Thursday I hit a wall. My body would not agree to do anymore. It was electrically buzzing, as if all circuits had been overloaded. They had. Something was off kilter and would not function. I was definitely out of sync with my Self – living at the surface of life instead of at the depths. Five and one half weeks of family crises, emotional and mental stress, as well as physical caretaking physically and emotionally drained me. I am not used to living at such a pace on any level, out of rhythm with my own rhythms. So the body just said – STOP! PLEASE! So of course there was no choice… I landed on the couch about noonish, and there I stayed, except for cooking lunch and dinner. My body was “out of service.”
I am aware that part of the fatigue (both physically and emotionally) is a constant sense of stress and anxiety that got triggered with this new round of life experiences. I am also aware that it is a lifelong habitual mind created fear and anxiety. There is a deep neuronal groove there. An underlying fear has always been my life’s companion since childhood. And here she was again – pounding at my door. I thought I had gotten rid of her on my “spiritual path” – at least had diminished her to a more “manageable” level over the years. I was disheartened by her incessant knocking again. I could feel her gripping my solar plexus, contracting and contorting me. Over the last few weeks I have tried to ignore her and just keep pushing forward – hoping that keeping busy would keep me from experiencing her dreaded presence. I realized at the same time how stupid that was, as she was making her presence known anyway, peeking in through the windows, trying to come down the chimney. She was no longer willing to be kept at bay. I tried breathing techniques, journaling about it, meditating, and was very *aware* of the mind blizzard that was giving her an opportunity to seep under the door. But none of these “worked.” She would not be satisfied until she was *acknowledged* - meeting her in the dungeon. But I resisted her relentless pain and torture – until Friday morning.
I awoke Friday morning in the grip of fear once again. I thought maybe sleep would magically make things better. :) I had a busy day ahead: helping my sister with a shower, being emotionally present, taking her to her afternoon appointment, picking up groceries, etc. I didn’t know how I would be able to do all this with a body that wasn’t working well. It created anxiety just thinking about how I was going to function! I breathed into the lower dan-tien, as I do every morning, repeating – “Awareness.” This time I was just trying to bypass the torture that was going on in the mind and gut. I thought if I could just get the energy flowing, feel a little more grounded, the gut-wrenching grip would clear itself and this innate sense of fear would subside. It was slightly assuaged, yet still hung on. So I shifted my awareness and breath to the solar plexus – breathing into the painful presence of fear. I allowed myself to really feel it without resisting, or flinching, or avoiding. With my inner vision I began to open the door - to *see* what was hiding there in the dark. There was no boogeyman. There were no writhing snakes, no chained monster with long tail and breathing fire. It was just – pain and contraction – just fear.
In the shower that morning I had a purging realization. Some of my best insights happen in the shower, where I am naked and vulnerable and alone. All the barriers come down – and surrender happens. In a purging moment of surrender I blurted out to the fear: I am willing to dance with you! I am willing to dance with you! I am willing to dance with you!
No, fear did not magically leave, but there was a release of her tight grip. She knew she had gotten my attention, that I was listening at a deeper level now - that I was willing. I was willing to hear her, to feel her, to dance with her – to let her open me. That hasn’t completely happened yet either, but the door is ajar with a less fearful sense of fear. We’ve entered a new dance that *allows* her presence here. I felt a renewed strength in the willingness to just be with her, and to let her be with me – companions dancing through this life experience. Amazlingly I was able to function at a higher level throughout the day.
And so, you may be asking – what does this have to do with the above picture of the post-it note message that says: Compassion Invites – “fierce presence” – Dancing with Life… Each note was written at separate times over the last year or so and just placed on the cabinet door. They happen to fall into this order. In the meeting of the fear that morning the statement they make together made sense. When we are compassionate with our “dark places” there is a “fierce presence” that allows us to meet them, to dance with them – Dancing with life.
That morning I re-wrote it to read: Compassion allows - fear’s presence – dancing with life… That made sense to me too. And so I dance… Willingly…