I was thinking about my coaching business while on a morning walk. I have been studying a variety of topics related to energy medicine, the chakras, reiki, and the power of the heart. To me, these subjects are fascinating. But I found myself asking for a clear answer as to what my function is as a coach. What value and service do I provide to others?
It didn’t take long for me to find my answer in a random object lying on the side of the road. It was the rubber sole of a shoe. A sole sole just sitting there. I thought to myself, “Uh oh, someone lost their sole!” And then it sank in (oh, how I love a metaphor…and a pun!), I help people find their souls. I found it very profound…so I had to take a picture!
I don’t believe we actually “lose” our souls, but we can definitely lose sight of them. We can disconnect, turn away, avoid, ignore or distract ourselves. While a sole is the foundation of a shoe, our soul is the foundation of our life. And it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the external world that we get knocked off our foundation…we can disconnect from our soul (and sole)!
I truly believe that we all have the answers we need inside of us. When we are connected to our soul…our higher self, our intuition, that inner voice…we can hear the answers clearly. But between family obligations, careers, our social and cultural programming, and years of habitual behaviors, our Truth can often get lost in the ethers.
So how do you start listening to your soul? There’s an old proverb that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, I am now a firm believer that the way to one’s soul is through the body…namely, the felt sensations of the body. We are sensory beings…all of our experiences come through our senses.
All experiences produce sensations that we can categorize as pleasure, pain, or neutral. We typically run towards pleasure and away from pain. Even the slightest feelings of discomfort can cause us to avoid what’s present and run to any kind of pleasure, be it food, alcohol, nicotine, sugar, scrolling social media or binge watching tv. It may help alleviate in the moment, but those painful sensations are the way our bodies communicate with us and get our attention. And the more that we avoid or push them away, the stronger they become. The little whisper in the ear can become a knock on the head.
Your body is always in the present moment. Everything happening with your body is happening NOW. Your mind is constantly in the past or future…predicting, contemplating, judging, challenging, planning, rehearsing, regretting, ruminating, daydreaming, comparing and analyzing. Your body, on the other hand, is living in the moment, keeping you alive, and constantly meeting the needs of whatever unfolds.
So how do you listen to your body? I have noticed a common theme in my coaching practice and my blogs…and that is an invitation for people to meditate, to take a moment to pause and check in with their internal environment.
I have been meditating on and off for years, and have experimented with many different types and philosophies. What I have found to be most effective for me is mindfulness meditation, also known as insight meditation. Quite simply, it’s intention, attention and attitude…being aware on purpose, to the present moment, with kindness. When you can bring your attention to what’s happening in the moment, in particular, what’s happening inside of you (your thoughts, feelings and emotions), and acknowledge them without trying to change or discard them, and without judgment, you will start to befriend your body and its felt senses.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the urgent need right now to go within. During this Coronavirus pandemic, there is great unrest in the world: medically, economically, socially, emotionally…and we can all feel a little lost. And while it’s necessary to stay diligent and informed, we must also stay calm. With social distancing and self-quarantines, it’s a great opportunity to practice self-care. You may feel alone or lonely, or you may be contained with a house full of family members busting at the seams. Whatever the case, now may be a good time to start connecting with your soul!
Challenge for the week: Taking your first step
Meditate! Even if it’s just a few minutes a day, pick a time and commit to meditating. Personally, I like to meditate first thing in the morning. It clears my head and sets me up for the rest of the day. I do find myself meditating throughout the day, taking moments here and there to check in, but my formal meditation is daybreak.
Find a quiet space in your home. You don’t need a cushion or beads or an altar…those things can be great and helpful, but the main thing is to just do it. Set an intention to sit for a specific duration of time that is reasonable for you. Often, people tend to bite off more than they can chew, then get frustrated, discouraged and give up. Start small and build on that. Try even two or three minutes if that’s doable.
To start off, I recommend just sitting quietly, closing your eyes or gazing downward, and just focusing on your breath. Don’t think about your breath so much as feel it. Pinpoint where it feels the strongest – maybe it’s the sensations of air coming in and out of your nostrils, maybe it’s the rise and fall of your chest, or perhaps it’s in your belly. Don’t try to change your breath or alter it, just notice it, like the ebb and flow of the ocean.
Another common frustration is the idea that there’s a “right” way to meditate. Research shows that our minds wander 47% of the time, so your mind is going to wander! That’s just a fact. The accomplishment is when you become aware and bring your attention back to your breath. It’s natural to have a chaotic mind…especially when you are trying to calm it down, so show yourself some appreciation and compassion.
Have a great week and take care during these challenging times! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.