The year before last I was jet setting around to a few places. I really got the hang of the Vancouver airport; otherwise known to us here in Vancouver as YVR, and the process that one must go through to get on a plane. I also became quite good at getting my numerous non-expendable, in my opinion, beauty products down to little bottles under 100mgs so that I could avoid the long wait at the baggage carrier and tow my bag with me on the plane for quick exiting at my destinations. But what I am about to say may floor those of you who know how realistic I am in how much is out of our control… I hate flying! The very thought of being placed into tons of metal shaped like a tube with wings I am assuming was simulated from the wings of a bird makes my skin crawl. For me it is the equivalent to the ultimate out-of-control in every way shape and form to be hurtled into the sky for hours in one of those contraptions. I know you may be thinking, but they say flying is safer than driving. True, in that obviously there are more car accidents than plane accidents, but at least in a car one can try to take their own destiny into one’s hands by swerving, maneuvering, bracing with all one’s might with both hands on the wheel. But obviously, my desire to go on a vacation and/or to visit family outweighed my fear and I always request a window seat as my way unrealistically to maintain some form of control acting silently as the co-pilot from seat A23. Insert my point here and brace for impact. In these moments of taking the window seat I am doing my very best to take control of what I can (even if it is an allusion and I probably would insult the pilots and flight attendants if they knew I was the acting A23 co-pilot. By the way… I also monitor the flight attendants in order to gauge how we are doing…). So, there I am strapped into my seat calming gently my thoughts and dropping into my body through my breath noticing my tensed muscles and upset stomach. This works and I am able to sit back eat my bits and bites open my book and enjoy the view and the ride. That is what is in my control.
Last week a client came in delighting and basking in her success of being able to calm her anxiety down in the mist of a difficult situation in her life and was able to be present in her body and was also able to regulate her emotions. We talked about what that was like for her and how good it felt to be able to have this triumph over self-regulation and self-care. Then, in her very own wisdom and insight said to me, “but of course you will need to remind me Sheri in the future that I have had this success when I come in and have forgotten that I did.” She brilliantly intuitively knew this to be true for when we are immersed in a difficult situation, or an unexpected situation, or a situation that seems hopeless and/or painful it can be challenging to stay with ourselves or remember our successes of doing so. It is not about always perfectly being with ourselves but catching ourselves when we notice we avoiding, distracting, minimizing and then having a willingness to come back and be with ourselves; however and in whatever way we need to. I told my client that I absolutely will remind her and we both smiled.
We have all experienced times of conflict with people in our lives. The very nature of being in relationship with another leads itself to disagreements, mis-communication, and even frustration. Recently, I had the very unpleasant experience of having a friend make a comment to me that left me baffled. I think his comment had a lot to do with him being tired so I tried to shrug it off as such and thought it was not a big deal. In fact, I worked really hard to dismiss it, pretended it did not matter, even tried to analyze his point of view. But as the days went on I could still catch myself ruminating over it, but only to work equally hard to ignore it. Then I noticed that I was doing things such as sleeping a bit more than normal. My appetite too had changed and I found myself not hungry. I also noticed I was retreating more and more…. Then it hit me. I was obviously not paying attention to the hurt my body was feeling and I ran to the power of my thoughts to will my feelings away and to rationalize what had happened. Not only did my friend hurt me but I then in turn ran for the hills with the power of thought and left my body high and dry. My wise body and my ability to notice my signs of flight drew me back in with myself to care and notice that the comment did bother me and I then chose to acknowledge my body and my feelings around the difficult situation. I let it matter to the far depths of my being and I was able to sooth myself and be with myself. The neat trick to this is that when we do this we are able to go back to those in our lives with cool heads and all to calmly discuss our feelings without compromising the relationship because we took good care of ourselves in our hurt. We are able to communicate effectively and maturely how we are feeling and work to deepen the relationship with our honesty and authenticity. We are able to then again reap the benefits of our relationships in their own care, love, and openness. Thank you once again wise body.
In this very moment take a minute to breath into your body and pay attention. What do you notice? What are you aware of? What part of your body is calling for your attention? Is your neck and shoulders tight? Did you notice tingling sensations in your hands? Huh, maybe you are now aware that your lower back is a bit sore from some activity you engaged in the other day. Try to stay with the sensation and to what your body is directing you to as it humbly wants us to notice and pay attention. If you find yourself back into the thoughts and the judgments in your head gently re-direct yourself back into your body navigating with your breath. Softly and kindly tell your thoughts that you are taking a momentary break from them and sink back into your body. Maybe you are finding this hard to do and notice that you keep popping back into your head. Fair enough. Simple concept but a different story all together to actually implement. I too caught myself just the other day enamored in my abilities to brilliantly use my thoughts to justify, rationalize, and finally minimize an experience I had all the while doing so leaving my poor body behind. But I managed to catch myself and re-directed myself back into my body and noticed and gave attention to how my body felt and remembered the said experience. Amazing how much better this felt and how much more real and healing it was. I validated and made my experience true through the vessel of the body and felt a release because though the body I noticed and paid attention to the truth of my experience at a physiological level not just on a neurological level. So, I will ask you again to take a breath and breath your way into your body and notice and pay attention. The body will thank you with the release and the truth of your experiences.