13 Jun Shrinking Pains and Learning to Stretch Through Expansion
These last few months I have been in pain. A LOT of pain. And not just sharp, shooting pains either but constant and uninterrupted waves of intense discomfort demanding my attention 24/7.
This, after a period of feeling better, and expansion both physically and mentally. Now, back to shrinking. Curled up, nurturing myself in any way feasible, silently petrified of every subtle stretch of limb or muscle contraction. Literally, terrified, as if I may spontaneously explode with the slightest movement.
While my higher consciousness tells me it’s all rooted in conditioned fear, my reptilian brain shouts louder and louder: DON’T MOVE OR YOU WILL BREAK! And so, it seems I’m doomed to paralysis either way.
Months of this. Maybe close to a year. All the time thinking “if I just take great care and nurture myself fully, I will move through this gracefully and easily.”
The pain continued and actually became worse, regardless of my self-care routines. Without consciously realising it, I was actually cementing my reptilian beliefs. I was no longer someone with free will and freedom of choice but merely PAIN PERSONIFIED.
These were not, as I had hoped, growing pains, but in fact the result of my contraction from life.
Finally, I self-diagnosed this chronic fear and intense physical discomfort as shrinking pains.
Could it really be?
I knew I had to put it to the test, to see if I could move – even just a few inches – beyond the pain. For months I tried, and failed. It seemed too hard, and way too much to ask of me. Better to shrink than push myself surely?
But I knew that would only help me stagnate further, and cause more pain. No, I had to try harder. And no more dabbling – all in or nothing.
I started straight back into daily yoga practice, no excuses.
Although my body cried at first, after a few minutes of limbering, breathing and releasing, I could feel the deeply ingrained stress and pain melting away. I began deliberately gently, with slow, mindful movements and a nourishing practice to ease my transition, and soon – much, much sooner than I ever anticipated – I was suddenly sold to push myself compassionately through a very demanding practice.
I learned to sweat again, and cope with the INTENSE discomfort that brings to anyone with a skin condition. I learned to associate a strong practice with bigger, better results in body, mind and spirit. I learned to fully surrender again, to the practice, to Savasana, and to my Self.
When I found myself falling back into shrinking mode, I knew I had to just nudge myself enough to tip me over the threshold of my limiting beliefs – any more and I’d crash and curl into a solid ball. Any less and I’d become completely immovable in every way.
Over the weeks I saw this gradual expansion radiate out into every other area of my life.
This is yoga after all, not just working out! Soon I was writing more, reaching out to friends, peers and clients more, creating new programmes and taking on new clients. And I was pushing myself beyond my own introverted tendencies – getting more visual and visible, taking meetings on video call and doing live video streams. All this, DESPITE still suffering the same symptoms that had kept me prisoner for the last year.
In life, you can choose. It probably won’t be easy, but you have the CHOICE of either shrinking or expanding.
Whatever holds you back – chronic pain, anxiety, introversion, fear, self-consciousness, lack of self-worth (and I suffer from all of these!) – you can simply CHOOSE to overcome it, one little nudge at a time.
Our habits and repeated beliefs about ourselves reinforce the neural pathways in our brain. When we shrink in fear and refuse to budge in case we break some vulnerable part of ourselves, we simply strengthen that fear – not just emotionally but BIOLOGICALLY.
This is why it feels so very difficult to believe something new about ourselves –
we are biologically wired to stick to our old habits and beliefs! And YET, the miracle of neuroplasticity means if we just allow the possibility in or minds of nudging against those boundaries, then pretty soon we CAN AND WILL create brand new pathways.
New path ways = new self beliefs.
But you have to COMMIT to expansion.
Even when every fibre in your being and every shred of “evidence” screams the opposite, you MUST believe in your ability to grow. Beyond the pain, beyond the fear, beyond the terrifying shyness or lack of self-worth.
And in THAT space, is where you will discover the magic.
This is the real alchemy, and you are capable of uncovering your golden core. It’s right there, if you look. And believe.
Breathe, relax and expand.
And then tell me what’s REALLY possible for you!