This week I’ve been spending time people who have felt really tender-hearted and vulnerable. They have been having experiences of noticing that they lose their focus, or they have a really foggy mind. At the same time, it feels really painful to be right where they are.
Sometimes they pick up a strategy to get really busy, in order to distract their mind from the pain. Because when we use our focusing attention network, it actually shuts off their default mode network. The part of us that is always rehashing our whole life and wanting us to be able to do more than survive. But we want to survive first.
When we have had trauma in our life, our default mode network can become vicious. It’s doing it’s best to protect us from further harm. When we get really busy and we focus our attention intently, it seems as if the pain is numbed out.
What’s really happening inside is it’s like putting a big blanket over the top of the right hemisphere’s amygdala and it seems to quiet it. It’s more like a disconnect that’s happening. Because underneath that blanket, the felt-sense of you is left writhing in the pain, yet it’s not being acknowledged.
What that can do is end up feeling like it builds, so when you are not busy anymore, it comes back with a vengeance. So, I want to slow down and take a pause for that, with compassion. Because that’s tough to experience. Especially when we haven’t had any accompaniment that understands what’s happening for us. So that we can begin to understand what is happening within us. Because it doesn’t seem like it makes any sense.
We can slip into shame, or make ourselves wrong, or bad. We are really needing to have an experience where these very tender and young feeling parts feel it’s safe to receive acknowledgement. That they do make sense, and they can trust that they will be understood, and seen, and heard fully and completely. And, that no harm will come to them for having dared to speak their truth.
It can feel really hard to experience this all by yourself. Yet I know it is possible, on this journey of life, to find pockets of support. To find warm, resonance, with your felt-sense of experience. And to develop your capacity to warmly focus your attention, with intention. The power is where we focus our attention, our energy then follows that. So when we have warm accompaniment, it empowers us to develop that capacity within us.
We can learn, through the experience of being held softly, gently, with so much care, and yet also, with precision. Precision laced with exquisite grace. Because when we have really tender parts, that have not been fully heard or felt by another being, we don’t need to be in a hurry. We get to develop our capacity to slow time down. To allow these parts of us to experience something different.
It’s like, if there is a doormat, what does the doormat cover up? Sometimes in our life, experiences happen, and we put a mat over the top of them because we are trying to protect ourselves from that pain. When we have accompaniment that has the capacity to be gentle, and yet still have precision with how we pay attention, then we start to learn how to peek under that mat. To notice what’s there, what’s waiting to be discovered? What’s waiting to be found and welcomed home?
When this happens then we start to develop new mindsets. Instead of, “I’m not safe. I don’t matter. I’m not important. I don’t belong.” We begin to know that we make sense! No wonder it was so uncomfortable before. It’s possible to relax and learn new ways of being. I am safe after all, and I am able to be kind to myself.
A practice that can support this is to slow it down. To begin to recognize what seems to be against you. It might just be this felt-sense, but when we can slow time down, we can start to step into the flavor of that experience. Instead of trying to rush through it, or push it away, or hide it again.
When we can slow down to recognize what seems to be against you, it could be a relationship, or it could be a life experience. It could even be your own image of yourself, or of another.
It’s important to be really gentle with yourself, as you begin to unpack this. If this resonates with you, I encourage you to begin to write it out. In order to help slow it down and unpack it very slowly, and not to be in a hurry, because there is no hurry. When you have had this type of felt-experience, you’ve had it awhile. So, we can take our time with it and be really gentle, and that in itself begins to give your body a new experience. An experience that it’s been waiting for, and probably feeling like it would be impossible to ever experience.
I do get this, because this has been my past experience. And, through repeated experiences of being gently held with resonant empathy, right where I’m at, I’m now right here, willing and able to be a resource for others.