Movement is a Resource

Movement is a profound yet simple resource for living. Humans, like all living systems, are actually designed for consistent, regular movement explorations among one another and the natural world. We are elegantly designed for interdependent movement. We are an integrated instrument full of bones that speak to one another fluidly: bones that call to muscles and connective tissues, bones that speak and hum the song of bending, uncurling, stepping, reaching, holding, swooping, rising, falling. We evolved as long-distance, endurance athletes; yet -- most of us now spend many hours upon hours a day sitting still. Sitting still, with constricted breath, and bent over.

This pervasive constriction of instinct and healthy impulse for movement, breeds anxiety, depression, disconnection, alienation, and overwhelm.

And when we are unsettled, scared, lonely, fearful, flooded: we tend to become even more still. This freezing response can create a self-amplifying cycle.  

I share with you this video, exploring the simple yet profound power of movement, wishing to support and encourage you to move, to create simple, gentle movement, in order to release fear, confusion, and overwhelm.

As you watch this video, I invite you to move with me, perhaps let your body explore the movement resources of pulse and pendulation. In the process, perhaps you will discover liveliness, release, relaxation and greater ease or calm.



Hiding & Being Real

Have you ever felt afraid to say what you really think?  Most of us have been in situations in which we have held back our truths, times when we  have hidden aspects of who we are. Sometimes this is protective and can help keep us safe in dangerous circumstances. Why share something vulnerable with a cruel audience? But, what is the cost of chronically side-stepping what is real and authentic in us? What is the cost of hiding?

I think the only one who know the cost of your hiding is you. Just as the only one who knows the cost of my hiding is me. However, it feels true to say that we all lose important parts of ourselves when we hold back in these ways as habitual, fixed behavior. When we hide our truths, we cultivate doubt rather than confidence. We support self-criticism and inner alienation rather than appreciation, celebration, and love of our unique way of being. 

By now, we have all heard many stories of how we should be. We have all heard many versions of what is not good enough in us, of the ways we have fallen short in the eyes of our culture or in the eyes of specific people in our lives. 

My question to you, is when we gift away to others the permission to define who we are or to calculate our worthiness, our competence, or our value, what do we lose? I think, among other things, we lose touch in some way with our solidarity, our own inner right to know and support ourselves.

Yes, feedback can be very helpful; given with kindness, and without the murkiness of someone else's agenda or reactivity, it can help us grow. But so often we are given feedback that is a projection of someone else's unconscious narratives, projections, or undigested hurts. 

When we have heard volumes about our inadequacies, we may feel very afraid of speaking. We may doubt we know our own truth at all. 

So, I encourage you to take back the inner throne. I encourage you to reclaim your center of inner authority, of inner wisdom. How?

I suggest starting in creativity (which we all have, as living beings) - start with writing, or image making, or moving. Start with a theme, like, the inner temple, the inner throne, inner wisdom, the voice inside, the sacred inner circle, etc. I'm suggesting taking time, regularly, to cultivate an intentional relationship with the center of your human being. You are, actually, your own authority on your life. No one else has spent more time with you than you have; no one knows the inner story of your experience but you. This is truth. Take time to listen in there. Make space and time, and creative, supportive ritual, for creating relationship with the sacred place inside you. This is the place of your truth, your wisdom, your voice. Usually, this place inside is a lover of solitude, quietude, spacious music, and breath, of fresh air, and bird song. This is a place of Soul, beyond compression, constriction, and wounding. This is a place inside that you can court. You can develop a deep relationship with this inner place of knowing, feeling, and sensing. This inner temple can be a powerful compass for living.

It's totally okay if you do not really know this place inside right now. Just take a moment to exhale all the air from your body, in this moment, and as you exhale land your body weight into the earth. Let your jaw land into gravity, your sitting bones, your legs. Take a moment to inhale - into the belly if you can - then exhale again; find the soles of your feet on the ground, and lengthen your spine. Breath again. And again.    Exhale    all    the    way    out.    Listen to the sounds in the room and outside. Take a moment to really listen....   See the colors and shapes around you.   Breathe some more.     Feel a sensation in your body as your breath moves you. Lungs and ribs expanding. Air rushing out from your mouth or nose.     And try this on: with each exhalation, now, speak inside you the words: I am.      I am.      exhale all the way out.    I am.    Feel your relationship with gravity, the support of the sturdy earth beneath you, and your spine traveling from earth to sky. Breathe into your belly, and exhale     all the way out.    And again.

"Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am."

- Rilke


All that is uncertain

What does the phrase "the mystery" evoke for you? How about the phrase "all that is unknown"? Or the words "things are so uncertain", or "I don't know what will happen"?

There are many things we do not know; this is the simple truth. And then, there is our personal response to what is unknown or uncertain: what we do with not knowing, how we organize around the experience of uncertainty moment to moment and characteristically. Sometimes we relax and sometimes we contract. Sometimes we might be able to rest into the spaciousness, while other times that vastness, or it's undefined, unpredictable range of possibilities may feel overwhelming. Sometimes the unknown and our own sense of uncertainty can prompt waves of fear or anxiety to flood through us.

It is true that, culturally, in North America, many of us we do not grow up with much training in how to be with what is unknown, or uncertain. Much of our schooling systems focus on questions and answers. There are wrong answers and right answers, which help us describe a version of the universe that is unknowable. In school, and in our work lives, we are supposed to know the answers to the questions and the problems. Not to know is considered to be a problem. 

So too, many of the religions that offer support and comfort to us, do so partly through describing knowables: stories about how the world was made, stories about what God is and how God behaves, descriptions about how to be a good person, and stories about what happens when we die.

Many aspects of our experience, though, indeed, much of our actual lives are unknown, or uncertain. For example, we do not know when we or our loved ones will die or how. We do not know what is coming around the next corner. We do not know what our government or the governments of other countries will do. We do not know how we will be received by the many others we meet as we go about our days. Will we be warmly received, met with indifference, or rejected? Will we get where we need to go on time? For some of us, we may not know how to make ends meet, how we will find the money to feed the children, or where we may sleep at night. Indeed, from large to small elements of life, much is uncertain for all of us. 

The point is, because so much in our lives is uncertain, developing ways of being with that reality of uncertainty can be helpful. Taking some time to develop skill in being with groundlessness can offer a useful element of stability in the unknown.

So how do we do this?

Many people find support through relaxing the flow of their breath, allowing a longer exhalation, and letting the muscles of their bodies rest into gravity. Resting your muscles into gravity may feel like giving your weight to the earth, relaxing downwards. This lengthened breath and relaxing muscles can calm our central nervous system, helping us feel less fearful and anxious or overwhelmed. Also, when we bring attention to the experience of connecting to the solidity of the earth -- connecting to the solid earth through our feet, our sitting bones, or through our backs if laying down -- we can rekindle our experience of groundedness rather than feeling scattered, lost, or disconnected. We can do this by gently pressing down and even rolling through the parts of our bodies that physically connect to the floor beneath us. When we feel ourselves getting tight, in our thoughts and our bodies, we can bring gentle and simple movement to our bodies. Especially helpful are movements that open and expand our body position in space, and movements that release physical tension from our muscles. These methods release stress hormones from our bodies and send a message of relaxation and confidence to our brains.

Bringing our awareness to the here and now, making use of our exhalation (lengthening it and slowing it down), and making use of the regulating impact of gentle, simple body movement - three ways to create a felt-experience of stability in the midst of uncertainty or in the face of the unknown.  These methods will not make the unknown known, but they can help us regulate our emotions and stress hormones, helping us feel more sturdy in the mystery.