At times when practicing stillness and healthy, creative habits, when I give myself the time to relax and think and take in, I’m aware of this beautiful inner landscape I have access to, and my duty to protect it.
Then God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it..
Too often, though, I’m unable to maintain access to that place of inner peace, to the comfy home of my small, still inner voice.
When stress builds, my mind and heart build up walls as my shoulders go up, crossing themselves, in an effort to protect myself from the barrage of outside voices, either real or imaginary, which taunt and threaten me with their strength. I lose access to that lush inner garden, and instead find myself in some sort of threatening jungle, as I run away from myself and away from the thoughts and feelings. Safety and security elude me, and all I search for, instead of revelation, is relief.
I recently started teaching art, which is a great, unexpected thrill and challenge. Yet it raises many questions. Can I go up in front of a class full of high school students, and in the midst of the literal cacophony of voices clamoring to speak their piece, maintain my soft stillness?
Can I acknowledge the plethora of negative emotions that I experience while directing the show; fear, frustration, vulnerability, to name a few, and give them a home within me while still going on with the curriculum?I’ve developed a coping skill throughout my years, utilized at my wedding among other places, putting on a performance of sorts, an automatic face and personality replacement that smiles a bit brighter than I mean, jokes a bit deeper that I intend, and exudes confidence and power (or so I hope).
But that face is not me. It is my representative, putting on a show because I fear collapse. Because I fear my real inner self can’t take it. But I don’t have to fear collapse, do I? I think I’m ready to risk myself.
I want to stand, as in a deep, active meditation, and allow emotions and thoughts to circulate around me, as questions approach me from all sides, as I face myself and my beliefs of my self worth and wisdom, and form a little mound of sand within me to acknowledge this is where my integrity lives. I want to hold everything and wait until my inner voice clears itself and speaks. I don’t want to project confidence or power. I want to feel it. A soft, deep, inner confidence and power.
The act of speaking can feel laborious, as I try to pick out each word and expression that correctly aligns with my inner intent. If I’m not feeling centered, the words elude me and I grasp for straws, resistant to speak, as speaking without accurately portraying my actual feelings (which have eluded me in my distress) feels inauthentic and awkward.
My middle daughter, on the other hand, loves the act itself of talking, regardless of what she says. I can tell, as she speaks, what pleasure the physical act gives to her. Her emotions and her speech don’t seem to have such a codependent relationship, and regardless of her mood, she seems to easily find the words to continue a conversation.
When I am called upon to speak, be it during class or in a conversation, it’s tempting to jump in and throw any old words into the pot. Just fill something, anything, into that awkward, silent space that separates us. But in that jumping, I separate from my inner reserves, casting away the golden treasure of the oasis I built within, my safe, soft space. I forfeit the treasure of my personal Eden. In that moment of forfeit, I doubt its very existence.
I’m willing to try to risk the silence of the breath in. Of not forcing the pressure to pry open my mouth and steal some cheap words, but instead, to give acknowledgement to the dignity of my being as it feels shaken back and forth in the winds of without, and then waiting a moment as it realizes there is nothing to fear. It is in that moment when the storm passes that I am hoping to access my indestructibility.
The feminine is rising, after all, and I’m joining it, by working on staying soft in what appears to be a very hard world. Though I’m willing to wager that, under the surface, unveiled and exposed, it’s also just a squishy, comfortable Eden inside, waiting to be heard and understood as well.