Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finding Grace in Losing Face

Even the Buddha loses his head.
     While learning about massage and bodywork over the years, one common precaution tends to echo throughout the modalities. When people receive bodywork, you never know what will arise. This brings to mind a 10-day cranio-sacral (subtle bodywork) course I attended. I recalled how many of the participants appeared to have pure craziness, coming up to the surface. I was the outspoken skeptic of the group. I truly didn't believe what I was seeing, or hearing. The idea that "your issues live in your tissues," was not something I bought into.

Fast forward a bunch of years... I've experienced my issues being alive in my tissues, both in yoga practice and on the massage table. These multi-layered, body focused practices can bring tears, extreme discomfort, unexpected irritation, indescribable joy, etc. I can no longer doubt what deep listening and allowing can bring to light. The so-called logical mind might be dismissive, claiming resolution to all things challenging, or of the past. But as the fascinating book, The Body Keeps the Score explains, there's so much more to our operating systems.

It's especially difficult to hold space for oneself. I found I had been cutting my deeper practices short, interpreting difficult sensations harshly, and not allowing certain feelings to stay long, if at all. Cutting myself short started translating into some pretty unskillful and distorted communication with others as well. In cutting myself short, on time and patience, it was clear that I was doing the same to others. I was shocked to hear some of the harsh things that flowed freely from my mouth.

As I was intellectually sorting through things I didn't understand, this self exploration had me doubting my whole yoga practice. If I was capable of being so unkind to my own family, my yoga practice must be defunct. The Dalai Lama said, "be kind whenever possible, and it's always possible." Yeah, maybe if you're the Dalai Lama! Clearly, it wasn't possible for me. It's a great goal, it's incredibly important to keep in mind. However, perhaps it could be useful to embrace, and find grace, in losing face? Either way, that's what was happening. 

It's no surprise to me that I'm both darkness and light. Letting go of whatever I'd been trying to hold together, has meant coming unglued. It hasn't been very pretty. The result is that I now feel a wider range of life energy flowing through me. I hadn't realized how much precious energy was being wasted on creating detours and road closures. Yoga did support me in this process, even as I showed up as someone I didn't quite recognize. I now see the great value of holding the uncomfortable even more gently. Most of all, I feel deeply relieved that my whole self, inner-child and all, has found a place at the table.