Breathing through Grieving

  swirly shore line   The practice of Body Dialogue is focused on present-moment awareness and our breath. It’s a form of mindfulness practice, but rather than tracking our thoughts and our emotions, we actually investigate them. We begin by noticing how we are breathing and the postural patterns and the emotions that show up.

    Recently, I’ve noticed that students are coming to me with a sense of overwhelm and, often, deep holding patterns that may show up as actual panic attacks. One student shared with me that after her marriage of 35 years ended, she is surprised by the terror and anxiety that arise for her around even small activities. I find many people, including myself,  facing old patterns of unfinished business that are longing for a way to be reconciled. That includes old patterns of loss and grief. The physical aches and pains buried in the body are often especially linked to deep sadness and grief.

    These patterns show up in our body language Often we use different and very ingenious ways to feel that we are literally holding our bodies together. “It’s almost as though I feel my head with fall off it I don’t hold it on,” one student says. “I hold my shoulders up to my ears, and I feel more secure,” says another. Sometimes we grip with our toes in an effort to find a safe footing in life.

     When I put my hands on students, I can often feel the energy blocks that are stored  in tissue and in the joints. When I start tracking the tightness, I notice that with a little coaxing and encouragement to get the breath freer, I can also gently encourage the musculature and skeleton to start releasing the old holding patterns. Little by little, the breath starts to get softer. The diaphragm works more efficiently as my hands gently bring more awareness into the ways in which students are holding their joints rigidly in place.We begin to tone and sound vowels to actually work the diaphragm to engage more efficiently.

     As we gently release layers of tension, encouraging the diaphragm and the deep abdominal muscles to work together to create a coordinated breath, the gripping and the rigidity begin to let go. It seems miraculous that someone who comes in with a rigid shoulder can find relief through breathing properly, but it happens.

     I encourage you to observe your breathing and  the mechanisms you may use to feel you are achieving stability in your body. Also, notice whether your breathing is full and easy or shallow and constricted. With these observations, we can begin to release some of the stagnant old patterns that frequently show up as old emotions. What shows up as grief often is the result of the muscles themselves holding on to old stories, to some old conception of ourselves.Or perhaps sadness surfaces and needs to be given attention

     When a student starts to breathe deeply, sometimes laughter just erupts and sometimes tears can flow. It’s as if ice is beginning to melt as the shoreline releases the river. Sometimes the grief is connected to memory, and sometimes it’s connected to just a simple pattern that’s so old we don’t even know who we are without it. Notice it with detachment and curiosity.

     With each breath something new is born. Layers upon layers melt as the breath releases . Thought patterns that cause the hardness and the tightness in our tissue and our joints can ease To trust that experience is the secret of this process, and then to choose  a more conscious breath over and over again – choose each breath as an invitation to feel more deeply and let oneself feel more fully.With gratitude and  compassion invite your body into more awareness

     Breath by breath, moment by moment, we shift internally, and these shifts bring us into a more expansive relationship not only to our own physical environment but to the world around us. I invite you to start noticing your own holding patterns and see what happens if you allow yourself to soften those places where the body wants to hold on tight.

I love to hear from you,

Feeling stuck? Better breathing can open you up.

photo-1-1.jpgphoto-1-1.jpgphoto 1-1You might think that feeling stuck and stagnant is primarily an emotional problem. As a body-worker, I have had clients come to me seeking help with their emotions and feelings of stagnation, and I have found that what they really needed help with was their physical restriction and muscle tension that was manifesting in emotional behavior.

Rather than seeing it as psychosomatic in the traditional sense, I saw it as the somatic restricting the psyche.

Because I approach the breath first, instead of looking at the issue as purely emotional, I have students experience what actual physical freedom feels like.  When one experiences release, breath, expansion, and flow, physically, a reference point is established that can then be related to an emotional state of more openness, greater heart field, softening of attitudes, and releasing of old mind patterns.

One startling example was a student who came to me in a very physically uptight, constriction over how to make a decision. With a little probing  by me and asking her the right questions she noticed that every time she had to make a decision, whether it was large or small, she could feel her breath constrain, her neck muscles getting tight, and she experienced shoulder tension.

She wondered if there was any way to change that behavior.  She did notice that when she was on vacation, decisions didn’t seem to have quite the level of impact on her body, but she couldn’t translate that experience into her daily life.

That provided me with a jumping-off point, working slowly, deliberately, and quietly with her inhale and her exhale.  She began to track the thoughts in her mind and could release the thoughts that were creating restrictions in her body. By focusing her on sensations in her body with release, lightness, and less effort, her mind began to open up and she began to approach decision making  through a physical practice instead of being in war with her lack of mental clarity and her inability to be proactive.

Response To Taking on Stress

Kristi recognized that she was taking on her clients pain. Even if you are not a massage therapist we ALL take on stress when it is in our field of energy. Kristi went from taking on others pain to having a personal transformation. You my be asking yourself how did this transformation occur?

First, Kirsti became AWARE that she was taking on others neck pain, if you do not know you are doing something you cannot shift it.

Second rather then trying to fix it, there are certain clues that can take our awareness and move it to the next level. For instance are we breathing, are we grounded into our legs on the floor or into our sit bones in the chair.

Third recognize the separation of the client from you, her emotions are not your emotions. Create an invisible shield to contain your energy within yourself.

Lastly this practice is a moment to moment choice, that rather then collapsing into the field of stress we choose to stay in our own central column of support.