Our body is a wonderfully complex machine. We have the ability to move in so many different directions allowing a vast array of shapes, movements and postures without having to think about doing it. In specific movement classes such as yoga and pilates, we find that neural pathways need to connect automatically for these movements to occur and sometimes new neural pathways need to be made for movement to develop. Occasionally, frustration arises when we can’t do something, and often it is just a pathway that needs connection and realising this can help.
Our body knows what to do, how to exist in daily life; however, I would ask, how often do you pause to experience what is happening in the body? Most of the time we are lost in the thinking mind, in the stories, commentary, dialogue, often trying to figure things out, analyse, make right or even react when in automatic pilot. The body will tell you what is happening if you pause to connect, if you become familiar with the feeling and physical body.
So, the body is physical, emotional and chemical. When all three are working well, we have balance and when they’re not working well, we have stress. When everything is balanced, we call this homoeostasis and this equals health, and so being in touch with the body is an essential component to health.
I was listening to Tara Brach this morning and she talked about the fact that thinking about having a hug is not the same as experiencing a hug. We all know this but what makes the experience different is the fact that the body releases hormones, and therefore, when we are experiencing a hug the chemical oxytocin is released.
When you hug somebody next, notice how it feels in the body, notice how you feel afterwards. Perhaps allow the hug to be slightly longer to be able to feel it more, make it a lasting experience. When we are in these moments, oxytocin is released in the neural pathway, in the gaps between nerves and also is released into the blood stream. Oxytocin makes us feel good, it is produced in abundance when we are in love.
The opposite happens however when we are faced with fear, anxiety and stress. Can we tune in to what is happening in these moments too and allow ourselves to experience, to be with and feel in the body when faced with these times?
This time adrenaline is the chemical released that creates symptoms of stress. Stress is often due to difficult thoughts that are arising about future events or external circumstances that have been challenging, where we might find ourselves ruminating over them. We often try to avoid feeling these moments, we might find that we get busy, we try to avoid stopping to be with because it is uncomfortable to be with.
Whatever the reason, what happens when we are body aware, is that we notice when tension is present, when heat is arising, when the breath changes and becomes shallow and fast, when the mouth becomes dry. The early stages of a reaction is prevented when we deeply connect with the physical, emotional and feeling body.
Recognising in the first place, along with allowing, staying with and fully accepting the moment creates the space and freedom for change to happen by itself rather than fighting it and then getting locked in, pausing creates the space to make wise choices about how we wish to proceed or want to be.
Our changing lives and daily encounters allow us to experience love, fear, excitement and we wouldn’t want to lose these. How would it be to feel and experience them all, not just seek the pleasant but allow and feel the unpleasant too?
It is all the passing show of our daily existence and I would invite you to surrender to it all, not to fight it, but to become interested from a body perspective. By doing this, we really get to know ourselves at a deep level and from this place we can grow in line with our intension and motivation for how we want to live each day.
Tina Gilbert is a tutor for the Mindfulness Association. Her next Level 1: Being Present course is starting this weekend in Edinburgh.
Tina is teaching on the Level 1: Being Present course that is running in Edinburgh. If you have completed the introductory Level 1: Being Present weekend (weekend 1) and would like to complete the practitioner certificate course (the remaining 3 weekends) in Edinburgh, please contact [email protected]
Dates: 25-26 August 2018, 24-25 November 2018 and 26-27 January 2019
Booking info: To book, email [email protected]
Times: The course runs from 10am till 5pm on Saturday and Sunday
Location: The Salisbury Centre, 2 Salisbury Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5AB