What do you do with your body – probably habitually – to prevent yourself from feeling what you don’t want to feel?
Perhaps you hold your breath (very common), clench your jaw, tighten your belly, slump, slouch, tilt your head back, or knot your arms across your chest.
Or maybe you use habitual movements, ticks or gestures as a way of avoiding feeling something you’d rather not.
In each case it’s a way of tuning out of connection with yourself, with others, and with what’s actually happening. It’s a way of moving away from here in order to feel safe.
I’m learning to see how I do this with my face – a half-smile and scrunching of my eyes and the upper part of my cheeks. It’s rigid and tense, and does its numbing job quite well.
I think the smiling – which of course I can’t see – is how I say to other people “I’m ok, so please don’t bother me”. And the move as a whole is a way of protecting myself from the emotion I most automatically try to avoid: shame.
In every case, when I catch myself doing this, I also find out that It doesn’t feel at all alive. It’s frozen. Dead.
Being alive requires feeling all of it, whatever may come. And relaxing the tight scrunch so I can be fully in the world again.
If you watch yourself for a while, can you tell how you might be using your body to hold yourself away from experiencing life?