We define ourselves by our stories. We tell them, often in the same way, over and over again. We talk about our childhoods and traumas from a fixed perspective. We have our stories of triumph, our stories of pain, and we speak about them as if they make up the fabric of our being. Which, on one hand, they do. We are here in this moment because of choices in the past. We have taken steps and had so many experiences that have led us here.The trauma of the past is informing our subconscious behavior and patterns. We need to see this and have this be seen.
In the beginning, as we begin to unpack and understand why we behave the way we do, it can feel like a lightbulb has gone off. There are major aha moments where we feel seen and validated. There is often a huge relief in this. Finally! I get it! But unless we use this information for our growth and to help us move forward, we can get stuck in this place, using the information as an excuse to stay where we are. We feel justified in why particular experiences are scary for us, avoiding the fear rather than moving into it. (To be clear, when there is trauma involved, we need to turn towards our fears in a conscious and supported way. Be gentle with yourself and your growth. It's not a race, and every step deserves celebration.)
As we move through our day, begin to ask questions and notice the decisions we make. Some we make because we know ourselves well and we know what best supports us. Others we make because we are avoiding something that feels hard. In the beginning, it takes some diligence to recognize this and bring our awareness to it. We can then bring it to the cushion to practice, and then eventually in the moment.
When that old fear or constriction comes up, can you drop the story and feel where the fear is in the body? Can you hold your attention there, not going into the reasons why, but simply staying in the present moment feeling the sensations and the breath? Simple yes, easy no. But when we practice this way, again and again, dropping the story and staying with our bodies, we begin to soften the fear. Presence literally can reverse the effect trauma has on the body and brain. So we learn to stay, from a place of safety.
So, take it as slow as you need to, but keep going. And stay tuned for the next post, Who Are We Without Our Stories?