Revelations from a Book Fair

I was recently manning my partner’s book stall for him at a local book fair. This was new for me. I have viewed it from the other side as a customer, but not taken the responsibility of selling the books.

I was nervous. I liked the idea but when it got to the day the practicality of it and my ability to do it daunted me somewhat, and when I got there I felt like a fish out of water. The long hours of the day stretched out before me and I wondered if I was going to be able to sustain it.

I could feel myself separating, feeling scattered in my thoughts, tense in my body, not able to focus. It is a strange world when fear takes you into that place of not being able to function. My body felt ill, my heart was racing and my whole digestive system painful and upset. I was dizzy and lightheaded. The fair opened and people began to drift in and look round. I was painfully withdrawn and really not wanting to be there and avoided people. When I feel like that it is like I don’t have a connection with anyone, let alone myself.

But then one of those moments came to me which stopped the momentum of this energy flowing through me that was taking me away from myself.

As I sat awkwardly on my chair I noticed thoughts coming into my head – seemingly out of no-where, but somehow linked with a memory of having heard many times how we are not here in this world to live in comfort, but to live in life with all its challenges. Thoughts such as, “Why should I expect everything to be hunky-dory all the time, especially for me? Here I am in a situation I am not familiar with or enjoying – so what? Here is my body tense and all out of sorts – well, there are reasons for that. Just get on with it.”

With this awareness and feeling these thoughts coming ‘into’ my body I made the choice to connect ‘from’ my body and in line with what I have been learning for the last ten years. I moved. I sat myself on the chair making sure I could feel the weight of my body in my sitting bones; I noticed my rapid shallow breathing and began to return to my own gentle rhythm. I reminded myself this was a wonderful opportunity to just sit and be in the space. I felt myself beginning to relax and slowly I ‘joined up’ again and began to feel more like myself. I felt the stillness inside me despite all the activity going on around me.

I sat there for a while observing the people and all that was going on. By now I was aware of the quality of energy within; I became aware of something more than just my human body, and that the body awareness had opened up this possibility for me, to feel how much more there is in me and how it supports me. I observed how the human body supports me structurally; the stillness inside me supports me energetically. Maybe for the first time this truly made sense to me, and the effect was profound.

It brought me to another moment of what I will call revelation. It wasn’t a loud, light flashing experience but just a slow forming in me of a truth I have known in my head but not my body and heart. I was able to observe all that was going on from this new place of settlement inside me. I smiled as I realised all the book selling and buying and everything going on around me didn’t need to affect my own inner stillness. Inside each human being is an essence, and deep down we are all connected; but when we are not living from this place but somewhere outside of it, we very rarely truly connect with each other.

As I felt more of this stillness it warmed me from inside, it allowed me to embrace the activity around me, and actually move within it – as I must – from inside out, not outside in, and to the best of my ability not in reaction.

The more I settled into observing what was around me but stayed connected to my own body, the more there was a palpable difference between the disconnected feeling and fear when I first started the day and the awareness of my body which allowed me to be part of but not get caught up in the momentum which was not actually ‘me’.

This way I began to enjoy the experience I was having: I entered into it, I engaged with others, I enjoyed it. The many hours ahead disappeared from my mind, and I ended the day energised and willing to continue, although there was no need. And this was not because I got satisfaction for myself in any way, merely that I was attached to nothing outside me and present with myself and my body and meeting people from that inner quality.

By Joan Calder, Volunteer / Retired from paid work, Somerset

Further Reading:
Listening to your body
Every Part Matters – Supporting Our Whole Body
Returning to our body – The wonder, beauty and science of our body

27 thoughts on “Revelations from a Book Fair

  1. Recalling the days that I spent at the markets doing Sacred Esoteric Healing I so relate to this sharing as it is exactly how every interaction we have plays out and as you have eluded to when we stay connected we feeling the blessing of our essences and the way that this connection is in some way felt by others and has knock-on affect on those we connect with.

  2. “When I feel like that it is like I don’t have a connection with anyone, let alone myself” and this is how most of us operate most of the time. We’re disconnected from ourselves and therefore only able to offer fragments of ourselves to others, who in turn are only able to offer fragments of themselves back and hence we live in a world that is fragmented. It is for each of us to re-locate ourselves first and then to take the whole of ourselves out into the world. Solid, connected, real.

  3. Lovely to hear how you volunteered to support your partner; and how this at first was challenging, until you re-connected back with yourself and your stillness.

  4. It seems any moment of our life has the potential to scare the pants off us, and cause much anxiety. Yet this simply seems to come about because of the power we have to bring in so many small (but truly huge) ways. The more we acknowledge our significance the more we will understand why situations may be strained.

