Last week I mentioned that it seems we are in a collective dark night of the soul. Whenever we go through difficult periods, both individually and collectively, it is so essential that we take care of ourselves. . . our whole selves. On the particular level that means tending to and stewarding our mind and thoughts, feelings and emotions, and our body’s sensations, postures and gestures. On a collective level that means tending to and stewarding the collective mind and thoughts, feelings and emotions, and body’s sensations, postures and gestures. All people, all beings, the earth. . . all of it.
How can we begin to do that? Over the next few weeks I am going to share some practices for you to work with as a way of participating in regulating the collective nervous system which is currently traumatized and fearful.
Observing Unnecessary Tension in the Body: This week observe within yourself any ‘unnecessary tension’ in your body and in the larger body of humanity. Unnecessary tension in the body is simply any tension that is not necessary for the task or activity you/we are engaged in.
We can observe in both small and large ways. I often observe myself with unnecessary tension in my face especially when trying to learn something challenging or in my shoulders or legs when I am doing simple tasks around the house such as cooking, cleaning or gardening. I can also notice unnecessary tension in my body in regard to all that is going on in the world and my beliefs regarding how it ‘should’ be handled.
It is enough to just notice the unnecessary tension in your body without judgment. You don’t need to change or do something about what is observed. Just recognize the tension and then bring some awareness to the sensations surrounding the tension, taking a moment to explore the surrounding internal space that is more at ease. Then come into your present external surroundings, noticing what you see, hear, smell and feel with your skin (this is called orienting). If the discomfort is too much, go straight to the orienting. You may find that something shifts and a deep spontaneous breath emerges creating expansiveness inside. Allow the expansion to bring clarity about what is actually needed in the moment and what will support relationality and coherence for your body, the whole body.
See if you can do this in the midst of the unnecessary tension in the collective body. This pandemic continues to reveal the reality of our interconnectedness that we often know but do not experience. Let’s bring some conscious awareness to this so that we can support the whole body in letting go of unnecessary tension. This does not mean inaction. In fact, our action can be more effective if coming from a wider more grounded and balanced space inside.
We can engage this on behalf of the whole.
Let’s keep honoring the pain, leaning into the grief, making space for joy, finding time for play, building our resiliency, and taking time to just be.
Here are some readings from this week's 'pauses.' The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you Don't go back to sleep! You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep! People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch, The door is round and open Don't go back to sleep! — Rumi “Beloved is Where We Begin” If you would enter into the wilderness, do not begin without a blessing. Do not leave without hearing who you are: Beloved, named by the One who has traveled this path before you. Do not go without letting it echo in your ears, and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart; do not despair. This is what the journey is for. I cannot promise the blessing will free you from danger, from fear, from hunger or thirst, from the scorching of sun or the fall of the night. But I can tell you that on this path there will be help. I can tell you that on this way there will be rest. I can tell you that you will know strange graces that come to our aid only on a road such as this, that fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength, that come alongside us for no other cause than to lean themselves toward our ear and with their curious insistence whisper our name: Beloved. Beloved. Beloved. — Jan Richardson "Our own inner wisdom “inner seeing” and “inner hearing” is a necessary part of the spiritual life and we need to trust it, even if our inner wisdom contradicts established rules and institutions." “….all the virtues threw down their earthly cares and discarded the texts of legal institutions. Instead, they looked inside themselves for true justice." "For we cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted life is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light." — Hildegard of Bingen
With Love, Heather