Radiance replaces boundaries.

Closer to the beginning of this mulabloga research project I had an experience that I noticed particularly after my yoga practice one Friday. During the practice in a yoga class I had been paying particular attention to what was happening at the very base of my torso: the low belly and below, the lower portion of my pelvis, hips and pelvic floor and slightly above. My awareness was resting here, so perhaps it was a meditation on that.

After class I had a strong revelation that I rushed to get paper and pen (yes I use those tools, too) to write it down.

It seemed so important because it seemed to be an answer to a “problem” I had been pondering over for some years.

I remember having conversations with friends over the years about having boundaries or even “tough skin”. These conversations were important to me because I am sensitive. I feel things people say. Sometimes that hurts.

The image of boundaries had been similar to a fence. A fence around an animal might keep it safe by not allowing predators in. So in conversation just “not allowing those words in” might be a solution if I could create the appropriate boundaries for myself.

At some point this approach seemed futile. Conversations happen in the moment, there just didn’t seem to be appropriate time to think and consider whether certain things should be allowed in or not. (And if I’m aware of it isn’t it already “in” anyway?)

So I started to buy into an image about it that would just allow the words to pass through my space. I couldn’t stop what was being said to me (or around me), but it might not have to stick to my mental space and get stuck there. This seemed more realistic and less harmful to me that the image of “letting words bounce off me”. The words crashing into an “invisible boundary” to bounce off seemed a violent image. I didn’t like the experience of that.

The “letting words pass through” image was more truthful for me at the time I believed it because I felt invisible. At that time, I found myself in my interactions with others—which is one (but only one of the ways) truthful way to find things out about ourselves, I think. But it can also lead to some confusion if we totally base our interpretation of ourselves on what other people are saying to us, and how other people are interacting with us.

People (or societal forces, advertising, peer pressure) can easily control someone who doesn’t know or have confidence in their own sense of self.

So anyway, on that magical day I had awareness about how I was feeling after my yoga practice. I was high as a kite—not unusual. And this time I expected to watch myself come in for a landing, which is why I rushed for the pen and paper.

I realized that the problem wasn’t lacking boundaries. The real problem was lacking a center. I felt that radiance really is the best boundary, in that it is not really a boundary at all. When I feel full, I am not vulnerable. I don’t need to create a wall when I am vibrant and bright.

Radiance of the sun.

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7 Responses to Radiance replaces boundaries.

  1. This really resonates with me, Brooks. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Carol Horton says:

    Actually I do believe that you can learn to radiate your energy out to deliberately create an energetic boundary – seems like essentially the same thing you’re describing. Could also think of it as an amped up aura – sounds really woo woo but there’s a level at which it describes something that you can “see” (not literally, but intuitively) and certainly feel. Sound like a good shift!

  3. This makes so much sense Brooks…when we are full of love and compassion, the words and actions of others, may still hurt but they are less likely to tip us off center. And even if we are tipped one way or another, we know that with lovingkindness equanimity is still possible to return to.

  4. JMAW says:

    I can totally relate to how people said I was too sensitive and it was necessary to have thicker skin. Growing up that challenged me because I often felt misunderstood. As I have grown older, I have learned that the greatest gift that I can give the world is the fullness of who I am and one of my greatest strengths is my willingness to be vulnerable, have an open heart.

    Thank you very much for sharing this piece!

  5. J says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have been struggling with this for a long time too. I have just started yoga practise this year and I feel infinitely better in myself. Thank you for sharing.

  6. J says:

    One of the things I struggled with was why I was bullied and manipulated by some people. I thought I was too sensitive and when I confronted the bullies they told me that I was being too sensitive.However now whenever I feel sensitive I don’t dismiss this feeling anymore , instead I question it and by doing so I discovered that certain people in my life were inadequate. I have learnt to stand up for myself. I started Yoga in January . My practise is enlightening because when I am done I feel whole and happy. It is a feeling that resonates deep within me. This practise is an element of my life that I was missing and now that I have found it, I feel infinitely better. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have learnt a lot through your generosity of sharing your knowledge. Namaste.

  7. Ellen says:

    I absolutely loved this article! It is amazing how a subtle shift in thinking can have a dramatic effect. And it makes perfect sense, when you think about “building a wall” you are still focusing on external events, so still allowing them to control you, because we will never be able to control what comes at us! By concentrating on “strengthening you own core”, you now have a feeling of being more in control, and hopefully, eventually are not even in need of thinking of building a wall. I tend to be sensitive and insecure and after 8 years of being in an abusive relationship I have lost all sense of self …well, I must have a tad. So I think it is something that I will have to just keep working at, I certainly am nowhere near feeling completely secure and confident in myself, but I like to think that it is a goal I can achieve. Thank you for this insightful article.

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