When we turn our attention inwards towards healing ourselves, we may be inclined to approach it as if we are somehow broken and need fixing.
I’d like to offer you a different starting point.
Can you get still enough to just notice what you feel? And can you do this with kindness, minimizing self-judgement?
Can you spend some attention scanning the sensations of your body and pair what you find with a baseline perspective that your body is a powerful, sexy miracle?
Notice everything - what hurts, what doesn’t, what feels constricted, relaxed, unstable, painful, strong, free...
Sit with what you notice, allowing it all rather than resisting. What we resist persists, so take a moment to let the sensations unfold and possibly even relay a message to you. L i s t e n .
This is not a comfortable process. Can you hang with that discomfort and breathe into it?
Can you muster a slice of appreciation for your body’s adaptive strategies?
We are so quick to judge and try to fix, which can often put us in a perpetual game of whack-a-mole if we don’t pause to pick up the underlying message.
In non-dual Tantrik Yoga we practice digesting what ails us rather than rejecting and pushing it away. Here’s a practice from the Krama lineage called Shakti Sankosha, that actually invites the discomfort we feel into the center:
Begin by tuning in to your center. If this is something you’ve never done, feel free to use your imagination while you get the hang of this.
Visualize a central channel running through your spine. See it / feel it / imagine it effortlessly radiating golden light.
Invite that golden light to deepen and expand with the breath.
Recognize this golden center as your true essence, as pure awareness itself.
Give yourself a moment with this.
Next, bring your attention to the discomfort, triggered emotion, chronic pain, anxiety, whatever it is, and welcome it into the center to feel it even more fully. When we can ACCEPT, ALLOW and FEEL our pain we provide it an opportunity to shift.
See the discomfort as energy - not good, not bad, just energy - and as you bring it into your center it feeds that central channel and the golden light expands and increases even more. Keep welcoming your pain into this light, watching the light grow more and more radiant.
If what you’re dealing with is emotional, that emotion only lasts about 90 seconds if you really let yourself experience it. The stuff that hangs around longer is the story we attach to the raw emotion. When we indulge the tired, old stories, we strengthen their grip within our neural circuitry. Instead, let yourself feel your feelings without trying to justify them, explain them to yourself or others, or outsource your power through blame. Do your best to let the story go. Feel what you feel and when it passes, you will be left with the innate vibrancy of your awareness.
After the emotion has been digested and passes through you, stay with that vibrant awareness for a moment, before rushing off to the next thing. Stay. Then, relax your awareness back out through your senses, and back into the world.
As agonizing as our pain can be, there is a gift embedded within each challenge. That gift is awakened awareness. There is no doubt that the things that ail us really get our attention. When we can get into a habit of acknowledging that increased awareness we become ever more present, improving not only the relationship with ourselves but with the rest of our world.
We don’t have to limit ourselves to practicing this when times are tough!
To get the full benefit of this practice you would apply it to the full spectrum of emotions. When we resist ‘negative’ experiences and even when we cling to ‘positive’ ones, we create samskaras (Sanskrit for ‘impressions) in the psyche. Think of these as interrupted circuits. When we practice pulling these impressions into this central power source we heal the connection so that our Prana, or ‘life force’, can flow uninhibited.
This concept shows up in research around neuroplasticity as well --“Neurons that fire together, wire together”. When we think something over and over, we blaze a highway in our neural network. Information flows through these pathways like rivers throughout our subconscious mind. When we make these blazed subconscious beliefs conscious, by bringing our awareness (golden light radiating out from center) to them, we can begin to re-wire these networks, coming into a flow state.
It is said that we operate 90-95% from the subconscious mind. This is storyland - the home of our beliefs, convictions and identities. Every time you get triggered see it as an opportunity to do some re-wiring in this potent domain. Pull your experience into the center, pause there, and expand that golden center out to meet your experience.