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Healing the Wounds; Pain Body Parenting

By Lisa Meuser.  “She wants to trap me.”

“She’s always trying to control me.”

“She’s ruining my life on purpose.”

“She knows that what she’s doing is driving me crazy.”

“Clearly, she’s here to make my life miserable.”

 

Let’s take a poll. Who do you think “she” is in the above statements?

  1. The speaker’s mother
  2. The speaker’s partner/spouse/housemate/friend
  3. The speaker’s child
  4. The speaker’s pet
  5. The speaker’s colleague
  6. <<insert anyone, from waitress, to sales clerk, to person driving in front of them, etc>>

Realistically, it could be anyone. When we have a sense that other people trap us, control us, ruin our lives, and make us miserable, then we can’t help but project that onto the people around us. You see, the person above isn’t really talking about another person. The person is talking about his or her own relationship to the world and how it makes them feel. These sentiments are encapsulated by their current interaction, which they then project upon the other and they think, “It’s them.” Chances are good that these thoughts aren’t new, either. They’ve likely been around for awhile, either consciously or subconsciously, and they probably first came on the scene when the individual was quite young. Possibly pre-cognition.

You might be wondering, “Who would think that their infant is trying to trap them?” (particularly if you’ve never had children). Regardless of what you’re thinking, my clients are normal everyday people – people like you, and people like me. In fact, my clients often express things to me that I’ve thought countless times about my own child. As I’ll expand on later, when I was a young mother I was often operating from past hurts and experiences that I’d never processed. Those hurts infiltrated my thoughts, crept into my life, and were projected onto my daughter. So when my clients utter sentiments like you read up top, I understand. My clients are humans who get overwhelmed and feel powerless. I get it. I’ve been there, too.

We can most easily get a sense of these projections when we make the recipient of these accusations an infant. It is unlikely that a sane, rational mind would honestly think that an infant is here to purposely make life hard for its parents. But those thoughts aren’t coming from a sane, rational person. They are coming from a person who, ultimately, is stuck in their own childhood. They are coming from a person who is in pain, and is likely blaming themselves. But blaming oneself feels horrible, and utterly disempowering, rendering a parent even less capable. So the blame moves outwards, as a survival strategy, onto the object that seems to be causing the problems: the child.

Oddly enough, this blaming outwards is the opposite of what we do when we’re young. As young people it’s not safe to get mad at our caregivers. It wouldn’t be a wise move to blame the person who is in charge of feeding, clothing, housing, and – most importantly – loving us. We can’t bite the hand that feeds us, or hate the heart that’s in charge of loving us. So, unbeknownst to even ourselves, in our earliest days we don’t get mad at our parents, and we don’t blame them. Instead, we internalize it all, we experience powerlessness, and then we assume that something is wrong with us to explain why Mom or Dad isn’t there when needed, to explain why they yell or hit, or why they ignore us. We assume it’s something we’ve done when our parents’ attention forsakes us for our siblings, their partners or friends, their job, or even their phone or the TV. We assume that it’s us- whatever is going on, it’s our fault.

Naturally this is disempowering, and we try to regain that power by pleasing those around us so that they will give us the food, clothing, housing, and love that we so desperately need.  We hide our true feelings, and we put on appearances.  But underneath those appearances lies the self-blame in which we’ve become trapped, controlled, crazy, and miserable. We’re still just kids, and we don’t yet have the internal or external resources to acknowledge all of that…but we feel it. And we don’t yet have the internal or external resources to process those feelings…so we repress them. Those feelings remain there. Buried. Deep. This is what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain body.

What or who triggers these repressed emotions and feelings? There are plenty of variables, including how stressed we are or how powerless we feel. It could be the person ahead of us in line, or the people we love the most. When we haven’t become aware of the repressed ideas and emotions that are running the show, we simply can’t help but project our (sometimes paranoid) thoughts onto our lovers, our friends, and even our innocent infants.

