Disclosure: no better phrase wraps up the continual ways we seem to be drawn to working on ourselves than “working my s—t”. So if that vernacular bugs you, maybe you want to pass on this rant.
If you look up and out over any practice floor you see people in motion. Less apparent, yet omni-present, are the rich multiplicity of worlds swirling inside us. Repetitive thoughts, heart ache, memory dredging, bliss, bodily aches, splashes of insight, seething emotions, sensual pleasure, obsessive rumination, serenity in one moment, agitation in the next, ecstasy and the shopping list. Splash in the occasional BIG ONE: death, grave illness, divorce. When you multiply all this by the number of people present and your work is to stand up front there and offer up something of value as guidance…well, it can be heart-boggling.
Over the years I’ve had different versions of a repeating conversation with many of you. Sometimes it begins with an expression of gratitude that there is safe community space to “work my s—t.” It can also begin in frustration about not feeling supported to “work my s—t”. There never seems to be doubt that “working my s—t” is what we do out there when we gather to practice. I have “worked plenty of s—t” out there. I know the territory and the value. I’ve arrived with specific issues and ruminated this way and that for two hours, staying in motion the whole time. Sometimes this has delivered great insight. Sometimes not. And my practice has ripened over time. One thing aging has birthed is a big old fat trust in the process.
Imagine that we all enter the space carrying a large box labeled S—T. Even in the lap of community, it’s possible for us to spend our whole time alone, working away in our box. The brilliance of the practice offers a truly viable alternative. Especially if rooting around in your full box is tiresome or doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or you just want to do something different. No requirement to ignore the s—t or pretend it’s not there or gloss over it. We take a big step out of the box and investigate the places where what’s in the box meets the practice. A seasoned practitioner can do this on their own and/or we follow the convenient prompts of whoever is courageous enough to stand up there and offer something to try on.
My box was full up last week and I can’t even remember what was in it. Usually my s—t revolves around obsessive thinking toward future plans or re-play of past conversations and events or judgments about whatever is happening in the present moment. Unless, god forbid, it’s a BIG ONE, it’s all pretty familiar to me. In the first hour I just kept hauling myself out of the box to meet the practice: body parts and breath; weight and pulse; release and travelling; connection and space. No matter where we are in a wave, there’s usually a self-generated or invitational focus that holds more interest than the same old-same old. Because it’s fresh and happening right now and I’m dancing and the music is so amazing. By the second hour, what was in my box didn’t go away, it merely lost its hold. And I was simply being danced…clear, quiet, alive.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned. Except for the BIG ONES, my s—t doesn’t even change much from year to year. I totally get my s–t is not going away. But letting the practice meet the s—t has generally changed my relationship to the s—t. In the short run and the long. In a good way, in a witness way, in a turn down the volume way. And sometimes I can really feel how the seductive intrigue of staying isolated in the box is my big fat ego desperately needing to keep me in a going-no-where stupor loop.
“Do you want to be co-dependent to the great monster (ego)
or co-create with the great mystery?”
All this being said, I truly welcome it all out there. Yes, even remaining in your box. The only requirement is to keep breathing and keep it moving. Thanks for listening. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being so incredibly real. And most of all, thank you for being my teacher love, bella