Friday, June 5, 2015

Day 5 - Through and Above The Water

As I mentioned in my first post, I moved to Iowa for 4 months (I intended to be there longer, but that's another story.) where I studied at Maharishi University of Management. This is a school located in the middle of nowhere in Fairfield Iowa, where everyone meditates 2-3 times a day. These 4 months were an extreme period of growth for me.

I see my growth process as a river, and throughout challenges that I overcome, rocks that block the free flow of the river are removed. The rocks that hold me back from me being me.

I want to talk about a public speaking experience during my time at MUM, where a huge boulder was removed from the river.

It was the day of presentations, and I had prepared a speech about my experience working in the nursing home. On my walk over to the class, I was already feeling super nervous and rehearsing my words over and over in my head. I agreed with myself that I would go first and get it over with, but I didn't honor this agreement.

Every time the professor called and asked who would like to present, I'd hear a voice in my head: raise your hand, and another: don't do it! I felt my fingers move, my elbow move up a little, and then it would fall back down. It was if I was being held under water by a force (fear) with an inability to rise above it.

There wasn't time for everyone to go on the day of presentations, so it turned a into three day process, in which I ended up going last on the third day. After day 2, I was laying in my bed feeling mad at myself for not raising my hand so many times. I was experiencing too many negative thoughts, when a loving question popped in my head: What can you do to make this better? How can you solve this repeated issue?

The answer that I came up with was to agree with myself to let go and do something completely vulnerable, and this is what I did. When it was finally my turn to go, I walked to the front without my unnecessary amount of notecards that I wrote on front and back, and said to the class "In the event that I'm going last, I'd like to talk about my fear of public speaking."

Everyone laughed, with me, not at me, which lightened my spirit and made everything so much easier. The topic that we were expected to speak about was somewhat related to metamorphosis, where we described the process of an experience or change from beginning to end. The idea was to reflect, but it was without limitations, so I decided to put on a live show of my own metamorphosis. I talked about everything I was thinking and feeling. About how I wanted to raise my hand but something inside kept holding it down. About how I was comparing myself to others. And overall, how I was afraid of being heard and seen in a vulnerable way. I told the class about how I tossed and turned the night before, and woke up with a plan to let go of this fear, to do something about it.

Although it was an awesome reward to receive compliments and a positive response to my speech, the best reward was the one I gave to myself. The gift of letting go, allowing myself to be heard, and staying true to myself.

After this date, I continued to give authentic, open hearted, and honest speeches. There is one big question that I ask myself when I am doing my final revision, am I being vulnerable enough? I joined a toast masters after moving back to New Jersey, and learned that I have truly grown past this fear to some extent, but if I was to ask myself everyday the question: am I being vulnerable enough today? The answer would be sometimes be no. I hold back from asking questions and from saying what I want to say, which leads me to missing opportunities. I'm not sure if a public speaking opportunity will arise within the next 96 days, but what I am promising myself today, is that every time I am afraid to ask a question or to speak: I'm going to do it anyway. I'll keep doing my best to swim through and above the water.

P.S: Yes, I still hold my nose underwater =)

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