JAW DROPPING INSIGHT

It flared up all of the sudden. I opened my mouth to yawn and my jaw seemed like a creaky, old door, the muscles stiff, the joint popping. I iced it all evening and took pain pills. It was possible to still speak, but annoying to do so. I had almost forgotten what TMJ felt like.

Earlier yesterday, and I mean 4:40 AM early, there was an earthquake in nearby Pacoima. I felt it. I jumped out of bed. The day started stressful and somehow, despite my mental stress being allayed, it seemed that stress had landed into my vulnerable jaw.

I’ve had TMJ most of my life. It’s not a new thing. What’s new, though, is my understanding that it flares up during stress. Though yesterday was hectic by any account, I was reminded that mind and body are one. They communicate and interface. My body was telling me that though I had rationalized my stress away (seemingly) it still hadn’t been thoroughly dealt with.

I wake up today with pain that’s less intense. That’s a good thing. Time to slow down, face fears gently and baby that jaw some more. Pain and suffering are not the same thing, though we often connect and interchange them in daily discourse. If we listen to our pain and get curious about it and attentive to it, we can heal ourselves more deeply and thoroughly.

Today, I am thankful for my jaw pain, because pain can be my teacher if I choose this.

Today’s Happy Thought

I want to stress that in unusual times, our usual coping mechanisms may not be enough. I am feeling that now, today. The past two days, I’ve been trying to buoy myself up with my usuals: a heavy workload, music I like, stand-up comedy, yoga and gong baths. Nothing is taking. I awake today, a person who’s experiencing pain and anxiety.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

When the coping mechanisms fail, it doesn’t mean that you failed. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that you’re encouraged to grow and try something new. I did not fail because “what usually works” failed to bolster me up. I am challenged to grow, try and experiment today, and that’s what I will do.

In Body, Embody

We have to embody the world we want to see.  If we want less hate, less judgment and more compassion, then we have to hug more.  We have to smile more.  We have to shake hands more.

embodySometimes, though, it’s hard to be “in” our bodies.  Our society privileges the mental and we become mental.  We experience a trauma and we numb out.  Our emotions rattle us.  We want an escape from pain, instead of just feeling the pain and moving through it.  It’s hard to embody our ideals of love and compassion when it’s just hard to be in our bodies.

Yesterday, I was in an unfamiliar part of town and due to some circumstances beyond my control, I spent some extra time in the neighborhood, so I decided to get a massage to make use of the time.  Like I’ve mentioned in some of my prior posts, I’ve been dealing with big girl life stuff and I am still carrying a great deal of tension.  It shows up in my body. Even though I have a regular meditation regimen and a decent exercise regimen, my pent up stress, like me, is stubborn.  Getting a massage gives me the opportunity to understand what stress my body is still holding onto.

A valued person in my life told me that I was the most sensitive person he knew and that I did a great job of hiding how sensitive I actually am.  I didn’t get what he meant until yesterday, when as I was getting the massage a flood of thoughts and images, some not fun and relaxing, danced in my brain.

Ultimately, we have to embody self-forgivenesss and self-acceptance and self-love.  I have to forgive myself for the mistakes I put my body through.  I have to accept who I am today–not try and revivify or reconstruct who I was ten years ago.  I have to love my injuries, both emotional and physical, enough to heal them.

One of the tasks of an actor is to embody a character.  Not all humans walk and talk the same way.  Not everyone holds tension in the same place.  Not everyone has the same center of gravity.  The ancient Greeks created a whole theory of personalities based on bodily awareness.  Chekhov, one of the greats of the acting world, thought every human being has a “leading center” of their body, from which their urges and actions come from.

I am still learning where my actions and urges come from and that’s because it’s my business, literally, as an actor to do so.  As we live and experience, our character is shaped and re-shaped hopefully for the better.  Have you checked in with your body?  What are you embodying?

 

 

 

 

Not Every Day Has to be a Big Day

Not every day has to be a big day.  I’m learning that, seemingly over and over again.  Sometimes, the smallest progress is the hardest gained.  Sometimes, the small details add up to something much bigger, like a pointillist painting or a mosaic.

I love thru-lines and themes and big picture thinking, but I am finding what is most healing and most grounding right now is to take a careful, close look at the day-to-day.  Some patterns smack us in the face and often those hurt, but what about the patterns we’re missing, simply because we’re not taking a close enough look?

When things and situations hurt, the temptation is to paint the wrong and the wrongdoers in very broad, caricature-like strokes.  It takes a lot of love and patience (mostly for and and with yourself) not to gloss over the painful details.  That’s why I recommend trying to check in with yourself daily.  one line a day journal

Some of us don’t have the time to journal several pages today, although that’s a wonderful practice that was made popular by Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way.  When you have a lot going on, you may not be able to “steal” an hour away from work, which is why lately I’ve found that this One-Line-a-Day journal can snap you back into the present.  If you can’t steal an hour, steal a few moments just to check-in.

 

Mind the Gap

If you’ve ever been to London, you’ve probably taken the Tube, aka the subway.  Most people who ride the Tube remember  signs everywhere saying, “Mind the Gap”.

asphalt communication commuter danger

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Years later, I’ve been fascinated with gaps, but mostly gaps in thinking, gaps in awareness, gaps in consciousness.  What I’ve learned from my own life and observing others is that gaps can cause pain, especially a gap between who we truly are, today, this moment, and who we’ve been taught or conditioned we should be.  The larger that gap, the more we feel that pain.  One of the biggest issues I’ve had to grapple with concerning gaps is the gap between who I am, physically, and what advertising. retailers and diet culture tells me I should be.

It’s about time we “mind the gap” in other places than subways.  We need to mind the gaps of our thinking, the gaps in our aspirations, the gaps in our awareness.  If you don’t mind the gap in the subway, you may slip and fall and worst case scenario, slip just as a moving train is whizzing by.  Life has many in opportune moments–sudden illness, unexpected death, catastrophic financial loss, just to name a few.  There’s plenty of chaos to go around.  If we are not minding our mental gaps, those unexpected trains may hit us too hard.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity (1)

Body positivity is about acknowledging our gaps–acknowledging the pain they cause and most importantly, bridging or closing the gap.  Exercise, eat right, train, but also realize we live in a culture that privileges dangerously thin representations of women’s bodies.  Temper your expectations of yourself with a little compassion.

Mind Body Momentum: Is It All In Your Head?

Pain in the neck….

Pain the butt…

Butterflies in my stomach…

judy

All of these commonly used phrases allude to emotional states, thoughts we have, that we feel in our body.  This week on What Women Want Talk Radio with host Judy Goss, we explored the mind-body connection with experts Dr. Robi Ludwig and Sonia Satra.

Learn more on Mogul.

Transforming Our Pain Into Action

This week’s What Women Want Talk Radio with Judy Goss had one stand-out theme to me:   transforming our pain into action.

We all deal with pain–emotional, physical.  People often put pain on a spectrum, at least in clinical environment.  I see pain as sort of a canvas of colors and shades personally.  What’s important is not the existence of pain.  Pain is a great equalizer and common denominator.  It’s what we do with our pain that’s important, which is why I was so illuminated by our guest this week, Lisa Jacobson of The Daily Migraine, who had suffered through 9,000 migraines and Samantha Elandary, who took her childhood issues with speech and language and founded The Parkinson’s Voice Project.

Learn more on Mogul.

3.22 Positively Affected by Disabilities