The last article that I wrote on the concept of the Chakras (as developed by the Ancient Hindu system) seemed to provoke a varied response from the reader base, some of them very funny indeed. I quite frankly enjoyed the sense of humor. I also Googled ‘ Naruto’, which is something new to me, so you guys taught me something! Bear in mind, though, that many of the names for modern (seemingly invented) concepts are in fact borrowed from pre-existing knowledge. So, just maybe, the creators of Naruto and other such shows know something that you don’t? Even the more serious or critical comments were in alignment with the purpose of the article. I encourage an interactive experience when I write, so I thank anyone and everyone who takes the time to comment on any of the articles. I really appreciate it. One of the many benefits that you facilitate is the development of the column to fit your needs. This is the perfect segue into the next topic up for examination: that of vulnerability. We all can relate to that, can’t we?
The Courage in Being Vulnerable
Have you ever been disarmed by true, deep vulnerability in someone else? How did it make you feel? If you answer that question honestly, then you will know your own relationship to vulnerability.
Encountering vulnerability in others is disarming because it seems so uncommon. The truth is, it is a human trait that we all share. However, someone who has the self-mastery to embody true vulnerability without giving away their power is usually an inspiration. When things inspire us, it is because they help us to recognize a fundamental truth about ourselves. In this case, it is the reminder of our core identity; that of pure potential.
So, what is vulnerability? It is the choice to show up as your true self even when there is a risk of being hurt or humiliated. This requires the courage to let other people have their own process about what you say or do, and not identify with their response to your situation. For obvious reasons, being vulnerable is very difficult. It is especially hard when you grow up in a small community. Who wants to be the subjective of gossip and criticism? Not one of us.
Then why be vulnerable and risk judgment and pain? Because anyone who has ever put on an act knows that it saps your soul. It may be buried deep, deep down but the discomfort is there. The feeling of being fraudulent that you carry with you when you put up barriers and project untruths is your true Self indicating to you that you are dishonoring her/him. However, when we step into the courage of just telling the truth about our situation, or just admitting our feelings if possible (“I didn’t do my best at that job”, “I felt humiliated and hurt” etc…), there is a relief that vibrates through our system. This is the signal that no matter what the response, we are aligned with our Self.
Another reason to be vulnerable is that it opens up the space for someone else to do so. Strangely, when we take the plunge and reveal our truth it often has the effect of inspiring others to do the same. It may not even be conscious on his/her part but you need to trust that someone in your environment will do or say something which will remind you that they are all-too-human. But you must pay attention. When it happens, honor this person with openness and non-judgment just as you would like to be done for you. This is a clue that you are on the right path.
Sometimes being vulnerable gives us opportunities that we would have missed had we not taken the chance. There is a simple reason for this: when we reveal our gifts as well as our struggles, we create a space for our real needs to be met. How can anyone know that you need help if you pretend that your life is rock solid? If you need to fall apart, then trust your strength enough to do so. It is about trusting the order of life and having a deep, abiding faith in your resilience. If no one ever took the time to tell you, I am going to let you know that you are made of some strong matter.
While I have your attention, let me tell a little secret about myself. Ready? Well, there was a time when I would have run from the opportunity to be so public in my career. I have always been nudged in the direction of addressing groups of people, and whenever I took the chance I always surprised myself. Yet, I would still hesitate if called upon. It was simply fear holding me back; fear of being attacked; fear of failing in front of EVERYBODY. The biggest surprise came when I realized after I put myself out there, that I don’t really care about what people think about what I say. My job is to say it. In this case, my job is to write it. Someone, somewhere needs to hear what I have to say and when they do, I have done my job. So, my point is that vulnerability is part of any true progress.
How do we practice being vulnerable? Paradoxically, you must start from a place of absolute certainty in your power. Being centered is another way of saying that the deepest part of your identity is unshakeable. For those of us who are religious or spiritual, we usually fill this space with knowledge of the God within our self. The next thing, which will seem to contradict the first, is that you must understand that everything in life is subject to change, and let it flow. What is helpful is seeing yourself as the rock within the river. The river being your circumstances, the people, places and things you encounter. You are part of the river, but your core is not affected by its currents. When you know that your essence cannot be swept away by any situation, your self-respect will grow.
I’m going to add something that may seem unrelated, but is actually a key component of vulnerability. That is, laugh at yourself-a lot. I mean, A LOT. When you let self-importance fall away, it is much easier to detach from others’ opinions and reactions. Does that mean that you will never feel the potential pain of being susceptible? Absolutely not. That’s a risk you take, but risk is part of life. Each experience, even the negative ones, is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. I promise you, that practicing real vulnerability will decrease your pain instead of increasing it. You will judge yourself less; you will forgive yourself more; you will surrender more readily and clear a space for the miracles to flood in.
One last thing, if you want a shortcut to experience the type of self-containment that allows you to be in touch with your authentic power, then practice meditation. Learn to still your thoughts and neutralize all the little judgments that inundate your mind regularly. From this awareness, you will feel the freedom to act out of your true nature. Vulnerability is a natural outflow of this deep knowledge. The fear of any lasting damage from anyone else subsides when we anchor our consciousness in stillness. Does this mean that you have to become an all-forgiving, parable-speaking, mantra-chanting guru to be vulnerable? No. Absolutely not. You can start where you are today by just remembering that you owe your life to no fellow human being. It’s that simple. If you need proof, just take the time to observe the sun go about its business and try to recall a time that anything you (or anyone) said, thought or did interfered with the cycle of nature.
It’s an old adage, but it’s true: “The sun will come out tomorrow.”