A new language to speak my truth
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
I’ve been learning a new personal skill and developing language around communicating that skill.
I feel emotional pain as sensation in my body. When I can detach from the emotional piece and create a clearer connection between my mind and body I get some distance between the emotional response and what I experience as sensation. This gives me mental clarity I didn't have before. My prefrontal cortex then has a chance to make decisions more clear and intentional.
It has taken me years to develop this skill and the words to communicate that skill to others.
A well-known dialogue goes something like this. You’ll say, “It hurts when I do this.” Your friend or family member will then say, “Don’t do that.” Period. End of discussion.
If you have a conversation with 1,000 random people from around the world and you say, “You know what? It hurts when I do this,” my guess is most of those people would say, “Don’t do that!” with varying amounts of emphasis on the word DON’T. If you ask 1,000 Kaiut Yoga students the same question, the response would be quite different. You would get responses like, “Hmmm,” “Is it pain or is it just intense?” “Would you say this is pain that means progression or is this pain that doesn’t?” or “Does the sensation stay the same or does it change when you add pressure?”
You’ll hear avoidance. Saying, “Don’t do that” makes sense. It validates the pain and offers a logical solution. In the moment, during a discussion or carrying out daily life, it makes a lot of sense. The problem with the statement “Don’t do that” is that it gets reinforced and stuck inside our minds as a habit. There’s also a mental and an emotional component. Without properly exploring the pain, our mind spins with fear, judgment and analysis. As a result, many people start to avoid certain movements and then over time the “Use It or Lose It” theory takes over, and at the age of 65 or older the person is no longer able to easily get up and down off the floor.
Listen for how your body communicates
We can’t get away from pain entirely. We can develop a fantasy about that, but I think we all know the truth. Pain exists inside each one of us. We experience pain mentally, emotionally, physically and\or a combination of these at once. Learning to communicate physical pain in a way that is clear not only for your nervous system but also for your internal experience and that of others is a skill that can be developed over time.
As many of you know, my body tends to communicate nerve sensations in a variety of ways. Sometimes it screams, sometimes it talks and sometimes it whispers. Screaming, talking and whispering all come through in different flavors and with varying amounts of time.
I’ve learned to differentiate what I experience as sensation by extracting the emotional and mental responses that tend to pair themselves with physical sensation. I sort physical sensation, emotional response and mental response into three different categories, visualized as radio dials. While I’m practicing, the radio dial for physical sensation goes up. The other two dials (emotional and mental response) toggle down.
The goal during practice is for there to be a connection between my brain and body that’s clean. A connection that’s free from emotional and mental responses. It’s during this clean connection between my brain and body that gives me the clearest information. It allows me to understand the truth of what’s really happening inside. The truth isn’t always negative. Many times, it’s quite comforting to know I have access to use my body in a variety of ways with or without pain. This practice also gives me clarity to big questions like, “When does surgery really make sense for me?” Never have I ever received clarity like this. I’ll know. It will be clear. I will be operating from a place of inner knowing, and not from a place of fear or intellectualizing.
It gives my brain some distance. Over time, as I revisit my physical necessities, the emotional and mental distance gives my brain clarity. I’m then able to form words and speak clearly about what I’m experiencing. I’m able to define a neutral place for my brain to rest while I’m learning the needs of my physical body. It’s from this neutral place I’m able to make these clear decisions.
As you can see, the language is different. Intellectually, a person who has never tried a Kaiut Yoga class could say, “Wow! That really makes sense.” It really does make sense to stop avoiding your pain. It makes sense to make sure we continue to use the shoulder that has been injured or the knee that has been suffering from all those years of running. What’s not clear for someone new to Kaiut is how it all works. That’s precisely the language I have been developing.
I know what it’s like to feel, connect and make friends with those parts of me that need my attention. It’s not always an easy process and I don’t think I would have come this far without the support and guidance of my teacher. I’ve come to realize that my humanity is not much different from anyone else’s. I think about aging differently, I speak about this process from a clear and thoughtful perspective and I interact with people in the world from a much more compassionate and loving mindset.
You’ve been patient, kind and supportive over these 5 years as I’ve grown into new skills and language. I have deep respect for you as a teacher. Not as a guru. Not as someone to be worshipped. My respect for you comes from a deep sense of trust. For me, it’s a relationship closer to that of my guitar teacher and diving coach. You provide for me direction and a path to understanding the ecosystem of my body on a much deeper level. You see and know the patterns of my system before I’m aware of them. You guide me based on what I need. You know and respectcexactly where I am at any moment and your guidance supports my growth path. The pressure is not more or less that the need. It’s the precise, appropriate amount that will support my growth. I’m deeply thankful for the life circumstances that have supported my capacity to study with you consistently for the past 5 years. It has taken this long to develop the skills and this new language I’m speaking and I know there is so much more to be discovered. Thank you, Francisco.