Field Notes

Sensing and Knowing in the Relational Field

April 30, 2024 - 0 Comments

Field Note

May 1, 2024


Avraham Cohen, PhD, RCC-ACS, CCC


Sensing and Knowing

in the

Relational Field




Every element has a sound, a color, and a taste.                                      —Hildegarde von Bingen


In the words of Heisenberg, “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”
― Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism


Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.                                                  —Chief Seattle


How else would God speak to me, if not through my imagination?         —Joan of Arc

Audio Version:

The language of ‘regulated’ and ‘dysregulated’ seems to be part of common language these days. And there is an implicit approval for being regulated, and disapproval for being dysregulated. Understandable! Who wants to be dysregulated, let alone be in the company of anyone experiencing dysregulation? Yet, something troubles me here with this regulation/dysregulation way of speaking and describing.  Also, consider the incarcerating potential of such powerful labels.


My growing suspicion is that our preference for being seen as regulated has more to do with people’s productivity than with their well-being and human flourishing. We don’t want people to be dysregulated because dysregulated people, young and old, are not “functional,” and it is ‘bad’ to have them around at work, school, or all locations of production. For, dysregulated people are not “productive,” and hence they would not be contributing members of a society for which productivity is a central value and top goal.


In this Field Note, I wish to reflect on how else we could be talking about human beings, their experience in the world, and particularly about the consciousness that is about non-ordinary perceptions and experience of the relational field, and really all of life. For example, if a person is experiencing a state of profound bliss, awe, mystery, wonder, deep enjoyment, boundless love, and so on, is that person regulated or dysregulated? Is the language of regulation and dysregulation adequate for such experiences?


From my observation of, and curiosity about people (by now for over five decades of therapy practice and, really, for my life for as long as I can remember. [Well, I did start in the field quite young!]), I do think that people long for, knowingly or otherwise, more experience of bliss, awe, love, wonder, and so on, in their lives. A life rich in such experiences would likely be experienced as more meaningful, vivacious, life-giving, and enjoyable. Assuming that I am right in this evaluation, my next point of inquiry is: how do we promote and facilitate people having such experiences? Nowadays, many ingest psychedelic substances to manifest these experiences. I will leave this particular inquiry for another time. What I am interested in sharing with you is another line of inquiry and experiment: noticing the extraordinary within our range of experience and that goes unnoticed. I will share a story with you:

I am walking on a”‘picture perfect” (thank you Edie Brickel; ) bright sun shiny day along a busy urban street in a foreign country. There are many people out and about. The shops are busy. The crowd parts a little in front of me. I see what appears to be a young woman kneeling in the middle of the sidewalk. She is kneeling on a small mat, and she is in a prayerful position. I have a strange and unusual feeling. I get closer to her I see that she has a bowl in front of her. There is some money, coins, and bills, not a whole lot, in the bowl. My impression that she is young is confirmed as I pass by her and glance to my left where she is. I slow down, take out my wallet, and pull out an American $10.00 bill that has been residing there for many months.


I make a circular turn to the right and come back around so I can now walk on a slight angle towards her, pivoting at the last moment so as to be directly facing her. I put my offering in the cup. She does not shift her gaze but does give a nearly imperceptible nod, apparently acknowledging me and my offering. Rather than moving on after placing the money in her cup I stand still in front of her. I feel a stirring in me that says, “slow!” I wait. Suddenly she looks up at me. Her eyes are an incredible blue. I feel a strong energy surge up within me. People are walking around us from both sides.


She turns her head and gaze to a tilted slightly downward position, and with eyes looking obviously downward. I respond as if I am hearing a very loud crashing sound.  And I feel in my chest/heart a powerful feeling of poignancy that borders on torturous and simultaneously amazing. My attention is now riveted on her, and really on what is not visible, and that seems to envelope us. I feel a strong sense of boundary dissolution and oneness, not with her, or me, rather with this entire relational field. The stillness in the center of the maelstrom on a busy marketplace day was palpable. The sounds of the street are still audible and now more as a whispering background.


As I stand in front of her, I hear a very slight sound emanating from her, barely audible.  I am now wondering if she has increased the volume of a sound that has been there all along. I lean in ever so slightly so I might hear better. I listen and begin allowing sound to emerge from within me. I adjust my volume to a level that I am almost certain she would hear, and at the same time unlikely to be heard by anyone walking past, unless they stop and pay very close attention.


I notice a shift in the rhythm of the low humming emanating from her. I note small pauses. I now begin to insert my own sounds into the empty spaces that are the effect of her pauses. I notice that she is leaving ever larger spaces. I wonder: “Is she inviting me into an increasing level of connection?”


She pauses. I make a sound that is synchronized with her pace and has similar though different intonations. I begin to know that I am not really making sounds, rather they are emerging from me without any volitional effort on my part. After a few exchanges like this, I feel a temptation to kneel before her right there on the street, but I don’t yield to this temptation.


As time timelessly goes on and our ever so subtle exchanges continue, I feet more than see a slight rocking motion. I wonder is this my perception me or is my sidewalk companion actually sending me a message? I am aware that the movements are so slight that a passerby would have difficulty detecting the swaying dance of two as one, and they may or may intuit our knowing or not-knowing of each other. Certainly, our very different garb suggests something….


