Full disclosure- I'm a chronic canceler of appointments I'd rather not go to. If I have a doctor's appointment, and I feel fearful or hesitant, instead of keeping my commitment, I call up, cancel and make a new appointment for a few months down the road. Not always, but often.
Yesterday I awoke, looked in my planner and saw that I had a 10 am therapy appointment, followed by a noon meeting with my accountant to discuss taxes and money still owed to the IRS b/c we had somehow underestimated my quarterly payments, and then a 1:30 dental appointment to get my teeth drilled and a cavity taken care of. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to my day and I had the sudden urge to hide under the covers, get really sick, and cancel everything! Sound familiar?!*
As I faced my daunting list of appointments, a little voice in my head whispered the affirmation, "I am willing to show up." Sure, I may not know what is going to happen in therapy, I really don't know if the tax meeting is going to create financial anxiety for me, or if the trip to the dentist is going to be traumatic or easy. But I do have the ability to just show up. Maria Bamford, my favorite female comedian, talks about just this idea in one of her most hilarious skits. You can watch it here if you need a good laugh: www.youtube.com/watch. Showing up means just what is says...being willing to keep the commitments we have made, in spite of our aversion or fear. Showing up means bringing our whole self to the dentist appointment, or the parent-teacher conference, or the couples counseling session, including the parts of ourselves that might be wanting to run the other way! It means including all of that, and then being curious and willing to see what happens next...
The opposite of showing up is running away or backing away (sometimes very appropriate!) when we notice that self-protective inner alarm go off or discomfort, fear or pain rising. In her book Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chodron states, "The central question of a warrior's training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort. How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day? For those of us with a hunger to know the truth, painful emotions are like red flags going up to say, "Your stuck!" We regard disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, jealousy, and fear as moments that show us where we're holding back, how we're shutting down. Such uncomfortable feelings are messages that tell us to perk up and lean into a situation when we'd rather cave and back away." Not an easy practice!
Now I am NOT an advocate of re-traumatizing ourselves if something is just to big to handle on our own or we don't have the coping skills to get through something and land empowered on the other side. Sometimes we may need to bring a friend with us or have a comforting resource to help us get through in a safe and sane manner. But often, my personal experience is that I am resistant to something simply because I feel out of control, uncertain and I just don't know how things are going to turn out. And, that is part of it, accepting that there really aren't any guarantees in life. As Pema Chodron wisely states, "A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for safety or predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It's also what makes us afraid."
As it turned out, I actually had a really great day yesterday. Therapy was enlightening and grounding to my soul, the tax meeting was quite empowering financially, and the filling went smoothly because my dentist is compassionate and hilarious. I stayed open and I showed up. As you navigate this wild, precious ride of life, I invite you to do the same. Next time you are feeling resistant to a commitment you have made or an aspect of your life that is challenging you, I invite you to simply show up. Show up a little (or a lot) scared, show up having broken your vows to yourself, show up with lettuce in your teeth or your heart pounding in your chest, show up in the rain and show up in the sun, show up with your shame and show up with joy shining out form your eyes, show up when you want to and even when you don't. Know that when you show up for life, you are ultimately showing up for your self. And, this is an act of great self-love. As always, I'd love to hear from you- let me know how you are, or are not, showing up today!
Contemplations to Deepen Your Practice:
* What are the situations/events/experiences that cause you to want to back away? Can you identify or contemplate why this might be the case? Did deeper.
* Invite yoruself to show up for something and try to let go of control. Open to grace, be willing to not know how everything might turn out and focus on your breath.
* Take a look around you and identify as many examples of 'showing up' as you can: The Robin bringing worms to it's baby, the waitress bringing your meal, your neighbor diligently digging in her garden.
Honor and reward yourself for the ways you DO show up over and over, day after day.
* Notice what happens internally when you do something you don't particularly want to do, but you do it anyhow. Do you feel more energized or empowered?
* Cut yourself some slack: Know that it's okay not to show up too! If you find yourself feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted, maybe it is time to cancel something and take a long nap.
Asana Suggestions/ For Yoga Teachers:
Choose a series of poses that have the potential to bring up some fear such as arm balances. Take it step by step and allow your students to show up just where they are and start where they are. No pressure. See what happens in showing up and giving things a try. Work up to a full handstand at the wall or with partners.
Two books I HIGHLY recommend are both by Pema Chodron:
When Things Fall Apart & Comfortable With Uncertainty
Allow by Danna Faulds:
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.
As always, I'd love to hear from you:
Please click on Comments below & join me this summer in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom for the
Wild Green Heart of Summer Retreat. Early bird has been extended until June 22.
And, even if you have never tried paddle boarding, feel free to SHOW UP for this summer's class each Saturday morning 8:30-10 am on Waterbury Reservoir.