We create change in our lives by embodying the change we want to be. We literally need to change our bodies, change the way we move, the way we breathe, in order to change the way we take action in the world.
Here is an example of what I mean. I have become conscious of a deep ache to live my life at a slower pace. To me this means no longer rushing to do something just to get it done but having time to savor the process of whatever it is I'm doing - from picking up the phone to writing a sentence. My yearning for a slower rhythm is about learning to be present and about exorcising the time demons of our culture that have crept into my psyche. Yet why has the ache only grown more insistent no matter how many books I write or read on this subject?
I believe it is because I've been trying to THINK my way into different way of being. I say I want to slow down and yet I still physically move quickly. I still rush. I stay stuck in same patterns of moving and these patterns yield the same (narrow) emotional bandwidth . The deep change I crave is not available to me because it is not available to my body. Yet.
I actually must DO yoga and the body disposition exercises from my coaching program. I actually must stop doing 5 things at once, stop driving over the speed limit, stop cooking and talking on the phone while listening to Lillian at the same time (a slight exaggeration). I actually must pull myself out of the habits of my body, whether those are shallow breathing, hunched shoulders, or simply "assuming the position" (in front of my computer) when I have free time instead of strolling around the backyard and hugging one of my beloved oaks.
I've been telling myself that I will slow down AFTER the transition I'm in (my family and I are moving next month from Santa Barbara in our effort to live life more fully AND to support my new direction of writing fiction and becoming a life coach). Today, my mentor coach pointed out I must embody the slower pace NOW, for if I wait to be the new me, the choices I make during this transition might not reflect the life I want to create. In other words, I might create the same life I have now just in a different place!
It reminds me of our work with intention, which is basically sensing how you want to feel in your life and letting that inform your actions. I would now add HOLD IN YOUR BODY HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL and MOVE in a way that supports those feelings, in addition to holding how you want to feel in your emotional imagination.
How do we shift our bodies out of rushing and into being? Here are some simple ideas:
Literally slow down. Drive slower, chew slower, do only two things at a time instead of five.
Hold your body differently. When you feel overwhelmed, pause -- don't try to do even more even faster. Do three yoga sun salutations or go for a walk around the block or borrow your child's scooter or balance on one foot. When the phone rings for the seventh time in fifteen minutes, stop and breathe BEFORE you answer it, opening your arms wide and pushing your solar plexus gently forward.
When you feel blah or stuck, sit in a part of your house or office you never sit in. Walk backwards as you go about your business. Get down on your knees, hands in the prayer position. Do a back bend. Wrap your arms around yourself and rock. Do something in your body you don't usually do - break the coherence of your usual way of being.
This premise is simple: involve your body in your life! What you specifically do with your body is not important (so don't think you have to learn tai chi or become a yogi, for the path is not important!). What is vital is that you consult your body (be in it) AND physically experiment with other ways of moving, holding your body, sharing space with others, embodying images and ideas. It is in these actions that we shift our way of being in the world, and in doing so, turn our lives toward the richer, more emotionally alive path we yearn for.
Watch yourself for the next two weeks. How often are you unwilling to shift? Would you rather hold on to one way of being in your body, even if that way causes you suffering or is very narrow? How often do you (I know I do!) hold on to being overwhelmed, being irritable, being angry, being resentful, being bored when, if you would JUST INVOLVE YOUR BODY, you could experience a new emotional realm and with that realm, new opportunities for change.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What physical action could I take to embody peace? What physical action could I take to embody openness? What physical action could I take to embody joy? What physical action could I take to embody a wider emotional range?
This is your body,
your greatest gift,
pregnant with wisdom you do not hear,
grief you thought was forgotten,
and joy that was never known." Marion Woodman, Coming Home to Myself
And I would add, your body needs to be invited to embody new ways of knowing and being if those ways are going to be brought to life. Be more than a giant head floating around - embody the person you are becoming.
Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book, The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and three other titles. You can visit her popular website at ComfortQueen.com where over 600 articles about self-care, an interactive Inner Organizer, and a wonderful CQ store await you. Jennifer also works with a few clients at a time as a life coach.