When we take a moment to pause and listen in, to breathe and connect to our bodies, many of us carry the expectation that this should be a pleasurable experience! But, our bodies - the elegant organisms and gaseous meat sacks that they are - do the challenging, 24-7 job of carrying out biological functions, logging a lifetime of experiences, and holding all our F-E-E-L-I-N-G-S, some pleasurable and some painful.
For many of us - particularly people from disenfranchised communities who may experience harm, both quotidian and systemic (myself included) - getting into our bodies can bring discomfort, even trauma, and so naturally, we don’t want to go to there! Or, for others - I’m thinking of cis-gendered, white people (myself included), when we get present in our bodies, we may have to look at and feel feelings around our respective privileges that may be ugly and hard to sit with.
It follows, then, that we may sense a potential risk, and even danger, in getting present in our bodies. It also follows that getting present and into our bodies means something different and may require something different depending on who we are and where we're situated.
And, what are the risks and dangers in NOT being present? In NOT connecting to and naming our feelings? What are the costs? Where is the potential harm there, and to whom? Again, these answers may be different for each of us, depending on who & where we are.
Lucky for us, we are not our feelings. As the poet Rumi wrote, feelings are the unexpected visitors to our guest house. Our feelings are only one part of our rich inner life - along with biological functions, firing synapses, physical sensations, energetic fields. Just as the biological function of a tummy rumbling signals hunger, our feelings often signal an unmet need. So, anxiety may signal an unmet need for safety and longing or loneliness may foretell an unmet need for connection, and so on...
If we can relax the fear or judgment we hold around our feelings for a moment, just to simply watch and remain curious about them - aka see who has come to visit - what might we discover?
Take a moment in private to pause today. Breathe. Imagine you have the safety and support you need around you right now to feel all the feels. Watch each emotion surface and wash over you like a tide. What feelings are most present for you right now?
Sadness? Anticipation? Anxiety? Rage? Fear? Numbness? Disappointment? Excitement? All of the above?
See if you can choose one feeling to really sit with and explore - without judgement. What's it feel like? Look like? Where does it live in you? Does it change as you sit with and explore it? What's the feeling underneath that feeling? And, the feeling underneath that one? Stay a little longer than is comfortable, if you can.
If this feeling was just a visitor to your house, what might it be here to teach or share with you? What unmet need is this feeling signaling to you?
How might you begin to meet that need for yourself right now and/or who might you call upon to support you in getting that need met? What are all the ways in which that need could be met, big or small? What wisdom does this houseguest have to impart before moving along to its next destination?
Like many queer youth, I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but alas was not able to join their ranks.
I have since adapted their practice of Life-craft in service to coaching: in training the heart, head and hands, young scouts build inner tools as much as their critical thinking and survival know-how.
In much the same way that a scout might learn to whittle a piece of wood or make cover in the wilderness, we can learn to develop our inner resources - adaptability, creativity, empathy, compassion, wisdom, stamina, resilience - readying our hearts to meet life's challenges and crafting our lives with care and intention.
As we hone these skills in the present, new possibilities emerge for our future.
What tools do you call on, particularly in moments of challenge? If you were to sharpen one tool that is already working for you, what would it be? And, if you were to add one tool, what tool might help you begin to whittle the future you're hoping for?