Noticing and being with feelings
Today I'm going to reflect a little on how I'm feeling, what I'm doing, not necessarily in a co-ordinated way, because I think that I have been learning some things which you may also be experiencing and you may find some of the things I've been doing helpful to incorporate into your life.
It's a bank holiday here in the UK, end of May holiday - a recognition that summer is on the way - and Summer has just literally turned up, after the weather had regressed back to early spring for most of May. The sunlight makes us all want to be outside, and makes us feel happier. That increase in vitamin D boosts our endorphins and releases sensations of relaxation, coupled with a holiday, gives a sense of expansiveness.
Given how busy we've all been recently (and this seems to be for everyone I've spoken to, and also for me), and this is a combination of all of a sudden having more to do after months of being locked in, and new situations with work, making changes and adapting our lives, and some big questions coming up for us about what lives we want to live going forward. We're still living with uncertainty and lack of clarity, so we try to make plans but it can be hard to move forward in ways we'd like to. So all of this creates a lot of busyness.
Which is leading to tiredness as we struggle to adjust to living our lives differently again. On top of that, we're seeing people a lot more, and going out a lot more, and we're needing to adjust to that. It's a strange feeling after months of not going anywhere or seeing anyone, and really wanting to, that now we can, we find that it can be hard to be with people for long periods of time.
We have this sense of time going much faster, of suddenly days dissapearing and wondering what we've done or where it went. And this can create unsettled feelings, perhaps some anxiety, some fears, as well as the tiredness.
So perhaps you're grateful for the holiday. Perhaps, you're working the holiday and wondering what the fuss is! This is certainly some of what has been arising for me. This push - pull of emotions. Of wanting to do things but then finding that I like people for short periods of time, for wanting to do more, but then wondering where the time has gone.
I am learning about trauma and embodied resilience in yoga at the moment and some of the practices I'm learning through this have been really helpful with dealing with some of these difficult emotions, some more challenging situations (have you suddenly felt a need to hold boundaries again in a way that you weren't before because you weren't seeing people?), and finding a way of staying with and being with myself and what is going on for me.
The simplest one, which I've started doing several times a day and especially when I'm with people is, to just drop into my heart and inquire how I'm feeling, what's going on for me, what's coming up. This perhaps isn't the time dig into difficult emotions, but noticing that they're there is good because then this can help with your response. You cannot know what you need, or what your response should be if you don't know first how you're feeling and what's going on for you. You may not know what you're feeling but you might be able to locate tightness, tension, sensation, constriction, pain in the body, so you can just notice that and say "I notice that my shoulders are feeling tight" or whatever it might be.
And then when you've seen what you're feeling either in the body or your emotions, or both (and resist the desire to analyse it here - this isn't the time for therapy, just notice it and allow it to be there), offer it some compassion. Regardless of what it is say "no wonder I'm feeling this", "no wonder my shoulder is tight" etc. We aren't here to judge whatever is arising for you, but to notice it and allow it.
Once you've offered some compassion, you can then inquire, what do I need? What do I need for the rest of this interaction, in this moment, for the rest of the day, for the rest of the week? Whatever timeframe feels good for you. And this then is the start of understanding how to meet your needs with however you are responding to something. It could be something small - like drink some water - or it could be something bigger like - I need to connect with this person, or I need to look for a new job. Or somewhere in between. Whatever it is - then choose to do this for yourself at whatever point that might be (immediately for water - perhaps look for jobs in the next week if its that).
After this just allow yourself to breath a little deeper and drop into your body, being present in the body, and feeling the support underneath your feet, bottom, back (depending on whether you're standing, sitting or lying down). Feel supported by the earth and in yourself. And then bring yourself back into your external situation, noticing what's around you and what's going on.
I feel that this takes mindfulness and meditation practices to another level. You can do this as part of meditation, or really just wherever you are, whenever you are. I do it all the time, especially if I'm just connecting to something a little challenging and I'm either feeling like I'm going to get overwhelmed with the emotion or I'm trying to ignore the emotion. In meditation you're creating the space for this pause between something happening and your reaction. You might be bringing compassion and awareness to it, but you are perhaps not really inquiring about how you're feeling or what you need. By doing that it gives something tangible to this pause you're creating. So that the response is not just a measured one you've considered in the pause, but is a response which meets your needs and honours your feelings.
As you may have noticed, I've just started incorporating a few little things from this course into classes - just dropping little things in to support us all a little more to connect more with ourselves and recognise we have choice and personal power.
This week the busyness got away with me so I didn't listen to my usual astrology podcasts. So instead of theming classes on the astrology, I'm theming them on something which felt good for me. I started with date numerology for the class but it really just morphed into classes for the heart centre. To open and expand the heart, open up the lungs and get the breath moving, moving the blood and circulation and developing openness, compassion and kindness (most importantly for ourselves). Perhaps these practices I'm learning are rubbing off in different ways - subtly suggesting loving kindness and compassion for classes too!