The Noise

Introverted ol’ me finds it really hard to tune out noise.  I have a few standard responses to noisy environments.

At first, I wince.  The sound is like an assault on my body. It almost hurts and I can’t think. And I can keep wincing, never feeling like I’ve properly righted myself. And then…

1. Shields UP!

When this happens, I can throw up my shields, Star Trek style, to defend myself.  Shielding myself protects me from being battered by the sound but it’s exhausting. I also can’t feel much when I’m defending myself. My breathing becomes shallow and I’m in a sort of stasis, waiting for safety to come.  Or I might..

2. Check out

Eventually, I might leave the room/environment.  I’ll go walking or pacing somewhere else.  I’ll go into full on introvert ‘don’t make me party’ mode.  And even though I’d like to be present, I can’t be.  When I’m like this, I might come across as aloof or bored or indifferent.  But sometimes I can..

3. Surf it

If I feel centred in myself.   If I’m calm and breathing and feeling connected to the world, I can surf the noise, playfully bouncing off the energy of it..  I can walk through a busy noisy room.  City streets don’t usually bother me if I know where I’m going. I can move through the crowds like I would on the dance floor in a 5Rhythms class.  When I don’t fight it, it can be enjoyable. But only for short periods of time.

 

In response to Daily Prompt

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Not Afraid of Who I Used to Be

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I did a meditation exercise recently that asked me to contemplate my values, the things that I hold dear.  A few short years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to articulate them as well as I can now.   I feel the difference in me when I’m with my extended family.  I can see my values and my character reflected in the people around me, but also in my journey to here and now.  I am glad of the life I have lived until now, in all its banality and its weirdness and wonderment.

In Rising Strong, Brené Brown writes that we have to believe that everyone is doing the best they can the best they know how.  I completely agree with her.  I look back at who I was, and all I’ve done, or not done, and I see I was doing the best I could, with what I knew how.

Sometimes I followed my heart, and sometimes I lost it.  Often I wasn’t living with integrity.  I made mistakes and I didn’t know how to fix them.

Sometimes I hurt people.  I didn’t set out to do so but I did.  There are  people who are no longer in my life because they felt hurt by me.  To them, I’m sorry for the hurt that I caused, but I was doing the best I could, the best way I knew how.

There were times I felt lost, but there were no lost years.

There were times I danced to different drums, but I took that experience to the next dance floor.

Pop music is not about high art, pop is about resonating with a feeling, and, this week, I’m resonating with ‘Younger Now’, by Miley Cyrus.

“Feels like I just woke up

Like all this time I’ve been asleep

Even though it’s not who I am

I’m not afraid of who I used to be”

It’s a wonderful thing to be alive and human and have this opportunity to blunder and stumble, and sing and dance and be wild and silly and wise and graceful.   I am glad of who I am.  I am happy.  When I was younger, I would be embarrassed easily and everything made me blush. And I would be embarrassed by who I was.  But I’m not now.  That young boy, that young man, that man yesterday, he was doing the best he knew how.  Just like me.

I miss email

 

I miss email.

I started emailing about 20 years ago when I was still in high school (secondary school in Ireland.) I joined a couple of mailing lists and it allowed me to connect with a druid community far away from me. When I travelled, I sent group emails to my friends, updating them on my life and journeys.  Then social media and Facebook and messengers came along and we all stopped emailing. The immediacy of messenger services like Viber, WhatsApp, and FB Messenger is wonderful. Group chats for family and friends keep us all connected.

But I still miss personal email, the digital letter.

I have a friend who sends me a handwritten letter once a month. It’s a beautiful thing. I have replied occasionlly with my own handwriting, but my handwriting is difficult for even me to read.

More and more I want to nurture the deeper friendships in my life. For me, part of that nurturing is going to take the form of personal emails, digital letters from me to thee. The other person might not reply but some will.

It might be my introversion, but a message from you, just to me and vice versa is deeply connecting. I feel more in touch with someone who writes a letter to me once a month, and whom I never see in person, than someone I met socially.

I have heard people bemoan digital communication as the death of the art of letter writing. It doesn’t have to be.  Open your heart and your browser. Write to someone, tell them what’s happening in your life.

 

 

 

 

Shadows Everywhere

Today’s task asks me to describe my shadows. 

