As per doctor’s orders, I spent the afternoon studying TRE from the various YouTube videos available and in the evening I practiced, aware that there was no more avoiding what I had successfully managed to put off all day if I wished to keep my promise to both my body and the friend who had prescribed it to me as part of an energy share.
I spread a blanket on the floor, placed a pillow at its top, shut the blinds and dimmed the lights so that it felt intimate and private. Then I put on some music, (in this case Kirtan Mantras– this music is truly divine), and walked to the wall.
Step 1: the forced surrender
• stand with your back against the wall
• squat as if you are sitting on a chair
• hold this position for 1 minute
Determined to be a good student, I pressed my back up against the wall, exerting enough pressure to stay stuck. Then, satisfied I was safe, slid down, finding the described squat. The seconds ticked. I waited: 10, 20, 30… All fine, nothing too painful, nothing too hard to endure. And then, BANG!, I hit 40 and my legs complained, shaking as heat seared through them, urging me to surrender, calling me towards the floor.
Step 2: the passive surrender
• lie on your back with your knees bent, feet together
• allow your knees to fall open as wide as they can go in a relaxed manner
• relax your arms, letting them rest by your hips, several inches out from your body
• have your palms facing up
• allow quivering or tremors to express as they like
• if it gets too intense, take a break, extending your legs straight out
• at the end, lie in a relaxed position for several minutes
As before, I adopted the instructed position and relaxed, doing my best to get out of the way. It was hard; I could tell I was anxious: embracing the unknown is not something I am especially good at.
I waited, wondering what I was letting myself in for and whether I would be the exception to the rule, the first person unable to allow for the natural release. For several minutes nothing happened and I wondered if maybe I should force it. And then I felt my legs start to shake: gentle, almost invisibly, but definitely there.
Over the course of the following hour many things happened. I had anticipated the exercise taking perhaps five minutes, ten at most. But it evolved, my body taking over, and it seemed a shame to stop, to suppress what I had spent a lifetime refusing to acknowledge, own or let out.
I’m not really sure about all of it. A lot happened. And much of what happened was completely different from the examples I had watched. It was like my body took on a life of its own, taking me on a personal journey through not only this life but others as well.
I recall being a panther: powerful, feminine and proud; clawing, snarling, defending what was mine.
And I recall being buried alive, although this only became apparent when I translated what my hands and arms were expressing to me. A frantic scratching and scraping against an invisible barrier. Fear and panic in my heart. A knowing without knowing why that I was fighting for my life.
There was also a lot of flipping and flopping and twisting and turning and stretching and shaking and juddering and gliding from various body parts. At one point, I was even hitting myself: banging my chest, attempting to get something out. And I heaved too, almost hyperventilating: a physical expression of panic without the emotion attached – similar to a smile without warmth, a hug without heart, a compliment without the corresponding thought of sincerity. At times, it felt a bit Exorcist-like, but I wasn’t alarmed. I felt safe: in the space, with my body. I understood it’s needs. I knew what was stuck had to come out.
When it finally slowed, almost every part of me had moved in some undirected way, articulating something personal and private, something it had lovingly held in order to keep me safe. And I was aware, too, of how much hurt there was, how much fear and unforgiveness. No wonder I harbour the following beliefs:
• the world is a scary place
• bad things happen to good people
• it’s not safe to love
• it’s not safe to trust
• it’s dangerous to be vulnerable
• those you love will either betray you, let you down, leave you or die
• you cannot depend on anyone, least of all yourself, etc.
Obviously, there is work to do. And there’s more releasing, too. I feel like I only just got started, taking the first sip of an ocean, the first step on the mountain path. But it’s an important start and the continuation of a relatively new process, one in which I step out of the way and, from inside, really listen to what my body has to say, following the guidance of its ancient wisdom as to how to best heal and advance myself. Only then will I return to the place I used to inhabit: a place where a phone ringing is a harmless noise, a car horn just that, where raised voices do not necessarily signify violence, and an accidental bump in the street doesn’t warrant the need for me to defend against an attack. For now, there is at least recognition and knowing, an awareness of the unresolved causing me to react. And in this awareness, there is power. Wow!
In committing to a regular practice, I can safeguard against further buildup and slowly work to release all that has been held and suppressed. The body is amazing. I am truly in awe of the messages it holds and the experiences we have recently shared. And I am humbled too, for it has carried so much, protecting me from things I wasn’t able at the time to take.
I am sad that I keep on adding to the burdens it bears, that life continues to challenge and at times upend me. But I am positive too, for this is the closest we have ever been to a resolution. Previously, there was just sand.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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