When life gets tough, or mundane, or uninspiring, shifting our focus and allowing our perspective to expand and lift like a big balloon filled with hot, rising air that has no where to go but up and out can offer a break. Exploring all of the corners of our experience from these new and exalted angles presents us with glimpses into new corners of potential experience that we don’t habitually inhabit, but that are really just as easily inhabitable, so long as we give them a little attention and make them, too, feel important.
Consider living from this angle: What would life be like if we insisted on choosing the experience that brought life into our lives? What if we refused to dwell and to fritter and to obsess and to stick on those things that drain life away? If we could only gently and consistently bring ourselves back and re-shift and re-focus and re-group so that we encouraged the most aliveness, all the time, no matter what–whether we are reaching for (or skipping) breakfast, or choosing how to spend the hour right before bedtime, or making big life decisions–what might this be like?
I would like to propose that each of us deserves to feel alive. (Isn’t that why we are here?!) This doesn’t mean we feel joy always, or that we eat birthday cake for every meal from this moment forward, or that we never do anything we don’t want to do ever again. It is instead that we have every right and every responsibility to evaluate all of the corners of our lives and all of the big and the small things, the today and the tomorrow things, the now or the never things–all of the things that we do with our twenty-four daily hours, all of the environments, individuals, institutions, obligations, thought patterns, food patterns, addiction patterns, relational patterns that color our lives–and that we recognize that it is in our best interest to choose those things that bring us alive, and also to learn how to orient toward things so that we rise to life.
Secondly, I would like to propose that each of us is equipped with a very special tool, that whether or not we even ask for its help, is there to tell us whether we are bringing ourselves alive. This is our human body.
Our minds are really skilled at tricking us into believing that particular small things aren’t actually that small, or that there is no way around them, and all sorts of other convincing arguments. Our bodies–every single one of them, I would argue–are quite unskilled in comparison. They have this endearing little quality about them that has them failing miserably when it comes to lying. They all fail in their own unique ways, but they fail nonetheless. They fail at upholding a false truth that everything is okay when we go on living the kind of life, or eating the kind of breakfast, or perpetuating the same old relationship dynamics, or spending the kind of time on the couch or in front of the mirror with the kind of thoughts going through our heads that do not bring us alive.
We can only go on so long choosing or resigning ourselves to or finding ways in which to numb and distract ourselves from the things and the people and the patterns that are too small for us before our bodies start to groan, or scream, or retreat, or go numb or do silly things like stop sleeping or insisting on subsisting on peanut M&Ms alone.
When it comes to making aliveness-affirming choices in our day-to-day and when it comes to huge things, our bodies are a good place to start. Taking quiet time to close our eyes and quiet our minds, and to feel what happens in our chests, or to our shoulders, or deep in our bellies when we hold this or that situation close is where the truth lives. Thoughts are too often confusing and contradictory and schizophrenic and exhausting and wordy, and maybe they don’t even have any feel to them any more, and they just make up a dried-out, worn-out story that’s been told for years and has no oomph anymore. Our bodies are where the juice and the meat and the realness is. This is our gauge for that which brings us alive.
With the sun’s big warmth still here, and as the slivers of light get shed from our days, nature calls upon us to combine the inspiration and the bounty of summer with the harvest, and the taking stock, and then the gradual cutting away and letting go of fall that we will see as the leaves begin to gently float down from the trees. Take time to harness this potent energy, combine it with the honest wisdom of your body, and take an inventory of pulsing, breathing, radiating aliveness in your life.
Written by Sara Bowes
of Sara Bowes Acupuncture
1804 NE MLK Blvd.
Portland, OR 97212
Photography by Susan Bowes and John Clotfelter