About a month ago, my dear friend and mentor Catherine gave me a piece of advice that I did not fully comprehend at the time. She said: “ You need to walk naked in the street”.
I heard this and I thought, ok well, I do not think she actually means that I should walk naked outside (despite the fact that living in San Francisco, this is certainly not out of the question…)
Might she have been saying that I should be more vulnerable?!
Perhaps she was saying that I should let go of all that I was holding on to as protection?!
Vulnerability has never been something that has come easy for me, which is why it is something that I have spent a lot of time practicing. I have been reading a lot, studying a lot and trying to comprehend why it is that it is so hard for me to be vulnerable when it comes to expressing what I want and what I don’t want. Why is it so hard for me, someone who isn’t really afraid of much, to sometimes look at someone in the eye and tell them exactly how I feel? Why does it become so much harder the more I care about the person?
I know I am not alone in this. I also know that I want to work through this! And so I decided to! I thought about Catherine’s advice but didn’t really know where to begin. So I started at the beginning of a new chapter, which as you might guess, came right after a complete and total breakdown.
Throughout the last few months, I’ve been involved in a relationship that has completely expanded my heart and mind beyond anything I have ever experienced before in my life. The last few months have been filled with more happiness, love, energy and passion than ever, and since the pendulum always swings just as strongly in the opposite direction, these months have also been very difficult in certain respects. A few weeks ago I hit a wall and had what some would call a complete emotional meltdown. Or as I put it, I lost my shit.
Can you tell that there is a lesson coming? Oh yes.
What I always say when I give people advice is: lose your shit and find yourself! Ha! Sounds so easy, right?
Well, when it’s actually you losing your shit, it’s not so easy. BUT, and this is a big butt: It is possible!
So there I was completely drained of all of my energy and all of my happiness. I ran into a wall and I felt completely naked. I hit my emotional rock bottom. And I discovered once again that you really do need to go through the darkest night to see the light again.
Here’s the crazy thing: I do not know exactly what happened but I think some would call what I experienced, a moment of enlightenment? Sometime very soon after literally peeling myself off the floor and wiping away my tears, something drastic hit me. I realized that my feelings and thoughts were NOT actually me.
I was always someone who thought that I had no choice but to be controlled by my emotions. I would say, “well, I am a cancer: the most emotional sign of the zodiac. Of course my emotions run my life!” But see, it does not have to be this way. Not if you realize that you are not your emotions, rather you are just feeling and observing them.
It’s pretty amazing what happens when you realize that you are not your emotions and your thoughts and you actually have the ability to transcend your emotions and your thoughts and rather than being consumed by all the craziness in your mind, you can sit back as your real self and just watch it all, almost like sitting in a movie theater watching a film.
Sometime shortly after my epiphany, I had a vision. I saw myself sitting on a throne in a gorgeous medieval inspired red gown. I saw myself looking radiant, just leaning on the thrown with a completely calm expression on my face. I was just watching what was happening below me. I saw ballerinas dancing, musicians playing, people fighting and stabbing one another. A ton of activity all at once in a sort of circus ring and it was an odd and beautiful chaos. And it hit me. Those were my thoughts and my feelings and rather then being consumed by them and drowning in them, I was transcendent of them and I just sat there on my throne watching it all happen below me and I was in no way consumed by the hustle and bustle of my mind.
Watching this scene made me calm and then I realized that I was in a place where I could watch all the crazy beautiful chaos of my mind and not become involved in it. This sounds so simple, but it really never made sense to me before.
Will I have thoughts? YES
Will I have feelings? YES
Will I let them pass through me and observe? Oh yes I will.
And yes I have and well, wow.
I have learned that the only way I can be present and live my life is if I let things pass through me rather than consume me. I’ve also realized recently that I need to and want to stop forcing anything and everything. Nothing in this life that is incredible has ever come from force. Think about it. Has anything truly amazing in your life has ever come from force? Not for me it has not.
No force, just openness. Yes, that works for me. That’s what I am practicing now: being open to saying yes, and yes and …
Say yes to life. Say yes to sadness and happiness and trouble and pain and to love. At the end of the day, life will go on and things will happen anyway whether you like it or not. So saying “yes and”, is not just a rule for Improv, it is great advice for life.
And remember, sometimes, “yes and” equals no. Sometimes you realize that where you are going is not where you want to go, so what do you do? You stop and observe and remember this:
Winners never quit, the RIGHT stuff!
Listen to yourself but realize that the voice inside your head is not actually you. Those are your thoughts and your feelings and they are real and valid, but they will pass and you will remain there observing it all and hopefully enjoying it all!
Yes and life, and yes and people around you and remember that the people who you surround yourself with are your future. So just like you yes and life, sometimes yes and means no. This applies to the people in your life as well.
Sometimes you have to let go of certain people. Yes and the people you love and let go of the people weighing you down; those who are bad for you, those who make you feel that tightness in your chest. That tightness is your energy being blocked. The worst thing you can do is block your energy. Your energy is your life force, your light, your power, and your strength. If you are surrounded by people who are not building you up but rather tearing you down and causing you to block that beautiful energy, I would highly recommend you let go of those people. Ultimately, the only thing that they will do is hold you back from being the absolutely most amazing version of yourself.
At the end of the day the only thing standing between greatness and yourself is you. So get out of your own way by realizing that you are not your thoughts and feelings. Embrace everything (good and bad) as it comes to you and listen to your heart – it will guide you in finding your inspiration and your light. Oh, and if you need to, walk naked in the street and lose your shit once in a while. Maybe you’ll have an epiphany and learn a great life lesson? I highly recommend being open to this experience.