Each of us has a story to tell about a time in our lives where we felt incredibly vulnerable. For some, those stories end with love, support and connection, for others invalidation, fear or trauma is the outcome. Stepping into the studio space to teach yoga, I realize that I do not know everyones story, the only story that I truly know is my own.
I recall a time when the mere idea of being vulnerable, was enough to send my intellectual defense mechanisms into overdrive. I had all the excuses in the world as to why being vulnerable didn’t apply to me. In a physical sense, I saw my resistance to vulnerability showing up when I did not feel strong enough, or flexible enough, or was fearful of a practice or pose. Emotional vulnerability was no different, I would make excuses to avoid the situation, I would deny the fear, wreck the relationship, and squash any challenge to my homeostasis.
From this I learned a few things I would like to share.
The first is, I wanted more to life than broken, minimally successful relationships. At some point in my adult life, I realized that I, like most humans, had a deep desire for connection. We desire having people we are close with, people we can trust and feel secure with, people we would willingly shift our perspective for. In my therapeutic work with adults, I have come to realize many of us don’t know how to make lasting connections. We are too wrapped up in our own insecurities to realize that being “strong”, is more about being vulnerable then it is about slaying the beast. We are held back by the fear that we will be hurt, so we don’t allow anyone in; the fear of not being liked, so we hide who we are; the fear of falling flat on our face, so we won’t lift our feet off the ground; or the fear of truly trusting another human being, so we act like ass holes to push people away. When we are ruled by fear, our ability to step into vulnerability is limited, and thus our ability to connect is diminished.
The first step to vulnerability and connection is finding the courage to explore. Because, if you don’t know you, you can’t connect. Taking the time out to observe your experiences both physically and emotionally can be challenging. For some, committing to observing your own journey can be down right terrifiying. So begin by being patient and noticing the resistance and how it ebbs and flows. Working to understand your own process, seeing how your experiences shape you, and how this impacts your relationships is crucial to further growth.
In seeking deeper connection a little inner wisdom goes a long way. To gain some new perspectives, you might decide to utilize the practice of yoga, whether asana, pranayama, or meditation, for your foray into self-study. The most important part of the journey to self awareness, is the deep desire to get there, then you must be clear on your intention and stay the course, commit! I can guarantee there will be times when the work becomes challenging, and it will seem easier to simply throw in the towel, stick with it.
The next thing I learned, is that information collected from both the physical body and the mind can complement each other and allow for movement through the “shit”. I recommend movement and breath, along with some body scans to explore your physical sensations, and/or lack of sensations. I always begin with the breath. This does a few things, the breath allows for steadiness, it becomes a tool that you can utilize when you are exploring the physical form, to find and create space, and it has the power to deliver a sense of calm to the physical body. The breath also has the power to provide support and calm to the mind when digging deep.
When digging deep, I like to explore this through writing. I find that the old fashion pen to paper has a therapeutic benefit beyond the actual recording. In exploring vulnerability, what some might call the truth, or the “authentic” story begins to evolve. This observation and digging deep happens by asking yourself a few questions. Utilize the list below as inspiration in your exploration.
- What do you fear?
- What are your insecurities?
- What do you value?
- What validates you?
- What motivates you?
- What Inspires you?
- What would your life be like if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What does it feel like to be madly in love? (Whether you have ‘had’ this experience or not, what do you imagine that is like), how would you describe it?
- What would your life be like if you were certain everyone loved you unconditionally?
- What are your hopes, dreams, plans, goals?
Once you have moved through some physical practice, tuned into the body, connected to the breath and have begun developing a sense of steadiness, start writing. These questions are simply a jumping off point. As you move through this work, you will find self-study also requires some self analysis, a peeling away of the layers that has kept you numb, fearful or disconnected for some time. This process does not end, it simply evolves.
As you begin to open to your own experiences, you will notice opportunities to share your personal narrative, chances to ask for help, share your authentic self, flaws and all. This is the time to harness your most courageous self and take these risks. In doing so you will notice a new, more trusting self and a new found depth to your connections.