Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Doing great…..

A student today got us seeing something differently - I heard myself say, "You're doing great!" as she walked down the steps. We laughed, sagely now after the work we had been doing. It might be a lovely and reassuring thing to hear, but if the main challenge is one of perfectionism, it really doesn't help. Being told we are brilliant might be what we all want, but it carries a heavy demand; 'I can never, ever, let myself be anything but brilliant'. I was so glad we took the time, even on the doorstep as we were, to clarify my words into this: ''Great' isn't about being the best student ever. This 'great' is about being brave enough to go within when being anywhere but in the head is scary, and being willing to go to that often-to-some terrifying place within our body where we feel things. It's about agreeing with ourselves to be soft, to open a little, to suspend the impulse to achieve long enough to consider other choices, and to experience ourself falling short of the huge expectation - 'failing' - and not react to this, but just observe what happens within. We can't change anything until we know it is there, and touch it, sense it, fully make its acquaintance, This takes being in our truth, fully present to all of it as it is. This student is 'doing great' precisely because she is giving herself permission to sometimes not be great, and to experience the disconcerting feelings that brings up so they can change in the light of acknowledgement. But she is also now feeling all all the softness and unconditional kindness most of us crave. Only this time it's coming from herself to herself. :-)

Friday, 19 September 2014

Befriending your own wisdom

 There once was a man with a boat. He wanted to go somewhere very important to him, so he put his destination firmly in his sights and set out. He had been told many times to be positive, to never take his eye off his goal, and to trust he was always in the exactly the right place at the right time.

Suddenly he saw rocks ahead Small jagged black shiny point sticking up out of the water. 'What to do?', he thought. 'I am meant to keep going no matter what, remembering that all will be well and I am being looked after. But this isn't right, surely? My boat will founder on the rocks and I will perish.' Doubt began to seep into his mind. Was he wrong? Were they wrong? What and who was right? Maybe the tide would take him away from the rocks, even if he held his current course...

‘But what if it didn’t?’ was loud in his mind. However, he had also been told to never believe the ‘what ifs’ his mind brought up. “All will be well; everything that happens is for a reason” had also told to him many times.

The rocks loomed ever closer, the tide not appearing to make any difference to his track. The man had been put well and truly on the spot, his spot. Yes, his teachers had had many boldly powerful ideas, but they weren’t in this boat at this time in this place - this situation. 

He suddenly knew something deep inside; that he was his own best teacher; it could only ever be himself who made the right decisions for his own life. And that to do so did not make him bad or wrong to not listen to others. His best ‘other’ was in fact his own wisdom. 

He quickly reckoned that this very wisdom was manifesting itself ever more powerfully as his gut-feeling of “Do something, and fast!” surged, and he swung the tiller round and altered course away from the rocks just in time. 

No, he now wasn’t heading directly for his destination. Yes, it was taking a detour. But he and his vessel were safe and he could now plot another course for his beloved harbour.

As the black tipped rocky points slipped safely by on his starboard side, he smiled; yes, it could be a gift that he was here at this time to realise about his own wisdom, but he saw beyond that... He saw and finally understand that he had always known his own wisdom, and how authentic it had always been. He had simply listened to too much ‘head stuff’ from others to whom he had given himself away through self-doubt, and it was all this that had got in the way of his own knowing-already, and which nearly caused him to founder on the rocks.

As he sailed away into the sunset he smiled at the warm feeling in his heart: no more self-doubt from now on, no more asking and listening to everyone else, and much more listening and trusting his own wisdom, his own knowing-already.  


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I must stay in control….!! Is that true?

So, ok, what is this thing called ‘control’? It’s not a word I like much; it smacks of ‘discipline’, which smacks of having to do something I don’t want to do, in a way I don’t want to do it - it feels all about someone else’s wishes, not mine. If I want to do something, and to do it well, I don’t think of it as discipline or control, I think of it as flowing, actuated purpose, which grows into the realisation of my intention.

So what happens if I’m not going where I want to go, being where I want to be, experiencing my intention? There are two choices; one is to resist, fight, push, and ‘stay in control’ so things hold together and look as if they are working and I don’t look like I am panicking. The other is to release to soften the contraction, be present to the mess, and even fall apart, just keeping a light hand on the tiller through it all until steerage returns. This last way seems less cluttered, more useful, more my truth.

What’s this ‘fall apart’ bit though? I don't like that bit, do you?

It’s the bit I don’t want to be transparent about; control is the thing which, although I don’t like, keeps me (Ha!) looking as if I know what I am doing. Control is my ‘I’m fine’ actions - my re-action - and my reaction is one of subtly holding, tightening down, contracting, hanging on for dear life, waiting with baited breath (i.e. holding my breath at the end of the out breath)....  Is this reaction so you don’t see I am anxious? No, it’s so I don’t see I am anxious! I don’t want to admit to anxiety; I don’t do anxious any more, surely? I ‘should’ be able to handle things with grace, not even like a swan who is paddling like fury under the water; just with grace, ease, calm balance... Shouldn’t I...? Yet being swan-like isn’t a bad thing to be; perhaps true grace is grace under pressure, not grace under ease!

