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Listening to the Body: A Story

There are a plethora of techniques and skills out there to help with grounding and coping. If you’re lucky enough, you can find one or two that work really well for you and you’re good to go.

Me-I like to try out all the skills, because I need a large toolkit of skills. However, if you’re anything like me, there’s a dash of social anxiety, negative core beliefs about not doing enough, which are great things to go together. They play off each other in some twisted game where I always lose. So when I’m learning something new and struggling with it, my ability to speak up is nilch and I’ll go back to the drawing board to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

For example, there is this one breathing technique, the alternate nostril breathing technique. For this skill, you gently press one nostril close and take a deep inhale and long exhale through open nostril and then switch. It’s supposed to have all these benefits: a cleansing effect on the nervous system and grounding it. Easy peasy right?

Wrong. At least for me. I was first introduced to it through a few classes with my mentor and I’d watch all these people engage in this skill and enjoy it. Whenever I’d attempt it, I felt more agitated, uncomfortable, and just not right. I had a hard time with the breath and could never figure out why people liked it so much. However, my social anxiety would leave me silent and my negative core beliefs would leave me believing I was not using the skill correctly. I needed more practice.

Practicing this skill was terrible for me and I hated it. (Side note: Yes, I know different skills for different people. For some reason, I couldn’t get past not doing this breathing technique). If I was at a class or workshop that would have us practice this skill, ugggh, I’d force my way through the discomfort and feeling out of breath.

Fast forward to a visit with an ENT (ear nose and throat physician), it turns out I have a deviated septum. A deviated septum is where the nasal septum is off center (like mine veers to the left). In addition, my nasal cavities are in slight collapse. What this means for me, I have poor air flow from my left nostril. So that discomfort and agitation I’d experience during the alternate nostril breathing was from literally not being able to breathe. My stubbornness and needing to do what everyone else was doing left me overlooking/ignoring my own body signals.

The moral of this whole display of my stubbornness, sometimes we (me more specifically) can get caught up in the crowd. The current of the “shoulds” and “coulds” have such a strong pull, that the sight of shore is nothing but a mere glimpse on the horizon. For me, this whole experience left me glancing at the horizon and beginning the swim back home, back to myself. The sudden realization that I left my own body behind just to hone a skill I never will be able to do has granted me the insight to be more aware of my internal signals. If something is uncomfortable to the point of distress (some learning curves can be uncomfortable and beneficial), there’s a reason behind it. I may not know the reason, but something will be revealed later.


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