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  • Writer's picturePenny Muller

At our Edges

Do you ever wonder which decisions are best to make?

A few weeks ago, I competed in the Queensland Eisteddfod, a classical singing competition which is held in a different town or city each year during the Easter weekend. I posted this reflection of the event on Instagram:

Another Easter weekend, another Queensland Eisteddfod done! Very proud to have competed in the Operatic Aria finals and to have placed in the Soprano Solo and Dramatic/Lyric Soprano Solo categories.

This is an intense three-day immersion in music - a test of focus and emotional capacity that takes us to our edges. Each time, there are beautiful reunions and bonding. There are also frustrations, disappointments, tears, and opportunities to grow as a singer and as a person. There are moments of feeling exposed, vulnerable, not enough, and downright terrified. Each time, there are moments when you question the very foundation of your identity and abilities as a singer and your rationality in putting yourself through such a torturous experience.

And, each time, as soon as it's over, you can't wait to go home and learn new pieces and do it all over again.

I'm very glad I have a record of that reflection on my experience, so I can revisit it when I question the adventures I sign up for. There was not a moment during those three days that I regretted the experience, or that I wanted to be anywhere but there, having that exact experience. And it was far from easy; there were many times in the weeks leading to it that I wondered why I had chosen to commit to something so challenging. Because my body didn't seem to have been coping well with stressful events earlier in the year, I had even told my body that if it didn't want to do the eisteddfod, we wouldn't do it. Days before, I had tearfully told friends that I was frustrated with the sore throats that were preventing me from preparing for the competition. There were also the waves of fatigue that rendered me unable to do anything but lie down. Both, I have realised over the years, are stress responses - just nerves. I asked my spiritually aware friends: Why, if singing is my greatest gift and purpose, do I feel that I am being sabotaged from doing it, or that I am somehow sabotaging myself? Why are there obstacles that are preventing me from ''just doing it?"

I went away, armed with well wishes and special crystals - as birthday gifts, ready to meet the experience as it would be - ready to trust the journey and the outcomes, knowing there would be difficult moments but also potential for much growth as a person and as a performer. The call to expansion was too strong to ignore. I believe this is the clarity we are seeking when we are trying to decide. For me, the decision is clear in my body - it feels made before I even have time to weigh up the pros and cons. It is a knowing, rather than a cerebral process. The nerves and the fear, and the physical symptoms that came with them, were best to be accepted and embraced as part of the process, rather than things to be avoided or seen as self-sabotage. They were signs, one of my friends said, that I was ''at my edge''. This means that we are at the border of the known and the unknown; of our comfort zone and all that lies beyond. This is something to be embraced, as when we are at our edges, we are tiny steps away from more expanded versions of ourselves - from being more and becoming capable of more. For those who have the courage to go to their edges, these experiences become seen as infinitely precious and valuable.

I like to take time between these experiences to integrate each new version of myself. Rest, reflection, play, and just 'being' are important too. My body doesn't like to be at its edge all the time. I think it's best to follow the inspiration rather than to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. To push because of a perceived ''should'' is a fear-based response rather than an inspiration-based decision. I prefer to make a decision when it feels 'big', but doable, and when I can see the potential for expansion of multiple aspects of self - during the lead-up to the experience, as well as during the experience itself. There appear to be so many ''shoulds'' in life, but they are really just made up ''shoulds''. The Universe doesn't apply ''shoulds''. Most of the decisions we think we need to make in life are due to societal programming, rather than higher-level conscious thought and intention. Mostly, they are due to some level of fear, that we, or those around us, are carrying. I find it challenging to dig myself out of the ''shoulds'', and with feeling that there are certain actions that make me a 'good person' and that there are others that don't. I am working on discovering which of these are 'truths' and which are just stories I am still telling myself.

This current Scorpio Moon has brought intense energy for me. The Scorpio Moon brings complex emotions and internal struggles to the surface, and I've been taking the opportunity to work through some of these. Some spiritual teachers say that we are here to feel good and enjoy life, and that we should always choose thoughts that feel good in the moment. While there is truth to this, ignoring our complex emotions means that they will bubble under the surface, affecting our health and emotional wellbeing and preventing us from experiencing lasting states of joy and trust in the flow of life. If we take the opportunities to embrace the darker emotions, they can shift more quickly, and we will feel lighter and freer along our spiritual path. Our choice is to sort through our stories and perceptions and grow new understandings and mindsets, or to bump up against our pain and fears over and over again. Bypassing and denial of our truth will never be long-term solutions. In fact, people who deny their emotional truths lose their compassion and ability to connect with others. They begin to resent others for not accepting them, because they are not accepting themselves as they truly are in each moment. So, fear reigns, and love is pushed further away.

There are things I want to do that feel aligned with my expansion, and I want to be able to do them freely and joyously, without questioning whether I am ''allowed'' to invest time and money in myself in the ways that I feel most inspired to. Looking back, I have never once regretted spending time or money on my expansion - not in learning, in travel, in living in new places, or in finding my tribe. I've been grappling with why, although I continue to move towards expansion, and usually do so with purpose and passion, I also do it with a level of guilt or view things like spending money as moral issues when they don't need to be. Perhaps it is that, although I have the belief that expansion is the purpose of existence and that the Universe is supporting my expansion and pointing me in the direction of it, I have not embodied this belief to the level that my old programming is not getting in the way.

The key is that we acknowledge our limiting beliefs without staying in them - that we take opportunities to work on our mindsets and practice embodying them, no matter how long it takes. Often the calls to expansion are providing these opportunities for us. The Universal energies are always responding to our intentions for expansion. The more we embody the belief that we can trust in the Universal energies and surrender to them, the more we will experience flow, joy and abundance. I am speaking to myself, also, when I say that we do not, ever, need to achieve worthiness for expansion. Our expansion expands everything and everyone around us - it is in no way a selfish decision. And, we don't need to be concerned with the ways others view this - they will come to understand in time, perhaps through our example. Although our self-sabotaging beliefs can feel frustrating, we have all the time in the world to expand. We just need to keep holding intentions for change and taking aligned actions towards it. We just need to keep following the call to expansion.

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