I’m sure by now you’ve got a sense of how this projection has shown up in your life – both how you’ve been projected upon, and how you have projected onto others. I’ve been on both sides of this as well. An ex-boyfriend who hadn’t processed his childhood could not help but project all the ill sentiments he had for his sisters and mother onto me. Being the youngest, he felt small in his family in every way.  From his young-self perspective, the women in his life seemed to control him, and one day he decided that people would not get to tell him “No.” You can imagine the toxicity of that relationship: when I said “No” to him, I’d trigger that small powerless child self that still existed within his grown adult self. And he projected his fears onto me from that child self who felt controlled by others. I thought I was dealing with a grown adult man, but often I wasn’t.

I’ll admit, however, that I have done the same.  When I was a young mother there were plenty of times when I wasn’t acting from a mature adult place – I was responding from that overwhelmed girl from my own childhood. When I was a child and I disappointed my mom, she’d be angry, but since anger was not a safe emotion in our household she’d shut down and become cold to me. Then I’d shut down. As such, shutting down to strong emotions became my go-to strategy. As a new mother who hadn’t processed my own childhood, when my daughter would exhibit anger I’d handle it calmly…for a while. But if it continued I’d become overwhelmed and start to feel powerless and trapped. And then, sure enough, I’d shut down. I’d shut down inside myself and I’d shut down to her, making myself emotionally unavailable to her as my mother had done to me. I mirrored behavior directly from my childhood, and projected that onto her.

In both examples the adult in the situation felt controlled or trapped, as well as powerless, and so projected outwardly as if the other person were making their life miserable. From a distance we can see that this came from unhealed childhood wounds, but in the moment the projections seemed completely valid and accurate. It was clearly “them”- i.e. the other person’s fault.

Hearing these stories from clients and reconnecting with my own life stories reminds me of the vulnerability of parenting, of relating, of loving, of being.  I take a glance back in time and I feel the pain of both my child and my younger parenting self – and in that pain, both of us doing the best we could. Wanting to be a better parent, for myself and for my child, led me to explore my unprocessed childhood – my conditioning and my unmet hurts. And even now, with my child in her teens, strong emotions can still start to fill me with overwhelm. Luckily I have tools that I didn’t have when she was a baby, and when I start to feel the overwhelm flag flying I immediately pause. I feel down and into my being. I breathe. And I breathe again. Then from my being I look at her being, from a place beyond personality. And I feel again into me. Only after the flood of immediacy washes past me do I respond. I wait until I’m inwardly connected from a place of wholeness.  And later, when I have the time and space, I go deeper into the stuck places that catch me, releasing the layer of pain body that had arisen.

If you are a parent who finds yourself in predicaments where you can’t help but project onto you kids… please get to know yourself. Through a therapist or your own deep inner work, identify and heal your own childhood wounds. Get to know what triggers you. Then when you start to feel triggered, stop and take care before engaging with your child (whenever possible). When you take care of you, you take care of those you love.  Here are some ways to take care that are designed to support and help regulate stress and overwhelm:

 

  1. Pause what you’re doing and get a glass of water. Not thirsty? Do it anyway. Taking the time to slowly walk to the kitchen, drink some water, and walk back will buy you some time to s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n, breathe, feel, and remind yourself that your child (or any other perceived offender) is not purposefully trying to destroy you. Remind yourself that your child is just a small being on this planet without inner resources. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can with what you have available. As you walk, breathe consciously.

 

  1. Breathe. Consciously. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Bring your mind into your breath. Drop your attention into the actual experience of breath coming in and out of your lungs, your diaphragm, your nostrils.

 

  1. Smell something good. Flowers. Chocolate. Fresh air. Lavender.

 

  1. Go outside, or look outside. My favorite outdoor objects to connect with are trees. I look at the trees. I feel the trees. I become connected with the trees. I breathe into my legs and my own root system. Connect with what resonates with you. Birds, plants, clouds, the sky, the breeze…

 

  1. Ground. Feel into your lower belly and sacral area. Breathe here. Feel here. Center here. Move downward through your legs, to your feet. Center here. Ground here. Breathe here.

 

  1. Pray, set an intention, and/or ask for support. Bring your attention to your heart and silently connect with yourself, your attention, your highest self, or whatever “God” means to you.

