We all have shame. What we don’t realize, shame is a golden pot at the end of the rainbow. If we can learn to run towards shame, rather than run away from it, we will become fortified to an energy we never knew we had. It’s hidden – hidden behind the ugliest parts of ourselves, hidden behind our horrible memories, hidden behind moments when we were embarrassed, and transformed it to mean we were not ‘good enough.’ Once this meaning was implanted, we were no longer able to separate the memory from the meaning.
Shame is strange because it lives in the body, when detonated rings through our entire nervous system. The discomfort can cause us to turn to drugs, alcohol, food and sex to numb the bad feeling. It can put you on a downward spiral.
The thing is, if you can stand the discomfort, and be more curious and mindful when the sensation occurs, you can gain great energy from these pain points.
Another thing most of us don’t think about, shame is meant to be shared. Shame is this strange thing, because it tells you that it’s a secret, a secret so distressing that you want to take it to your grave – ironically, it ought to be quite the opposite. The truth is shame needs to be shared with others. You want to be able to say things like, “yes when I fantasize about sex, I think about rape exclusively”, or “when my husband left me at the altar, I got down on my knees and begged for him to stay.” Eventually you want to get so clear about how empowering the sharing of these types of experiences is, you will start opening up at Sunday brunch, or in my case, on a stage in front of thousands of people.
Shame isn’t “healthy” or “unhealthy”, it’s a mechanism by which a human experiences fear of being alive and whole. Shame is a mechanism within us that stops most of us from not killing other people or urinating in public. Shame is a great mechanism, except when we allow it to run us, rather than when we collaborate with it.
If for instance I am ashamed that I am poor, I don’t realize that my freedom comes from sharing honestly about where I am. If on the contrary I am ashamed of being rich, I am thusly not aware that by being true and open publicly where I am financially, is actually a great symbol of trusting the world.
When we hide things about ourselves, what we are really saying is: “World, I know you are a bad and scary place, and I am unwilling to show you who I really am – because if I do, you will either kill me, shun me or cast me out.” Perhaps while this type of reasoning was useful when we were cavemen, its not quite as useful today.
Culturally across the globe, we have used shaming techniques to keep people in check and keep them coloring within the lines. Teresa of Àvila, said she feared people who feared the devil way more than the devil himself. This is because shame isn’t inherently evil, and neither is being gay, peeing your pants in the 2nd grade, wanting to be rich and coveting other peoples good, or having been exposed to, or suffered from a sexual assault. Society tells us certain things are shameful because society benefits from our collective fear. However, I never blame society, social media or the government for personal problems. A human can be free in life only when they first decide they want freedom. To admit you want freedom means you would need to first admit you are in a prison. Most people don’t want to make this admission, so they get stuck blaming society, or other external factors for their problems. The truth is when one owns their personal experience and its interpretation, then society can no longer be blamed. You can still make social change without shaming society. Look to the work of both Martin Luther King and Gandhi, they pointed out the sad truths and hypocrisies of the nations in which they resided, but they did it with love, and they managed to change the world. Truth is powerful on its own. Shame is like sprinkles, you can have it or not, but it’s not necessary for change or awakening to occur.
The initial feeling when one truly sees themselves for the first time is often shame. It’s how we have been programmed. There is nothing wrong with feeling this, only when we keep hitting ourselves with the shame-stick that it becomes ‘wrong.’
Never aim to dissolve shame, or to disappear it. In fact, use shame as a compass to signal what you are trying to hide. Behind what you are hiding is your mastery. Behind all you hide is your energy and life source. Behind what you think is ugly about yourself is ironically what makes you beautiful.
Look at shame
Be with shame
Share shame with others
And your life will be transformed. I promise!
Biet is a unique meditation teacher with a rock & roll sensibility. What makes her story so compelling is the amount of adversity she has overcome. Losing most of her family as a young child, tragedy turned into music. She signed to Sony Records at 18. Shortly thereafter she had a near-death experience, lost her infant daughter Ula to S.I.D.S, her house burnt down, where she continued to live doing drugs, then her best friend and her ‘awakened teacher’’ died. After years of addiction Biet, got sober. Her experiences led her to create Center of the Cyclone, a special meditation experience, that she guides globally, scored to her music. Her work is just as warm and intimate with a small group in a living room, as it is with thousands of people on stage. She has been called the “David Bowie of Meditation” and written up in FORBES, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, TIME & The New York Times. She just released her first book with Simon&Schuster Don’t Just Sit There:44 Insights to Get Your Meditation Practice Off the Cushion and Into The Real World