I awoke just before 5 a.m. with the heart crushing anxiety I have become acquainted with in this season. I used to curse it and fight against it, but I am learning to embrace it. I put my hand on my racing heart and gently said “welcome.” As I sat in meditation my heart continued to sound the alarm, as if I was sitting in a burning building and my body was simply trying to protect me, screaming “run!” I resist the urge to react to the false alarm and choose instead to sit awhile with this discomfort. I shift my awareness to my breath as it enters and exits the tip of my nose. Deep breath in…long breath out…“thank you, Spirit!”
Though the terror in my heart feels real, I notice the stability of the earth beneath me. I speak lovingly to my anxious heart: “You are safe now. You are rooted in love. The earth below you is solid and secure.” Imagining my roots sinking deep into the earth, I remember and receive the love that surrounds me. I invite the breath to expand into my belly and low back filling me with the gift of life. I pray my favorite breath prayer: “More of you…” drawing in the Holy Spirit that is riding on the medium of the breath, expanding with more peace, truth, compassion and love. I pause and rest in the stillness, my heart slows, breathing out to let go. “Less of me…” I pray and release the shame that is bound to my anxious heart and need for care. Releasing the pressure of the financial strain and the worry for each of my children. Surrendering the uncertainty and the need to know and control. Letting go brings relief! As if falling into the arms of love, I am held and supported; pausing in the emptiness and abiding in the truest truth.
My body knows a love that is bigger than the stress of this world. It has wisdom and if I stop running from it, it will lead me out of the darkness and into a place of lightness and ease. I pick up my journal and begin to spill the contents of my heart onto the page. Without judgment I simply express what is swirling around this heart that feels everything so deeply. The empathy is a gift that comes at a great cost and if I’m not careful my heart gets stuck holding more suffering than it can bear. In this practice of journaling, my heart becomes free.
Our bodies are telling the collective stories of our lifetime. They say our issues are in our tissues.
Take a moment to pause and notice what your body is holding. We hold stress in our minds in the form of thoughts. We hold stress in our bodies in the form of pain, tension, and disease. We hold stress in our hearts in the form of anger, shame, and unprocessed emotions. We build walls to contain and protect. At some point the walls must come down so we can give and receive the love this world desperately needs. To be human is to connect and we cannot fully connect to one another if our hearts are shut down or broken. Rumi said, “It is not our job to seek for love, but simply seek and find the walls we have built against it.”
Will you take a moment to be still and listen to the story your body is telling you? You cannot hold awareness and violence simultaneously. As you begin to give yourself the gift of time and space to simply be, you are inviting love to have its way with you. Can you practice becoming fully present with your body without judgment for what seems wrong, but instead choose gratitude for the countless ways it allows you to move and breathe and have your being? It is easy to take for granted that which is running smoothly. Don’t wait until the panic attack or cancer hits; start now. Breathe in and invite the light. Pause and acknowledge that you are held and supported. Breathe out to let go of anything that is not love. Pause in the moment, knowing that in this moment you have everything you need. Be grateful for you are truly blessed!
Jean Masukevich is a trauma sensitive yoga teacher and integrative coach with over 20 years of teaching experience. Her mission is to guide others to greater mind, body, Spirit integration and connection to their authentic self. She cultivates communities of care where individuals and groups heal and share their hearts and stories through movement, writing, meditation, integrative prayer, creativity, and the sacred art of listening. Jean holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith. Jean serves both children and adults and is available for in person and remote coaching. Contact her at Sowthatjean@gmail.com.
“We build walls to contain and protect. At some point the walls must come down so we can give and receive the love this world desperately needs.” The key word is protect and I have no idea how to live without these protective, containing walls. Thank you for writing this – it has given me much to ponder today and I will be sharing it with a friend as well. Blessings.
Thanks so much for these words… Letting down the armour we have built to protect ourselves is terrifying, but it is worth it in the end. How do we take down a wall? Same way we built it… one brick at a time, one story at a time. May you be re-storied into a place where it feels safe enough to explore these places of self-protection in light of Gods fierce love for you. He is a mighty warrior who goes before you on this healing journey – in his love he will no longer rebuke you! (Zeph 3:17)
I think I can help you on your journey if you want to send me an email I would love to connect!
Thank you for these timely and practical words on how to listen to your body. They are so helpful as I enter a season of listening harder to what my body has been trying to tell me for a long time. Your examples offer grounding and kindness in spaces that feel scary ~ The crushing OMGOMGOMG!!!! moments. Breathing in and out and attuning to what is going on and summoning the spirit, all of these reminders help to slow the panic. Thank you.
Good job listening to your bodies felt need for care and attunement! May the panic continue to slow as you practice returning and loving and honoring all that your body holds and longs to tell you 💗