Thursday, July 3, 2008

Chanting, O My

Tonight I sat in the front of the zendo and chanted service. I didn't look at anything but the chant leader materials, I just tried to think about projecting my voice, and I didn't pass out. I was very nervous when I found out via the Dharma talk that the chant we're doing had changed last week while I was in Canada and was NOT the one I'd been practicing!

Afterwards several people told me how well I did. CK commented on this as well and asked if I was able to take note of the compliments. I noted that right now I'm still feeling the anxiety of being in front of everyone, not only that but using my voice in front of everyone, and the general relief of being done! She noted that afterwards I seemed a bit like a balloon that had been let go of, all the air rushing out of it, and deflated. I agreed I felt pretty drained.

There's the part of me that is just so uncomfortable with using my voice in a public way. All through the first sitting period I'd periodically hear my Mother, Aunt Jean, or Grandmother's voice telling me that I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket -- a refrain I heard through out my childhood an adolescence. Even after voice lessons, singing in the college choir, the masterworks community choir, and having to do a couple of solo recitals it never felt easy. Those two solo recitals caused me nervousness to the point of illness, just the same as when I read my personal writing or poetry aloud. Thankfully I was able to mostly get rid of those voices during the second zazen period.

Then there's the general disconnect I feel in a group. I have a group of friends I feel comfortable with after over 10 years. Even in that group there are things people didn't know about me, especially about my struggle with PTSD, until just the past year! Trying to look at that with CK on the drive home from the Dharma center I noted that the one group I did have constant, my family, I was invalidated, unwelcome, and often maligned. I have never felt the feeling of belonging in my family that most people describe. We moved so often when I grew up that I also felt like I never got the hang of being with a group -- every time I'd get close to feeling comfortable I'd move away.

To get out in front of a community that feels like I belong, even if that belief seems a little shaky and uncertain, felt enormous. When I started to chant I could hear nothing for a moment but my ears ringing. Then I heard my voice, settled into a sutra I do know even if I didn't practice it. I may be deflated, but I didn't explode into a poof of anxiety.

And now, having resolved the 99% full /home on my production web server (Monday I must look into why my backup prune script stopped working) I'm going to go to bed and try NOT to dream about being in front of people or my family!

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