being human,  breath,  embodiment,  writing

Learning to Live in Direct Experience

I’ve gone quiet lately. Last week was busy with work and graduation prep and the weekend was full with my girl’s graduation ceremony and party. Yesterday was the first day I journaled in a few weeks. And it struck me … I wasn’t writing because I didn’t want to fully feel, didn’t want to acknowledge the sadness that was here, under the surface.

Anxiety was here. Angst was here. I felt it all. I’m much more in tune than I ever have been before, but I filled life up instead of slowing down to fully experience it. I think most of us do that, sometimes out of habit, others necessity, and sometimes we’re completely unaware.

I am not saying we should drown in our fears, sadness or anxiety, but I do think we often mask it or avoid the negative feelings in lieu of the goodness of life. We are human; our emotions make us human, and I think avoiding the full range of that limits our ability to live a rich, full life. If we push the bad away and only try to experience the good, when will the good simply not be good enough anymore? And if all we ever do is fill life up with lists and tasks, how much of it are we really feeling?

I’m a feeler, that’s true, maybe more than most, maybe not, but to me, its what life is all about. I live for heartfelt moments with the ones I love most, and even among strangers. I am not a ‘go through the motions’ kinda girl, though I know life has plenty of that too.

Now that I understand that my nervous system has been imbalanced for years (a lifetime!), I get that slowing down is one of the main ways to counteract it. I also know that there are lots of ways to slow down, and get inside what is really happening. I taught yoga for years and I preached it, but I’m not sure I ever really got it, because I didn’t understand my nervous system. Without going too deep into all of that, because I could, I’ll just say that learning to embody my life has been the greatest blessing, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done/do and the greatest teacher so far.

Embodying, in it’s simplest sense is being in your body and feeling what you’re feeling, in a direct way, without the filter of the brain.

Seems foreign, right? It did to me, sometimes it still does when I’m too in my head. But it’s a practice, a life-saving practice I know I’ll spend the rest of my life deepening. And there are a few ways I know to access it more easily … when I go outside, take a walk in our woods — without my phone — something opens up. I feel myself. I live in direct experience. The same is true with writing, but it’s different. Writing allows me to name whatever it is I’m feeling. There is some brain activity, but eventually my fingers take me places I didn’t know I wanted to go. I breathe, feel my body in space and allow whatever wants to come through to do so.

I suggest that awareness is paramount to a balanced, healthy life. Soooooo …. I see it, acknowledge it, and will spend some time putting pen to paper and getting outside this weekend. What about you? How do you avoid direct experience? Can you name it? And what are your healing ‘go to’s?’