The Hive – Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Has anyone ever told you to, “Just be yourself”? Did you try? Was it comfortable or did you find that being yourself also meant confronting self-doubt, fears of failure, painful memories? And, let’s not forget the pain of not fully realizing your dreams, financial or health goals.
How wonderful would it be to unshackle external definitions of success, beauty or self-worth and shed layers of beliefs hiding our light, our radiant hearts, our curiosity and compassion for our world and ourselves?
Being ourselves is not always easy. We look at it through a certain lens and it feels like there is no room to move or breathe without the pressure of showing up in the world as a successful, self-confident human being.
But that’s only one way of looking at this conversation. Thankfully, there are other ways to perceive of ourselves. I’d like to offer this list of possibilities as a way of expanding the axis upon which we measure or see ourselves.
Each suggestion is a complete exercise and would benefit from repeat practice and contemplation.
1 Breathe – take a moment to breathe in through your nostrils, slowly and evenly. Pause and then exhale out slowly and evenly. As you do this imagine the first breath being taken on this planet. Imagine the first lungs: expanding and contracting. Imagine your loved ones breathing. Visualize your breath dissolving into the air and arising out of the air. Watch what happens to your thoughts and energy as you imagine these suggestions.
2 Choose A Vibration – Our bodies are made of cells, which are made of atoms, which are made of particles, and those particles are actually just vibrating energy. … if you could vibrate, what energy would it be? Peace? Love? Know how you want to feel and go ahead and feel it in your whole body. Once you can feel it in your whole body let it pour out of you, rippling into the world. What does it feel like?
Freddie Mercury – giphy.com
3 Strip – strip away identities/feelings that don’t suit you, fit you or appeal to you. If you don’t want to feel sad anymore or like a failure just walk away from those painful feelings. Move towards something that excites you. Imagine walking from heavier feelings to lighter ones. Sit down and really give yourself some time to do this. It takes patience and practice. Go for it. I believe in you!
You can also just strip off your clothes to some cool music for the fun of it!
4 Bolt – one of my favourite exercises ever! Sometimes in life, we just want to run away from it all and hide. I say go ahead and do it literally. Here’s what I do: I open the front door of my house and make sure I am wearing a decent pair of shoes that can handle running and then I BOLT. I run without thinking as hard and as fast and for long as I can. When I can’t run anymore I stop and usually find myself laughing. I feel free and out of the cage. Try it.
5 Give It Away – give something away that you would find difficult to give away. It could be your favourite pair of shoes or $20 instead of $10. A smile instead of a frown.
I am suggesting this exercise because we all want so much more or we feel we have so little when in fact, the opposite is quite true. Break the spell and let yourself burst out to discover the abundance that is within you.
When we see ourselves from a higher ground or stop to take in the view or meet a stranger, a refugee with a glad heart, we are transformed. It is not painful being us then because we perceive ourselves in our true size: expansive, unlimited, willing, inclusive, radiant.
Are you ready to be yourself and be comfortable with that? Is something else holding you back? I’m here for you when you ready to unlock your potential.
Not long ago, I received a series of “tapping”* treatments in which my parasympathetic nervous system was activated to benefit my healing process. This was accomplished by tapping on my body to help rewire the nerve pathways and tap out or diminish the physical pain of my scars.
The parasympathetic nervous system is, “part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relax the sphincter muscles.” according to a definition on MedicineNet. In other words, when activated, it makes you feel relaxed and safe.
I noticed between treatments, that I was looking forward to the tapping. It made my whole body feel like it was taking a sigh of relief and that I could easily slip into a deep sleep.
In fact, the tapping was such a benefit, I began doing it at other times, whenever I felt anxious or rushed. I became aware of the immediate impact on my emotions and state of mind.** I have come to the conclusion that tapping seems to release anxiety and in turn, I feel calm and focused.
I’ve only begun experimenting with this process and don’t even know if there is an actual name for it, but I wanted to share it with you because it has had such a positive effect on me.
Want to give it a try? Here we go.
1 Find a quiet place where you can do this exercise without being interrupted. Sit down and make yourself comfortable. Breathe normally. Make a note of your emotional state. Anxious? Sad? Tired?Busy mind?
2 Close your eyes. Now place your hands horizontally just below your collar bones, on either side of the center line.
3 Hover the hands just about the upper chest area and gently begin tapping 3 times with left hand and then 3 times with the right hand. Don’t rush. Repeat for a few moments. When you stop the tapping observe your breath and your body. Are there any perceivable changes? Do you feel quieter?
If you are feeling particularly anxious it may take a few rounds of tapping. Be patient, dearest friend, because releasing the anxiety/stress from your body is not only important, it is achievable.
Once you feel the shift, take a moment to sit in the calm and allow your nervous system to reset. I usually add a few positive affirmations to finish off the tapping session, as the calm or quiet begins to ripple out: “I am safe.” “I am peaceful” “I like this calm and peaceful state” Open your eyes.
And that’s it we’re done!
If you need assistance or guidance with this exercise or any others, I am here to help you with techniques such as these and others that create emotional freedom, mental clarity and uplift your spirit.
