Body Wisdom to the Rescue

Recently I was telling a friend about a major life-changing decision I made  about seven and a half years ago to quit my full time job of eight years as an eco-educator for a private company.  I really had no idea what I would be doing next, but I did know that the signals in my body were definitely telling me it was time for change….a big change!

Even though I’d had quite a bit of experience with following the cues from my body and finding peace of mind through being in nature, once I left that job I forgot everything… and I panicked!

I remember for the first month being in such a place of overwhelm and fear, that I barely left my apartment and spent many days just pacing around with my mind whirling at 100 mph!

Luckily I had had my conscious movement practice for many years, so I had a place to go a couple times a week where I could get out of my head and relax back into my body.

And it was also fortunate that I’d saved up money over my last year of employment, imagining it might take a few months to discover what direction I was meant to go next.

However, while still at my job I hadn’t made any time to really dive in deeply to consider what would be next…and so I felt regretful about that and told stories in my head about how foolish I was to not be more prepared.

Then one day at the end of one of the conscious dance events I was at, the teacher read this quote by spiritual teacher Adyashanti: “Freedom is a state of complete and absolute insecurity and not knowing.”  In my state of embodied presence after the dance, that quote really sank in and totally changed my perspective.

From then on, when the insecurity and uncertainty flooded my being, I reminded myself of how totally free I was! It worked! And I even stopped judging myself as foolish.

Instead I began spending the days exploring nature and my own internal landscape by checking in with the wisdom of my body.

I’d been trained and had practiced a technique called “Focusing” for many years, which I now remembered to put back into use!

Focusing is a somatic awareness practice where you become aware of a “felt sense” in your body, then stop and breathe into it. Next pay attention to the details of where the feeling is and how it feels in your body (tight/loose, still/moving, hot/cold, etc).

As you observe the details you might also be able to notice what thoughts arise with the energetic or physical sensations you’re experiencing: memories, judgements or projections.

The next part is where it often can get most challenging: Our minds want to rush in and fix how we feel, or judge it or figure out what it means. But here’s the important part: Rather than rushing to figure it out or fix it, just keep feeling it as it is…

And say Yes to this feeling, welcoming it, even if it feels uncomfortable. Stay with it and trust the body’s intelligence.  This is your wonderful Life Force Energy sending you message!  This feeling is a part of you that wants and needs attention. 

When the feeling is given this welcoming attention, it will eventually shift… and you may even have a sudden insight that clarifies an issue you’ve been dealing with!

I know from personal experience that it can be challenging enough just to stay with uncomfortable feelings, let alone welcome them in a loving way!

Yet, by staying with the experience in the body and really learning what its message is, we clear the way for learning more and more about who we really are under the conditioned beliefs, personality and safety mechanisms of the ego.

As we allow ourselves to let our body lead, even when it’s not pleasant, we open up the possibility of seeing clearly what comes next!

And this is exactly what led me to breathwork.  A few months after leaving my job, I began leading workshops that I’d developed called Gaia Dance. Yet I knew I wanted and needed to offer more.

To make this long story shorter, it came down to taking a teacher training for either yoga or for breathwork.  Once again, I fell into my old pattern of trying to “figure it out” in my head.

I felt so much anxiety and confusion as I went round and round in my head about the best option.

 My finances were running out and I needed to make a big decision, but felt completely stuck.  I felt like I couldn’t trust myself to make the right decision, so I talked to so many people… everyone had their opinions and reasoning! Yet what finally came to the rescue was my body wisdom!  

I cleared an afternoon and set the intention to sit, move, breathe, make sounds and just let my body lead and do whatever it was calling for, asking it to tell me what was right for me.

I didn’t rush or worry, I just stayed with everything that came up and kept my mind out of it, until all of a sudden, probably an hour later, I sat up, looked around the room to bring myself back…and said outloud “Breathwork!”  It felt totally clear!

If you’ve done breathwork with me, you’ve heard me talk about “breathing into” the place that you’re feeling the energy arising and saying yes, much in the way as described above.

So I invite you to try this process the next time you find yourself needing to “work through” something that isn’t clear…

You can use this somatic awareness process on your own, yet it takes practice!

You may want to add some movement if that feels like what your body wants as you stay with this internal energy that wants your attention.  And sitting or slowly walking in a quiet place where you have some connection with nature can also amplify your connection to your body’s message!
Finally, I’ll add that it is incredibly helpful to have a guide to support your journey of listening to your body’s wisdom for next steps.  Let me know if you’d like to know more about how I may be able to support you if you’re finding it challenging to connect in deeply through your body and follow its lead!

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