Well. It has been a while. Remarkable how difficult it can be to get back into the habit of writing once away from it for some time. There have been many themes ruminating around my mind these past weeks but none that I have felt comfortable enough with to write about. Perhaps in time.
Interesting this process. Always challenging this intention to write from a place of vulnerability. Demanding courage and creativity. Listening again today to a TED talk on vulnerability by Brené Brown whose research into and unpacking of shame and vulnerability I find insightful and profound. Confirming that vulnerability demands the courage to meet this moment with an openness to emotional risk and uncertainty, the courage to be imperfect, and is the birthplace of creativity, innovation, and change. How many of us wish to present ourselves as perfect, as good enough even, and definitely not as anything less than okay? Well perhaps being authentically present with oneself demands that we be okay with our imperfections and in so being allow those around us to be just as they are, imperfect beings too.
So this past week in my teaching opening with a simple exercise of changing seats in week seven, taking time to explore the emotions and thoughts and sensations that are present when we sit in spaces different to those which we habitually occupy. This may be on the other side of the circle. Up against the window instead of the wall. Being open to feeling somewhat exposed, or perhaps even sitting too close to another. A simple, yet powerful interface with habit, vulnerability, and change, that was surprising to some in its power of uncovering fear and anxiety in stepping out beyond our comfort zone. One participant had a very powerful imagery and experience when changing seats and sitting in a different spot of falling backward over the edge. A very real reminder how difficult it can be to challenge our comfort zone. How challenging and scary it can be to step out of our habitual being. Another, when presented with the opportunity to reflect on the exercise found to his surprise the opportunity of freedom, freedom of choice, of the capacity for change. And at the end of the class approached me to discuss even further deeper issues of discomfort and change.
One of the most curious habits to watch is those around the giving and taking of power. Observing who has the courage and curiosity to occupy the teacher’s seat. Always leaving it open from the first rotation of the exercise, this past week it took three changes until someone occupied the chair. And the observation was immediate. “I wanted to feel what it felt like to sit in the teacher’s chair! I feel it gives me courage to keep changing my ways, to do things in a new way, and to be more mindful of my daily choices.” How simple an exercise. How profound the realisation can be of meeting change, of drawing on courage, of challenging habitual ways of being, of meeting life with an openness and vulnerability that enables showing up as imperfect yet perfectly authentic beings.
So what will you be doing this coming week that allows you to show up authentically in all your imperfection?
As often David Whyte speaks to my thoughts:
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
I am so glad I found your blog. I look forward to returning and seeing what new and interesting ideas you share in the days and weeks to come. As a retired educator, I was particularly interested in your simple, yet profound classroom experiment: changing seats. Watching the giving and taking of power. Seeing who’d have courage to sit in the teacher’s chair. Very revealing! Trust, vulnerability, confidence, self-esteem… it all comes into play. Your students will learn so much about themselves and one another. They are fortunate to have you as their leader 🙂
Hi Jan, thank you for your comments. The exercise, however, is not ‘mine’ but part of most mindfulness based stress reduction programs taught around the world. I teach mostly in the health care sector. Still always a profound one to be a part of. Be well. Trish