My personal theme for 2018 was “root to rise,” a phrase I borrowed from yoga teacher Adriene Mishler. She often uses this phrase when moving from a forward fold into mountain pose.
Last year, I wanted nothing more than to feel as steady and sure as a mountain. My internal landscape at the time I chose the phrase for myself was anything but—I was constantly reactive, triggered, and felt deeply insecure. I grasped and grasped at the things around me—my work, my intimate relationship, my friendships—trying to steady myself.
Spoiler alert: none of those things worked. Or they worked superficially or temporarily, but the insecurity always returned. I felt like a bucket with a bunch of holes in it: I couldn’t stay filled.
I don’t know how or when it occurred to me, but it did: I needed to fix my bucket. I was the bucket. I am the vessel. And by fix I mean: heal.
I have been in therapy on and off since I was 16 when I had my first major depressive episode.
I have a master’s degree in community counseling and spent 6 additional years training to be a therapist at the doctoral level. I have been intentionally honing my self-awareness and getting to know my emotional landscape through mindfulness and meditation for the past almost 10 years.
But there were parts of my trauma and history and experiences that all of that talk therapy and self-work and mindfulness practice couldn’t touch.
Also, in case anyone forgot: I’m trans. Which means that it’s been a journey in and of itself to come into my body—to see it as home. To feel like it’s a place I want to be.
In April of 2018, I started seeing a new therapist who specializes in trauma work and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with the very serious intention of healing my unprocessed trauma. I believed that my life could be different—that I could feel freedom from near-constant activation, fear, and shame. I felt like I could never get out from under my trauma. I had to believe that there was a way through.
Coming into my body has been the way through.
EMDR, combined with regular exercise, yoga practice, and intentionally feeling my feelings (and moving them through) has changed my life.
January was a challenging month in a lot of ways—I was really ready to be done with all of the shit that went down in 2018, but I had an important lesson to revisit last month: my body is my anchor.
Period. Not anything or anyone else.
There have been massive shifts in my world recently: changes in my support network, financial stress, a new job, a new intimate relationship, continued trauma work in therapy. Oh, and the holidays were in there too.
I spent the second half of December and most of January feeling activated, which for me means: reactive, insecure, triggered, unmoored.
And for most of those weeks, I fell back into familiar ways of dealing with those familiar feelings:
self-judgment, shame, blame, and grasping. The more I tried to change my feelings or not feel them or judge them, the more out of control I felt. I felt exasperated because I felt so disconnected from my intuition and inner source of knowing. I felt lost and alone and confused.
Things reached a head around the weekend of the full moon eclipse in Leo, and I made the conscious choice that weekend to stop, to pause, and to go inward. I made very few plans and focused on resting, nourishing myself, and slowing down enough to figure out what was happening for me.
At the end of the weekend, I felt reconnected to myself in a way I hadn’t since early December. And it reminded me that I am the vessel, and my body is the anchor. Presence and making space for myself and my feelings are the things that keep me rooted.
It was an important and necessary lesson to remember.
My personal theme this year is “ready for lift off,” and I needed to remember that a solid foundation is one of the things that makes flying possible. That shuttles have launch pads. Airplanes have runways. We need ground first in order to soar.
For me, one aspect of that ground is being in my body. For making space for all that’s happening there.
I know that this is no easy task, especially for those of us who have a hard time being in our bodies for various reasons. Bodies can be unsafe, painful, and terrifying places to be.
And I believe it’s the way through.
It’s the way through healing.
It has the answer to the thing you’ve been struggling with.
It holds any of the wisdom you are seeking or don’t even know you’re seeking yet.
It is your anchor.
Questions for reflection as we move through this month:
-What is your relationship to your body / how do you feel about your body?
-Are there other things/practices in your life that you would consider anchors?
-What are some ways that you currently nurture and care for your body?
-If you have a challenging relationship with your body, are there small ways that you could begin to shift that?
For a meditation on using your body as an anchor, listen to my free meditation below or here.
With much love and gratitude,