Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fearing The Process, We Lose The Experience


"Fearing the process, we lose the experience of the journey."

When I was paralyzed in the hospital, they took me to physical therapy. While I still firmly believe and see the connection between taking the first step and beginning to talk about the things in my past, there was more than this. Even though I knew how to walk and I had been doing it every day for 26 years of my life, the last memory before entering the hospital was that to stand and attempt to walk, meant my body was going to fall down to the floor in pain. Imagine this for a moment if you can that even though there is nothing wrong with the muscles in your legs and even though you know how to walk, the fears of the experience were greater.

In many ways, my life has mimicked the paralysis because for me, the paralysis was the fear of moving forward in my own process and journey. Even if we know or do not know what the next steps are or what things we will encounter, all we have to do is show up and offer ourselves to the process. It is not about knowing and having everything we need in that moment but giving ourselves to the creation and progression of what lies ahead. Knowing the process before we begin robs us of all that the process involves.

Just as it was difficult in the hospital to walk again, sometimes our journey and process are difficult as well. For when I was in physical therapy trying to walk again, I did not walk ten feet or even a foot. At first, it began with very small movements with my legs and some exercise. Then it progressed to where they put me on the walking bars and with every ounce of limited strength I had, I dragged myself along trying to get my feet to walk and move as they were designed. Yes, it was frustrating and yes, I was angered that I could not do something which seemed to obvious to most people. With each day, I would take one little step, than another. As days progressed, I began to walk from my hospital bed to the bathroom so I could sit down and take a shower. Soon I was walking to the hallway in the hospital from my hospital bed and finally down the hallway. There were many difficult moments through all of this and the little things we all take for granted were mountains that I had to climb. It was all part of my process and my journey.

Today, I was reading Ellen Langer's book, On Becoming An Artist - Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity and on page 153 she writes,
"Our problem is that we think we should know without that which only firsthand experience can teach us. And this negative expectation leads us to shun activities that we would find satisfying if only we gave them a fair try.

Just think - what if I had said "I'm too afraid to walk because I might fall again and it might hurt when my body hits the ground"? For that message had been clearly conveyed to me or if I may say, that fear had been ingrained into me. At that moment in my life, I had no clue how I was ever going to walk again or if I ever would. It seemed like something impossible and if I would have not tried, I would still be laying in a hospital bed or being pushed around in a wheel chair. It was my desire to not accept my circumstances and look beyond my fears that help get me to walk once again.

Once again in my life, I am confronted with the fears that hold me back. While I completely understand the concepts I just wrote about, the fears attempt to over take me. In fact, they have done a pretty good job of controlling my life and robbing me of experiences. I'm not content with where my life is at this moment nor am I willing to go through the continued conflict that haunts me every day. With that in mind, here is what I wrote in my morning time of meditation that spoke to me. My hope is that it will speak to whoever is reading this and it will help lift you into the fears instead of being pushed down by them.

Can I show up? - Yes, I can!
Can I bring myself (to the task I am trying to do)? - Yes, I can!
Can I bring my experiences? - Yes, I can!
Can I bring my heart (to the task I am trying to do)? - Yes, I can!
Can I offer myself to others? - Yes, I can!

Then:

I offer myself with all my fears, insecurities and my heart. If I show up shaking and trembling in fear, let that be my experience. If I show up not shaking and trembling in fear, than let that be my experience. For both are part of my process, my journey as I step out in a leap of faith.

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