By Ann Todhunter Brode
Editor’s Note: We offer a small slice of Ann’s full article, available now in our Subscriber’s Forum and in our Subscribers’ mailboxes Mid December. Please note that all new articles will be available open source starting January 1, 2020.
Our ideas of how the holidays should go can be a sticky combination of tradition, experience, marketing, and . . . fiction. Year after year I see my clients reflect the stresses of the season as old issues surface and old patterns take hold. Just around the corner from Halloween, the body starts to brace for the inevitable and resiliency disappears. Conflicting feelings of anticipation and anxiety show up in the body as a tangle of shoulder-neck-jaw tension, low back pain, random injuries, and general uptightness. In
order to extend the good work beyond our ninety- minute session, I’ve developed a simple somatic strategy to change the holiday dynamic.
Whether being social with friends or colleagues, gathering with family, or negotiating the consumer onslaught, it’s easy to get triggered by old issues and unreasonable expectations. The physical body reflects this by getting uptight. When this happens our body space feels smaller, tighter, denser. By
contrast, when we’re at ease, our body space feels bigger, softer and lighter.
Being conscious of this small space-big space differential is a good way to stay calm, centered, and present when everything else feels out of control. During a session, I encourage clients to notice how tightening and releasing the muscles effects not just their sense of ease but their attitude and experience as well.
Try this out. To feel the impact of the small space versus big space, suck in your stomach and imagine a future activity or encounter with a family member. Gage the degree of tension, receptivity, optimism, and enthusiasm in this small space. Then, let go to see how big space changes your outlook.
Often, clients report that letting go not only expands their relative ease and
self-confidence but broadens their perspective to include compassion
and acceptance. Perhaps, being in big space helps you see the big picture.
Paying attention to the small space big space differential can change your
experience and help you relax and enjoy this special time of year. Instead
of tightening up and holding on, why not let go and see what happens? Good times to practice letting go and getting big are before, during and after an event.
Ann Todhunter Brode has been an Aston Patterning practitioner and body-oriented therapist in Santa Barbara for over forty years. A recognized
master in her field, she is dedicated to helping people understand and feel comfortable in their bodies. In addition to her clinical practice, Brode
shares her personal and professional experience through down-to-earth, compassionate articles on the challenges & rewards of living consciously in the body. Look for her book, A Guide to Body Wisdom- What Your Mind Needs to Know About Your Body (Llewellyn Worldwide) online and in bookstores.