Welcome to my blog!

We find ourselves in challenging times. To meet them more easily, I believe involves challenging ourselves to move beyond old, established habits and patterns.

Perhaps I am a bit late fully entering into the 21st century by starting my blog now, in 2010! In that my work and message has so much to do with slowing down and settling into a deeper knowing beyond and prior to our cultural modes, it may be appropriate to step extra slowly into the world of blogging and other cyber realities.

I suspect that, if you are drawn to my blog and the words here, you may also value this slower, deeper state we are all capable of. I invite you to read on and regularly, and hope the words below can support you in enhancing your ability to be, even in the midst of all the doing required in our modern world.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Shedding Skins: Letting Go and Opening to the New

This morning I had my cast removed. This was an exciting moment! After five and a half weeks,
what I most longed for was to submerge my arm in warm water. I was surprised by the intensity of emotion accompanying this transition from cast to cast-less, from bounded to free, from immobilized to mobilizing. As I observed the cast being cut open and taken away, I felt a familiar sense of immense vulnerability.

Seeing my bare arm, protected only by dry, flaky skin and weak, unused muscles, I felt the visceral sense of fear that has nothing to do with my cognitive understanding that I am safe. The little one in me emerged. As we drove home from the hospital, we passed a sign, which I read as something like “Terrors ahead!” I don’t remember what it actually said, but I was impressed by how the little one feelings in me interpreted what I saw.

As soon as we arrived home, I poured a hot bath with healing arnica oil and embarked on the dive I had been dreaming of since having broken my wrist. Ahhh!

My first impulse was to stroke and massage the skin I had been unable to reach for so long. It felt like touching a newborn baby for the first time. Like a newborn, the skin was sensitive, not accustomed to this kind of contact. It needed slow, gentle touch to give it time to integrate and accommodate to the new interaction. Again, the feeling of vulnerability arose.

Being with that sensation in a mindful way, I became aware of layers of my early history arising and releasing. The terror related to the violence of that early time, when being vulnerable was dangerous. Listening to and reassuring my arm and my inner little one, I could almost  feel my nervous system changing, knowing that the brain was rewiring itself with each stroke. Where the amygdala had been screaming “Danger! Danger!” my consistent, accepting awareness enabled the middle prefrontal region to slow down and evaluate the process, integrating other aspects of my history and experience (see Being a Brain-Wise Therapist by Bonnie Badenoch). Instead of fear, I began to feel gratitude for the opportunity I now perceived to heal more layers of my history as they were stimulated into action by my current feeling of getting to know my naked arm.

As I touched my arm where the cast had been, the old skin gathered over five and a half weeks flaked off. I suddenly realized I was shedding a skin! The cast, itself, was like an old skin, now removed. Beneath it were revealed layers no longer needed. Like a snake shedding its skin, I, too, was letting go of my past, preparing for the unknown ahead.

This concept of shedding skin is frequently discussed in relation to Continuum Movement. Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum, noted that true fluidity involves letting go, dying to the past, like shedding a skin. Where we are holding on, we are more rigid, less flexible and less resilient in meeting what arises next.

Of course, Continuum is not the only way to shed old skins, to die and be reborn. Therapies of many types offer this possibility, perhaps without using the same metaphor. As we bring old issues and memories to consciousness in a mindful way, our brains reorganize, engendering new neural pathways, liberating us from unconscious patterns and habits, and enabling us to more readily engage in what presents in present time.

Being submerged in warm water supported this shedding. I let the tears and fears flow out as I enjoyed the feeling of support and holding from the watery womb-like bath.

I had been given exercises to practice to increase the strength and range of motion of my wrist and
hand, but I was fascinated by how these exercises occurred spontaneously as soon as I began some Continuum sounds. While I had been instructed to practice repetitions, I noticed the Continuum working as it does, in spirals, rather than repetitions. Emilie Conrad taught that repetition creates density in the tissues, producing a less flexible and resilient kind of strength. My wrist, as well as my inner little one, seem to appreciate the more fluid, spiraling path I choose.

With each spiral through my arm, I could feel the tissues expanding, reaching out to their full capacity. My mind and heart, too, expanded in the process, holding the pain, the vulnerability and fear, the little one, the curiosity that had been squelched by fear when I was little, and the commitment now to embody fully my original potential.

As I write these words, using both hands to type (!!!), my heart offers the intention and the hope that they will support you, too, in embracing whatever challenges may present for you as portals to access that potential. May we live our fullest potential, knowing the fluid potency every embryo carries, living more completely who we truly are.

(Photo Credit for neuron photo: By Wei-Chung Allen Lee, Hayden Huang, Guoping Feng, Joshua R. Sanes, Emery N. Brown, Peter T. So, Elly Nedivi [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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