To be successful in life, work, and relationships, you have to do one thing first—you have to show up. In other words, you have to be willing to show the world who you are and what you believe in. And you have to keep showing up in spite of the setbacks and the heartbreaks. The temptation to edit yourself and to hide will only leave you feeling dead inside.
For centuries, the Zulu people of South Africa have greeted each other with a special invocation. The greeting is an invocation spoken in two parts. One part is Sawubona, which means ‘I see you’, the other part is Sikhona, which means ‘I am here to be seen’. This timeless bearing witness is both simple and profound, and it is telling that much of our modern therapeutic journey is suffered to this end: to have who we are and where we’ve been, be seen. For with this simple and direct affirmation it is possible to claim our own presence: to say “I Am Here”.
To appreciate the power of this Zulu invocation, it is helpful to look at it in four parts:
First, it begins with two people looking deep into each other’s eyes. This is powerful by itself. An uncommon depth of connection is established without any words. Eye contact is akin to soul contact. This sense of oneness always inspires better communication.
Second, the Zulu people believe that when a person says ‘I am here to be seen,’ it invokes the person’s spirit to be present. Saying ‘I am here’ is a declaration of intent to fully inhabit this moment. It signals a willingness to engage with integrity. Saying ‘to be seen’ emphasises ‘no masks’ ‘no editing,’ and ‘no defences.’ It means ‘This is the real me’ and ‘I will speak my truth.’ It means ‘I will be honest with you,’ and there will be no deception.
Third, ‘I see you’ is a powerful experience both for the person who says it and for the person who hears it. According to the Zulu tradition, to say ‘I see you’ offers an intention to release any preconceptions and judgments so that ‘I can see you as God created you.’ To hear ‘I see you’ is an affirmation that you do exist, that you are both equal, and that you have a person’s respect. Many people say this is the most moving part of the greeting. Some say it strengthens their resolve to be more authentic and visible in their life.
Fourth, this greeting represents the Zulu philosophy of ubuntu, which translates roughly as ‘humanity toward all.’ Ubuntu is a spiritual ethic that advocates mutual support for ‘bringing each other into existence.’ To practice ubuntu is to help your brothers, sisters and everybody in-between, remember their true identity, recognise their true value, and participate fully. Ubuntu teaches that our purpose is to be a true friend to one another. Through ubuntu we bring out the best in ourselves and others—it is a training in true leadership.”
I find this invocation an incredibly useful and meaningful way to think about how we are present with each other in any therapeutic work that may occur. I invite all my clients to bear witness to yourselves, claim your own presence and ’show up’.
“I See You – I Am Here To Be Seen”
(Taken and adapted from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-nepo/book-of-awakening_b_1136833.html)