Holding Contrasting Experiences
Yesterday, this beautiful rainbow graced my morning walk on the beach. These gifts pop up regularly this time of year on the Oregon Coast when the sun unexpectedly breaks through the cloud cover. Sometimes they show up as small rainbows in the back spray of cresting waves. Every time a rainbow appears in the brief parting of gray, overcast skies, I am reminded of how precious it is to hold the contrasting experiences of life, the little moments of joy that bubble up unexpectedly in the drudgery and rigour of our day to day, the things that we often don’t notice. A playful pop of color in a store window, a child giggling on the sidewalk, a smile from a passing stranger, a humming bird zooming to and fro.
Learning to hold contrasting experiences is, in my book, both a life practice and a healing practice, even a spiritual practice. It is a huge aspect of what I teach in nervous system regulation work, learning to be with the discomfort of an activation cycle and still be able to anchor back to an experience of settling or safety within. Recognizing that moments of true, cellular safety are available to us in often unexpected and unnoticed ways.
Often people mistake nervous system work to be one-dimensional, even mechanistic. They misunderstand it to be strictly about the body and physiology. But for me it is truly about the delicate intersection of body, mind, heart and soul…And the practice of learning how to live from an embodied awareness of our autonomic states is really a practice of learning to live with whole body presence and felt wisdom. What could be loftier than that!