WOW | Life Inspiration
Here & Now
In the past few weeks many of the people with whom I work in the therapeutic context have asked me how to take home with them what they do in their sessions. I love these requests because they speak of the person’s desire for, and call to wellness, and what Dr. Levine calls ‘self-regulation’. Yoga as well as holistic somatic (body-inclusive) approaches provide tools for us to do just that: to better regulate or manage ourselves in various situations.
In self regulation we are not denying what is happening. We are not trying to get rid of the pain or discomfort – physical, mental, emotional, or psychic. Nor are we trying to “fix” anything, or make ourselves relax. Rather, in self regulation, we are developing the awareness of what is happening, the capacity to be present with it, and the tools to adjust so that we feel relatively more at ease, more steady and more safe.
We learn this, and we do this, bit by bit. It is not about forcing ourselves to sit still for hours. In fact, there is no forcing. Rather, there is the practice of allowing.
So, how do we do this?
Following is an exercise to try out. It takes about 7-10 mins. I recommend that in the beginning you do this in moments when you are feeling relatively at ease. The key word being ‘relative’. You may not be feeling great. Relatively ‘okay’ it what we are looking for.
We start with the basics: orienting to the here and now. The body serves as our anchor.
Sit in a chair, or in a way in which the soles of your feet are in contact with the ground. Eyes gently opened.
Take a moment to let your eyes scan the place where you are. Do this by moving the head slowly from one side to the other, upwards, downwards, all around. Slowly. Do this as though you were in the place for the first time and taking a real look. Notice what catches your eyes. Is there something pleasant to look at? A colour you like, an object, maybe the light coming in through the window? Make a note of this. Take it in. And then let it be.
Now, notice the body in its position. Sense the feet touching the floor, the back of the upper legs against the seat of the chair, the buttocks in touch with the chair, and the back of the torso in touch with the chair. Notice all of these points of contact. Notice the support that the chair is giving to the body. See if the ground offers support to the feet. Take your time to do this.
Take a few moments now to check in further with the body. Let your attention move from the feet to the head. As you do this notice whether the body feels comfortable or not.
If it does not, adjust your position to find a placement that feels relatively more at ease. Move slowly and deliberately as you make the adjustments. It may be a big stretch or a small movement in your hands, feet, or repositioning a cushion. Adjust and then give the body a moment. Check again to see if it actually feels better, or not. Once you have adjusted, rest. Leave some space, and take some time.
Let the focus come to your feet. Again, notice if they can truly be on the ground or if they have a hard time sensing it. Either way, be curious. Interested. There is no right or wrong.
Let the focus come to your sits bones (the ones that you feel in the buttock area that jut down into the chair). Can you feel them on the seat, or not? Again, simple curiosity.
Invite the body to give some of its weight to the chair. Notice what happens.
Allow this same curiosity to pick up on other sensations in the body. Pleasant or unpleasant. A very light awareness. There is no need to go deep into the sensation. An awareness that is as light as a feather. Curious. Open. There may be tightness here, discomfort there, heaviness maybe somewhere else. Whatever it is, it is.
Now look for an area in the body where you feel relatively more at ease. Where there is less tightness, less pain, maybe more warmth or even a pleasant sensation. With the same light curiosity. There is no need to go deep into it. You are simply sitting with it. Pause. Take your time.
With this area/sensation in your awareness, begin once again to notice your sits bones and/or your feet. Slowly let your eyes reorient to the space you are in. Look around, slowly. Notice the object or colour that caught your attention initially. See if there is anything else now that captures your attention.
Physiologically, the feet, eyes, and inner ear help us orient in space and time. The hips and pelvic floor are other points in the body that can help to stabilise our presence. See how this exercise works for you in helping you to orient to what is here and now. One step at a time.
LISA GAUTSCHI (Yogatara) is a Yoga Therapist and Spiritual Psychologist, and the Director of Isha Institute, Jhamsikhel – a centre for holistic learning and conscious living. LISA GAUTSCHI (Yogatara) is a Yoga Therapist and Spiritual Psychologist, and the Director of Isha Institute, Jhamsikhel – a centre for holistic learning and conscious living. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org