Darbella’s Articles — Memoirs of a Phaser, part 1

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Twen­ty-five days at Phase. What an expe­ri­ence and one that I would high­ly rec­om­mend. Now the task is to write about the expe­ri­ence. What a task that is! There is so much to say, it is dif­fi­cult to know where to begin.

While at Haven, the place was described as a lab­o­ra­to­ry for life. It is a place where, in my Phase, twen­ty-one very dif­fer­ent peo­ple came togeth­er for 25 days to look at the sto­ries of life each one of us had cre­at­ed in our lives to date. In life’s lab­o­ra­to­ry, each one of us had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to exam­ine these sto­ries, share our sto­ries with oth­ers, throw out sto­ries that no longer serve our needs, learn from oth­er par­tic­i­pan­t’s sto­ries, exam­ine oth­er pos­si­ble sto­ries for our lives and in the many expe­ri­en­tial activ­i­ties pro­vid­ed — try out new sto­ries and see how they fit. To fit with Wayne’s cur­rent e‑zine series — Haven pro­vid­ed me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to exam­ine the myths I have cre­at­ed in my life and to exam­ine close­ly which ones work for me and which ones no longer serve a use­ful purpose.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing in groups has not been a skill that I have put much ener­gy into in the past. My pat­tern has been to sit back, lis­ten care­ful­ly and say very lit­tle (or noth­ing if I can get away with it!) Par­tic­i­pat­ing in expe­ri­en­tial activ­i­ties was some­thing I avoid­ed at all costs — run­ning away phys­i­cal­ly or turtling inside myself, only rarely allow­ing myself to par­tic­i­pate. Chang­ing this pat­tern was my prime focus when choos­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the Phase 1 pro­gram at Haven.

Over the past cou­ple of years, I have become more and more com­fort­able meet­ing peo­ple one on one. I eager­ly sought out oppor­tu­ni­ties to get to know more of peo­ple in the pro­gram and I allowed more and more of myself to show in those com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Over the twen­ty-five days at Phase, I was aware of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with peo­ple (oth­er than Wayne) from a dif­fer­ent place then I had ever done before.

I’ve been reading  Rad­i­cal Hon­esty by Brad Blan­ton since I came home. He describes this dif­fer­ence as com­mu­ni­cat­ing from the lan­guage of  being rather than the lan­guage of the mind. (In the past, I have com­mu­ni­cat­ed from the place of know­ing and under­stand­ing — a place of shar­ing what I have learned. Once every­thing was set in a neat lit­tle pack­age, I was will­ing to share it with others.)

I found myself in many con­ver­sa­tions with oth­er par­tic­i­pants about rela­tion­ships and hon­esty in rela­tion­ships. This seemed to be a theme for me and a few oth­er par­tic­i­pants dur­ing the phase. In my first dis­cus­sions, I spoke most­ly from a place of know­ing — the lan­guage of the mind — and I did have some good infor­ma­tion to share. I came away from the con­ver­sa­tions and reflect­ed on how lit­tle of myself I had shared at a real, per­son­al lev­el. After a time of reflec­tion, I want­ed to go back to the con­ver­sa­tion again and reveal more of myself. I amazed myself again and again how, when I was ready to go back to a con­ver­sa­tion with a cer­tain per­son, the oppor­tu­ni­ty showed up imme­di­ate­ly. I would turn a cor­ner and there the per­son was.

The bod­i­ly expe­ri­ence was quite dif­fer­ent when I spoke from a more per­son­al lev­el of me. It was a place of not hav­ing all the answers fig­ured out and being in a place of ques­tion­ing. The words flowed more eas­i­ly from this place and did not require as much effort. I was aware of less ten­sion in my neck and shoul­ders and less anx­i­ety in my stom­ach. I imag­ine this to be what Brad Blan­ton was refer­ring to as the lan­guage of being.

Speak­ing in the large group was quite a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. It took all the courage I could find to say any­thing at all. The first night we went through intro­duc­tions. As peo­ple around the cir­cle gave their intro­duc­tions, I was aware that I was not feel­ing ner­vous about talk­ing. I was amazed at how calm I was. Then my turn came and anx­i­ety hit. I was start­ed to speak right away but I am sure that I said every­thing in one breath and knew I was fin­ished when I did not have any breath left to say any­thing more. Feed­back that I received lat­er was that I looked like a deer caught in head­lights and that real­ly fit with how I felt.

