Allowing my natural curly hair to be… well, curly has been a powerful lesson in letting go of control.
Which is NOT my natural impulse.
I like things better when they are controllable. Decide-on-able. When each element can be arranged just so.
This is not possible with natural curls.
This mane? She does what she wants.
Of course she can be controlled, with a lot of effort. I spent years (hours, lots of kilowatts of electricity, and many bottles of product) smoothing and straightening my curls into a predictable and controlled situation of straight, or at least smooth, hair.
But to truly embrace hair with naturally curly texture, I’ve had to learn how to listen and go with the flow. I’ve had to let go of having an agenda, and instead ask her what she is up to, today. Each day is very different. And humidity always adds a curve ball.
These days it’s more of relationship, between me and the mane.
I check out what she is giving me each morning (#morninghair), and then decide how I want to work with her to create a collaborative expression that will suit the activities I’ll be involved in that day.
Of course I still pull the full parental control card sometimes, which these days looks like the ever-debated top knot. It’s kind of my way of saying: I can’t deal with you today, go to your room!
Layer by layer, I’m realizing that “control” is an illusion, in most areas of life.
We like to think we can control our bodies.
I hear this notion most often with clients who have had chronic pain. They’ve worked out certain positions in which they can successfully not feel their pain, and mistake that to mean that the pain is gone.
(Not the same thing, at all.)
Then they blame the painful positions for the pain itself. “Sitting is painful” or “running hurts my knees” or “as long as I don’t slouch and I have good posture, I’m fine.”
The truth is, the healthy human body can and should be pain-free in all positions.
No position or movement is inherently “bad” or “good” objectively speaking.
However, certain movements or positions will hurt a body that is unprepared for those positions or movements.
The other thing I hear all the time from my chronic pain clients is that they do a great job of avoiding pain by avoiding positions MOST of the time, but inevitably there will come a moment when their guard is down, and they end up in that position for one reason or another, and then they are back in pain.
You see, the avoidance strategy depends on our MINDS policing our BODIES 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s a tough gig for the ol' noggin. It’s a strategy that is doomed to fail SOME of the time.
Getting back to the idea of what we can and can’t control - we simply can’t control for enough variables to ALWAYS avoid that problematic position.
What we CAN control is how prepared our bodies are (at a cellular level) for any and all stressors, positions, and movements.
We have to opportunity to systematically improve the resilience of our bodies - joints, muscles, ligaments, organs, skin - such that we have leeway to withstand those positions that used to be problematic for us.
Another way to think of it:
We have very limited ability to control our EXTERNAL environment**
We have 100% access to control our INTERNAL environment
Given those odds, where is your energy most efficiently spent?
**It's worth acknowledging that in this day and age, we do have more ability than ever before in human history to control our external environment. We have houses with fine-tuned heating and cooling. We can cushion ourselves with pillows and mattresses. We can support ourselves externally with ergonomic chairs, keyboard wrist pillows, insoles and orthotics, knee braces and back braces, and the list goes on. And yet, pain persists.
The first step on controlling your internal environment is to develop a relationship with yourself.
Spend some time each day, checking in on all the movement options you have that are pain free. Get to know where those limits are. At first, just make non-judgemental notes. Then, with guidance, get after expanding those limitations one by one, until you have complete physical freedom.
This is my desire for all humans. That we can know ourselves, trust ourselves, and grow into our fullest potential.
A great place to start is with 10 mins per day of CARs, and 10 mins per day of simple meditation (just being aware of your thoughts, your self.)
In this way, just like I did with my curly hair, you can begin to cultivate a relationship with yourself and your body, where you work together collaboratively, to show up in all your glory.
So take some time to be quiet & alone, and to move mindfully, and see what happens.
To your ongoing alchemy,