We, the practitioners of “Embodied practice”, talk about what is important to us - about us humans, our bodies and our relation with the body, about listening and hearing ourselves and what to do when we don’t feel well. We are talking about keys that open doors into friendship with the body and our own truth. We will talk about it in the future as well.
And today we invite you to our second video podcast about how we recognize fear? Is it important for us to identify it? What do we do when it comes or when we encounter it?
* The opinions shared in this video are not medical advice and cannot replace a doctor’s consultation.
Ieva: Hi, this is the podcast “The Body Speaks” and our second conversation and we are the practitioners in the “Embodied practice”: Ernesta, Jurga, Ingrida and me, Ieva. What we practice is Integrative Bodywork and Movement Therapy. We are sharing both the knowledge and our experience. I want to start by mentioning that our conversations are not directed in any way, we do not know at all what another colleague will say, we do not rehearse them. We are just discussing between ourselves and are inviting you to join our conversation, to see it, hear it and feel how it resonates with you. Today’s topic was sugested by me and it is “Fear”. This topic has arisen on a specific evening in a specific situation and I had to resolve it. I will definitely tell how, later, but now I really want to hear the experiences of my colleagues - how do they recognise fear? Is it important for them to identify what kind of fear that is? What are they doing themselves when it appears or when they face it? Maybe somebody would like to start?
Ernesta: Yes, I will start this topic. My name is Ernesta – for those who are listening without a view, so that it is somewhat clearer, more precise and calmer to hear somebody's voice. In this stage of my life it is no longer important for me what kind of fear that is. When I catch myself projecting my future with glasses of this kind - “what happens if that happens?”, “and then this and that will happen”, “then it’s better not to do anything”, then I understand that I am moving into a field of fear. And what helps me to contain myself - if there is a part of the second left - to orient myself that I am already there, that my eyes are full of fear and the body is already getting frozen and curling up... If I still manage to catch it, I remember the word “presenteeism”. And I ask myself, where I am now.
Are these sentences that are coming from behind my back, from my memory, are they really the present, my current situation, are they really something recurring? And the next step - if I manage - to inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale and somehow contain that, hmmm, it is another day, another year and I am breathing. And if I go into cold water, pneumonia will not necessarily happen. Probably what defines fear best to me is that it is something that hasn’t happened yet but my experience reminds me that it was bad then so it has to end badly now as well. And to remind myself, how it is now, is it really true that how it is now is the same as I remember, and I am already planning that it will happen. So fear is something that hasn’t happened yet. And it invites me to remember about “now”. Where I am, what I am doing and what I can do now.
Ieva: Thank you, Ernesta. Those who are following Ernesta on social media can see her pictures in water during a cold winter. Ingrida, Jurga?
Ingrida: Maybe I will continue and share probably one of the main lessons that I have learnt while exploring fear: that I embody fear. Most often when we experience fear, we cower and it seems that we feel safe. But in essence this shrinking is not really safety, in essence it is an expression of fear. We express fear with our body when we cower, even though it may seem that we are safe. And it's actually safe when I can act. When my body is ready to act, when I am upright, stretched, when I have space, it is then when it is safe. This is the main lesson that I have learnt - even though it looks safe, it is essentially an expression of fear when I crouch. And I am safe when I have the possibility to act, when I have my so called will, that’s probably how it would sound in Lithuanian, that is important to meet in the face of fear. Not to forget that, not to forget that it is an option. That’s it.
Jurga: Somehow when I hear you speak, I hear that yes - fear is really very much about the future - we mostly fear what has not yet happened or what could happen. At the same time fear is also about the past. Because fear usually informs us from a place where we have already experienced something. Fear appears because we experienced something or others have told us that if we behave in this way we can have some specific consequences. And how Ernesta has nicely said - “presenteeism” is a way, a method of how we can come back to ourselves from a place of fear, where we are often somewhere in the head - very often in the head and belly. What concerns me, for a long time I actually haven’t been understanding that I am afraid. I have successfully blocked sensations, and when I finally started to reunite with them and really sense what I am experiencing in the body, then I could name it, that it is fear. So it seems that the first step here is to start recognizing fear. And only then I could find a way to stay present with that fear. So I think that the first step is to start recognizing fear. Not only in your head and thoughts but also in the body, how this fear is unfolding in the body, what sensations it presents to us, or rather “gift” to us, because they are most often not very pleasant. And what helps is several things. Everything that invites us back into sensations that are happening here and now, so that I come back from that possibility that something can happen, into what is actually happening with me now, even if it is not pleasant. And to invite safety, to remember that I have a right to safety, that I have a right to feel safe.
What can help to feel safe is individual to every one of us. It can be helpful to lie on your stomach, lying face down, when we are not open to the world in full but we really experience that safety.
We can feel safer when we allow ourselves to breath more fully. But it is not the same for everyone. We can feel safer when, as Ingrida has mentioned, we stand up and are stretched at the whole length of the body and we allow our will to be expressed, we allow action to happen. Maybe we can also actually feel safe when we crouch because if we think about it - situations are different and sometimes situations that we fear are actually much bigger than us. And if the ceiling is falling, because there is an earthquake, it is really safe to curl into a ball and hide under the table. But there comes a moment when that is no longer safe, when it is safer to stand up and act.
