by Emma Louise
“OUT BEYOND WRONG-DOING AND RIGHT-DOING THERE IS A FIELD. I’LL MEET YOU THERE.” - RUMI
If you are interested, as you read, you might explore what it’s like to invite mindful awareness into this process…
I invite you, to take this moment, to feel your feet where they are…
to feel any sensations in your hands.
Perhaps tuning into the weight of your body fully supported by whatever it is that you are sitting, lying or standing on.
You could include in your awareness any sounds you can hear moving around you.
Maybe taking these next few moments to notice that you are breathing. Noticing every new inhalation and exhalation as it expands and softens through your body.
Sounds moving around you… Breath moving through you… While you simply pause, in this expanded awareness, reading these words.
Every time you see this symbol |O| welcome it to be a moment to pause and perhaps a reminder to re-direct your energy from your mind, down to your belly. Dropping your attention down to your beating heart. Can you hear or feel the beating right now?
As best you can, sustaining most of your attention with your body while you continue reading, this could be a practice to shift from intellectualising the experience, towards more of an inner felt sense.
In my experience it is common to associate movement with appropriateness. It is possible that we appropriately move through this life to best suit other people and fit into society. I have noticed through my studies in psychotherapy and my interest in mindful movement that there are many people, including myself, who have become professionals in disguising and sometimes hiding real feelings. The words ‘good’ and ‘fine’ feel automatic and out of touch with the variety of emotions we experience daily, yet they are so commonly used. That type of self-protection can stimulate states of incongruence and disconnect. This way of moving through the world can become habitual.
If we ever purely move from our instincts it is usually behind closed doors, and still then, it can be difficult to break free of ‘shoulds’ and self-judgment. Exploring the significance in shedding these layers and of being unapologetically genuine has become a paramount practice of mine, it’s the conversation I want to have.
Can you imagine a world where everyone unleashed their physical impulses without thinking first of what is right or appropriate? Wild? Right. Unsafe? Probably. It is reasonable to stop yourself from rolling your body on the ground while making horse noises as a way of expressing your impatience at the post office. And it is probably fair to refrain from jumping up on a table in your local café and rolling your hips around in big circles with your eyes closed to release a stressful text you just received while waiting for your coffee.
But it does beg the question, when do we get that chance to release impulses, release tension, to respond to stimuli with spontaneity and openness?
One of my teachers Amber Elizabeth Gray says that embodiment is a human right and that imagination saves lives. I keep these words close to me as encouragement to allow my body to guide the way, giving myself permission to use my imagination as a tool to self-regulate, using inner resources and inner wisdom to find comfort and insight in the more difficult times.
I often imagine what it would be like to transform all of my self-consciousness into deep self-awareness. With social media bombarding our senses and our self-esteem daily, it can be challenging to be free from anxiety and self-judgment. Getting lost in the cyber world of people’s constant chase to be seen, to be heard, to connect, is all too familiar to me. 80% of our brain activity comes from visual information and processing, with our eye gaze directed at a screen full of fast, loaded and often artificial sensory information, the overwhelm is real.
I have spent the last decade of my life searching for ways to let go of that tension modern technology has pushed onto us and to find ways of dropping into my body.
The Irish poet John O’Donohue says that “Our bodies know that they belong to life, to spirit. It’s our minds that make our lives so homeless.”
We all have inner wisdom, inner recourses and inner rhythms. How we sustain connection to those parts of us seems to be the challenge. The whole body knows and feels, the heart sends as many signals out to the rest of the body as the brain does, yet we live in a society completely mentally orientated and then confused why anxiety is the most common mental health problem. There are 1 in 6 Australians, 3.2 million people, currently experiencing depression, or anxiety or both.
Through my work as a mindful movement facilitator, I get a chance to connect with people in a non-judgmental, open and vulnerable way. In this safe space we create together, I have witnessed within myself and have seen others experience profound moments of complete embodied presence. When a person feels safe to practice the art of melting away concerns about right and wrongs, possibility is created to discover and explore moving freely from the body. Following curiosity, following impulses, letting go of what the movement ‘looks like’ and dropping into how the movement feels. Here, a greater sense of belonging, of inner connection can be found. In this place of nurture, of attention and safety, there is opportunity to release accumulated painful body memories and to get in touch with stored pleasurable memories, which can lead a person on a path to a deeper knowing and understanding of themselves.
To practice pausing, with awareness on the body, is to explore what it might feel like to really allow yourself to sit in the spaces between. Between movement, between sounds, between breaths. Inviting a deep listening, a quality of attention to each moment, each breath.
Young children are my biggest teachers on what it means to be present, to be without judgment, to let go and to start again, to be curious, to forgive and to love unconditionally. You can see in a child’s eyes their beginners mind ready to discover, the way they express themselves seems completely undiluted by society.
Everything is part of an eternal rhythm. A regular repeated pattern. Neuroscience is suggesting that spending time with nature opens our imagination and increases our well- being. When we begin to recognise our own essence in that of a tree, we begin to feel the spirit of belonging. Perhaps by turning a mindful listening attention inwardly, we can begin to notice rhythms, motions and patterns that exist deeper within.
Today more and more people are seeking yoga and meditation to find some refuge from their busy and fast pace lives. It looks to me that as a culture we are beginning to shift old conditioning, arriving at a place of question. Is the pressure we are under, to do more, to have more and to be more, guiding us on a path of meaning or the roots to our suffering?
I offer an invitation to re-define success as our deep relationships with all living beings including ourselves. Imagine if we looked to our connections with each other as a way towards meaning and belonging.
Maybe that could bring a sense of relief, of comfort. I invite you to join me in making a commitment to become present with the body as often as possible, to pause and recognise our eternal wisdom and re-remember our sense of belonging. While we work on a social shift for our future, we can work on an inner shift for our present.
Tuning into your internal solar system, coming home to your body and dropping into unconditional presence, is to truly know what it is to be alive. Awake.
I believe that part of the process of deeply connecting is becoming familiar with pausing, even if it is just for a brief moment like this one has been.
Em studies psychotherapy with focused curiosity in somatic psychotherapy. Facilitating mindful movement and meditation workshops and classes based in Melbourne, Em loves exploring connection in all ways possible to human experience.