There are days. Sometimes it’s the cold, gray bluster of winter. Sometimes it’s worries about a fragile friend or a limping relationship or the fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Sometimes it’s a long stream of sadnesses flowing dangerously close to home.
Whatever it is, there are days that swamp my little boat.
I feel it in my gut like wet rags: a soggy center that folds in on itself.
Lucky for me, I have a most excellent loving partner and a bevy of kind, understanding friends who stand at the ready to shore me up. Thank the goodnesses since some days I feel like I need someone to hold my hand to get me through breakfast.
I am also blessed with a damn fine therapist who helps me find ways of supporting my very own self. He encourages me to ask for help and support and also reminds me that I can’t control anybody but me (dammit!). So when things feel tough and I’ve got rags in my tummy and my little boat is filled to the gunnels, he suggests that I do things to support myself. A cup of my favorite decaf genmaicha tea. A walk in nature. Music (even better with videos that include bunnies and hedgehogs and Brits in their undies).
Support from the inside. It’s the way our physical bodies are designed: strength from center. Of the two lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula, the stronger is on the inside of the leg. The strongest toe is the one closest to the mid-line. The strongest part of the rib cage is the sternum, the section that runs front and center.
It’s essential to know what my external resources are. Who can I call in the middle of the night? How much do we really have in savings? Where did I put that extra chocolate?
Even more, though, how can I support myself from the inside ~ body, mind and emotions.
Since starting a practice of hot yoga in 2013 and more recently Power Vinyasa with Kelly Stine, my core awareness has dramatically increased. I can feel the balance and grace that is (a little more) available I engage the support available in my core muscles, particularly my low core. As I move and lift and dance, I can buoy myself from the inside. (Yogis call this internal engagement bandhas or locks.) Beyond my belly, when I walk and balance, I can root through the strength of my big toe and inner leg. And when I push into downward facing dog or high plank (or heaven help me, crow), I can press into the strength of my thumb and inner hand. Support is at the core.
For my mind, nothing offers internal support like meditation. In the rush and tumble of busy-ness, my mind can easily lose its bearings. Taking a few minutes to watch my thoughts instead of being carried away by them, is a way I can support myself ~ even if my mind is as wild as a drunken monkey being bitten by a scorpion. (My new favorite app is Insight Timer which not only offers a meditation timer, but a wide selection of guided meditations and ways to connect with other meditators in your area and around the world.) Support comes from inside.
Emotional support can look different depending on what’s happening: movement and meditation are both helpful, as is writing, creative expression and spending time out under the open sky. Talking to compassionate listeners like the aforementioned partner, friends and damned fine therapist helps me move emotional energy, too. And as an act of core support, I choose those people with care.
How is your little boat these days? When you find yourself submerged by a major tsunami or a series of rolling breakers, definitely get clear on what external support you can tap into. But also ask yourself how you can create internal support for you from you.
The best way to bail the boat is from the inside out.