Right this moment you are having an experience. Your feet are in socks and shoes or they are bare. That feels like something in the bones and soles of your feet. You are sitting on something soft or hard, or you are standing. That feels like something in your butt and legs and back… The day has just started or is in mid-swing or is winding down, and that feels like something. Things seem to be going your way or they do not. And that too feels like something in the flesh and muscle and breath of your body.
Right now I am at my desk with Bella on my lap. Her Yorkie-Pekingese mission is at the moment to get me to stop typing so she can rest her little head on my arm. It is a glorious sunny spring morning and I am itching to get out and play. My heart is racing a bit (that second very stiff cup of organic Assam has kicked in) and my diaphragm is a little tight. I can feel my shoulders up as I sit forward. My body is bracing as though against a slight wind. It is the familiar feeling of anticipation before I write. It is not entirely comfortable and I have a choice.
One option is to leave the discomfort and go into an old movie in my head, the “story” about what is happening. I could tell myself “poor me” that I am not in my kayak or on my bicycle or in the garden or hiking the North Shore mountains right now. I could leave the physical discomfort and fret about what I will write and whether it will it be helpful or any good at all. I could decide right at this uncomfortable moment that I need (I mean really need) to tidy my desk or fill the birdfeeders or (I know I know!!) turn over my wardrobe from fall/winter to spring summer clothes. I could tell myself I am lazy for trying to shirk my work, or that I am weak for feeling discomfort, or in danger because what if I never get it together and get focused and then I stop being able to do what I do and then I won’t be able to work and then I will be on skid row and then…
All these stories do the same thing. They take me out of the moment in my body. That is their purpose in fact. Because somewhere inside me and inside you and inside all of us is an impulse to avoid the discomfort of being. To avoid the discomfort of the vulnerable truth of our human experience. To avoid what it feels like to have limits to control over outcomes that matter to us.
You see, what we feel just is. We are not the boss of the body. The body is registering incoming stimuli (both from the outside world and from our inner thoughts) and then reacting with its very own unique patterns. That is vulnerable. Maybe I wish I could just sit down and write with no tension, no slightly held breath. But that is just me. That is my authentic self. Whether I wish it to be or not!
So the other option is to be with me in what is. To stay with my experience in the moment in the body and feel. With warm interest and non-judgment. To feel with precision what is actually happening rather than escaping into a story. Even though what I feel is uncomfortable, perhaps not what I wish to feel or perhaps not what I was allowed or encouraged or supported to feel when I was little…
It is my choice. It is your choice. It is the only choice ever, really. To approach or to avoid. To love or to fear. To live a life that grows bigger with each breath, with each brave felt experience as we approach ourselves in what we feel in the moment in the body, or to live a life that is stuck and small as we go away from ourselves with the story.
It is your choice. Will you go into the scary story that keeps you busy and distracted and away from you? Or will you stay with the sensations of yourself, even though they are uncomfortable? I know.. it’s two crappy choices. But one has the keys to your growth. When you approach and stay with what it feels like to be you, you access your authentic self. You discover that your feelings are not danger. You soothe the body because your presence is the evidence there is no danger. And you emerge as more you.
It is not easy. I have taken a moment and dropped into my chest and hung out there, allowing my intercostal muscles between my ribs to feel my warm interest. And after a little while a gentle exhale let itself go. I didn’t make that happen. My body felt my presence and understood, in the way a body does, that everything is okay, that whatever we are facing right now, it is not for the body to have to deal with by bracing and clenching and staying on alert.
And I am in the flow, and my writing flows, and I feel more me.
It is my choice, and it is your choice. Will you choose approach? Will you choose love? You are so worth it.
Photo Credit: Bella in the moment by DBPhotos