March 27, 2024
If We Don’t Go Down, We Can’t Rise Up
March 27, 2024
If We Don’t Go Down, We Can’t Rise Up
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I’ve spent the last year really understanding how much of my energy I give away to other people. Or shall I rephrase, was, giving away to other people. 

I would give and give because I felt over-reponsible (for things that definitely were not my responsibility), and because I wanted to make others feel better.

Over time, I’ve understood deeply how unsustainable that is.

But it can’t be just a mental attempt – “protect my energy”, “have good boundaries.” It has to be a deep felt sense of noticing energetic boundaries. And that’s a much more nuanced, subtle, deeper place to really notice where you’re giving away of yourself. 

Sometimes you just want to take away the pain of others, you know?

Eventually though we can realize how to support people without giving away our life force.

An example for me is how I used to approach my doula work. I would just show up and give them everything I had. It always went so beautifully, and the mamas felt so supported. But I would be incredibly drained after. I would even get period like cramps when mamas would go into labor, only to later have them call and tell me what my body already knew. Where they ended and I began was way too messy.

To the point where a psychic once told me “sometimes your daughter wonders if you have enough leftover for her.”

Which was of course heartbreaking. But honestly I didn’t know how to give less. How to do the work I do, and show up in a different way. What if then it wasn’t enough?

Wrecking my knee sort of forced me into perspective, followed by our yoga studio building selling, and closing up shop. And while I miss the connection, I don’t miss the feeling of over-responsibility at all.

The thing is, too, every time we do the work for someone, they don’t learn how to do it themselves. I’m not saying those mamas didn’t labor and birth their babies (they sure did!). I’m just saying that everytime we try to take away someone’s pain (so guilty, I can be such a fixer), we don’t give them the space and time to honor and move through what’s really underneath it all.

When we gaslight ourselves from accessing those lows, the deep rest, the stillness, the sometimes discomfort that comes from just being, we limit our potential to soar.

We need those spaces of deep rest, of unknown, of trying times, of contemplation – to rebuild our energy, to  bring together all the pieces with new awarenesses and embodiments, so that when our higher self knows we’re ready – we’ve built up the reserves to then rise back up, feeling more aligned, clear and full of energy.

Don’t get me wrong – those dark places can be so scary. And please know that while I’m always looking for more eastern philosophies of healing and moving through things, I’d never, ever condemn anyone for seeing western help or medication during their dark times. You deserve to receive the support you need.

But I think we’ve also lost the art of noticing what is discomfort, and what is true clinical depression, etc.

Eventually we have to un-numb, find ways to move through the discomfort so that things can move through us and release.

Otherwise we get what Jessica Ash likes to call “ragey & cagey”. Or totally depressed. Or anxious and spiraling.

Cue me with this last lunar eclipse. On Monday I cried, and cried, and cried some more. I felt despair. I felt hopelessness, I just wanted to stop trying and give up on it all. And as much as I hate being in that space (I’m a 7 Enneagram, the enthusiast, always wanting positivity), I could also tell it was a build up & release of all the times I numbed or pushed away the deemed ‘negative’. 

I just try to hold space for myself the best I can. And I think the key here is to have the tools to support you in moving through those darker times, so we don’t get stuck there.

And also getting to know ourselves really well during the ‘good’ times, so that when we are in trickier places, we know ourselves well enough to know: that it’s temporary, what can nourish and support us in those times, and how to hold space for ourselves as we work our way through it.

Here are my biggest tips for doing so:

  • Find community to feel less alone. From looking up the current astrology, to asking if other people are feeling weird or off or struggling, to reaching out to people you know who have been there before… Feeling alone in our problems is so scary. Simply knowing that you’re not alone, even if others aren’t in the exact struggles you’re in, is like a breath of fresh air. And I find if I’m willing to mention it first, other people then have that permission and relief too.

