You cringe on the inside, trying not to let him notice.
He feels something from you and, not knowing what it is, doesn’t let on to his discomfort.
I see this dynamic all day, every day. I see it at the grocery store, walking down Pearl Street, out at night at your favorite establishment, at almost every table at every restaurant, no matter what day or time of day.
Women are holding back. Men are holding back. We’re all doing it. And we’re often doing it without noticing.
Yet we all feel the pain of our closure…the discomfort of our resistance…the constriction of our kinks.
This post is about that moment. That moment that happens whether you’re aware of it when it happens, or if you’re only aware of it after it’s passed. Or maybe you’re not even always aware of it.
But you know that moment.
That moment when you feel the water spout of emotions open fully (or maybe just a trickle) and you kink and close your heart, constrict your body, and mute your mind until that moment passes.
The worst thing about it is that you’ve become so good at it. You’re so good at it that people don’t even seem to notice anymore…but you feel a little bit different to others than you used to… They can’t quite put their finger on it. But they feel it.
They can feel it because they feel their own closure through your closure.
Ever so slowly…
That you may not even notice….
Something in you is withering away…
Until one day, you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and don’t even recognize yourself. And not in the way you probably want.
But you see that you’re just not…you.
You’re not the you that you know you are. You feel less alive. Your shine feels dulled. Your radiance, clumsy. Your flowingness, kinked.
I’ve written before about not holding back. But that advice is only helpful if you can recognize that moment when you hold back.
What if you don’t recognize it? What if you only feel your lack of flowingness like a clogged pipe, all gunked up from years of residual blockage at each point where the pipe is kinked? Nothing can go in or come out…
It is as though nothing can go in; your vulnerability is blocked. And nothing can come out; your radiance, withering to a dull matte finish…your colors camouflaging like a chameleon, receding unseen into the background of life itself.
So What Do You Do? Where Do You Start?
If you can’t take it any longer. If, when you look in the mirror, you see a person who isn’t you. If you make a firm commitment to change this thing you can’t see, but undoubtedly can feel…well, what do you do?
If you can feel the residual backup of emotions like your shower drain, clogged with years or decades of soap and hair and shampoo and all of those other shower products us men are clueless about, you know it will take some work just to get things unclogged.
But this isn’t the kind of work that you force. You might put a flexible rod through your pipes (not like that, perv) to force things through your shower drain.
Your body doesn’t work like that. You can’t force experiences into your body unless you want to bring trauma into your neurology.
Instead, the real work is dissolving. But dissolving what?
In personal growth, we often take the path of Thinking with our Mind (learning a new concept, a new asana, a new idea, etc), then it gradually becomes embedded it into our Heart or Feelings. And, finally, if we are lucky, we learn to fully embody it in our Body or our Emotions. (Literally, to emote means “to move out.” When we emote, we let our feelings out through our body.)
In other words, we learn through the process of:
Mind -> Heart -> Body
Thinking -> Feeling -> Emoting
Usually, though, our body is the last to learn.
But you know this isn’t a problem you can think yourself through. You know that this blockage that you feel so deeply can’t simply be worked through first by thinking it.
As the quote goes “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”
And I’d say, similarly, “Thinking about your emotions is like dancing about architecture.”
To work on your emotions, you must go into your body.
Dissolving the Gunk in Your Kinky Pipes
Yes. I simply wanted to get kinky in here with you. Really, though…who wouldn’t want to?
If your flowingness feels blocked to the point where simply acknowledging it and practicing opening a bit more won’t solve the problem, you must get to work on the emotional residue that has built up in your body.
First, practice simply relaxing your body. What I mean by relaxing is letting go of all of the tension that is there. This is your emotional closure. Remember, emotions are feelings that move out through your body. This is your kinkedness. This is your resistance.
Once you’ve relaxed your body by letting go of all of the tension that’s there, relax it some more. Go through a full body scan to feel what’s there…
How do your fingertips feel? Your hands? Your forearms? Your shoulders? Your neck? Your throat? Your chest? And so on…I’m sure you know the drill on this one. And don’t just go to your toes…go to your toenails…and better yet, see if you can feel all the way to the tips of your fingernails and toenails and to the tips of every strand of hair on your head…
Once you’ve become as relaxed as you possibly can, imagine that you just had the best, most exhausting massage you’ve ever had, AFTER the longest, hardest workout you’ve ever had, AFTER the best hot yoga session you’ve ever had, AFTER getting only three hours of sleep the night before.
See? You can let go even more. The difference between the moment before you first relaxed until the very end of that practice, at the very least, that’s the emotional tension and closure you carry with you in your body. This is your emotional residue.
And, if I were to guess, this is probably, maaaaaybe, 10% of it. Once you go out into the world and about your day, stuff will come up. You’ll tense up even more. You’ll see your parents or your children and something else will tense in an area you didn’t know was there. You’ll get in a disagreement with your partner or a friend and something else will close a little bit or a lot. Something will come up at work and your body will create resistance to it…
And this is the practice…release. Let go. Relax. Unkink. Unclench.
Remove your resistance. It’s your resistance. Not anyone else’s. You put it there. You can take it away.
Opening Deeper and More Fully. Unkinking Your Radiance and Rage
Many spiritual practitioners will tell you about “opening” in some way, shape or form. The thing is that you can not open without unclenching. If you try to open while also holding resistance around your heart, you will find yourself dangerously contorted like if my janky body tried to perform with the contortionists at Cirque du Soleil. And nobody wants that. Not me. And certainly not you.
And you’ll find that once you begin to unclench your body, that it will naturally begin to open. That is the result of relaxing: opening. You don’t beat the Chinese finger cuffs game by forcing it. Only by relaxing and loosening the resistance does the cuff begin to open.
Relax your body. Relax your shoulders. Your neck. Your chest. Focus on the physical parts of your body, first.
And after you do, after your resistance subsides, you’ll notice something new…
It will be subtle at first. And it may not happen for a while…days, weeks, months… But it will come.
You will notice that your heart begins to open.
Your feelings will flow more freely.
Frustration becomes replaced by patience. Anger, replaced by compassion. Hate, replaced by love.
And, soon after, you will find your mind and thinking changing as a result.
Body -> Heart -> Mind
Emotions -> Feelings -> Thoughts
But your body must do it first.
An Upcoming Workshop for That Moment
I am leading a workshop on November 2nd and 3rd of 2013 in Boulder, Colorado on working through this specific thing. And…you’ll also get to work on some of this with solid, trustable men that we will bring in for a portion of the workshop.
Image Credit: steltendanstheater