In Your Head

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Oh to be fully in my heart and not so wrapped up in my head. This week has been full of reminders to get out of my head and into my body, to get in touch with my instincts and intuition. I don’t know why some people find it so easy to “lead from the hip”, while others of us struggle to let go of control and fear enough to make it through the day, not all tied up in knots.

This past year has been one of opening for me, of opening and trusting and realizing that the answers are all around me, that the world is not dependent on my brilliance to solve all problems and to make everyone happy. That is a lot of pressure lifted. However, my habit to clench at the solar plexus with the enormity of perfection, with the fear of failure and letting others down, is still very much engrained. It takes time to learn a new way, and honestly, I’m not there yet. I can now usually sense when the tension is coming in (and with it often paralysis) and sometimes I can breathe through it, sometimes I can move through it, sometimes I can even talk myself down, but other times I just have to ride the wave because I don’t know how to intervene.

My guess is that the answer I’m looking for is as much inside myself as outside myself and that it involves growing faith and trust. Trust that what and who I am is indeed enough and that even if I fail I, and the rest of the world, will be okay. Trust that the answers are within me and in front of me. Trust that all things are conspiring in my favour. Trust that I am not alone.

And the truth is … that I know this to be true! Looking back on all the evidence throughout my life is proof that I have been taken care of, that I have been enough and then some. I survived and even thrived after my parents’ divorce. I learned valuable lessons when I injured my leg and then again when I was then hit by a car in the same leg years later. I grew and was challenged by the acting opportunities I’ve been given, and I have been given opportunities. The proof is that I have been looked after all through my life.

Now all of this is not to say that there is anything wrong with intellect — there is not, it has its place and is very valuable. But I’ve used my intellect as a safety mechanism, a conduit for fear and ego, and this is what I’d like to let go of, this is what I’d like to surrender. So, we start with recognizing when it happens. And then? Mantras, meditation, breathing, yoga, mindfulness, music, gratitude, dance, forgiveness and prayer, there are so very many tools to help me along. And as I strengthen my faith and trust, it gets easier. One breath, one grateful moment to the next. I know deep down that I know the answers, that my intuition is strong. I just need to tune in and listen and let go of the need to control.

Controlling Speed

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I’ve always been afraid of speed. I remember being thrilled with the new state of the art roller blades I bought with my high school graduation money, I was so excited. That excitement faded to fear very fast on my first time out. Somehow I had never learned how to stop properly. Anytime I gained what I felt was too much speed, i.e. I didn’t feel in control, I would veer off into the grass and usually fall down to stop. I nearly gave myself whiplash. I had the same experience when I was learning how to downhill ski as an adolescent – I ended up going down the hill on my bum with my ski tips dutifully pointed in towards each other to create a pie shape, the beginner’s breaks. Perhaps my only experiences going with the flow and “embracing speed” are the times I’ve ridden roller coasters, but one of the only ways I can get through that experience is by telling myself “this will be over soon.”

Where did this fear of being out of control come from? It doesn’t just affect my speed, it permeates all areas of my life, from drinks to acting. I did break my nose when I was around 9 years old, riding on an adult’s back who was on all fours goofing around and bucked me off smack dab on my nose. That 4th of July I watched the fireworks with an ice pack on my nose. Maybe that is how I learned that to be out of control leads to pain. Either which way, I’m now learning the difference, especially in my acting work, that letting go of control and lack of physical safety are not the same thing. My acting work thrives when I do the prep work (safety) and then abandon control and play in the moment. I may not be able to do it every time (that is where doing the prep work comes in handy) but I’m increasingly able to do it more often. I wonder if there are other areas where I may be limiting myself by my need for control. Fast success scares me too. There are so many dreams I have and would love to have them come true right this moment, but that would also terrify me – “What if I’m not ready, what if other people couldn’t handle it, what if I had to step up, what if it stops before I want it to, what if, what if, what if?” Instead I want to say, “I’m ready, bring it on. Fast or slow, I am open to success. I am open to being safely out of control.” More and more I believe that is exactly where the magic happens.