The “relational moment” can be defined as the felt sense of being-with a particular someone on a particular occasion. The ability to be-with is an inborn mammalian capacity for relational connection. (Every pet owner can attest to this). There is a layer of non-verbal relational knowing which exists prior to and underneath our higher mental capacities. It is this innate capacity that allows us to know what is happening when we walk into a room and get the vibe of the situation.
A special set of relational moments or “moments of meeting” are those in which there is a profound sense of mutual connection. Such moments of meeting occur in conversation when something is said and received in such a way that the speaker feels deeply seen, felt, accepted, and understood. The prototype of this experience is the moment that occurs immediately after birth, when a new baby looks into the eyes of a mother who is looking back. Such moments of mutual deep contact are what the philosopher Martin Buber understood to be the essential meeting of “I-and-Thou.”
Moments of meeting vary in level of depth. The shared relational and mindful moment feels replete with Presence. Along with the felt sense of connection or intimacy – being-with – there is a deep sense of being oneself. Connection may be so profound that the boundary between self and other momentarily disappears. Wisdom arises in such moments as the compassionate and intuitive knowing of the other’s experience, and sometimes as the experience of a heart-to-heart connection between us.
Schuman, M. (2017) Mindfulness-Informed Relational Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: INQUIRING DEEPLY. Routledge Press, New York