  • Get specific about what you need. You may have no idea what you need when you’re in it. But if you have a spark, state it. Sometimes I almost step out of my body and can see myself not saying what would clearly serve me. It takes bravery. But I’ve gotten way better at it. From telling my partner “right now I need a hug, or some space and to not talk.” Or to my daughter “I am feeling off today and please know if I’m upset, it’s not because of you, and that today we’re going to eat ramen for dinner because I don’t have much energy, so please be gentle with me.” To even telling yourself “I am going to turn my phone on airplane mode and leave it in the kitchen and lie in bed or watch something that will let me cry or laugh and not compare myself to others.” Or one often overlooked one “I am going to eat a healthy, nourishing breakfast and 3 meals today especially when I’m tired or anxious, because my body needs true energy the most on days I’m sleep deprived or feeling out of whack.”

  • Start to really notice your cycles and rhythms. Whether it’s your moon cycle, seasonal, etc. From knowing “every March I get pretty down” or “after vacation I always feel like day to day life is so gray” to “a week before my period I always melt down or get ragey & cagey”. And also, “every time I have a tough conversation or follow a big dream, I am going to feel drained and low after because it took a lot of energy to go big”. It doesn’t take it away, but it does help us to have a whole lot more grace with ourselves. I find when I can notice things from this place, I can hold it a bit more lightly, and know it’s a pattern, versus an impossibly endless hole.

  • Practice what truly supports & nourishes you when you’re on an upswing. Set those routines into place that take care of your entire well-being. Things that get you up and moving, out into nature, walking and breathing. And also the things that allow for true rejuvenation – restorative yoga, massages, sauna, yoga nidra. Be sure to get into a healthy eating routine so that when you have less energy, it takes less willpower to feed yourself and nourish well. Get into the habit of regular walks with friends (which studies have shown can be one of the top things you can do for your mental/emotional health!). Practicing these things when we’re in an up swing, makes it more of a habit and takes less energy to turn to when we’re in a down swing.

  • Practice continuously moving your energy and giving it spaces to flow & release. This is similar to above, but more specific. When you feel sadness, where and how does it feel in your body? Ask that part of yourself what would feel good to move through it? When you feel extreme frustration or anger, where do you feel that in your body, and ask that place how to release it. When you feel lackluster and a bit numb, how does that feel in your body? Can you ask what would help bring some brightness into your day, and no matter how big or small, go about doing it? Somatic releases and shamanic shaking and my dammit doll help me so much in these instances.

    This can also be a matter of having the tough conversations, and saying what really needs to be said. This is an art we can get better at the more we practice. Better out than in for a reason. Maybe it’s something you hate talking about, or are really avoiding, but if you don’t express it, it festers in YOUR body. You don’t deserve that. I find that owning my shit, being open and honest, even vulnerable where it makes sense to do so, makes those conversations a much better give and receive. Just say it! Don’t delay it. Your body will thank you. Just be gentle with yourself after.

 

And if you’re like me, know that doing the work of holding so much space for other people that you take it on as your own, is not the answer.

Practice the above for yourself. So you can have a better idea of what’s yours, and what’s not. And know that the only person responsible for your well-being is you. Whether that feels like a burden or freedom, it’s the truth. And the more we own it, the less it owns us.

If you want additional help in some of the deeper practices I’ve learned to let my system release that deep sense of over responsibility and to hold space for people without it draining me, my energy, my life force, here are the ways I can help:

Jess sitting and meditating with Tibetan bowls

Energy Healing & Intuitive Session

A one on one deep dive into what is energetically draining you, how to release it, assessing what will be most efficient and effective in supporting you moving forward. Virtually or in person.

Montana Wild Feminine Retreat

Let your wild feminine roar. Learn ways to deeply release, feel held Montana’s mountains & forests, and through amazing community. Learn ways to reset the nervous system & feel wild & free.

