Our bodies as barometers of trust.
Your body is screaming at you that it’s time to go—that you have reached mission critical. You’ve got to go—now! Yet, you remain calm, pretending to type, as each keystroke is another vibrational tap on your bladder. You surreptitiously eye the bathroom queue. No one! This is your chance! You need to go—but you don’t want to give up the prime seat you’ve got at the café. This is the one with the outlet, after all. You need to, in that moment, find enough courage to ask someone to watch your belongings while you make a mad dash.
Your choices are between the sulky woman sitting across from you who seems to struggle with how she wears her scarf and the young man directly to your right, whose concentration on the epic novel he is writing you feel too guilty to break. In that moment, someone you have never met before becomes the guardian of your life. By asking him to watch your things, you essentially say to him, “I trust you.”
Imagine now that the “stuff” you are carrying is inside of you. It consists of your hopes, fears, struggles, likes and dislikes, health—basically, your holistic well being. If we translate the material “stuff” we carry around with importance into emotional “stuff,” we suddenly become much more discerning.
Choosing those that enter our lives is a delicate and, quite often, split-second decision that is made in the connection between our minds and our bodies. There are some people we meet that upon first making eye contact we just know their significance in our lives. Whether they will test us or support us is up to how the interaction unfolds. We are not born as experts; we learn from our past relationships, and hopefully recognize our patterns in the future.
How do we answer the question, “Can I trust you?”
The answer actually lies within us. Our bodies are the best barometers for how people affect us, and whether they make us feel safe.
Try this simple exercise:
(You will need your arm and one other person.)
- Stand up straight and hold out your arm so that it is parallel to the floor.
- Now ask the person assisting you to gently press down on your outstretched arm. As they do this, resist so that your arm remains mostly in place.
- Next, have the person begin to name people in your life as they continue to press down with the same gentle force.
- With each name that comes up, try to resist with your arm.
The results should surprise you.
We can use our minds to ask our bodies, “Can I trust this person?” The answer will come, and quickly. The key is to be able to listen. The challenge is to accept it.
Sit up straight and close your eyes (but wait until you’ve finished reading this post).
Begin to pay attention to your breathing. What is it like? Is it shallow? Is it deep? Does it stop at your lungs or does it go deeper into your body? Notice as your breathing deepens and send it to different parts of your body. It may help to visualize your breath flowing through your body as energy, light, sparkles, or anything else that you connect with.
Pay attention to the emotional sensations that emerge as you allow your breath to enter your body. Observe those emotions; perhaps there is one that stands out more than another.
Notice where in your body this emotion is residing. If you experience sadness, is it in your heart? Is it in your elbow? Is it in your knee?
Send your breath to that part of your body.
Now, as you are doing this, conjure an image of someone in your life, and take a good few seconds to really feel their energy. What do they look like? Sound like? Laugh like?
With their image firmly in your focus, send your breath again to the part of the body that was experiencing sadness.
Take a few moments to feel how that body part reacts.
Clear your mind by sending neutral, loving breath into your body.
Try again with another person, another body part, another emotion…
Are you surprised?
We want to believe that people protect us as we protect them, yet, we don’t ever really know. Where we leave our footprints in our lives matters, especially when we leave them on other people’s journeys—or even more so, their souls.
The words “I trust you” are very powerful. Life is a continuous series of challenges that helps us understand our sense of balance. The people with whom we choose to share our lives either contribute to or detract from our own personal energy. Who we trust helps us establish and believe in the trust we have in ourselves. It’s a cycle: The more we trust ourselves and listen to our bodies, the more we’ll know who we can trust to support us. The more we know who to trust, the more we’ll have the balance within our lives to trust ourselves and listen to our bodies.
Yali Szulanski is a writer, teacher, and speaker living in New York, New York. She can be found helping people access their voice through writing, and discovering her strength and healing in the boxing gym and dance studio. You can follow her journey of healing on her blog. She can also be found on yaliszulanski.com or on Facebook.
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Assistant Ed: Thandiwe Ogbonna/Ed: Kate Bartolotta