Shifting the Internal Picture — how I Came Alive
Reflections on my Come Alive Experience
At the beginning of this stage of my life journey, I had an intense experience at a workshop I attended with Wayne. We were asked to do a simple exercise. We were to look around the room and simply notice the things we saw around us, then tell our partner what we saw. When I listened to Wayne tell me about the room around him, I realized that he noticed the people. As I looked around, I noticed things. I left that workshop feeling desperately alone and wanting to do something about it. Since January 2000, I have been working on just that. My most recent experience was attending a Come Alive program offered by PD Seminars at Haven By the Sea on Gabriola Island. It was a fabulous 6 days where I was able to play, learn and truly “come alive.”
Prior to attending the Come Alive, I saw myself as a person who chose not to connect to people around me. In fact, I believed I could make myself invisible within a group situation. I felt very isolated and alone ‑even in a group situation. In the past, being shut down was a comfortable place to be. I spent a lot of time there — alone. Although I chose to experience life fully with Wayne — could be open and honest with him — could communicate with him from my heart — could share with him how I felt in my body — could truly be me — I chose to see myself as a person unable to share in a similar way with other people. A fear of rejection kept me isolated in my own safe, comfortable space. I was aware at a cognitive level that I had begun to change the way that I related to people but my internal picture of me remained stuck in the old view of isolation.
The timing for the Come Alive was perfect. I was ready for a shift. I went to the Come Alive with the intent of making myself present with other people. In my journal writing before the program began, I adopted the theme or goal for the week of “me emerging.”
Just prior to the workshop, I found a native Answer Feather in a store in Nanaimo, B.C. I had never heard of one before. The card on the back said to hold a question in your heart and keep the feather with you for a day and your answer will come to you. Then it said to return the feather to nature. This sounded just perfect. I held the feather close to me with a question in my heart of why I was so fearful of letting people know who I was. The answer was supposed to come to me about the time my Come Alive started but halfway through the day I noticed I had lost my feather.
By the end of the Come Alive, I realized that there are no answers — there is just life. I didn’t need the feather — I just needed to let go of the question. Letting go of the feather was my answer. I no longer need to know why.
My intent for the program was to experience connections with people at some level. I planned to participate fully and try to keep myself from shutting down. I worked hard at not making judgements about the quality of the connections and not focusing on the times when I felt alone. I often took chances and I approached and spoke to people. I took chances and offered people my thoughts. I took chances and told people a little about myself. My internal picture remained one of me isolated rather than me emerging.
As we worked through the communication model on the first day I noticed how uncurious I was about people. I guess that keeps me safe. The most meaningful communication practice for me was telling a person that I purposely chose to work with her, but was really scared because my judgement was that she would not want to get to know me. After all, she had been to Phase 1 and she knew all about this communication stuff and maybe I would not get it right — etc. etc. We had a wonderful communication and a wonderful hug afterwards. We continued to connect as the week went by and still do by email.
A Come Alive program offers people a chance to work on issues in their lives. As people began to talk about their life issues in the group, words, phrases and emotions hit very close to home. The feelings poured freely out of me. I cried and couldn’t stop. I felt very alone, scared and isolated — but I am pleased to say — not so isolated that I failed to notice the two people sitting close to me reach out to me.
Then there was a visualization that raised very strong feelings of sadness and more tears. During the music at the end of the visualization, the energy flow through my body was quite dramatic. The energy raced up my spine and slammed violently into the back of my neck again and again. I was unable to get the energy to go past the block and circle through my body.
In my communications over lunch, I shared my internal picture of myself of being a person who does not connect with other people. The reaction to that one was great disbelief. I actually heard what people were saying and I was amazed. This did not fit with my internal picture of me. By the time I returned after lunch, I was aware that I had made an internal shift in the picture of me. I now saw myself as “me emerging” — a person who can connect with others. The energy visibly flowed in my body. My legs would not stop vibrating. However, the block in my throat and jaw remained. I tried desperately to say something but the sound would not come. It stuck in my throat. I was so pleased when one of the leaders noticed my legs vibrating and asked what was up. I did notice that once I started, I was easily able to explain about my experiences and about the block in my throat and jaw. I went into the centre of the circle to do some bodywork to help release the block.
It was an amazing experience. I emerged from that experience with a softer face and jaw line. I saw people look at me intently, with caring in their eyes. It was wonderful to feel so loved by so many people. I felt lighter and freer. I do believe that the true shift was when I changed my internal picture of how I saw myself. I was seeing my world with new eyes. The old filters were gone. It was awhile before my feet touched the ground.
On the second last morning I woke in a panic and felt a wave of sadness. I so desperately wanted to be home. It had been almost a month. I also had a vision of the inevitable time when the goodbyes were being said. I created a familiar picture in my head of being totally isolated and alone in a group of people with everyone saying goodbye to everyone else and nobody noticing me. The tears started to flow. I quickly decided that it did not have to be this way and I wanted to be with people rather than alone. I put myself out there again and again with people as the day progressed keeping hold of my new internal picture of being a person who does not have to be alone. I experienced the energy looping gently through my body during the music after a visualization exercise. (I had been giving myself grief over not being able to make the “looping” happen. Now it “just happened.”)
In the visualization, we were taken to a room of treasures. As I explored this room I noticed with great delight that there were people in my room. My treasures now included people. When I viewed the mirror that showed the future me — there I was, front and centre — and so many people were there just behind and very close to me. By supper time that day, I was at the same exact place of lightness, freedom and joy as I had been after the bodywork session.
My goodbye time the next day was filled with many wonderful full body connected hugs, appreciations, which I truly heard and was able to give, and no sense of loneliness. In fact, one resort guest I met and chatted with a couple of times earlier in the week searched for me on the last day to have a hug and say goodbye.
On the last morning, I listened to another person say that he realized that he had to continue to make himself stay present when he went home. At that point, I realized and acknowledged to the group with joy that when I heard that I realized that I had come to the place where I needed to keep myself present rather than make myself present. To do that I simply had to breathe and be aware of the sensations in my body. I learned that if I chose to keep myself present in the group, I simply have to shift my body position to move forward — leaning into the group rather than back from the group. It was as simple as taking a breath.
My learning from the Come Alive — shifting the internal picture allows us to hear different messages from the world around us. We have filters through which we choose to look at our world. We pay attention to the external messages that we are ready to hear — the ones that fit with the internal picture we have of ourselves. We miss or dismiss the ones that contradict our internal picture. When my internal picture was one of an isolated person, I noticed all the times I felt alone, couldn’t say the things I wanted to or couldn’t feel the energy flowing in a gentle loop through my body. When I shifted my internal picture of me to one where I did connect with other people, the messages I heard shifted. I heard the appreciations from other people. I felt our energies connect when we hugged. I felt the energy move gently through my body. I also shifted the internal picture about being able to dance — but that’s another story.
I returned home to find a weekly horoscope in an email message. “You should be feeling a little more sure-footed, both personally as well as professionally right now.” And I do. I’m walking with the confidence of knowing that I am not truly alone. I want others to know more of me and I want to know more of them. That is part of my new internal view of me — ME emerging.