Yesterday I spent far too much time on Facebook and twitter defending an opinion and supposedly putting my voice in the world. And despite my informed, textual shouting, as my anger heated up, I felt out of control, ranty and entirely ineffective.
I am fiery by nature. Which means I can be deeply warm-hearted, but I can also get angry. Intensely angry. The kind, that as a little girl, my mother would always try to “calm down.” The kind, that as a young woman, was viewed as too strong. The kind that for so many women has been treated as an eye-rolling problem to be condescended to, covered up, or stroked into “fine,” until ultimately, we do this to ourselves.
Balancing these two forces, which come from the exact same body, has never been easy for me. You could say it’s why I sought out the profession I’m in. How can I effortlessly embody these two energies that seemingly contradict each other? One that is compassionate, understanding, caring, and the other that when it sees something that feels wrong, wants to come out with fists flying, until I make it right.
So I work with this emotional conundrum, a lot. And right now I’m struggling.
The fighter inside of me wants to get up and start swinging. My fists, elbows, knees and legs are twitchy, and then I hear that inner voice, “calm down.” So I trap the rage underneath hardened muscles.
What I feel is entirely incongruent with my surroundings. I am in Bali; the island paradise of surf, spirituality and fun. Where the U.S. elections couldn’t be further from everyone’s reality here. Where in a yoga class the other day, while birds chirped in the background and my gaze floated over rice fields, it was suggested that we do the dance of grace, no matter how challenging. Well, I knocked that dancer’s pose out of the park, but grace? How could that even be possible with the fiery storm I feel inside?
How do I effectively navigate this?
Because until I do, I am stuck moving between a feistiness that serves few and a powerlessness that serves no one. And I wish to serve many.
Many of you might say, just get off of Facebook and Twitter. Stop watching the news. And I’d say, yes, you’re right that would calm something down. But there WILL BE another trigger. Something else will ignite this rage. And I do not want to deny this power I feel inside. I want to embody it and see where it leads me.
Finally, in the throes of adrenalized powerlessness, I closed my computer and went to my body.
My chest was hot and hard. My diaphragm was taut. My belly swirled with a boiling rhythm. My shoulders didn’t move. My neck and forehead were rigidly fixed in place. My throat ached. My legs and hips were non-existent. I felt the silent command in my head, “calm down.” I heard its tone, threatening punishment.
Then, with all of myself, I went further in.
I squeezed the tension a bit more around the heat and the swirl. I rigidly held the muscles of my voice and my action. I intensely told myself to “calm down.” As I deepened this uncomfortable, but known experience, the heat began to flow, from my head to my toes. My breath opened and my muscles let go.
And then I felt the rush of pain. The pain of fiercely wanting something wronged to be righted. The pain from so many times in my past, where I hadn’t been effective. And I simply let it flow throughout my body until the fire wasn’t raging anymore, and there was no more conflict. I got my heart back.
I still have no answers for what is happening now in my country, but this was not my aim. My aim was to stop feeling powerless. And as I said in the beginning, there will be more triggers along the way, so I will have to do this exercise again and again, until this internal conflict doesn’t exist anymore. As I continue to explore these depths, I trust that I will learn to move gracefully with both my anger and my heart, and my body will show me the way.
This way makes me more human; more fully, freely and powerfully human.