Expanding Paradigms - Fall 1996
must not fear.
will permit it to pass over me and through me.
Fear comes in many forms and in many guises. Sometimes it is pressing and demanding, more often it is so subtle that we do not recognize it as fear, even as it shapes our thoughts and actions. To evolve spiritually it is vital that we recognize, confront and overcome our fears.
I have always been uneasy around kids, so this summer I agreed to design and teach a three week course on "Peak Performance" to 14 kids at a summer camp, 3 hours/day for 15 days. My first day with the kids exceeded my worst nightmares.
It took them about 15 minutes to realize that I was afraid of them, and then they turned on me. They complained that it was too hot (which it was), that there were fire ants and wasps everywhere (which there were), and that they were miserable (which they were). It went downhill from there. After 3 hours I had a headache and felt sick.
The second day, driving out to the ranch, I desperately tried to think my way out of this commitment. I considered telling the owner of the ranch that it had been a horrible mistake, and that I could not go on. Then I realized that if I had a flat tire I could miss the whole day, and no one would blame me. This was followed by “If I wreck my car I could miss all three weeks and no one would blame me!” At this point I finally realized just how scared I was. So I visualized the worst case scenario, saw it clearly and accepted it.
I decided that no matter what happened, I was not going to quit... I would pray that they fire me, but I would not quit. This freed up all the energy I was wasting on second guessing myself and I was no longer as scared.
As a last attempt to reach the kids, I tried a guided visualization. It ended with instructions to open a special box and find a wonderful gift, just for them. Most of the kids did not bother to close their eyes, and several called out and interrupted the story.
When it was over, I asked them to sit in a circle. Only half cooperated. I had to drag the others on their blankets. I had lost all control, short of brute force. I asked, "Who found something in their magical box?" Only two hands went up. "So, what did you find in your box?" I asked the boy. "A pen," he answered flatly. I was disappointed, but I pushed on. "Was it a nice pen?" "Not really, it was a Bic." he replied sarcastically. The other kids giggled.
Having been backed into a corner, I finally allowed anger to displace fear, then calmness to replace my anger. I told them a true story about a woman I did a visualization exercise with. This exercise involved the woman and I taking turns to describe the visualization. I described walking through a beautiful field, and she complained that she was hungry. I described finding a picnic basket, she complained about ants. I described swinging beneath a beautiful oak tree, she complained about splinters...
Then I asked the kids if they thought that the woman enjoyed the visualization and they replied in unison "No!" Then I asked them whose fault it was that she did not have a good time and they replied, "Hers!"
Now I knew I had them. I wheeled upon the "Bic pen" kid and held his eyes with mine. "You could have found anything you wanted in your magical box. Who is to blame if your box was empty?" I turned to each child in turn and held their gaze. I told them that I could no more make them enjoy the next 2 1/2 weeks than I could have made the woman enjoy her visualization. Willpower is the ability to choose how you focus your mind. Happiness is a choice! We discussed my fear of kids, how it had affected my performance, and their role and responsibility in that hellish first day. We talked about their fears, and how it held them back, and when I suggested a break, they asked to skip their break to continue the discussion.
That weekend I was scheduled to facilitate the Blue Heron Speaker's Bureau 1st Annual Conference. I had been nervous about this responsibility for several months, but a wave of euphoria swept over me as I realized that I was no longer scared of my role as the facilitator. There was nothing this audience of professional speakers could throw at me that could compare to my first week with kids!
|Spells of Visibility|
|Taking a Vacation from Work|
|Finding Yoga in Chaos & Order|
|The Tao of
|Effort and Grace|
Mind & Body
Back from 10
for the Good
|The Peace Pilgrim|
|Follow Your Bliss|
|Leading by Example|
|Glaciers and Chess|
|The Warrior's Path|
|The Other Person|