Vulnerability: A Wise Guide Through Tight Spaces & 4 Ways To Cultivate It

In a world of loud, quiet really wakes up the soul.

In a world of fast, slow magnifies power.

In a world of hard hitting, of slamming it, banging it, crushing it, the soft touch can slide through the tight spot with insuperable strength.

Vulnerability can be seen as the synergy of opposites such as rigid and flaccid, tight and loose, hard and soft.

Synergy is the blending of things such that the sum of effects of those blended things is greater than all effects of any one thing going about its business alone.

Vulnerability can be felt in body, heart, and mind. It’s felt as the outcome of blending opposites like rigid and flaccid, tight and loose, tough and weak in good measure such that each half of the pair of opposites tempers the mix with its finest quality.

Part body sensation, part feeling, part mental awareness, vulnerability can present from within as a scary openness at first. If you’re not comfortable with it, even the suggestion to open to your vulnerability can agitate.

Like cracks in a wall that leave you open to frigid blasts and malignant insect attacks, like cracks in communication that leak top secret intelligence, like cracks in an emotional armour that leave you open to getting hurt, vulnerability feels too undefended, too permeable.

Vulnerability might be scary because we’re not used to the soft-hard art of allowing.

In many martial arts, in the yogas, in the training of hunters and gatherers, in the long apprenticeship of a magician or medicine person, in the cultivating of a master artist, the intimate practice of vulnerability keeps the initiate open in a tight spot, ready to flow in any direction, poised for a leap or a roll, positioned for opportunity.

Vulnerability might be scary because deep in the ancestral language centres of our collective awareness we hauntingly remember that vulnerable comes from words that mean to wound, to maim, to injure, to pluck, to tear, to strike. That’s scary!

But today, vulnerability means an intimacy with body, heart, head, and soul in such a manner that you could no longer hurt yourself or others intentionally.

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes this power of yoga: When you are steadfast in your abstention of thoughts of harm towards others or yourself, all living creatures will cease to feel fear in your presence. (sutra 2:35)

That might be called vulnerability in extremis and vulnerability in extasis.

Vulnerability, then, might be described as the taming of the fear reflex and the absence of a blame and shame conditioning.

Vulnerability could be called the necessary angel, to borrow Wallace Stevens’s phrase, of empathy. Now, that’s a beautiful thing.

Invite your vulnerability to guide you and hold you. It has beauty, courage, and magic in it.

4 Actions To Invite Vulnerability:

  1. Tune in to your senses and sensations. Walk in a safe place in nature. Sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe, and practice developing eyes in the back of your head. Walk gently, sense the earth beneath your feet, and practice developing ears in the soles of your feet. Smell as if every pore of skin were a nose. Taste with your fingertips. Open to the subtlety of sensation.
  2. Acknowledge reactivity. You can develop a practice of tuning in to the tight place in the body that’s attached to a reactive trigger; then identify an emotion that goes with the trigger; then observe any meanings, ie, conclusions, perceptions, thoughts attached to that trigger.
  3. Simply sit and allow yourself to embody sensation, emotion, thought, without reaction. Just let it flow through. No judgement. No blame.
  4. Daily, track triggers, emotions, feelings, thoughts, behaviours through tight spots and tender spots. If any of those are uncomfortable, if they hurt you or someone else even in thought, write yourself into a next best perception or meaning. Write about the beautiful, helpful, good, blessed boons in your life even when going through trial. Stretch yourself. Notice something that has a deep and encouraging beauty to it in spite of any anguish or confusion. Focus there.

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A Few Ideas Toward Living The More Inspired Life

What do you need to start doing today to be living your more inspired life?

Do you need to take a break and listen to the birds or move that body or visit with friends? Do you need to focus more on a project, hobby, or passion? Do you need a fresh slant on an old idea, behaviour, attitude? Do you need to stop procrastinating and start investigating, resuscitating, reanimating your world?

One thing’s for sure: you must stop asking questions like: why does this keep happening to me? why can’t I get ahead/get moving/get inspired? Those questions plop you into the victim mentality hole.

The next thing’s for sure, too: you must rather ask: now that this {name it} is happening, and it makes me feel {name it}, what’s one small thing I can do today to shift, to lift, to move this into a better feeling or outlook or action? Knowing I feel stuck, where can I put my attention to help me get unstuck?

You might not get an answer right away. It’s ok. Keep asking the good questions, the enriching questions, the empowered questions. The questions will lead you to where you need to be for inspiration to fill you up. The questions invite the inspired life, the inspired choice, the inspired action.

And look around, in your head, in your heart, in your world. Listen. Wake up to your senses. Smell those roses. Touch that leaf. Taste that lemon, that basil, that chocolate mocha latté. Set an intention to make one sense your pathway of ritual engagement with your life today.

Notice beauty, innocence, simple acts of genuine humanity. Rub that aching knee with warmth and affection. Smile at that stranger, that child. Give a dollar to a street person. Mow a sick neighbour’s lawn.

Be kind. Be encouraging. Be grateful. Thank your modest income for being there to pay that bill. Thank your huge income for being there to serve a greater cause than ego’s illusory sense of security. Thank the wonky weather systems for reminding you to walk lightly on the Earth. Thank a cranky person for the opportunity to empathize and give hope. Thank your anxiousness for telling you to set a healthy boundary. Thank your depression for the wake up call. Thank a despot for reminding you to engage more fully in sage and savvy social change actions.

Everything comes as a result of something before and everything comes as a guide to something more. We can’t change what went before. We can acknowledge the past and imagine a better future. We can learn, use our old cramps of conditioning as guidance, and lean into what needs to happen now to make the next step more empowered, enriching, liberating. We can—however deeply tucked away that knowing is—live daily toward the more inspired life our hearts know is possible.