The feeling of coming up against a wall, in another or in ourselves, is a common experience for many including myself. Often I hear people exclaim their frustration at wanting to be free of a familiar, undesirable feeling or emotional reaction usually involving fear, anger or despair. Not knowing how to shift their emotional pattern, or trying to shift it with little success, they sink inside themselves with a hopeless sense of being stuck or unable to get past where they are. This is because there is a barrier. “What can I do?” they ask themselves. They don’t want to be where they are they want to be on the other side of whatever it is that’s making them feel stuck and miserable.They want to feel whole again but they can’t figure out a way past the barrier. Sound familiar?
Rosen Method Bodywork was truly the first place in a long journey of personal growth where I learned what it meant to meet my self at these barriers; these hard, stuck places that I found myself in from time to time. What does it mean to meet a barrier? Well let’s first explore what a barrier is. When life hurts us, either through circumstance or primary relationship, we put up a barrier around our hearts and minds to protect ourselves from feeling the hurt. This barrier is psychological in that we file the feelings away in our subconscious and it is also physical in that we literally tighten our muscles in an effort to hold ourselves together. When our emotions are overwhelming and too much to feel at the time, our nervous systems respond by going into fight/flight/freeze or “survival mode” because psychologically we feel we are under attack. Of course there is also the possibility that we were in physical danger as well which only intensifies our survival defence response.
These barriers are necessary at the time or they would not arrive. Barriers protect us. They help us hold on to ourselves while buffering us from life’s storms. However, these barriers also remain set in our nervous systems. This means that anytime in our current lives we experience a situation that resembles a hurtful, past situation our barriers will unconsciously go up and we will experience a similar reaction in ourselves to our current circumstances as we had to past experiences; often with intense fear/sadness or anger/rage accompanied by muscle tightness, shallow breath, and decreased digestive motility. We become emotionally and physically triggered.
While I had learned many ways to manage emotional reactions and triggers within myself I struggled with the barriers. I longed to connect deeper within myself to feel more relaxed and present. I longed for a freedom of self-expression that can only come from freedom of spirit. I felt trapped inside myself, my barriers had become a cage. Rosen Method invited me to arrive at the barriers. Not to try to get past them, as I had been doing for years, but to notice them, meet them, experience them, simply allow them to be there. This was a lot harder than it sounds. To allow myself to truly experience myself in that moment meant I needed a level of surrender and acceptance and therefore trust; trust in the practitioner, trust in the process, trust in myself and trust that having this experience would not hurt me.
Slowly over several sessions I began to experience my barriers. Meeting the hard shell, allowing myself to experience how hard I worked in my body and mind to protect myself suprisingly created a sensation of relaxation, softening and with that a feeling of more space as if I were taking up more space inside of myself. The barriers began to soften. Walls began to shift from brick to wood. Then windows of possibility arrived and soon doors of experience opened to me that I had always longed for. I became able to experience that part of me that is just awareness no thought. My heart felt expanded and more accessible. My spirit felt free. I would like to tell you that I have continued on in a blissful state of openness ever since but that would be untrue. Every now and then circumstances happen in which I feel my barriers go up and my heart close. The difference is that I have learned a way of living that invites me to meet my barriers whenever they arise and this has given me a life where I feel like I’m a willing participant and not a helpless bystander; a life of freedom!
Cinnamon Cranston, Certified Rosen Method Bodywork Practitioner, Edmonton, AB.