Updated: Jan 24, 2022
This time of year we are bombarded with messages about how our bodies should be, how our lives should be, how our relationships should be..........let's stop "shoulding" all over ourselves and meet ourselves right where we are, not where we think we should be.
Take a deep breathe, let out some sound, settle down and in.
Have you ever wanted things to be easier? To just decide to make a change and then be able to stick to it, effortlessly. Have you ever wanted a 3 step easy peezy how to………fill in the blank? And have it work. Forever!
Me too. :)
Growth, transformation, healing, the road of personal development, whatever you want to call your journey.......it can be frustrating sometimes. And often, it gets worse before it gets better! Sometimes, the more awareness you have the harder it can feel! Until……. your being begins to shift. Until the pathways and systems in your body begin to change their shape, their route, and how they communicate. Until you truly begin to relate differently to you. I believe that until your body and being are on board you cannot have lasting change.
I have found that the journey back to the wholeness of you--to uncovering, reclaiming, befriending, and coming back home to the truth of who you are--is a life-long process and that makes it fulfilling, rich, deep, exciting, and meaningful. The practice is the path. We deepen into ourselves and into our life. We expand our presence and compassion. We become more vibrant, alive and wild. We are here more often. We leave less. We experience more of ourselves and this beautiful gift of life. We come home to the truth of who we are, awakening more choice, agency, aliveness, personal power and possibility.
To be a practitioner is a powerful thing, and something that has truly transformed my life.
If there is one thing you take from these musings of mine, let it be that Practice is Powerful.
We are always practicing something. The question is, is what you are practicing in alignment with who you desire to be? Are you intentional and conscious of what you are practicing? Do you practice with just the mind, or are your body and heart also involved? How do you take your practice into your life and live it?
A few years ago I had no idea what a practice was, except for yoga, where it’s literally called a practice. I practiced on my mat more presence so I could bring that into my life. I practiced in my body so that I could practice in my life. That made sense to me. It felt easier than trying to solve everything from just the neck up.
But I didn’t understand what it looked like to practice self-love or align with my intention. I had no idea how those things felt in my body. I would catch a glimpse, a wisp of it, but it wasn’t graspable. It felt impossible. I had no idea what it really meant to embody a practice.
Which makes sense because I was trying to figure it all out from my head. My body wasn’t very involved in the EMBODIMENT.
When I was my highest, best self and feeling good, I didn’t know how I was. When I was in my lowest low I didn’t know how I was. And when I first began trying to change my life, I got stuck in the why a lot. Why am I like this? Why do I feel this? Why do I think this? Trying to figure it all out in my head. Why, why, why.
Why can be great. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a significant step in the process and cannot be skipped over. And also, in my experience, it can be a trap, a place you get stuck, and sometimes, an excuse. We can easily get trapped in the mind, dissecting each story, our parents, our thoughts, and it’s beautiful for creating cognitive awareness, which is very necessary, but then what do you do with that awareness?
When is it time to move from why to how?
“How do I resist life? How do I position against change? How do I cling to that which is completed and no longer relevant?” The question “how” orients us to look to the continuous river of events that is our body, not to a logically constructed explanation. When we experience how we hold, we can then begin to deconstruct it. Central to the process of being somatically aware is a divinely humored awe and a relentless curiosity. When we understand somatically how we have learned something we have also learned how we can unlearn something. This remarkably broadens and increases choice, and with that, responsibility.”
-The Art of Somatic Coaching By Richard Strozzi-Heckler
When I feel my best, how am I? My eyes are soft, my chest is lifted. There is a small smile on my face. My belly is soft. My front feels warm and open. I feel connected with life. There is length and dignity in my spine. How am I when I am lost in a shame storm? My throat is tight. My stomach is contracted in. I clench in my jaw and in my pelvis. I feel separate and alone. My shoulders slump and my chest falls.
By learning to plug into this embodied self-awareness I truly began to set free and come home to the wholeness and worthiness that was there all along.
The body will show you all the ways that you fight the currents of life and all the pathways of possibility back to the fullness and wholeness of YOU.
It is the most direct and powerful way of working with emotions, history, reactions, longings, desires, memories, fears, trauma, shame, ALL OF IT.
We become the shape of our experiences.
Our history, beliefs, and stories are not just in our minds but embodied experiences that find a home in our muscles, our voice, postures, and ways of being.
The beautiful thing is, that shape is not fixed.
