How often do you take time out in your day to connect to the sensations of joy and pleasure? Do you notice the way coffee smells? When you bite into a piece of fruit and feel
the difference in texture from the skin to the flesh and the sweet or tangy taste hits your tongue... and how the juice fills your mouth? Do you take the time to savour it? When sat outside in a park or a garden, have you taken the time to notice how the insects move? Do you go and have a smell of the flowers and take in their fragrance? How the air feels just as a storm is about to roll in and how the air feels electric and the wind moves in a rhythmic wave that offers to take your troubles with it?
When I used to suffer with anxiety my body was always on full alert. Hypervigilant. My brain catastrophising. My nervous system ready to fight or flee, to take action. I saw the danger in everything. And when I was in the full flow of anxious attachment, there too I was constantly scanning my relationships for impending danger or doom. Looking for the next moment I would get abandoned.
And then one day I met my inner-child. The first time I met her completely changed the trajectory of my life. She introduced me to the tools that would teach me to anchor into safety. To trust.
You see, when I met my inner-child I was in a place in my life where I knew all the reasons why I was insecure. It was my childhood. The only problem was, I couldn't see a way forward. I couldn't see how I could get away from my own mind and my body was always scanning for danger that I just couldn't move forward. So when I was told by a facilitator that I would be meeting my inner-child, I thought she would be angry. Angry with the life I had led. Angry that I had become a victim when a part of me knew I deserved better. Angry that I wasn't considered and respected by others as much as I wanted. (All of which were related to anxious attachment and unhealthy coping patterns I had adopted.)
So when I met her I was surprised. Because instead of an angry child, I met a little girl who was about 7 years old and she pulled me close and gave me a hug. I felt so loved. She then held my hand and pulled me into the middle of a dance studio floor and began dancing. Dancing had always been a passion and I hadn't had the opportunity to go to dance lessons. and because I'm quite petite, I always wondered if I would have been a professional dancer. In my teenage years and 20s I was frequently complimented for my dancing which felt great to receive but with also an element of an 'opportunity lost'. But dancing for me always brought me so much joy. Moving my body. An expression of my soul in movement. Dancing was my happy place where I could completely lose myself.
So in that moment, as the little girl pulled me onto the dance floor I began to shed tears. It dawned on me that I had spent so much time in my past regretting all the bad things which had happened and feeling sorry for myself and waiting for the future, when life would somehow get miraculously better if only X, Y or Z happened.
So I realised. I realised what this little girl was showing me. She was showing me to live in the present. To dance. I had lost the joy. I had lost the wonder. I had become so focussed on all the pain that I had misplaced what it felt like to actually live. From that day I chose, and this is the word that's important here, I chose to live life differently. I would allow myself to feel pain and no longer run away from it, sure. I talk a lot about that to overcome anxiety. However, the difference was going to be in choosing to see the beauty. I decided to create a life of joy, pleasure, curiosity and awe.
So how did I do this?
I connected to my inner-child, I danced silly in the kitchen with my children until we were in fits of laughter. I made mud cakes and decorated them with flowers. I rolled down hills with them. I climbed trees. I tasted the rain and feel it fall on my face. I dipped my feet in the cool stream and felt the water rushing through my toes. I looked for ways to take myself less seriously. Where could I bring more fun into my life and with it more joy?
I began to connect to my vulva and accepting the shame around my body. This shame has served as a purpose to protect me. So I embraced what it had taught me but chose to no longer allow it to rule my decisions around my body and my sexuality. I explored self-pleasure and slowing it all down to really feel into what my body is capable of experiencing. I found the pleasure in human connection, in hugs with friends and family and sex with my husband. I found pleasure in the foods that I ate and how the sun felt on my skin. How my cats fur felt against my skin. I felt the pleasure of the grass and the connection to the earth when I laid down and surrendered. How changing my relationship to pleasure from one that felt frivolous to one where I knew that I deserved it and embraced it being a part of my life.
I noticed how my children reacted with the world and the joy they experienced through their curiosity. So I also tuned into that part of me. I would watch bees and notice how one bee would hover and send other bees away. Or watch a bumble bee dig into the ground. I'd watch a ladybird make its way over to the aphids on my chamomile and watch the ants fight her off. I would pay attention to the clouds in the sky and look at which ones hung low and which ones seemed almost in space. The curiosity was a space for me come to a mindful presence and really get to experience the beauty all around me.
Connecting to the exquisiteness around us and learning to experience awe within the body can be amazingly lifting. It can bring you to tears of elation. I think many people when tuning into awe think that they need to have a profound experience happening right in from of them. Awe is something we feel inside ourselves when we allow ourselves to step into
childlike curiosity as we observe the world around us. The magnificence of a landscape and how the hills undulate or the colours and textures of the trees which line the horizon. How a bird moves in flight in a way that feels like you are dancing with it. Awe can be found watching the sun rise or sun set and noticing how the light reflects differently on the underside of a cloud to above it - the shapes and the patterns that are created and the wonderful colours! Awe really is powerful to tap into.
And what's really amazing about this, is that you can bring it into your everyday. While you are at home, on your commute to work, on a 5 minute break from work or on a lunch break, if you're at home with the children - just watching the wonder of them and tuning into their curiosity. We can tune into the joy, pleasure, curiosity and awe all around us. As we do so, we teach our nervous system to look for it more. We also begin to learn what safety feels like in our body. How we can connect to our internal sense of safety and connect to the sense of safety in the environment around us.
So when we are able to move into that place with ease, our bodies are beginning to let go of and not hang onto as much to the hypervigilence and catastrophising. We are teaching our nervous system that actually, yes, the world is safe and we can access that whenever we need to.
I hoped you enjoyed some of my photos and expressions of where I find joy, pleasure, curiosity and awe!
How will you be tuning into joy, pleasure, curiosity and awe today?
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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