I feel all over the place today… I woke up from a restless sleep with the wind moaning and rain pelting against the windows of our little lodge house and my daughter Elena and our dog Sugar curled up in the bed next to me. My first awareness was Elena saying “I need a big hug, Mummy” as she had had a nightmare about dragons, swiftly followed as per usual by my thoughts of the busy schedule of the day ahead.
Pushing aside the urge to jump straight out of bed, I cuddled her and asked her about the dream, listening as well as I could with the day tugging on my arm… Then out of bed, To Do lists running through my head, get dressed, make sure Elena has all she needs for her day ahead, school bag, homework?, snack, after school? and what am I doing first – oh yes the car… breakfast, feed the dog, run out the door and drop her off at the school, just in time.. phew… drive to the next village to drop off my parents’ car which I had borrowed yesterday evening as the grinding sound my car (Daisy) has been making for a long time is now sounding potentially life-threatening, pick up Daisy, drop her at the garage (ugh how much is that going to cost), back to my parents’ house to camp out while I wait out for the diagnosis on the car, help out my parents with a few things, heart-stopping moment when I had to shout at my father to avoid him being backed into by a reversing van in their driveway. It is 10.10am, I am angsty, on edge, feeling sharp and pointy. I don’t quite know what to focus on, what is this day about, I have a scheduled coaching call at 1pm but other than that just a long list of things to do… Time to take a moment to check in.
I step outside into the blustery wind-swept garden for a few moments and take a moment to connect in, shut my eyes, feel my feet on the ground; consciously slowing down, paying attention and turning my awareness towards my inner world… curious about what I am feeling right now? The words come back to me – I feel ‘all over the place’… unsettled, fractured… and I as recognise this feeling and give it space, I feel my system settle.
Sometimes we just feel messy, all over the place, we are caught off-balance… and what’s wrong with that? In this well-ordered world where we are meant to be so together, have it all handled, it isn’t generally something we feel able to allow and so we cover up or contain.
In the past I would try to ignore this feeling, hold it all together with an edge of ‘don’t ask me how I am,’ and driving forward with ticking off the To Do list. But I now have a deep trust that this feeling, any feeling really, is as valid as any other and to allow it some space. The temptation is to try and figure out why I feel this way, and briefly I chat with my Mum and her carer about how they also feel stirred up, how windy it is and I remember how much the wind affected me when I first had my daughter, pushing her in her buggy along the seafront in Brighton and feeling uprooted by the wind swirling around us on that day. A vivid memory of a scattered mind… My Mum remembers that in Curacao, where we lived for nine years, some women had to leave the island as they were ‘driven crazy’ by the wind. We smile, connect, enjoy shared experiences… I move on with my day, more open, present and relaxed with how I am.
Through my training and work as a holistic counsellor, I trust deeply in the power of slowing down, being curious and paying attention to the intelligence of our bodies. Yoga, mindfulness, meditation are in. Corporations, schools, the mental health community, are recognising the need for us to learn how to still our busy minds with techniques and practices that can help us to deal with the reality of busy lives. The intelligence of our minds has taken centre stage for so long but people in boardrooms and classrooms around the world are learning how to eat a raisin mindfully or listen to their breath, to use the intelligence of all our senses to enrich our experience of life …. paying close attention as a doorway to presence and a more peaceful, centred life.
There is even more available in being curious, in learning to really tune in to our bodies; to our ‘felt-sense.’ This extraordinarily rich source of feedback about ourselves is often overlooked. How often have you ignored that ‘gut feeling’ about something only to realise later that you knew all along it was right?
Your body has a natural sense of truth. We can feel authenticity in ourselves and in others. However, this innate wisdom is obscured by our conditioning—the core limiting beliefs, reactive feelings, and somatic contractions that fuel our sense of struggle and veil who we really are.
John J Prendergast PhD
In this world of the felt-sense, we can tune into the deep wisdom and intelligence of the body that can be a guide and a mentor, and in fact a healer – as we retrain ourselves not to try to change or fix what we are feeling or experiencing, we become more tuned in to and can allow for our immediate experience of life.
So I encourage you to take time to tune in… a few moments to be curious about what you are feeling. It might just open the door into a deeper experience.
As you slow way down and cut into the sense that something must urgently be fixed, shifted, or even ‘healed’ – and as you become more curious about your immediate experience than in your interpretations of it – a doorway appears. Just underneath the very vivid and colorful storyline is an eruption of energy, overflowing with information and resources for the way ahead.
While your emotional world may come on fire in these moments, with your amygdala lighting up the old circuitry of fight and flight, a new invitation has come. It is a wild, unprecedented, and ragingly creative. It is Life, longing to reach you and to remind you of something you may have forgotten.