Ease, rhythm & flow. Body & mind edition
This is the second part of a three part series. Click here to read the first part on ease, thinking about my future self, and food.
Rhythm means movement of a recurring nature. Like a beat. Like the pulse of ocean waves against the shore. There’s consistency. There’s discipline. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m interested in cultivating a rhythm of being, a rhythm of moving through the world.
I’d like to dive deeper into this idea of discipline. For me, I can speak to being disciplined in fear and listening to the mind. I’m committed to habits that reinforce the parts of my brain that act from a place of fear and past conditioning. Most of my work lately has been becoming aware of those parts and bringing them empathy. Because as debilitating as they are, they once served a purpose. Even protected us when we were at our most vulnerable. Once we give space and acknowledgement to these parts, we learn that they have something to teach us.
Our brains have created neural pathways for behaviours that once saved our lives and they aren’t really going anywhere unless we do something about it. This is where I’m currently at: overcoming the mind and building new neural pathways.
Here are some techniques I use on a daily basis to help overcome my mind and reestablish trust in my adult self.
Hands to belly & heart
Hands down, I use this all the time. (Pun not intended!)
When I’m having a hard time falling asleep, when I want to get into my body and out of my mind, when I’m feeling overall nervousness before having challenging social interactions (like interviews, meetings, difficult conversations), and when I’m having a hard time making decisions.
Sit or lay down. Bring your left hand to your heart centre, that space where your ribs meet on your chest - the sternum, and your right hand to the space right below your belly button. Breathe. I like to envision my breath in a figure 8 movement: breathing in through my hand and left arm, exhaling down my right arm and into my belly. Do this as many times as you need.
Energetically speaking, this tends to balance the energy centres in the body - from the heart centre to the sacral base of the spine - which grounds us.
Sometimes if I have a difficult decision to make, I’ll get myself into this breathing pattern then ask my body a question. One of the most meaningful pieces of wisdom I’ve ever received is that your body knows before your mind does.
Find yourself a place to sit - it could be on a meditation cushion, on a bench in a park, on a chair while you wait for an appointment - and close your eyes. Start becoming aware of your breathing. Don’t change how you’re breathing; just notice that you are breathing. As one of my favourite teachers Sarah Peyton says, “Notice how you’re being breathed.”
Begin to listen for sounds that are closest to you. Maybe you hear yourself or the person sitting next to you breathe.
Next, move your awareness a bit further away from you. Maybe you hear a door closing in the next room. Or a car passing by your window.
And now move your awareness further away. Perhaps you hear a bus drive by. Or a church bell chime.
Continue moving further away until you feel as though you’ve reached the furthest sound. Now come back slowly, bit by bit, from the farthest point your awareness has taken you back to the closest sound you hear.
Do this as many times as you’d like. Take your time. It’s very likely that the noises you hear will change each time you go out and then back close in. Finish by taking a few breaths.
Lighting a candle
Let’s come back to the idea of reestablishing trust in my adult self. This is where I’m at in my healing journey. It’s all about following through on the things I want for myself. It’s a practice of overcoming the mind. (The Holistic Psychologist is speaking a lot about this right now.) One way I’ve been doing this is by keeping promises I make to myself.
A lot of my promises are creative - writing, drawing, painting - which means I’m sitting at my desk for a lot of the time. It can be extremely hard to focus on a promise because the mind will come up with a hundred reasons for you to abandon it.
For a while, I would light a candle as I worked. At first it was just for the ambience, but soon after I realized that it helped anchor me to the task at hand. It was a visual cue, a reminder to myself to keep focused and to believe in myself. (There’s also this beautiful - cheesy? - metaphor of brightness and inner light, an externalization of my higher self, which I sort of subscribe to but it’s a bit much in this context.)
It’s become quite a powerful companion to have on my desk.
I’m curious if you also struggle with establishing and maintaining trust in your adult self. Do you use specific strategies? Or perhaps these ideas are new to you and haven’t heard of them before? Leave a comment below or join the conversation over on Instagram.
Stay tuned for the final part in this series on ease, flow, and rhythm in the home.