Maybe we are just so stressed out, so overwhelmed with what needs to be done, that we just don’t have it in us. We’re getting from day to day; isn’t that enough?!
Maybe we have survived sexual assault and any connection to sensuality feels unsafe. Guilt and shame whisper that our sexuality caused the attack….
Maybe we are alone, and have no one with whom to share our lusciousness. Maybe we have been alone a long time or just recently. Maybe we have lost someone dear to us. Why bother trying to feel luscious? We will still be alone…
There are so many ways we may feel helpless in the face of events we did not choose, that have been forced upon us by circumstance. So many reasons we may feel safer turning our back upon any lusciousness….
Trauma is an inability to be in the here and now. We get hijacked by there-and-then. When we feel activated, we want to respect that. Our body is doing its best to keep us safe. It’s pointless to demand that it stop. It’s going to need some help with that.
The antidote is first to focus on the here and now. Notice our surroundings. Is anything bad or dangerous right here in the room with us? Yes? Get out. No? Okay. We could maybe settle, just a little bit in this precious moment.
That alone is huge.
Just looking curiously around our own space, noticing what is right here, right now. Look around our space. Feel our other senses. What we can hear. Feel. Taste. Touch. Scent. Rest in the here and now. Notice your breath (are you breathing?). Just notice. Observe. See what happens next., Maybe it will change on its own. Become a little slower. Or you may notice a sudden big exhale, maybe even some trembling. Or a yawn, belch, fart, gurgle in the tummy. All signs of settling.
Over time, as we increase our capacity for settling, our Observer may come online. This is that calm inner voice that notes what’s going on in an unbiased, thoughtful way.
We may begin to notice when we are more or less settled, more or less present, or even when we are spinning in the trauma vortex. Just noticing is huge. And as we begin to notice, we may begin to make choices. The choice to be more present is a useful first step. As above, we notice our space, and slowly, gently, check in with each of our senses.
As we become more able to be present, even for small moments, we may begin to expand our use of interoception. This is our perception of what’s going on inside of us. We often push such awareness aside, as we navigate the dangerous waters of everyday life. As we begin to settle, we begin to increase our capacity to look inside our bodies, to acknowledge what’s going on in there, to be curious about it, to bring our Observer to bear.
Over time (and it helps a lot to have professional help on this journey), we can get curious about what’s going on inside our bodies when we get triggered. And as we notice what’s going on in there, we can wonder, What happens next?
Setting aside the pain, just for the moment
As we begin to dip a pinkie toe into settling, we often experience a sudden upswing of activation. The body, used to being on alert, distrusts this settling and leaps back to activation. Our fear, despair, anger, or grief may re-emerge just as we begin to feel differently. At first, this may hijack us (again, personal sessions with a qualified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner are of great help on this journey, to hold space, to notice the shifts, and to guide us through them).
In such cases, as our capacity increases, we become more able to acknowledge the activation and respectfully set it aside—just for the moment. So that our nervous system can learn that it is okay to cycle off. That not every moment is life and death. So that we can make space for pleasant sensations, for pleasure, for lusciousness, for joy.
The value of joy
After such a long time in high alert, the concept of joy may seem a bit frivolous. Even the notion of looking at the good, resting in what’s working, noticing our resources may seem pretty damn pointless, especially when we have been stuck in perfectionism, fault-finding, and a generally negative disdainful ethos.
I have a friend who has always been relentlessly negative, and is now currently suffering such a frightening time that it seems ridiculous to suggest that they might find it more endurable by noticing what is pleasant. Yet it is true. We humans are not built to exist in a state of constant suffering, anxiety, fear, anger, etc. Our bodies evolved to respond to immediate threats, and then to settle.
The more we develop our capacity to orient towards what is pleasant, settling, even joyful, the better our nervous system works, the more capacity we have to endure the challenges life brings brings us, and the better we are able to recover from them.
Act the way you want to feel
Even the most momentary vacation from high alert makes a difference. I Luscious, we will take some time each week for that vacation, in the privacy of our own homes. You are welcome to turn off your camera, if you prefer. You are welcome to just lie on the floor and listen. However is best for you to show up with your own self-kindness is good.
LUSCIOUS starts today!
Luscious runs Tuesday at 4pm EDT from August 9 through Sept 20 (no class August 16 or Sept 6). Each class is recorded (instructor view only). Each recording is available during the session.
Will you please join us? Dip your pinkie toe? It’s going to be… luscious ; )
Register here https://aliathabit.com/shop/#live/
I look forward to dancing with you.