I am aware that as our invisible dialogue continues that my consciousness has shifted substantially. I feel, or rather sense, that I have shifted to a place of eternal time, and yet I know that our entire interaction has been at most about 10 minutes. And I feel within myself that I have achieved a multidimensional linkage with this being whom I have ‘met’ on the sidewalk.


Now I feel the time has come to kneel in in front of her with a space in between that seems just right. I feel myself ‘sinking’ increasingly deeply into my self, my body, the beingness of this other, the surrounding humanity, the very air, and even the concrete of the sidewalk. I am aware of ever so subtle vibrations and heat coming from the concrete. There is a palpable vibration between us. I notice a few hairs that have crept out from beneath the front of her head wrapping. They seem to be ‘speaking’ to me . I see—or do I imagine? —that she is rocking back and forth ever so slightly with a very small emphasis on her forward motion in my direction. I am gripped by this nearly invisible gesture.


This all goes on for what seems a very long period of Chronos time. Perhaps the whole event has not taken even an instant in Kairos time. I am starting to feel a vibration around my belly and up into the center of my chest. A powerful sense of being ‘at-one’ with all of this, and more has me! Time stands still. Then a shift as if I am being lifted upwards from my kneeling position.


Suddenly I feel my knees, legs, and body complaining about the position of my body and the hardness of the cement surface. I get up slowly, give a final indiscernible acknowledgement, which is returned almost simultaneously, turn around, and walk on into the rest of my life.


I have been in a different world. I have communicated in a way that is exquisitely sensitive and from what seems to be an agreed upon perspective that might be easily dismissed by anyone who is not in the moment of this ‘world.’ I feel I know this other, and that she knows me in ways that are rare and mostly unknown or dismissed by most within the  everyday community and culture. I wonder what this experience suggests about all relational life.


I understand this encounter as an exemplar of non-ordinary consciousness. I believe such non-ordinary consciousness is available to all of us all the time. We can notice the small things in the moment, in the background, and we can notice when such consciousness shows up. And it can show up increasingly, even to the point where it is no longer “showing up”; rather this becomes the reality of in the moment everyday consciousness. When such happens, then you might notice even more subtle “flirts” and “flickers.”


I am not in the habit of kneeling down in the middle of a busy sidewalk. So, going back to my story above, what drew me to this person kneeling in the middle of a busy sidewalk? I felt something, and now upon reflection, I recall that even though she was very still, there was a very slight “flicker,” as I came within her range. Her upper body turned a micromillimetre in my direction as I came near to her. Hardly a blatant invitation, and surely subject to my interpretation and what rationally seems more likely to be my misinterpretation. I did have a thought—a suggestion that emerged quickly and fleetingly into my mind. “You are already with her. Go to her!”


What was this ‘calling’ about? I have the view that life is full of these moments that are signalled often by very small subtle signs, bits of information. These moments are inter-related with our ability to notice, respond to, and communicate with and about and that seem to be a long-lost ability for most. I am certain that everyone has this capacity potential and the ability to commune with and through it. If you don’t believe this, just watch babies and young children as they respond and play with the world and its happenings.


It is likely you have noted how this wide-eyed curiosity in little beings, as I have described disappears as little humans become bigger and are ‘grabbed’ by the world, the powerful consensus that ‘dictates’ as to what constitutes reality. This means that you and I have most likely achieved the consensus reality norms within the context of our contemporary culture: we are struggling to ‘get ahead,’ make lots of money, achieve a high enough status to have the power we are convinced we need. On a physical and psychological level, we are stretched too far and yet still able to go on. But on to what? Very many of us are constantly tired, don’t sleep well, have good intentions to look after ourselves, including eating properly, being physically fit, being kind, being agentic, and so on. If we have children, we are concerned that they have every opportunity to join the culture in the ways that are considered significantly indicative of having good prospects and are guided to be on their way to consensus reality’s view of succeeding.


You may be wondering what this story suggests in terms of stepping out of the maelstroms of the cultural norm and into the ever-running river of nature, our own, and in synchrony with what we might call the flow of being that seems to be the essence of life? What does it offer as ways of being and for our regular consciousness?


 I believe that what we are seeking is the truest expression and way of being for ourselves, and the feeling of truly being present in the world and perhaps the cosmos. And we are struggling to know and find this possibility that still resides in perhaps seedling form within us.  Imagine your most significant relationships proceeding from within the ongoing and mutual development of such consciousness.


Perhaps your imagination and memory will allow you to remember and recall the magical dreams you used to have, perhaps still have, or at least their whisperings. What harm could there be in remembering these dreams, revivifying them? Could we move back to our beginning consciousness and re-engage with the growth and development that will take us back towards and on into our biggest, most fantastical dreams and reaching towards these imagined possibilities?  And do recall that even the darkest moments may well contain the seeds for this return to what we might call Original Bliss.


Many thanks to Heesoon as always for her most skilful and appreciated support with this Note.


Shalom to you,  



P.S. A reminder: I have initiated the possibility for a guest Field Note soon.

Please watch for it!



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