Look What I Can Do

me on ringsIt appears the treadmill is a good teacher and the second best place for aha moments – the first being “the chamber of insight” or as you may know it, the shower.

Walking has always been a head-clearer for me. If I’m walking in my neighborhood I don’t wear headphones, I like the sounds of birds, children, cars and the wind. When I’m at the gym, I’m definitely plugged in. And the music is loud. It propels me forward, because lets face it, the History channel, reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fox News just don’t really inspire me to break a sweat.

As my heart rate is rising and The Black Eyed Peas are encouraging me to pump it pump it, my mind is free to wander. Have you ever thought about how amazing that is? How we are able to do one thing, think another, look at something that has nothing to do with the first two and be aware that we are witnessing all of it? Pretty special, we are.

The most recent treadmill insight came as a nice energetic head slap. Don’t you just love it when you think you are a certain way, you are sure of it, you know yourself, then the tiniest thing flips everything upside down? You begin to question everything you believe to be true about yourself. Or at least I do.

I honestly believed that I no longer cared what others thought of me. Right? We all have that inner diva who still wants attention on some level. I noticed that as I was pumping away on the treadmill I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander to the heavy sweater next to me. At what speed was his treadmill set? Was I faster? Did he notice? Look, I’m faster. And I’ve been on here longer.

Out of left field. I wanted him – a random, middle-aged, slightly chubby man – to be impressed by my speed. Ignoring the fact that there were at least 10 people actually running that were way more impressive. I have no idea what this guy even looks like. I don’t know his story. I didn’t care. Did he notice and was he impressed?

Wow.

Of course I let that realization ping all over my frenetic mind coming up with all sorts of conclusions and ridiculous speculation. Who was I now, if not the strong, confident woman who didn’t care what others thought? But the fact remained that, of course I care what people think of me. It’s the human condition. If we don’t care what they think we look like, we want them to think we are smart or funny or have some other unique skill or trait that makes us completely unique.

The way we dress, talk, spend our money and our time all tell others something about us. This does not necessarily make us narcissistic, but human. How we look, what we say and how we say it is how we find each other. It’s how we relate.

The less we get caught up in the story we’re trying to convey to the world, the more likely we are to find those whose energy is a match for our own. Trying hard to convince others we are a certain way covers our authenticity and creates false impressions. The more we relax with who we are, the more peace we have. The more our true selves and authentic uniqueness can shine.

Dropping the masks and facades takes time. Lots of time and lots of practice.

For me, the realization was helpful. In truth, they all are, some are just harder to swallow. It showed me there is much work to be done. Continuing to let go through practices like yoga nidra, yoga and meditation. Continuing to be aware of these realizations and allowing space for them.

And apparently continuing to use the treadmill. At any speed.

21 Day Challenge – Day 20 – Vulnerabilities

sky IMG_2143For the past three weeks I have had the opportunity to witness bravery on a level I have never known. No one has saved a drowning child, run into a burning building to save kittens or lifted a car to rescue a person pinned beneath it.

But many of these women have jumped off cliffs without knowing if a net would appear. They have laid bare their deepest insecurities to be ridiculed or shunned. They have openly loved strangers with words that bathe the soul and tears of compassion.

I have witnessed great vulnerability. And it made everyone stronger.

It is in our ability to be vulnerable that we are able to share our authentic selves. This is where we meet the souls whose vibration is a match for ours. Not our soul mate, but our soul sisters and brothers. There is a recognition, a remembrance, although we may have never actually met.

We are taught our whole lives to be strong, take care of things, nurture others before the self. There is wisdom in those teachings, but they are not complete.

From the time I was in high school I was the one who took care of things. I made decisions and choices when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. I took control of situations that had stagnated, reversed course or took wrong turns.

I shared my weaknesses in my humor, sometimes sarcastic biting humor at another’s expense. I sharpened my edges on other’s weaknesses. I needed to feel superior, in charge, important. Vulnerability was the kiss of death. I could not be caught crying at a movie, at a funeral and definitely not a work.

Over the years I have worked to let go of that particular shell. It was very helpful, it took me through many storms and moved me to the top of more than one ladder and I thank it. It served its purpose.

But as the years go on and I continue to let go of the false sense of control I had I am able to see the beauty in perceived weakness.  It happened in steps.

First I had to witness a strong person “falling apart.” I had to see that even though they cried out of frustration, they did not break. They lost no power.

Then I began to play around with the concept crying in front of other people. First I started talking about it. Admitting it. “I saw that movie. Cried like a baby.” No adverse reaction. “Did you see that commercial? It made me cry!” Still nothing. Could it all be in my head?

I would go to the movies with friends and there would always be a crier – never me. Then one movie, I don’t even remember which one, it happened. I cried. My friend seated next to me just handed me a tissue like it was the most natural thing in the world. Because it is.

This was quite a number of years ago and much has changed. It is when I am at my most vulnerable that I feel freest. There is nothing that can be taken from me because I have let it all go, I have given it all away.

My authentic self can never be hurt or compromised or lost. Only covered by fear and pretension. When I am hurt or scared or feeling neglected, it is not me that is being rejected, it is one of the personalities I wear, one of the masks. As I set it aside I notice all those feelings go with it. I am left with peace and an open heart.

Vulnerability is the lens through which we begin to see our own true nature. My true nature is unconditional love, peace and divinity. So is yours.

That field that Rumi spoke of, “out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing?” That is where our true natures recognize each other. See you there.

[Photo: Gentle moonrise as the sun begins its decent.]