As I sit here and work on this new blog post, I hear the rain drip drip outside the windows of my studio. Apang (actually a raw ache) in my heart pulls me back to the email I read from avaaz.org earlier this morning about the Syrian government’s crackdown on the Arab Spring and the innocent people being murdered daily. Another image, of the film trailer I posted on the Loving Inquiry Facebook page from the idproject.com by filmmaker Tiffany Schlain called CONNECTED, about how we are being impacted by the internet’s hold on us.
Meanwhile, I effortfully make my way in the world with my business today, answering emails, planning new products and services, connecting with women who are doing similar work both online and on the island where I live.
Yesterday afternoon, after I said goodbye to the group of women who were here at my studio for their weekly heartrepreneurs group, I felt a relief, and a sadness. For two hours we had talked about their business ideas, where their hearts, and art was leading them, what needs their customers or clients have, and what seeds of their work were planted earlier in their lives. We had engaged in a process of deep reflection and imagination as each of them takes courageous step after step toward building their unique heartrepreneurial vision. And yet I was excited to have my studio back to myself when they were gone.
I am afraid to write that. It takes a lot of energy to work face-to-face with others, holding the space for their journeys, as I continue to walk my own. The balance is precarious. It is a constant give and take, a balancing, like the body in tree pose. The foot on the floor steady one moment, standing leg solid, raised leg poised and gracefully bent. Then the sole shifts, standing leg quivers, arms flail to the sides, and the bent leg curves out, or in. If I can stay present through the movement, everything will change again. Perhaps the sole relaxes and the legs steady and settle again into stillness. Or they fall over and I have to start again.
Many of us have been sold an idea of what business is supposed to look like. Close your eyes and imagine someone in business standing in front of you. What do you see? Is it a “man” in a suit with a briefcase? Or is it a woman making cut-throat business deals, ambition in her eyes, greed and anxiety in her heart?
I continue to challenge both these stereotypes, and several others, while going about the daily task of building my business as a writer, teacher, mentor and speaker. I truly believe there is another way of creating what I want and taking care of myself in the world. However, because that way is still unfolding, I can’t always rely on what I already know to get through it. And I still sometimes hear old voices telling me that what I am doing doesn’t matter, isn’t what I REALLY want to do, or won’t measure up to what others are doing.
The “violence” of my thoughts mirrors the violence in Syria, and the striving for connection, the film urging us to sign a new declaration of “interdependence”. When I founded the Centre for Loving Inquiry, I thought of myself as an interdependent scholar, translating the work of my PhD into teachings and offerings that would speak to a broader audience outside of the academy. I had been worn down by always having to justify my thinking with others’ cited words. Not that I don’t appreciate the value and mentoring of others. I do, and I also recognize that all my thoughts are products of so many connections and conditions, that it is quite awkward to try to pin down exactly who inspired them and when.
All of our thinking, and feeling, and hearing, and seeing is constantly being fed by images, sounds, memories, ancestral histories and cultural webs of meaning and belief. We are so interwoven with others, through and through. Sometimes that can feel overwhelming, and we need to retreat, to come back inside and remember our deepest intentions for why we are offering what we do. Then when we have found that place of courage and authentic being, we can move out into the world again, with our gifts and the renewed strength to share them.
Both the turning in, and the moving out are interdependent aspects of the same process of living. And of business development. Perhaps this is the new paradigm I am aspiring to: cultivating the awareness to know where I am in the cycle of giving and receiving and the permission to accept that part of the cycle, to honour it and experience it fully.
I had given for two hours to benefit the journey of these beautiful women, and I was ready to receive the benefits of my own solitude once they were gone. Now that I see this, I can honour the sadness, and the relief as indications of a need within me to turn inward, to recede into being. Fortunately I had a dance class last night that nourished me profoundly and dove me back into my body’s sensual wisdom. This morning’s meditation equally offered repair and renewal, enough to invite the silence and space I needed to write this blog post now.
Are you aware of the cycles of your giving and receiving? Have you made them a part of your business vision? What do you need in this moment to restore some balance? May we all know the joy of inner and outer fulfillment, and benefit from the interdependence of our own and others’ lives.