We were sitting in a beautiful circle and a pattern emerged. As each woman spoke, there was almost an unspoken code of apology. It began with a verbal apology for talking too long or saying too much but what stood out to me was the body language. As each woman ended her vulnerable soliloquy, a hand would fly up as though to push others away or to physically cut themselves off from connecting.
Our arms and our hands are the somatic extensions of our hearts. It is through our arms that we communicate our receptivity to intimacy. It is through our arms that we embrace or push away. I found myself wondering why this action was so programmed into the human psyche, especially for those of us who identify as female.
Our hearts hold so much. In yoga philosophy, the heart is the location of the heart-mind (the Citta), the place where we hold our grief, our joy, our sorrow, and our desire for connection. It is through the heart that we connect with others BUT we can only do so if we are connected with ourselves.
We are inundated in our culture with messaging that tells us that we are not good enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, not young enough, not pretty enough. . . It isn't hard to understand why connection can feel so inaccessible and why for many of us, self-love, self-compassion, and self-acceptance feel absolutely foreign.
But they REALLY do not have to be.
Instead of listening to those same voices who tell you that you are not good enough and who tell you that you 'should' go through some drastic change; I would like to quietly challenge that concept. Instead, I invite you to explore one small change.
The next time you are around people, pay attention to your body language. If you are lucky enough to have someone with whom you feel comfortable with, start with them. As you talk, just notice how you hold your body and be curious about the messages that you are sending. If, like the women that I mentioned, you have a tendency to feel uncomfortable when it is your turn to speak, challenge that. Is it that the person you are with does not want to hear what you have to say or is it the programming that you have received that tells you this? If the latter is true, I challenge you to call yourself on it. Acknowledge your behavior out loud and give yourself permission for a retake.
Instead of putting your hand up in a defensive posture where you push the other person away, place your hand on your heart, intentionally breathe into your belly, and then tell the other person, 'Thank you for listening to me.'
This is how embodied change happens. We change how we hold our bodies and that changes our entire story. It gives us a new narrative that we communicate to not just the world, but to ourselves. Because really, when it comes to connection, we can only connect with others to the extent that we connect with ourselves.