Friday, June 27, 2014

The Body-Mind: An Introduction

Our minds are constantly processing, evaluating, decision-making.  Our bodies function, for the most part, without much conscious thought.  So what happens when we bring our conscious awareness to the body? 

I’d like to offer a little experiment to explore the concept of body-mind connection: 

Take a moment to get comfortable in your chair.  

Place both feet on the floor and relax your shoulders.

Now take three relaxed breaths.

When I say the word feet, what is the first thought that comes to mind? You can make a mental note, or jot down notes.

Got it?

Now take three relaxed breaths again.

This time you will bring your awareness into your body and down into your feet…all the way to the soles of your feet.  You may want to close your eyes to do this.  What do you notice?  What is the sensation?  Stay with it for a few moments, breathing and “checking-in” with your feet.

Write down your experience.  How is this different than hearing/reading the word, feet?

Let’s take it one step further.

Holding awareness with your feet, stand up and walk around the room. 
What do you notice in your body as you add movement? 

Complete the exercise with three relaxed breaths.

Welcome to the body-mind - the awareness of a completely personal experience, your internal source of feedback.  It includes your whole life's experience in the present moment.  And you can access it simply by checking in.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wag the tail

I started this project in my head on the way to work at a job that I was desperately ready to leave.  I had given intent to leave and agreed to stay on while they searched for my replacement.  I found this both a relief and a burden, as what I wanted, no, what I needed, was to find breathing room, recoup and heal from the wounds of living in a world that demanded more, more, more while offering little recompense. 

A move to Texas to be with my daughter as she gave birth to my first grandchild a few short years ago blessed me with a beautiful experience, one I could not have imagined.  At the same time, the job that got me there turned out to be a lesson in humility.  And with dwindling savings, I sought work in the same field, feeling deep down I needed something different.  I accepted a position in California, which meant another cross-country move, away from my daughter and my new grandchild.  Four months in Texas...sounds like a country song. 

I moved back to Southern California, closer to a man who had watched me leave, had been hurt by my departure, but was willing to open himself once again to our possibility.  My job was a 65 mile commute – each way.  I bravely set out to make this work.  I was exhausted within a few short weeks.  We moved to Irvine so I could take the train.  I would be a train commuter.  It worked for a while. 
I was stressed at work, knowing I had a train to catch.  He had worked his schedule around my train schedule, so if I missed the train, he also missed appointments.  And then there were days when I had to drive so I could have my car.  Southern California traffic on the 5, with a border patrol checkpoint hallway home made for a long drive after a long day of work.  I felt my soul being sucked dry and the replacement was anger, bitterness, resentment, and negativity.

I registered for a workshop with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Colorado.  I had used her book, "Women Who Run with the Wolves" for years as a reference and bible.  The workshop changed me.  I was warmed and opened and loved in the presence of women just like me.  Women who longed for a life of fulfillment and depth and connection.  We sat with this teacher who loves full throttle, laughs from the belly, and speaks in a voice so clear, so true.  It was like coming home, to a home I have only had glimpses of.  Home, a place of rest and recuperation, safety and healing.  It had been so long since I felt that open and free!  My heart pumped this new blood into my veins, full of possibility.  When I say new blood coursed through me, I mean I felt an urgency and necessity to live differently, to fulfill a calling deep and dangerous.  I left the workshop prepared to forge into this new life, without knowing what it was or how to get there.

I again put my resume out there, looking for new work.  I listened to audio-recordings of Dr. Estes’ other works on my commute to and from work.  It kept the energy alive.  I just knew I was moving forward, that something wonderful was coming.  And when it didn’t fall into my lap, I became bitter again.  I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing for much longer.  I had lost motivation.  And my lack of interest tainted my environment at work.  I had become one of those disengaged, disillusioned people I had seen for years in jobs they hated, but felt they couldn’t leave because of the responsibility to family, or financial obligation, or appearance to others.  Stuck.

One day my boss called me into his office to discuss my lackluster performance.  In the midst of this conversation, he asked me if my heart was still in the game.  I told the truth.  What a relief!  We agreed that I would stay on while they looked for my replacement.  This is probably the most civilized interaction regarding ending a relationship, work or otherwise, I’ve ever encountered. 

This brings me full circle to why I am sitting here this morning writing.  At the workshop in September, we did ceremony surrounding forgiveness.  And in this ceremony, we made a vow to act on this forgiveness.   My vow is to honor the path of all people within my reach, to encourage listening to internal wisdom and to trust and listen to my own internal wisdom.  It is to this vow I now write. 

My hope is to offer wisdom from walking this path.  I do not have all the answers.  I have not walked this earth with grace or dignity at all times.  I have worked hard and I have fallen hard.  I have gotten up time and time again, many times with the help of loving family and friends and teachers, sometimes with the single voice inside that calls deeply and with clarity.

I do not have a one-size-fits-all method of healing or a guaranty or a plan that will spell it all out for you.  What I have is heart and a desire to help others heal.  I have the ability to sit with your pain and not run away.  To see and hear the unlovely and find grace in it.  We spend so much time shoving down or pushing away that which we fear, loathe, or are ashamed of.  So much time in fact that some of us live a lifetime in the preservation of face without ever letting go.  We can’t live fully because our unruly tail might slip out from beneath our well-pressed skirts.  I say, “wag the tail honey!”