Cat From The Mat

The Urge to Purge, Shred, and Shed

The first of November signifies the Celtic New Year called Samhain (summer's end).  Besides honoring how one's lineage has brought you to where you are now, it is also time to clear out the old and bring in the new.  The deciduous trees are shedding their leaves, releasing that which is vital to replenish the next growth cycle.  In the northern hemisphere, this type of "fall cleaning" is a strategy to appreciate that which you have been given, that which you want to keep, and that which you wish to release.  

My spring into summer into fall purge has been long overdue.  Like shifting tectonic plates that create friction while resetting any foundation, I have been reorganizing my space, my schedule, my beliefs, my expectations, to name a few.  In shredding over two decades of filed tax papers and documents that I didn't realize I had been storing, some questions have been raised.

How is it that I have been holding on to so much without even knowing it?   In what ways might I still be clinging to the past that prevents me from moving forward into the future?  Which aspects of my history are a significant part of my identity and which parts are holding back who I wish to become? 

Yoga is the practice of becoming adaptable.  It's an invitation to loosen up my tight grip while finding compassionate ways to move around obstacles.  Yet, after 20+ years of practice, I still find myself in moments of being so attached that I can get stuck. If only I could feed my self-limiting ideas through the cross-cutting shredder to lighten my load.

In the physical body, we experience similar stagnation.  Within our Central Nervous System, there are two branches commonly known as Fight & Flight (sympathetic response) and Rest & Digest (parasympathetic response).  However, there's a third component that connects both, which is Freeze.  When an animal is attacked by a predator and is unable to fight or flee, he/she can feign death and freeze. Once the attacker leaves the frozen prey, the defrosting can begin to shake the event memory out of its body, known as a discharge.

People often respond to situations by doing a mix of flight, flight, and freeze.  I once had my latest iPhone taken out of my purse while getting onto the subway.  I noticed immediately and without thinking, I went straight into Fight mode.  I followed the perpetrator out of one subway car into the next yelling at him to give me back my phone.  Luckily, he did not put up a fight, dropped my cell phone, and fled the scene.  For about fifteen minutes after the event, I was vibrating with all the life force that I mustered up for self-protection.  This expulsion was the discharge of the memory, which could only happen when I returned back to a feeling of safety.

When we human choose to freeze as a protective maneuver, there is suppressed energy.  If feeling under attack, we might brace ourselves to endure the experience by stopping dead in our tracks.  However, it's vital that it is followed by the thawing release.  Otherwise, it might take up residency in the body and become an eventual habitual issue. 

I invite you to inquire about any holding patterns you might be clenching, out of familiarity or familial obligation.  Besides your own coping mechanisms, your ancestors have passed on emotional DNA through generations.  Perhaps these patterns have been squatting in the building of your body, not paying rent, and even preventing more current habitants of moving in.  

Bracing doesn't imply support.  So dismiss any belief systems that no longer serve you, whether yours or inherited.  Remove any outmoded expectations that might free up the flow, under honorable discharge.  In the words of author Alan Cohen, "It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful."  At this time of Hallowmas, find the significance in all that you choose to remove and remain.  It just might shed some light.








Cat From The Mat blog

November 2016