Life is simple. Life is complex. We have a destiny to fulfill, and an ego that clouds our clarity. The ego’s job is to fear. Our heart’s job is to feel. When the ego fears, it clenches. So does my heart. So does my communication. So do my teeth.
In the turmoil of my twenties, I struggled with identity issues: love, relationships, and my purpose in life. Living entirely in my head, I neglected my body, especially my teeth. I was spaced out and confused. Eventually, I had to face the consequences of my denial. When I was 36, pregnant and had just arrived in the United States, I had to manage a major dental crisis.
Last month on a Friday, I had an abscess around the only tooth I can’t afford to lose. It was a bummer and it was illuminating.
I finally understood that it is ironically more stressful to fear the fear and avoid it than to feel the fear. Indeed, it is a relief to come out of denial and deal with reality, even though it is scary.
Years ago, a healer told me that people who have teeth issues suffer from the Rabbit Complex. The rabbit constantly fears being eaten by other predators. He can die of a heart attack if a predator stalks his hutch. The rabbit is afraid to express himself and provoking a reaction in others. So all he risks is moving his nose and teeth, eating carrots, thus playing it safe.
Because of my dental crisis, I canceled a business trip to NYC. It was disappointing. As an independent consultant, I fear cancelling work. As a mother, I fear being away from home. As a human being, I fear violence, hatred, famine, drought, flooding and earthquakes. I fear everything. Yes, I could live my life in a rabbit hole. If only I wasn’t fearing my fears. If only I wasn’t clenching my teeth. If only I wasn’t afraid of even munching a carrot.
My husband who is also my business partner went to NYC on his own and successfully led the facilitation we were supposed to do together. I rested at home healing from my abscess, and wrote this blog. It was the right move. Was it a health crisis or a health resolution? Maybe it was both. In any case my body, mind and spirit became aligned.
Now that the crisis is over, all I can say with a laugh is So What if I lose my teeth… How do I want to live my life? Right? I want to slow down, be more present and continue to move into the reality of fears and feelings in my being, with emotional detachment from the drama. And eventually, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche* would say to those who want to awaken the true heart of bravery, learn to smile at fear.
How about you? Do you take care of your body? Do you feel your fears? Do you clench your teeth?
* Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987) is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. His books are remarkable.