5.05.2012

The Enlightening Mat: Making Yourself Available

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lake tahoe sunset

Last week during Sangha (meditation group), we watched Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. If you haven't watched it yet, check it out by clicking here. By now I've seen it a couple times; however, upon hearing it a third time I noticed something new that I had missed.

In the TED talk on vulnerability, Brene Brown mentions that "wholehearted people" have the courage to live with their imperfections.
 
Brene Brown's comment stimulated a lot of questions, for I believed I was on the trail of learning to accept my imperfections. Nevertheless, knowing my background where trying to be perfect was normal, I started to have a sinking feeling that perhaps I haven't truly embraced imperfection so much as I have practiced a new twist on perfection where rebooting, wiping the slate clean, shaking my etch-a-sketch life is the acceptable method for dealing with bumps in the road.

This notion was slowly seeping into my head upon leaving a spiritual retreat over the last weekend where a leader posed a question about healing. She asked, "We will we ever heal, change, and transform enough to be in a place where we can actually get on with things? Would we better off healing what we can, and then just let stuff be so we can move forward with things that we are called to do?"

These thoughts were confusing me, so I mentioned what was running through my head at Sangha and was given some valuable insight by fellow practitioner. He suggested that perhaps I need to heal to some extent so I can get past "me, me, me, me, me, me so as to make myself available."

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Available. What does available mean? Available for what? I thought I knew what available meant a year or two ago, but lately looking at my life and behavior I'm starting to feel like I may have taken myself off the roster for availability.

What if you don't want to be available? What are the things we do to not make ourselves available? (e.g., illness, financial distress, bad relationships, addiction, busy-ness, etc.) What are we are afraid of being available for? What if we're afraid that being available would require too much of us? Would we risk failure? Would we not receive the support we need? Will we look stupid? Will we get hurt because of it?

I'm still wandering around, letting myself come to a new understanding of what being available truly means, but in the meantime I'm embracing this concept from the Dalai Lama.

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, then at least do not harm them.
Dalai Lama

This makes sense to me. In fact, since I've personally benched myself from being available it might mean I'm not completely equipped to help others in the best possible way. In fact, on certain matters if I tried to help right now, I may not contribute to the well being of others and do more harm then good.

It's possible I am still healing and am not ready to be available. Correction...I know I'm in the midst of a big me, me, me, heal fest and know my availability is out to lunch.

What's the process? How can we gradually open up to being fully available again? Fully available to our calling or purpose? I'm pretty sure for me it's going to Bikram yoga as much as I can and doing the Lemonade Mantras process. Both avenues strengthen self-empathy, which allow me to slowly grow into a wider circle of empathy for others.  My gut tells me this will lead me to being open again.

What about you? Are you ready to be available? And if so, what for? What might you do to make yourself available?

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures

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