We can transform, open, and awaken more possibility, aliveness, agency, and choice.
Our problems don't get smaller, we get bigger.
We can take new shape.
How do I plug into this embodied self-awareness?
How do I create freedom in my heart, body, and mind each day?
How do I embody what is important to me and take action from a centered powerful place?
How do I give my clients more freedom and space in their being, doing, and life?
I think you get the idea.
You could be one practice away from the next stair day in your journey.
Stair days are the days I call on the journey back home to you, that feel like you have reached a new level. That you feel something has been let go of, something has softened or expanded. Something has emerged. There is a new sense of freedom, and you feel a wave of remembering. Of coming back home. You reclaimed or awakened a part of you that felt lost.
As we strengthen and develop our cognitive awareness and our embodied awareness, we surface the invisible and that opens the doorway to start making different choices.
There is more freedom. When we bring our awareness to the life that is here; in our bodies, to the physical sensations and life force moving through us right now, we tend to life. This is really powerful because we are meeting ourselves in truth, right here in this moment. Which is, the only moment something new and different can occur.
BUT these choices do not become automatic or easy, and in my experience, they don’t come quickly either. What makes them automatic, what makes them come with more ease, what makes them show up when we need them most…….is, you guessed it, practice.
I came to understand the power of practices when a switch flipped for me in a workshop back in 2018. “It’s not about the tools, it’s about the person using the tools. The one doing the doing.”
Up until then on my personal development path, I had been a tool junkie. I figured if I had the right tools I would be honkey dory! But this led me to always be searching for answers outside of myself. Which left me feeling not so great about the inside of me.
But when I heard, “It’s about the one doing the doing.” My heart sank because all of sudden I realized I had no idea who that person was, and I was pretty sure, I didn’t like them very much. I was terrified, but looking back that was the moment where I made a significant and sharp turn in my growth, towards myself. That is when I began down the path of embodiment, of reclaiming my wholeness and of coming back home to myself. Which has been the most important journey of my life. I mean, come on, it led me to YOU! :)
I saw that in order to get good with me and maintain a good relationship with myself, I needed practices. Daily, weekly, monthly, sacred personal practices. I needed to learn how to embody practices, how to align myself; body, mind, and heart. How to calm my system, find my feet, RESPOND to the events and experiences in my life.
I needed to learn how to be with me, what that meant, and how to clear out and clean up all the garbage I had dumped inside of myself. I needed to clean house, in a big way. And the way through it all, was practices. Sacred practices.
It was not an easy process, to put it lightly. Man oh, man. The thing I don’t think is said enough in transformation, personal growth, the healing journey, whatever the heck you want to call it……is that it gets worse before it gets better. At least in my experience that was the case.
I had a lot of undealt stuff inside and the moment I started unwrapping things more would appear. It gets messy and terrifying when you dive into your depths, but in those depths is also freedom, joy, creativity, compassion, love, connection, and belonging. The descension is just as necessary as the accession. Looking back, taking that first step towards myself was the most important step I’ve ever taken in my life.
Never underestimate the power of a step. Never underestimate the power showing up consistently in a practice. Practices are powerful. Period.
I think practices are unique to the practitioner. What do they look like and feel like for you? What do they evoke within you? How do they support you? How do they align you? How do they support you in growing your container and capacity?
Like everything in my life, there are natural rhythms and cycles. My practices come and go, ebb, and flow. Some form and take different shapes as I live with them. Some come and support me through something, and then I grow into another practice. Some have been by my side since the beginning, and some come to me as gifts, guiding me to what is next.
Sometimes my heart and soul need a deep slow movement practice each day, sometimes I need running and dancing, sometimes it needs silence and stillness. Sometimes it needs to be more structured; a specific somatic practice for undoing conclusions and stories in the body, a breath work practice to support the movement of grief, a guided meditation practice to help find clarity. So know that when you begin to remember and to come back home when you begin to feel your intuition and hear its voice again there will be different practices that are called to you at different times in your life. Your body always knows the way, once you connect back to it. It holds deep wisdom you can learn to listen and attune to.
The power comes not from the practice, but from YOU. The one “doing” the practice. How you show up and live that practice. BE. DO. HAVE. Instead of DO. HAVE. BE. It’s the being that the practice strengthens, shifts, transforms.
WHO YOU BE.
The invitation here is to take your practice into your life, off the cushion, off the mat, to walk with it, to embody it. To have your whole being onboard.
