If this energy or feeling had a voice, what would it say? Why is it here? Does it mean something about who I am? Who I should be? This feels so familiar. Will it be here forever?
We begin a practice of Natural Rest by settling back and becoming aware of our body. When we do, we notice our bodies interacting with the environment: a feeling of air or clothes on skin, breath flowing in the nostrils, furniture supporting us, our feet on the floor. We may also find habitual tension, like tightness in the forehead, jaw, back of the neck or belly. Perhaps there is a contracted energy in the chest or edginess felt in the whole body. As we tune in, we may find the body relaxing and the breath becoming more even and smooth. Or we might find agitation or some uncomfortable feeling in the body, and the experience of wanting that energy to go away.
Western culture is saturated with the idea that something is wrong with us. We are not good enough, successful enough, lovable enough. We’re just not enough. Most of us have go-to strategies for escaping this, including food, drugs, sex, work, shoe shopping and movies. Some strategies are rewarded. Some are judged as weak and are punished. The substance or process varies but the mechanism underlying escape is similar. Freedom comes from sitting directly with our experience.
This time when a contraction or craving arises, we allow ourselves to stay. To be curious, open to getting to know this feeling better. Words, images or other feelings may arise and we practice allowing those to be in our awareness too. The Living Inquiries provide tools to look. To get to know our mind and the thoughts and patterns that cause suffering. When we believe in and identify with every thought that comes into the mind, it’s no wonder we want to escape. The Inquiries offer another option.
During the Natural Rest for Food Addiction online group this week, we began by sitting with the feelings and energies in our bodies then shared our experience. One woman said that as she sits with openness and allowing the feeling to be there, words and images come up to be looked at then the uncomfortable feeling dissolves. She gives herself permission to eat the food she’s craving after she’s sat with the feeling for awhile but the craving always dissolves first. Another spoke of how she uses the Boomerang or Panorama Inquiry to help feel into why a sensation is present. Many people have seen these contracted energies, that used to feel so threatening, are actually there to protect us from something we haven’t felt able to be with directly. Many originated in childhood.
The contractions and cravings in our bodies can be a doorway to true peace. As we find the courage to sit with openness, we develop confidence in our ability to experience life directly. Protective mechanisms that may once have been necessary are no longer so essential. Escape strategies simply cover up the feeling and reinforce the sense that something is wrong. Sitting with contraction and craving, allowing them to be as they are, we experience a natural relaxation of the compulsion to escape. Our lives are workable, just as they are.