23 Sep My God that is embarrassing!
Feminine painted nails, ready for party!
Have you ever felt that you almost wanted to die because you just made a fool of yourself in public? Or maybe you have avoided going up to someone simply because you did not dare? My teachers have said that one of the most powerful spiritual practices you can do is what we call Embarrassment Practice. The Ego HATES feeling stupid. If you did not have the fear-driven ego, why would you care if someone laughed at you or thought you were weird? We are so afraid of things that are not really dangerous at all. For example, many people are nervous of speaking in public. They start sweating, shaking and get red in the face. The body prepares for fight or flight but honestly – where’s the danger? It’s just our thoughts that come to us, that it would be a disaster if we forget the words, but obviously it is not true. Life goes on, people do not bother anywhere near as much about you as you think – everyone is busy thinking about themselves. Even if the newspapers would write about it, quickly it becomes yesterday’s news.
Imagine instead a life where you did not care one bit about what others thought about you. I do not mean that we should be arrogant, that’s just ugly and stupid. No, I point to the opportunity to be completely free to do what feels right for you, all the time. Seriously, what kind of life is it constantly trying to live up to others’ expectations and perhaps not even knowing what our own secret longings are? It is for this reason I do my Embarrassment Practice. If I get an urge to do something and at the same time hear a voice say that tell me I do not dare, I generally force myself through this resistance. The result is that rather than feeling small and ashamed afterwards, instead I discover that I have grown as a person. I have friends who have long lists of embarrassing activities and some of them even go out in Stockholm and other cities to act them out together. Scary of course, but certainly fun as hell too.
It is Friday in Ubud in Bali and I get the idea to kill two birds with one stone. A tantric practice I have is to explore more of my feminine side. Both men and women have a feminine and a masculine side. So tonight on Ecstatic Dance I’ll come dressed as a girl! Sober as any other in this town of course. I am getting dressed in the bathroom and feel pretty and girly. I love that energy! I dare not to be too challenging so I put on my foot-long black skirt, a black tank top, necklace and black eyeliner around the eyes. I repeat my spiritual teacher’s words to pep myself, “Who is it that cares?” I feel both excited and shy when I go out to Josefine in the kitchen, but she lights up and exclaims, “How cool you look! What fun to go to the dance with you when you look like that!” Thank God for that, exactly what I needed.
I drive my motorcycle to the Yoga Barn and certainly, the Balinese look curiously at me where we stand next to each other at intersections. But most of them smile, no one laughs at me. As I approach the dance floor I get a little nervous again. It is more vulnerable to dress like this among ordinary people, compared to if I’m in some event with my tantric friends, where everybody is used to it. But what the hell, I said to myself, “it’s just a bit of women’s clothing and makeup. Nothing they haven’t seen before. What’s the deal?” I take a few steps onto the dance floor with a shy but genuine smile and begin to move to the music. It takes no more than a few minutes before I completely let go of all feelings of discomfort. I did my thing and people seemed to appreciate it and smiled at me, I even got a few compliments. Some guys looked a little skeptical, but I did not actually care. What a relief!
These clothes evoked a totally different feeling in me. I felt more feminine, vulnerable, soft and beautiful. Step by step I make myself more free in my life, expanding my comfort zone. I can recommend this practice. So, dear readers, how much fun do you think it is to spend time with people who take themselves too seriously and how seriously do you see yourself? What limits you in your desire to live your dream life? Why not examine what makes you embarrassed to see how brave you really are.