Maybe you’re on a roll right now. Woohoo! Some of us feel like things are starting to move, to open, and to flow more smoothly. Some of us are finding new grooves to dance to. And still, some of us feel more stuck than we did last year. If this is you – you are not alone! We are living in a world that many find it challenging to navigate. And there are those of us who feel a combination of release, relief, stagnation, loss, and hope.
Sometimes we find ease in unexpected places. We drop into unknown sources of support that catch us, and help us place our feet on the ground. We roll fluidly in areas we thought we would be stuck in.
Other times we run into walls right where we think doors would be open.
Walls come in many shapes, colors, and consistencies. Sometimes they are inner conversations. Sometimes they are outer circumstances. Sometimes they belong to other people. Other times they are our own creation.
Dealing with limitations, with limiting beliefs, with other people’s ideas of how things should be, with lack of self care, with lack of collective care, with things that don’t go where we thought they would, and things that don’t feel like we dreamed they could, and other things that don’t turn up as they should, and things that don’t go at all… Walls are abundant. Adult life is full of them. There’s something to deal with all the time. As my dear philosophy teacher, Douglas Brooks, says: “Crisis is the ordinary state of affairs.” And life gives us many opportunities to meet obstacles and rise to the challenge of working with and/or breaking through those walls.
Sometimes what we need is the gentle receptivity of the wall as the part of the whole.
The other night, I had one of those waves of thoughts that turn into giant walls. All the paths seemed blocked. All possibilities – unrealistic. The wall was like a mirror, with a distorted reflection that showed me everything that is wrong with me, and everything in my life that I ever messed up. My imperfections looked like gigantic black holes – each threatening to swallow me. And it was seductive.
In the silence of the night, I felt bombarded by closedness.
Instead of just simply being pulled into that dark current, I leaned in. I leaned into the wall. I made space for all the feelings that bubbled and gurgled in that cauldron of thoughts. I breathed slowly and softly. I allowed that big wave to wash over me.
The wall held me.
And I began to use the power of the wall, to push into it, and to to grow my own strength through this resistance.
Every piece of self hatred was met with acceptance. Every limiting idea was received with tenderness. Every thread of unworthiness was woven into wholeness. Every thorn-like thought was seen, and handled with care. Every aching feeling was felt and allowed.
By the wee hours of the night, the wall began to feel liquidy, soft, less threatening.
Nothing was “fixed” – instead I was simply grounding into acceptance, receptivity, and wholeness.
What makes us whole is our, well, wholeness. We are our light AND our shadow, our intensity AND our tenderness, the flow AND the stuckness. We are our complexity, our entirety. No part forsaken.
Sometimes the walls we encounter – within or around us – can become tools for growth. The firmness can hold us. It gives us something to push into. Support can unexpectedly come from the places that first feel like blocks. And resistance can sometimes surprisingly launch us into expansive spaces.
If you are dealing with life’s road blocks, and walls, and you want to embody the process of building a reciprocal relationship with those obstacles, try a few poses with the wall as your prop, and breathe as you push into it. Give yourself the physical form of the metaphor and breathe with it. Take your time to feel and receive what it has to show you, tell you, and teach you.
Here are some ideas – use it as a sequence or just sprinkle it throughout the day:
- Modified Tadasana (mountain pose) – lean your back against the wall and walk your feet a bit forward so that you can feel your hips, your back, and the back of your head supported by the wall. Close your eyes, listen to your breath.
- L pose with your hands on the wall – legs straight or knees bent, your back parallel to the floor, push your hands into the wall, and breathe.
- Virabhadrasana (Warrior) 2 with your back foot against the wall – push the foot into the wall. If your back hand meets the wall, push it into the wall as well. Breathe. Switch sides.
- Parsvakonasana (side angle pose) with your back foot against the wall – push the foot into the wall. Stretch you arm over your head. Breathe. Switch sides.
- Trikonasana (triangle pose) with your back foot against the wall – push the foot into the wall. Ground your feet. Stretch your legs and your spine. Breathe. Switch sides.
- Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose) with your back foot up the wall – Push the foot into the wall, push your bottom foot into the floor. Stretch your arms. Breathe. Switch sides.
- L pose with your feet up the wall – handstand variation – both hands on the floor, both feet up on the wall. Push the feet into the wall, and the hands into the floor. Breathe. Try it a couple of times. Make sure your whole hand is on the ground – all knuckles pressing into the floor.
- Viparita Karani – lie down with your back on the floor, your hips all the way to the wall, and your legs up the wall. For extra support – use a strap around your ankles, with your legs not wider than your hips, and the straps holding your legs, letting them rest into it. Breathe and allow yourself to receive the ground holding you, the wall supporting you, and the breath guiding you to be with the whole of you – beautiful, flawed, messy, complex.
Of course, this is not always going to be helpful. This is not a solution for serious trauma. And in some cases we need a few years in therapy + hundreds of bodywork sessions to work through our ties and knots and blocks. But when it comes to ordinary obstacles, sometimes gentle receptivity combined with enough resistance, and brought into an embodied practice, can provide us with just what we need in order to turn our walls into wells of wisdom.
I hope this is helpful, informative, meaningful, and/or inspiring for you. I hope that you can receive yourself with tenderness, especially on the days you tend to harden.
If you find this moving in any way, please share this email with someone who might find it beneficial.
I appreciate you and I am sending you a big hug.