THE ART OF ALIGNMENT
I recently stood on a stage, in front of an audience, and gave a presentation about wellbeing. Not once during my presentation did I think about being swallowed up by the ground beneath me and disappearing.
That may sound a little ridiculous, to think about being swallowed up by the earth while giving a presentation. But for me this used to be a normal thought – part fear, part desire. You see for several years I used to live in absolute fear of public speaking. During this time I also spoke in public. It was a fairly confusing and terrifying time.
‘Feeling the fear and doing it anyway’ may have been a strategy I employed, and sure it got me on the stage, but 'feeling the fear and doing it anyway' felt counter intuitive. Before, and I don’t just mean moments before, but days and weeks before giving a speech or presentation I would be freaking out. This feeling didn’t disappear once I got off the stage. It was like a part of me, my ‘inner me’, was always on edge, worried that just around the corner might be another public speaking moment. I wasn't just scared of public speaking, I lived in fear of public speaking.
This inner part of me couldn’t understand why I would keep doing the thing that it believed might kill me. Death by public speaking…Extreme? Yes. Irrational? Definitely. But, real? Well, it sure felt like it. It was as if a scared, anxious child was within me and I just kept ignoring her, pushing her away. And what happens when you ignore children who are feeling not ok, who are scared and who are trying to get your attention? They self soothe, apologise for the commotion they have caused and then calmly get on with a new activity, never to bother you again, right?
Public speaking nightmares haunted me in my sleep. I would often cry just thinking about speaking in public and I would vomit. Oh how I would vomit. Sometimes the feeling of being sick was so extreme I would have to hold onto the towel rack in the bathroom to stop myself from hurling my body through the wall. This throwing up routine became a bit of a running joke, but when I vomited on my friend's hair, it kind of stopped being funny.
I may have been able to stand in front of a group of people and speak, but it didn’t feel good, and I don't believe life is meant to feel bad. My fear of public speaking also didn’t make others feel that good either. A coach once shared how he felt uncomfortable watching a video of me giving a presentation because of how scared I seemed.
I had a choice, I could never again speak publicly or I could find a way to feel better doing it. Based on the work I do, public speaking was always going to be a part of it, so I made the choice to feel better. In my, at times desperate attempts to 'face my fear', I attended public speaking courses, read books, hired a speaking coach, had a few hypnotherapy sessions and even tried beta blockers. None of these things made a difference for me, in fact some of them actually made the experience a whole lot worse.
Turns out I am not the only one that can relate to the fear of public speaking.
Did you know that public speaking is the most common fear we humans have?
The official term for fear of public speaking is called, ‘glossophobia’ and apparently it affects 3 out of 4 of us. I was determined to free myself from 'glossophobia'. The first thing that had to change was to stop listening to other people and their ideas about how I could 'fix' my fear. I had to start to truly listen to myself. This is what I heard.
There are no external solutions for internal experiences.
The ‘solution’ must come from within.
I didn’t want to wear a mask or play a character.
I didn’t want any 'tricks of the trade', because tricks lose their trickery.
I wanted to find a way to feel good and to be myself, on and off the stage.
This is what led me to alignment.
Alignment is lining up with, getting into formation with, your true self, the Universe, Spirit / Source (whatever word works for you). It is a practiced experience that connects you to you. Alignment is an inside-out experience. You come into alignment internally and as a result you show up in the world differently. Alignment is flowing and flexible. It is effortless. It is the place of inner ease. Alignment is what set me free, and allowed me to be me. I discovered, that from a place of alignment anything is possible, even public speaking.
So how do you know you are aligned? It’s like your mind goes offline, you notice thoughts but they pass through. They are neutral, they don’t have the power to influence you emotionally. You feel present. You feel so present it’s almost like you are not even aware you are present until the moment has passed and you can reflect back and say, ‘wow, I was so present just then.’ Most importantly, you feel good. Not the kind of good when you see that the latest episode of your favourite show has been uploaded onto Netflix good but good in your mind, body and Spirit.
You feel like the essence of you.
Getting into alignment is now all I do to prepare for public speaking or facilitate a retreat. Sure I might have some notes or slides but no longer are they things I hide behind. And side note, since discovering alignment, I have stopped vomiting on my friends.
Here are my two top tips for aligning:
1. Explore ways to reach the feeling of alignment. Find your ‘vehicle’ that can transport you to alignment. Something that can guide your focus inwardly and bring you to you.
Play and explore what works for you. There are heart-focused breathing techniques you can try, or guided meditations. You could also use a technique such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) or Reiki. Music may also work for you. My go to is listening to Abraham Hicks (below are two links to what I listen to).
Once you are floating in the feeling of alignment (you will feel blissful, flowing, expansive, peaceful) allow yourself to sit quietly, even just for a few minutes and soak it in.
2. Alignment is not a one time thing. It’s not that you find alignment and then ‘ta-da’ you are forever aligned. This is a moment to moment, life long practice. So practice, ideally daily.
Do what works for you. You make be a 'same time, same place each day' type of person or you may prefer the 'whenever, wherever it feels like' type approach.
Practice for 15-20 minutes.
While you are practicing, it might look like you are meditating, or sitting quietly. Your eyes will probably be closed and your breathing might be slower, deeper. You might like to keep a journal of your practice experiences.
The key is to practice when you are not feeling fearful, or triggered. Your practice builds your capacity for alignment so when you need to call on it, you can. Just like how you might work out your biceps at the gym three times a week for 6 months. Getting stronger with each session. Then one day you are at the train station and someone is struggling to carry their suitcase up the stairs and you, with your strong biceps, offer to help and are able to whisk their luggage up to the platform. They thank you, you get chatting, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Well, something like that.
The point is practice. Living life from a place of alignment is an experience like no other.
And as promised, here is what I am listening to at the moment:
In the mornings, sometimes while I am sitting in meditation or when I am having a shower and getting ready for my day, I listen to this 'morning rampage
'. And specifically before the last presentation I did, I listened to this
(from 8.30minutes to the end).
I would love to hear from you! If you can relate to the fear of public speaking or would like to share about your alignment practice feel free to comment below.
Loving hugs, Rosie
P.S. If you are curious about exploring the art of alignment AND being, doing and having all your heart desires in 2018 and beyond, I am holding a women’s retreat on the NSW Central Coast 25 -29 January, check it out here.
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