Taking Time to Feel
Wow, its been quite a while since my last enewsletter. With so many workshops I've been leading in the past few months I haven't had time to put one together. Taking time to feel is an opportunity to balance our energy, clear our minds, connect to our vitality that lives in our emotional body and rebalance our nervous system.
So, this morning after having a good cry, which has been rare for me lately, I decided it was time to write.
I was working with a client just yesterday who I had an opportunity to see a part of myself through. Her difficulty in crying and her old defense around staying in her head reminded me of the many years I've navigated around and away from tears; trying to find a way to not express them since in my family expressing tears was simply "not done". Being supported or held when sad or in fact connected to in any meaningful way when experiencing emotions was just not part of my family's roadmap through life when I was a child. This is a "no blame" reality, in that this is how they were parented and in truth this is how I learned to "parent" myself. Maybe some of you can relate to this kind of picture. In the many clients I see, what seems common is that our body-centered emotional process never knew meaningful and intelligent support. The problem that this poses is that there is an "abbreviated" or "immobilized" expression within that contains so much body aliveness and we've adapted so many exhausting and unfulfilling strategies as children to protect our tender hearts. In truth, at its origin these unconscious strategies for disconnecting or staying above our emotions saved us as children, they protected our tender hearts, but now these protections and disconnections along with the immobilized expression of our human richness stays stuck in our bodies and minds! How do we create a new roadmap that allows us to regain this core vitality, the rich soulful and human dimension at the center of our beings? Clearly, this is a life journey, a life process and I would be doing a great disservice to say "we can do this in three easy steps"!
Yet we all need to start somewhere, we need a map, or maybe multiple maps to guide us back to our souls.
I will share my understandings about one map that I use with my clients and with myself. Again the intentions in this process are to balance our energy, clear our minds, connect to the vitality in our core emotional body, heal the "younger self" part of all of us that lives within our nervous system-our mind-body and feel integrated and grounded in our lives.
I will dedicate the next three e-newsletters to this process. Let's start with the first part of the map that gets us to this destination that I just described in the many central intentions above.
First, we have to want one or some of those intentions above. We need to feel our motivation to gain something of value! For some of us this motivation is found when we bite the dust, we've had enough, we hit the wall (numerous times!). Or we might read something that inspires us and lets us know there may be another way to live.
Secondly, we need to feel our body-centered feelings. Simply engaging in a body scan is a way to do this. In my last training, I found a very simple and valuable way to do this. It goes like this:
First, sense your skin-how your clothing touches your skin or your skin touching the air
Now sense your "muscular body"-scan from your head downwards a get a sense the areas in your body where you can sense your muscles whether they are tense or relaxed
Lastly, sense your visceral body, your emotional body where visceral reactions live-especially your heart, lungs and guts.
For me this morning, I didn't need to go through these stages. I simply first felt a place of anxiety in my heart and belly area and when I breathed into and made room for these feelings, the rich territory of sadness was underneath the fear.
Thirdly, (I have a smile on my face as I remember at this point that I shared earlier that I can't provide you three easy steps to this healing process-yet we need these markers to focus on new pathways of integration and healing) we need to stay with what we feel-give our emotional body breathing room to exist. I often integrate the breath in a meditative way, saying "breathing in, I open to the feeling-breathing out I settle into the feeling".
The other approach is to get a journal and simple write down what you feel, or draw it. Bring the left or right cortical hemisphere online with your limbic brain and body brain.
Next, bring support to the feeling. Are there loving, caring people who know how to support and connect to emotions that you can visualize. For me, I've had the fortune to work with my therapists and mentors from the Hartford Family Institute's training program in Body-Centered Gestalt Psychotherapy, who I've learned over the past 12 years that it can be safe to feel, or cry. I won't be shamed or embarrassed, but supported and acknowledged for the truth and needs within my feelings.
So as I brought a cadre of caring individuals to surround me by held back tears proceeded to unfold into soundless crying. My belly was pumping, my heart softened, tears flowed-yet no sound. Remember, I was working with an immobilized energy that still is healing, so making sound is "in process" for me and has been for many years.
So the gem here is to bring support to those difficult feelings that haven't known loving and understanding support!
I could say stop here in terms of this map. It's a lot so far.
In my next issue, I will share about how to repattern, reparent this part of ourselves-this abbreviated development the full expression of our humanity so that whatever energies are trapped in our nervous system and body have a way of knowing there's another path.
In the meantime, I invite you to practice this befriending your emotional body journey above.