This note was sent August 31, 2012 to Trust Note subscribers. Trust Notes are sent once each week, and typically are more personal than what gets posted to the blog.
As I continue to process my experience at the Wake Up Festival last week, I’m thinking lots about leadership – about the kind I feel called to embody, as well as to support others into (my post at Trust Tending this week explores this, and included a short video of my ponderings).
Listening to speaker after speaker at this festival, I noticed a common thread among them (there were actually many common threads; this was but one of them): all were deeply rooted in personal, visceral practice.
By personal practice, I mean some form of meditation, study under a guru or teacher, deep contemplation, and/or the translation of any of the above into music, poetry or prose.
And the common thread in that practice was a deep quest to look at things squarely. To not turn away.
To not turn away from fear.
To not turn away from anything.
Which is really what most of us do, right? Turn away? We’re hard-wired to avoid the uncomfortable, and all the more so when we’ve collected layer upon layer, year upon year, of rough experiences around so many things: around relationships, around intimacy itself, around parenting or being parented, around work, around money, around spiritual pursuits and the communities that gather around them.
So many of these things are so charged with pain or awkwardness that most of us live daily with blinders up. We shade our eyes and hearts from looking directly at them. We establish elaborate disengagement rituals, which usually involve some form of screen time, some form of food or drink, some form of people-distraction, and the creation of urgency around anything BUT the things – those potent teachers – we wish to avoid.
And as I think about all of this, what comes into focus are two things:
1. People on a path of learning to stay – learning to not look away – are the people I most want to follow. They’re the people whose depth, presence, clarity, and open-heartedness operate at different frequencies than the rest of ours. I’m drawn to them and want to hear what they have to say. I want to open and surrender to the things their lives inspire in my own heart and mind.
2. It is absolutely possible to think we aren’t looking away when, in fact, we very much are. Case in point: I consider myself more awake than the average bear. I’ve spent a lifetime tending consciousness. But I’m seeing newly that all of the activities that facilitate consciousness (meditation, journalling, contemplation, yoga, writing, prayer, etc) can be engaged in ways that protect us – protect ME – from sinking fully into the risky territory of naked experience.
I can write pages in my journal and hundreds of words on my blog and create slick courses and books about grief or fear or leadership or trust…and never look myself or my heart or life straight in the eyes for any length of time. I can treat all such things as ideas to be philosophically pondered, rather viscerally loved or hated or wooed or wrestled with.
I don’t mean to be all-or-nothing here. Surely there are spectrums and I live well on some of them.
But I think it’s worth noting that actions alone (meditation, yoga, journaling) don’t inherently take us where we want to go. The conscious steps we take while we DO those actions to soften and open our hearts to the teacher that is naked experience matter.
If trust is what we want; if that inner state of rest that holds the helter-skelter of our ongoing wounds and emotions and egoic needs is what we we want; if leading our world into a new stage of itself, marked by less ego protectiveness and more creative, healing, expansive souls is what we’re after, I sense our most potent path toward all of that is something more radically real – in the sense of being nakedly honest with ourselves about what we feel and see and think – than most of us have ever dreamed or imagined we could be.
I’m here to help imagine us into that path and that world – into that way of leading ourselves and other people into trust. And I’d love your company in doing so.
I’m always just an email away, so if you have thoughts or feelings about any of this and want to share, please write.
With love and deep wonder at being alive right now,