Often what passes for nurturing or ‘self-love’ is nothing more than another form of  distraction. What if (as lovely as they are!) those massages, bubble baths, vacations, relationships or even meditation were really a way of trying to keep ourselves from feeling what’s there? What if, like the little boy in the movie “The Sixth Sense”, we’re desperately trying to distract, disguise, or otherwise shield ourselves from the messages that are showing up for us in a way that feels uncomfortable and scary?

As I said at the end of the last eNews I’m committed to nurturing a community where we share what it means to actually live in love, and share tools and practices that support us in doing so. Make no mistake, this IS a practice! The truth is even if we’ve been courageously and consciously nurturing our relationship with ourselves, even when we’ve made a commitmentto expanding possibility and stepping into greater freedom to choose our responses to whatever comes our way in life, there are still times when we face what I did this week.

A familiar queasiness in my gut was right there. This one wasn’t particularly big – sometimes it feels w-a-a-a-y bigger and more scarily intense that that!
Instinctively I tuned in and began the now familiar practice of attending to that part of me. As I did so, I thought “hmmm, perhaps it would be helpful if I take a few notes as I go. This is an eNews weekend.” And so I did – here they are. This is a practice we can engage as we witness our own experience and hold ourselves in love.

Holding ourselves in love and possibility – the way we would hold a child or someone precious to us

Noticing the queasiness in my gut immediately triggered a few of questions, and a choice point.  

How do I interpret this message from my body? Do I take this as a sign that something is wrong? (Houston, we have a problem!) Or do I appreciate the nudge to pay attention and get curious about what this might be calling me to notice? (How might this be calling me into being an even fuller expression of myself?)

The big choice point that makes all the difference is where do I choose to put my attention? In the direction of a problem to be dealt with? Or in the direction of what else is possible here?

If you try each of these on, unless the ‘noise’ in your body is making it hard for you to feel anything, you’ll likely notice there’s a difference in your body response even in simply asking the questions! The ‘problem focus’ usually results in a greater sense of contraction, the ‘curiousity about what else is possible focus’ generally results in the feeling of more spaciousness.

As I paused for a moment and paid attention, my heart opened even more deeply to that part of me that was experiencing that uncomfortable queasiness. I’ve done this often enough now to be clear that though this exploration may be uncomfortable, the possibility of greater freedom is always there. That’s what underlies the invitation to celebrate what is. Life is calling us into the fuller experience and expression of our greatness.

So as soon as you become aware that something is ‘up’ for you, let the ‘story’ go for a moment and tune into your body. Notice what’s there – a sense of clutching in your gut, or throat, or heart, or wherever the contraction is showing up.

Connect with that sensation in your body. Feel where it’s located and become familiar with its size, density and texture. Breathe some tender love over it, acknowledging its presence, and loving yourself for the courage to notice and become more intimately connected with the part of you that’s having this sensation triggered.

Be curious … in what way does this feel familiar? Does this sensation evoke a particular memory, or time in your life? Remember, this isn’t something to ‘think up’, it’s another moment or two of connecting with the sensation in a different way. Be open to letting the knowing come to you; feel or see or listen to what comes. Again, breathe some tender love over both it, appreciating its making itself more known to you, and acknowledging you for your commitment to deepening your connection with this part of you.

Engage in conversation with this part of you. The energy being triggered here has likely been held (stuck) in your body for a while, so be gentle with and respectful of yourself and it. Approach it with tenderness as if you had taken an upset young child on your knee, or were sitting with your arm around a dear friend. Listen deeply to what that part of you is feeling and needing. Even if you have the thought “there’s nothing I can do to make a difference here!” let it know you really ‘get’, and have been touched by its experience.

While transformation of old stuck patterns into new ways of being is a process (and we can explore other steps in that in another eNews) sometimes, our compassionate witnessing presence is all it takes for that uncomfortable stuck energy to dissipate. You may find yourself taking a deep breath – like a satisfying sigh – as the energy is released. Don’t rush away! Stay with yourself. Allow your attention to feel around inside, wondering “Is there more here?”

There may be other layers of this surface, or you may notice the sensation more intensely in another part of your body. If so, take your time, let your attention move there, and repeat the process with the energy in this part of your body too. In allowing our compassionate, witnessing presence to dissipate what we’ve been holding, we also free up space for greater aliveness and possibility to flow through us … and by all means after this, go ahead and luxuriate in that massage or bubble bath!

I DO want to note that sometimes, these sensations feel ‘bigger’ than we can hold ourselves. That’s the time to connect with others engaging this journey (fellow evolutionary partners, coaches etc.) We really aren’t created to live in isolation! And certainly, if you are experiencing severe emotional distress such as serious depression, overbearing anxiety or acute trauma symptoms, in addition to our work together, I encourage you to also pursue more traditional treatment routes such as psychotherapy and/or medical treatment.
Eleanor Longden TED Talk: The voices in my head
Eleanor Longden TED Talk: The Voices in My Head

Having said that, this powerfully respectful way of holding ourselves holds enormous possibility for changing the way we are in our world. Just this week I watched a TED Talk by Eleanor Longden called “The Voices in My Head.” In this powerfully vulnerable talk, Eleanor shares her journey of moving from rejecting her ‘internal voices’ as bad, wrong or dangerous, to learning a way of creatively and respectfully holding and listening to what they were pointing her to. Eleanor has not only transformed her own life, but is one of the pioneers of a shift in the way those experiencing severe emotional distress are perceived and treated. What else is possible here?!

I’m also curious about a couple things. First, how does this idea for practice land for you? Does it appeal and/or feel resonant?! I’m also wondering whether there’d be value for you in making an audio of my voice leading you through the process I’ve described? If that’s so just let me know, I’d be happy to create and share it!

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!