Are you working your edge?
Seeing someone REALLY work their edge is incredibly inspiring. Who do you know that has been working their edge this year?
Last weekend I was very much at my edge. For the first time in my life I found myself staring at a video camera (actually four video cameras) while shooting video for an online class I will share in 2019.
Unfortunately we didn’t get off to a good start. Perhaps it’s more true to say “I” didn’t get off to a good start. Looking back, I suspect this was to be expected. After all, I was engaging in something completely novel. And… after 10 minutes of struggling I noticed that my trapezius muscles had made significant progress in their anxious journey towards the tops of my ears. Ouch!
I was able to notice how this experience was causing me to come off center. We decided to take a break to re-arrange some of the recording equipment, and I worked to re-center myself. I stretched a bit (helpful) and spent five minutes chanting to Shiva (VERY helpful).
Thankfully our technical adjustments worked, and I started getting the hang of things. I’d never acted, or spoken directly into a video camera. I was very clearly AT MY EDGE.
My “edginess” was indicated by the signals my mood (souring), internal conversation (critical) and body sensations (quite yucky) were broadcasting. My ability to notice, tolerate and work to shift these signals, while continuing to keep going were the key to success. Despite all the internal signals of anxiety (fear about something terrible happening in the future) I was able to stay in relationship (with myself and the video team) and kept going. Taking action amidst anxiety is the definition of COURAGE. Seen this way, anxiety + action = courage. Lacking anxiety we are unable to demonstrate courage. Our edge we are at the border of excitement and anxiety – a place of profound aliveness and deep meaning.
In close to two decades as a coach (and many decades on this planet) I have observed clients or personally experienced five common ways to be in relationship with being at the edge:
- Not working my edge.
- Believing I don’t have the ability to work my edge.
- Certain I’m working my edge (but really not).
- Way too far out on my edge!
- Truly working my edge.
1. Not working my edge.
This can be a valid choice, especially when we’re feeling personal depletion (rather than replenishment) and/or worldly scarcity (rather than abundance). There are times it makes sense to choose to lay back, take care of yourself and LIVE into what you have created. This might be a time of consolidation, and of rest.
2. Believing I don’t have the ability to work my edge.
At times in my life I felt in over my head. I have had periods where I felt collapsed. This isn’t a good place to live. If we hold an identity as someone incapable of working your edge, we will definitely stay stuck as a result of being collapsed. This may be habit, rather than choice. This is the domain of “not enough” engagement with our edge. The way out of collapse is through action and building a tolerance to demonstrate courage in the face of anxiety.
3. Certain I’m working my edge (but really not).
This is a place of self-deception. If “I’m working my edge” is a narrative that’s not backed up by action, you will imagine you’re working your edge AND will stay stuck. How do you (or I?) ground the assessment that we’re working our edge? What do others in your world think? Do they think we’re really working our edge? This too is a domain of “not enough” engagement with our edge. Perhaps our story is AHEAD of our reality. If this is the case, the remedy is (i) shifting our story or (ii) stepping into new actions that allow us to catch up with our story.
4. Way too far out on my edge!
This is over-extension. Rather than being at my edge, I am way BEYOND my edge. This is the domain of “too much” engagement with our edge and can leave us feeling quite out of control. Perhaps we feel like we’ve been drinking from a fire hose. We may feel very excited, or be in a well justified mood of panic! This is a time to settle down and integrate all the new territory to which we’ve just gained access.
5. Truly working my edge.
This is a choice-full place to be. It’s a place of “not too little, and not too much.” When we’re really working our edge we know it, others know it and the world tends to respond accordingly. This is the “goldilocks” zone of not too little, and not too much. If we think of a yoga class – too little means we leave feeling just as we arrived. Too much means we are flirting with injury.
If we’re able to locate and stay in this zone, rather than being stuck in old patterns (VISHNU), we slice through obstructions and create space in our life (SHIVA) so we can make creative and novel moves (BRAHMA) that create new patterns in our life (NEW VISHNU). By leaning into our edge we foray beyond the known into the unknown. From this new perch we can see or feel new possibilities and opportunities. We have the courage to take new actions amidst feelings of excitement, anxiety, anticipation and curiosity. Ultimately we generate new, meaningful and satisfying results.
- How you are in relationship with your edge these days?
- Do one of the above 5 ways ring true for you?
- If so, how do you ground this assessment?
- Knowing this, what action does this lead you to want to take?
- What courageous action could you step in to? Who could offer support as you do this?
Working our edge involves facing into CHALLENGE. When we do this it’s very helpful to have:
- Useful guidance from those who have already traversed this territory
- Compassionate support from those who understand what it’s like to be at the edge
- A community of peers who are working their edges
- A holding environment inside which all of this can happen – preferably one filled with Love, Presence, Awareness and marked by an ability to both put in focused work AND delight when Grace arrives.
When you work at your edge you are truly living (and loving) your life.
In 2018 many Kirtan Leader Institute students have been working their edges. Here are just a few examples of what they’ve been up to:
- Tim Jordan is recently back from a trip to Auschwitz, Poland with the Zen Peacekeepers. Click HERE to read his moving and beautiful blog post titled, Reflections on Auschwitz.
- After participating in our spring Level 2 intensive Michael Lott opened the Knoxville (TN) Kundalini Yoga Center.
- Beloved vocalist and KLI teacher Dawnia Dresser is in the studio recording her first Kirtan album.
- Mira Devi recently led a Kirtan event at Fiske Planetarium in Boulder and is working on a new album.
- James Hoskins, our favorite cellist (and member of The Shakti Groove) recently release a mind-blowing solo album titled Inception. Click HERE to listen.
- In the wake of the Level 2 intensive – and a month from a trip to India for the Kumbh Mela – Lewis Freedman just wrote his first original chant… today!
- Many of the students in our Level 3 class and intensives have begun writing original chants and leading ongoing events!
- Kathleen Karlsen (from Bozeman, MT) will release her second book titled Vocal Medicine: Transformation Through Sound. The official release date is February 15. In early 2019 she begins work on a full length Kirtan album.
- LivAvtar Kaur (from upstate New York) is creating an album of Kundalini yoga chants with producer (and KLI community member) Damodar Das.
- Damodar Das is currently releasing eleven unique versions of the Hanuman Chalisa each month for eleven month – wow! And, he has a new album in the works.
- Mindy Arbuckle is completing her Mantras for Mama’s album – stay tuned for an early 2019 release!
- Last month fifteen participants in our Level 2 intensive led a chant in a real-life Kirtan event – many for the very first time!