I was in fight or flight mode + I couldn’t get out.
This summer I have been invited to do more public speaking + teaching for groups. (Wildflowers on the shore above from a retreat I led this week on the Enneagram + Self-Care.)
For me this is fraught territory. I have a long history of public speaking. Some of my most amazing life experiences have been in this domain.
For example, as a college student I was invited to welcome Gorbachev to our campus. This all happened at the last minute. Like this:
College Professor: “Hey Courtney, we were just given this opportunity to have a student welcome Mr. Gorbachev. Want to do it?”
I had just come back from a trip to Russia + Central Asia after my year abroad so I was inspired about the relationship between our countries. Fifteen minutes of scribbling on a napkin later I’m addressing this ballroom of hundreds of people and the global leader himself.
There have been other magical speaking moments, big and small, and while some part of me loves these opportunities I can also get so focused on the group that I lose the connection to myself. Internally this feels like pushing myself over a ledge and a bit like flying, then later after the event crashing to the earth and harshly criticizing myself for any perceived errors in my “performance.”
(This habit tracks closely with my Enneagram personality, Type 3, the Achiever. Even if this isn’t your type… this achiever approach is encouraged in our culture so maybe you relate?)
So in saying yes to these speaking engagements I wanted to find a way to show up with more presence + less push. I also had to dig deep into my toolbox of mind/body practices as my anxiety skyrocketed during prep time.
Because even good things can trip the body’s stress circuits. When this happens, you may need to add additional mind/body support to your regular meditation practice.
Here is how…
First things first, when evaluating a new opportunity check in with your body compass. In my case I knew these gigs were a good fit for me. I felt spacious and excited. A deep yes.
But how to be with myself in the (highly uncomfortable) growing pains of doing more live teaching?
Here is what not to do:
1) Please do not say to yourself a version of “This shouldn’t be a big deal. Suck it up. Why are you so nervous?!”
2) Or ignore the feeling of anxiety/fear/stress
There is a third way. Remember that we don’t get to choose what trips our stress circuits. It is often a complex interplay of personality patterns, current day growing edges, and limiting thoughts or beliefs.
Instead, speak to the body in its language. My two “go-to” body resources are:
This week I invite you to incorporate one or both into your meditation practice (see details below.) And lastly, when talking about the body we are also talking about connecting to Source. Because if we are driving our lives out of our small sense of self, we are going to run out of fuel and wear out our body.
So whether it is via tapping, aromatherapy, exercise, nature (or all of the above)I hope you find ways this week to be kind to your body. Calming your nervous system is what allows you not just to fly toward your dreams (cue 1980s self esteem poster) but actually to do something much more interesting: tune into your soul, and leverage the gifts of your personality type in the service of this deeper self. And this is magic — for you and also custom-made medicine you offer the world.
Summer of Meditation Week Five Challenge
Try it at the beginning of a regular meditation practice or reach for it when your stress is high. This video includes a demo of tapping on general overwhelm + busyness, but it is actually more powerful when you can specifically name your problem. Try it out– tap through the acupressure points giving voice to your concern as if you were talking or complaining to a friend. Then tap in some more positive approaches when you feel better.
And if you want to learn more about how I use essential oils for meditation, stress relief, to boost immunity, calm anxiety and more you can read more here and contact me with questions or to set up a conversation.
If You Would Like a Little Bit More…
I promised distilled this Summer. However, these are some of my deeper reflections if you are into that. Xo
QuickStart Mindfulness Question
Where are your growing edges? How do you feel in your body as you say yes to them? How could you support yourself even more?
How you get there is as important as the finish line. How can you model wholeness for your team/staff/family even as you grow + stretch?
I will be meditating each Friday at noon as the invitation goes out. Join me then or schedule meditation in your calendar at a regular time.
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three young children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can schedule a complementary conversation to talk more.
Join the Summer of Meditation Challenge Here!