Most of us experience some degree of pain and discomfort in our physical body and so we think it’s a given that we feel. But the feeling (felt) sense can be detected as subtleties of sensation or significant pain and discomfort that we are forced to pay attention to. When it’s mild enough or it completely flies under our radar we don’t acknowledge it with an inquiry that could bring positive change.
We stay in this sub threshold of pain for some time because we allow our focus to be on the past and future. As well, our focus is on the assertions of the mind rather than the present moment happenings within the soma (physical body). It is healthy to focus on things external to you such as listening and seeing your surroundings as in the practice of mindfulness. We simply want to engage in this sensory process while feeling our own body as it takes in the present moment.
So why do we allow our focus to be outside our present moment? Because at some point, we have all experienced a threat that makes our bodies feel unsafe. We are then inclined to shift our physical form in a way that guards us against that threat. If we don’t re-integrate that experience our bodies can continue to help create negative stories through form. However, we can develop the awareness of that tension and our naturally available positive resources within.
If you’re a rider who puts on 100 miles a week, your hips may be tight from the exertion of the riding. Also, this tightness could be a part of a story of protection. If you spend 45 hours a week hunched over a computer, you may find your middle back is stuck…and, your spine could be molded by emotional experiences as well.
The body is a manifestation of how we experience our world from both a physical and emotional standpoint. Does this mean you have to figure out the stories and dive into them? I believe not. We simply need to feel safe to stay with present moment emotions and have the attunement to our own bodies to “feel” when it’s speaking this language. This authenticity allows the body and emotions to feel congruent and so reduces the need to guard. Of course, we don’t express every emotion in every moment. However, if we practice appropriately, the moments when we need these resources we can access them readily and diffuse a challenge quickly.
So that stuck hip you’ve had for years might move better when you practice feeling safe enough to let go. How? In the world of somatic experiencing, we call it resourcing. One might liken it to mindfulness with the focus on feeling your own soma (body). The goal is to feel a place in your body that already feels good in the present moment. Take quiet time and choose a position that feels supported. Begin by following the breath as it moves your ribcage. Take a few minutes here and then feel for a “good” feeling place in the soma. Spend about 5 minutes here using any external images that will help you settle in better. This resourcing tool can be practiced ongoing. When you then show up for a yoga class or work to stretch a stubborn area, you may find that the response to releasing improves. And always consider the help of a body professional to guide you to increased awareness and an ability to create progressive shifts that you can feel.