I have often written about my own personal process with regards to “not taking things personally”. Recently, when I had a session with my mentor and supervisor, there was another layer that emerged from that. Even though I understood the collapse of the internal boundary beforehand, which is essentially what “taking things personally” is, I experienced deeper layers underneath that; feelings that I distanced myself from. I had been frequently working with my mentor on staying in my body without interpreting sensations or coming to conclusions too quickly. I often felt criticised when she guided me back to my body, as I really wanted her to listen to what I had to say or what insights I had in that moment. I perceived her guiding me back as a judgement, even though objectively I understood that she was coming from a very neutral, allowing and kind place.
I interpreted her intentions and directions as “I’m not enough”, “I’m not doing this right” and “I should be somehow different”. In those moments, my heart was pounding and I felt very exposed and vulnerable. I could feel the increased blood flow to my face, a sign of feeling ashamed. My last session with her was a real breakthrough for me, as I could stay with the physical sensations and discovered the huge amount of fear in my system, which I often override or don’t acknowledge. My go to place has been anger, fight or action. In that moment, I could sit with my helplessness, which touched into very young places inside of myself. Even though it was uncomfortable, it was manageable and the energy eventually got processed and moved. I feel the moment I moved beyond the “taking things personally”, I could really be with the emotion of fear, ultimately evoking a deep shift inside of myself.
What are the emotions you tend to distance yourself from?
September is one of my most favourite months of the year and I feel it's a good time to reflect. The change of the season is palpable - with the nights getting longer and the sun rise happening just a little later every day. With the autumn equinox on the 23rd of September (in the UK) the shift in season is clearly marked. At this particular moment, the sun crosses the celestial equator; and the Earth's rotational axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the sun. For me, it's a moment of stillness and contemplation, especially given the tumultuous energies during 2018 and especially during the last three months.
Reflecting on the year so far, I've been very interested in the more widely observed patterns and the collective energy. What is emerging across the board? What are the energies that are moving through us? Words that have sprung to mind and have been reflected back to me by various people are: re-calibration, reset, reboot, major shifts. I feel that there is a deep dismantling of the old, especially long-term relationships, both intimate and business, including organisations and communities. For myself, I have had two major changes this year - related to my training as a body psychotherapist and to business - and in both instances, it was out of my hands and I was presented with the changes; i.e. it was out of my control and that is not an easy place for me to be in. My task has been to feel all there is to feel with regards to the changes, such as the hurt, grief, anger and betrayal, but staying away from blaming, including blaming myself, or needing to do something about it. My intent throughout this quite difficult time has been to stay vulnerable, to stay open and to trust the process - that out of the chaos and the dismantling something beautiful and very different can emerge, which would not have been possible in the old structures. It's also a great opportunity for healing the deeper places inside of me and to invite different energies into my life, such as lightness, space and excitement.
If you are also in the midst of some fundamental and what might seem very destructive changes, trust the process. Trust that we are exactly where we meant to be and that the dismantling and collapsing of our lives and relationships is part of the process of creating something new, exciting and beautiful - with more vibrancy.
Even though I'm, of course, always in flux, I've been in a state of distinct re-orientation since summer of last year when I apprenticed the Forrest Yoga Foundation and Advanced Training. Afterwards, I was authorised by Ana to teach these programmes without her, but together with another guardian. There is only one other person in Europe who is authorised to deliver trainings at this level.
I had the clear feeling that I had reached a level where I wanted to be and where there were a lot of options. However, I have been unsure where to turn to next. Therefore, I've made a conscious decision to look at events and partnerships from a much more energetic, feeling and also heart place.
Does the energy flow or is there an incredible number of obstacles coming my way? Of course, the question is always: Is it a test or a sign, i.e. is it about overcoming the obstacles or is it a sign that I need to be somewhere else? Since I've been developing a more feminine approach to life, I've stopped pushing so hard and have been following the energy where it flows more organically, which is something that does not come natural to me.
I have been reminding myself to trust the process, that I'm exactly where I need to be and to keep my heart open and soft. My task has been to tolerate space when I have created it - instead of needing to fill it immediately when it opens up.
I encourage you to sit with the uncertainty and the unknown as we truly don't know how our process will unfold. Trust that things are in the right place unfolding at the right pace.
Often when I get angry, my therapist points out that I have "abandoned myself". It's in those moments where I'm overtly angry at somebody else for crossing my boundaries or doing something I deem as unfair. However, what often lies underneath it all is that I have left myself and I'm not standing behind myself anymore. I'm not giving myself the backing I need and also deserve. That's the moment where the anger rises; it's in reaction to my abandonment.
When I do catch it, I find it useful to explore all the subtle ways I'm blaming myself for the situation. In those instances, I often don't like myself and find it hard to bring compassion towards my own process - something I teach to my students, but invariable fail to do so myself. This process is very subtle and I have to really sit with the feelings to uncover the deeper layers of it all.
I encourage you to feel into your anger the next time it arises and feel for the ways you might be not giving yourself the support you need and deserve. Stand behind yourself no matter what! Move into your heart space and feed yourself from that place.
