So, here I am again, a week later--practically a record for me! ;-) At least, lately my track record has been far from regular, but feel that that trend is shifting, as I have had a lot of excitement about writing again over this past week. And tonight I definitely have something to write about, something about which I am simultaneously (or alternately) excited, confident and nervous.
So, tomorrow I will be giving my 2nd ever open house talk at the Baltimore Shambhala Center. That, in itself, is enough to provoke nervousness and excitement, I daresay. (I am relatively new to this whole "teaching the dharma" thing, and my four Taurus planets do NOT appreciate anything that is new and uncertain.) The topic for tomorrow's talk will be "Healing the Divided Self".
This topic, and my opportunity to give a 2nd talk, both came about in response to a lunch meeting that I had with our new center director on Tuesday. Joe started his post this past May, and I immediately felt a shift in the energy of the center, which (again) simultaneously excited me and made me nervous. Over the past few months, I have had opportunities to talk, plan and brainstorm with him numerous times--even assistant/co-teach an improv class with him over the summer. (Joe has professional experience as a comedienne, so he led the classic improv activities, as well as giving the main talks and meditation instruction, while I chipped in with some movement and sound improv work. Overall, it went really well.) So, when I was doing lunch him a few days ago, we started out by talking over some personal material that was happening in our lives, and I gave him a sort of "energetic"/intuitive impression of something that was surfacing as a pattern for him. He then asked me, "Well, if you were going to title what you were just talking about for an open house talk, what would you call it?"--to which I thought for a bit and the answer popped into my head: "I think I would call it, 'Healing the divided self'." Little did I know that, an hour later, he would ask me to teach the main body of tomorrow's talk!
My Taurus self doesn't always do exceptionally well with sudden surprise shifts in plans (for example, giving a last minute talk ;-)), so I told Joe I need a little bit of time to chew on the idea. Taurus is the sign of "fixed earth" and so it's biggest talent is to plant itself in some kind of commitment, or plan, or way of being and not move--not ever. (This "talent" can also be a hindrance, if you haven't guessed that yet.) But other parts of me--maybe my Neptune + Midheaven in Sagittarius (sign of the teacher, adventurer and guru) were very excited about the prospect, so I plumbed inside myself to give Joe a definite "yes" or "no" today for the talk, and found that--yes, it was definitely doable, and a worthwhile endeavor, as long as I was willing to coach myself through some nervousness and expand through this new teaching window.
And so, yes, my excitement and nervousness has been due, in large part, to this new endeavor of "dharmic teaching". But there's more to it than that. Another reason has been that the topic is so deeply relevant to my own life--so, so personal. In fact, for as long as I can remember--and definitely since my high school years--I have deeply sought to understand and to develop more confidence in myself as an individual: I have not felt "whole" or "worthy"--anything but. Some examples: I desperate wanted to "fit in" with others, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how. I also wanted to stand out, to find some unique gift that would become "my voice" and earn me recognition. I wanted to be a "good girl", to passionately be involved in the church community, but was also plagued with doubt about who God was and whether he was judging me as unworthy. And perhaps, in a parallel dilemma, I wanted to earn the love and respect of my dad, but also claim my right to make my own choice and determine the course of my life (e.g., who to date, where to go to college, when to go to bed, etc., etc.)
In the years following, the results of these initial insecurities, and my own insistent need to discover things for myself, played themselves out. And, so I would many things to fret over:whether I believed in God or any religion (I was basically agnostic for about 10 years), which career might be the one for me, whom I should date, whom I should trust, whether I should marry, etc., etc. I think, in my almost continuous state of anxiety I believed that there were some "right choices", some "perfect matches", some "ultimate truths" out there, and I just hadn't found them yet. And so, I would keep looking for the next book, the next person, the next understanding, the next experience to "shift everything" and make my life apparent to me.
But, strangely, it never really worked for me that way, and so I would just settle into "good enough": a good enough career, or relationship, or spiritual path. But somehow, that still was not satisfying--so I would keep my eye continually out to the horizon, to the next thing, but also work hard at pleasing those that were in authority in my life. Because, I think, I was looking for the "badge of recognition" that would prove that I was worthy, that I was okay.
And then, in 2007, I had a breakthrough. Or, as some would call it, a breakdown. Without going into excruciating detail, suffice to say that I spent a few days in a mental hospital. And I had some strange ideas that would float through my head from time to time (initially paranoia, also grandiosity), but in between the noise, there would be this AMAZING clarity, this information, this love that would flow through me. It was God, it was Source, and after 10 years of confusion and doubt, I suddenly had a relationship with Divinity again. I started writing poetry from a place that was pure and unfiltered, utterly without censorship or division. Amazing. Later, I would learn to perform, to heal, to teach from this place.
My intuitive awakening put me in a bit of a quandary, though, as somehow who had more or less committed to the Buddhist path. How could I talk about this stuff? Oh, I've tried, a handful of times over the years. I've tried talk about God, or intuition, or reiki/energy healing, but my intuitive world and my Buddhist commitment have often clashed, at least when brought into the same discussion, and that has left me at a bit of a standstill. It has left me feeling like I needed to choose. Divided again.
But this year has been the year of healing these divides, for me. I have been doing a LOT of healing: healing of myself, healing of my relationships, healing of the need for constant validation from friends, from audiences, from authority figures. This has been my ongoing work, and you have caught glimpses of it--in my entry about working with anger, or about Eris, or about healing the Chironic wound. At other times, my internal split has been too strong and I have not written at all: either because I was too busy committing to "outer world" projects to commit to my writing, or because I was feeling very internally divided, or because I was feeling depressed and questioning the whole point of writing. This summer and early fall has also been very intense in the realms of healing interpersonal relationships and my own tendency to "over-give". And September was sort of my "last straw". Last month, just after Mars entered Leo and I wrote my one entry for the month, I came down with shingles, a nerve condition (born of the chicken pox virus) that can wrack you with some incredible pain (for starters). I was lucky that it was easily treated in my case, but still--it was a wake up call as to how I had not been listening to my own needs for time, for decompression, and care, and rest.
And so, this is not to say that my own divisions are gone and dealt with, that they are all healed. I am still working on that piece--and in working, I mean, learning to trust in myself and the universe. ;-) But I am feeling more solid, more stable every day, and I am excited to share my own experience with others, to validate that they too are perfectly okay, exactly as they are. Last week's blog entry--in which I emerged through a difficult and very sensitive period to write directly from my soul and deeper knowing--is a validation to me that my internal wisdom can and will speak through me, even when I do not know what to say, even when I doubt that I am worthy of speaking. And, so, I am thankful as always for this source that flows through me and sustains me. And though I will create a plan for my talk tomorrow, I will also trust that my heart and soul will know exactly what to say.