  5. What a great experience you’ve had Joan, coming from the inside out, bringing all of you to everyone you met. It’s interesting how the first thing you noticed was your thoughts, that you became able to sit with and work through them, those sneaky negative thoughts can have such an impact on us, when we don’t noticed them. But this experience you have now understood, and now known from within the body, and now you’ve realised it, it is super powerful. We can return to it and repeat it in many other situations we encounter in life too, if we’re feeling anxious or uneasy about something. It’s very cool to know we can connect back to the inside in any situation.

  6. What we are feeling is generated by the choices we make and these choices often come from an ‘expectation’ we have put on ourselves to meet. Pictures of how things are to be remove us from the absolute ‘wonder’ of the present moment. Bringing yourself back to the present moment and the beauty on offer within it was so gorgeous to read Joan – thank you for the tips on how to do it when the time arises.

  7. This is the world we have made for ourselves that when we do not have a connection to ourselves we are then disconnected to everyone and in this disconnection to ourselves we can be abusive to ourselves and each other because there is no marker to tell us when we have over stepped the line. This then make sense that our societal standards are dropping through the floor and we have a society where anything goes.

  8. Beautiful, Joan, how you were able to connect with those thoughts coming in to your body that you realised were going to support you, not the ones that were unsettling you, and your choice to do that meant that you brought so much love through your body for yourself and all of us that day. Thank you.

    1. It is only recently that I have been able to connect to a deeper level of stillness, one that’s sitting in all of our hearts and I’ve been surprised by how defined it feels, not defined as in ‘limited or bordered or even describable’ but more in a way that stillness is a quality (almost like a substance) that can be clearly felt.

  9. Thank you Joan. What you have written flows so brilliantly, I read it with absolute ease and was surprised how quickly I came to the end. And I know I have many moments like this when you were sitting in the chair and the two choices were so clear. I am touched and inspired by the reminder and confirmation of the unfathomable strength and beauty of connecting within and then moving, talking, thinking and embracing the support.

  10. Thank you for making it so clear that it is through the body and our connection to it first and foremost that we bring service to the world and not via fancy theories, physical function, notions, affirmations or manuals.

  11. An opportunity for those visiting the book fair to meet and feel the reflection of your inner stillness rather than be distracted by what was between the outer covers of a book.

    1. Stillness is an all pervading quality. Joan your stillness would have enveloped all those at the book fair, all those in the town, everyone in the county, everyone in the country that you’re in and all of us on the planet. We are the interconnected fabric of God, we are therefore being effected by everything constantly.

    2. I love what you share Mary, an opportunity for those attending the book fair to feel Joan’s inner stillness, ‘rather than be distracted by what was between the outer covers of a book.’

  12. Coming from the inside out as opposed to the outside in…this is the key that I keep forgetting and love being reminded of!

    1. Yes I agree Henrietta. And what I get a sense of is that the more of us that develop and live this within our relationship, the more prompts and reminders we will receive.

  13. A beautiful sharing Joan, and what I have also experienced in such situations is that when I am withdrawn and anxious there is no space for the conversations and connections with clients, whilst when I am with myself and steady, there is all the space for connecting with another through conversation and a look or a smile. What is interesting too is that I have found that when running a stand or shop this shift in energy can close up or open up the shop space as people sense this openness and welcome or indeed the signals to not come in.

  14. Hi Joan, what a lovely example of how we lose ourselves and get all tangled up on the inside and then feel stressed, and how key the body, the rhythm of our breath, and our presence with ourselves can change how we feel and respond to situations. I feel the key to changing this is realising the disturbance is within ourselves, and not from our outside circumstances, as we can be in settled in our body and in our stillness in all kinds of situations. Thanks Joan, a great situation to read about today with lots of reminders for me.

  15. Beautiful Joan – thank you for sharing. Such an awesome reminder to us all that the answer to the lack of settlement and the tension we can feel in our day to day lives is not set in stone. Stillness is such a lovely quality to feel and melts the tensions we would otherwise find ourselves caught in.

    1. When we are disconnected from our bodies we align ourselves to a consciousness that is more than happy for us to be discombobulated and will keep feeding us thoughts, feelings, emotions and movements that keep the discombobulation going. When we re-connect with the body we switch our alignment to a consciousness that provides us with thoughts, feelings, awareness, realisations and movements that support us to stay connected. Two very different alignments which lead to two very different outcomes.

      1. So we’re therefore making a choice, albeit an unconscious one with every word that we speak, with every thought that we think and with every move that we make which really highlights the importance of being consciously present (having our minds with our bodies in all that we think, say and do).

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