Coming Home To Our Senses And Bodies
We have (hopefully) survived another week of quarantining and social distancing! And, stress. And, anxiety. And, sadness. And, confusion. And, numbness. And, overwhelm. And, fear.
But, hopefully lots and lots of joy also. If you haven't found joy this week, and are looking for some joy, music, and dancing, look no further! You'll especially love that, if you're a fan of Cardi B.
Today, after listening to the psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, I'm inspired to write about how we can more easily come home to ourselves.
Often, we might walk around feeling completely disconnected from our thoughts, our bodies, our feelings, and our behaviors. This disconnection may be particularly prevalent as we continue to experience this collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trauma has a way of making us leave ourselves. We leave as we mindlessly scroll through social media, as we do, do, do as human doings as opposed to human beings, as we engage in emotional eating, as we think, think, and think some more, as we worry, as we buy things we don't need, and as we binge watch shows or the news.
But, how can we come back to ourselves? Can we come back to our internal homes? If we do come back to our homes -- ourselves -- what kind of home do we inhabit? Do we like our homes?
First, I do want to say that it's OK that we sometimes don't want to come back to ourselves. The process of building deep connections and deep mindfulness with ourselves can take time. It's a journey. Wherever you are on the journey is OK.
Second, when we're ready and willing, there are some ways to ensure that the internal homes we inhabit are as safe, calm, and secure as possible. Right now, when we're being faced with news of individuals being sick, individuals dying, and stores running out of resources, our internal worlds might be agitated, on edge, and scared as all hell.
This idea of finding ways to come back to our senses and our bodies helps to soothe the chaos that may bubble up inside of us. It's like a caring, supportive parent who holds their children as they're crying and in pain. We can be that supportive parent to ourselves. When that parent hugs us, kisses our cheek, sings to us, rocks us, we feel more at ease. We find some peace and stillness. We may even smile and hug them back, and feel incredible gratitude for their kindness, care, and love.
Being that parent to ourselves helps us come back. When we're kind, accepting, compassionate, and caring to ourselves, we can more easily come back to our senses and our bodies. We can more easily come back to the present moment.
So! How do we come back?
Some ways that help me come back home to me are:
Community! There are so many opportunities for virtual meditation and yoga. Last night, I did a meditation via Zoom through Three Jewels, and it was honestly magical. I felt like I entered another world, where everything was wonderful and we all got along, and there was finally world peace. Ha!
Whatever you're into, whether that's dance, open mics, cooking, or happy hours, you can find virtual communities who are engaging in those activities. Community is important. We're social beings. We need each other to survive and thrive. We need each other to feel safe and secure.
Self-Compassion! If you know me, you know that I'm always preaching self-kindness. We have to be kind, patient, and understanding of ourselves. If I notice self-critical and self-shaming thoughts, I say: OH NO, YOU DON'T! Ha!
But, seriously. Remember the calm, caring, kind, patient, compassionate parent? I practice embodying that as often as I can throughout the day. That means, hugging myself. Saying really lovely, supportive statements to myself (e.g., I believe in you; I love you. I'm here for you. You're trying your best).
Also, research has found that speaking to ourselves in the third person is really helpful, and helps to calm our anxiety. Whaaaaa?
So -- Sarah believes in you. Sarah loves you. Sarah's here for you. Sarah's trying her best -- would be even better statements to say to myself.
Mindfulness! I LOVE MINDFULNESS! I imagined Oprah as I wrote that :D :D You get a mindful moment! YOU get a mindful moment. EVERYBODY gets a mindful moment! Ha!
Being mindful means that you're coming back to your senses and your body. That means, as I write, I'm noticing how my feet feel on the ground, whether my feet are cold or warm, what my bottom feels like on the chair, whether my shoulders are tense, whether my breathing is of a slower or faster pace. I can notice what it's like to touch my laptop and what the keyboard feels like as I type. I can also notice what it's like to see the GIF of Oprah, what it's like to hear this song playing, and what it's like to sway my body to the beat.
Once I notice all of these facets, I can make some changes, if needed. Maybe I can intentionally start to breathe slower (e.g., inhale for 4 seconds, pause for another, exhale for 4 seconds, and hold for another 4). Maybe I can relax my shoulders. Maybe I can pause from writing and look outside my window; I can appreciate seeing children and dogs running and playing with each other. Maybe I can sip my tea slowly and really notice the different flavors and sensations that I experience as I drink.
Moving my body!! If you can, move your body as often as possible, and move it in a mindful way. Really notice what it's like to move your body to a song. Or, what it's like to go outside, breathe the fresh air, hear different sounds, or feel the sun on your skin as you walk. If you're exercising, really notice what it's like for your body to get in different poses and to commit to repeating certain movements as the sensation of pain or feelings of joy and connection arise.
Gratitude, of course! Practice gratitude all day, everyday! Have a gratitude party over Zoom. Get together with folks and discuss all the things you're grateful for. Maybe it's the food you have access to. Toilet paper. Clorox wipes lol! The sun. Shelter. Time to read. Time to play video games with peers. Enough money to survive for the day. Technology. Your breath. Seltzer water :D
Helping others! Make it a habit to help others. Help often. Help however way you can. Maybe someone needs you to listen to their complaints. Stop what you're doing, take some deep breaths and listen. Maybe someone needs you to share whatever resources you may have. Or, needs you to sign and share a petition. Or, needs you to empathize with their pain. Or. Or. Or. Or. We need each other. Let's find ways to take care of each other.
My hope is that in coming home to ourselves, we can also find homes in and come home to each other.
Take good care of yourselves and each other.