 

  1. Know that “this too shall pass.” No moment, no matter how good or bad, ever lasts forever. Breathe.

 

  1. Look – with curiosity – for the innocence of that moment. The innocence of your child’s eyes. The innocence in you not knowing what to do. The innocence of the predicament. The innocence of your exhaustion. The innocence of your love.

 

  1. Hum or sing. Music stimulates the spacious centers in your brain, while humming and singing helps your system “find itself” in times of stress.

 

  1. Make a mental note of what triggered you and what you’d like to explore later, when you have time and support. Write it down or send yourself an email. If you don’t know how to do somatic work, or even if you do, consider connecting with a somatic practitioner to help you connect with your subconscious pain body. Your inner child deserves your attention, too. Your adult self as well as your loved ones will thank you for it.

I think back to the days when I didn’t have these skills, and I feel compassion for myself and my daughter, but also grief. Taking time to sit and feel – sadness, regret, and shame arise. I sit and feel. I breathe. I sit and feel some more until all the stories are gone, and love remains. I feel love for the daughter that I was, and for my own mother who mothered me to the best of her abilities. I feel love for the mother that I sometimes was: angry, scared, and sad. I feel love for my daughter, who was being her perfect child self, caught in the web of my conditioning.

To me and my lineage: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

I honor all parents on their path. I extend love and compassion as we do our best to not repeat our parents’ “mistakes.” Just know that we can’t help it when we do.  My heart sends love and compassion and healing to all our parents and their parents, to all our child selves, to all our children, and to all our adult selves as we still heal from our child wounds. Onward, forward, one breath at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Life with an Asterisk

By Paul Galewitz.   So there I was, lying on a gurney, my nose and mouth covered by an oxygen mask, unable to speak, while being subjected to an EKG. While I was in this position, I had a clear view of the treatment room in this small interior of British Columbia hospital. To my left, the nurses and doctor would come into the room occasionally to check on the EKG machine and to see if I was OK. To my right, my wife was sitting with a friend and having a conversation.

What I saw during that interval changed my life.

It was so clear to me as I was lying there, that the nurses and the doctor were acting. It was like a soap opera – their acting was that bad. Nothing they did or said was in any way authentic. It all seemed scripted, and they were doing an unconvincing job of reading their lines.

I was totally amazed and astonished by what I was seeing. I so desperately wanted to ask my wife, “Hey! Are you seeing this the way I am?” But with the oxygen mask over my mouth, I couldn’t speak. I just kept looking at this in wonder.

Meanwhile, to the right of me, my wife and friend were also acting, but they appeared much more genuine, much more convincing in their roles than the actors to the left of me. I could still see through the acting, but I believed them as they played their roles. The contrast was unmistakeable.

This happened almost ten years ago. The vividness of that awareness stayed with me for some weeks, and has shaped how I have looked at life from that point onward. It has allowed me to come to certain conclusions, as I have observed myself and others over the previous ten years.

We are all acting. We are literally giving the performances of our lives.

We are playing a character that has a name, a story, a life along a timeline, but that is not who we truly are. It is a role we are playing.

But this play we are engaged in is so convincing! It seems so real – the thoughts seem real, the feelings, emotions, sensations seem so real, all these other actors seem very real. Our stories are very persuasive in assuring us that the character we are playing is indeed real, has a history, a present, and a future.

Regardless of the degree of authenticity in our acting, and no matter how persuasive our storyline, one thing is certain. We are not the characters we are acting out. We are something far grander, and no words are up to the task of describing it.

That’s where the asterisk comes in.

What do I mean by living life with an asterisk? Whenever we come across an asterisk in whatever work we may be reading, we know that there is more to the story of what that particular sentence or paragraph is expressing. So we find the asterisk at the bottom of the page, and read the additional information that wasn’t expressed in the sentence in question.