Several months ago I dreamt about a dragon. She was quite small and was not able to spit fire. In many respects she felt like a very young dragon. The dream was more complex than that, but I have become very fascinated specifically about this young dragon and have been exploring the medicine of this symbol.
What has stood out for me when reading and exploring it in my therapy and in supervision is that the dragon carries magic and a very ancient wisdom. She is the keeper of something very precious. I feel that we all carry magic inside of us, but we are too busy in our lives and live too much in our heads to connect to the ancient knowledge we carry in our bodies. We also fight the magic by rationalising our lives and our experiences instead of tolerating the mystery and being fascinated by it.
Connect to your own magic instead of trying to kill it off! Connect to your own dragon! Write to me and tell me about your magic moments and your own dragon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since I have been doing a lot of driving lately, I have downloaded some audio books to listen to during my journeys. I have listened to hours of Dr. Brene Brown and I really enjoy her simplicity, depth and honesty in the way she presents her material. Simultaneously reading her book "The gifts of imperfections" this sentence stood out for me:
"The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows."
This sentence was a summary on how it's often difficult for us to experience joy, as we are afraid of losing it again. Not experiencing joy seems a safer place, because we don't have to deal with the possible loss of it later on. When we are fully invested in this emotion we are in a vulnerable position, which can feel uncomfortable and uncertain, but it's absolutely worth it.
Catch yourself when you are holding back on joy, since you will be missing out on life!
I have been reading Tara Brach's book "Radical Acceptance" and what has stood out for me is the notion of the "sacred pause". We usually keep ourselves extremely busy, so that we don't have to feel and really be with that is, because being present can be very uncomfortable. When we take a moment and simply pause to feel how we are and what we are experiencing, we are creating a space and thereby we are creating choice. The pause can be as short as a couple of deep breaths, but it can also stretch over several months. It is a way of creating room to be with the experience and not to rush into the next thing, properly sensing what is actually happening in that moment in time. Tara Brach states: "Often the moment when we most need to pause is exactly when it feels most intolerable to do so".
Next time you are getting overwhelmed and you feel swept away by feeling and the situation around you, take a sacred pause and notice how you are and what you can sense in your body.
I wish you a happy and healthy 2015!
Recently I have found myself in a situation where I have been forced to look at my relationship to authority. Over the last seven years I have always been very interested in boundaries and how to set appropriate and healthy ones without getting too rigid or inflexible. Boundaries are important as they are defining and creating a safe space where trust can be built and healing can take place. However, I have never looked at what I do if someone else sets boundaries. How do I react and what do I do when someone in authority creates a boundary I don't agree with? These are the questions I have been asking myself lately. With the help of my supervisor and my therapist I have come to the following preliminary conclusion: I either abandon myself and I become submissive or I'm rebellious and run away. In other words, I'm either the "good girl" or the "rebel". The question that has been crystallising from this is: Given the two habitual and polarised positions, how can I get to a third one - to a place where I'm not running away or removing myself from the situation, but where I'm standing my ground and where I'm engaging in a relationship with someone in authority without losing my own centre?
I feel the answer is very much about stepping into my own power, trusting my instincts and experiences and allowing myself to make mistakes. If I can accept my own authority more and be able to set clear boundaries, I feel that accepting boundaries especially from people in authority will become easier and less energy consuming. Then it might be possible to engage with authority without losing myself or running away from it all.
After having handed in all my course work for my Body Psychotherapy course last month, I'm about to have my last weekend with my group in Cambridge. I've felt for the last three months that I've been in a state of major transitions where endings are very prevalent.
I'm finishing my course after five years of training, I'm ending my relationship as it is now with my psychotherapist whom I've seen for six year and I'm redefining my work. However, I'm not very good with endings and tend to move on to other things very quickly. I normally don't allow myself to feel what happens in that space where I need to let go of something, as I am too busy to plan my next project.
Endings can be very painful and often feel uncomfortable. I feel more at home with beginnings and going deeper, but I have a harder time to create space around when courses, projects, relationships, etc. finish.
My intent is to stay in feeling during this important period of transition, as I know that being spacious around endings is absolutely vital to live an authentic life and to be able to honestly connect to the people and the environment around me.
When you are in standing poses and your legs and hips are shaking, you may wonder what you can gain from these postures, particularly since they are a modern invention and traditional ancient yoga only worked with seated postures. In fact, "asana" is translated as "seat".
Apart from the obvious physical benefits of strengthening the leg and hip muscles, as well as being one of the best ways to open the hips - even better than seated poses - standing poses have an energetic and emotional effect on the body and mind.
One of the most import aspects for me is the ability to ground myself through standing poses. Grounding means to be in touch with the earth and therefore in touch with reality, which helps with seeing things for what they are without distortion and inner dialogue. When in standing poses we can direct our attention into our legs and feet more easily and send the energy downwards - thereby establishing an energetic connection with the earth. When we bring energy down the body, we reduce anxiety and stress, which often manifests as too much energy in chest and head.
Standing poses are a great way to draw our attention into our legs and feet and to run energy down our body, establishing a connection with the floor. When we are more grounded, we are also more rooted in the here and now. So, next time you are in standing poses, enjoy the feeling of being more rooted in reality and let your legs shake!
Yoga, well-being and mindfulness... always walk in beauty.