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Speechless

Sometimes, I'm speechless. Which might seem odd for a writer and teacher - words are my job.

There are three main reasons for this:

  1. I got lost in my inner world, and forgot that composing in my head space was not the same as actual published writing or spoken word.
  2. I found myself in a situation where I started to close up. This still happens, when I override my gut instinct, when I trust too much, when the mission is so good I forget to look after myself first.
  3. I'm so angry, I don't know what to say. In the, "If you can't say anything nice…" style of thing. Trust me, a nondual understanding does not need to exclude any emotion - and I'm glad I can be outraged in some situations!

One:
My inner world is one of cognisance and sensation. Which is superlatively relaxing for someone with total aphantasia. Interacting with the world requires ultra fast mental word descriptions, to replace the absent images. It's like having to verbally describe a photo in huge detail, instead of showing the image. Except all the time. I guess it's part of why I like the dark.

Two:
There are situations in life where we thrive, and situations where we don't. And no amount of understanding thought, rescripting experience, or transcending emotion is going to change that. Sure, we can all shed conditioning that keeps us trapped and suppressed. And we can all handle extremely toxic events. But where there is a choice, there is no requirement to stay where we don't naturally thrive. For me, it comes down to old conditioning of believing I need to be balanced and rational with a list of pros and cons. This simply isn't true. A single 'too bad to stay' outweighs a hundred 'too good to leave's. Being of service, aligning to an inspiring mission, seeing my work is valuable, knowing I can make a difference, using my skills productively… none of those matter if I'm losing my voice, feeling like everything is combat, or being used to further someone else's agenda (corrupt or innocent).

Three:
I am sometimes angry. I am also always okay. I genuinely welcome the capacity to feel, to engage, and to be fully immersed in life. Yes, some nondual explorers do find themselves absent of emotion and disengaged from life. But that is essentially a monastic path, whether they live in a physically cloistered community or not. Most of us have no need to live apart from the hurly burly of life. Indeed, disengagement is not far from disassociation - which is a trauma response. And it can be hard at first glance to tell the difference between someone who has chosen to transcend life whilst still alive, and someone who has picked the external attributes of that path as a desperate attempt (knowingly or unknowingly) to escape life and feel better. Hint: They are usually the latter.

What makes me angry? All kinds of cruelty and misuse of power. In the three principles/nondual/spiritual coaching field I find myself traversing, I see social media posts from coaches every day. I am provoked by those coaches who project their own value system onto clients, actively make clients dependent on their continued coaching, or try to turn clients into fellow coaches by training those clients themselves. You might say it's none of my business. True. But we all know how wrong things can go when people don't speak up about stuff that's off, even when it is none of their business.

I know that most coaches have good intentions. They want to make the world a better place, they want to leave a legacy, they want to have impact. Of course. If there's one phrase I've heard that sums up the innocent end of the problem, it's, "Love is enough." It isn't.

What is enough? Skill, discernment, empathy, perspective, the ability to recognise when to refer, understanding of power dynamics, peer support from colleagues who can and do call us in, a willingness to learn and grow, integrity, the wisdom to know when the coaching relationship is ending and a friendship might begin… They are a damn good start.

More than all of these: self-knowing, self-love and self-care - in the truest sense of the words. The recognition that people (including you) do not need fixing. And a total absence of need to be of service.

All of which means that whilst the retreat into my inner world is enticing, I'm not speechless any more.

photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash

  • Sara Priestley
    These days I hang out with my little cat colony, drink a lot of coffee, help clients solve life problems, support people who have been hurt by cult-like groups, host my local poetry society’s online gatherings, read, write, teach nonduality, and play with this expanded understanding of who we are and how it shows up. And it’s so simple. But simple doesn’t always come easy when we have a lifetime of conditioning on top. So, I’m here to help you uncover that simplicity, and reconnect with life.

    You can find me at sarapriestley.com

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