Calm-voiced and Fiery
I had an article I was going to publish for this Sunday, but I decided to take a detour. This decision was made after I talked to my friend Adrian. (I encourage all to read her informative and heart-felt explorations on PTSD.) During our call, we touched on the idea of truthfulness in our writing and how important that is to both of us.
As for me, I am hyper-aware when listening to my audio meditations and essays on the topics I explore that it’s easy to assume I’m always gentle and soft-spirited. Though that is a true side of who I am, I’m also quite fiery. Ask my family.
What is important to impart is that I had a long journey to guide the fire in me to support the calm I now am able to call upon. The voice you hear took many years to unveil. I don’t believe I created the calm and serenity that is a part of me—I cultivated it by shedding layers of unsettled mind, or unhealthy habitual patterns of the mind. I have come far, and I have far to go.
I view the fire-spirit that is a part of me to be both nature and conditioning. I’m the middle child of three girls. And I took on that role, almost to a laughable degree, which means I’m the peace-maker, and the one who can’t decide if she wants to be the boss or the one who wants to be taken care of. According to a book on birth order, a middle child is a vexing conundrum. Well, that’s both hilarious and not so nice! Maybe that is why, in part, my intense energy was easily encouraged as it bounced from one extreme to another.
The extremes often lead me to consider myself to be as a cheetah—I can sprint at warp speed, but only for short periods. I embrace my cheetah spirit with all its intense blasts of energy, but if I don’t keep my eye on its run, its blessings flip over to a curse. This intense side must be anchored, so it doesn’t run beyond my sight, and I do so with study and meditation practice. If I don’t, my anxiety surfaces as a tsunami and I lose my seat in the eye of the tornado. When I’m grounded, my intensity is a blessing because it allows me to dive deep into those things which pull on my consciousness, it allows me to focus on my work, and it allows me to love so deeply the ones that are dear to me.
I also gravitate to a poetic and gentle nature. I used to spend hours as a young child in my treehouse writing poetry and stories. And as a lonely teenager, I poured my sensitivity into piano and art, neither to a high degree of mastery. The lack of excellence didn’t matter however, as those creative outlets were my first experiences into exploring the inner world, which became the ground for unveiling the calm inside my heart.
The point is, I’m both fire and gentleness. Both aspects dance inside, taking turns who leads. Guiding, or grounding, the fire inside by the teachings of my Buddhist practice in order to benefit my life’s intention has allowed the dance to be graceful and no longer so jagged and disrupting. The fire complements the gentle and vice versa… well most of the time.
Why share this?
I don’t want to not mislead anyone, giving the impression that only calm-voiced people are destined for peace. Calm-voice me is real, as well as intense-voice me. In fact the intense side gave me the focus to be able to stabilize my calm side, which has always called with her gentle song.
Intense-voice is not the best vehicle for sharing, as it easily shuts down the willingness to listen with the heart to oneself, and I believe the ability to listen to one’s heart is vital for awakening peace inside. This is why I allow gentleness to guide the offerings while I share what I’ve found to be extraordinarily helpful for many of my students and me to better know peace. It would break my heart if someone came across a meditation and thought, “I’m not calm. This is not for me”.
When I first began meditation, I lasted twenty seconds before I felt I wanted to jump out of my skin. Now, I can sit with ease for long stretches of time. I never imagined that would be me, the woman who can meditate.
If I can settle my mind while not losing my nature, you can, too.
If you are a more easy-going spirit where nothing rattles you much, then your challenge is not jumping out of your skin at the beginning of cultivating a meditation practice, but drooping into a meditative lethargy. On the other side of that coin, if you are more fiery-spirited, then your challenge is closer to what mine was—a mind that jumps from one thing to another, like a drunk monkey, or several monkeys in a brawl! Yet, both challenges are just that, challenges. And they do not, and can not, deter your journey to your calm state if you have decided to unveil your inherent peace.
The beautiful thing is, our calm already exists. You do not have to create it. If it didn’t already exist, how could we discover it? How could we cultivate it? Inside a flower seed is a flower, and inside the seed of our awareness is wisdom and compassion, which bears fruits of peace and joy.
It is our noble work to unveil the calm, so we live in more peace and joy, both for ourselves and for all others. This is compassion in action.
I have included a recent watercolor I did of a gorilla because I’ve been in love with these beautiful beings since I can remember, and they so often display a serenity that can belie their immense fortitude. Quite possibly, they were amongst my first teachers.
Thank you for joining me on this detour. I hope it was helpful, either with your relationship to what I present, or simply gaining a bit more clarity on who is behind the voice you hear.
May the dance of serenity and fire for us all stabilize in a perfect, unshakable balance, both at the ready to lead without hesitation when their time is called.
I send you light and love,