1. Discovering Your Personal Affection Teacher
LET’S BEGIN BY FINDING your own personal and unique Affection Teacher as you recall past experiences that will show you where to look in your body’s knowing for this precious and remarkable human resource.
Begin by growing quiet inside yourself and letting your attention settle into the center of your body so the chatter in your head can die down.
Then, when you’re ready to go further, once again recall some memories of times when you felt affection in your body.
Perhaps these came when you were a child playing with a special toy or doll, or even with a puppy, a kitten, or some other pet. Maybe it was when you were holding your first baby, one of your children, or someone with whom you fell in love.
Possibly, you remember caring for a sick child, an aging friend or relative, someone who really needed your physical presence to feel your care, your love, your availability to them.
TRY TO GET A SENSE for how some pet, person, or special place filled with warm memories can call forth an immediate body response from you that involves letting down your armor, being open, being present, being available.
It’s like your body is there with all it’s pores open, not tight, wary, cautious, guarded, defensive.
What you are looking for is the experience that gives you the strongest way to communicate with your body the message, “I’m here.” “I care.” “You are not alone.” This is your special affection teacher which you can call upon whenever some feeling you want to push away needs you to be with it in this caring way.
Take whatever time you need to recall your memories, and notice what affection teacher seems to be your best resource.
This is a teacher your body carries around all the time, waiting to assist you even if you were not in the habit of noticing and nurturing this friendly help during stressful situations from your past.
When you’re ready, continue reading below.
2. Caring for the Enemies You Create Inside Yourself
In a moment, you will bring this newly discovered affection teacher, which your body has learned from past experience, into a relationship with your difficult feelings. The issues you will be working with include:
- “Can I begin creating a caring relationship with my own body as it struggles with the burden of scared, hurting, angry or confused feelings?”
- “Can I be with my own body carrying such feelings, just as I might be with an abandoned baby, or as I was with a loved pet, my teddy bear, or a favorite doll when I was a child? Simply let your affection teacher guide you.”
Everything inside that you shun and push away, everything you numb or from which you distract yourself has some opening that will allow you to make a caring connection–even with your own difficult feelings.
They want to be heard, too, because they have something to tell you, or you wouldn’t be feeling them. None of this will ever change inside until you find some way to create a more open, caring body-connection with whatever you’re pushing away–at the very least offering an inside body-to-body handshake, so to speak.
Without some caring, bodily-felt link, some physically felt availability, those hurting places inside will remain forever outcasts howling in the night.
Their stories will remain untold. Their enduring pain of not being heard will continually rise to the surface of your awareness, much as oil leaking from a rusting hulk at the bottom of the sea drifts slowly upward toward the light, eventually soiling the surface and everything that touches it.
All of creation, all of nature struggles toward a unity and life-giving connections that our minds will never fully grasp. The untold, still disconnected stories within every unheard feeling are no exception.
Fortunately, most of us have an available “inside” teacher to help build a new kind of relationship to ourselves–a relationship that puts us back on the path toward wholeness.
What follows are some exercises that will help you begin the process of developing a habit of noticing and nurturing your important feelings so they can tell you the story of yourself.
The wisdom of your body knowing, expressed in its language of feelings, can then balance harmoniously with your thinking brain.
Here is an exercise that invites your affection teacher to guide you in how to bring a caring, gentle, physically-felt presence to a feeling inside that you might have the habit of pushing away from and avoiding.
Your affection teacher can show you how to transform that pattern. It begins by teaching you physically how to care for your own body as it carries difficult feelings, so you can hear what they have to say.
Eventually, when your feelings can trust you not to abandon and reject them, an inner story will emerge. You only need to be patient and allow this new relationship to grow inside you.
Begin by letting the chatter in your head die down simply by allowing your awareness to settle into the center of your body, and notice how you feel there.
Take a moment to do that opening exercise before reading further. If it helps, close your eyes.
Then, when you’re ready, ask yourself:
- “In my life right now, what feels like it’s most between me and feeling all OK?”
Take whatever time you need to sense what that “not OK” issue or feeling might be for you.
Then when you’re ready to go further, ask yourself,
- “How do I carry this not OK feeling in my body right now?”
- “How is it to be carrying the burden of this feeling…..? (Weary, scared, hurting, lonely, etc.?)”
Without trying to fix or change anything, Ask yourself:
- “Is it OK right now for me to bring a caring presence to how it feels inside to be carrying all this?”
- “Instead of blaming or reliving the past, can I companion my own feelings right now, just as I might be with a hurting child or someone who needed to feel my loving presence?”
Take time to care for your body as it carries this inside place, waiting patiently as long as you have the time, or until a word, perhaps some memory, an image, or maybe tears or something else may come that feels connected–like it’s part of the story or inner meaning in all this.
After awhile, if nothing comes and connects, or some things have come with a body connection but the overall issue still feels incomplete or unfinished, it often helps to ask stuck and hurting inner places:
- “How do you need me to be with you, so you can be my teacher and friend, so we can continue our journey together?”
Take time right now to be inside yourself with that question, and how your body responds to it.
Continue bringing a caring presence to whatever stands out most in your body, quietly listening to any story that begins to emerge, for as long as it feels right to do so.
Finally, when you’ve gone far enough, and it feels like time to bring your session to a close, promise any unfinished feeling that you will come back at another time and care for it.
Then, allow yourself a final moment to be grateful and reverent with any piece of your inner story that may have unfolded for you.
Perhaps a word, some memory, an image, or felt realization may have come inside. Take time to honor the feeling of that in your body and be thankful for it. Then, stop when you’re ready.
HOMEWORK: It is very helpful during your day to set aside moments in which to notice and nurture any important feelings.
- “Is there anything in my life right now between me and feeling all OK?”
- “What feels most important in my life right now?”
Practice moments of being with your feelings in this caring way throughout the day, simply being present and listening, inviting a response when an important feeling is ready to tell its story.
Caring presence is that vital, enabling step on a long inward journey that will last for a lifetime. It is a spiritual quest, a journey of new links into who you are continuing to become as a person.