The Loss of Our Inner Free Spirit
Not to get too political, but life in a capitalist society requires us to always be on the go. I'm sure if you really looked at how you spent the 168 hours of the week, most of that time would be allotted to school, work and sleep. There is so much of the in-between, though, that gets lost in the day-to-day. Constant anxiety about what comes next causes us to neglect our free spirit. It's almost primal that humans long to feel the need to connect their inner world with the outer world.
When the intention is not placed on finding freedom in the day, it gets lost easily. If you really think back to this past week, did you have any moments where you stopped? Did you set aside time to look inward, to connect to the world, to breathe?
The Importance of Mindfulness for Relational Trauma
I'm sure that we've all heard of the benefits of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness can reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health concerns. It can also help with physical health issues. However, how do the principles of mindfulness help to heal relational trauma?
When we think about it, avoidance is the number one cause of the maintenance of PTSD and trauma symptoms. The opposite of avoidance is to be present, to confront. This is mindfulness. Relational trauma may cause you to overachieve to prove to yourself or your family that you are good enough. It might also cause you to use substances to avoid the painful memories of abuse or neglect.
Being interconnected with ourselves allows us to recognize our own needs. It can help us to notice the way that we've been neglecting ourselves. Being mindful also aids in self-healing. It allows the opportunity to tune in to your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Something that your caregivers did not give to you during your childhood. A reparenting of sorts. Acknowledging the want for freedom and slowness is an act of self-love.
Let's Practice Together
You may be curious about how you could fit self-connection into your already packed day. However, being mindful doesn't require you to change your schedule. You can practice the principles of mindfulness right now. An article on Jupiter.com provides a helpful, short script for quick practice.
Let's try together:
"It’s time to give your thinking mind a break. Gently prepare yourself for this. Sit down either on the earth or floor or a chair. Sit yourself comfortably, but keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
You are safe and alive in only this moment. Don’t let it slip away from you. Bring your awareness to what you are sitting on, be it the earth or a chair, and focus on those parts of the body that are directly supported by the ground. Your buttocks, your thighs. Feel them grow heavy and feel the ground rise up to hold them.
Close your eyes. Stay here for five deep, long breaths. You are home. You are safe.
After these five breaths, travel up the body and bring your attention to the chest. Here, take another ten deep breaths and feel your lungs expand with each one, until you can identify a feeling of fullness in your body. Grab onto that sensation of fullness and place it somewhere safe in your body. Carry it with you throughout your day and return to this fullness whenever you feel stressed with one, deep breath." (https://getjupiter.com/best-free-grounding-meditation-scripts/)
How did that feel? Connect with your body. Did you return right back to being tense? Do you notice any emotions come up? What color, shape, or picture does this emotion represent internally?
Ways to Introduce Connection In a Busy World
Schedule it in your day. Just like you have a calendar and a to-do list for tasks, add your mindfulness practice to it. Like I said above, it doesn't have to be an hour-long yoga sequence but adding any activity that connects you to yourself at least a little bit each day is important. Think about replacing one mindless activity (binging Netflix, mindless scrolling) with self-connection.
Find your favorite mindful activity. Not everyone can meditate like Gandhi and that's okay. I've heard from so many clients that clearing the mind completely feels impossible. However, there are a lot of other mindfulness and somatic practices that do not include a totally blank mind. Some examples include visualizations, guided meditations, breathing exercises, movement of some kind, tapping, and therapy.
Allow yourself a day with no plans. This looks like having one day as often as you can where you honestly have no plans. To feel truly connected to your inner desires and free spirit, clear your calendar for the day. Pick a day where you have no to-do's, appointments, or work to be done. Let yourself run wild with spontaneity. However, don't be surprised if this also causes anxiety or fear. Productivity as worthfulness is rooted in relational trauma.
Practice with your therapist/friend/family. If you struggle with feeling connected to yourself and cannot find other times to incorporate mindfulness, find someone who can help keep you accountable for it. Ask your therapist to include mind-body connection practices at the end of your session. Go to a yoga class with a friend. Make plans to take a walk with your family. Inform your support team about your desire to tune in more with yourself.
So, with all of this, what is one way you can honor slowness in your life and connect with yourself today?