The New Year is up on us, and so many people begin the year thinking about their body. Their health. Setting fitness goals. The classic ‘resolutions’ to do things differently and be ‘better’.
In my yoga classes yesterday here in Irvine, CA I had a full house both slots – bigger classes than I’ve experienced in months and I spoke candidly about how I hoped I’d continue to see them all month – and al year. That these practices steep into our cells and minds over time, creating a new way of being in the world when we commit to the process and practice diligently.
We all have different reasons why we start paying attention to our body and our health, and generally these are the kinds of things clients first express when I do their first session:
“I want to feel better”
“I know I should move and I want to be more active”
“I want to lose weight and get healthier”
“I have pain in my low back/shoulders/hip/various other body parts that are bothersome or broken down…”
“I want to improve my sleep and stress resilience – learn how to relax”
Many different intentions bring people to a movement practice initially. And these are all valid reasons to practice embodied living. Often, my clients receive unexpected, pleasant gifts like confidence, resiliency, and the ability to meet the full spectrum of life’s storms and sunny days with an increased capacity to feel, process and experience it all. To me, this is one of the most exciting parts of my work.
Recently, two current clients of mine and one past, long term client all experienced a loss in their family – grandparent, parent and sibling’s passing on from this earthly life.
I spoke with two of them this week and was so honored to hear how they handled their experiences.
One of them has experienced a lot of stress and trauma due to mental illness and alienation in her family, a legacy of dissociation and lack of connection. She said even though it’s been a rough couple weeks, she felt like a bad ass, she felt capable and calm enough from her embodiment practices, her ability to stay in her body even during crisis, that she could step in and be the strength and voice of reason that her family needed desperately. She felt able to communicate clearly, and was able to give her grandfather a couple days of peace, comfort and dignity before he passed. In her session with me, there were plenty of tears, and in those tears I felt great strength pouring forth from her spirit – a source of self-trust she perhaps had never experienced before and that will serve her well for the rest of her own life on this planet.
The other woman had emailed me stating that she hadn’t been in touch for a while because her father had been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and passed within about a month of diagnosis, right over the Christmas and New Year holiday on top of everything. In her email, she shared how she could hear my voice coaching her along, helping her get grounded and to allow grief and sadness to be expressed when necessary. She felt like she could trust herself to ‘lose it’ momentarily, knowing that grief would pass, coming and going in waves. She felt strong enough to allow herself to feel.
In our Skype session, she shared some beautiful memories and stories of her father’s last days, how her family pulled together, and how her practice was still continuing, albeit different and expedited, but it was still serving her well. Practicing gave her the experience, at least momentarily, that everything would be ok. That she was truly ok in each moment.
I love the knowledge I gained from working in the fitness, dance, and yoga industries now for 16+ years (whoa) and yet this whole embodied living journey is, to me, a vehicle for us to be able to experience and engage with life more fully. How can present can we be in the face of crisis? Can we remain grounded during unexpected traumas and grief? Can we make wise decisions to move forward with dignity and care, rather than being caught up in the ‘shit hitting the fan’ and lash out, binge, withdraw or any number of other coping tactics? YES. We can learn how.
When we have an embodied practice, it gives us the strength to meet life’s challenges head on.
And the capacity to feel all of its joy and sorrow – to be human. To engage with our own experience.
To live life with meaning, confidence and fulfillment.
I hope these stories give you comfort if you, too, have experienced a loss over this holiday. I hope they inspire you to make 2017 your year to practice engaging with all that life has to offer, right here in the present through skills of embodied living.
And as one of my clients calls it – she was able to stop herself from taking a trip to Crazy Town during all the family drama and dysfunction that she felt around her. Your embodiment is your ticket back from Crazy Town, so the next time you feel your wheels spinning and like you’re levitating off the earth or away from your body, slow down. Take some deep breaths. Press your feet into the earth and take a walk. Rub your own shoulders and jaw to relax them. Come back to tangible, physical sensations and a sense of connection with your true self – through movement, stillness, or both.
Your awareness is powerful, and in the moment of noticing stress, we can choose to change it. Choose well.
Peace to you as we enter 2017, together.
PS: I’ll be offering a LIVE Free call, Healthy Body New Year this Friday, January 6 – time TBD. Comment or message me directly through the contact page to get the details. xo