.
Feel life in our connection / And know that you are not alone.
1 (c) Knowlan, Amina. Excerpted from Matrix Leadership: The Art and Science of Creating Sustainable Organizations and Communities, forthcoming, 2008
There is something so mystical, powerful and practical about the Matrix model that I believe this body of work has the potential to help hospice the old paradigm of separateness and control, and help midwife a paradigm of interconnectedness and collaboration.
— Ling Thio