Listen to Your Body, and Hold Space for Yourself.
I keep thinking about the term brave vulnerability.
It’s thrown around lately a lot, especially in spiritual communities, as something we should all aspire to, we should all do. I honestly don’t see it being done as much as I see it being talked about. What does it even look like? I’m sure it looks different for each person.
I think it is mostly about speaking up even when there is a lot of emotion running through a person, even when he/she hasn’t gotten everything figured out, but has to say what is on his/her mind/heart. It has to be spoken aloud and people need to hear it, even though it is hard.
The thing is, for someone to be able to show this brave vulnerability, one has to feel safe. Safe in their own skin, in their own body, in the space they are in. One has to feel as if they will not be attacked for what they are saying. Or, one has to know that no matter what is done after they speak their truth, they are so secure in themselves that they can withstand and stay strong and secure in who they are.
The person knows and trusts him/herself enough to hold true and hold strong to their own body, their own being. They are grounded and safe within themselves, so that nothing can harm them.
How does one get there? Lots of work. Humility. Making mistakes. Feeling. Feeling a lot. To me, healing cannot happen without feeling. In today’s culture, there is not a lot of time for feeling. There is too much to do, too many places to be, too many people to see.
We allow ourselves possibly one hour a week, or if we are lucky, a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon, to actually do nothing and allow feeling to come through.
What if something disastrous happens at work on a Monday and you need to decompress then? Well, the kids need to be fed and given help to do their homework. Then, there’s lessons or practices. And then, bedtime. Where is the time to let Mom feel? It’s non-existent. Though, it might keep her awake all night and she may fight it off trying to make herself go to bed anyway, and then wake up grumpy the next day.
How do we change this? I’m not sure. But, I do think we as individuals can change this for ourselves. And, perhaps build a new culture as a result. When a difficult feeling comes, it is a skill to allow oneself to feel it all the way through. We talk a lot about doing that lately. But, how is it actually done?
I will attempt to describe one way here. First, you have to be able to access that difficult feeling. For some, that is easy, and for others, it is not. Journaling about a difficult time or event can help. Here, people may already feel some resistance. But, you can also write over and over, “I do not want to think about this. I don’t want to write about this.” And watch it evolve.
If you do, you may find the reason behind your resistance and eventually, push through it to the feeling behind the difficult time. This does require giving yourself the time and space to let this happen.
Any creative exercise — be it writing, painting, singing, or dancing — can help. Moving the body in a yoga practice or gym workout can also help. Emotions are stored in the body, and when we tire ourselves out enough, there is less resistance to feeling them. Sometimes, after a good workout, we may naturally feel the emotions that have been stuck inside us come to the surface easily.
Once the emotion is there, take some time to be with it.
It’s best to be in a quiet place by yourself, if possible. Even a closet or a bathroom will do, if you have no other choice.
Put a hand on your belly and another either on your back behind the belly or somewhere on your body or on the seat underneath you to stabilize yourself.
This is important — follow each of your breaths all the way in and all the way out. Let your breath flow, however it comes.
Stay with yourself. This is the hardest part.
It is easy to get lost in the emotions coming up. The feelings can feel overwhelming. Let yourself feel them, but keep that hand on the belly and on the ground underneath. Keep yourself grounded. Let yourself get lost in the feeling to let it all the way through you, but every so often look around. Feel your hand on your body and follow the breath again all the way in and all the way out.
Let yourself know you are here. Whisper “I am here, you are not alone” to yourself. You can think of yourself whispering to a younger version of yourself (your inner child).
Keep breathing. Keep feeling. Keep following the breath all the way in and all the way out.
Let yourself make sound. Let yourself cry. Let yourself scream, shout. Whatever expression needs to come out, let it. Just stay with yourself. Keep that hand on your belly or somewhere on your body. Remind yourself you are here (with yourself), and that you are not going anywhere (as a parent might do for a child having a meltdown).
Keep in mind, the most difficult emotions do not last longer than 1.5 minutes. That is how long this will last, though it may feel longer.
Eventually, a shift will happen. You will feel it. The emotion will subside. You will feel relief. The intensity will have passed.
And then, continue to breathe. Continue to be with yourself.
Give yourself what you need, the care you need. You may need to lie down to rest, or go outside into fresh air. You may need to take a walk, or you may need a shower or to do some sort of physical movement. Listen in to what your body needs, and abide.
After you’ve cared for yourself, you will feel better. You will feel more present and whole. You will be able to engage more fully in all that you do. Know that you’ve just held space for yourself. You’ve just moved through a difficult emotion and come out the other side, whole and complete. Great job! You have learned that you can fully be there for yourself. This will serve you for the rest of your life.
Ruchi Jain is all fire and water. With fire, she sees through the BS into the depth of any situation and into the light of every soul. With water, she swims through the wild waters of emotion. No water is too dark or murky, nor too light to traverse. Her core message is that with the right support, anyone can heal any wound. She uses the tools of embodiment, body prayer, meditation, body work, and creativity to help heal. She teaches Soul Motion, is a Reiki Master, and practices Jin Shin Do(acupressure). To learn more about her, check out her website.