How Qigong Can Help Overcome Your Fear
Standing in front of an audience can trigger a lot of patterns and fears and, depending on one’s life experience, these can be quite varied and very strong. In my case, a deeply embedded pattern used to be unconsciously scanning the responses of others for the subtlest shifts in facial expression and interpreting those (mostly incorrectly) through an internal matrix of disapproval, criticism, or confusion. I would feel terrified inside of ‘getting it wrong’, ‘offending’, ‘being socially insensitive’, saying something ‘stupid’ or even ‘laughable’, and so on. I felt a profound inability to relax into my own skin and speak without second-guessing myself.
These, and other unhelpful patterns that sabotage confidence, have a remedy that is centered in a root principle of Yuan Qigong: ‘Keep your awareness primarily inside, even as you speak and act outwardly in the world’. The nine methods in the system build gracefully on each other to develop this ability step by step.
Building confidence and an internal state of Trust
Most people today would accept that their mind and its unhelpful internal narrative is what undermines good intentions. There is often an inner critic that negatively judges our appearance, our speech, our behavior, our social identity, even our ideas and thinking, and cobbles us with apprehension before we even get out of the stalls.
This internal narration is usually a recorded loop of old stories and information carried forward from past experiences. Their legacy, which we have allowed to dominate, is a fictitious truth of some imaginary ‘perfect’ that history has proven we will certainly never attain. The most destructive aspect is that this unattainable ‘perfect’ is elevated in importance far above our pure-hearted intention. We don’t even try because we are certain we will fail.
Generally, we’re not aware of this ‘critic’, instead feeling a crippling debility that besets us from some ‘invisible’ external trigger outside of our awareness. And, because the feeling is ‘louder’ than the inner ‘words’, we can’t question the validity or truth of them. After all, how does one question a feeling? And where did that whispering voice go when you try to find it?
What could be blocking your self confidence?
- The strong inner critic: We hand over trust to this inner critic so much that we no longer pay attention to the existence of our current verifiable skills and value
- Self devaluation: We judge ourselves critically, comparing ourselves to another, defining our identity as flawed and unacceptably different.
- Fear of what others think: The barrage of criticism which appears to come from the outside, can be so threatening and invincible, it seems more sensible to distance ourselves from everything (and the interconnected existence of all beings).
Yuan Qigong tools for public speaking
So, when standing before an audience, I have found the following Yuan Qigong practices always return me to a healthier view of my place and my offering:
The Six Verses
The Six Verses start with two lines:
“Awareness inside the body, feel the emptiness and spaciousness inside.”
“Expand the Awareness out, becoming One with the Universe.”
Through these, the ‘solidity’ of the body and all its associated qualities of a persona and its identifications, dissolve. We become open, shimmering Qi potential, and feel an expansive, vast stillness, that dims the critic's voice to a whisper.
In Yuan Qigong we practice the unification of our True Self, consciousness, and heart with the Qifield all around and become one with the source that deeply nurtures every breath and beat of our hearts. This practice helps make us stay more calm and stable in any situation.
Cultivating the heart qualities
Tong Yuan (Opening the Heart) is a very special Yuan Qigong method to strengthen the heart. Before your speaking engagement, take time to bring awareness to your heart and connect to one of the five fundamental heart qualities we use in REN XUE:
Trust that what you are about to share will be of value to someone in the audience, because it has been of value to you.
Be open to connecting with your audience and ‘hear’ the wisdom of the universe guiding you as you speak.
Feel Love arising from your sincere intention to offer an aspect of your life’s wisdom to benefit others.
Feel Gratitude to the audience for giving you the opportunity to share what matters to you. Or it may be gratitude to the universe for arranging this moment that can add profound purpose and meaning to your life (e.g. it may be an interview for a new job or an opportunity to present your projects or to teach students some helpful tools).
Gongjing (true respect and humility) brings awareness that this moment is not about you, but about your audience or students and that you are all unified; you are all one, in the benevolent heart of the universe.
A simple tip for public speaking
After teaching for nearly two decades, I still sometimes ask myself: “How and what would I teach if this were the last class I ever taught?” This is a very powerful incentive to center myself and be present to what matters in the present moment, and this quiets the inner critic.
Build a Qifield for your event
You can build a powerful and supporting Qifield beforehand for your event by using positive energy and information. Learn the practice of Pulling Qi and use it to influence the future event in a good direction with clear and uplifting information. Keep your thoughts and conversations continually supportive of what you would like and disallow the inner critic a foothold. This is sometimes quite magical in its effects.