In living our lives with an asterisk, the additional information always has the same theme. It reads something like this: *Remember who you really are, which is the Absolute, the I AM, the Oneness, what is beyond description. What your character is going through right now does not touch this Truth. You simply ARE, and the separate self doesn’t even exist here. This field of Oneness is never separate from you, no matter how much turmoil, emotional or physical pain, or seemingly unsolvable dilemmas your character is experiencing. Take a breath, take two or three seconds to rest in that Truth, and then be with whatever you are experiencing. Continue playing your role as best you can, knowing that it is a role, and not the ultimate Truth of who you are.”

Those are my words, but you can ascribe whatever words you want to the asterisk’s appearance. The asterisk doesn’t even need words – it can  be a reminder to simply stop for two or three seconds to remember the I AM, and to feel the total lack of attributes of pure consciousness.

The asterisk can be a reminder of this for you in whatever way works. I carry this asterisk around with me wherever I go and whatever I am doing, and at the very least it reminds me not to take my character too seriously. This isn’t always easy, especially when physical or emotional pain is seemingly present.

At the same time, it is also a reminder to play my role to the best of my ability. My character has been given certain attributes that I can use as I will. I can check in with my body as I go about my day, and see how it is reacting to how I am playing my role. My body will often react with certain sensations which can alert me to the fact that my character needs to pay attention to what is going on, and whether I am playing my role as authentically as possible.

The thoughts and feelings that come up are there to be noticed, and provide ample fodder for inquiry. This inquiring helps to expose the programming and patterns that have ruled our character’s behavior, and reminds us that there is no greater “technique” than simply noticing.

Just last week, I had a session with a fantastic facilitator, and as I watched the video recording of the session, I was taken with how authentic we were both being within the play of the facilitation. But there was a moment when I looked at myself and saw a thoroughly inauthentic reaction to something we were discussing. It was very humbling, and in fact, I even turned my head away from the screen. What terrible acting! My body felt acute embarrassment, and it gave me something to sit with, allow and inquire into.

Our thoughts can be so convincing. We have given them so much weight over the years, that it takes our focus and intent to remember not to buy into them. Where is it written that all our thoughts are to be believed? Where does it say that we are our thoughts? Are the thoughts even our own, or a combination of elements of our programming, or something else entirely? Do you notice how certain thoughts seem to always bring up certain feelings? Does that make those thoughts any more true simply because they produce a feeling? Where is your mind anyway? Can you even find it? (I lost mine about ten years ago.)

These thoughts are simply more variations in the play we find ourselves in. Nothing, not even our thoughts, are true in this play. It is simply a part of the play.

When we are going through a period where thoughts are nagging at us, or are particularly bothersome, remember the *. Let that remind you to take a few moments to stop and be with the I AM, the infinite oneness. (Really, words don’t do it, do they?)

Each time you do, the * can become more and more second nature, and even as you are in the busiest and most turbulent of times, you can just remember the * and know that nothing, nothing, nothing can effect what that points to. All else is part of the play in which you are engaged. Does this make your particular dilemma go away, or make it easier? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe you will be less identified with your circumstances.

Pretty soon it simply becomes automatic that nothing you are going through will be taken at face value, and the I AM will permeate your awareness as you play your part more and more authentically. For me, I don’t live in fear that some uncomfortable emotion will come up that will make my character unhappy or afraid. If and when I do feel that fear, or any other “negative” emotion, I just refer to the asterisk again, and I am reminded of my true home. This doesn’t mean the feelings immediately go away, it just means you can be noticing them from a different place than we are used to.

It is within our power as characters to remember that we are playing a role, and to find our inspiration, our refuge and the Truth of who we are in the field of I AM. Just look over your shoulder and notice the * just sitting there, reminding you of your true nature.

I’ve Come to Love Doing Mindless Routine Chores!

By Hanneke Geraeds.

Before I learned about Natural Rest I kept postponing mindless routine chores, like plucking weeds, vacuum cleaning, mopping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, ironing or painting walls or window-frames.

