The medicine is within You
What happens within you when things get hairy and the life challenges the shit out of you? There are as many answers to this enigma as there are people, but quite often we tend to respond by tensing up and locking our system down - physically, mentally and emotionally. We might become anxious, angry, fearful and/or worried - overall looking at life from a very different angle than we would when all is peachy and smooth.
Personally, to be honest, settling in to yet another foreign country has lately has its toll on me. Climate is way colder than what my skin is used to for the past years, I’ve missed my friends, my cat, and the regular connection with my students, I’ve felt as an outsider because of still pretty dense language barrier. Overall I’ve felt it hard to stay connected to my flow. Instead of denying the status quo, I’ve practiced how to be vulnerable and honest to my feelings and sensations this situation has created. By habit, I always have been someone who very easily have taken on a brave girl -mask, but cried underneath in despair. I luckily now have learned to work with it. It has been so groundbreaking for me that I feel a need to share it with you too.
The way life has moved for the past couple of years, has been teaching me a valuable lesson about vulnerability, transparency and honesty about my own feelings. This time has been emotionally, if I may say, a very rich period altering from the deepest darkest lows to absolute bliss and joy in a very unlinear manner to say the least. I’ve experienced a spectrum of emotions that were unknown to me before and sometimes they felt very overwhelming and almost impossible to bear.
What then has changed in me and how? I guess some of the practices I was privileged to learn past years have shown me that the key to my well-being is to fully experience each emotion exactly as it is arising in me, without masking it or trying to control its natural course. This doesn’t by any means mean that I should react externally to every emotion (and go nuts about everything that happens to happen - sometimes I guess we all do), but just give myself some space to BE with my emotions. The emotions are REAL, but they are not there to kill me. They absolutely don’t have the power to do so.
It has been proven that emotions definitely have their resonance in our physical bodies and some studies even state, that a single emotion has a life-span for ninety seconds and after we have to recreate it again. We may argue whether the latter is literally true or not, but I took it as a measuring stick for my practice and asked myself - Can I be present for this and this sensation for the next minute and a half? It felt to me like short enough time to get by with whatever was jumping out of the box. Usually, the sharpest edge of whatever was tearing me, was melting away by my attention and presence - simply by allowing myself to witness and whole-bodily experience its nature for a very short time indeed. As I kept practicing this, I gradually started to understand that any emotion in itself is not actually life threatening. I can more and more stay tuned to my breath and my body, feeling myself very much safe and alive, even though I allow my consciousness to experience pain, fear, worry or whatever there may be on the plate on that given moment. I curiously and compassionately follow the natural course of each emotion through my physical body. The compassionate, full presence to whatever is rising within in truth melts the pain away or makes it more bearable in most of the cases.
How do I do that you may ask. By simply just stopping, turning my attention into the body. Breathing and just sensing and feeling WHERE in the body the emotion resides. Being CURIOUS about it rather that distracting my attention elsewhere. How does it feel like to be with this? Can I just stay with it until it recedes? Where does it have its roots? Can I understand what is triggering this emotion to come through? What will happen if I just allow it to be? Can I just care about myself like I would care for my best friend and listen?
Peeling the layers of protection in such openness feels scary at first as we are conditioned to hide our emotions even from ourselves, but I found it very clearing, healing and rewarding as I went deeper into myself. It brings about a lot of freedom and space within you. There is nothing to hide anymore. It is a practice and definitely not an easy one, but I try to leave the masks to the closet now, and embody and allow all the emotions through my physical body no matter what they are. You can do it too. It is accessible for everyone.
Body awareness and conscious breathing are just an amazing tools for that. The beautiful thing with it is that once you learn to stop, feel, allow and breathe - it is available to you at all times. And the bonus is, that is absolutely free! The medicine is in you already, we all just need to learn and remember to use it. I want to offer you here a moment of conscious, embodied breathing through a little meditation video. Take a moment for yourself - close your eyes - breathe - heighten your senses inwards and just allow it all to be. The medicine is within. You are worthy as you are. You are so loved. Always.
Give yourself a gift of presence through the video above and please share how it makes you feel!