As we move further into this strange “lockdown” situation it’s hard not to reflect on the nature of this time. On the one hand I can’t believe it’s only been a month, as some days pass so quickly I hardly get anything done. Yet on the other hand, some days feel never-ending and are full of stress and tension.
It’s been a challenging time and no doubt there are many of us trying to cope with these alien circumstances without access to our normal coping strategies. Mine usually involve seeing friends, having a massage and getting a lot of fresh air! Thankfully I can still do yoga which is also high on my list of things that help me to de-stress. And it’s actually something that happened during yoga recently that prompted me to write this blog.
Last week I was doing a yoga session via Zoom, and my teacher suggested we move into child’s pose. I duly did so but within less than a minute I felt a wave of emotion and started to cry. For anyone who isn’t familiar with child’s pose, it basically involves curling up on the floor with your bottom back towards your heels and your head on the floor in front of you. It is a very restorative posture, and it isn’t the first time that being in this posture has led to a release of emotions!
So what was going on? I think curling up away from the outside world allowed me to let go of what I was carrying, it enabled me to surrender a little bit, and let my emotions come out. We spend so much of our time facing out to the world, meeting head on what comes towards us, absorbing so much external stimulus, that sometimes it becomes overwhelming. It is essential, therefore, that we give our minds and bodies a regular break from this.
Even now, when many of us are spending a large majority of our days inside and physically away from people, we are still facing out to the world – whether that be over Zoom, Whatsapp or whichever video calling option we are using! We might also be trying to put on a brave face. It’s a lot easier to pretend that we are OK via a video call than it is in a real life, face-to-face interaction with our friends or colleagues. It’s also easy to reply to a text asking how you are with a vague “I’m fine”, even if you are not fine. This can be exhausting and it takes up a lot of emotional energy, so it’s no surprise that we might be feeling more stressed and overwhelmed than usual!
So, going back to my child’s pose experience. As I said above, it is a very restful posture, it allows us to shut out the world and listen to ourselves. I think there is something very powerful about turning inwards. It allows us to release whatever we might be holding onto. It’s like we can breathe out without fear of judgement, because no one can see us. It also allows our nervous system to rest and feel soothed. And it actually reminded me of how I feel when I go for my monthly massage. Having that time and space to just stop, and let go of everything else, is like a little haven from life.
I see this with my own clients too. When people come to me for a massage or reflexology they know they can just be. The pretence can be dropped and they can breathe out. I often notice this even before I start the treatment. Clients come in and sigh, I see their bodies physically start to relax. As a therapist this always makes me smile inside as it confirms that I’ve created a safe space for them, but also because I know they have prioritized some much needed time just for them.
Although people have many different reasons for coming to have Reflexology and Massage, I strongly believe that just having time to switch off from everything is really important for improving our well-being. If we can give our nervous system time to be soothed, we can start to relax and this can have a really positive effect on both our body and mind.
I would advocate this in “normal” times, so right now I feel that it is even more important to be carving out some quiet time for ourselves as we move through these strange weeks full of uncertainty. And this is one of the many reasons why I’m feeling sad that I can’t see clients right now. I would love to be able to offer my usual space for clients to breathe out, let go and just be.
I really am looking forward to the time when I can provide Massage and Reflexology again. Until then I hope that the story of my child’s pose experience helps you to remember the importance of finding a way to give yourself a break from the outside world.
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Photo credit: Katiee Lue from Unsplash