Small Letting Go’s….Noticing, Breathing and Moving with Each One
When I hold back an emotion, my throat and neck constricts, my ribcage and abdomen gets tight, I get hot, my jaw sets and eyes squint a little. Sound familiar at all? Our bodies are hard wired for reflexive responses to physical, mental and emotional experiences. It really does make sense that I react instantaneously to things…AND it’s a great practice to recognize and notice my inner landscape. To gain skill around how the heck am I responding to my external world right now. Life in general will provide more than enough learning opportunities to practice this and raising children has been an especially fertile ground for me to discover more!
At the time of writing, my 14 year old son Oliver was on his “end of middle school”, 8th grade trip this week. Five whole days in Washington D.C. with friends, classmates and chaperones exploring a big, new city, staying in dorms, navigating transit routes, visiting museums and monuments, seeing a show – a glimpse outside of the Vermont bubble. He’s been away with grandparents and his younger brother before for two weeks at a time, so I’m used to his absence. However, this trip feels different…a little closer to the real deal. Only 4 more years till he graduates high school, then heading off to college or work…somewhere in this big world of ours other than right here at home with me.
I let myself feel the emotion that was rising while I watched him gather with his friends and head off for his big adventure. Even though I was feeling excited for him and proud of him, even though I didn’t feel tears coming, the emotions I felt still had an element of constriction in my body. That may just be how I happen to experience any emotion in general, hmmm, curious about that!
I took my time heading back to my car, arms swinging gently, some fuller breaths and I consciously “walked” out the constriction that had reflexively come into my body. I acknowledged how grateful I am that Oliver feels comfortable in his own skin, is eager to be with friends and is excited to explore new places. This re-set was just what I needed – I had paid attention to the inner landscape of constriction that happened during this little letting go of Oliver and I was then able to “let go” inside myself. His trip got me thinking about all the other little letting go’s I’ve done along the way as a mom and how I physically, emotionally and mentally responded to them.
There are the typical ones: giving birth, first day of preschool, first time getting on the bus, first trip away with the grandparents, first plane ride on their own, first time they don’t want to hold your hand around other people, first time they won’t give you a kiss in front of their friends (I consider myself lucky – both my boys are pretty good with showing affection).
There are also other moments when I realized I need to let go of my pattern around something because it is NOT helping the situation! The discomfort I feel when my kids argue is a perfect example. I jump 20 years into the future and worry that they won’t have a close relationship and will loose touch. I feel the physical sensations of the concern that their current, (very sweet) brotherly connection will be forgotten – as if it never happened. What? Why am I holding that fear of what may be in my body now? Why am I getting short and feeling like crap over something that probably won’t even happen? Oliver actually helped me with this one tremendously.
Paying attention to my breath and body has become my internal gauge that helps me let go. Pretty much 100% of the time when my thinking mind and emotions are conflicted with something, my muscles are all wrapped up in it too. This habituated response of small or large amounts of breath holding and muscular tension can become how I interact with the rest of my day. I can start feeling more stressed out. Luckily, I understanding how deeply stressed out my body is when this happens and take some steps to chill out.
This may sound like a strange question, but it’s what I ask myself sometimes when I’m in a challenging moment. Am I a fist or a hand extended? Am I meeting my kids, my partner, the world around me with rigidness and holding or am I meeting them and life with an openness that has room to give. It requires me to wriggle my body a bit – to literally relax my muscles and to take a couple conscious breaths.
It’s not easy – getting to know the internal landscape, paying attention to it and trying out something different – because it requires some effort and focus. We live in a super fast, constantly go, go, go society. Paying attention to my internal landscape is fruitful and helps me meet the little, big and seemingly unbearable letting go’s that come throughout life.
I’be been sharing this idea of internal landscape with my boys. My hope is that they gain some skill around these inner glimpses of themselves now so they are familiar with it as they venture outward in their lives, as they interact with others and as they become the men they will choose to be.
To learn more about how this subject of letting go relates specifically to pregnancy, birth and beyond I will be teaching “Movement and Breath for Pregnancy, Birthand Beyond” during Birth Love Family’s LunaSpeaks, June 26th at 8pm.
By, Amy LePage
Amy LePage is a IAYT-certified yoga therapist, somatic movement educator and holistic childbirth educator. Her business, Emerge withAmy LePage, is based in Montpelier, Vermont. She also works with distance clients on-line. Amy offers mothers and families experience and education about therapeutic benefits of movement, breath and greater physical and emotional awareness during pregnancy, birth, postpartum, raising a family and every day living. She also works outside of the realm of childbirth – offering everyone education around Functional Movement as a Yoga Therapist and innate reflexive patterns as a Somatic Movement Educator.