Beyond Emotional First Aid

The purpose of the Emotional First Aid workshops I offer is to share simple body-based practices to help us shift from triggered, reactive states, into centered, creative states. I’ve put together a “kit” of portable, easy-to-learn tools to soothe us when we are in crisis-mode, so we can make better choices.

This overwhelming modern world gives us too much information to digest, too many passwords to memorize, and too many social and environmental injustices to respond to. Many of us struggle to both survive and reduce some of the suffering in the world; in the midst of all that, it is helpful to have an emotional first aid kit ready.

But beyond first aid, we need personally meaningful practices that sustain our lives and our personal and social change work over the long term. It helps to create or discover body-mind practices that speak to your unique needs and goals and then to make a commitment to practice them frequently. Practice is essential—it is how we sculpt ourselves into what we want to be.

As you begin to dream up or remember the daily or weekly practices that work for you, I want to share some principles that make practices more effective. These principles are common to most of the ancient and modern wisdom traditions that I have immersed myself in, including Restorative Yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, Intuitive Energy Reading, Generative Somatics, energy healing, brain science, and crisis counseling. I recommend that you incorporate these principles into your chosen practices:

Be Persistent
Whatever you are practicing, do it frequently, at least once a day, even if it is for a brief time. Repetition is the key.

Cultivate Awareness
Pay attention to the sensations of your body (including any places where you feel nothingness, or numbness) while you practice; pay attention to your emotions and thoughts as well. Be curious and notice patterns.

Slow Down
Listen deeply to your body sensations, emotions, and thoughts; assume they are trying to tell you something important.

Seek to thoroughly understand and empathize with unwanted behaviors before you try to change them.

Work With Yourself (don’t fight yourself)
Work with what is there; assume that there is a seed of wisdom and healing in whatever is showing up, including painful body sensations or emotions, and including any unwanted behaviors.

Respect your body’s “Nos.” If you hit a wall, back off a little or a lot. Don’t push yourself. If something you are doing hurts (emotionally, physically, etc), stop!

When you try to change your behaviors, think about inviting opening (versus straining or pushing). As Joann Lyons, my restorative yoga teacher says, “We want to invite the body to open; it’s not about stretching or straining.”

Focus On What You Want
Put most of your attention and energy on what you want to be or how you want to behave, and imagine how it will look and feel when you get there.

Practice what you want to be; if you want abundance, then practice gratitude each day.

Seek Out and Receive Support
Let yourself fully experience being supported. Try lying on the floor while imagining the earth supporting your back. Feel how deep, broad and reliable this support is; pay attention to your sensations as you sink into it.

Community is often the best support; if you can, find others to practice with.

With much gratitude to my teachers, past and present: Joann Lyons (Piedmont Yoga Studio), Tsultrim Allione (Tara Mandala), Phyllis Pay (Intuitive Energy Center), Denise Benson, Staci Haines, Richard Moss & Kathy Daymond.

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