Archives For vulnerability

 “Prayer is joyous breathing, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer.” Andrew Murray

Recently I participated in a sweat lodge and was invited to pray out loud with witnesses. I found myself feeling very exposed by allowing others to hear my conversation with the Divine.  For as long as I can remember I have had a private inner-conversation with God. In my mother’s home this was cultivated and encouraged. We had permission to pray in a natural way.  Mom shared by example the sense of relief, healing and support we can experience through prayer.

Although I have this easy natural prayer life, I have been hesitant to show this side of myself to others.  Prayer has been so intimate for me that praying out loud was like being naked in front of strangers.

Part of the fear of revealing my prayer life has been fear of judgment.  Fear that outside of religious organizations, prayer is shunned or seen as weird, uncool.  Prayer is vulnerable. Through it we are revealing our needs and desires in the most intimate way.  Yet prayer is our strength.  It helps us grow a sense of greater certainty with our inner-guidance.

When I am struggling with anything in my life and finally pause to converse with the Divine about my struggles I find immediate relief.  There is a shift in the tension I’ve been carrying, a sense of support from the universe, even if nothing has changed in the outside circumstances.  Often the outside circumstances do change once I have surrendered the outcome.  And at a minimum I feel my perception of the circumstances changes.  I feel less stuck.

When I’m stuck in a space of stress it is hard to see clearly for myself.  It’s hard to see all my options or a way out.  I unconsciously have given my power away to some situation or circumstance that feels bigger than me. It is in the simple act of prayer, sharing my heart with the Divine, that the breakthrough comes. Light shines into the darkness and helps me see clearly again.

Yet even with a lifetime practice of inner prayer I still forget to pray.  It generally is when life is most challenging that I go long periods without remembering to ask for Divine support, without surrendering my will to the will of the Divine.

So I encourage you to pray. Regardless of your belief system, this conversation with a Higher Power is transformational. It frees us from our burdens.  It clears space in our heart and mind so we can see the answers and hear our inner-voice.

Breathe in the breath of the universe. Breathe out your prayers of gratitude and requests for support from the Divine.

I was reminded of the power of vulnerability at my book group this month. One woman shared a perceived failure, a self-judged imperfection and we all relaxed more deeply into our Self. The energy of the room opened up and became more connected. We each saw ourselves reflected, in the quiet moments where we are alone with our inner voice. We reached out to comfort the Self we saw in her. We held her with more compassion than we might hold ourselves.

We spend an immense amount of unconscious energy holding up the identity that we feel safe letting others see. The curious thing is that when we share our challenges, the less than shiny aspects of ourselves in healthy relationships, instead of activating the judgment of others, it invites them to love us more. They receive a signal that their own rough edges will be loved too. Suddenly there is new found safety in being a full-spectrum human being.

We all have experiences we count as failures, imperfections, things that don’t turn out the way we’d hoped, relationships, situations that got messy and we mired around in the muck. We weren’t our best. We should have known better, is what we tell ourselves. And we have periods of crisis that feel like about as much as one soul can handle, whether it’s external circumstances or an internal battle that stresses our life to the max.

Yet we still have to show up in our life. We can’t permanently take a vacation from everything and everyone to avoid being seen in the midst of it. The rough spots in the road of life evoke a deep sense of vulnerability. How much do we have to prop-up the Self that is doing “just fine,” or “great,” to the world while struggling in private?

It’s in the poop, the dirty, imperfect parts of our life that we learn the most. It busts us open and helps us grow. The discomfort stretches us. But unless we are a chronic complainer that drains the energy of everyone around with our misery, we generally hide these challenges from most of the world or save them for our closest loved ones. There is a reason for this. Our closest loved ones have established a known level of safety. We can live a richer life by allowing deeper vulnerability with more people in our lives. It literally shifts the energy of every future moment.

Our intuition helps us tune-in to supportive places and relationships in our lives to reveal our challenge. Simply giving a short but honest answer to the stranger who asks, “How are you?” allows them to admit their own full spectrum of emotion to themselves and have a better day with the relief of it… “It’s been a rough day but I’m hanging in.” This isn’t about dumping your shit on others, rather allowing the truth of you to be seen by another in a way that allows you both to relax into the present moment rather than faking it. This is how the poop gets beautiful. It’s the real, the true and the authentic Self revealed. The most beautiful state of existence.