In Part 1, we explored the use of your breath (Air element) to cultivate a Strong Mind. In Part 2 we looked at how your Brave Heart embodies emotions that flow in unpredictable and beautiful ways like water.
In Part 3 of our journey towards our January 17th-20th virtual evening retreat, "Awaken the Light Within You," we'll look at the connection between our Wise Body and the element of earth - another glimpse into what you might experience on Day 3 of the retreat.
Day 1: Strong Mind/Air
Day 2: Brave Heart/Water
Day 3: Wise Body/Earth
Day 4: Noble Spirit/Fire
Our bodies speaks to us all the time. They tell us stories like when we're hungry, thirsty, tired, cold and hot. But they also tell other stories that aren't as obvious to us. The story of our emotions.
Our bodies store unreleased emotions that often show up in our bodies as pain and discomfort. You know that lower back pain you feel? Well, if you really listened to your body it might be telling you that you have unspoken anger that is residing in your back.
The late Dr. John Sarno, known by some as the healer of back pain, was famous for connecting the mind and the body. His work essentially reveals that in an effort for the brain to protect us from negative emotions stored in our unconscious mind from unresolved experiences in our lives, it creates symptoms of pain to distract us.
Our body, just like the earth, is matter. And just like the earth, our body is a magnificent, divine ecosystem that relies on all of its organs to live. Our most important job is to take care of this gift, just like the earth, so we can thrive despite the unpredictable challenges that are integral to our existence.
First, we need to identify where in our body we feel our emotions. Where do they show up? For me, when I'm anxious or stressed out, I feel it in my stomach. Others might feel stress in their shoulders or neck. Where is your pain point?
Wise Body Practice - Mind-Body Connection: Where do you feel it?
Here is a practice to help you identify the story your body is telling you, so you can take action to change it. *Note: you will need something to write with and write on, such as a journal or a computer.
You will begin with your Brave Heart practice from Part 2 of this series, and then you'll listen to your body. This is so you can release negative emotions that live in your subconscious, bringing them to the forefront of your conscious mind. Only then will you be able to release them.
Find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down
Close your eyes (this is important, so you can notice your feelings without distractions)
Find your breath - continue conscious breathing without force.
Relax your muscles, and allow yourself to surrender to gravity, the earth's pull.
Feel the earth supporting you.
When thoughts arise, begin to notice how those thoughts make you feel. Don't judge. Just notice.
Now try and identify where in your body you feel those emotions. You might not be able to identify it the first few times, but the more you practice and become aware of your body in the present moment, you will begin to notice tension in different parts of your body. You'll notice the imbalances in your body and begin to take action to change those imbalances, such as engaging in a mind-body practice like yoga.
Journal: Once you identify where in your body you feel an emotion, journal whatever comes to your mind about the emotions that came up for you, where you feel it in your body, and why.
Mountain Pose: After you finish journaling, stand up - feet connected to the earth, legs strong, crown of your head lifted in Mountain Pose. Arms are down by your side. Upper body is loose and free, while your lower body from the waste down are like pillars holding you up strong and tall.
Tree Pose: Shift your weight to one side, bring the heel of one foot to your ankle and turn your knee out to come into Tree pose (See picture above). Explore lifting your toes to balance on one leg. If you want, lift your foot higher and place it below or above your knee (never on it). Use your breath to calm your mind as you find balance while standing on one leg. Place your hands in prayer position over your heart or above your head.
Repeat #10 on the other side.
After you have done both sides, stand again in Mountain Pose. Close your eyes and feel the energy move through you - the energy that comes from the earth and travels up through your body and back down into the earth again. This is your Wise Body in its present and perfect state connecting and supported by our perfect earth.
I love Tree Pose, because I love trees. The way they are simultaneously rooted in the earth, while their limbs sway with the ever-changing winds. They are strong, yet flexible. And just like trees, we too can be strong in spite of our ever-changing emotions and environment. Strength lies not in repressing our emotions, but allowing them to come forward so we can let go of them. Your Wise Body knows you like nobody else. Be still and listen.
To help you get clear on what you need to shed from your life, join us for our 4-evening virtual yoga/meditation retreat Awaken the Light Within You starting January 17th. Click HERE to learn more and register.
Also, begin your journey to Awaken the Light Within You, with our gift to you - an audio meditation recording guided by Live Free Yoga's Co-founder and meditation master, Tida Chambers, taken straight from our virtual yoga/meditation retreat in October. Get a taste of the power of what you'll experience. Just click the link below to download.
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being.
Photo by Kathy Tran