Tuesday, October 19, 2010

After the Ecstasy, The Laundry

I love Woman of the World’s view of pre-ceremonial jitters.  It was an excellent reminder that it is often hard to interpret exactly what is going on with me, especially right before ceremony.  It is good to remember that what I call jitters might just be excitement, or expansion, or any number of other positive states.

I’m now on the completion side of the two ceremonial experiences that I mentioned in my last post.  As I think back on them I feel just as jittery although this time that might be anything from lack of sleep to expanded awareness.  (One of the experiences that just ended took place over two weeks.  I didn’t get much sleep during that time.)

I am now being gentle with myself as I move back into the fullness of my regular day to day life and catch up on tasks that accumulated while I was away.

As Jack Kornfield, a well know Buddhist teacher says, “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ceremonial Jitters, Redux

Like Ms. Morganstern, I recently had the opportunity to experience ceremonial jitters.  Or, was it emotional jitters?  Or was it excitement?  Or was it a cold coming on?  It was really hard to tell! 

It was hard to tell in part because the upcoming ceremony touched many parts of my life, in addition to being a training for me. 

It was also hard to tell because the physical feelings were much like those I've experienced in a variety of situations.

I've noticed that there are some physical feelings, ones which I associate with emotions, that could actually be tagged in a variety of ways.  That is, I could attribute my feeling of nausea to an unpleasant encounter I had yesterday, or to nervousness about something coming up, or to the fact that I did a vigorous workout too soon after eating.  If I'm not careful, I can easily attribute it to the wrong thing, and end up taking that thing much more seriously than it deserves. 

In this case, I decided to become an observer of myself: to observe what was happening when the feelings came up, how they affected me, how long they lasted.  I learned something valuable to take into the upcoming ceremony: namely, that it was nothing more or less than a movement of my energy, which I could handle in whatever way I chose.

In some ways, this is a basic Red Lodge Year 1 teaching: balanced choreography. And in another way, it is more related to my condition of bodily appearance: how I am in my body, how I handle myself, how well I know myself.  And in yet another way, it's really all about maturity: do I have the self-awareness and self-control to stop myself from going into an unproductive reaction, and just see what's really there in this specific circumstance? 

It's a bit like my experience of performing.  When I first started, I was so nervous I could hardly do anything, and afterward I was totally (and destructively) focused on the mistakes I made.  My reactions were controlling me.  But as I did it more, and worked with those reactions, I became much more able to see them for what they were - energy, nervous energy, fear - and give them their own place at the table for what they brought, without projecting what that might be.  In particular, I was able to turn my attention away from the focus on mistakes.  That made it much easier to keep from making mistakes.  It also made performing much more pleasant, and also usually meant I would learn something from it and come out of it a better performer rather than a more fearful one.

In other words, having those feelings or not was really not important.  What was important was what I did with them.