Yesterday morning I walked outside into a diamond-studded world. Every blade of grass and every twig and brown leaf was glittering. I smiled “out loud.” Milt came out of the house to see what I was smiling about, and we stood together and looked at the shining world.
I went off to do my morning session and a song was playing in my head. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Suddenly the lyrics changed and I heard, “This little self in me, I’m going to let her shine.” In my mind, several separate events clicked together, and I realized something important about me. I keep a part of me in the shadows.
Last summer when I presented at the Chrysalis retreat, I felt so safe with those women that I opened up fully like a flower in the sunshine. My smile was bigger, my heart was bigger—everything was bigger. Then a few weeks ago I was editing a film that was made of me presenting at a workshop at Back to Basics last January–it was an experience to be watching and editing my own face. (A person should always think twice about doing something like this!) It was as if I was watching two totally different Jamie Lees. One kept herself damped down—I could see it in my face, especially my mouth—and another part emerged fully with a light in her eyes, a fully engaged presence, and a bright smile. Wow, I thought, look at that. I wonder what it is that makes me want to hide my light, to hide in the shadows.
I was talking to Milt about it yesterday and realized that I have a very old fear of appearing too out there or appearing foolish. I’m not sure where this fear comes from but I can feel that “she” is very young. Don’t be too spontaneous, don’t make any sudden moves, don’t do anything that would seem foolish, don’t risk humiliation.
On Sunday I turned 59. I had a fabulous birthday party that included family, friends, fire, food, fun, (this is a lot of ‘F’s’ isn’t it?) and music. Once again I felt safe and out there, free to enjoy every moment fully without a secret fear pushing me back into a shell.
I don’t think I’m alone in this pattern. Maybe we all have a part of us that pulls back, somehow afraid of being made fun of or of appearing foolish or silly or stupid. What wonderful things does it stop us from doing? What risks do we not take because of where it might lead? What things do we say or not say for fear of not pleasing the right people? What part of us is ever watchful of how we might be perceived rather than fully present and engaged in each wonderful moment?
Well, I have decided that at 59 years old, if I don’t let my light shine fully now, then when? So I am going to practice opening up. I’m not sure what that means, but for starters it means using my eyes and my mouth more, as in seeing and smiling more. And as in every new pattern we wish to install, it begins with practice. Yesterday at Perkins I actually looked at complete strangers and smiled at them with both my eyes and my mouth. They looked a little surprised at first, and then pleased, and then they smiled back. What a simple practice this could be.
I remember once, when I was teaching at Oglala Lakota College, I was walking down the hall in one of the centers and a woman walked past. I smiled at her. She stopped me in the hall and said, “You really smiled at me, didn’t you.” I was a little confused, but then she said, “It reached me all the way to my heart.”
That is a smile.
Milt’s Jin Shin Jyutsu master, Mary Burmeister, used to tell all her students that a first movement toward balance is to “drop the shoulders and be the smile.” I once had the great privilege of having a treatment with this master of her art. She said nothing to me during the treatment; I guess I wanted some words of wisdom, so when we were done I asked her if she had any advice for me. She smiled and said only, “You should have a lot of fun with this body.”
I had the oddest experience following that treatment. Wherever I went, I would look at people’s faces and I knew them. Of course I didn’t know them, and yet I had the immediate sense of recognition that you get when you see a good friend—and this was in a whole airport or restaurant full of people. I loved this feeling and was sad when it faded away a couple of weeks later.
Why don’t we all make ‘drop the shoulders and be the smile” a simple practice a part of our daily lives? I’m ready to open up . . . to other people, to possibilities, to new friends, to new patterns. If not now, when?
Invite others to open up and “be the smile” by sharing this post with them. You can subscribe to my weekly bits in the box below. Each week I get more subscribers, and I extend a special smile to them from here to wherever they are. I also want to send a smile to all the people on the east coast who are recovering from this storm and a special heart smile to my friends Rita S. and Marilyn N. who are going through hard times with losing a spouse.
For those of you who are not familiar with Jin Shin Jyutsu, here is a link to their site. http://jsjinc.net/pagedetails.php?id=jsj&ms=8
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