Patagonian houses with snow covered mountains

Patagonia Retreat

Explore Argentina’s most expansiveness wilderness while accessing your most authentic & adventurous self. This small group retreat is for hiking, mind/body resets, great food & wine, and. of course yoga!

The other night, just before bed, right when I was hoping to have a little bit of space and time for myself, my daughter came out of her room and was pretty upset, and offloaded all the things that were majorly stressing her out. From overhearing about a pilot dying from a local wildfire, to friendship and social dynamics, and a petty crime that happened to our friends.

She needed to offload majorly. And as much as my own nervous system was needing some time for myself, my heart cracked a bit wide-open for her. I could tell it was an important parenting moment to show up for her, to remind her what’s hers to carry, and know how to not hold it all in our bodies and systems.

I’ve been there before. I know how we can put all of our anxieties and worries at bay until just before bed, or while we’re sleeping, and they want to creep in and finally have a space to process when we’re in a safe space.

That processing space is so fundamental to our health and if we push it aside, it will only grow into a mighty roar. And can eventually grow so much and a part of us that we don’t even know what it is to feel safe and calm in our bodies.

The very first thing I made sure to emphasize to her is that right here right now, we are safe.

We are safe.

In this house, in this moment, all our needs are provided for, and we are safe. We talked through the other anxieties and I let her know that our friends are safe and that they are OK too. I saw her nod and instantly start to feel better.

I also shared how we are exposed nowadays to more in one year than our great grandmothers were in their entire lifetimes.

That’s it’s easy to feel overly responsible for a lot of it (and it’s good to care), but that it’s important we don’t carry it all, all the time and we have to find ways to release the heaviness and the worry.

I could feel her whole system take that in and begin to release.

A couple of days later, I was sharing this with a girlfriend, wondering if I shared too much with my daughter. I try to be pretty honest and not hide life and death and all in between, when it arises, and without going overboard (we don’t watch the news in my household but she still gets exposed to life). And my friend said, honestly, I wish someone had had that conversation with me when I was younger. I still need to have that conversation with myself.

What my work in this world really comes down to is helping us to feel safe & held within ourselves.

Once we have the inner resources to access a place of safety and calm within, we know it’s possible, we cannot only have deeply meaningful spiritual experiences,  but we can feel more joy, ease and contentment in our day-to-day. We can be better resourced to get through the shaky, the lows, the tense, the scary, the overwhelming.

And as we head into a year, that will be fraught with plenty of worry or anxiety over the state of the world & our country, it almost feels like a radical act to tend to ourselves deeply. But it is called upon as much as ever.

In the end, I’m so thankful that my daughter can come to me to share her grievances before she goes to bed. And I can help her learn how to regulate her nervous system, offload stress, and have tools for when the heaviness of the world feels so much.

And even though she doesn’t always want to listen to what I have to say, or use the tools I offer her, I know she’s learning and at least she has access to them. And hey, the next night she actually did a whole somatic nervous system offload practice with me and deeply enjoyed it! We just have to keep showing up for ourselves and know it’s benefitting all those in our world.

And let me end by sharing the words I shared with her – “Right here, right now – you are safe. Take in your home, know that your family is safe. Know that your home is safe and protected, you are cared for and in this moment: It’s OK to relax & let the rest go.

Sidenote: I know not everyone is safe and my heart breaks for them. But focusing on what’s out of our control, robbing our systems of nourishment, means we have less energy to show up and support those who need it the most. It’s not selfish to care for yourself knowing others suffer, it’s self – ish. It just means we’ll have more clarity, insight, and lasting energy to tend to those who can’t tend to themselves, and we’ll be pouring from a more overflowing cup instead of a drained and empty one.

If you want more support in this, read below:

Jess with Cacao Ceremony

Receive nervous system offloading practices from me on the regular, for deep release & maintenance:

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Tiers: 3 options for joining depending on the type of support desired, starting as low as $20

Location: anywhere you have internet access!

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Jess with Cacao Ceremony

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