Saturday, May 4, 2013

The banshees can't steal your floor.

Drawing by Kim Schrag, from Unbound Art, Embracing Life
What about those mornings when you want to shave your head and strip naked because your hairs and sweater collude in a malicious itch attack on your face? And then the cushion beneath you condenses into a rigid plank in some kind of proletariat protest against your bourgeois glutes. And then your legs decide to secede from this unhappy union with two petulant swoons into perversely numb uselessness. These are the mornings when life is a yarn-ball of discomfort.

Your mental banshees decide today's no ceasefire day, so instead of greeting you with their usual DMZ kabuki of non-hostile animosity, they fly around your skull rafters, toppling your cognitive filing cabinets and triggering your parasympathetic fire alarms. You can't get comfortable. You feel angsty for no reason. Your muscles tense. You want to scratch your skin off, and dear-pistachio-and-peanut-farmers-everywhere your spouse better not give you any dubious looks for a good hour and a half.

These mornings are hard. They can set everything askew, making any attempts at peace and serenity turbulent.

One good trick for diffusing these crackling lightning storms of "I hate you wool fibers, get the Frederic Fekkai off me" irritation is grounding to your felt sense of self.

"Grounding" is standard practice in somatic therapy. The goal of grounding is to find inner sensory resources and distance from overwhelming stimulus. The "felt sense of self" is a "pre-verbal sense of 'something'" (thank you Wikipedia) comprising you, an "inner knowledge or awareness" of your whole being. It is "experienced in the body" and is "not the same as an emotion." The quick and dirty is, grounding in your felt sense of self can improve your feeling of calm, stability, boundary and strength.

So let's give it a whirl. (Curse you mind-banshees, curse you to Customer Service at T.J.Maxx.)

Grounding to the Felt Sense of Self  

(Note: If you suffer from severe PTSD or similarly overwhelming disorders, it may be best to attempt this only in the company of a trusted professional.) 

1) Sit in a comfortable chair in a safe place with your feet flat on the ground.

2) Notice the floor beneath your feet. Notice it supporting you. Scrub your feet around if you need. Notice any comfortable, supportive feeling associated with your awareness of the floor.

3) Notice the sensation of the chair supporting you. Feel the fabric or material. Find any comfortable, supporting feeling associated with your awareness of the chair.

4) Notice any other comfortable sensations in your body. Focus on them. Are your knee muscles relaxed? Notice that. Does your chest feel open? Focus on that.

5) Try to expand these feelings of awareness all over your body. If you feel any physical or emotional discomfort, return your focus to the comfortable parts of your body (the supportive floor, those loose knees, that open chest) and keep your focus there. Try to expand the feeling again until you can do so without predominant discomfort. (It's okay if you can't do this comfortably. If you can't, allow yourself just to notice where you are comfortable.)

6) Try to expand this feeling all over you, including your parts beyond your body, like your mind and your soul, etc.

7) Rest in this awareness until an all-encompassing feeling of your "sense of self" forms in your mind and body. Rest in that as long as you want.

And you're done.

Hopefully, at this point, the banshees will be Ritalined back to bed, the hairs and sweater will have relaxed into more Gandhian compassion, and the cushion, glutes and legs will have reformed a more peaceful union. If so, wonderful. Go have a blessed day.

If not, then God help us all.

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