Heart quickening, palms sweating, I wonder – what’s wrong with me? It’s just a networking event. Other times the panic feels more justified as I stand on stage, anticipating the expectations of awaiting eyes.
I was talking with a rock star at a networking event a few weeks back about our shared love of singing when he asked if I performed. I offered my usual sheepish smile, explaining that I make music for fun. “I’m shy, even events like this where I have to introduce myself to a bunch of new people make me nervous.” I admitted.
Then this pro, whose played stadium tours and for the president, surprised me. “Oh ya, me too,” he said.
“Really?” I asked, “then...how do you perform?” And he let me in on his nerve -soothing secret:
“When I enter a room and I feel a little off, or I step on stage and my nerves go nuts, I look to every corner of the room and project myself into them. I imagine myself encompassing everything that exists from floor to ceiling and in between all the walls. It helps me remember my connection to everything else – that we’re really one community. I remember there’s nothing to be afraid of. I start to feel supported, calm.”
I liked this idea, so the next time I was out – feeling a little anxious about not knowing anyone at the party, I tested the rock star method. Though I felt a little strange at first, swiveling my head to gaze at each corner of the room, it wasn’t long before my breaths gained depth.
Just stopping to breathe helped allot. My hurried bus ride and the stress of work began to lift as I entered the situation fully. I expanded my awareness – enveloping each person, chair and cocktail in turn. As I did, a quiet care supplanted fear and my shy self felt more integrated.
With each concentrated moment, my misperception of “otherness” dissipated and my excitement to connect with the world around me grew.
“’To be’ is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo Credit: DanBrady
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