You Belong With The Gods

Last week I got really flustered and frustrated right before I needed to execute at a very high level (I mean what other level is there…?). It was some unexpected news from a vendor on a project I’d been working on for a while.  My throat started to close up. That’s what happens when I get frustrated. And by frustrated, I mean angry, but I suppose I’m trying to make myself sound dignified. So let’s be real; when I get angry my throat gets tight.

Anyway, there I am in a situation I can’t fix having a reaction that isn’t helping during a time when I need to be getting myself in the best possible headspace to do my job.

We have all been there, yes?

I controlled it, and please stay with me because I swear I will ground this in reality by the end of this piece, by pulling back from the first-person seat in the moment. I moved out of the situation I was reacting to and out of the body that was responding physically. I looked down at myself and I thought “well ok, she (meaning insecure, reactive, victim-me) clearly needs to freak out right now but I (meaning connected, unstoppable, elevated-me) need to find a place that’s calm. All the triggers that my body was experiencing:  the “I didn’t do enough” knot in the gut, the “I’m in danger” squeeze of the throat, the “I’m gonna fail” ringing in the ears, those were still happening in my body. But there was somewhere else I could go. And I could sit very comfortably there, very peacefully. As I allowed those tight, fear-driven physical reactions to pass, I remained cool and connected to the loose and expansive omni-awareness I knew would optimize my performance. I was about to do what I do best, and I didn’t belong on the ground, I belonged with the gods.

So I got to thinking… When you’re in the middle of a race (or any other kind of performance) and you’re getting a little too close to the edge, can you pull out of the suffering and the excuse making, distractable, ground-self and connect to the elevated one? Can you, if you’ve prepared well, observe, unruffled, in focused awe as your body does its thing? Researchers call it ‘fragmented self-talk’ when you talk to yourself using the ‘you’ instead of the ‘I’. When you don’t say, “I’ve got this,” but instead you say “you’ve got this, Marina.” It’s a pretty tricky topic to study but some have tried, and what they came up with is, in situations requiring resolve and discipline, we tend you use the ‘you’ voice. They suggested the speaker was the voice of an authority figure like a parent. The NIH study is here if you’re into it.

I love that we’re studying this at all, and I acknowledge it’s probably really hard to get conclusive data on this matter, but I think the “you” speaker is still me. It’s just the elevated me. You know there’s more than one ‘you’ in there, right? Like, ok, notice something about your mood right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Take a moment, turn your eyeballs 180 degrees inward and look at what’s going on from the other side of the skin. Once you’ve done that, notice yourself noticing the mood. Realize that you’re looking at yourself. You see how you just had to pan out a little? You had to pull out of the immediate space you’re in to be able to see that space.

 So there’s a part of you that is how you are but there’s also a part of you that can simply behold how you are. And that second part, that’s the elevated you, that part that knows this little stress little trigger little hiccup is temporary and that you don’t have to be subject to it. That part is unaffected. She’s expansive and she’s chill, and she’s worth her weight in gold(s). I call that the frictionless place. The place with no argument. The place that lets it pass. The easy way because it’s just drama and there’s always more where that came from so why bother. I go there when I teach, when I write, and when I’m in stroke seat. And if you can get comfortable with that view, more comfortable than you are with your excuses and your triggers and your reasons why not, you can go there whenever you want.

I met a woman in the Galapagos named Reyna (who owns the fabulous Montemar tortoise preserve) and she told me about a 10-day silent meditation retreat she’d been on. She’s sitting there in her bazillionth hour of meditation, and her knee starts throbbing and she’s dealing with it as best she can but at some point she has to ask the meditation teacher what she should do. He puts his hand on her shoulder and he says, “it’s not your pain.” She pulled back and went to the elevated self, and it wasn’t anymore. When you’re trying to get something done, something that speaks so fully to who you are and you what you’re here for that you’re truly doing the lord’s work, you don’t belong on earth; you belong with the gods.

Come practice. If you read this far, you’re in it. It doesn’t have to have worked to be working. It’s working, so keep going. And I’m in it with you. Xoxo, m