Freedom From Pressure

Here’s my second column with the theme: how to find our center. First, an announcement of my summer training in Shake Your Soul at Kripalu Center. This is a great opportunity to experience your joy and power through dance and learn how to guide others in the art of shaking one’s soul! Read below for more information.

And now, how to find our c

First, how many of you feel a place of internal pressure that pushes you to “be more and do more?” This energy that I believe most if not all of us feel, throws us off center!

This energy can also be viewed or experienced as an internal and unspoken voice that causes us to speed ahead in life instead of knowing we are enough and trusting ourselves. If we can let go of this inner pressure we begin to enjoy the moment and the passage of time. This is the secret of life, or at least in coming back to our center. As James Taylor puts it in one of his songs entitled Secret O’ Life, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time…It’s ok to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.”

Does it make sense that underneath that pressure there is a fear of not being enough? Maybe we are not enough. You heard me right. Given this internal pressure that can set a bar so high that we can exhaust ourselves just as we wake up in the morning. This unconscious “over the top, bar setter” and pressure maker can make pulling the covers over your head an attractive idea.

Can you imagine that it could be OK to NOT be enough…to not have to meet some heroic standard of achievement, excellence, and performance in life…to be ordinary, to just be yourself which can lead to extraordinary moments?

Here’s an example of a deep lesson and learning for me: I recently returned from teaching at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference with over 3600 attendees. Before teaching a Shake Your Soul workshop entitled Awaken Your Heart, I felt my usual anxious flutters.

In the wee hours of the morning, I took some time to journal and came in touch with an internal pressure to “make something great happen, to be great, to be extraordinary.” This kind of internal pressure threw me off center as I was thinking about teaching that day.

So I took a step in my journaling to find my center by reflecting and considering not teaching from pressure. So, I created a list of “I don’t have to be…” In my list I discovered the antidotes to my buffet of internal pressuring energies. I wrote down and tried on as mantras, “I don’t have to be smart,” “I don’t have to be funny,” “I don’t have to be inspiring,” “I don’t have to be dynamic and powerful,” “I don’t have to be wise and caring.”

My pressuring mind retorted with, “But wait, that’s why they’re coming…to experience someone delivering the workshop who’s smart, funny, inspiring, dynamic, powerful, wise and caring! They will walk out if I’m not emulating these qualities and don’t deliver a dynamic, intelligent and inspiring workshop. I will be disliked and judged.”

My heart and soul wanted space to emerge without pressure and demand. My heart and soul needed safety and not pressure. So I really took more time to contemplate each of those “don’t have to be…” statements and felt the body experience of freedom, opening and excitement to just “be”—to be the “me” without the pressure. I started to find my center and ground as I landed in “me.”

I shared this process with the workshop attendees and had them do the same exercise. Without pressure I taught such an inspiring, dynamic and powerful workshop and felt the students deeply supported by this communal energy of self-acceptance. They were moving from their souls when they were afforded the permission to be.

So, my invitation for you is to catch yourself when you are in the experience of internal pressure to be more and do more. Pause and grab something to write with as a way to give these inner invitations some substance on your paper.

These inner invitations begin with I don’t have to be… Then after you write them down take some time and reflect and actually feel what its like to be off the hook from the pressure maker.

Feel how you feel as you hear these statements. Notice the body and energy shift occur as you release pressure and open to your natural energy that doesn’t need to be stoked with adrenaline and instead rest in your inner being knowing in your heart that you are enough, or knowing its OK to not be enough.

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