Now I don’t mind doing them anymore. I play this game: trying to catch the moment when I fall from doing them in a Mindful way into doing them mindlessly. I didn’t succeed yet…

Today I started off ironing Mindfully, in Natural Rest. Seeing wrinkled fabric change into smoothed fabric, hearing the steamy breath of my iron, the whisper of fabric against fabric, smelling the sweet odour of detergent, feeling warmth underneath my fingers and a damp warmth touching my cheeks, hearing words saying: “I like this dress.” and then pictures of our daughter and me buying it in an unfamiliar shop in another town. Seeing her happy smile because she bumped into what would become her favourite dress later.

Typing this, I can see now, this was the moment I should have caught to win my little game. But I didn’t. And somehow I did notice the story the words created, I realize now. I did because I’m able to at least reconstruct the thought train, which went from my smiling daughter to reasons why we were there in that town, how things have evolved from that point onward. Telling myself it turned out well. Followed by worrying about the future. And at that moment I noticed I stopped being Mindful, I stopped Resting Naturally. The worrying words were velcroed to a tightening sensation in my stomach. Feeling this physical sensation from within. Then hearing the voice of my thoughts again. And the moment I started hearing them, they stopped in the middle of the sentence as it happens often like this for me.

It reminds me of a time when I was chatting with a class mate and suddenly noticed the whole class being silent, then noticing the strict look on the teacher’s face, looking at me…

Though I didn’t win my game, I can Rest Naturally again, enjoying colours, sounds, structures, physical sensations and new words when my voice in the head has grown confident again to go on. And in the meantime, chores get done.

Discovering Resources In Stressful Times

By Lisa Meuser.

Post-election. Holidays. Life. We humans spend a lot of time trying to figure out the world, our days, our thoughts, each other, our emotions. Trying to ‘figure out’ is a popular go-to strategy. Our brains are great at figuring out some things, such as building a deck, balancing a checkbook, and planning the week’s meals. But when it comes to other things, like happiness or love or feeling good, that same figuring-out mechanism can be more of an illusive trickster.

Life can’t be figured out, but what life consists of- thoughts, images, sensations-can be noticed, felt, and allowed. In that space of allowance and noticing, sometimes an understanding or some perspective drops in. But it doesn’t drop in from figuring out. It drops in because of the spaciousness that opens up when we allow our experiences to be what they are, without trying to make them different (read: trying to figure them out).

“I am really just trying to be with life,” a client shared with me, “but I see now that I’ve been stuck in my head trying to figure it out.’” For my client, the “it” that she is trying to be with includes rapid-firing thoughts, quickly scrolling images, and uncomfortable sensations- all of which are often happening at once. She’s heard the phrase “just be with” throughout her career as a spiritual seeker, and she keeps trying. It sounds simple enough, right? Just be with your experience! That’s what we keep hearing from teachers, gurus, and even well-meaning friends. Easier said then done, however.

When thoughts and images and sensations are perceived to be attacking or coming at us at once, as they often are, it can be extremely hard to “be with” anything. Instead we find ourselves in the experience of overwhelm, and/or a variation of the fight, flight, or freeze (FFF) mechanism that often accompanies overwhelm. When in any of these states, the part of the brain that facilitates self-awareness shuts down to a certain extent, making it nearly impossible for one to be fully aware of their present experience, or to be present (i.e. “with it”). Her innocent use of the phrase “be with it” confirmed what I’d been contemplating for a while: just be with it” is often not a useful pointer for people trying to connect with their present moment experience, because it’s misunderstood.

Contrary to how it’s generally interpreted, “just be with it ” doesn’t necessarily mean to:

1 sit still with the experience, and do nothing else,
2 feel the experience as it is,
3 explore what the experience might mean,
4 or all of the above, adding “until it’s gone” at the end of each sentence.

Some people maintain the assumption that if they can “just be with it”—turn attention toward it (the experience or challenge) and do nothing else—then something will magically shift. That may be exactly what happens for some. But for others it might not; for others it might just exasperate the already difficult experience because it becomes more of an attempt to figure out as opposed to allowing the current unfolding.

