Tuning In – Turning Within
Every winter, as December nears its close, I become especially attuned to all the rituals we embrace during the transition into the New Year. It seems that everyone I speak with has in place some kind of a process for assessing what has been and preparing for what may be. The ceremonial year-end rites range from the highly formalized to the intimate and casual, but everywhere there is the palpable presence of people taking note of what has passed and what is yet to come.
For myself, I have always embraced these transitional times at the turn of the new year and on my birthday, too, by stopping the flow of thought and action long enough to disengage from what is happening in order that I may feel what it is to be a part of the happening itself. Stepping back from a course of events helps me to feel the direction they are taking me. An inquiry of the direction I’m moving and the quality of that journey is my ritual.
My own reflections begin by tuning in to how my body feels, and how I am feeling about myself. As the dawn of this New Year calls, I slowly pull back from my responsibilities to others and turn inward so that I may feel how my body is responding to where I am in my life, and how where I am in my life is making me feel about myself.
The body speaks all the time—we just have to learn its language. A key here is to expect the messages to work through us intuitively. In other words, the body doesn’t speak as our minds do. Rather, it speaks in the language of sensation—of nudges, comforts and discomforts, of tightness and relaxation. These sensations promote an awareness that acts through us and lets us know if something feels "right" or "dangerous"--if a direction feels worth following or feels like a dead end.
When I tune into my body to see how I am feeling about my life, I take a relaxed position and begin to scan my body for sensations. I note and embrace the sensations and move on. There’s no need to push to hear the body speak, tuning in is all the invitation that it needs.
Expression is a good word to follow when perceiving messages from the body. The body will express its truth like an uncensored child. Our job is to tune into our tendencies to sensor our body’s true expression and embrace and give good home to the communication being imparted. We’ve all had the experience of a sensation arising in the body that makes us feel uncomfortable about a new person we meet, for example. Often times we will even say, I don’t know what it is, but I never feel safe around so-and-so. It may be hard to name exactly what sensation indicates to you your discomfort, but nonetheless, the message is received loud and clear.
A Bit On Self-Referencing
We can all benefit from a growing awareness of our own body’s signals. Many of us miss the ever-present communication between body and mind. We are not feeling our bodies, attuning to the sensations generating from our physicality, nor appreciating how these sensations support our ability to hold our ground, embrace an emotion, and stay connected to our truth and what is important to us.
Our bodies are a kind of diving rod pointing to the wellspring of information, wisdom, and insight that we seek. If we can just learn to trust the sensations and what they tell us intuitively, we can be the recipients of so much of what we often look outside of ourselves for.
When I speak of looking outside of ourselves for information about ourselves and our own direction in life, I’m speaking of our tendency to ask others what we should do and how we should move in the world. While seeking counsel from those who have gone before us is indeed a sound and wise practice, seeking our own counsel—learning to understand our own deepest resources of knowing and insight—is, in my view, the most reliable resource we will ever have access to in our lives. I am a firm believer that we know a lot more than we allow ourselves to know that we know. The body is the mining ground for this wealth of information.
I have come to recognize several cues from my own body that help me to wake up to the limitless signals I receive through the day-to-day living of my life. In particular, my stomach is a wonderful barometer for feelings that have slipped away from my awareness. A stomachache is one telltale sign that I’ve buried a feeling—that I’ve turned away from information my body was sending to my conscious mind. A sense of dread may hide in my tummy or a low-grade nauseousness may pulsate there—both indicating that an experience was more than I wanted to or was able to integrate or accept.
I find that if I can keep a soft feeling in my belly, and allow all emotions to be experienced there, I will stay connected to my feelings and the sensations that arise as I move through life. If I resist what I am faced with, my lower back will tighten, my stomach harden, and I’ll begin to feel less alive and less fluid in my abdominal area—eventually leading to some kind of pain or discomfort.
After years of practice, I am now able to note the sensation of tension and with keen accuracy trace it back to the very moment I ceased to be an aware Karen and became, instead, a defended version of my true self. This process of knowing what causes my tension has developed naturally from the simple technique of tuning into my body and validating whatever sensations I find. Like I mentioned earlier, nothing more need be done. The body will release, pertinent information will bubble up, and memories will return of their accord. You need only do two things: (1) create a regular practice of tuning in, and (2) be patient.
How We Feel About Ourselves
The question of how we feel about ourselves translates directly to our self-esteem. Feeling into how a situation stirs us within is an extremely important part of getting our freedom from any issue or relationship. We are often unconsciously bound to patterns of the past through negative feelings we have about ourselves—feelings that arise in response to choices we have made, even though we may not realize we have chosen the situation.
Volunteer work promotes positive feelings towards ourselves because we feel that in taking time each week to help others in need we are doing something valuable with our lives. And it works in the reverse just as simply. Working for someone who steels our ideas, micromanages our efforts, and always has something negative to say about our work promotes negative feelings about ourselves because working hard and being unappreciated makes us feel as if we have no value.