This is important. If we are just calm and centered on our little meditation cushion but lose it out there in the world, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to the ones that get caught in the crosshairs. (I mean, everyone loses it sometimes, we are humans after all, but you know what I mean: ) The practices must carry over into our lives. In real-time, in the moments that matter. To have both the practice in your safe container and then out there in life. You must practice you with you, otherwise, if you just try it out there in life it's like trying to learn to swim in a title wave. You have to have both.
Taking your practice into your life can look like pausing right before you are about to react and instead grounding your feet, coming back home to your body, connecting with your heart, and then choosing to respond rather than react. Not easy, but possible. I have another blog post and podcast all on the subject of responding from love rather then reacting from fear if you want to check those out.
Be the practitioner. For me what I practice on my mat, on my cushion, in nature, when it’s quiet me with me, is equally as important as tapping into those seeds when the chaos and winds of life begin to take me away. I have created those roots and therefore can stay on the ground.
Does it always work? Heck no! I react my ass off sometimes. But there is now the space in which it can happen. And that space grows more and more. There is more choice and agency. The more committed I am to my practices, the more they are there when I need them most.
I practice coming back home. Finding my feet. Centering and grounding. Emptying out and filling up, engaging in life deeply and fully. Softening my front, strengthening my back. Finding my breath. Connecting back to my intention. Centering in what matters most, what and who I care about. I have embodied these practices. My body, mind, and heart are in alignment. I know how to find them because I know how they feel in the cells of my being. I have created muscle memory, rewired pathways. It’s not just something in my head, it’s in my heart, my veins, in my little toe!
Remember how I said we are always practicing something. That’s a big one. Begin to ask yourself. “What am I practicing in this moment? In my body? In my mind? What shape is my body taking right now? How am I being?" There is sacred data here that opens up more awareness and choice.
Knowledge isn’t power, applied knowledge is. How do your practices inform and infuse your life? What do they evoke and activate within your being? You want grounded, sustainable, real transformation in your life, behavior, thoughts, and emotions then you must GET YOUR BODY AND BEING ON BOARD.
Have practices that include moving your body, focusing on your breath, becoming aware of the physical sensations in your being. So you are not just listening to the cognitive self-awareness, but you are also tapping into the intelligence of your heart and the embodied self-awareness that is here for you to teach you.
Here are some free guided audio practices if you need a place to start.
I also have a monthly Membership where we gather twice a month for a live embodiment practice around a certain theme. I cannot stress the value and power that comes from practicing in a consistent collective held space!
So, what the heck does this look like? What can I actually practice?
And it's important to start small, to move incrementally so that these seeds grow at their own pace.
Sometimes when we start a practice, especially if it’s something we have chosen because we know we really need it, it may feel like new shoes that don’t fit right. It might take a while to be worn in, or some adjustments might need to be made. It might be terrifying at first. If might get worse before it gets better. Like me sitting in the “nothingness” and wanting to tear my hair out, but continuing to do it consistently because I knew in my heart that there was something there, and I needed to be with it, and if I didn’t, it would keep me imprisoned. That the only way was through.
Once you make it sacred, once you make it important to you. Then it becomes your practice, and you become the practitioner. And that is powerful, my friend.
So how do you find, create, and cultivate practices?
Well, start where you are. What feels important to you right now?
What areas of life feel challenging?
Where do you feel you need nourishment or support?
What are you drawn to right now?
If you want support, you can always check out my offerings for 1:1 Embodiment Coaching here.
I have learned a lot of specific somatic practices that are powerful tools for building capacity to be with emotions and energy, for undoing history and conclusions in the body, for waking up healthy fight in my system (I am more prone to freeze, and so this is a powerful one for me) and lots more.
Sometimes I have created a practice based on an experience, feeling, or transformation that occurred that I want to keep alive in my life. Like an anchor. Something I do every day that guides me back to that place I want to live from. I also will just carve out time and space to let my body lead; using movement, sound and breathe, creating an intuitive practice that is always deeply needed. Here's a playlist if you want to experiment with that. ;)
One place you can start is by looking at habits you might already do but you don’t realize, and decide to bring some consciousness and intention to them. Maybe you already take your dog out for a walk or have a morning cup of coffee or a daily commute. What could you bring to these routines that you would like to practice? Compassion? Presence? Mindfulness? Play?
