I flew back to Los Angeles with the hugest of enthusiasms. Ready to meet, gather, teach and move. Ready get to things going in my hometown. Immediately. As soon as I touched down.
This is not what happened.
I was met by busy schedules, long distances to drive, people away on summer holidays and an overwhelming stillness that fed my fears. Old fears that sucked me right in. So completely that for about 2 weeks, it felt like my wishes had been entirely thwarted, and I lost that deep connection to what moves me in this world.
It was painful and unsettling.
The fear that invades in quieter times
It seems that while I have absolutely no doubts about what I am doing now, I clearly was relying on tangible proof and feedback from the outside world to keep me grounded. To quell fear and doubt that come swirling up in more subtle periods of my life.
But this isn’t realistic. There will always be quieter times with no immediate or tangible feedback. No obvious “signs from the universe.” And these are perfect moments for us to doubt, let old fear rush in and weaken our ability to trust. This fear tells an old story.
My story is one of despair that has no connection to my life today. One that says, “what you love will be stripped away, and it’s out of your control,” because at different points in my young life, this happened. And I absorbed it into my body and kept the story going.
But, how do we hold what we love during less certain periods? What keeps us clear, resolute and unwavering? How do we stop being led around by the old story?
Releasing Old Fear
I felt my mind trying to organize things, reframe, “accept” the stifling nothingness. I did my best to shut down the energy of fear through logic and explanations and contraction in my upper body.
As I did this, my legs started to feel weak and shaky, so I gave into this feeling. And the more I did, the more I felt afraid. And then came a memory. A memory of something I had loved and invested in that was taken away from me when I was 15. It changed the course of my life. And back then, it was necessary to put on a brave face, so I did. But today, I gave space to the full experience of my fear and sense of loss. I let the energy flood my body until the end, beyond where I normally stop it. Beyond the old story.
And then I rested. And as I did, I quite naturally tuned in to the weight and depth of my pelvis, the muscles of my legs, the presence of my spine. There was no effort in my upper body and my breath was huge. The weak shakiness that was telling me what I loved would be stripped away, was gone, and my feet were firmly planted on the ground.
If I had to put a name to this body experience, I would call it trust. Simple, embodied trust.
When we don’t cultivate that deep place inside of us, that place that simply knows, doubt can all too quickly fill the void, if proof and feedback aren’t pouring in.
Learning to trust demands that we explore ourselves more intimately and be willing to deeply let go. To go underneath the old fear, before our stories began. It is a practice I find to be essential and deeply nourishing.
Trust keeps us connected to our deepest intentions, so we move from there, and not from the fear, regardless of what is immediately happening around us.
I’m only now exploring what it feels like to trust in my body. As I moved around town this week, I noticed that in moments where fear would usually creep in, it just didn’t. In its place was a quiet certainty that has no words or story.
I will continue to practice.
A simple grounding exercise
I’ve included this exercise here, because it connects you to the ground. It awakens earthy energy and quiets your mind. It can be done on its own or easily added to any current embodiment training that you do.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Knees are loose.
- Slightly lift your heels off the ground and drop them back down with a gentle thud. Continue this movement, over and over again, at an energized yet repetitive, steady pace. It is not a fast movement.
- Keep your gaze soft and at eye level, and breathe throughout the exercise to generate energy.
- Continue to let go of any effort in the rest of your body.
- Do this for 5 minutes. and when you stop, close your eyes, drop your awareness into your lower body and follow the movement of energy for another minute or so.