The author, Parker L. Palmer, posits that growing up in this frenzied, too busy world, a world in which we try to live up to others’ standards, separates our souls from our roles, so causing us to live divided lives.
A divided life is pathological. Because of this, those affected will experience symptoms such as depression or anger. However, we can heal if we are open to it. Parker uses the example of a Mobius strip, which has no inside or outside, as his symbol of living undivided.
People need to spend time alone in reflection and contemplation, to listen to their souls, in order to become fully integrated. Paradoxically, they also need to spend time in community with others. Parker believes there should be no paradox, rather he suggests forming “(a) Community of Solitudes.” In this community, we are safe to spend time in contemplation, and safe to speak our truth.
The community to develop is a “circle of trust.” To be effective, the circle must have clear limits, skilled leadership, voluntary open invitations, common ground, and what he calls a graceful ambience, or aesthetically pleasing, warm and inviting decor.
Metaphor can be a powerful means to communicate with the soul. Use stories, poems, art, and music and allow people time to reflect and arrive at their own conclusions.
We must learn to speak to and listen to that which is below the surface; Parker refers to this as when “(d)eep (s)peaks to (d)eep.”
Parker promotes the idea we should listen to one another, and talk to one another, not with the view of persuading the other, but to allow the other to find his or her own truth, as we must find our own.
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