And I also would like to share an exercise from Peter Levine, the expert in trauma healing and the author of Somatic Experiencing, that we can all try right now together. I am sure that my colleagues are not doing this for the first time, but maybe also our listeners and viewers would like to try it out. So first we simply tense up all the muscles in the body, as much as we can. Even to the point of trembling. Also face, perineum, leg muscles... And when we feel we can’t continue anymore, that we have reached our limit, we relax them. And then we just notice the sensations. We notice the sensations, what is happening in the body, what is happening in our breath, how our heart is feeling. And then we take our right hand and we put it under the left armpit. We hold our body on the left where our heart is with our right hand. And with my left arm I embrace myself. And we feel how our right arm is holding us and our left arm is embracing us. We allow ourselves to inhale, exhale. We notice what sensations we are experiencing. We can do this sitting or we can do this lying down, before sleep, if somebody experiences anxiety before bed and it is difficult to fall asleep. We just experience that we also can hold ourselves, also in that moment of fear - tensing up and relaxing. Notice how these 2 different qualities are affecting us. That’s all.
Ieva: Thank you, Jurga. What a wonderful exercise. I hope people will find it useful. And my experience that I have promised to share - it has happened quite recently, before the winter holidays, before Christmas. I have been in Nida at that time and I clearly understood that during these holidays, just like most people in Lithuania and the world, I will not be able to see my family. It is no longer allowed. Of course I had a lot of emotions coming up: resistance, anger, many different thoughts. And I decided to check, what is behind that irritation and that anger. What is deeper there, where they are coming from? And I have traced back that chain and I have discovered that those feelings arise because I feel cut off. I felt alone. And when I feel alone, it means that it is difficult to survive. Being alone without a socium poses a threat of death. And here I faced a fear of death. From those superficial emotions that spontaneously arose in that moment I have dug down to the fear of death. Mhmm, I don’t want to stay with it. We don’t want to stay with negative emotions most often. I decided to take action. Action as a response of sorts. I considered what kind of action I can do now. The most simple action I could take at that time was going for a walk, simply move, go. It was a late evening. And I thought to myself - I have another fear, a fear of darkness. So what I am going to do, I am going where it is darkest - into the forest. I am going to the forest late in the evening and I am afraid. I feel fear in my whole body. However, I clearly understood that I am alone and don’t want to dive very very deep, so I took my dog along as an anchor of reality. I will have to take care of my dog and thus it means I will have to remain present in this reality, inside this material world. And at the same time going into the forest I feel all these sensations - we can feel those differently - for me fear always manifests as weakness in the legs, trembling in the legs, shivers in the spine, the head feels pressed, I want to shrink. As Ingrida has mentioned and other women. And so I took a long walk like this until I finally stopped in this state. And then I allowed myself to witness, just observe how these sensations talk to each other in the body. How they are aligned with each other and what happens when I put my attention there. It is a very simple, elementary thing - to see, to allow it to happen, without additionally suppressing, pushing or corking it. Slowly, slowly everything dissipated and what came was a very very pure, very beautiful, even naive joy of feeling that at this moment everything is alright. At this moment I am standing on my own feet, if I open my eyes, I see wonderful views. I am breathing in an incredibly fresh air. And I feel it - how my lungs, my chest is moving. I feel that aliveness that is in the body. And it has little to do with that fear of death. So that’s the short story. Of course, this process took some time, all that walking in the dark. And what happened after, totally unintentionally, after coming back home, and I live in a village, there are forests nearby -I keep going out for walks at dusk. And guess what - there is no more fear of darkness, at least for now. So it means something has been worked through. Worked through simply by sensing.
And I want to share one more beautiful example. On youtube or other social media you can find a video of a popular speaker Tony Robinson where he invites a person onto a stage and demonstrates a dance with fear. Because what we mostly do towards fear - we don’t want, don’t want those feelings. He took a person and said “I am your fear” and they danced. And somehow everything evolved into a totally different quality. So that is all about fear. I wish us to see differently, to find different angles of looking. Maybe colleagues will also want to express some wishes?
Ernesta: Thank you all for sharing. I feel that what concerns me, the sharing has closed in a very nice circle. I have a wonderful exercise offered by Jurga and I understand that I walk a mile in small steps. And if I clean the dust every second day, I will always have a clean surface, instead of living with a dusty surface for a month and then dust it off and feel happy for one moment and breathe dust all the other time. So what I want to say, one could periodically repeat this contraction and then expansion, without necessarily feeling some kind of fear. I just invite you to record a physiological experience into your body, how it is to contract and expand. And maybe that recording will serve as a reminder another time when a contraction happens - that I can expand. That’s all. Simple.
Like my jumper says: “That’s life, everyday can be an amazing day”.
Ieva: Wonderful. Jurga, would you like to add something?
Jurga: I think that this sharing of Ernesta with her jumper is the best possible ending for our meeting.
Ieva: Indeed, thanks a lot to my dear colleagues, thank all of you who have been watching, who have been listening, And if you want to see more different content, meditation practices, join our Facebook group “The Body Speaks” (“Kūnas kalba”). Also our website is www.ikunytapraktika.lt and a Facebook page @ikunytapraktika (https://www.facebook.com/ikunytapraktika). Also we have the website in English if you’d like to recommend us to English speakers. Have a nice day, a nice dance. Contraction, expansion. See you!
Ingrida, Ieva, Jurga and Ernesta - practitioners of Integrative Bodywork and Movement practice in EMBODIED PRACTICE. Their work is aimed at people who are looking for ways to discover and experience themselves anew and to deepen an authentic relation with self and the world. It also benefits those willing to find grounding, exploring possibilities for self-care, listening to their true needs and remember what it means to be comfortable in one‘s own skin.