The book I just read, which ostensibly was not a “spiritual” or “personal growth” book, yet gave me (at least!) one crystalline kernel of absolute spiritual clarity was, of all things, the story of a Hollywood star who became a marijuana grower. (I won’t elaborate on the book here, since my last two blogs inadvertently wound up being book reviews, but you can find the link to my Amazon review below).
Somewhere in her trials, tribulations, and fascinating, funny, brave, jump in first/worry later journey, the wisdom came to her of how her body/her Being was responding to life in a way that she began to identify as “soften” or “clench.”
I love this idea. Many people these days…consciously on a “spiritual path” or merely getting through life as best they can with a sense of busy-ness, overwhelm, struggle or otherwise just having to keep on huffing, are confused as to how to know what is really most important, what to do now, what to do next, how to discern each moment or decision. This can be anything as seemingly small as whether eating a certain food will cause an untoward result, or do I sign up for that course of study, or travel to that conference, to what is my true purpose, or even “how do I live now that the marriage broke up/job disappeared/home is gone/health declined/ or kids moved out.”
In these increasingly chaotic and topsy-turvy times, some way to center and get aligned with one’s core seems essential.
I know many people who use tools such as a dowsing pendulum or rod to determine these things. Dowsing is an ancient method for getting answers from a higher source; most people know of it as how hidden water is found underground. A surprising number of people in the holistic/healing/”alternative” world would barely be able to navigate their days without help from this updated version of dowsing, using it for daily health and life decisions instead of finding water. The “guides” (or subconscious, or body wisdom, or who knows how this really works) coming through their handy pendulums or dowsing rod assists them in any number of decisions. Others use muscle testing similarly, a newer but oft-used approach that even many alternative physicians use to “let the body” tell the run-away-monkey-mind what is really true for the individual at deeper, more stable, more true levels.
Then of course there are ways of stilling the mind and getting answers by praying, meditating, and—well—being psychic. Of course we psychics have ALL of the answers and never have any problems in life nor questions about our own lives, right? (I wonder why my psychic friends and I are always calling one another for help. Hmm. What’s wrong with this picture?).
What does this all have to do with The Soften and The Clench, you may ask? Everything. A direct, clear way to know what feels right for you, by tuning in to how your bodymind reacts and responds to situations, ideas, or even thoughts in your head (as in, “Do I pay attention to that thought or worry with some action or follow up, or toss it out on it’s pretty lil’ head?”).
I know that I, for one, would like to live in a world where I would feel 100% “softened,” rather than clenched. All of the time. 24/7, your round-the-clock-radio-station. I don’t know that it is always possible to take that silk road. Sometimes I may just HAVE to do something that makes me feel a bit of a clench inside. What I am finding is of great value, however, is that I can use this method to at least KNOW how I feel, and thus it gives me that ever precious and sometimes hard to find spiritual gold; detachment! In knowing from my feeling-awareness state (rather than from my chatty storytelling head) that I don’t feel great about something, instead of resisting, I can allow…which creates the awareness that I am separate from that feeling of clench/resistance in my organism. Guess what happens from that? Right. A bit of softening comes into the clench.
Just as valuable, if not more so, is that soften and clench allows me to notice my thoughts, my mental chatter about any situation (or about my own thoughts—even more key!), so that I can take some breaths and find some detachment, accessing the spiritual “witness” within. For me this works as a great tool. I can every so often decide to notice: am I clenching or am I softening? The instant I do this, I am aware of the associated thought(s)! Instant mindfulness meditation, no zafu—or precious time set aside—needed.
So find somewhere, anywhere, within you, to try this practice. The belly (source of feelings) is one good place to notice your soften and clench. Let me know how it goes by reporting back here on the blog.
Oh, and here is the link to the book review. I recommend the book; it’s great fun and deeply sweet as well. Growgirl: How My Life After the Blair Witch Project Went To Pot.
I wish for you many days of increasing soften and decreasing clench.