Empowering Yourself and Your Children -‘Taking Flight’ With Your Body

by Endorsed Coach, Meryl Feldman

How do you empower yourself? How do you empower children? How can we feel safe in such an ever- changing and sometimes crazy world?

Just recently I had the chance to delve into this topic with my children. We were in a taxi on the way to the airport and just by virtue of being ‘trapped’ in the car with me, I held them spellbound as my audience.

Since Mind-body awareness is a topic I hold dear to my heart, I took the opportunity to read a poem about the topic of ‘flight’ from a book called “Trauma Proofing Your Kids” by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline. The poem is called ‘How Fast Can You Run?’ and it’s meant to empower children by helping them tap into their bodily resources of escape and safety.

After I read the poem, my children and I had a wonderful dialogue about how strong their bodies are and the times that they’ve used this strength to leave situations that have felt scary to them.

The poem, in spinning a tale about ‘Rapid the Rabbit’ running so fast away from ‘Coyote’, sets up a framework for discussing what situations a child has felt like running and how powerful they have felt in doing so.

My children shared a few stories of ‘taking flight’ by running from a scare – for one child, it was a bee who had scared them and for another it was an alarm that sounded off in a building; another one was frightened by firecrackers. We talked about how their body felt –  how their heart beat so fast, how their breath came so quickly and how fast their legs carried them.

In all these cases, the children had been able to run. I could hear the confidence in their voices and the relief in their ability to escape. As the authors state, “When kids associate movement with strength and the power to avoid threat, they develop self-esteem that comes from their core. This builds the kind of confidence that remains even when children are under stress because it has become an ‘automatic ‘motor memory.’ (p.71).

My children were lucky in these situations because they had the ability to run.

There are situations, however, in which a child is frightened and not able to run. It could be that at the time of the event – whether it was getting chastised by a parent/teacher or being bullied by a ‘friend’-  they were unable to leave the situation and felt ‘frozen’ in place.  When a child has experienced this, it’s important to help them access their sense of power and their ability to keep themselves safe.

Levine and Kline’s book has poems for dialoguing this ‘frozen’ state because these experiences can become fixated in a child’s cells and show up as anxiety later on.  By conversing with a child and bringing awareness to their bodies, we help empower them to ‘unfreeze’ from the event.

The child most likely felt small, overwhelmed and powerless and though the event has passed, there is a trauma – like condition in their cells. Encouraging the child to be aware of their body and to act out their ability to get away by taking ‘flight’ helps them release the stress of having been frozen in place during the frightening event. Levine and Kline suggest having the child actually run around or even run in place by pumping their legs.  If one is unable to get the child to act out running, even imagining running is helpful.

This mind-body activity with the child helps them to access their ‘flight’ muscles and bodily strength and results in them feeling confident in their own ability to take care of themselves.

As adults too, we may have experienced events in which we felt we ‘couldn’t’ leave a situation that felt overwhelming to us – perhaps being chastised by a boss, or experiencing the anger of an acquaintance. We ‘froze’ in place.

Many of us have an overpowering social sense of ‘trying to do the right thing’ that keeps us frozen in place. We believe that ‘it wouldn’t be nice’ to walk away.

Or we have the very normal fear of losing a job or a friendship. Whatever the reasons are, we often choose to stay in the presence of someone who treats us in a way that feels lousy, overwhelming and fearful. We sit and ‘handle it.’

It’s important to become aware that in all of these situations, your body has a reaction – your heart beats fast or you may feel numb. You may be overwhelmed by the mix of fear, humiliation, anger etc. and dissociate – leave the awareness of the body.  After the situation, you may walk away from the encounter, ruminating and replaying the scene again and again in your mind.

These are trauma responses and it is very important to take an opportunity to drop into your body to ‘take flight.’ This means that instead of just replaying the scene in your mind, you notice what is coming up in your body.

Do you feel heat? That may be anger. Be present with this heat by keeping your attention on the physical sensation, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.

Do you feel fear and imagine running? Then ‘run’ your legs.

