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Do You Want to be Tough or Strong?

Chase the Carrot or Eat the Carrot

The choice between being tough or strong is a conversation about what you want running your life, tension or strength.

I’ve come to realize that tough is protective gear masquerading as strength. So, when training folks, I work to keep it honest. Challenge their strength’s potential AND learn its limitations.

When a client was failing in his workout due to exhaustion, not muscle failure, he averted his gaze.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“You’ll be mad if I tell you,” he replied.

He was in the middle of a digital fitness challenge where he had to have his heart rate elevated for a certain number of minutes within a month’s time. He was over-training. Rejuvenation time was shelved until the challenge was over.

It was clear he was disheartened. His tension pooled in his chest muscles; broadening the protective shield of his back.

Looking at the floor he mumbled, “I’ll be fine. I’ll just walk everywhere today instead of my peloton run.”

Can you see yourself in this?

Use minutes to meditate was my advice. Use the time for active restoration versus active progression. But the digital minute-counter shutoff when his heart rate stabilized.

Penalized for self-care. Hmmm?!

  • We look away when we know in our body that we’re hurting ourselves, but in our mind, we have an insatiable need to progress.
  • We look away when we believe that we would lose our strength––be traumatized––if we didn’t triumph over a challenge.
  • We look away, when we know, deep down, that some nonsensical belief has triggered our tension into the driver’s seat.

What is our tension chasing?

Survival––Survival of the fittest! (richest, skinniest, smartest…)
We’re chasing a carrot on a string. That carrot is the belief that we’re not the fittest.

Here’s the truth of it. Chasing will never change the belief. In fact, the tension that keeps the belief running is getting stronger by the act of chasing it.

Stop being strung along and eat the carrot!

We feel most balanced when we can look life straight in the eye. Balance asks us to look in both directions. What if we stopped chasing? What if we just dropped into our bone’s stillness and reevaluated our habitual chase to prove ourselves?

What is in our body’s stillness?

Neutral Attention––Neutral to life’s flow. (truth, unfolding, evolution…)
When we eat the carrot, we reassess what we want to align with. An outside expectation or an inside truth. A distorted judgment or good sense. A past trauma or your present realness.

“Trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.”
Peter Levine, PhD & author, Waking the Tiger

Trauma is a physical experience. Any level of trauma––disappointment, judgment, expectation––lives in the body as tension until it’s resolved.

The mind forms beliefs to make sense out of the body’s sudden invasion of tension. Very often, self-damning beliefs that are mis-taken.

The body’s tension template and the mind’s twisted beliefs are locked in with each other, until the body’s tension can surrender its grip.

When we bump into this chase, we feel like a wimp and feel we need to toughen up!

But what if I were to say, when we bump into this chase, we need to feel into its vulnerability––experience our inner-wimp––until we are introduced to our strength.

  • Experience your body as a wimp. Don’t focus on your mind’s judgments or your emotional reactions. Feel for your bone’s perspective. What is under your judgment and reactivity?
  • What are your bones hungry for? What does your inner-wimp need, to feel cared for?
  • Be that care-giver.

This is self-care not self-indulgence. You know this because you’re not perpetuating Self-denial (with a capital “S”), nor are you ignoring the chase. You are reassessing who you are, and what you need, to feel aligned with your deepest, richest, wisest Self.

When we chase the carrot on a string, we lose our selves. When we eat the carrot, we find ourselves. This is strength.

 

Please share this with anyone you feel could use its message. Thank you.

GIVE UP ON PERFECTION… and embrace certainty.

A child shrugs their shoulders in a quick up-down motion to communicate, I dun’no? They’re not worried about not knowing.

As an adult, the worry of not knowing can raise our shoulders with such a silent eerie creep that they freeze in that position. When we finally notice their up-tightness, we worry that if they drop so will everything we’ve worked for.

If we’re working to be an expert at something it’s important to remember:

An expert is a student.

As a student and Minister of Tao, I’ve learned that mind body relationships are central in order to effectively cultivate healing. The significance of our shoulder’s grip is twofold. The tension of a shrug relates to shouldering the uncertainty of our value; the freeze of a shrug relates to bearing the weight of unresolved moments of crisis.

“Darkness within darkness.

The gateway to all understanding.”

Tao te Ching

So What is Crisis?

Tao recognizes crisis as a plummet of both physical and spiritual energies. The belief is that we are spiritual-physical beings born with 0% spiritual awareness that develops as we mature, and 100% physical vitality that diminishes as we age. When our spiritual awareness and physical vitality collide and collapse we suffer crisis.

Mid-life crisis is an example of how these opposing influences affect us. If we do not develop spiritual awareness the lines cross without ever embodying wholeness or a true sense of Self, and the descending of our physical vitality create a defeated experience––crisis.

If we develop spiritual awareness and dissolve our self-inflicted distortions, the lines cross after a sense of wholeness is achieved. Awareness nurtures the body, extending our physical vitality well into our golden years, to experience a graceful, happy and long life.

Although mid-life is an anticipated time for crisis, crisis’ happens at any age.

How Crisis Can Lead To Certainty

Trauma from abuse, accident or loss, disappointment from rejection, failure or loneliness, exhaust physical vitality and can stunt spiritual awareness. In these moments of crisis, doubt about our self-worth, belonging and rightness can easily come into question.

For example, when I got fired from a job that had felt like a second home for 30-years, my first reaction was that I was a loser! If they didn’t see my worth in 30-years what chance did I have of succeeding elsewhere? And you guessed it, my shoulders did the upward creep!

If we have a way of weighing in with ourselves so we understand the nature of our doubt we can begin to create change.

Uncertainty around trauma is expressed through the carriage of your shoulders.

As the widest aspect of our skeletal frame, our shoulders’ posture illustrate the amount of space we are familiar with and feel worthy to occupy in the world; as well as, expressing the amount of heart we are accustomed to showing in ourselves.

The meaning of shoulder tension:

  •   Lifted tension––uncertain you know what is right.
  •   Dropped tension––necessity to be right!
  •   Narrow placement––discomfort in being seen in the world.
  •   Wide placement––comfort in being seen in the world.
  •   Rotated forward––uncertain in matters of the heart.
  •   Rotated backward––demonstrative in matters of the heart.

Relaxed, dropped, widely placed, non-rotated shoulders show comfort in being seen and open curiosity in matters of the head and heart.

This neutral placement stabilizes both mind and body. But we all circulate through these tense shoulder positions as we experience challenging situations in life. The posture you want to pay most attention to is the one that is consciously limiting you (physical discomfort) or unconsciously leading you (emotional uncertainty).

Deliberately surrendering shoulder tension unearths certainty.

Use your breath to surrender the misplacement that accompanies the need to be perfect, and surrender your shoulders neutrally. Certainty is on the other side of, I dun ‘no. A certainty in your own value.

Unraveling the tension of uncertainty takes more strength than rallying brute force in mind or body. You have to continually reorganize the habits your mind and body use to avoid the feeling of not knowing.

I could have fought for that 30-year job, after all their accusations were false. Once my tense shoulders dropped, I could stop reacting and see the bigger picture. I recognized that they had done me a favor. It was time for me to leave home and bring my message to a larger audience.

Going from familiar discomfort to unfamiliar comfort takes believing in your spiritual wisdom. Becoming aware of this inherent wisdom is what makes your life path yours.

Learn to Surrender Tension in 8-Minutes with this FREE video exercise.