The only time I pray is when I pee on a stick. The absurdity of this hit me like a ton of bricks and reminded me that my first blog back after a couple crazy weeks of no writing needed to be finishing my thoughts on Level II last month. (See 5: Level I – Part I)
Shambhala at it essence is about using meditation to tap into our basic goodness. Level I – The Art of Being Human was like Meditation 101 plus Buying in to Basic Goodness. Level II – Birth of a Warrior was devoted to recognizing and challenging fears. After spending Saturday morning and half Sunday afternoon in sitting and walking meditation, our instructor (blessedly) ended our afternoon session by coming in and sitting on the magic chair. (I’m sure that’s not what it’s called but because I do not yet know what really anything in the shrine rooms mean I get to call it what I want.) She sat quietly looking at us with soft, kind eyes breathing and collecting herself as I’m finding all Shambhala teachers do. Then she grabbed a set of handwritten note cards. “Sometimes when I’m afraid, I touch my face. Sometimes I just look away, pretending the person I’m talking to doesn’t exist…” and on she went. It felt strange, out of the blue, like some weird overshare, like “yeah, and?” for a moment. She kept going. “Sometimes I go thrift shopping rather than going home and I realize I do that when I don’t want to be alone…” These habits, she told us, are patterns she has developed that both signal she’s feeling fear and serve as mechanisms for avoiding it. Each of these patterns is a thread in the cocoon we create around ourself. The cocoon becomes our place of perceived safety, the familiar place we’d rather be even when it is dark, stinky, and stale. We are so afraid to poke a little hole in the cocoon, even though doing so…even the tiniest of holes would allow vibrant freshness, even space to be bigger and better than we ever thought possible. Birth of a Warrior was about seeing the threads in the cocoon and starting to poke holes in that protective sheath. “Think about your patterns…” we were left with that night.
The easiest thread to see is the way anger takes over when I’m afraid. I am prone to being impatient, demanding, easily frustrated, and extremely reactive. In an average day, the number of “goddammits” and “are you fucking kidding me’s” is embarrassing only because of the insignificant things it is directed at. Every tiny thing that interrupts what I want to be doing right now and the way I want it done. Wave of annoyance, furrow of the brow, expletive. Some of these things are instantaneously over, some linger. All undoubtedly relate to a fear of being caught off guard, overwhelmed, or not finishing what I was meant to be doing rather than dealing with this bullshit.
I am late aaaaaaaaaall the time. Even when I’m on time to something, I meant to be there early. Some of this I attribute to maximizing every minute I can every day. I can do the most things and see the most people and eh, sometimes that means I have to apologize for being 10 minutes late. I always hope that people at least appreciate I said “yes” rather than no and then actually showed. I always hope that by being as present as I can be when I arrive, I will be forgiven for being late. My fear is wasting time. Waiting is a waste of time. Wasting time means not getting things done. Not getting things done means not achieving, not being interesting, not being fit, not being rested, not being connected. I am also afraid of awkward, meaningless conversation. My nightmare is being at a social event in a room of people where I know no one and am stuck making small talk with a person who does not interest me and that I’ll never see again.
I take a drink of water after I make a point in a group. That glass or bottle of water can be sitting in front of me untouched for an hour but when I make a point I think is profound, personal, or maybe controversial…I take that sip of water pausing for a reaction. Fear…of rejection.
Despite my phone always being within arms reach, I ignore texts when I don’t know what to say or feel that my response may upset someone. I look at exes Facebook pages when I feel insecure. I get on the internet anytime I start doubting that I’ll be able to get pregnant. I watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette to feel relieved that I or my life is not that kind of trainwreck. When I feel emotionally overwhelmed I shut down and stop talking…at all, I will ignore any question you ask me. I eat very poorly when I have my period.
None of these patterns are helpful. In fact, it’s so obvious that these patterns are so counterproductive to making me feel any better at all. They are such deeply entrenched defense mechanisms, woven together in a cocoon to prevent me from being alone, failing, being average, and not being loved. They don’t help a thing. And neither does praying to God as I stare at that blinking screen for what seems like eternity before it says “Not Pregnant.” We may fail at this. Staying in the cocoon breathing that stale air of blame, insecurity, jealousy, and unworthiness isn’t getting me any closer to being a mother. Time to poke some holes, let some fresh air in and see what’s on the other side.