“Thank you for being in community with me”… I wrote you this sentence a few months ago, when I told you about my tremor. The outpouring of love that followed was remarkable. I’m grateful that, every time I share a piece of myself, especially one guarded by shame, you show up and you share yourself too. Thank you for meeting me.
Recently, I’ve been working with some practitioners to release my psoas muscles. These muscles are connected to our primal instinct for survival. When there’s stress or perceived threat, the psoas contracts and draws the knees up towards the belly to protect our sensitive abdominal viscera. They are a “hot spot”, rich with memories, and the emotions and trauma that accompany them. The outcome of my personal psoas work has been tremendously challenging and overwhelming. Mine seem to be desperately clinging to life itself. While I’m not a stranger to the experience of emotional release (warm tears, bubbles of laughter, and rushes of anger have all made their way to my mat and cushion), this experience was cathartic on an entirely new level.
Despite the initial, wrenching response, my psoas are continuing to release and I’m gradually feeling more grounded. I attribute my recovery to the help I’ve, once again, received from the community. Again, thank you.
What I’ve learned, through experiences like this, is that community isn’t just nice to have … community is ESSENTIAL to the process of healing. Without question, my community has been a necessary part of my process. First of all, there is the obvious, direct connection, through vocal encouragement, questions, active listening and touch. The sound of my husband’s voice was the only tether strong enough to keep me from spinning-out into the ether (or a dark black hole … I’m not sure), during the thick of it. His words, touch, and eye contact, filled with love and compassion, permeated me. Secondly, my husband’s nervous system was able to co-regulate mine. Our bodies are amazing … it’s wild to think about the fact that my nervous system reads, relates, and influences the nervous systems of those I’m engaging with ALL OF THE TIME, and vice versa. We are relational creatures and our biological systems operate in relationship with one other. Co-regulation means that, on certain levels, I “feel you””, and, you actually “feel me” too. When we learn to pay attention, we feel each other with more of ourselves.
Nervous system co-regulation was a big part of my training in yoga therapy school. I remember my teacher, Sarahjoy, responding to a question from a fellow trainee. The question was something along the lines of “How do you go about preparing a class?” Sarahjoy responded with something like, “The most important thing to prepare is you”.
I think we can broaden the application of this suggestion beyond the yoga studio, and into our moment-to-moment lives. I believe the foundation of this practice is learning and practicing relationships. If I taught only two things for the rest of my life, it would be:
- How to breathe
- How to relate (to self and others) in kindness, with compassion, in appreciation, and in steadiness
How are you preparing YOURSELF to relate?
In love and service,