Growing up my dad used to sing this song, "The knee bone connected to the tail bone, the tail bone connected to the hip bone." At such a young age I really thought it was a simple silly song my dad would sing. Well turns out that was my first anatomy lesson! I would continue to learn, more traditionally, anatomy along my life path through dance, college, and through my yoga and other modality trainings.
The body is it's own universe. Not one thing works alone in the body. It is a highly technological system that is unique only to YOU. NO ONE else has your DNA, Fingerprints, and held tension patterns. The body is a reflection of the greater universe and a real pedagogy of the symbiotic relationship with other living beings.
This is probably this most beautiful thing about this human experience is: we are all unique. Yes I may have even said once or twice that we are all connected at the deeper level, but we cannot access that in this lifetime if we do not honor our own uniqueness. All of our experiences are connected through our bodies and have lasting impacts on other origins and patterns in our life. If we are unaware of this fact then we will miss out on the deeper levels of our own existence.
So, first, we must become aware.
^^Just an emotional feeling of awareness. Not a reality for daily moment to moment checking in.^^
Notice when an emotion arises. What happens in the body? What happens in the breath? What are you feeling? In this present moment.
Maybe we begin to notice the same pattern or choice we are making is in fact causing either harm or peace in our life. Make the choice and commitment to change the behavior if it causes suffering and on the other side continue to repeat if it bring you peace.
To bring this connection and awareness into more of a physical realm of awareness. If we stub our toe, it causes pain. Yes? What do we do with that pain? Ice the toe? Elevate the foot? What if the pain travels up through the toe to the ankle? What if because you stubbed your toe you begin to walk differently with a limp or a hobble.
Maybe your knees begin to hurt and then the pain travels to your hips. From one small incident the body reacts with not only a myriad of physical pain, but also emotional pain (You might yell out a curse word or two. Let it out if you can!) and that is in turn mental as we hold emotions in our memories as well as our bodies.
Once we have brought mind into body, what next? How do we deal with the pain? Ohh, habits. Deal with or be with? Maybe it's not pain, but simple discomfort. How do we take care of it? Like a hurt child crying for his/her mother?
We could cry. So be with the emotional experience. By experiencing it! Do not avoid pain because it is unpleasant (this is not the same if pain is inflicted upon you. That should not be felt or tolerated). An example is when we feel shame, guilt, sadness, or anger. Those emotions want to be felt, heard, and if you practice NVC (non-violent communication) you know there is a need that isn't being met. So this is emotional self-care and it is important as emotions can also be held within the body.
What kind of pain or discomfort do you feel? If it's muscular maybe a massage or a bath may release any lactic acid that is making the muscles sore. You can use different tools to massage the muscles; your hands, foam roller, rolling pin (yes like the one in your kitchen), bouncy or sports balls, or fancy gadgets. By massaging our bodies we are moving the lactic acid, but we are also getting even closer to ourselves. Learning about our anatomy.
Fun story: I learned this particular I.T.Band rolling out method when I was around 16 yrs old at Houston Ballet's Summer Intensive. I mean it was Intense (I also got shingles for the first time, I digress). My knees started to have terrible discomfort and clicking when I would bend my knees deeply. If anyone reading this has done ballet then you know how demanding it is on the body and how quickly joints can disintegrate in this technique. A friend put me on the foam roller and lovingly forced me to roll out my thighs. He asked how I felt post rolling (that was my first awareness of mindfulness and self-inquiry) and I felt different. I felt like I could grand plie all day. To be even more honest: it was the MOST painful thing i had experienced in my life. Rolling out tight muscles is NOT fun, but the reward after is amazing.
After rolling out (or before) I love to take a nice hot bath. I am currently using Dead Sea Bath Salts and Lavender oil in my baths.
If it feels deeper maybe even bone on bone or bone and ligament: resting and/or elevation may relieve the discomfort. Any pain that lasts over a week you should go see a doctor. Because I am not a doctor, nor a PT, I am just a body advocate wanting you to take care of and love the body you have to live fully in this moment.
If you hold your tension and pain it will not just go away. Our stories are held within us until they can find a way to move and be expressed through this existence. Sometimes our pain (due to previous injury) will NOT go away, or it will take a lot of patience to continuously take care of the body with techniques like rolling out, mindfulness, self-massage and more. Everything in our bodies are connected and we are connected to each other.
So if we do not make ourselves a priority then how can we sustain the fight for freedom for all? How can we be a grounded caregiver and/or parent? How can we move out of reaction into action? We need time, space and guidance together our tools and put them to use for the benefit for ourselves and in turn for others.
Have I missed a self care tool? What is your go to self-care tool/technique?
Wanting more guidance into self-massage sign up for my upcoming workshop Tender Loving Body Care March 9th 2019 at Square One Yoga El Cerrito.