I was in a yoga class last week when the teacher said something like “Notice the spot where you feel tightness, touch it, acknowledge it, let it know you feel it so it doesn’t have to produce a stress response.”
One simple statement. A million implications.
Not only did my mind go to the spot in my hip where I felt the tightness and being to consciously relax it, it also started spinning with the myriad of situations where you could apply the same technique of validation: your body, thoughts, feelings, relationships, children….. the list went on. Such a simple technique…. to notice where the stress is coming from, whether it is a whisper of pain in the body, a niggling feeling of nervousness about a conversation, an intuitive hit about an upcoming meeting, a child’s cry for attention, a passive-aggressive look from a spouse. Sometimes, all is needed is to touch it, acknowledge the pain, and the whisper doesn’t feel the need to turn into a roar. That may be only required response to melt the pain or emotion, or it may prompt a softer, less defensive, more compassionate action than you would normally find yourself doing.
It reminded me of a story I read once about a stepfather whose stepson had recently come back from a weekend visit with his maternal grandparents, where his mostly absent biological father was apt to drop in unannounced. It was Sunday night and he asked his stepson to get ready for bed, who completely ignored his request. Asked him again kindly. Not a movement. One more time, getting frustrated. Nada. Finally, the father interrupted what the boy was doing and shuffled him in the direction of the bedroom. The son reacted, full-out screaming and kicking. The father stopped and assessed, ready to pounce. But something stopped him this time. He reached out, acknowledging the overflowing emotion the boy was feeling, likely a mixture of rage, sadness and abandonment. He held him, sobbing relentlessly, until he quietened, the pot empty, and went about the business of getting to bed.
If you are a parent you know this story could easily have gone another way. Not to say there isn’t a time for boundary setting, rules and limits. But there is also a time to touch, acknowledge and be a container for yourself or someone else’s pain so they don’t have to produce a stress response.
What whispers, emotionally or physically, do you need to bring some mindful attention to? A little validation can be a radical act of generosity.
Have a great week everyone! Tune in next week to discover some of the biggest mindblocks to happiness.
“Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.” ~Joan Borysenko