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Finding your Deeper Self
by Michele Germain, LCSW
The body never lies. Its posture, movement, vitality and tension are an expression of your personal emotional state. Feelings are the life of the body and they will move through you like waves of sensations. Therefore, the relationship you have with your feelings reflects the relationship you have with your body. If you ignore or hold back and not give your feelings complete expression they do not go away. They may subside, but they remain held and stored in the muscles of the body creating a layer of physical tension. When the next situation arises, the old pattern of holding back and denying the feelings takes place and a build up occurs. This habitual pattern is often created in early childhood. The tension is there to protect you against the pain of experiencing the unpleasant feelings. You don’t feel the pain, but you live out of your body. This can cause depression, confusion, lack of joy and physical rigidity, which robs you of a deeper connection with yourself.
Now I would like to ask you, how connected are you to your body? Do you feel graceful or rigid and tight? Is your breathing free allowing chest and abdomen to move easily and deep or is it shallow and constricted preventing you from getting a deep breath. Are you open and feeling the sensation and streaming in your body or are you disconnected, numb, lifeless and mechanical. Do you embrace and appreciate your body, or are you holding a grudge against it because it causes you emotional or physical pain, or does not look like the way you want to look?
How do we make the body alive again, you might ask? You must get out of your mind and anchor your awareness in your body. Here is how you begin:
Listen to Your Body It is Talking to You
Practice listening throughout your day. Your body is giving your feedback on the minor or major choices that you make every day. Your body responds with a “yes”, “no” and “maybe” by certain physical reactions that occur. If you listen you will learn what they mean. It tells you when you are out of balance or when the choices you’ve made are in harmony with your real self.
Try tuning into your inner experience during your day. Identify the sensations in your body, the temperature, do the muscles feel tense or relaxed, is it vibrating or lifeless and stuck, do you feel energetic or fatigued. What areas are tight and contracted, what parts are open and soft?
Practice listening when you are doing something you love or when you are doing something you dislike. Try to understand your physical reactions and the messages your body is sending to you as you engage in life and interact with others.
Surrender to Your Body and Embrace Your Feelings
Ask yourself often during your day how you are feeling. Then pause, for a moment and direct your attention to your body. Drop your shoulders, feel you feet connected to the ground and make contact with your breath. You may do this after you have an interaction with someone, or when you are alone, or anytime during your day.
When you are alone, in a safe place, give yourself more time to focus inward. Soften your eyes, relax and get quiet, connect with your breath and give yourself the instruction to let down and surrender into the center of your being. Do not judge, just feel what is there and name the feelings. Let your attention be soft and compassionate. Feel the opening and the space around the feeling. Do not force anything. And if you cannot identify a feeling that is okay, try later. But keep focusing in and asking yourself what you are feeling. Breath into the feeling a few times and practice letting it just be. You are getting to know your inner experience and developing a deeper connection.
Move Your Body and Feel Every Part
Of course always consult your doctor before you engage in any new physical activity or movement. Then get to know your body and ask your body how it wants to move. Start with connecting with your breath and then moving any way that feels comfortable. Go for a walk but do it differently. Feel your feet hit the ground, dance while cooking or cleaning your house. If you are at work and limited, tune into your body as you get up and down and wiggle or stretch while you are in your chair. Bring your attention to your movements as you walk to your car; stand in line at the grocery store, or fill your tank with gas. Move slowly and consciously as your move through these activities.
Find some fun activities you did as a child and do them. Enjoying the pleasure in your body is essential to being reconnected. Jump rope, swing on a swing, kick a ball at the park, fly a kite, go swimming, play in the ocean, and walk through the woods visualizing your feet making imprints on the earth. Keep asking your body how it wants to move. If you are going to reestablish a connection with your body that is not mechanical you need to focus in and feel every part of it.
As you practice these strategies you will heal your body and reconnect with your deeper self. Your body will then become your compass helping you navigate your life, instead of being used for a storehouse for your unwanted feelings. Be patient with yourself and always bring your loving attention inward, thanking your body for all that it is doing no matter what is going on.
Michele Germain, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and certified bioenergetic analyst with over twenty-five years of experience. As a specialist in divorce recovery for the last decade, she has written articles and conducted workshops on the topic, and has been interviewed on television and radio programs. More information on her work can be found at www.michelegermain.com.