It’s funny how it can seem like I’ve dealt with my stuff and then someone can say something or something can happen and I’m back in an old familiar mental place I thought I’d left behind.  For example,  last night when a colleague tried to describe me when saying why he’d miss me and he ran out of adjectives after “nice” and “quiet”. A part of me became a teenager again, feeling boring and inadequate. But just for a moment, and just a part. Quiet is something I have owned and love now but  I have so many other traits, patterns, and habits that I wish I could leave behind. 
In 5Rhythms practice I learn to move exactly with what is, exactly how I’m feeling now. The way my body feels, the way my limbs move. There’s no point in being embarrassed or ashamed. This is now, this is what’s here. I am here and I am enough.  Whatever I do or don’t do here, is enough.  

I experience the same in my Toastmasters journey. I learn through doing. I stand and speak. Sometimes what I said makes sense. Sometimes I rehearsed enough, but usually there’s an awkward performance, some evidence of growth, and plenty of material for feedback. It’s not comfortable. It’s enjoyable, but when I’m growing and developing, it’s not comfortable. 

I spent a year in therapy. None of it was comfortable. I shone light on my behaviour and not all of it was good and responsible. I sat with my self doubts and fears, and learned tools and skills to move forward in life. But I also learned more about the parts of me that I never wanted to sit and be with. They became familiar.  

My shadows are the parts of myself I turn from. The bits I don’t want to know about. It’s not all shame and regret. There’s some really useful treasure there in the dark recesses. Things I didn’t know would be valuable to me one day. 

I don’t intend to list my wounds and inadequancies. I intend on holding myself safely on this journey. I move with curiousity. This is a journey of gentle discovery, not of fixing myself. I move with my psyche exactly as it is. I wonder what happens when I journal, do morning pages, set myself a 10 day writing challenge, and so on.  

I have learned in this life, through all my journeys, that I am enough, and that I might not always feel it. That I have a right to be here just as I am, and that this journey will continue for only as long as it does. 

This post is day seven of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

Sanctuary

When I moved to Belfast earlier this year, I imagined that as I was moving to a bigger city, I would spend more time socialising, going out to gay bars, dancing until late, engaging in the party. I didn’t. I was lucky to find a house with a room on the top floor, that is big enough to almost be a small apartment. I have grown to love my introverted nature, and that part of me (a very big part) loves solitude, and blankets, and unscheduled time.

I need my sanctuary, my safe space, to feel fully alive.

If I were to imagine my ideal sanctuary, my ideal safe space, it would be a room with a view of the sea and mountains. It would be warm. I would have my altar space there, and a writing desk. I would drink tea, and read, and write and be still. It would be large enough that I could hold small ceremonies. I would be private so that I can be as physically and emotionally naked there as I like.

I would have music there sometimes. And sometimes silence.

Often I would simply nap there or stare into space.

My sanctuary is my place sit under a blanket and to rest, and day dream, and create and be inspired.

My partner’s company is sanctuary too. We’re both very introverted. Sanctuary with him is the soft warmth of long cuddles, and no agenda other than to simply be present together. Often times, we sit side by side in bed, both of us reading or on our laptops working on individual personal projects.

Wherever I live, I try to make sure that I have some space that is simply for being. The older I get, the more I want my whole life to be a space of sanctuary with occasional forays into the world for food, socialising, and events.

I hope your life has a place where you feel warm and safe, loved and free to simply be.

This post is day four of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

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Timed selfie sent to my partner showing one of my ‘introvert sanctuary’ days – headphones, tea, blanket, kindle, private room, day off. 

 

Entranced by Sematron

Today’s task in Honouring the Darkness was to listen to the music in the video below and to write about the the experience though a series of questions.

Listening to the sematron brought me feelings of deep rest and a lightness. I’m listening to the extended youtube playlist as I write this. I feel a kind of light inner smile.

I scanned my body as I listened and I noticed that for a while the percussion seemed to come from my throat as though the board was there. Then it was in my feet. My belly.

What it brought up for me most of all was a sense of the luxuriousness of lying down listening to beautiful sounds and how that in itself is a good and worthwhile thing to do. I notice that often when I listen to music it is whilst I am doing something else (walking, reading, tidying). The other times in the week that I may sit or lie down is usually to do a meditation as part of my druid course. But rarely, if every, do I lie down, with my eyes closed to listen to music for an extended period of time. I’d like to. I would, but I get distracted by the internet or feeling like I should be doing something else. Of course, that “something else” is usually some sort of external stimulus. I’m noticing that doing this, makes me feel alive, in the same way that being intimate with my lover makes me feel alive. I am conscious, in the moment, completely in my body, doing it for no other intended purpose than it feels good.

