So I fell off my schedule of posting daily about my readings and exercises from Your Body Knows the Answer by David L Rome, but I can assure you I was doing it. In fact, it was the doing of the exercises that completely distracted me from my posting! As I am a body ‘geek’, I love to dive in and dig deep when it comes to the body and feeling things, and this new mode of conversation between body and mind has me completely enthralled. However, David does warn about over-identifying with the felt sense, to fall in and experience it rather than observe it from a place of friendly attending. So while I’m tuned in, I’m also overdoing it. Story of my life.
And the story of the body for most people I think. We do, do, do and rarely stop to ask the body how it feels about it. Is it what our body needs? Are we doing it well, in a respectful and healthy way? I’m guilty of this for sure. In fact I was taught to ignore the demands of my body in order to push further, do more, and go harder. I’m now trying to have a healthier relationship with myself, and these exercises are doing a fine job of helping me tune in to my body’s cues. I’ve begun to notice an awareness of quiet cues my body gives me in the course of my day. Not obvious and immediate like hunger pangs or a headache – something subtler. A tightening of a shoulder. The awareness of tension in my throat. Noticing and immediately acknowledging the emotion that comes when I notice the physical signs. And it makes me aware of all the emotions I store in my body that I would usually overlook or repress.
I like the 3 approaches used to open a conversation with the felt sense. The first is simply noticing what’s already apparent and waiting to see what comes up from that. The second is to ask, “What wants my attention?” and noticing what responds. And here it’s important not to get lost in the story, the events that may have brought the feeling. Instead, if you can stay with the feeling, often there is a second, deeper layer that actually can provide insight and wisdom into the situation you’re contemplating. The third approach is to think of a specific situation and then wait for something to present itself. Here too it’s important not to get too invested in the details of the situation itself.
Which is a lovely reminder to me that putting a story on feelings is often unnecessary, and can even confuse things. We can justify almost anything if there’s a believable story about it, right? But what if you just stay with the feelings involved and don’t give them any ammunition? In my experience I find not only is it simpler, but the feeling tends to resolve on its own much faster. Anger, for instance, that doesn’t have a backstory to feed it, tends to burn out rather quickly. And behind the initial flash is something quieter but more to the point, a clarity you can work with.
This happens all the time in the body. You may know someone who received a diagnosis for an illness or injury, and before long it seems the diagnosis now defines every part of that person’s life. Every sensation, every experience, every challenge is viewed and judged through this new lens. And while some of it is valid, it’s hard to know sometimes if we’re attributing more than is necessary. So I think it’s an interesting exercise to try ‘dropping the story’ once in a while and see if the things we see can survive without it. You may be surprised by the results.
So my goal for week 3 is to identify less, not get so lost in the feelings, and continue to operate from a Grounded Aware Presence with friendly attending. I’m really enjoying this process!