Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Remember when we were little and we'd get on each other's shoulders in the swimming pool and wrestle until one of us went under? Chicken Fights. I didn't like that game. I don't much care for any contact sports. It really scares me to have anything moving too fast inside my personal bubble space. For me, that's about a foot outside of my body. You have to be moving fast, or flying fast, or buzzing fast for it to alert my senses and send me off running the other direction. But it happens often. Bees, birds, bugs, humans... I don' t like anything moving fast around me. That part of my brain, that "chicken" is named "Turtle." She breathes deeply, moves slowly, and watches things. I like her.
This weekend I found myself chicken fighting in the pool down at the beach with my boyfriend, Rodney, my sister, Libby, my two nephews, Ethan and Brody, and my friend with really strong shoulders and a huge heart, Chrislyn. And guess what?!?!? I've evolved. I LOVED the chicken fights. I'm not ready to put my head inside a bee's nest or anything, but this shows signs of real progress for me and my limited boundaries around what I'm willing and not willing to subject myself to. And even Turtle was happy.
It amazes me how much time we spend protecting ourselves. It's such subconscious behavior, too. We lock all the doors, take our purses with us everywhere we go, get strip searched at the airport, build walls, fences and gated communities. We carry weapons, walk faster when we see anyone who seems "suspicious", and we run away from bees and kill snakes. It's like we're always preparing for some kind of attack, and yet we all know that the chances of that ever happening are really slim. Just like the chance of me getting stung by the red wasp that lazily loops around in front of me are slim, but I still cringe and jerk and often flee the scene. Todd Snider says in a song that fear is "bigger than Elvis Aaron Presley." I think it's bigger than Jesus Christ, Ghandi and the Beatles all rolled into one. It's huge because it's ingrained in us. We are hard wired for survival and self protection, and anything or anyone who threatens that is the enemy. And that concept starts in your brain. My ego, and my chickens, can be my worst enemy. If I am afraid of life, and feel like I'm holding on the side of a cliff by my fingernails everyday, like I did for many years, then FEAR is the very thing controlling my life. FEAR is in the driver's seat. FEAR decides where I go, when and with whom. It decides what job I have because it knows how much money I have to make so that I can feel safe and protected instead of fearful. FEAR keeps you up at night, wondering if you're going to get robbed or if you're going to be able to pay your mortgage next month. FEAR can be subtle, and tell you what you should be wearing so that no one makes fun of you and you fit in, and it can be monumental, and tell you that you are no longer safe in this world, that you will never make it just as you are, and that you will never get out from under it's claws. I know this beast well. I think most of us do.
As I name the different personalities in my brain, my chickens, I realize that the entire coop they're living in should be called "The House of Fear." I can see them peering out from the door of the coop, with the sign hanging over their scrawny little heads. Patty, the big bossy one, is looking up at the sign with her chicken hands in the air balled up into tiny fists saying "I'll show you, Fear. You're not in charge of me," knowing full well that her bossiness is based on her fear of making a mistake. And little Grace, my co-dependent chicken, would be peering out from the bottom of the door, wide eyed, submissive, shaking, saying "Yes, you're right, Jamie. The only way I know to live is with fear walking in front of me, tightly gripping my hand, guiding me through my entire existence." Tomahawk, my victim chicken, who hardly ever moves, would be laying down at the back of the house, looking up at me with one eye, rolling it, and saying "No shit, Jamie." Octavia, the yoga chicken, would have been in Warrior One pose for several minutes, about to collapse, but chanting, "You will never win, Mr. Fear." And Hank, my I-Pod chicken, would be singing "In the Name of Love" by U2, at the top of his tiny chicken lungs, demanding that I resolve this moment of shear terror and report back to my heart immediately.
And so I do. We take our bikes down to the beach for a weekend of relaxation before the new yoga studio opens where I'll be spending my summer sweating, stretching, teaching Bikram's 26 postures and two breathing exercises and loving every minute of it. I get to release any fear I have because the ocean always has this effect on me, and I ride my bike in the sand and let my Turtle chicken breathe as deeply as she possibly can and savor every moment of that warm, salty breeze. Octavia did lots of yoga in the sand, and I let her hang out in a headstand for about 10 minutes while I meditated on the waves, looking at the sky. Here's what came to me:
I commit to living a freer life, without letting FEAR dig it's claws into my tender heart like it used to. I commit to keeping my chickens calm, sending them lots of love everyday, and separating my heart from them, letting her continue to show me the way. I commit to practicing SELF LOVE because the depths of this practice have lead me to a much lighter, more peaceful place. I commit to my own heart. "I do" I say, as if I'm marrying my own heart.
May 1, 2011. Journal entry while sitting on the front porch of the Tarpon Inn with Rodney, after our day of yoga, meditation, family love and chicken fights at the beach: "And God smiles. The angels nod knowingly. The openings only exist when you feel your way through the deepest places of fear and sadness. Then suddenly there is a beat other than that of your own heart. It's the beat of your soul, keeping perfect time with the beat of the Universe. Attach no thought, no words - just feel the energy, the aliveness of everything around you. Move forward, move in, move with me. A seagull swoops by me, and I have no fear of it. Palm trees dance in celebration. The sun lovingly bounces her light off the waves. I soak it up. I am here ONCE in this form I am in, and I choose to dance with her, setting every cell of my body FREE."