We are not children, yet our responses are similar and the trauma can leave the cells when we run in place with our legs pumping. Even pretending to do so in our imagination is beneficial. Peter Levine walks his readers thru an exercise like this in his book/ CD called ‘Healing Trauma.’

It’s also important that as adults we give ourselves permission to actually ‘take flight’ in situations.

We don’t have to stay in place when we are being treated unkindly, even by a boss. We can excuse ourselves and go to a restroom to give ourselves space to feel our heart beating, our limbs tingling, our stomach dropping.

You may feel discomfort to leave a situation and you may feel even more discomfort to feel these physical sensations in your body, but know that this action of taking care of yourself is extremely empowering and healthy. You will also experience a  surge of self-confidence as you access your inner resourcefulness in keeping yourself safe.

Another benefit of dropping into your body and noticing the physical sensations of ‘taking flight’ is that you’ll receive inner wisdom.

You’ll have access to your intuition that will guide you in response to the intimidating situation. You will ‘hear’ what words to communicate to your boss or friend regarding their behavior and how it makes you feel. Or you may ‘see’ that this job or relationship is hurting you more than you’re willing to tolerate and you’ll make changes to actually ‘take flight’ by leaving the situation permanently.

Keeping ourselves safe and helping children to do the same is a programmed resource in our bodies. It’s about time that we all accessed that power.

meryl

Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman is a Mind-body and Intuitive Wisdom Coach who empowers women who want to find clarity around decisions of career, relationships, family and health. For more information, visit MiriamRacquel.com or email her at miriam@miriamracquel.com.

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How NOT to be your Own Worst Enemy

By Endorsed Mind-Body Coach Nikki Sargent

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk; Be Positive; Never Give Up; Don’t Worry, Be Happy.  I’ve lived life believing that I would BE happy once I harnessed my crappy emotions and thoughts. The clichés, new-age bumper stickers and social media memes, seemed obvious and easy. Yet, as middle age neared I struggled to keep my shit together: I was constantly worried, overwhelmed, stressed and unhappy. I was losing control of my mental and emotional bowels. I had unknowingly become my own worst enemy.

Each time I experienced negative thoughts and emotions, I tensed everything in my body and tried with all of my might to eliminate them. I’d beat myself up with thoughts that nagged at my messiness. I’d lay on the shame about having shitty emotions: Just be happy! What is wrong with you?

I was a pro at piling it on. I believed that I had an anger problem; a sadness problem; an unhappiness problem. I wondered if I was crazy.  Visions of nurse Ratched thwarted the pursuit of medical help. I feared being labeled crazy.  I thought: something must be wrong with me since other adults seem to do just fine. Achieving what I imagined to be mature adulthood – someone who simultaneously does jazzercise, pays bills, scrubs toilets and smiles – seemed impossible. I believed I was truly defective.

Despite my rule-challenging-somewhat-rebellious nature, I had created an extensive list of inner rules. Each rule began with words like should, need to, or have to: should avoid crappy emotions; need to keep my mouth shut; have to pull my big girl pants up; should not question things; need to be less sensitive; should not love watching TV dramas like the Gilmore Girls; should not watch TV at all. My inner authority had become the dictator I’d always feared would sabotage my freedom; it became impossible to ace my own game. I felt like I was running the hamster wheel of impossibility and it was only a matter of time before I flew off the wheel and crashed to a hard death against the cold glass wall of the social cage.

No wonder I wasn’t acing life. I resented our rule-laden control-driven society, and yet, I had created my own internal society of control and resentment.  On the verge of a breakdown, I began to explore my inner workings. I wanted to get straight A’s in life – but I had to determine what acing life really meant. Below are 6 A’s to get straight in order to stop being your own worst enemy and become your own best ally.

Audacity:

Have the audacity to value YOU: to claim that you are worth your own compassionate and personal attention, if only for a moment. Developing the courage to care about you may seem ambiguous or even selfish, but it’s actually fundamental in becoming your own ally. At the very least, have the audacity to care about you as much as you’d care about a wounded animal found on the side of the road. Have respect for yourself as a creature that is suffering. Set aside your self-loathing long enough to care about your broken-self and befriend yourself for just a moment. Give yourself permission to take 2 minutes to spend just loving you: to put everything else on hold for just a little while. Developing the audacity to care about you is key in eliminating internal enemy lines.

