Strength in Vulnerability
It's winter, and here in the northeast I've been feeling my vulnerability to the cold, feeling my body tense as the icy weather penetrates my layers of clothing and coldly greets my skin... I also have recently been "forced" to go outside when I least want to. We just got a new puppy, and she needs to be taken out FREQUENTLY for potty training, at all hours of the day AND night! -- no matter what the temperature! So, when I least want to be in the cold, Lola The Puppy says, "It's either you brave the cold, or you clean up my poop on your carpet." So, out to the cold I go. Thankfully my wife has been the biggest pooper trooper of the 2 of us. Her love for Lola keeps her warm in the 10 degree temperatures at 3:00 in the morning. The cold can be a metaphor. Whether you live in a warm climate during the winter, in the cold snowy country, or are facing life challenges that penetrate your well-being, the metaphorical or physical cold can strike when unexpected, sometimes leaving you feeling a range of emotions: fearful, anxious, depressed, lonely, frustrated, stuck, chaotic, or maybe a few at a time!
I've noticed that with an increase in stressors in my life, as well as during some wonderful new opportunities to share my work in the world (those wonderful opportunities to more fully express our heart), our inner knowings, our striving to access our deeper power, can touch off painful body memories, reminding us of a time that our heart, our inner knowing, and our power was attacked in some way. Sometimes wonderful opportunities can quickly turn into fearful, confusing and struggle-filled experiences, instead of the gift it started as, an invitation from the universe to share our gifts with people who welcome and receive what we are here to offer. I also feel the impact of our global fear around finances. Like many of you, I feel the pinch of this economic reality, which touches our deepest vulnerabilities related to survival. When our first energy center or chakra is challenged in this way by life, we struggle with feeling safe and present on this earth we stand on. We can lose the feeling of having ground under our feet and of relaxing into the solid substance of the earth, trusting in the earth's ability to sustain us. When our survival issues are touched and we don't feel that solid ground under our feet (even when it's there), many of us race to the opposite pole in our body, our heads, as we obsess, worry and try to figure a way out. Our legs get shaky and our heads can spin. As a body-centered psychotherapist, trying to practice what I offer others, I often find myself just as challenged as my clients to live in my own skin, struggling to be comfortable in my own body and manage the tendencies to survive from the brain without its balance with the body. The experience I advise to my clients --to stay connected to our bodies-- can be extremely challenging and supremely tested when the feelings in our body are the furthest things we want to feel. This is true for painful feelings like fear, hopelessness, isolation.. In working with these principles, I have learned: There are 3 kinds of vulnerability. 1. There is the vulnerability to negative energies from people and situations in our lives that have a destructive impact to our state of mind and body. 2. There is the vulnerability to positive energies from people and situations that have a healing impact on our body and brain. 3. And lastly, there is the vulnerability to our own history that is carried in our tissues, in our bodies, that history that life will awaken unexpectedly. When this happens, we may suddenly we find ourselves feeling an emotion, "out of the blue". I have 5 suggestions regarding this theme of vulnerability. Hopefully these actions will help you find greater balance between the warm and cold periods of your life. 1. During this hibernating season of winter, which can foster introspection, the cold can also foster isolation. Reach out when your vulnerability leaves you feeling distressed. Is there someone you know that can bring increased understanding, compassion or faith to your experience or ? 2. Life will open up our emotional body's history, those feelings stored within our body, and these feelings have a story to tell. Can you let your body's feelings write their story, telling you what triggers them, what the feelings are saying (for instance, I'm scared), and most importantly, what your body is saying it needs? You can think about this silently, or scratch notes in a little list, 1, 2, 3. Next, do a self-guided imagery actually imagining that your body is receiving what it needs. For instance, imagining that the fear in your heart is receiving the warmth of love. 3. Stay alert to those life-supportive, energy opening experiences, people and situations. Cherish those moments, don't rush past into the next doing of your life. 4. Is there a passion, a love, or an interest of yours that you can bring out to others? When you are feeling depleted, it can often refill your cup of inspiration & comfort to give from your inner gift, without a sense of pressure but instead with a willingness to share, even from "depletion". 5. Envision a boundary, a shield around your body, when you find yourself in toxic or negative environments. Besides creating a protective boundary, an emotional shield can help us deal with the negative experiences around us without making those negative energies or people "wrong", since we all carry both positive and negative energies within us. Any one of these actions can increase our sense of peace, positive identity, and warmth in our lives and hearts -- even right in the middle of a crises (or a Puppy-induced freeze)! May we all be blessed with more and more love and joy in our lives, the patience to weather the cold and distressing experiences we all face, and the strength to reach out to those we trust! Dan