Not standing up for ourselves for fear of losing a good paying job may also cause us to judge ourselves in harmful ways, creating a condition that results in our feeling badly about ourselves, which in turn results in a lack of vitality, mild depression, and/or a lack of inspiration. Lack of inspiration alone causes many of us to feel as if we are lazy, piling up more bad feelings toward ourselves!
Poor feelings about ourselves result from an inner reality that says, I let people walk all over me because I don’t deserve any better—because my needs and my happiness are not as important as other people’s are.
Tuning into how we feel about ourselves is a wonderful way to take our power back. To get in there with ourselves and be responsible to the choices we make and the tapes that run in our heads as a result.
To Do List
It’s a New Year. I know how I want to feel at the end of it. Fulfilled, satisfied, grateful, and empowered. How do you want to feel?
Take a moment now and find a few words that capture your heart’s desire. Write them down. Make them important. The year will pass with or without your direction. Let this moment be a whisper to the gods of all you want for yourself…
Start to notice the actions you take, where you spend your time and with whom, and then check in to see how you feel about yourself afterwards. Do you feel courageous? Helpful? Energized? Passionate? Or do you feel worthless? Inadequate? Undervalued?
Whatever your rituals, whatever new leaves you turn over, whatever resolutions you commit to—each and every day of this year can be met anew with enthusiasm and clarity. When you wake each morning and lay to rest each night, attune yourself to your body and validate the feelings you find there. Inquire further if you feel so inclined. Note what you hear if a message is received. Validate it. Validate it. Validate it!
Ask yourself how you feel about yourself this lovely morning, and how you feel about yourself this lovely night. Keep your body close to you, your loved ones valued, and your hopes and dreams for 2005 as close to your heart as possible.
Be safe, and I’ll see you in the spring!
© Copyright 2005 KD Farris, Ph.D.. All Rights Reserved.
Read KD's Past Columns:
Oct-Dec 2004 - "Experiencing Loss as a Gain"
Aug-Sept 2004 "Sometimes to Move Forward, We Have to Go Back"
June-July 2004 "Soulful Practice: Spiritual Practice--Soulful Nature"
Jan-Feb 2004 - "Making Our Dreams Come True Is Living A Truthful Life"
December 2003 - "Graceful Living - Confessions of a Professional Speaker"
October 2003 - "Serenity: As Calm, As Clear
May 2003 - "What are Your Needs?"
April 2003 - "Techniques for Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part II of II
February 2003 - "HESHE & Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part I of II
January 2003 - "Body & Soulful Living"
November 2002 - "Getting Into MESHE with Your Home Through Minor Adjustments"
October 2002 - "Being in MESHE with Clearing Clutter"
September 2002 - "Discover Going on Retreat"
July 2002 - "Build Your MESHE - Seek the Space: A Process for Reclaiming the Shadow"
June 2002 - Revisiting: "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
May 2002 - "Bodywork 101"
March 2002 - "Being Present Within Your Prosperous Life"
February 2002 - "HESHE and The Third Bird"
December 2001 - "Manifesting Your Perfect Partner with Personal Truthz"
November 2001 - "Remembering What We Already Know"
September 2001 - "Be Led By What You Are Trying to Avoid"
August 2001 - "Draw Your Way to Clarity, Health & Balance"
June 2001 - "Tending to the Negative Mind"
May 2001 - "Gentle Conscious Living"
April 2001 - "MISON and The Moment"
March 2001 - "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
KD Farris, Ph.D. is a successful counselor, healer, and bodyworker. For more than twenty years she has taught
extensive workshops based on MESHE, HESHE, MISON & ORBIT as well as many other self-discovery topics.
KD began developing her integrated bodywork and counseling techniques in 1983 under the tutelage of many prominent doctors and healers throughout the United States.
Her education into the spiritual and physical aspects of the human experience served as the foundation for her private practice and the development of a new philosophy. She combined her techniques into four guiding principles, which she shares in her book, MESHE, HESHE,
MISON & ORBIT: What My Grandmother Taught Me About the Universe. She teaches a companion workshop series, where she creates an interactive environment demonstrating the material from her book with tangible, life altering effects. In these workshops, individuals discover a
deepening of their relationship to self, others, and life itself.
Through individual counseling and group workshops, she has taught her results-oriented programs to many different types of people including those confined to mental institutions, substance and food abusers, and generally, people in life transitions, struggling with intimate
relationships, or who lack direction in their lives. Visit www.kdfarris.com.
KD is currently touring a new body of work, Talking About People in Transition, Also Known As
Liminal Space. She will be writing about liminality and its relevance to day-to-day living in upcoming issues of Soulful Living. For more information on this new and exciting topic, or to learn about more her private practice, workshops and lectures, visit
Contact KD at: info@MESHE.com