Flow

Nature loves flow and movement. Even rocks, on their own timescales, slowly move and flow and transform. And there are so many different types and qualities of flow. A gently caressing breeze, a wildly raging river torrent, the steady creep of an ivy tendril.

Contract

When things get too much for us our instinctive survival system (aka.nervous system) gets involved and we contract to protect ourselves and to try and manage what is going on. Ideally once the situation has passed our systems will shake off any excess energy and expand again. This pulse of repeated contraction followed by expansion is the energy of life moving, like our in-breath and out-breath. The challenges tend to come when we get fixed in one mode and lose our ability to flow and move and respond.

Slow

So how do we return to flow? Often one of the keys is to do it slowly. If we’ve reached the point that we are getting fixed then there is normally a lot going on in our systems. So we need to ease out slowly if we don’t want to just get bounced straight back into the overwhelm.

Glimmers

Seek and pay attention to glimmers, the little moments of joy, beauty, comfort, connection, lightness, fun. When you find one take a moment to really feel it, notice it with all your senses, let it land. And then let it go. Chances are that your system will naturally draw you back into an awareness of contraction or challenge. Naturally following this pulse, this pendulum. So notice what happens in your body as this contraction happens, see if you can just notice and allow things to arise and move, just a little bit. Maybe there are emotions, sensations, heat, tingling, trembling, give them a little space, then return to your glimmer (or a new one)… Our body wants to pulse between the contraction and release and to begin with we need to do both in little bits, because if we go too far one way we will swing back just as far the other way.

And when our bodies have had a long time of fixity sometimes we need the support of another person’s flowing, pulsing nervous system in order to remember and refind our flow.

Here and now

Often bringing our attention to the present moment can be a glimmer. If we use all of our senses to check out where we are right now.

What can we smell

taste in our mouths

feel on our skin

Temperature

Humidity

Movement

what sounds are around us

loud and quiet

what can we see when we really take the time to look

This is also very soothing for the parts of us that want to keep us safe, they really appreciate having a really thorough checking out of the space around us. Just in case there are any ravenous tigers in a corner…

And if you are hypervigilant then the invitation is to really check out if there is anything that is an immediate life threat to you right now.

Containment

In many ways what we are experiencing has less influence on our nervous system than whether we have the capacity to hold and contain it. The suggestions above can help to increase our capacity. You can also physically offer more of a sense of holding to your body. You can try putting your right hand in your left armpit and your left hand on your right upper arm. Or wrapping a blanket tightly around yourself.

Listening

Our bodies are actually very capable of returning to flow and know exactly how to do it. Unfortunately we have been taught to ignore, suppress and override our impulses. It’s quite a journey of coming back into listening to and trusting our bodies and well worth it as we tap into the innate wisdom and guidance it offers. Much easier than trying to work everything out with solely our conscious minds.

One of my favourite ways of doing this is practising on the little decisions such as:

What drink do I want?

What jumper do I want to wear?

Which direction do I want to go for my walk?

Letting our bodies rather than our conscious minds decide can be fun and rewarding. In the case of the tea you could put two options out in front of you and feel which one you are drawn towards. For me it often feels like an inner tug in a certain direction.

So having read these words what do you feel drawn to doing (or being) next? Take a moment to listen, maybe you’ll get an answer, maybe it will surprise the rest of you.