Friday, October 14, 2016
At Home in Our Hearts
Recently I was in Anaheim for a few days to attend the International Plant Based Conference for Health Professionals. It was awesome. Not only did I learn a ton and see my heroes in person but I was surrounded by vegans! And not just vegans but vegan doctors, no less.
Each meal was served at a table of 10 or so people and the conversations were fabulous. I enjoyed learning how people put nutrition counseling into their practices along with how the plant-based diet has affected their own lives. I was in my element and felt like my true self.
A while back I mentioned to a friend that if I ever got a tattoo I might want it to say, "let your freak flag fly". I elaborated on what it meant to me and he said to me that I didn't need a tattoo to remind me to be my true self. He stated that I seemed to be already doing that. It pleased me that he thought so, but inside, I felt that my real self often struggles to be free.
Another conference I attended last month was in Las Vegas and was put on by Kaiser for Ob Gyns. A number of fellow San Diego Kaiser people were there. I knew many but none were close to me. My close friend from Northern California didn't show up until the second day. That first day I felt awkward and unhappy. I felt unseen and alone. I was away from my family and my safe place.
I sometimes feel like everyone else is great friends but I am on the outside. I felt like this at school when I was young, sometimes now when out with groups of friends, with colleagues at work, at church events or in big family gatherings.
Now don't get me wrong. Sometimes I feel very close and connected. But it interests me when I don't. Certainly, it happens much more in group environments. I typically try to avoid those. Why any one would want to go to a big party full of near strangers I have no idea. But then again, why not? If you truly feel comfortable and happy with yourself, does that make group activities easier and actually fun?
When you can't be your authentic self it is hard to feel like you belong. One of my teachers writes, " Caring what others think of us leaves us not at home." I am not sure if this sense of isolation in a group is caused by my concern of what others think. But, it is possible, for it happens more often when I am with people I perceive dislike me or with people I don't particularly like myself.
Another teaching that hits home for me is "the self can not fix the self". So, perhaps there is not an answer my brain can find to fix this feeling of separateness.
"Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non peace your non peace becomes transmuted to peace" writes Sharon Salzberg. I do know it helps to accept myself in whatever moment I am in: the happy, lovely moments and the bored, lonely, anxious moments.
"Anything you accept fully will get you to peace. This is surrender." from Salzberg again. I believe this acceptance comes not from our minds but from our hearts. And in this wholehearted acceptance lies true freedom.