How much of your energy, do you think, do you dedicate to bracing yourself against the world?
You may have to look closely and quietly for a while to find this out.
It may not be at all obvious.
We all learn to brace, in one way or another, from when we’re very young, to protect ourselves from experiences that are overwhelming. Later, our bracing continues, long after it has ceased to be a useful or necessary protection. And in our bracing is much of our stuckness, much of our tuning out, and many of our habitual, automatic, numbing reactions to the world and to people.
Where to look for all this? In the tightness of your jaw, the scrunching of your eyes and cheeks, the contraction in your chest or in your belly, the crossing of your arms, that slight but definite collapse in the middle that hunches your back, in the way you raise the angle of your head so you look – at some distance – down your nose at the world, in the constriction in your throat when you speak.
All of these bodily responses – and there are many more – are subtle but powerful ways of holding your experience of the world at bay. Most of us are hardly in contact with what’s around us and we’ve barely seen how much effort we’re putting in to not being hurt, or upset, or worried, or afraid, or seen.
If you want to relate deeply to others and to your own life there can be fewer more immediate steps than discovering the bracing holds you live in day to day and gradually working to release them.