Since I was a child, I have always been troubled by feelings of embarrassment, especially when I had to speak for a public. This reached its "summit" when I was about 14 years old. When I had to address more than 3 people, I just could not utter one syllable. In Dutch we call this "spreekangst" (literally translated 'fear of speaking'). This became better when I got older, but it never really disappeared. About one and a half years ago, I had to give a speech. I forgot about two thirds of what I wanted to say, just because of these feelings of embarrassment. I now remember that Douglas, in one of his books, told about something similar which he experienced when he was young.
Last year, during holiday, I was attending a workshop with Douglas in the Ardeche. I was amazed that I did not feel the slightest bit of embarrassment when I had to do the experiments, and even speaking in public was no problem. Especially the experiment with the bag made me feel comfortable with the whole group.
Nowadays, these problems have almost disappeared. Every time I have to speak in public, I focus on the public itself, on what I have to say and also on the Void they are looking at, instead of focusing on "how will they think about me (that means, the image I have of myself), will they find me odd and so on...". At the same time, I have to say that this does not mean that Douglas gave me an efficient "trick" or something, because when you focus too much on results, it won"t work. And this is true for the whole of Douglas"s "teaching". You just have to do the experiments to SEE, but when you start doing the experiments with expectations of enlightenment, mystic experience, of becoming a person who is completely without problems and complexes and so on, they won"t work. This makes me think of something Krishnamurti said: "Each "attempt" to meditate, is the denial of meditation". Just seeing, observing who you really really are, IS the meditation. And this includes dropping all ideas of becoming enlightened, self-assured and so on. M. Belgium.
Just a quick note to extend my appreciation again to you and the legacy of Douglas. I had once been feverishly fixated upon facial appearance/attractiveness as the principal measuring stick of self-worth and acceptance by others (never meeting my own contrived standards). This fixation led to a huge amount of energy being directed toward this belief and resultant self-consciousness provided a dense filter through which I interpreted my surroundings.
Douglas' description in his Melbourne video of the face in the mirror migrating the 1 metre distance up his arm, turning itself around to attach itself to his non-existent head like a parasite knocked me on my ass. My resonance with this brief statement was profound - the life energy being literally sucked out of me to the point of almost death (depression and suicidal ideation) by this self and society imposed concept was truly parasitic! My identification with this self-image was almost total and all consuming and pointing to the capacity that actually resides here has created a tectonic shift in my perspective on everything.
Instead of the acute and prolonged anxiety experienced prior to Douglas' pointing, I now possess a relaxed curiosity about everything and everyone around me. Merciless judgement of myself and others based on physical appearance has pretty much disappeared - I now (similar to Anne Seward in her remarks to Martin) spend the little amount of attention to my personal hygiene and grooming needed to be non-repulsive to others instead of obsessively fixating on the packaging. As I continue to notice my headlessness more consistently, more and more insights into Reality are revealing themselves. K
I read "On Having No Head"in 1988 and it made a big difference in my life by almost cancelling my self-consciousness in meeting with people in a gathering or while dancing and recently in speaking in front of an audience. Sami.
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