A few days ago, I saw and shared a beautifully filmed video on Facebook about massage. But its loveliness is not really what struck me – Ben’s words about massage being a way to allow a body to become present, a way to allow a person to occupy more of his body’s space – these words what resonated so deeply that I decided to share the video.
Space is critical to a healthy, integrated life. Without space, there is no creativity, no ease, often no presence. The phrase “room to breathe” represents a real need. Busy-ness, clutter, lives full of ideas of obligations, of things we “need” to do leave no space or time for the things that truly sustain us. Perceived expectations, desire to please others, social expectations and our own fears often steer us away from what is genuine in our hearts, in the core of our beings. And in the discomfort of that distance, we pack our lives full of distractions and and activities and things, which never seem to truly satisfy. I have, anyway, and still struggle sometimes.
There are so many practices which can create space. For me, these are meditation, yoga, gardening, cooking. I love sharing these things with others, partly because they allow room for so much joy for me, and partly with the hope of helping others find their own spaces, in which they can live whatever life their hearts speak of.
I recently participated in a workshop in which we were led through meditations on various aspects of our selves – male and female, judge and feeler. In each, we were invited to visualize the place that this aspect lived, where it was, what it looked like, smelled like, contained… My female self was surrounded by a cottage style garden – life all a jumble in organic chaos, but maintained and healthy and thriving. What was interesting to me were the words I used to describe the place: “Everything has enough space and that space is maintained and defended if necessary” (by my feminine aspect of self). Each growing thing living in harmony, growing to it’s fullest healthy expression, but not at the cost of something else’s well being.
Becoming present in the body allows us to hear what our bodies need, to feel what parts of ourselves we have tensed, tightened, or withdrawn from participation in the life our body experiences. Yoga and massage both soothe those parts – invite them to breathe fully, to relax, to let go of tension, to resume full occupation of the space that muscle or area should have in the body.
Creation of space in the body where there previously wasn’t enough invites observation, to notice the circumstances around our choices that cramp our space – to clench teeth, for example, in response to holding one’s tongue. It’s hard to notice this pattern, if your jaw is constantly clenched. But let it release, let there be space in the mouth and tongue, and you will more likely notice the next time you clench your jaw again. Then, if there is also space in the mind, you can investigate what triggered your body to clench the jaw. Space in the mind means to allow yourself inquiry without self-deprecation, without discounting what you find, in spite of whatever ideas of “should” you hold. When you identify that holding your tongue for whatever reason often results in clenching your jaw, then, if there is also space in your spirit, you can investigate what need you are denying yourself, when you hold your tongue. It could be self-expression, it could be validation of self-worth, it could be any number of things.
When you are able to move through this cycle and find a way to give yourself what your body, mind and spirit need, magic happens. Creativity, ease, presence happen. And the video is a lovely expression of that. Find it here.