Growing up as the eldest child there was always a sense of responsibility that clouded my decisions. I had created a pressure to always perform and behave my best. Fear, worry, and doubt were the constant companions who guided me away from things I thought might ruin my imagined reputation. I placed myself in a box that kept my messiness away from the external world, never to be seen. I worried about everything and created boundaries that measured how much of myself I’d expose in every situation. These boundaries seemed relatively harmless as I went about my life, and to be completely honest, I had absolutely no awareness of how limited I’d allowed myself to be until recently.
At the beginning of 2016, I signed up for a 9-month training by the name of T3, which stands for ‘Train The Trainer’. This may mean absolutely nothing to you as it did not have much meaning to me when I first read these three words either. The training is a course that provides skills to facilitate something called Circling. Circling is a practice of interpersonal meditation, speaking with a group of individuals in present moment dialogue to weave shared reality. By ‘shared reality’ I mean that we both have a shared understanding of a definition, an expression, a thought, feeling, etc. In a Circling context, there is a selected individual who the group lends their attention. The individual’s job is to show up with whatever experience of them self is momentarily most alive and share what it is like to be in their world, sort of like a tour guide. The training provides me with skills to guide the content of the Circle so that we may better understand what it’s like to be with this person in their world. I’ve been told we Circle because people tend to have an internal model of themselves that is outdated. I’ve been told we are loving people, not dissecting frogs. We Circle to have our blind spots seen by others so that we may evolve, transform, live lighter, cultivate freedom, and ultimately share ourselves with others in a way that allows you to feel seen.
This practice is profoundly changing my life. This practice has connected me to others and myself in ways I never imagined possible. I’m half way through the training, and I constantly tell people that I’m in a state of mind blown and expansion. Down went the pristine white picket fence I’d put up in hopes of sustaining my safety. The heavily guarded walls that I created to control and measure how much Amy I was being are in constant deconstruction and reevaluation mode. And the unfolding of who I am behind the mask is revealing something paradoxically beautiful every time I am seen.
To me, the human experience is the most fascinating, overwhelming, vastly unique, hard to wrap your head around kind of gift. Each of us has a place in the world, we’ve chosen our paths one way or another, and somewhere along the way the collective seems to have had a blinding miscommunication with what it means to be human. I’ve personally shoulda, coulda, woulda’d all over myself countless times. I’ve assumed, tried to fix, and advised my little heart out in hopes of “helping” someone. I’ve spent most of my life trying to guide others in the direction of my dreams, my utopia, without realizing that I was blocking connection and not welcoming another’s human experience by projecting my own. Sounds pretty damn unfair if you ask me. Yes, everything was out of the kindness of my heart, and I, perhaps misguidedly, believed I was doing a good service with my words. If you really knew me, you’d know how much I love helping people and how much I care about your state of wellbeing. You’d know that I value your opinion and that I only want you to find an abundance of happiness, passionate existence, and love. As I write this, I know how much I still do want all of these things, but I now have a very different perspective.
I want you to be you, and I want to be wildly curious about what it’s like to be you instead of assuming I know. I desire that you show up exactly as you are, and I want to welcome whatever that may be. I wish for you to see your human glory, and bask in the sun or dwell in the shadow of your world. My dream is that we use our projections, our imaginations, and our assumptions for the greater good. I imagine a world where we check in with others more, where we start to actually listen to understand versus listen to reply. Most importantly, my hope is that we own our experience and honor what is alive in every moment. These are just a few of the many perspectives that have opened my eyes. Eyes that have glimpsed into the world of another and cannot turn back. I’ve experienced the spontaneity of tears, untold fears, freeing realizations, and countless ah-ha moments. I’ve heard the slightest of words rock someone to their core, and I’ve witnessed varied expressions of love, shame, hopelessness, and joy. The dense range of experience that unfolds within this context is what I live for.
As I enter the second half of this training, I walk in with a feeling that anything is possible. That when I allow myself to be seen, when I drop the walls, and let down my guard, I find freedom to just be. In the ‘being’ the possibilities seem endless. Looking back on the years that I lived in my cage, I don’t feel sad or full of regret, I feel liberated. I feel free to feel however I want, and I know now that I have the choice to experience life with my full expression. Being aware of my limitations was half the battle, and what’s to come next is unknown. The unknown is what keeps me staying present to my curiosity, and within that unfolds endless discovery.
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