As women our lives ebb and flow in cycles and rhythms. When we begin to menstruate, when we give birth, when we transition through menopause we go through tremendous shifts in how we define ourselves. The underlying structure of who we thought we were dissolves on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during these life passages. In the process of these transformations we often feel like we are in a void and struggle to grasp a sense of who we are when we don’t even know what we are becoming. In adolescence we scrambled to define ourselves and how to fit it. In motherhood we relinquished that sense of definition we found in our youth in order to care for and love our children and families. In menopause as the nest empties we are again faced with redefining “who am I now?”. Not only does our definition of ourselves alter, but our physiology and our emotional bandwidth changes. And on top of these major transmutations our relationships may end, we may experience loss when our loved ones succumb to illness and age, when our children pass to the other side before us, leaving us feeling life is a fleeting, fragile crystal that can shatter at any given moment.
In this high tech world it is easy to get distracted with all the electronic options modern society has to offer. A few clicks and your off to what feels very different than your unsettledness, emptiness, pain or the helter-skelter feelings of your transition. The demon of distraction is like moving the furniture around on the deck of the Titanic. Things look and feel different on the surface but your whole being is still swirling in a chaotic whirlpool underneath.
So how do we find our core when we don’t even know who we are, or its too painful to even visit what we are feeling? How do we get in a good relationship with ourselves when we feel messy? Mindfulness practice. That’s the term everyone knows, but I want to call it EMBODIMENT time. The transitions I spoke about above involve our bodies as well as our emotions and mind. I think when many people approach mindfulness their immediate experience is overwhelming watching their crazy thoughts ping from past to future without a second for presence. While this is a component of mindfulness it is important to embrace our emotional and physical bodies to form an integrated relationship with ourselves. When we involve the physicality of the breath, along with honoring our emotional states by allowing them to BE the mind becomes centered in the experience of experiencing . You form a relationship with yourself that is visceral, palpable, grounded and secure—no matter what you are experiencing. You come into awareness of your truth and what is right for you. “Oh I can’t sit. “ I hear you. When I began practice under my mentor I made it a whole 2 minutes. But like anything in life that is worthwhile it requires time and attention. Working in groups has always helped me and there are many local resources for group meditation. When we give attentiveness to ourselves in the form of practice, the fruits expand exponentially in greater knowingness of who we are and what we are feeling. In relaxing deeply into who we are we can expand our consciousness into who we are becoming smoothing the chaos of difficult feelings and life transitions.