A couple of weekends ago I spent time in nature with my friend. We went wild swimming and sauna bathing as part of a feminine cacao ceremony for the new moon. It was incredible.
I remember my body meeting the cold water for the first time (it was 8 degrees), it felt so hard and painful, like knives piercing my skin and bones, something I really didn’t enjoy.
As I tried to breathe into the pain I remembered the feminine quality of receiving is about softening - I felt how my body tense and clench to protect itself from the harsh impact of the cold water and the act of releasing the body's contractions was nearly impossible.
In Mr Gaga, the film about Ohad Naharin (the Bat-Sheva choreographer) there is a scene in rehearsals where he asks the dancer to fall to the floor repeatedly. He wants her to collapse and drop, and she is afraid of the impact from the floor, she is bracing herself. In order to help her relax into the fall, he explains that the impact of hitting the ground will be much less painful if her tissue was soft as it is in the bracing that we experience the pain.
The experience of being this soft can be seen in babies and toddlers, how they get up and go after a fall, their body tissue is innocent and receptible, meeting the floor with softness and ignorance.
It is with Awareness that we learn to brace ourselves, and it’s with Awareness that we can release.
As I reflect, I think about my practice, the opening qualities of embodied awareness influence the softening of tissue, and create more stability in the core to receive the world and its movements.
It can be experienced somatically like a sieve, letting something through, or like a tree responding and receiving the wind. It has a psychological effect too, when met with the experience of potential pain, failure or heartbreak, I meet it as if it was water, and instead of bracing myself for the blow, I melt into it to find substance and clarity.
In my exploration I find that we can’t soften without a stable ground to soften towards, that is the feminine and the masculine principles of the universe and the inner landscape within each of us which we can learn to open into.
My invitation is to notice when we brace ourselves for the impact, what contractions we create in the process and the ways we can start to soften from within our core so that our softening is grounded in stability.