I’ve had a lot of experience with 5Rhtyhms in workshops and classes. This exercise reminds me of that practice, becoming more and more conscious of my body and it’s rhythms and motions and following that into ecstasy. Often times, in the past, when I have listened to drum beats and rhythms decided to induce trance states, I have judged it along the way, trying to see if I can “get there”. I have experienced many altered states in my life, some of them chemical induced, but the most powerful and the simplest have been through dance and ritual ceremony. More and more though, I want my experience of trance to be gentle, a taste of eternity, nourishing in the way that hugs and sleep are food for my soul body.

Whilst listening, my breath become deeper, slower, my pleasurable. Yes, my breath because a pleasurable thing in and of itself. Listening, for the pleasure of hearing. Breathing for the pleasure of breathing.

This music soothed me. I don’t enjoy high-stim environments. I do best and feel happiest with low-stim spaces, intimate conversations, books, rest, and time in nature. Listening to this music, resting, reminded me that I can do the same in my daily life. I do often listen to relaxing ambient music, to rest before or after a tiring event. This practice has reminded me that I can listen to my body and breath deeply at the same time for its own sake, because it a pleasurable thing to do.

This post is Day three of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice. Facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

The Art of Losing

I lose things. I lose hours from my day in mindless distraction. I lose photographs and books. I misplace things. Over the years, I’ve been good at losing places and finding places and losing places. I live in new cities and try things on. I never have much difficulty in leaving a job. However, I’ve been bad at letting go of the idea of what kind of job I do. I hold on to that. That’s something I could lose now and then.

I have had many casual friendships, in places I have lived, meeting interesting and new people, having deep and meaningful conversations, and then we both walked on. Something was had and lost there. Something was exchanged. Something was gained. Sometimes I have felt guilty for not maintaining all of my friendships but it would be simply impossible. I have spent years couch surfing and moving in large social circles and yet, often, at the same time, spending much of my time alone, with myself. I can look back on those friendships with the sense that I am glad to have known this or that person.

A part of me is hungry for a different type of friendship now, one that is more long lasting. I have many friends that I love dearly and in recent years I find myself wanting to hold on to them, to invest in them, to not lose these ones.

And yet, all things are lost eventually.

I remember when I did my first Reiki course, there was a sign in the hallway of the holistic centre that said everything you love will fall apart, or words to that effect. And inside that is the paradox, too. This moment in time is lost and gone forever. And yet, eternity, every present, is not. This friendship, is for this place and time, but its effect and the warmth of the connection and memory are with me always. When I hold circle, I like to remind those present that this circle exists just once in time, and can never be repeated. There is magic in the specialness of it.

So, if things can be lost and yet not lost, what can I lose (and yet not lose) every day? I can lose my habits. They change. And yet they don’t. I scold myself and at the same time I smile at the predictability of my self. I can lose my posessions. I can buy more things. I can lose my awkward self consciousness but not my self awareness. I could die and lose my body and my life. That could happen any day at any time.

I don’t fear dying but I fear losing my family and my loved ones. I don’t want to be denied their presence and love in my life. I don’t want to feel the pain of loss and the grief that follows.

There is much I could happily lose. I could lose my addictions, my hesitations, my guilt and shame at my past, my fears, my possessions.

I would not like to lose my mind, my wits, my sight or hearing. I do not want to lose my lover or my friends. And yet, I cannot cling to them. I can love them. I can lose my ideas of them and my taking them for granted. I cannot control their presence in my life.

The world around me shifts and changes. People change and grow and live and move away and die and change their likes and dislikes. Life moves on. Sometimes it will take people and places from me. Eventually I will lose everything. Everyone I love will die. Everything I own will fall apart or disappear from view. There is only now. There is only this love, this life, this view.

I often reflect on how I would not change anything about my past or my experiences. It would change who I am now, and the life I have now. I would not change the unpleasantness in past relationships, as they have led me to the place I am in now, and to the love I have in my life now.

As this year comes to a close, I know that I have lost something. There are roads I didn’t take. There are second dates I didn’t have. There are choices I made that meant I lived in this house and not that, took this job and not another, and so on. All the potential for something other is gone. And I let it go. Whether I notice or not, it is lost.

As to the world that is coming, the life that is possible, the world that is unfolding, every moment is a loss but also a gain. What could have been, but also what is, what will be. This too shall pass. Something will be.

This post is Day two of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice. Facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/6fb91683-ff6d-4977-b94a-b6dc53ffaef9