The first full day went well. I par­tic­i­pat­ed in the activ­i­ties but said noth­ing in the large group. I con­tin­ued to have many mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple in the Phase. On the sec­ond day, the anx­i­ety start­ed to build inside me and I felt tears behind my eyes that I strug­gled to keep in con­trol. Dur­ing the morn­ing break, I walked to the lodge with a friend and he put his arm around me. I real­ized in that moment how much I was miss­ing phys­i­cal con­tact with peo­ple. I melt­ed into his arms and I felt won­der­ful for a few short moments.

That was the begin­ning of my real­iza­tion of how much phys­i­cal con­tact  is a nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site for my feel­ing con­nect­ed with peo­ple. I also real­ized how resis­tant I was to cre­ate that con­tact in my life. At that point in the Phase, I changed that and start­ed to make phys­i­cal con­tact a part of my expe­ri­ence from then on. I noticed a real dif­fer­ence in the close­ness I felt with peo­ple based on the amount of phys­i­cal con­tact I had.

Pri­or to going to Phase, I thought that I was pre­dom­i­nate­ly a visu­al per­son. I knew that the audi­to­ry mode was a def­i­nite weak area. Lis­ten­ing to books on my Rio has been a very worth­while exer­cise to me. My mind tends to wan­der when pre­sent­ed with only an audi­to­ry sig­nal and I am end­less­ly bring­ing myself back. What I was begin­ning to learn as my friend put his arm around me was that I was strongest in the kines­thet­ic mode. This was a major sur­prise for me and some­thing I was con­tin­u­al­ly aware of through­out the 25 days at Haven.

That won­der­ful feel­ing I had dur­ing break only last­ed a few short moments. Upon return­ing to the large group, the anx­i­ety that I was feel­ing ear­li­er returned and over­whelmed me. I think I was approach­ing bas­ket case lev­el by lunch time. The tears were get­ting more and more dif­fi­cult to control.

My intent was to leave the large group and escape to my room before lunch. My excuse was that I want­ed to change but it felt more like an escape. One of the lead­ers walked out with me and asked me how I was doing. There went my escape. I walked to lunch with him and told him how I was feel­ing. He con­vinced me that it was enough to sim­ply say that I was expe­ri­enc­ing a lot of anx­i­ety. It was not nec­es­sary to have the whole thing fig­ured out and all my words planned before I start­ed. The tears flowed freely and we had a love­ly hug. One of the interns who was a dear friend of Wayne’s showed up imme­di­ate­ly after, took one look at my face and held me for awhile. I said a lit­tle but most­ly appre­ci­at­ed her for being there.

I returned to the group after lunch to find that I was set up. One of the lead­ers sug­gest­ed hear­ing from some of the peo­ple who had not said much. I respond­ed imme­di­ate­ly that I thought that was my cue to speak and told a lit­tle about the tur­moil I was expe­ri­enc­ing about talk­ing in the group and about how dif­fi­cult it was for me. I did not say a lot but I real­ized how impor­tant it was to say some­thing. The anx­i­ety set­tled to a more com­fort­able lev­el. I tru­ly did not need to have every­thing fig­ured out before I start­ed. In any group I found myself to be in, I need­ed to find a way to get my voice into the group. That would be my chal­lenge for the month.

What impressed me most about the expe­ri­ence was that I had stayed with the anx­i­ety. My ear­li­er pat­tern was to go away. The first twinge of an anx­ious feel­ing in my stom­ach and I shut down. I was skilled at doing that in a group. I actu­al­ly thought that I was skilled at mak­ing myself invis­i­ble. That did not work quite as well as I thought and I am thank­ful for that. Those who tru­ly have eyes that see — like my friend who put his arm around me on the way to break — could see me in that place. When I choose to not shut down and go away, I can be aware of those moments when peo­ple do see me. There is so much that I have missed in the past that now want to stay present for and notice. I’ve missed see­ing “me” too.

All that learn­ing and I have only been on the prop­er­ty for 48 hours!!!!!

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