Authority:

You are your own best authority. You know more about: your body than any doctor; your inner world than any psychologist; your intellect than any teacher. You know more about you than any outer authority. It is time to trust you. Identify your whole self – mind, body and spirit – as your own best authority and honor its existence. Our bodies and minds want to live and thrive. Kindly tell yourself that you can trust yourself. Gently establish regular internal dialogue with self as a means to trust your inner authority. Consider that when you need to pee, your body lets you know. Recognize that your body breathes for you continuously, even when you are not trying to breathe. No one else pees or breathes for you. Trust the processes of these inner workings and make a conscious effort to notice the variety of internal processes that are happening in your favor for you alone. With practice, recognition of your internal allies will strengthen the belief that you truly are your own best authority.

Awareness:

Become aware of each of your personal elements: your mind and its thoughts; your body and its emotions. Since thoughts are the language of the mind and emotions are the language of the body, becoming aware of their existence develops the ability to interpret their messages accurately. They are there as a means to communicate with you – to help you. There is no need to ignore them, fight them, or resist them. Just notice and observe each happening with innocent curiosity. Become the watcher of yourself.  Awareness of self develops the ability to connect with our truest whole self.

Acknowledge:

Once you develop awareness of self, simply acknowledge what you witness. It’s not about judging, fixing, analyzing, eliminating, or controlling. It’s about acknowledging that thoughts and emotions merely exist: Hmmmm, isn’t that curious, my mind just thought about giving the bigoted politician a giant wedgie. Interesting observation. Wow, I notice that my heart is racing and I feel some anger. That’s it. Just acknowledge. There is no need to make the observations mean anything; no need to DO anything about it.

Allow:

Allow what you acknowledge. Allow the thoughts. Allow the feelings. Allow the resistance. These are all normal characteristics of being human. Attempting to control or omit any part of self only prolongs suffering. When we are with a loved one who is struggling, we don’t reject or deny their discomfort: we allow them to have it with compassion. And we owe our own self the same consideration. Allowing these elements of self to simply exist creates an opportunity for us to really get to know our true nature: without judgment and without blame. Ultimately, this strengthens self trust which is a fundamental ingredient of healing and wellness.

Acceptance:

Accept what you have witnessed. Thoughts and emotions are energy; practice embracing this as normal. I use to avoid anger like I avoid sticking my hand in hot bacon grease. I associated anger with uncomfortable feeling states within my body: adrenaline, tension, and a heightened heart rate. Once I started accepting emotions like anger, I realized that the uncomfortable feeling states in my body weren’t actually specific to the emotion but rather the resistance I employed. When there is sadness – accept it; anger – accept it; resistance –accept it. Acceptance is fundamental in any meaningful relationship and the best relationship you can foster is the one with your whole self – Mind, Body and Soul.

So go ahead: Cry over spilt cow juice; Be negative; Quit Something; Worry and be miserable. Get your A’s straight and honor All of you – the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Attempting to shackle or eliminate the parts of self that you perceive as bad is like trying to put a tornado in a Cholula bottle: impossible and pointless. Stop fighting your inner nature. Employ the 6 A’s while you wait out the shit storm. It truly is the kindest and most effective way to vanish internal enemy lines and begin to build a personal friendship with your self.

Nikki Sargent

As a coach, mentor, teacher, intuitive and a life-long explorer of possibility, I help determined individuals enlighten up from the inside out and take back their personal power. I am passionate about helping others discover how to sync with their whole self – mind, body, and spirit – and uncover comfort, self-trust, healing, wellness, confidence, ease and personal peace. From Graves Disease to depression to anxiousness and worry, I have walked the healing gamut and know first hand how lonely and hopeless it can be. I offer a simple, gentle, no rules approach to discovering, embracing and utilizing your very own super power. As a M.Ed., a Certified Master Life Coach and an Endorsed Anamsong Mind-Body Coach, I am deeply committed to helping others who are ready to help themselves.

email: metamorphicliving@gmail.com

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