I’m in my living room, lying on the floor, speaking into a recorder.
My body is full of emotion. I feel like everything is going WRONG. Everything feels slightly off. Vaguely threatening. Even the usual everyday events like getting my son to his activity, or getting dressed — it all feels very stressful and overwhelming.
I can feel that familiar tension in my throat and solar plexus… My body is zipping on what I call the Anxiety Suit.
Such a familiar, comfortable feel to it. It’s hard to resist. I know this feeling well. It’s an old friend, a pimp for bad choices.
I haven’t worn the Anxiety Suit in a long time, maybe a year now. So it feels extremely constricting. I feel a deep squeeze on my ribs and diaphragm, an extremely restless sensation in my legs and hips, pain in my shoulders and in my heart, and a headache — just at the center behind my eyes, knocking, but not fully there yet.
This is what’s true for me right NOW, in THIS moment; but INSTEAD of reacting to these sensations by drowning them out with the chaos of frenzied activity or the numbness of a martini…I’m just lying still, breathing slowly and deliberately. Noticing each sensation in my body as it arises.
It’s very challenging. Each time I feel that tightness, I take a long breath, let it out, and I allow myself to PAUSE for a REALLY LONG TIME. And then I describe, out loud to myself, what it is that I feel. Sometimes I say it to a silent friend, though this time I’m talking into a recorder, as a witness.
I don’t know WHY I feel this way. I sense that it’s many, many things. And it’s also nothing.
I respond by stretching my restless legs, breathing into them, rocking my head side to side, sensing the pain in my neck and chest. As I gently move my body and breathe, I begin to remember something I’ve learned…
My body is telling me that it thinks I need protection from something.
Something is happening in my life that my body feels it needs to PROTECT me from, by donning this familiar cloak of pain and urgency.
And that is a sure indicator that I’m trying to do something DIFFERENTLY in my life.
Suddenly, I feel really aware of ALL the things I’m trying to CHANGE in my life right now, I’m actually sort of hyper-aware of them. The “temporary” apartment we’ve been living in for three years. The weight of my husband’s recent illness. Our unstable finances. The Trump administration.
I feel it all around me like clogged energy, and I find it hard to breathe.
So I take a long breath in, and out.
And during this one breath, this small moment of unexpected space, I experience a brief CLEARING, where I understand that I have a CHOICE.
My BODY is screaming, “Run away from this!! Stuff this down and keep going like you always do! Here, let me tighten the suit…”
But my SPIRIT is very loudly whispering, “This is the time. Now is the time, not to compromise. In this moment of space, MAKE A DIFFERENT CHOICE. Make the choice that will lead you toward your TRUE SELF.”
This dichotomy is very uncomfortable. For a moment I am confused, unsure how to reconcile my body’s warning with my spirit’s longing. So I choose simply to lie STILL and breathe and try to describe it out loud.
I understand, even if for a very brief moment, that this is CLARITY. This is VISION. This is my SOUL calling me from the dark shadows I have relegated it to, zipped tight into anxiety and protective fear. It wants out.
This is both EXCITING and frightening, but I lean into it.
I begin to THANK my body for its protection all these years. For its undying loyalty. And to remind it that we are safe here in my living room. There is no immediate threat. I take another breath.
The feelings don’t go away, but they begin to feel less threatening. I feel more solid. More ME.
By making a DIFFERENT choice in this small window of time; by choosing to STAY WITH my immediate experience rather than run away from it; by choosing to LISTEN to my body rather than battle it; by taking the action of SPEAKING my experience, I have shifted a lifetime of unhealthy ones.
Because now there is a BEACON for the next time. A memory that I can do this, that I didn’t run, and I didn’t die. I know there is another way.
And I am aware that my body is not my enemy after all, but my ALLY. Providing me with information in any given moment about who I truly am, and what I truly desire. My job now is to FEEL, and to LISTEN to this TRUTH.
This is the reward of NOT running away from the discomfort of what most frightens me…but in fact running TOWARD it. And then choosing NOT to wear the Suit. What comes next is only a matter of practice, and time.
Everyone — every single human being on this planet — has the power to do this. And the more we do it, the more personal POWER and COMPASSION for others we build. It’s like a muscle I’m toning, a new language I’m becoming fluent in.
IMAGINE, if every one of us treated our moments of fear with such tenderness — and held space for OTHERS as they experience theirs. Imagine the kind of world..!
This is the world I desire to live in. This is the world I work to create.