Leaning In

by Joel Orenstein


Sitting in the foyer of the Children’s Court the tension is palpable. I am here for something completely inert – a directions hearing without any real acrimony. But as often happens, the stars do not align for a quick getaway and I am forced to wait all day to get before a Magistrate.

So why am I so on edge? Sitting to wait in the foyer, I begin to acknowledge how I am feeling. I make the decision to lean into my anxiety long enough to feel the energy behind it.

What I feel is heavy, creeping uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. I feel the shallowness of my breathing and the buzzing of my head. I notice the resistance that my being forced to wait has generated, suffocating my instinct to be someplace else.

I take the next moment to expand my awareness, touching the pain of this place and the ghosts that inhabit it. Through the bravado and aggression I can feel the deep hurt all around me. I feel the hurt of the mums and dads and kids and grandparents and lawyers and interpreters and workers and magistrates. This place breathes in hurt all day everyday. It is soaked in it.

Somehow I have chosen to do this work – to be in this place. I notice other practitioners and I wonder how they cope. Walking with ghosts it would be easy to become one.

I notice my habit to self protect – to shut down and not allow myself to feel anything. How easy it would be to surrender to this.

Breathing into my heart space instead, I turn towards the rawness of my own hurt. Acknowledged and held, it seems to soften and melt.  My heart expands and I feel it able to embrace the darkness of this place. My hurt is everyone’s hurt, and my healing becomes everyone’s healing.

After arriving at 9.20am, at 3.30pm my matter is called and at 3.36pm I am walking out the door past security.

Some days are like this.

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/groups/time-place/discuss/72157625855851512/