By: Starielle Hope
If you’ve read parts one through three of this series you’ve learned to recognize emotions as physical sensations inside of your body, and learned to notice the physical sensations before you are even necessarily aware of the emotions that accompany them. In this part, I will show you how you can begin to incorporate the next level of intentionality into your way of being.
We are human animals and we have instincts. Without intention, we will act purely on instinct which may or may not serve us in any given moment. For example, you may feel hunger and look up to see a donut shop in front of you. Your instincts will say, “Yes! High caloric density we want that NOW!”
I’m certainly not here to tell you whether a donut serves you or not, I think there are plenty of occasions where eating a donut is the best choice you could possibly make. But not always. And I’m here to help you make that decision clearly for yourself.
Sometimes we act on instincts we don’t even understand. For example, let’s say you were sitting in that restaurant from our last post, waiting for your partner who is late. Maybe you become so frustrated and annoyed that you just leave the restaurant. You ignore the calls and texts from your partner, you avoid the situation entirely and decide the relationship is over.
Maybe this was the right move, maybe your partner truly doesn’t respect you or your time and leaving and ending the relationship was a way to take your power back. Or maybe your partner’s boss has a tendency to keep him or her late at work and your partner actually has no control over it, respects you deeply, and feels terrible every time he or she is late.
If you care about someone, wouldn’t it make sense to give them an opportunity to explain themselves? Logically, yes of course, but instincts are not necessarily logical.
Back to this hypothetical partner you cared about deeply and who was a wonderful match for you in so many ways. In this scenario, you ended it because you thought he or she didn’t care about you. In fact, you find out months later after the relationship is over and your ex has moved on, that the lateness was due to factors outside of their control and they had cared about you the whole time.
You might wonder, “Why the hell did I do that? Why didn’t I give them a chance to tell their side of the story or a chance to make it up to me?”
I see this in romantic comedies all the time and it’s beyond frustrating to me how often people don’t give each other a chance to explain themselves, or say what they really mean and how they really feel. But this is a very real and true phenomenon that happens all the time in real life relationships as well. Why? Instinct.
Somewhere along the way we may have learned that someone being late means they don’t love us, or that someone disrespecting us by being late is unsafe and we have to protect ourselves by any means necessary. This instinct takes over, and we run away and ignore calls or attempts to reconnect.
This can be incredibly confusing. Sometimes, the thing we fear is entirely legitimate and we want to trust these “red flags”, set boundaries that protect our needs that prevent us from being taken advantage of or depleted. And sometimes we are making an action mean something that is entirely created in our minds and doesn’t actually have the same meaning to the other person at all.
By continuing to listen to deeper subtleties of our body’s wisdom, we can cut through the fear, cut through the “meaning” we are inventing because of our past experiences and stories, and overcome our instincts with an even deeper level of intentionality.
To do this, simply try the following meditation:
Step One: Find a quiet place to meditate where you can go inward into your body without distractions.
Step Two: Begin a body scan meditation, starting at the top of your head and tracking any physical sensations you might be feeling in your body, all the way down to your toes.
Step Three: Ask yourself, “Where inside of me does the wisest part of me live right now?” Allow an answer to arrive from your body. Common locations are the heart, gut, or womb, but it can be anywhere. Trust the answer you receive.
Step Four: Bring all of your attention and awareness to this part of your physical body. Place a hand over it, breathe into it, feel its energy, it’s personality.
Step Five: Listen to this part of your body for any guidance it has. You can ask a specific question, such as, “Should I stay in this restaurant even though my date is late, or should I walk out?”
The next time you feel unclear about what to do in a given situation, or your instincts are telling you to do something you’ve done in the past that did not serve you, try slowing down and dropping into this meditation. Play with asking your body different questions, play with asking different parts of your body. Over time the answers will become more clear and more detailed.
Photo by Inna Shnayder