Breaking Holding Patterns – Or How are We Standing?

In the body, as in life, often what begins as an adaptive response to a stressor becomes a habit or holding pattern. This expresses itself in several ways. Chronic pain and tightness; a feeling of impingement, ungroundedness, unevenness, clumsiness, chronic fatigue. This physical imbalance may be expressing a psychic or emotional imbalance, a trope or tendency to think, lean, or act in some habitual way. These tendencies and habits prevent spontaneity and may actually be the culprits that keep us repeating patterns of relating, and finding ourselves facing the same issues again and again. Habits expressed in chronically tight areas may take years to uncover, explore, and resolve, but the time and effort are well worth it, and the journey can be as satisfying as the resolution.

Ask anyone what makes humans stand upright, and most answers include some direct or indirect reference to gravity. Most people think of gravity as a force that must be “fought” in a continuous struggle in which – obviously – we are bound to lose. And the postures which express this belief are generally along a continuum between rigid holding or collapse. We forget that what goes down, must come back up; and forgetting that rebound, we get stuck in holding patterns that keep us either up, or down. The effort involved in staying put is greater than that which would allow for a rebound, or for a continuous flow between down and up. This flow – imbued now, rightly so – with an almost mystical reverence – is nothing other than a continuous energy exchange. Like the medieval Tarot symbol of the The Star, in which a woman holds two pitchers from which there is a continuous flow back and forth – when we are “in the flow” we partake of stream of energy which makes all effort seem effortless. This is because when we don’t hold on, we neither block our receptivity, nor our outpouring of energy, and there is a continuous refreshment.

The first step in finding the flow is acknowledging that it exists. A surfer stepping into the ocean is not in doubt that there will be waves. A key point here is trust. If you miss a wave, there will be another. That’s the nature of Ocean. Getting lost in regretting a missed wave, or nostalgically replaying a wave captured – either of these states will assuredly result in missing the next wave. This is a practice in continually letting go and staying alert and relaxed in the present. In the present is all the information you need.

Next, noticing where you are and what’s happening opens you to receive information. Whether standing or sitting, notice where you are receiving support. Support is continually there in any point of contact. Support exists even from something you are holding. Changing your relationship to the point of contact so that you are “receiving” it, not pushing it away, changes the energy flow between you and it. The point could be the ground, a chair, a steering wheel, a weight or cup, a person’s hand. This awareness is a place where you are relating to everything sensorially both inside you and outside you simultaneously.

Third, realize that the intention to rest into the point of contact is what creates support. Resting is not collapsing, but a subtle relaxation into the feeling of the contact. Relaxing increases sensation, that is, neuromuscular feedback. Muscles are wired in both directions; by allowing your weight to ‘fall’ into a surface, you create an automatic push back – that’s gravity. This is rebounding and creates reciprocity and flow.

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