Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. ~Oscar Wilde
For a long time, I’ve struggled internally, as most of us do I believe. I’d call it an identity crisis, of sorts. The last few years have been filled with lesson after lesson about life – who I was, what I wanted out of life and what I thought I knew. Working in primary health care required training in the traditional medical model of the modern world; evidence-based, science-based, ‘show me the proof’ mentality. My complete trust and belief in this system started to shift in the last few years, though my suspicion is that it happened when I first experienced acupuncture that ‘cured’ me of my eczema. But the biggest shifts started four years ago after attending my very first real yoga class. Real meant I made it into a studio instead of watching a yoga VHS tape. “Focus on your base chakra, its red…see if you can sense which way its spinning…”, my teacher said. All I could think was what is a chakra, but there was something about it that really intrigued me. Immediately after class I approached her and asked where I could learn more about this stuff. After my first book, I was hooked. Something deep inside resonated with this energetic system. It made sense. I didn’t question it. There was no ‘science’ or double blinded trials. It still made sense. I still didn’t question it.
Fast forward to today, THE day I decided to ‘come out of the closet’ at the monthly meetings I have with fellow dietitians at work. There comes a point in the meeting where we do a roundtable – everyone shares what’s going on in their practices, conferences coming up, clinical queries, and anything personal they want to share. In the last year I struggled with having to be a sensible Western minded evidence based healthcare professional at work, but deep down I embraced this system of healing from Eastern traditions so fully and passionately. The most stifling part about this was not being able to talk about, feeling terrified that I’d be judged if someone found out.
Fortunately, the last year and a half has been one of accelerated personal growth and deeper self-awareness. ‘Becoming who I really am’ as they say, bit by bit. Something in me this morning as I prepped for the meeting said, “its that time”, today is the day I’m going to share a huge part of me that I’d buried in any situation where I didn’t feel safe enough to. I grabbed my pen and added ‘EM’ (my short form for Energy Medicine) beside the ‘personal’ on my agenda. Deep breathe.
The meeting attendance was much smaller and the room was a little darker than usual; this for some reason made me feel good. I walked by a fellow RD reading the back of her shirt. ‘Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone’. I welcomed this message as a gentle nudge and affirmation to go ahead as planned. As we rounded the table and it came close to my turn to share I could feel the usual pounding in my solar plexus (I wonder sometimes if its my heart dropping and trying to escape through there and avoid pain). “And, I’m also studying energy medicine which is based on more Eastern philosophy. If you’d like to hear more about it, feel free to ask me. That’s it for me”, I blurted out quickly.
After the meeting as we all sat down for some delicious Indian food, Anne (who’s t-shirt I’d read) asked, “So Jen, tell me more about this energy medicine, I’d like to hear about it.” This opened up into a beautiful conversation about my journey, energy medicine, bridging East and West in healthcare, and the challenges I faced on a day-to-day basis in an environment that doesn’t welcome other schools of thought around health. As I spoke I could feel a weight lift off of me, and my body ‘sighed’.
Today I became my own ‘life coach’. Much of what I have written below is not new to me, or you, but there’s power in repetition. So this is what I would tell myself after today:
- It’s not all about you; what will they think, they might judge me, this will embarrass me – by not sharing you may be depriving those around you of an experience, an ‘aha’ moment, and maybe most importantly depriving the world of the real YOU. We are all teachers and lifelong learners should you so choose. Masquerading around to suit the different roles you play day to day is withholding a potentially valuable lesson YOU have to share.
- Stop caring what everyone else thinks – everyone thinks through their personal filters, and its okay if theirs is a different colour than yours is.
- Get UNcomfortable – the rewards of taking a scary leap (I suggest keeping your eyes open) are greater than the discomfort and fears that only last a few seconds of your life.
Living congruently, heart and head in cahoots. Say what I need to say. I plan to keep practicing this more, and masquerade less.
Why? A heart that is content, a mind that is at peace, and a soul living out its purpose will help cultivate a thriving body.
ASK YOURSELF –
- Where in your life are you misaligned?
- Do your thoughts, words, and actions contradict each other?
- Do you say “yes” when you really want or need to say “no”?
Ie. Maybe you’re a nurse, but would rather be a musician. Maybe you always say ‘I’m good’ when asked how you are, when you’re really feeling awful.
Take some time today to reflect. Notice day to day where you’re not being honest with yourself, and with others. Maybe you’ll notice how infrequently you are honest.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~Dr. Seuss