The earth is here to hold you and you are here to be held by the earth.
Lay down (floor, carpet, couch, bed, earth–whatever your body wants)
Lay in a star position (or as close as possible) arms & legs spread wide.
Take some deep slow breaths, inviting the air to fill you and then slowly releasing it, making space for the next breath.
With each release of breath, allow your body to relax (as best you can) and melt into the surface below you.
Now tense muscles and do the breaths. Note the difference in the feeling of your relationship with the surface below you. Tense? On alert? Disconnected?
Now relax again. Feel how nice it is to relax into it, to let go. It’s here, it’s not going anywhere.
I think as humans we are meant to have something similar with other humans–only the ‘shoulds’, fears, and traumas of life lead us away from this.
I have struggled for much of my life with asking for help. When I became a mom, in order to keep going for my girls, I needed to face this. I grew up trained to believe ‘I should be able to do this’ and ‘I should rely on myself’.
I am sad our culture sends this message, because I think we miss out on so much depth and joy.
So, let’s backtrack. I was struggling while pregnant with my second daughter. I was very close to burning out. I am not sure I can pinpoint any one thing that changed me. All I know is I got to the point that I had to ask for help, or risk not being present with my girls.
I had for years been working at and practicing “I can do it myself” along with “no thanks, I don’t need help”. Then I had kids.
I read The Hardest Part Of Motherhood Is Asking for Help And Taking It by Melissa L. Fenton. She said, “And then I hit the mother of all mothering walls and collapsed in epic fashion. I was toast. Burnt fucking toast. And burnt toast can’t raise children.”
That hit me deeply.
Later in the article she said, “You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you help someone?’
‘Yes,’ I replied.
‘Well, when you don’t ask for help and take it, you are taking away that feeling from someone. When you don’t take the help that is offered, you are taking away someone’s chance to minister to you in a way that they may need to do. Stop taking those chances away from people, because there are people who are put on this earth solely to be helpers. It’s fundamental to their existence. You may not know who they are, but they know who you are. Let them help you. You need to ask for help, but more importantly, you need to take it.”
I read an article titled Dear Mothers: We’re Not Meant to “Bounce Back” by Beth Berry. “With so many advantages to ‘bouncing back’ as quickly as possible, why on earth would we want to embrace and celebrate the stretch marks, the cellulite, the spit up, the sleepless nights, the vulnerability, the increased dependency on others, the often-terrifying uncertainty, and the shift into a whole new way of feeling, being, and prioritizing? Because the world needs us too.” (emphasis added)
I now see that by holding so tightly to one understanding of strength, I was actually repressing and resisting a new strength trying to be born in me: the strength of vulnerability.
It is vulnerable to let motherhood change us. Yet, by doing so — by claiming our right to this sacred, messy and sometimes terrifying evolution — we position ourselves as capable, heart-led leaders in the healing of the world. We start by seeing ourselves as powerful, not despite having changed, but because we’re more vulnerable to love and in need of connection.
Paradigms are shifting, however slowly and painfully, and there are plenty of things each of us can do to hasten change:
Disconnect vulnerability from disempowerment in your mind. We tend to avoid vulnerability largely because of its common association with oppressive circumstances and feelings of disempowerment. While these can be linked (and often are), they don’t have to be. Conscious, intentional, self-honoring vulnerability is a very different thing than the vulnerability that accompanies truly oppressive circumstances and mindsets.
Vulnerable, vulnerability – what?
I could feel it deep in my bones with my daughters; how I naturally wanted to interact with them, the deeper more connected relationship I wanted with them, as opposed to all the ‘shoulds’ our culture insists upon.
And yet, it was a struggle to do this with adults. I took baby steps with a friend who has continually helped me reinforce in my brain ‘vulnerability connects me with others’ versus my years of thinking it would do the opposite.
I think we are meant to lean on others and be leaned upon. I think we are made to be vulnerable and dance between holding space for ourselves, holding space for others, and allowing others to hold space for us.
As I continued my journey toward learning vulnerability I learned about entrainment. I read Anna O’Faolan’s words on its healing power.
In The Healing Power of Entrainment (link) by Anna O’Faolan says:
“The gravitational pull towards synchronicity is one of the founding principles of the natural world. It is observable in our everyday lives and immortalized by the theories of Quantum physics. This basic law of physics teaches us that everything in the universe is made up of particles or waves, vibrating like strings at different frequencies. From the cells in our own bodies to the light and sound waves that echo through the cosmos. Within these vibrational phenomena, resonating particles will communicate with, and influence each other.
The vibrational frequency of two objects in contact will frequently fall into sync. When the frequencies are the same, it is called ‘resonance’. But when a vibrational body of a stronger resonance influences another in its field, leading the beat, it is called entrainment.”
Even in science – we influence each other. So now – lay back down.
Deep breaths, star position, and melt.
Has anyone ever melted into you? Emotionally, logistically, physically? They trusted you (and themself) enough to be open and vulnerable with you.
Did it feel good? Did you feel “warm & fuzzy”? (if not, that is ok too)
Or, have you melted into someone else? Leaned on or asked for help from them?
And if it was someone you trusted and felt unconditionally loved by, did it feel ok? Even, maybe, comforting? Did it give you strength? (again, different feelings are ok too)
OK– more on holding space in the next one, along with some different reactions to leaning/being leaned on and many ‘shoulds’ that may (or may not) be involved.
When you relax into it
Maybe you give something too.
Vulnerability and grounding strength is a dance to be flowed through.