Right Before You Shift
Recently, I had a holistic massage that incorporated an ancient Chinese healing modality called Chi Nei Tsang. This is a deep, gentle abdominal massage during which the practitioner provides feedback.
For instance, although Rebecca was working on my torso, she could see my jaw was tight and instructed me to curl my tongue to the roof of my mouth as if I were going to sing: "la-aaa" and to keep it there while taking a few breaths. (For fellow jaw-clenchers out there, try this; it worked.)
Every time Rebecca detected a spot that was tight (jaw, hip, jaw again) my job was to relax that area. Afterward, I commented on how easily the muscles released, once I followed her instructions to relax. Her explanation made perfect sense to me: You have a tendency to hold, right before you shift.
The idea of "holding right before you shift" reminds me of the relaxation technique that's recommended when trying to fall asleep: to tense and then relax various areas of the body: foot, leg, hand, arm, etc. Feeling the difference between tensing and relaxing helps you realize it's within your power to initiate the shift.
This applies, of course, to more than our bodies. Just bring to mind any goal you're working on and I'm sure you can picture the many forms that holding can take: avoiding, resisting, or procrastinating, to name a few.
We tend to persist in our old ways even if counterproductive...until we don't. How does that shift happen? Perhaps, as with the holistic massage I described above, relaxing is the key.
Just this week my client, Melinda, demonstrated this. After deciding to be more proactive in her job search, she composed a well written follow up email to one of her target organizations. It was an afternoon of working through her nerves but then she took a deep breath and pressed send. Now she is ready for a bolder outreach campaign and also says, "I'm pacing myself."
Melinda's description of gearing up to send that email is a perfect example of a sequence that we cycle through continually: Hold-Relax-Shift. And by pacing herself, she is building a level of "relaxation" into her to-do list. This is a winning combination: proactive, courageous, and relaxed.
You think you have to drive harder, but relaxing actually encourages the shift to occur: a subtle opening to the desired change.
Sometimes what's required for growth can rattle you. Parts of your body (as well as your mind) will tense as if to say: Wait, wait, I'm not ready. I'm not sure how to do this. When this happens, remember that holding is simply a signal to relax so that you can allow that shift to occur.
Transformation is a process that happens by relaxing, letting go, and taking courageous steps, both large and small. You shift and shift again.
This is especially true when forming a new habit. Particularly in those first few weeks, I prefer to say: I'm creating a new routine. This gives me a feeling of fluidity and room for a few false starts. Now when I notice them I can say: Oh, there I am holding. Relax and breathe. Keep moving into it. The shift is occurring.
Relaxing as I'm moving forward is how I aim to roll because when I do, I not only make better progress, I feel more joy while I'm working on things. And as you've heard me say, this combination of both directing and allowing is the powerfully graceful way to move and the essence of In the Current.
This Week's Call To Action:
When you notice yourself holding, take a breath and relax.
- Practice with your physical body. Where do you have a tendency to hold?
- Practice with something you are working toward or in the process of changing. As you design your plan of action, remember to pace yourself and to build in relaxation.
The next time you realize that you are holding on to an old way of operating that no longer serves you, instead of scolding yourself and seeing this as failure, realize it's actually part of the growth process, signaling an opportunity to make a new choice, and perhaps this holding might even be the very moment right before you shift.
Hold ~ Relax ~ Shift
See you in the current,
(1) Here are some related picks for you from the Current of Life library:
Go Gently, Go Strong
Ease Into It
Did You Blow It?
Letting Go Is Moment to Moment
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