Connecting to Ourself


Connecting to Ourself

Chandler Stevens


Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve hit a wall?  Or that you’re spinning your wheels?  Or that despite your best intentions you end up in the same rut of habits and patterns?

What you may not realize is: it’s not some external factor.  It’s not some thing holding you back.

It’s you holding you back.

You’re playing a subtle game of tug-of-war:

  • I know I need to work on my mobility, but I can’t consistently find the time.
  • I should be eating XYZ, but come on: tacos.
  • If I could just get my shit together, I’d have the business that I really wish for.

The most frustrating part is that the more you will yourself to change, the more that inner saboteur digs his heels in and grinds progress to a halt.

This resistance is perfectly natural, but if you can’t uncover–and resolve–these hidden blocks, you’ll be wasting countless hours, days, and months.  You’ll live your life as if you’re split: always wavering between two poles, never quite feeling connected.

When you do move past those blocks, it changes everything:

  • You feel more confidence and clarity in what you’re here to do.
  • The deep connection of body and mind brings new life to your work and relationships.
  • You shed the lingering aches, pain, and tension that hold so many people back.

In this piece I want to share a simple way to identify–and work through–your particular blocks so you can experience all that and more.

We’ll tap into the natural intelligence of the body/mind system to do it.

Now I have to warn you…

This whole process depends on you taking a bit of a leap of faith.

In order for it for work I need you to trust that you’re more than body “plus” mind.

What I’m asking is that–even if it’s pretend–you work with the assumption that you don’t “have” a body…you “are” a body.

The other thing I’ll ask is that you don’t try to analyze yourself along the way (i.e., asking “Why” in an ever-spiraling loop).  Excessive analysis and explanation sucks the life out of things.  And I personally like you alive, thank you very much.

So to recap…

  1. You’re something like a body/mind, and
  2. You don’t need to analyze or ask “Why” quite yet.

Cool?  Let’s dig in.

It doesn’t need to make perfect sense now, but it will as you go through this little practice.

It Starts With Awareness

If you want to change anything, awareness is the first step.  You have to know what is before you try to tinker with it.  And the simple act of observing things quite often changes them – thanks observer effect!

Let’s begin with the body.

Whether we’re paying attention to it or not, the body is constantly signaling with sensory cues that tell us about ourselves.  Cues like “Ow, hot” help us pull our hands away from stoves without having to think about it.  Cues like “Yum, smells good” trigger the salivary glands to start prepping for digestion.

And the internal cues of physical awareness can reveal a whole world within us.

As somatic educator Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen says:

“If you want to know which way the wind is blowing, watch the sand.”

Let me tell you: you’ve got a whole lotta sand.

Observe it.

Go through a “body scan” to start paying attention to your innate sensory cues.

For example you might tune into:

  • Where do you feel contact with the ground or chair?
  • Where do you carry your weight underneath you?
  • Are there places where you feel particularly tense?  Or particularly spacious?
  • What moves with each breath in and out?
  • Are certain body parts very clear in your mind’s eye?  Are others fuzzy?

(Feel free to use this guided audio for a bit more help in this process).

Let’s Try A Little Experiment

After you’ve spent a few minutes cultivating that physical awareness we’re going to try out a little experiment.

Perhaps you noticed certain things like:

  • Your shoulders are hunched.
  • Your jaw is clenched.
  • Your back is tense.

Now let’s try something out.  Rather than thinking of those sensations as something done to you, see what it’s like to take ownership over those experiences (I recommend saying it out loud):

  • I’m hunching my shoulders.
  • I’m clenching my jaw.
  • I’m tensing my back

Different feel, huh?

Why are you doing that to yourself anyway? ; )

(Kidding, don’t go looking for explanations yet)

Let’s take it a step further.

What If You Were A Body?

Do you notice how those statements kind of sound like your body is an object?  Like it’s something separate from you?  Maybe even that it’s something passive?

I want you to think back to that first leap of faith from up above: you don’t “have” a body…you “are” a body.

What this means is that your body’s sensations can teach you something about yourself.

Now I know you might be scratching your head a bit wondering what all of this is about.  I get that.  It felt like a strange, strange process for me as well when I first got into it.

Simply think of this as dropping a pebble in a pond and seeing what ripples out.

If you can hold the idea that in some way your body is your “self,” then that creates space for another little experiment.  Try varying your sentences along the lines of:

  • I’m hunching myself.
  • I’m clenching myself.
  • I’m tensing myself.

What comes up for you when you say that out loud?

Does that ring true for you in any way?

You could get really creative with this exploration and fully take on the voice of that particular body part.  When you do, it’s very revealing.  Again, it’s just an experiment.

The big dialogue I had for the longest time was something like:

I’m Chandler’s hip, and I’m tense.  I feel closed off.  I guess I don’t really feel safe because I’ve been so badly hurt before.  If I opened up again, I’d be vulnerable, and I could just get hurt again.  So even though I’m uncomfortable here, I’m better off this way.”

Think that may have affected my relationships?

Nah, couldn’t be.

Here’s the thing: when you stumble across an insight like this, you don’t need to “fix” it.

It’ll be tempting, I know.

But you can’t outsmart your organismic functioning.

An “aha” moment like this is like a big meal.  Sure, it may take some time to chew on it and fully digest it, but you don’t need to rush the process.  Pace yourself.  Trust yourself.  Your system knows what to do.

Simply bringing attention to this dynamic will change the way you live your life.

In Closing

We nest our life experiences within our physical structure.

We carry our stories in our cells.

Your habitual tensions and ways of carrying yourself reflect not just your emotional state, but your entire way of being in the world.

The only way to bring about lasting change is to cultivate awareness.  That’s what will help you uncover and resolve your hidden blocks.  Getting back in touch with the intelligence of your body/mind helps you get back to the fullness of life.

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