When I was a little girl, there was a giant, 3-trunk sycamore tree in our back yard. My favorite trunk sloped into a huge horse, which at its best could hold all of the neighborhood kids at one time, as we happily climbed and jostled to be the first one up. I would discover different ways to climb it. I would laze on the trunk and daydream as I looked up at the sky. I would linger when my mom called me down for dinner or to come inside to do my arithmetic problems. I would stand, in the heart of the 3 trunks, guitar resting on my knee and meander through new chords I had learned. Occasionally I would make up a song and sing.
I was reminded of my tree the other day, when I asked a group of women what they would be doing in their lives were it not for shame. We got to the last woman, and she looked at me openly with giant brown eyes and said, “I’d daydream.”
It sent the softest, most supple ripple across my skin, and my body relaxed in a way I hadn’t felt in months.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d freely done this. With abandon. No schedule. No limit. No goal. No direction. Just the simplicity of letting my being laze, linger, meander, wander, imagine, fantasize, dream.
The measuring of our lives
At a certain point, our lives became measured. There were grades to be made. Races to be won. Schools to be accepted to. Degrees to be finished. Jobs to be found. Schedules to be kept. Money to be made. Bills to be paid. Things to get done.
At a certain point, life went from being to performing. Accomplishing. Managing. Succeeding. Completing. Failing.
We learned to grade ourselves. We do it daily, according to our to do list. We do it socially, according to our status. We do it professionally, according to our opportunities and economics. We even do it with our free time.
It makes life linear, pressured and intense. We’ll get to the other stuff later. The being. The daydreaming. The space. Right now we have things to get done and a limited time in which to do them.
But we never really do take the space. And that time rarely ever purely comes. There is always more to do. More goals to go for. More books to read. More weight to lose. More exercise to do. More people to reach. More accounts to balance. More projects to start. More. More. More.
And this pressure pushes us forward, as if there were no choice.
~ It leaves us with a sense of failing, whether we have or not.
~ It leaves us with a sense of not having done enough, no matter how much we have done.
~ It leaves with a sense that we’re running out of time.
~ It leaves us with a sense of shame, as we feel we’re not good enough.
~ It gnaws at are our self worth.
~ It zips back and forth between wanting to hide and then needing to work harder.
The pressure is so ingrained in us that we forget there is more.
Discovering more through the body
Sometimes to remember, we have to take a deeper look at the story. Through my body I can learn what’s underneath this constant pressure. I can learn what energy or past I’ve wrapped myself around so intensely.
I feel the demand in my body. My head tightens, my stomach contracts, my breath is shallow. My body pushes forward. I take a few moments to make this stronger with more tightening, more feeling, more awareness. For a few moments, I attentively choose to believe the story and what I say to myself, until I can access the energy that’s below the tension. That’s when I begin to soften, let go, create space. With my breath. In my body. I take time to let this happen.
I may meet the fear I’ve been trying to keep at bay. I may meet the pain of past failure. I may meet where I started to believe I wasn’t good enough, and I had to do more. So be it.
I want this energy to open and flow. Send tingles and heat. Create shivers and movement. Bring lightness and space. I want this energy to undo the structure of the incessant demand.
When it does, it shakes up the story, and life opens around me.
The body remembers
For our bodies, it is entirely natural to feel the spaciousness of time, the magic of the unexpected, the sweetness of spontaneity, the pleasure of playing, the lightness of daydreaming.
As adults, to allow this natural state to emerge, we may have to undo the old story first. To stop investing our energy in the constant measurement of our successes or failures.
To bodily remember that before there was that, there was being. There were meandering moments. There were lazy days. There were times for daydreaming. And times where we playfully hopped off the tree to see what would happen next.
There was space. There was flow.
And it’s there now. Just waiting for you to remember.
For a guided physical practice, click on this link.