Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where Do You Live?

Recently I had an interaction in a social work group with a couple of little boys. The boys were working on feelings charts and were asked to identify where they "felt" particular feelings in their bodies. While one little boy was able to identify feeling sad in his heart, anger in his belly and excitement "everywhere"; another identified each and every feeling by pointing straight to his forehead.
So my question to you is: where do you live? Are you completely in your head? Do you keep your feelings confined there in order to maintain a certain level of safety and security? Are you unable to let go and feel things elsewhere? Do you live in your gut? Do you feel things in the depths of your belly? Do you get the butterflies of excitement or the burn of fear and the nausea of sadness?
Take a moment to close your eyes. Imagine winning the lottery. It's enough to allow you and your loved ones to do whatever they have dreamed of for the rest of their lives. Bring it into your imagination and make it as vivid as possible. Where do you feel it? Has a smile managed to creep across your face? Have you felt the tingle of the excitement begin to seep "everywhere"? Do you feel it in your fingers and your toes? Do you feel a lightness in your heart? Where does the happiness resonate?
Now imagine for a moment the last time you experienced great sadness. Did your heart feel heavy? Did your brain ache? Did you get an empty pit in your stomach? Where did the sadness infiltrate?
When we have feelings our bodies know it. Our health is impacted by prolonged stress and negativity- anger and sadness. These are normal emotions and when they are felt fully and in balance with joy, love and happiness they make our lives and our selves full.
In yoga the first part of the process for new yogis is to connect with the body- to move out of our heads and into our chests (or hearts), our bellies, our hips and or hamstrings. Sooner or later in the journey our bodies and our feelings connect. What do we hold in the tightness of our hips? Why are those hamstrings just not ready to release? What are we protecting within the tightness of our chest and shoulders?
Through the process of movement, meditation, and conscious breathing we begin to identify, to witness, to release the judgement and the fear. We work through the feelings we hold deep in the spaces of our bodies.
Talk therapy can be a scarey and emotionally difficult process but it's one which hopefully, in the end allows for personal growth and development. Yet, there are some that go throuh the motions and for whatever reason the process bears no fruits. The journey of Yoga is for many an avenue that takes us to places which traditional therapy is hard pressed to access- deep in the depths of the body. A place where sometimes the deepest, darkest feelings have gone to hide and where the most joyful ecstasies are found.
The therapeutic union that is yoga unites the mind, the body, and the soul. Have you considered it as more than just stretching? Have you ever imagined it as a place where you can lose yourself and find your self in the matter of 60 minutes time?

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