I wrote to a dear friend of mine this morning part of which I felt to share in this blog.
I ran a workshop with 19 amazing women a couple of weekends ago. Whilst this was the largest group I’d facilitated on my own and it had been some time since I had facilitated a ‘public’ workshop, I experienced a very internally peaceful opening and welcome. I felt so present and my arms were metaphorically outstretched as far as they could go, so excited to share with these ladies. I had very little anxiety if anything, something that I’ve struggled with in the past. When it has hit me, it feels like an external force completely hijacking my whole body. It is so supremely uncomfortable. My breathing quickens as if I’ve just finished a race going at full pelt, I space out and I have thoughts that nothing will come out of my mouth when I open it. And then if words do come out, they are so shaky and staccato-like due to the quickening of my breath. I guess I experience short panic attacks really that normally last 30 seconds – 1 minute but at my last key note speech, it lasted the entire talk of an hour except for the last 5 minutes during question time when I let go of the content and got present.
I discovered early last year that these infrequent moments of anxiety had a creative push behind them – to experience the power of being present. What I came to experience was when I became present, there was absolutely no anxiety and not only that, my intuitive ability strengthened and I could use my body’s feelings as a barometer or gauge for what was going on.
But that’s really not what I want to share in this blog. I just needed to give you the background.
At the workshop a couple of weekends ago, I asked the ladies to share who they are, what they wanted to get out of the program etc etc. There was an already enormous amount of emotion in the room and I was doing my very best not to get swept up in the sadness and pain. And then when the last lady spoke and it was now my turn to start speaking, the anxiety tidal wave picked me in its swell. Horrible. I wondered if anything was going to come out of my mouth when I opened it. And then I had this fleeting thought that I’ve never had before in these moments. The though said something like this – ‘Feel what it would be like to be sitting in the shoes of these women listening to what you have to say. You’ve been in their shoes before. You know how liberated you felt hearing the context that you are about to share. Focus on them. Focus on them.’ Now that thought happened in a millisecond but what I then noticed was that whilst my body was still in panic, the words that came out of my mouth were so very, very present. I felt like I was 2 different people. And what I realized when I wrote to my friend this morning was that I truly got to experience that I am not my thoughts, nor my emotions. That is not who I really am. I was able to detach from them and connect to the space inside of me that IS real. I was able to take the focus away from me and place it on the people in front of me who were very willing recipients. I guess I got to experience ‘s’elfless-ness. My identity did not have the power. My ‘S’elf did.
And so that’s what I really wanted to share. I know there are so many people who experience anxiety and many pretend that they don’t. The willingness to both acknowledge your humanity, your vulnerability AND your willingness to focus on who and what is really important is one of the biggest gifts you could give yourself. It’s not about ‘getting rid’ of the anxiety. No. It’s about honouring, loving and embracing ALL of you. The magic is in that.