Sep 182016

Artwork by Elisa Talentino

When I first heard the term “havingness” about 15 years ago, I was immediately intrigued by this unusual word. More than an accounting of what you already have, havingness is the state of your capacity to have.  It isn’t just what’s in our possession, but it is the quality of how we treat what we have, and how open we are to holding more. More than material things, it is our ability to receive appreciation, experience joy and enthusiasm, follow through on the worth of our ideas, and ultimately receive love.

Each of us has a kind of ceiling on havingness, which says ‘this is as much as I deserve’ and we may settle there, believing we can not do better. And if someone challenges us to raise that ceiling, we may find ourselves arguing for our limitations; “my parents struggled so should I; everyone settles, it’s the practical thing to do; I haven’t succeeded, met someone, been discovered yet, so why waste any more energy dreaming of the impossible?”

But when we dig a little deeper into our reasons for keeping our havingness ceiling low, we may find that there is a silent contract we’ve made with ourselves to settle in a limitation because, in some way, it’s actually working for us.

To raise your ceiling on havingness, you must take risks. These risks often involve shaking up the status quo, feeling more vulnerable and exposed than ever before, opening yourself to rejection, disapproval and even pain. If we aren’t willing to include these things in our experience, then a low ceiling is just what we need.

But because these things are on a spectrum, risk also opens us up to a far greater possibility space. Our possibility space is that invisible room in the imagination, where we allow ourselves to dream of what could be. It may include impossible things, but as the White Queen told Alice in Wonderland, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This is the practice of artists and reality-benders alike: to always be pushing at the possibility space, raising the ceilings on what we believe we can have and do with our lives.

0060a3420f5ce12cf970f148515a86b7As soon as we begin to feel resigned with things being as they are, it is time to resume the practice of pushing into possibility. For me this begins with gratitude: a true recognition of what you do have. This may involve writing a list, counting your blessings and exposures to beauty, but gratitude may also be a ritual act, where you honour what you have by treating it well, tending to it in some way, like cleaning out your wallet, or balancing your checkbook, dusting off your altar and lighting a candle of appreciation for all with which you’ve been blessed.

After gratitude, we must come into conversation with our edge. Where is your longing for more? Have you been honouring that quest by taking steps towards it? Are you working hard or working with intent? Must something die in order for new life to be born? Are you willing to withstand the free-fall of your leap?

For those that might want things to happen quickly, it’s important to remember that a low ceiling may be just what we need as we learn to acclimatise to greater havingness. After all, if we were transported to the top of the proverbial mountain instantly, we would faint from the lack of oxygen. But if we are steady in our climb into possibility, keeping in conversation with our living edge, we can be in a constant state of departure and arrival.

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  14 Responses to “Raising your Havingness Ceiling”

  1. I enjoyed this article very much. It provoked me into writing to you. As a child in England, l was raised in a pub, our living quarters where less that the size of a normal studio apt. Looking back this was child abuse of the worst kind..Our parents where ‘gone’ both alcoholics, mother violent. We never experienced a ‘home’. Now in my senior years, l am feeling this pain in therapy a lot. However, not enough resolved to alter my apartment, still too small, filled with clutter, no feeling of a home whatsoever. I have no clue how to fix it.

    • Oh my…you’re not alone.
      The clutter is viral methinks.

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me Lynette. I do understand how deeply these patterns can run and how difficult it can be to find a new groove. It sounds like you’re doing just the right thing by touching the grief of it in therapy. You may consider starting small, with just one corner, or room in your space, which you can vow to treat with reverence and care.

  2. Incredibly timely; thank you.

  3. The depth, and lucidity and quality of your writing amazes me Toko-pa.

    You seem to have gathered a great deal of grounded wisdom and clarity during your life on earth. I’m feeling you might have brought some of it with you.

    with love and gratitude

  4. You write so hoelntsy about this. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank You from Mauritius Island 🙂

  6. Every time I read your article, it comes at a time where the message is needed for me. Thank you for your gift to the world. Peace and blessings

  7. Thank you. I get most of what you say. The analogy to a room is good. Opening one’s self to possibilities, what can I be if I so choose to, and choose to make it happen, is like being outside with the sky and horizons that are miles away – fresh, airy, full of light.

    I am happy that you pointed out that ‘havingness’ isn’t necessarily material possessions. Indeed, growing your spirit reduces the importance of your material stuff. I’m also especially happy that you talked about gratitude. Being grateful is so important, especially when contrasted with those who lack, whether it’s possessions or good and healthy spirit, humbly appreciating your blessed place in the world.

  8. I just got introduced to your spirit. I wd be pleased to follow and gain wisdom

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