I’ve just finished 2 back to back courses at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur to stretch myself and grow in new ways. To say I’ve been putting myself “out there” for the last week is a bit of an understatement.
Let’s just say I had a mixture of butterflies and “Oh crap, I’ve got to find the bathroom again” moments consistently for a week. Sometimes my heart would be racing so fast, I was sure that every one could see I was about to have a heart attack from my nervousness.
It first started with a 3 day course called Speak to Inspire. I’ve wanted to become more dynamic and engaging on stage, so I signed up. 20 business executives, 4 speaking coaches (all with prominent acting careers), and me.
Can you hear the “and me” tone of that? My inner critic was alive and well, “Who are you to be here in this room with all these highly educated people? Who are you to think you know something important and can share it with the world?”
That’s why I showed up.
To show the inner critic what was truth and what was false.
A perfect stage to do it in – metaphorically and in reality.
We broke into smaller groups (thank goodness) to practice giving our “talks” where we spoke passionately about our topic. For me, it’s about people feeling more peace and joy in their lives through meditation, so that’s what I spoke about.
Peter, the founder and president of the company providing this training is with our group for this module. He stands with a confidence that fills the room, a voice that commands the roughest of characters, and a storytelling skill that brings down the house. Who am I to entertain Peter?
He asks, “Who wants to go first?” I give a small, “I will.”
“Great, come on up front Angela.” Gulp.
Take a deep breath Angela, you can do this, I say to myself.
I begin my talk with a passionate tone, “Anxiety has become an epidemic in this country, with 90% of hospital visits stress related.”
As I was saying this, I looked intently at each audience member until I got to Peter. He looks at me with those powerful eyes, nodding as if to say, “Yes, and, hurry up…”
That’s all it took. My mind interpreted it as, “Angela, you’re F#$%ing up.”
Then there was nothing. My mind went blank. I couldn’t remember anything I was going to say. I couldn’t remember what I just said. I froze.
My heart began to race, my mouth went try. I tried to swallow and there was nothing to swallow with.
Peter looked at me, patiently. The eyes of the other participants seem to say, You can do it Angela. I believe in you.
I instinctively placed my hands in prayer position in front of my heart and started to take some deep breaths, while the mind grasped for something to say. Still nothing would come out.
More deep breaths and then a quiet inner voice said, “just begin again, with what wants to be said.”
My mouth opened and out came the next sentence of what turned into a powerful talk.
Those moments of silence felt like an eternity. Maybe it was 5 seconds, maybe it was a minute. I don’t know. But what followed I found astounding.
Peter said to me when I finished, “What happened and how you dealt with it gave you even more credibility in my eyes. You found a calm place within yourself to stand in. That speaks volumes more than words can.” Everyone else nodded in agreement and with a smile.
“Oh!” Not having seen that perspective (and wouldn’t have without his help).
It was a beautiful and perfect metaphor for every day moments in life. When life presents a situation that you’re not planning on, that you don’t want, or you don’t know how to deal with: bring your hands to your heart, take a deep breath and listen. This practice alone is the juice that provides the dynamic, daily movement of centering.
This is part of my daily meditation practice, so when chaos happens, it’s instinctive. It comes naturally.
Create a practice for yourself daily. 5 minutes is a perfect place to start. Palms together, eyes closed, deep breaths.
Categories: Feminine Power, Stress & Anxiety