Maybe it’s being fully present as I walk my dog. Really taking in everything that’s around me. Feeling myself in my body, present to what is, being here now. This can have huge ripple effects in the rest of your life. Anytime we practice being present we bring more of ourselves to our lives and to the moment, therefore creating more joy, happiness, power, connectedness, fulfillment, meaning, and love.
Maybe you could bring some mindfulness to your morning cup of coffee or tea? Listening to something inspiring, or sitting quietly with your hand on your heart connecting and checking in with yourself before your day starts. Really checking in with yourself before you check in with your inbox.
It’s making it sacred, and intentional that matters.
These practices can be big or small. They can look and feel however you want. You will begin to build your self-trust and you will naturally come home to a knowing wisdom and rhythm that already lives inside of you. You will also be growing your self-love, because by consistently showing up for yourself in this way you are sending a message to yourself that you matter, that you are valuable enough to take the time to do this. So many of the things people struggle with are based in a lack of self-worth. What better way to begin to shift that belief than to consistently show up for yourself?
The most important practice in my life, that I strongly suggest you create in yours, is a morning practice. How do you start your day? How do you set the tone for your day, therefore your life? This can be filled with a few small practices. The point is to start your day intentionally. Setting the tone. Having you be your very first priority.
We are closest to the subconscious in the morning and so what you do here really counts. If you check into the world, social, or your inbox you have set the tone to react to your day, rather than cultivating the power to respond. You are not giving yourself the time to choose into your day and to align your being, instead life is choosing you …..
Morning practice is the number one needle mover in my opinion. Create a powerful morning practice. Period.
If you need some ideas, a beautiful place to start is to think of emptying out and filling up. What would allow me to let go and release any stuck energy, thoughts, or past that I don’t want taking up space in my body, mind, and heart? And then what fills me up? What lights me up and energizes me? What makes me feel my best?
Some examples to get your juices flowing….
Empty out: Breathe and move the body. Let the body lead. Release stuck energy through mindful, intentional breathing, moving, and sounding. Sitting in solitude and silence and let the sand settle.
Meditation. Organic movement, trusting your body knows what it needs to do. (Which FYI our body always knows once you give it permission to do what it does, and build that trust.)
Meet what is there. Feel the feelings. Journal.
Resourcing, imagining a greater than human resource, or force of nature that could meet you here and support you. Or a real person, or being in your life. Walking, dancing, moving. Hand on heart, releasing stuck blocked energy. (more on that in a little bit)
Clearing the energy around me
Connecting to my center, my root, my pelvis.
Somatic centering (lot's of resources out there on this, I like this one here)
Here is a whole playlist of guided practice videos that I did on YouTube.
Sometimes an easy place to start is to find what supports you releasing or moving through whatever energy you might be holding. Everything is energy, and it can get stuck in our our thinking, in our physical body, and in our emotional landscape. And so the more we build our capacity to be with the energy and raw sensations the more freedom opens up.
Your path is not to seek for
love, but merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have
built against it.
Fill Up: What do you desire to put into your being? What energy do you wish to embody? This is where inspiration comes in. For me, this part of my morning practice is really listening to what my heart and being are calling for. Is it reading a book, listening to music, writing, creating, being in nature, writing out my manifestations and desires for the day? Is it closing my eyes and visualizing my incredible future and embodying the feelings and sensations of that future? Checking for resistance in my body and tending to what is being longed to be felt, expressed, or held in tenderness and acceptance. Sometimes it’s sitting in my soft pile of blankets sipping tea and looking out the window, just being with me. Being here now. Sometimes it’s listening to empowering and inspiring voices, ideas, quotes, or choosing a card from my Rumi oracle deck which always leads me to ah-ha moments and inspiration.
Is it connecting to nature, finding gratitude, or imagining an empowered archetype that can show up for you today?
So there are many places and ways to start.
I get that life is crazy, and you might have 5 babies that wake you up at 4 am…..so be gentle with yourself. Your practices and your time might look different. It might be a loving mantra as you hold your baby. It might be locking the bathroom door and taking 5 deep breaths before returning back to life.
These practices can look, be, and feel like anything. They are for you, by you. In service to you.
As with anything, the WHY is important: Why do I practice? Why do I choose me? Why do I commit and make my time sacred?
Get clear about why you practice and why it is important to you. Because if it’s not important to you, you won’t do it.
And know that the why’s, the practices, and the YOU, are always changing and growing and evolving. And that’s ok. It’s beautiful. It’s alive. It's natural.
Show up. Again and again.
Love, love, love