Well, let’s cut to the real deal... I often share with my students how delightfully adjacent we are as humans when we live as if we can hold the sun 24/7. As if we can keep the tide from going in or or out. As if we can be both ‘up-yet-calm’ all the time. I’ve got news for you, we can’t. And this is a reminder for myself. Again. (Ah yes, we teach what we most need to learn!) So can we let each other - and mostly our self - off the hook from worrying as to what people will think if we’re not ‘in control’?

When we do come on wobbly times - and we ALL do, frequently, and often messily - can we let our self wobble? And through that permission, let others wobble, too?

I teach the Alexander Technique - a process that is extraordinarily effective in taking us back to our latent ease and flow. ideas that assist us to be a great deal calmer in the face of life’s squalls. But mostly its power lies in not panicking when all seems lost during the wobbles - whether over spilt milk or major life changes - and in trusting the AT’s signposts in the matter of returning* to our equilibrium... (*‘Returning’ appeared as ‘retuning’ at first - I like that too.) ‘Being good enough’ is not staying in control, it’s wobbling about freely and magnificently, quietly or loudly, and then gaining back our balance when it’s time. With permission to wobble comes the graceful wobble! For change to occur, the old has to fall apart to make space for the new.  So any wobbling before the fall apart into change is entirely apt and not wrong. 

Ah ha! So there it is, the problem revealed; the discomfort is about Change! That word we all dread as it surely includes ‘for the worst’. But who says? Is it true? Where did that belief come from? How would I feel without that belief? My advice to myself here is “Doubt my doubts!” And live today as if anxiety is as welcome as joy, just to see what happens. Maybe it’s really excitement, because change so often for the better! 

So, I’m off to wobble with I hope not only grace, but excellence! Join me?

Happy wobbling!!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Embarrassment vs Shame….

I've not blogged here for a while - as you can see from the dates. But earlier I read a post on Facebook from Hollie Holden - Notes on Living and Loving ( Authenticity )  who writes utterly beautiful words. She said, "It's a Thing, expressing ourselves. Whether we have a blog or write books or give talks or just speak our truth and make a stand for love in the post office queue. It's a Thing." And it is a Thing, a thing that is touched with so much from our childhood, from our make up, from something often quite invisible. I grew up hearing, "What will people think?!" And I used to say, "I don't care!" But I did; deeply. Their fear-mongering seeped inside and bits of it still stick. We are meant to have dealt with things like this with our educated minds. Well, I don't know about you, but my mind hasn't cracked embarrassment for me! I stopped writing my blogs because every non-like, every non-comment, every 'ignored' post of the link on Facebook, pushed a great big red button in me. "No one likes it." And worse, "They actively loathe it!" Plus a dose of 'they are laughing at me'. And 'I must no longer subject them to something so awful'. Risking transparency here, that's what has been going on. 


All the pictures of embarrassment on-line have people hiding their faces - trying to Not Being Here… :-(

So, today, on Hollie's encouragement to re-start - thank you! - I took a moment to think about this…. I allowed a deep experience of the feelings that were coming up, because feelings live in the body where they are authentic, genuine, un-changed by the mind which wants to analyse and justify them as 'fine'. They are not fine, but they are real, and our body reveals them perfectly as the messengers and signposts we need to get to a clearer and free-er life.

I had never before sensed such a clear difference between shame and embarrassment. Similar, yes, but I found they were actually very different. Shame a bottomless ache. Embarrassment a sharp sting. There's a distinct possibility that I have a PhD in Shame; much work has been done on this deep, bone-marrow, 'I'm not ok enough to even be on the planet' stuff, and I'm happy to report that that particular certificate won't be going up on the wall. But embarrassment? What's that about? I didn't think I did that one! (Ha!)

I let myself re-meet embarrassment deep inside; those feelings long buried because they hurt too much. I let myself see how it affected me then and so affects me exactly the same way now. Embarrassment stops me writing, because embarrassment is about feeling silly. Stupid even... The feeling of curling up and making yourself as small as possible in the face of mockery, and certainly hiding your face. The burning sensation as the 'laughter at' hits you in the face. The jeering that hits you in the stomach, making the world seem to disappear outside your bubble of now muffled sounds. Or the unbearable tension of 'the noisy silence'.  Maybe shame is the one that recognises embarrassment, or even acts like a magnet, but today I realised it's embarrassment that is so difficult to push through when writing. 

I suddenly had the image of a duck - a lovely mallard with shiny, oily, grey and green feathers. These are right on his surface, the oil in them a thin layer that prevents water soaking into his feathers and drowning him. Useful for him, but the oil is my embarrassment - an invisible-but-powerful surface layer that prevents life getting in and me getting out… which stops me from doing so many things I want to do. Shame lies deep within us and hurts when touched - which it will never be if embarrassment protects us from anything getting in at the surface. Yet when shame is healed, embarrassment poses no threat… So let the healing continue!

Dare I dare feeling embarrassment in order to live? Dare I dare shame being stirred in order for more healing to take place? Dare I let the oily layer down and let life in? Dare I let you all in and write? Well, here I am - daring To Be Here instead of hiding. And that's really pretty good, whether you read this or not!

How does embarrassment touch you? How does it feel to you? What triggers it? How do you handle it? Do you know how amazing you are and how unnecessary it is? Let's be kind to ourselves and begin to release this restricting feeling, and let's do it together?