Let’s Get Horizontal
Horizontalize. Verb. To orient horizontally.
Delicious word right?
If I’m honest I thought it was an ‘Oz-ism’.
Please excuse the following blatant stereotyping, it holds a purpose, I promise.
The Ugg-wearing, leopard-panted, mala-beaded, beautiful beings that facilitated my Sexological Bodywork course used the word a lot.
In the Sexology context, we mean not attributing any sort of negative or positive label to emotions, energy or sensations* we are noticing in our body, which goes against what our brains love to do (identify, label, store in files or jars, neatly categorise as good or bad)’.
‘The energy in my stomach is anxiety, this is a bad thing…’
‘The Ugg-wearing, mala-beaded Australian beings said a word I don’t understand – it must be an Australian colloquialism (Oz-ism)…’
We do this constantly with people and experiences, with everything in life. Drilling everything down into a polarised category of good or bad.
Chocolate cake is bad right? Whhhyy?
Okay, in huge amounts it can affect our health, but luxuriating in the bliss of a beautiful cake (or food of choice) is nothing but pure pleasure. Or does pleasure fall in the ‘bad’ category too?
I was working with another beautiful being the other day (my life is full of them, it’s ace) and she experiences depression, long, drawn-out periods of feeling way beyond sad. When she feels anything may be triggering her, or she may be falling back into anxiety, panic and fear kick in.
She is experiencing an extremely stressful period, a relationship breaking down and huge problems at work (they always seem to come together right?). She said she could feel in her stomach the falling sensation, like she was being dragged back.
I asked her what she had been doing over the last few days. A hell of a lot of exercise, little sleep and very little food. Rough calculation, she was in a calorie-deficit of over 1,200 kcal before she had eaten that day, with about four hours of broken sleep.
She had noticed the slow, heavy, flat feeling, exhausted but mind buzzing, and immediately categorised it as depression and then the panic as anxiety.
As an observer, I could see she might be hungry with low blood sugar.
Now, I’m not a nutritionist, and in no way am I minimising people’s experiences or saying food will cure everything, but we all know eating properly will make a massive difference.
No food may mean low blood sugar. The NHS website lists possible symptoms to include feeling hungry, feeling shaky or trembling, feeling tired, a fast or pounding heartbeat (palpitations), becoming easily irritated, tearful, stroppy or moody.
Neural pathways and beliefs that are so strong, formed by repeated beliefs and experiences, combined with our negative bias mean our brains will always choose the route most traveled.
Can you see how the sensations experienced by not eating can easily be categorised as anxiety? This in turn causes panic and further anxiety, reinforcing that neural pathway even more.
What can we do?
I’ve just finished a beautiful guided meditation called observation.
It discussed observing and listening to emotions, sensations and energies within our body instead of categorising them. Practicing. Greeting it like a friend who is here to tell us some news, with a big smile on their face.
If my client had noticed the low, flat feeling, maybe identified where she felt it in her body, greeted the sensation and asked how she could help, she may have had a little more space to notice what other things were adding to her experience, such as lack of rest and food.
It’s not easy to do straight away, and it gets harder when you are more stressed out. Our brain will be searching for the road most travelled and doing anything new feels clunky. Sometimes we need a little help from a coach, like me, or a friend.
Journaling helps to slow things down, install and reinforce those baby-fresh neural pathways. The more you practice, the easier and more automatic it becomes.
One thing that helps us be able to slow down, notice and observe sensations is a body scan meditation. I start every client session with one as it brings us into the present and allows our body to communicate with us. You can use mine at any time here: IM Body Scan
The thing is, our bodies always know what we need, we’ve just lost the ability to listen to them.
If you would like to understand more how we can reprogram our brains, learn to dial down stress and use breath work and touch to influence our own arousal levels, check out our IM Woman Mindful Touch programme where you can learn to train your own libido.
Lots of love.
p.s. For more goodness, tap here to join our IM Woman Tribe, where we talk frankly and openly about how our bodies actually work, myth-bust years of damaging cultural advice and strive to love and accept our bodies exactly as they are, right now.
I mean why wouldn’t you??
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* small caveat – if in pain or discomfort, go seek medical attention!