One of the unexpected lessons I’ve received in the past few years could be summed up like this:
“Be careful what you claim to teach.”
When my life seemed to be burning down around me this time last year, I found myself thinking about all the years I’d spent teaching about emotional resilience, all of the herbal formulas I’d made to help people sleep or to calm anxious thoughts, all of the times I’d met somebody in the crucible of her suffering. It’s not that I believe I brought those challenges on myself, per se*. Looking at an especially tough time as a chance to practice what I preach and as a test to my integrity was a way of making the suffering more meaningful.
*(The Divine does not operate as a wish-dispenser for people who think positive thoughts and a nightmare-dispenser for those who dwell on their fears. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs may be, I hope we can agree that the Ultimate Mystery is too complex, beautiful, and unfathomable to reduce to spiritual materialism.)
When All Else Fails — Make Meaning
Of all of the components of Nimble Heart, Unwavering Soul (the class I teach about a natural medicine approach to building emotional resilience,) the piece that’s made the biggest difference for my life is “making meaning.” Herbs are tremendous sources of support, and I’m lucky to have so many people and plants to lean on when I need them. But it’s the practice of coming to embrace the significance of a given struggle or the beauty of a particular blessing that makes it possible to keep going.
Yesterday, after a two-year hiatus, I taught Nimble Heart material again for the first time. In a small room at Movement Lab, we passed around herbs and syrups and tinctures as I gave hints about how to use each one. We practiced the Quick Coherence exercise and imagined breath and appreciation flowing directly into the center of our chests. And I pulled out some image theater exercises from my Boal training — with mixed reception!
Imperfect as the session was (as everything is), it was meaningful to me. And that’s enough. I’m considering teaching the full series (in-person) here in Baltimore — and maybe offering an online group, too, if there’s enough interest from people who can’t attend in-person. Instead of worrying about whether what I have to teach is good enough, or whether or not people will approve of me, I’m choosing to think about what my own life would have been like last year if I’d never learned these tools, if I hadn’t built up my own resilience. And I’m going to do my best to share these tools with everyone who wants to practice them.
p.s. Class Recording
If you missed the chance to attend the live workshop, or if you joined us and want to have a recording that includes a few of the exercises and stories that I shared in class, click here or on the image below. (You’ll also receive an announcement the next time I offer an in-person and/or online version of Nimble Heart. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time!)