Late in 2017, after years of practice, I found myself stuck.
The voices were constantly insinuating I should be doing better. It was clear they were lying, but I could not shake the gnawing sense that something was wrong with me.
A recurring message spoke to me while listening to the radio show. Numerous callers made similar observations. They said that while participating from the sidelines was beneficial and inspiring, and that it helped build a practice foundation, when they took Practice a step further and began interacting directly with the Sangha, their awareness grew and expanded more quickly.
For years I had resisted practice opportunities that required direct interaction with Sangha. I knew it was time to take the plunge, so I dove in. I got a Zen coach and a Reflective Listening Buddy. I participated in email and group coaching classes. I signed up for Project Joy and actually called in to share. Of course my awareness grew in leaps and bounds.
Presence was becoming a more consistent and personal experience. My sense of peace and wellbeing grew. It felt good. My desire was to pursue new opportunities and sure enough one came along.
During Project Joy, Cheri described a process she called nattering. She told us how she simply picked up her recorder and nattered on about whatever was happening right then. She said she liked listening to recordings of a happy person.
I was inspired to try nattering for myself.
It’s been months since I started this practice and all I can say is wow! First and foremost, I have gotten to experience my life as it is and not from the viewpoint of the voices in my head. I am Recording and Listening to a play by play of my life. I am getting to know the real me and finding that she is pretty awesome.
Nattering has shown me I am adequate.
Nattering has shown me I have an abundant life.
Nattering has shown me I have a built in confidant and cheerleader.
Nattering has shown me that the voices are lying and repetitive.
Nattering has shown me that how I do one thing is how I do everything.
I have no rules for nattering. In the beginning I set my timer for each hour. Now I find Life prompts me and I pick up my recorder. Insights about totally unrelated issues will drop in. When struggling with strong emotions I listen to a random nattering. Almost without fail, it speaks directly to what is happening.
I start all my natterings with the date and “I am happy to be here.” My focus is on what’s happening in my body and looking toward the light. In other words — being present.
I listen to my natterings whenever possible. I set them for shuffle, pop in my earbuds, and go about my business. I find it is beneficial to make a recording before I get out of bed in the morning. It’s also nice to listen to the day’s natterings at bedtime or during the night when I can’t sleep.
Nattering does not take the ups and downs of life away. Huge amounts of stinky, annoying content show up frequently. Conditioning continues to use every opportunity to rob me of my joy. However, nattering allows me to see it is not personal and helps make whatever is going on manageable.
Plus, as Cheri says, “It’s fun listening to a happy person!”