As I am diving deeper into myself and practicing authenticity, I sometimes notice intense anxiety coming up. For me it comes up when I am going to speak to a group of people.
I notice my heart rate quickens, my breathing gets short. I lose my ability to be present in the here and now. In some modalities of healing they call it being “hijacked”… which is exactly right – that’s exactly what it feels like. It feels like I am no longer at the driver’s seat. Awareness is gone. Instead, fear is driving.
My past tendency when this happened was to just try and get through whatever it was that I was afraid or anxious about as quickly as possible. So that I would be back in the safe zone again and feel relieved.
Recently I have realized this tendency to try and get through it as quickly as possible doesn’t really get me to the root of actually making a transformation and changing this pattern. Instead, what it gets me is temporary relief, and then another opportunity to do the same thing again (unless I chose to just stop engaging with these fears entirely… which means staying stuck, stopping my own growth).
I am not interested in staying stuck. So, the choices that appear to me are: 1.) keep repeating this pattern. 2.) walk through this pattern by meeting the fear head on.
Meeting my fears. Facing them. Ok. Everybody talks about “facing your fears.” But how does one actually do that? Is there a method? That’s my inquiry today.
I am beginning to see that it’s not so much of a method as it is an unmethod. An unlearning. An undoing. A not doing anything, just touching the depth of the fear by hanging out and being curious about what’s happening right now (in any right now moment).
Recently when I was in a group setting and was asked to speak about something, the story that fed my fear sounded like, “When it’s my turn to speak, I have to get this right.” There was someone speaking before me. Pretty soon it would be my turn.
I was sitting there focused on the content of what I would say when my turn came. Then, in the turning of a single instant I suddenly stopped focusing on the content. I stopped focusing on the ‘what.’ And I turned my attention to the depth of what was happening inside me. I noticed my breathing. I started to track my breath in the moment instead of trying to track facts and words I wanted to say in the future. I tuned in to my heart rate and asked, “How fast is my heart beating right now?” then, “Can I hear what this other person is saying? Am I with her? Am I noticing her movements and facial expressions?” It turned out my heart was racing, and I wasn’t paying any real attention to the person speaking before me.
In that moment I realized that I was missing out. I was totally missing out on what’s happening RIGHT NOW.
And I asked myself, “What if the key to me being able to speak to this group is in my listening right now, because… what if– just what if– I don’t have any idea what should be said? What if only the Uni-verse knows what should be said, and I am only available to receive the message when I pay attention NOW? What if my only job is to be available to receive and deliver messages through my presence and focused attention in the here and now?”…..What if it’s always and only that? Just a continual commitment to paying attention now? Over and over and over again. Always. A commitment to being spoken through? What if I learned to say what wants to be said, instead of what “I” want to say?
When I shifted my attention in this way, the fear began to fade. I found myself back in the driver’s seat. What I am seeing is there is SO MUCH wisdom in this moment, waiting for me to receive. My question to myself is: when will I choose to tune in? If I answered myself I would say:
If now is the only time there is, I can always choose to tune in now.
A TDL Reader