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The Depths of Self Love, By Angela Thurston

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In a world where we are inundated with images of woman with seemingly perfect bodies, how do we make peace with ours? I have struggled with body image, bulimia and issues of self worth, and as much as I have tried supplements, diets; and even the perfect work out routine in addition to – these solutions have not offered me any long term results.

The power of positive thinking and the power of the mind are some key phrases that were offered up to me as means of support, guidance and comfort during those times of challenge. So with the strength of willpower, I muscled my way through bulimia, had a few relapses, and emerged on the other side. What I discovered on the other side was that I was still swimming in the waters of lack – lack of self love, self worth and self care. These areas of disconnect supported my emotional eating, affected my relationships and kept me circulating in the mire of my stories.

Even though the mind is a very powerful thing, it was not enough.

I began my immersion in the field of healing, I was comprehending the concepts, I was being the client, I was being the student, I was being the facilitator, and still I couldn’t wait to get out of class so I could stuff six chocolate bars, a dozen donuts and a pack of twizzlers down my throat. The energy, and body work was effective for what it offered, the modalities opened up my channels, balanced my energies and carried me to the land of bliss connecting me with spirit, still, it was not enough.

I was not getting it, I thought I had a solid understanding of the body/mind/spirit connection; I had faith in spirituality, I accepted that we are more than our physical bodies, I meditated, I affirmed, I believed.

What I now get, that I didn’t get then, is that I was continually seeking the answers from outside of myself, I was suppressing my emotions, disassociating from my body, I had little sense of interoception or proprioception, and embodied self-awareness was not even in my radar.

Alan Fogel, in his book, The Psychophysiology of Self-Awareness, offers the following descriptions:

Suppression: A lack of embodied self-awareness that occurs whenever there is a sense of threat that prevents us from finding resources, slowing down, and/or coregulating with an empathic other.

Pathological Disassociation: A disconnection between self and body having two basic forms: detachment and compartmentalization.

Interoception: The ability to feel one’s own internal body states such as heat/cold, pain, respiration and emotions.

Proprioception: The felt sense of the location and relative position of different parts of the body in relation to objects and to other individuals.

Embodied Self-Awareness: the ability to pay attention to ourselves, to feel our sensations, emotions, and movements on-line, in the present moment, without the mediating influence of judgmental thoughts.

When I began to trust, sense, and feel – when I brought body awareness into the equation of my inquiry – I could then move into the layers of myself that exist beyond the patterns of my own brain. I learnt how to drop below my defense strategies, inspiring new movements in my body, relationships and life. I continue to journey with this spiral of exploration, with my body being the guide. I welcome the self-referencing, the self-regulating, and the self-responsibility that increases my ability to embrace, love and honour myself.

Loving the way one looks is really an externalization of what one is experiencing inside – this is what our reflections are truly showing us. How we perceive ourselves is dependent upon what emotions are alive and thriving, what patterns of belief are being held, and what vulnerabilities have been inherited. It is our willingness to move into our bodies, feel our emotions, and transform our stories, that provide us with the divine waters in which we can dive into the depths of self love.

~Angela began her exploration of alternative healing practices in her twenties, leading her to become certified in Reflexology, Touch For Health and Reiki. Seeking a more body-centered practice and inspired by her love of dance and movement, she turned to the study and teachings of World Dance. It was her journey into the body that showed her how we hold our biographies in our tissues. Her curiosity for healing these stories led her to become an authorized teacher of Continuum Movement. She continues to study with Continuum founder, Emilie Conrad. Angela is weaving the tools of Vividly Woman’s Embodiment Coach Training to her present practice. She currently teaches in Victoria, the Gulf Islands and the Dominican Republic.

For more information visit www.Angelathurston.com

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Body Betrayal?

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A recent experience held up a mirror for me to see just how far I’ve come since I started on my personal growth journey. A surprise injury turned into a beautiful chance to contemplate how my relationship with my body has shifted.

One Saturday, I had a delicious day all to myself. My gorgeous husband took my kids so an expansive day of possibility stretched out before me. In the afternoon, I brought a basket of laundry upstairs, set it down and then stood up, but, shockingly, I couldn’t stand up anymore.

A sharp pain shot through my back every time I tried to straighten up. Having never experienced severe back pain, I was very surprised. For the next hour, I experimented with my new reality. I could walk hunched over, twist, crawl, meditate and sit comfortably. I just couldn’t stand up or walk normally. The possibilities for my day became much more limited.

An older version of me would have freaked out! Much of my current income comes from teaching dance, so I would have dropped into a spiral of ‘what ifs’. The newer ‘Vividly Woman’ me was more curious about the whole situation. I trust that my body will never betray me and that its main purpose is to support me and my growth. Although it hurt significantly, I had cheerful expectation that there was a gift in this event and I was excited to discover it.

It just so happened that my good friend, Ungela, offered to do a Bowen session with me. If you’re unfamiliar with Bowen therapy, it’s a healing modality that stimulates the body to heal itself. With some guidance and gentle manipulation from the practitioner, the receiver trusts in the wisdom of her body to return to its optimal state of health and vitality.

I hobbled into the appointment like I was 9 months pregnant. During the healing session, Ungela asked me if I was going through any major changes, where I was feeling stuck. I replied that most of my life was in a state of huge change, so that could definitely have something to do with it. She explained that, often, acute injuries happen when we’re on the verge of something major, such as expansion, and if we don’t seek out a way to move through them, the injury can become a chronic problem. I love the idea that my body is supporting me to expand and that it knew just what to do to help me overcome my hesitations.

Ungela also asked me to ponder how could I move into my expansion with grace. What did I need to know to do that? The answer that came to me was beautiful. I had a vision of a flower blooming like in time-lapse photography and the word that came to me was “Sassy”. The way that purple flower in my imagination unfurled unapologetically and expanded into its full glory was magical. There was no hesitation. It just followed its instincts and its destiny. It came to me that I could do that too.

Later in the session, I noticed that my lower back felt like a solid brick of pain and tension. It felt “Stubborn”. Something in my body was blocked and I felt like I wanted it to stay that way because it was safe. With my Vividly Woman work, I have embraced vulnerability and revealed more about myself than ever before, but in order for this expansion, I would need to let go of my most tightly held reservations. I felt like I didn’t want to do that yet and that I wasn’t ready.

As the Bowen energy flowed through me, another image came to me. Through the brick of tension in my lower spine, I felt butterfly wings begin to grow. (I know, pretty weird, hey?) I distinctly felt these wings tentatively experimenting with opening and closing, testing out the possibility of flying. The stubborn feeling transformed into curiosity. The gifts from my injury were being revealed and they were more plentiful than I could have imagined.

After the session, I was able to stand up with a significant decrease in pain and my trust in my body was even greater than before. I discussed the experience with my husband the next day and here’s my synopsis.

I’m experiencing lots of change and am on the verge of significant expansion. My mind alone couldn’t force me to do what was beyond my realm of experience and possibility, so my body took over and did what it needed to do to bring that block into my awareness. With some help from a gifted practioner, my blocked emotion and energy were able to flow. I don’t have to “force” myself to do anything.

So did my body betray me? Quite the opposite. It gave me permission to allow myself to take time to recuperate. After just a few days, the pain was gone and some major shifts began happening with ease. When I was more in my masculine side, I thought I had to power my way through things I didn’t feel ready for yet. In my feminine side, I’m much more willing to ask for help, to let emotion move through me and to avoid classifying things as good or bad. I appreciate and recognize the magic in this event. I’m becoming that flower, blooming into all her glory, no apologies necessary.

Have you ever had an injury or illness that turned into a gift? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

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