One more thing, be sure to share this post with loved ones, colleagues and friends who may be in need of real transformative tools to help them to relax, become more focused or kick start their lives in a positive direction. Let me know if this works for you and your loved ones.
Thank you until next week!
* This is not the same as EFT
** With deeper trauma-related anxiety or panic attacks the tapping may give some relief but I recommend working with a professional.
I just had a big cry a few hours ago during a yoga class. It had all the classic traits: big, fat tears, snot, sobs, and to top it all off, I judged myself for the tears, for being a wimp and wondered why I was still swimming in these turbulent waters 6 years after the trauma event? Argh!
I have heard many women say that they have cried during their yoga class too.
I haven’t had an easy relationship with tears or crying. I remember my father telling me that I shouldn’t be such a crybaby when I was about 8 or 9, so I vowed to never cry in front of anyone ever again.
I hardened myself to not feel. I became tough to the point that I couldn’t understand why a friend was crying when her boyfriend broke up with her. I thought she was wasting her time and being a wimp (internalized papa wisdom in action)
It wasn’t until my mid-20s that crying came up again in a conversation. A friend was sharing how she liked to have a good cry. “Why would you want to have a good cry?” I wondered.
I couldn’t understand the purpose of crying that way, however, her words hit on something deeper in me.
It was then that I decided to revisit my relationship with tears and crying.
I‘m still not comfortable crying but the tears no longer care if I am at ease with them or not. They come during sappy scenes in movies, they come in tender moments with loved ones and they come when I move my body in yoga.
They are teaching me that in some places, I am still sad, hurt, and healing. That even though my mind is free, my body experienced things that it is still working its way through. And that this body, my body needs to cry sometimes to become free.
Today’s tears were especially healing because a dear friend who was also in the class wrapped her arms around me and created such safety that I could let go of my resistance to crying in public and heal the part of me that was hurt.
My eyes are a little puffy still but I can feel a quiet settling where turbulence ruled just below the surface of my awareness. I feel the pull to become quieter and more still, to close my eyes and allow the peace to fill me.
I wrote this post in part to honour the journeys we are all on and to recognize that some parts of the journey are arduous, so fraught with uncertainty and in such darkness that we believe we are all alone. That was me today in yoga class and with the help of a friend I was able to cry and find my way back.
It is my hope that if you find yourself in such a place that you will have: a good friend, a way to move your body to find those tears to cry and in turn for the healing to unfold.
I send you, my blessings.
Phew! That was a challenging post to write. Now your turn. Do you find it easy to cry? Or do you avoid tears? I know people who cry beautifully and others who just let it rip. Whatever your relationship to tears we’d love to hear from you.
I remember wanting to fit in.
I didn’t want to be a coconut, you know? Brown on the outside and white on the inside. But I did want to fit in.
My sister had talked my auntie into giving her a haircut with bangs (fringe) to fit in. She wanted to be cool. At first, I believed my 501’s would do the trick. Later attempts included drinking at parties, letting loose, swearing and so many other ways to be one of the cool kids. To get a pass and belong.
Growing up a child of immigrant parents I was acutely aware and constantly reminded of how we were not “them”. They were the white neighbours, teachers, and friends, all of whom seemed to move with the ease and confidence of knowing they belonged. England was home to them and their ancestors. Their stories had a continuity connected to the place they called home.
I wanted to feel and look like them. I believed they didn’t have to face the struggles and challenges that were a common reality for me.
It doesn’t surprise me that we are drawn to mimicking the practices, mores, and the ways of those who are successful or seem to be mastering survival. Currently, global homogenization – driven by marketing wizardry focused on our fears of scarcity and not belonging – is hitting home run after home run.
“You need this Apple watch to be cool.”
“You need to look thin, have straight hair and drink Patron to be sexy.”
“You need to have all these apps, mods and hacks if you want to be cool like your friends.”
“You need “likes” to feel better about yourself.”
It seems to me that our deeply ingrained survival instincts lead the way to some degree in who/how we choose to mimic but it is heavily influenced by what we see on tv, ads in magazines and the repetition of those messages.
For example, in many Asian, middle eastern and African cultures fairer skin is now deemed more desirable, or kinks and curls are forced straight as we attempt to belong with those we believe to be successful. I don’t even want to mention butt surgery but thank you Kim Kardashian and family.
However, what happens to our individuality when consciously or unconsciously we become just all the same? When beauty, body shape, identity are homogenised to such a degree that we can’t distinguish nor appreciate different cultures and values of let’s say, having a flat chest, or wearing head scarves or turbans?
Is there something to be said for valuing individuality or uniqueness? Can we belong and be unique? In order to achieve sustainability, we are going to have to.
I would like to propose that we look at ourselves through loving eyes and choose to be ourselves: dark or pale skinned, bony or thick, English speaking or not, flesh-baring or covered. That we allow others the same freedoms to be themselves. Let us not harm ourselves or others through the exercising of our right to be ourselves, but in order fulfil our rights and dreams: we must all choose to be who we are and fit in with ourselves.
How do you fit in your family, community or country? Do you value yourself just as you are or do you feel you have to acquire goods or make changes to yourself to fit in?
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