Thursday, June 13, 2013

When I grew up...

I live in a college town. There are a lot of students around me. And today, as I was driving down University Avenue, a thought struck me, "I wish I would have grown up sooner." Let me explain. Today, I began feeling like it took me a long time to begin "growing up." To realize that perhaps "growing up" has nothing to do with age, but rather it has to do with my sense of Self.

The age old question of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" has turned into a metaphor for life, in general. No longer a question for kids but rather a question that we all ask and are asked  whether 5 years old or 50 years old. It seems this question signifies the disconnect we feel from our own Self. It represents the confusion we feel about what we need versus what we want. What we used to feel, intuitively, versus what we think. Put more simply, head versus heart. And so, when we are asked,"What do you want to be when you grow up?" we offer a gentle laugh, a roll of the eyes and while we are thinking about the answer our life happens.

I was lucky enough to confidently answer this question as a second grader: I wanted to be a teacher (what I really wanted was to write on the chalk board and being a teacher seemed a logical way to achieve this goal). I idolized my teachers - the people with authority and answers. They told me what to do and how to do it. Then, they praised me for delivering their answers back to them on paper. I liked the security and comfort of a grade, rating my performance and sending me into the next level of learning. I loved the external validation. I began following my head, filling it with facts and figures, strategies for "thinking" and "knowing."

I became a superstar of academics. I studied and studied and studied. I took advanced placement classes in high school. I was given a scholarship for university studies. I chose a major. Then, a minor. Then, I went on to graduate school for my Master of Arts. Then entered a Ph.D. program where I was given full funding and a stipend to live out my second grade dream. And this is where I gave it all up and began answering the questions in my heart rather than the ones in my head. You see, one day I'd fallen asleep in my office while searching through books for answers to questions that weren't mine. (Okay, not just one day - I'd fallen asleep several days in a row while trying to read some research, despite a very large morning coffee with a double shot of espresso). When I woke up my second grade dream was gone.

I am 37 years old (this is our little secret, okay?). I am just now beginning to ask my own questions. Just beginning to listen closely to my heart for answers. I sit quietly, paying attention to the one thing that sustains all life: the Breath. And I realize that, intuitively, I know some things about my Self. This is a daily practice.

And I've come to the conclusion that what I want to be when I grow up is ME.

Sit tall. Sit comfortably. Sit quietly. 
Close the eyes.
Notice your breath.
Begin rubbing the palms together briskly, feeling heat cultivate between the hands. 
Keeping the eyes closed, bring the hands six inches apart. Notice the feeling between the palms.
Bring the palms very close together without touching. Notice the feeling between the palms.
Return the palms to six inches apart and lower the hands in front of the navel. 
On the exhale, send your breath deep into your belly, the Seat of your Self. 
On the inhale, send your breath to your Heart, the harbor of compassion. 
Begin connecting your Self to you Heart.
Feel here for questions. Feel here for answers.

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