Ma invited me to stay at her home, the Bhakti Shakti House, in Phoenix, AZ along with Mika and her 2 children. As I entered the home in the evening, I embraced Ma and Mika and then went into the kitchen area where the 2 kids were enjoying time with Nityanando. The kids did not much heed to my entrance, and I began to feel the awkwardness. Somehow I wanted acknowledgement and attention from those kids, thinking to myself, "I'm good with children." Well, for 3 weeks, I did not get what I wanted even though I tried. I played Candyland, I complimented them, I brought them food, I cleaned up for them. Finally, one day, I really just gave up. After I had helped set up a surprise birthday for one of the girls, I stood by lake, feeding the ducks. Then both girls started to talk to me enthusiastically about the ducks. All of us began to throw popcorn and chunks of bread into the water, and soon, a flock of them had gathered to feast. I found that the more I gave up on wanting attention and acknowledgement, the more space I gave for others to approach in a natural and flowing way. I learned that it is ok to feel awkward around people.
I had a planned a satsang at the Unity of Chandler nearby. The day before the event, I went to the church to attend the Sunday service. I didn't know anyone. Andrea asked to come up before the congregation to announce the event, and I happily did so. After the service, she said, "Now why don't you go and mingle with everyone and invite people to the gathering tomorrow." My first urge was to head for the door. The last thing I wanted to do was mingle. I had felt enough awkwardness just adjusting to all the people in the Bhakti Shakti House. But instead of running away, I walked out into the middle of the church with a feeling of helplessness. There were little groups of people talking amongst themselves who seemed to know each other well. Then I smiled at man and came up to him. "My name is Brian." In a couple of minutes, he had invited me to the Hare Krishna Temple for lunch. I had been looking for a temple in the area.
Then, mustering up the courage, I broke into another little conversation between two women and introduced myself. The initial awkwardness fell away as I began to relax into a lively conversation. At first, they seemed awkward and then glad I had come to speak with them. And they wanted to come to the satsang.
More and more, my mind and emotions are learning that there is nothing to fear. And there is nothing wrong about appearing awkward and embarrassed. Let me breathe into the fear and allow it to be as it is. Each day, it falls away more and more, and my inner state becomes more peaceful around people. And so others may feel this peace too.
Om shanti shanti shanti