Sensations are always arising and passing away... arising and passing away. We put a lot of energy into labeling these sensations.
Sensations don't create our reality; the labels do. The same sensation never shows up twice.
‘Comfort’ and ‘Discomfort’
We are where we are because of the things we’ve done in the past. If we want to go somewhere different, we need to do different things, or do things differently.
Why is it easier said than done? Because in order to expand outside of our comfort zone, to ‘lean into our edge’, we often need to willingly embrace discomfort.
We often spend a portion of sessions working on the abdomen. The viscera, the intestines, the abdominal muscles… the ‘belly’ represents vulnerability. Because we ‘store’ so much there, and armor ourselves against ‘seeing’ and ‘feeling’ ourselves, this time during sessions can be a valuable time to consider our relationship to discomfort. Nothing touches on discomfort like our ‘core’ wounds.
I may repeat this, because it often takes a few repetitions to anchor in.
The belly is ideally soft and fluid. Believe it or not, it is possible to be muscular and toned, and also soft and fluid.
Most of us carry a lot of emotional and physical baggage there in the gut.
When you are fully vulnerable, and feel fully safe, I should be able to push right through the fluid intestines and touch the psoas, the deepest abdominal muscle that runs along the spine. I’ve felt this before with clients in certain sessions. It is somewhat rare in our culture.
A few common patterns are:
- The belly tenses up and pushes me out at various levels, out of ‘fear’, usually linked to residual trauma.
- The exploration of the viscera causes one to ‘go away’ and ‘zone out’. During these trance states, valuable clues come up as to what is being stored. We’ll continue to practice catching them so we can learn from them.
- I can go all the way in with ease, because the area has been ‘disconnected’. Usually I'll then ask a few questions about the sensations, and this allows reconnection, and then the sensations & emotions often flow.
Flow and non Flow
It's safe to say that, a majority of the time, most of us are not in FLOW. We tense our whole bodies without being aware of it, writhe to escape the discomfort or 'pain,' disconnect, stop breathing or take shallow breaths, change our body alignment to reroute energy, etc.
What arises during these explorations is invaluable. They're like signposts that show us where to go (or not go) next for the deepest healing. What shows up is often a clue as to where we are 'stuck.'
As an example, during abdominal work, some clients crave, or literally smell their favorite comfort foods. One remembered his Russian grandmother baking bread, as one of the high points of his young life. Another thought of fish tacos and tequila. Some race through their mind and think about what they need to do for work. Some immediately shift their full focus to taking care of others, (children, parents, or a significant other, etc) because taking care of oneself is ‘uncomfortable’. Some open their eyes to escape the inner world, and others turn their head away from the point being worked on. Some actually turn their head toward the pain, and laugh or smile.
We'll continue to explore what your strategies have been, bring attention to them, and create alternatives.
Much of this has will has to do with the psoas muscle (see below).
- Continue to soften and listen to the sacred messages from your body. Notice where you are 'tense' and where you are 'fluid.'
- Consider the disempowering ways you might have dealt with discomfort in the past.
- Consciously create uncomfortable situations for yourself, and observe your internal world as you experience them. Examples: For people who need to be ‘good’ at everything, this could include taking a beginner class. For someone who is attached to physical comfort, this could include sleeping on the floor for a night (which is actually healing to the skeletal system and the spine), or alternating the shower between hot and cold (also a powerful cleanser). Or a shift in diet, to give up comfort foods or routines.
The psoas runs from the lower 5 lumbar to the top of the femur or thigh bone. When it is congested, it can affect posture, digestion, circulation, sexuality, and the urinary system, to name a few. The nerves that are impacted are the ones in the bottom box below:
A tight psoas can continually send a message to our body that we are in fight or flight mode, a symptom of which is a low level anxiety. This is draining on the adrenals and other systems. Stress is one of the main causes of depression.
Palpating the psoas directly in a conscious way, while gently inquiring and keeping you present, is the most direct and impactful way to work with it. TRE, or Trauma Release Exercise can also help remove some of the energy from the psoas (video).
Tears are often need to flow for stagnant energy to move. As the psoas is being touched, you may feel waves of emotion or energy. This happens after the intense resistance ebbs. The resistance essentially has to complete before the next phase. And then energy can move, and another layer becomes available.
In the MahaMudra, sacred practice of Tibetan meditation, the psoas is referred to as the ‘seat of the ego.’ It is how and where we ‘hold onto things.’ The psoas muscles, because they run through the pelvis, and connect the spine to the thigh bones, also connect the upper to the lower half of the body. We touch into those muscles to reconnect the upper and lower halves, reconnecting to a physical experience of wholeness.
Trauma drives energy upward in the body (toward the head), and healing involves bringing it back down. Herbs that are grounding, like roots, can support with this process. (An herbal tea of Burdock root, can be helpful).
Peter Levine, In an Unspoken Voice
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