Befriending the neglected parts of You!
“Take what we love inside, to carry within us an orchard” ~ Li-Young Lee ~
We all have aspects of ourselves which challenge us. It could be a habit or addiction we have trouble kicking. It could be deep sadness. During COVID, it may be your experience of isolation and not seeing loved ones. Perhaps it is a body part we don’t like, an illness or condition that vexes us, or a pain that won’t go away. We may have hidden parts of us we don’t wish to acknowledge exist – private, dark areas of our body and mind.
Whatever it is, the thing is that we are an integrated whole, and we need every part of us "online" for optimum health.
When I discovered I had osteoporosis, I took the diagnosis on as my identity. "I have osteoporosis." Such a fixed mentality does not allow for change. To change my relationship with my bones from one of an adversary to one of a friend, I gave my bones a friendly name, Huesitos ("little bones"). Whenever I meditate now, I think of bathing my bones in a loving, cool sea foam.
The practice this week is to befriend these aspects of ourselves. All of them. Simply that. To befriend these parts of our body, mind and spirit as we would a friend who was in need. When a beloved friend is in need, we bring them a cup of tea and sit and listen. We acknowledge them. We can do this with ourselves too. We can befriend ourselves and say, “yes, Beloved it is ok.”
Feel and let the emotions and your body move: Let tears come if they arise. Vent out frustration and anger with roaring, or shouting in the car or shaking Qigong, punching the air from a squat and shouting "HA," or maybe do a the "Tonglen-esque" Heart Release qigong. Invite this emotion and pain to leave your tissues. This way we do not continue to imprint frustration and sadness in our subtle body. "The body is essentially a manifestation of the state of a person’s mind. In Daoist thought, physical tension is a result of energetic stagnation. On top of this, much physical tension develops as a form of protection from the emotional damage that you have experienced in the past" (Roni Edlund, Nei Gong teacher). And so, we need to release the body and let the tensions and emotions melt away. Ensure you are getting regular exercise to keep your blood moving and generate healthy hormones.
I invite you to give whatever your difficulty is a loving name: Name your bones, your voice, your heart, your uterus, your genitals, your skin, your spirit. Whatever it is give this area a loving, kind word. If it is a psychic part of you you can also name it, give it a caricature and blow it up out of proportion and laugh with it. Even if it seems like a shadowy or shamed aspect of your psyche. Imagine this tender area as a small puppy or you as a little child.
Acknowledgement Meditation. You can do this anywhere. You can be sitting or lying down comfortably. I do this before sleep. As you lie down or sit, breathe deeply into your belly. As you breathe in, imagine a soothing light of whatever color comes to you bathing this aspect of you that needs tending. If it is an area that needs cooling you might imagine a blue light. If it needs warming, you can imagine warming rays of the sun or a color warm color that is appealing to you. Breathe in again, and out as you bathe yourself in this healing light. If you loose your focus or your mind wanders, no problem, just begin again.
Doing such meditative visualizations may feel silly and ineffectual. However, brain science demonstrates how powerful our thoughts are to creating either a flood of stress hormones and negative neuron firings, or a more soothing internal environment. Even lifting your eyebrows and forming a smile with your mouth changes the brain (Hanson, R. 2013. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment).
It are the practices that help change bit by bit. Even a few minutes a day. Plant the seed to practice and then water it every day. Eventually, it will grow and flourish within you.
I’m in partnership with you on this journey and wish ever more ease.