“Just be with it” does not mean to do nothing but sit in the experience. “Just be with it” actually involves a person accessing her/his own personal reservoir of resources. We all have access to plenty of resources; some of us have more than others, and some resources are more internal while others are more external. For example, because I do inquiry with people for a living, I have access to a reservoir of internal resources. In other words, I can apply the techniques I use with other people to myself. I can ask myself useful questions and can extend love and hold space to and for myself, and I can often literally sit still and “just be with it” (allow the experience to unwind naturally by noticing/acknowledging my thoughts, images, and sensations without being attached to or enmeshed with them). When in a calm state, many of us have the capacity to connect with these internal resources. But when we’re not centered, grounded, or calm, accessing them can be confounding. For me, too.

Sometimes I’m too immersed in my own stuff to be really present for myself. Sometimes I am in my own version of the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism. Being in overwhelm or FFF affects my ability to utilize my internal resources, because when I’m in the FFF grip my nervous system is on high alert. “Just sitting with it” isn’t always possible during these times because the parts of my brain that enable the ability for self-awareness are quite literally diminished. Instead, my reptilian centers are more on line, so before I can “be with” anything, I have to calm my nervous system down. To do that, I have to get resourceful in a different kind of way.

There are a lot of external resources that we have at our disposal in any given moment that can help us to soothe and nourish our nervous systems. Taking care of our nervous systems will help us to connect with our internal resources so that we can inwardly connect more deeply with our experiences (read: “be with” our experiences). When we are able to connect with ourselves in this way, we can slow down the hamster wheel of thought from spinning out, loosen the grip of thoughts from jousting with each other, take a break from referencing past and future thoughts, and give pause to the figuring-out mechanism. We can stop trying to figure out how to feel safe and *actually* feel safe in the world / with ourselves / in the present moment.

We can find safety in the world, and we can feel safety in ourselves, by utilizing resources that will support us. Those resources are what can really help us “be with” what is going on in our experiences and be in the present moment. When my nervous system is jostled, I utilize my internal and also external resources:

1. I feel the chair/bed/sofa/floor underneath my body.
Science upholds that when my back feels supported, my nervous system starts to relax. Try this out: as you lean into your chair (object), remind yourself that this object is literally designed to support your body. It is designed to hold all your weight, and to do so comfortably. So allow yourself to connect to this object fully, and notice what you notice. Feel the resourcefulness of this chair supporting you.

2. I feel the floor or earth under my feet.
This is an extension of #1. The floor is also designed to hold up form. I can feel into that as I feel my feet connect with the floor or, if I’m outside, to the earth. Use the floor/earth as a resource.

3. I connect to my inner sense of curiosity.
Curiosity is maybe one of the most profound resources that I have. I often say that curiosity is the antidote to fear, because if I can access just a drop or two, fear will begin to loosen its grip. One easy way to access curiosity is to ask yourself a simple question without trying to answer it. It could literally be any question. Even “Why is the sky blue?” Don’t try to answer it. Just ask the question and wonder. That opens the part of the brain that connects to self-awareness and loosens the reptilian brain center’s grip. I also bring curiosity into my explorations of #1 and #2, as well as the rest of the items listed here. Bringing curiosity into any moment utilizes an amazing internal resource.

4. I connect to my breath.
As I’m feeling into #1 and #2 (and the rest of the list), I bring breath into my attention. I breathe into the chair. I breathe into my feet on the floor. I breathe into my belly. I breathe into my sit bones. I breathe consciously and gently into and throughout my entire body, at my own pace. Sciences documents that breathing through the nostrils can aid in calming the nervous system, so if it’s resonant for you, try that out. Follow the breathing cycle with attention: stay with the way that breath is constantly flowing in and flowing out. There are many breathing practices that can be researched- these are just a few ideas. Breath is an amazing resource because breath is always happening in the present moment. Play with this amazing internal resource of connecting to breath.

5. I lean into touch.
Science also documents that physical touch puts my nervous system to rest. I use my own hands to connect with myself and the present moment, placing them wherever my body wants to feel touch. On my forehead or face. Behind the back of my neck. Over my heart. Against my belly. In a hug position or on my arms. I hold my own hands. I feel the touch of my skin. If I’m near animals or other humans, I connect with them using touch. Receive the resource of touch, from self or other.

