Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
I realize that this is my third post about silence this month.
It has certainly been a theme in my life and something that I am working through this eclipse season to not only uncover and think about, but to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING about. I am frustrated with myself and my silence. My hiding. Perhaps this frustration is my safe-word for "anger." And anger, as I have come to recognize, tends to highlight when a boundary has been crossed.
The boundary is about self-love.
Hiding, for me, has been a strategy to stay safe. In my relationships, in my work, in my social life. If I am silent, no one will leave me. That's the thought. I am preventing my heart from abandonment.
But the sad thing about closing off your heart is that it stays blocked both ways. When you try to protect your heart from pain, you also block the joy. Expressions of the heart are not necessarily love notes and kisses. Expressions of the heart can be any of your feelings. You can express your heart's truth with anger and sadness. When I hold back, I am holding all parts of myself back.
And this self-restraint is itself a self-abandonment. It's not my truth. How painfully ironic that I am silent because I am trying to save myself from abandonment, but that silence itself it self-abandonment.
Insert brain explosion emoji here!
In my efforts towards action and feeling rather than thinking, here we go! Here are a few of the practices I am working on this month as I heal my abandonment wound:
Have any tips to share? I'll let you know how it goes!
What do you see in these eyeballs?
This was me, last Wednesday. And I was so effing afraid in the moment I took the photo. I wanted to capture it "just in case" something happened to me. Sounds morbid? Maybe a little melodramatic?
When I was newly nine-years-old, my mom left me alone for the first time when she went to the store. I was pumped. An introvert, artist, writer - I LOVED being alone. With older siblings, however, I never actually FOUND myself alone. So this was a gift. My older sister was nearby, at a neighbors, and my mom would be home in a short time.
The long story short of it is that a man came to the door. He was selling - or maybe fixing?? - vacuum cleaners. Electrolux. I answered the door (ugh) and let him know that my mom would be home soon (double ugh). He pushed his way inside and went to the living room couch. "I'll wait."
I am not going to go into the whole story. I was not raped. It's sad that I feel as though I have to say that. For years, people would tell me how lucky I was (to have not been raped). But I never felt lucky. I felt robbed of my innocence. The whole experience left me terrified of people in general and of men, specifically. I feared being alone, answering the door, walking on the street.
I have experienced a lot of healing. I am so thankful for all the work I've done, all the exercises and tools at my disposal. But there are still times...
Our oven is broken and I have been putting off calling the repair man for months. I was embarrassed to be scared of having a repair man in the house. But I am scared. Logically, of course, I know that it's all ok and I'm not going to die-- but in the moment? It really does feel like life or death. Once the time window (10a-12p) was set, I found myself disaster planning. I asked my husband to keep his phone on - LOUD. I checked windows, unlocking them in case I needed to jump out for a quick get-away. I put my car keys in my pocket, phone in my hand.
And then I took this picture.
For years, I tried to make the fear go away. Now, I notice that it's there. I do what my brain needs for a little bit (plan, prepare, talk to myself), and then ultimately, I tie my brain to a mantra and focus on my breath.
My mantra on Wednesday was "I am safe." I remembered to breathe.
- breathe in 4 count,
- suspend the breath 4
- breathe out 4.
The man came. His name was Dan and he was kind and jovial. We laughed and I felt ok. But I kept my phone close and I patted the keys in my pocket. I kept breathing and counting my breath. And I was ok. I am safe. I am ok.
There is no climax to this story. Dan the repair man came into my home to fix an appliance. He was a regular person with no mal-intent. We interacted without incident. I was in fear, I breathed through it. He left. I am safe. I am ok.
I almost didn't write about this experience. The small moments in life that we don't share with the world. In the past, I have minimized my experience(s). I remember reading a post during the #MeToo movement when people asked "did it count"? The same thoughts of "you are lucky" that you weren't raped. I told myself I was ridiculous, silly, not worth expressing.
But seriously, fuck that.
Then I read a post by my lovely friend, Joanne. Telling her story of survival. And I realized that the world I want to live in is one where we express how we feel. Where we support each other.
You are not alone. You are safe. You are ok. And if you're not? If you need help, reach out.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Breath workshop with Brian MacKenzie and Rob Wilson, both of Power Speed Endurance (PSE). "Breathwork & State" was an all-day session on the benefits of breath.
The PSE crowd draws Cross-Fitters, lifters, runners, and other endurance and power sport athletes, and came from the perspective of accessing the breath to improve performance.
There were not many yogis in the audience, and I felt lucky to have had some breath work learning and practicing before entering the room. I really appreciated how Brian and Rob talked about breath in terms of "play"; I use this concept with clients, trying to take the seriousness out of the practice. It's supposed to be fun! Play around with your movement, with your breath, and see what works for you.
The wonderful thing about utilizing the breath is that it is always available; you can do it driving, in the board room, with your kids. You don't have to close your eyes. When you focus on the breath, you pause. It gives you that moment to make a choice about your next action.
So I've been practicing it all week. This very simple breath exercise:
Inhale (5 counts)
Hold breath (5 counts)
Exhale (10 counts)
Hold breath (5 counts)
I practiced this when I was feeling low self-esteem after scrolling FaceBook (this happens to me a lot. We can talk more about this another day!). I hopped in my car, phone in the backseat, and went to do an errand. During the 5 minute drive, I practiced this breathing exercise. I probably did it for 20 rounds. I arrived at the cupcake shop calmer, feeling .... better.
Later in the week, I was getting frustrated with a work situation. My brain kept coming back to "I'm so frustrated", which of course is literally telling myself (programming myself) to be frustrated. I noticed that thinking, so I turned it around.
And it worked.
I encourage you to try this one! Play with it. If 5-5-10-5 is too much, try 3-3-6-3 or 4-4-8-4.
Or lose the "holds" and focus on extending the exhale.
You gotta feel it to heal it.