Bodies, Boundaries and Beliefs
During a boundary exploration exercise at a workshop last year, I had a moment of profound insight. We were exploring the felt-sense of boundaries in our bodies, and playing with our ability to track sensations and read cues that arose from within. The exercise involved a person walking slowly towards me from across a room, while I was supposed to sense out a “stop” from my body as she was getting closer.
Our instructions were to follow our body cues, sense out an internal boundary, and to indicate when we wanted the other person to stop approaching.
As my friend inched slowly towards me, I noticed nothing and nothing and then, there: a tightening in my muscles.
I held up my palms at waist-level and gently said, “stop.”
I felt a slight relaxing in my body. Interesting.
Then she began to move backwards, “OK, I am going to take a step backwards now and move a little further back again…”
Her suggestion was completely reasonable, but the moment she began to move away, my throat constricted as I choked back my tears.
The rush of sadness that swept through my body as she backed away, surprised us both.
Memories of being rejected or left when I had asserted a difference about who I was or what I wanted in important relationships arose with the sadness.
This was a moment of profound insight for me.
Saying “no” or “stop” had become deeply associated with a fear that if I asserted myself, that people would go away or disappear.
This fear had turned into an unconscious, polarized pattern that operated within me:
1. Either accommodate what other people want, believe or prefer without rocking the boat to maintain stable relationships with them
2. Or assert what you want, advocate for yourself, but then end up rejected and alone
Unexamined, unprocessed, unconscious fears based on past experiences had become a reflexive and untrue "rule" about life within me: Be true to yourself and find yourself alone and lonely, or subsume yourself to others and end up in stable but empty, superficial relationships with others.
We all have these deeply embedded, implicit fears and beliefs.
Remember, not all beliefs reside in our brains; beliefs live in the cells of our bodies and can be awakened and transformed through consciously tracking our energy, emotion and feeling.
My unwillingness to feel these fears previously, had lead to my inability to transform these outdated body-beliefs.
This time however, as sadness washed over me, I knew what I needed to do: Feel it to Heal it, as they say.
Letting myself cry, connecting to my body, letting fears shudder up into my awareness and ripple out - these are all practices I have cultivated for a long time. I had stored these emotions and memories for a long time; it was a relief to finally discover and release them.
Our willingness to feel is a wise power.
Feeling our lives and connecting to our bodies increases our capacity for empathy and presence.
Feelings are often coupled with images, memories and meanings within our psyches; as we access each of these consciously, we move towards
• Greater integration • Greater empowerment • Greater awareness and • A capacity for even greater love.
And, we gain access to new creative, mature choices in our relationships in which we are able to assert ourselves without imposing upon others, we can regulate ourselves without feelings of submission and self-silencing.
We are able to live more fully in the present moment, responding to what is actually arising in front of us, unencumbered by unconscious and un-examined fears and prejudices from the past.
We are increasingly set free from our cultural programming, our socialized selves and we find our way back to living fully from the inner authority of our loving, human souls.
This Saturday, March 19th, 2018 I will be offering a full day exploration of what it means to Stand Strong, Nonviolently.
We will explore:
• Our personal relationships with boundaries/limits • Standing for vs. standing against • Relational vs. disconnecting boundaries • Power-over, power-under and power-with • Rebellion and submission vs. conscious choice and co-creation • Protective vs. punitive use of force • Develop new scripts for old situations
If you’d like to join me, please register here.