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Your i caught my i

January 6, 2019

 

Did you have any interactions at holiday parties recently that left you feeling a bit empty, agitated, or disappointed? As I showed up to my meditation time a few days ago, a couple such encounters hung in my mind like the smell of skunk wafting through the house on a hot summer evening.

 

Whenever my reaction to a person seems stronger than it needs to be, it’s likely what I call a Your i caught my i moment. I find it useful to think of every one of us human beings who refer to ourselves as “I” as a pair of energies that walk through life together: “I” and “i.” The little i is the small, wounded self (or ego) that is prone to stress, comparison, coveting, self-centeredness and various other forms of suffering. The Large I (Great Self, Sacred Self) is the eternal soul that always has access to the highest energies possible for human beings. You might choose to think of the Large I as the part of you that is always aligned with an Infinite Source of higher energy.  

 

Freud thought the unconscious consisted only of our lowest, darkest desires. I believe there is also a higher unconscious—a non-judging, compassionate, loving potential we all have which remains mostly out of our awareness: the Large Self.  We’ve all heard stories about a parent who summons the strength to lift a car off a child pinned beneath it. That’s how I think of the higher unconscious. It is a capacity for love that is much, much larger and stronger than we think we have. This Love with a capital L only flows with its full force in us when the small i is not blocking it. These days when I pray St. Francis' "Make me a channel of your peace" I am praying to clear the channel of "me" that is blocked by small-i preoccupations so that Large-I Love can flow freely through my life.

 

The other morning as I allowed my breath and my meditation posture (seated with my hands centered over the heart) to lead me to awareness of “I” even as “i” wanted to keep rehearsing unsatisfying holiday encounters, new options came to me: Send a note of congratulations to the person who seemed so self-focused on a recent accomplishment; consider reaching out to the person who has not initiated a connection in such a long time.

 

Our closest relationships are the ones we expect to bring us peace and happiness, yet we repeatedly find they are also the ones most able to hook us back into small-self wounds. Last year I used the following nested meditation from Now is  Where God Lives to open a presentation at a marriage conference:

 

Your i caught my i.

 

Your i caught my i

and we fell in love.

 

Your i caught my i

and we fell in love

but knew nothing of Love.

 

Your i caught my i

and we fell in love

but knew nothing of Love

until we met I to I.

 

copyright 2018 by Kevin Anderson

 

When we are aware of conflict or pain in our relationships with spouses, children, parents, siblings, or extended family, we can pause and ask if we are approaching the person from our small i or our Large I. But how do we know which I/i we’re coming from? The words of Jesus are helpful here: “By their fruits you will know them.” The small i’s fruits are every kind of self-focused internal suffering. Some of these fruits, like feeling inadequate or insignificant, are soft like an overripe banana. Others, like anger or resentment, are as hard as a coconut and just as hard to open. In contrast, the Large I’s fruits—listening, acceptance, letting go, compassion, forgiveness, peace, and new beginnings—are not the lowest-hanging fruits on the tree of our inner experience, but oh they are the sweetest!

 


Kevin Anderson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author, and speaker who lives in the Toledo, Ohio area. His latest book Now is Where God Lives: Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul is available at Amazon or thewingedlife.com

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Crecopia moth photo in header used by permission of Scott Rosenfeld, scottrosenfeldphoto.com