Riding the Waves of Emotion... BRFWA all the way baby!
Last week in our weekly Tuesday night yoga class, our theme centred around BRFWA, a technique taught in the Kripalu lineage of yoga that we can learn to use any time that we are feeling anxious or heated, stressed or overwhelmed, in a
challenging conversation or situation… and, of course, when in a challenging yoga shape. We use it when we find ourselves holding our breath, bracing ourselves against a situation that is not ours to control, when we are clenching our jaws, and white-knuckling our way through. We use BRFWA to become more present, more mindful of the moment.
We use BRFWA to ride those waves of emotion so as to not get caught up in the swells, not to get sucked under, and not to avoid them altogether. It works by bringing us back to the present moment, always returning first to breath. If we can learn to BRFWA in yoga, perhaps we can learn how to also apply it in our life off of the mat.
BREATHE: Deeply ~ bring in the mind, the heart, the lungs. Relax the physical body and the mind. In a challenging moment, a wave of anxiety, when we are tight or anxious or scared, we breathe. If we are caught in an obsessive thought-loop – we are worrying, fretting, stressed – we breathe.
Breath helps to shift the nervous system from the sympathetic – fight/flight/freeze – system to the parasympathetic – rest/digest – system.
We breathe deeply – into the lungs, the abdomen, the belly – and breath alone will begin to break up this blocked energy, this old stuck pattern - and begin to shift it on through.
RELAX: Here, we start to scan our body for tension, and we begin to soften ever so slightly – starting first with the belly – always the belly (we often hold our tensions here – as well as the jaw, the hips, the shoulders perhaps?) This helps us to move away from any constrictions, tightness, or rigidness, read: control? - and into the present moment, the right now. Finding the areas in the body that are holding this tightness and constriction - we gently coax them to soften, to expand – even if just a little – our breath is helping us here. We are consciously releasing.
FEEL: Into the body – from the inside out, as sensation. What does this mean? Having released some of the tension, it might be easier now to feel what is going on physically, emotionally, mentally – this is an active state of feeling – moving towards the sensations in the body, and breathing into them. Curiosity: Can we get curious here? Maybe we have a conversation with our body… with these tense or constricted parts, as a way to check in with HOW we're feeling, and where we're feeling anything. Then, what is the feeling? Can I name it? Identify it? Narrate it? Is it tingling? Pulsing? Does it have texture? Colour? What is the intensity? If we are not used to feeling into our bodies, this can be difficult for us – and that is just right. We begin from right here...from where we are. Can I feel where my body contacts the surface I am sitting or standing on. This can be the beginning of what this feels like. This is a practice, a process – we come to our body with curiosity – dropping any judgments, they are not needed here. Can we begin to notice any sensations, emotions, thoughts? This is a rich phase of the BRFWA process as we begin to discover the areas of awareness that have been blocked/ shut down/ hidden from our awareness. This is about discovery, a re-covery, a re-membering of our own bodies.
WATCH: the mind, the thoughts, the feelings, and the sensations ~ observing + directing the focus away from the mind and back into the body. Here we bring in the Witness of the mind, the observer… observing what we are experiencing (the thoughts, the emotions, the sensations) as if we are the vast blue sky and they are the clouds passing in and out of our awareness – you are the anchor and they are the waves. From here, we have perspective – this is the part of us that sees and knows without any judgment. The observer is the coach – enabling us to stay the course… participating in the experience, but also separate from it. Keep that inner critic out of this place… we witness with compassion and with kindness as we bring awareness into the body.
ALLOW + ACCEPT: What shows up here? What do we find here? Perhaps the pain, the pleasure, the heat, the vibration, the energy, and the breath. We let go of any doing here (read: control), the forcing – the desire to MAKE something happen – we ride out the wave and we allow ourselves to feel whatever we're feeling… we let it wash over us, surrendering to the waves of sensation, of feeling, of emotion, of energy – as they are. It is here that we learn to trust and to relax into these waves – letting go of our very tight hold on life and ALLOWING change to happen, as it inevitably will.
As we become more experienced using BRFWA on our mat – we can begin to apply it to our life off the mat as well.
We BREATHE, we RELAX, we FEEL, we WATCH, and we ALLOW.
And this week, after a collective holding of our breath, clenching of our bellies, fraught perhaps with worry, and with the "what ifs?", we practice a collective EXHALE… join us if you can: Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 pm.
And...for a deeper dive on connecting to nature and ourselves join us this coming Saturday....