6. I access sound.
Sound can be a profound resource to connect with. Music (either that of my choosing or that which is already happening). Birds. Wind. The fans or white noise in my home. The purring of my cats. Listening to a guided rest (see #9) recording. I also play with feeling the sounds move through my somatic system, or invite my body to move to the sounds. Use the resource of sound in a way that is resonant for you and your nervous system.

7. Connect with water.
A cool washcloth on my forehead, face, or behind the neck can help in soothing the nervous system. Drinking a glass of water, slowly and with mindfulness. Having a cup of tea. Taking a bath or a shower. Feeling the water pour over me. Feeling the water hitting different parts of my body. Feeling the temperatures as determined by what feels good in the moment. The cleansing nature of water makes it a powerful resource!

8. Engage in movement.
Sometimes my body just wants to move! Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Yoga. Stretching. Walking. Exercise. Jumping. I let my body move however it wants to. I keep my attention on the movements and sensations that arise as I follow my body’s inclinations. Dancing to music can also be a powerful way to tap into my internal resources. Use movement as a resource however it resonates with you!

9. Experiment with scent.
I really enjoy playing with scent: Essential oils, candles, outside air, flowers, food. Google to find out the properties linked to different scents and see how your system responds (most people find peppermint invigorating and lavender relaxing). Ground yourself using the resource of scent as desired.

10. Rest.
Resting, for me, means stopping what I’m doing / engaged with, and consciously turning my attention toward whatever it is that I’m noticing in my current experience. Resting allows me to notice what is in my attention, and how I am experiencing what is in my attention. Is my attention mainly in thoughts? Is it referencing past or future? Is it lost in imagery? Is it in the body? This can be done sitting down, or during any activity. Resting for just a few moments can have a profound impact on my nervous system, and can automatically link me back to my internal resources. It opens the doors to self-compassion and self-awareness, and can connect me with some of the other resources listed above such as breathing, touch, feeling the floor/chair, and curiosity. Utilizing rest is one of my passions, and I have many guided-rest audios available for free- please contact me if you’re interested.

11. Creativity
Creativity can allow a vast world of resources to open up for us. It is an internal resource, but I can also play with external resources to access my creativity. Finger painting is a favorite of mine as it allows free form expression and tactile engagement. Journal your experiences- writing down what is happening in a moment can help my system slow down and become more available to what is in my present moment experience. Cooking. Making collages. Taking pictures. Making a music compilation of your favorite songs. Knitting. Singing. Dancing. The list of creative endeavors is endless! Gently and curiously tap into how the resource of creativity wants to be expressed through you!

All of these activities literally bring attention out of the mental realm (where figuring out tries to happen) into the somatic realm (where presence “happens”). This is important. We feel, we breathe, and we have sensations in the present moment, whereas thoughts and the mental realm often reference past or future. Imagine taking attention from the head and bringing it down into the body: when attention is no longer spinning in the head, our nervous systems relax and the ability to be self-aware increases. If you have any questions about any of the above, please send me an email ([email protected]).

Being with our experiences—whether they are filled with joy, sadness, fear, anger, excitement, curiosity, shame, or happiness—doesn’t look a certain way. There’s no prescription on how to be. It may happen as we go for a walk in the woods, smell a flower, drive home from work, or yell into a pillow. “Being with” an experience may mean sitting in a chair and mindfully internally exploring. “Being with” an experience may include stargazing, listening to music, or sipping tea. “Being with” an experience may involve slamming the car door, holding one’s own hand, baking brownies, or breathing deeply and consciously. “Being with” an experience may invite one to watch thoughts, images, and sensations come and go, come and go, and come and go. “Being with” something may happen through meditation, a hug, a hot bath, or a deep sob.

Use resources as they support and resonate with you. When your nervous system is relaxed, you will be able to more fully access the parts of your brain that will allow for self-awareness, and you will have more capacity to inquire into your thoughts, your images/memories, and the sensations in your body. Using your resources—both internal and external—will allow you to be more present and enjoy life. There is no one way to be a human being- and there is no one way to “just be with” your experience. So be curious, experiment, and play!