Today I am delighted to bring you a wonderful guest post from my dear friend Lesley Pyne, whose first book, Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life is published tomorrow on June 18th 2018!! (Woo!)
Lesley is not only a friend, but also trusted me to work with her 1:1 in the early days of her journey to coming back home to herself.
It has been an incredible privilege to play a small part in her journey and witness all she has achieved. Reading her wise insights gave me goosebumps in all the best ways.
What follows is an edited extract from her book, written by Lesley at my invitation, to celebrate the release of her book. I contributed to her book as a fellow 'childless by circumstance' woman, and know it is going to provide countless childless couples with incredible tools to move forwards.
When recently talking to a good friend, she was surprised that I was writing a chapter about connecting to your body. ‘I’ve never really thought about it’, she said.
Until I started writing I hadn’t thought about my body either and since I’ve been exploring and connecting to it, I’ve never felt more alive both physically and emotionally.
My body was the thing that carried me around; I fuelled it, and that was it. It let me down though, a number of times. Maybe more than that, I was ashamed of it. I mean it couldn’t hang on to an embryo, not once but six times.
In my mind I disliked it because it couldn’t do the thing that every other woman in the world can do. Of course, I knew logically that it wasn’t ‘every other’ woman but in the early days that was certainly how I felt.
Then out of the blue, my therapist asked me how I felt about my body. Saying out loud that I felt disconnected from it encouraged me to make changes. I started by being kind, asking, ‘what would I do if I loved my body and cared about it?’ and acting accordingly.
Starting to respect and be grateful for it. I also noticed the ways I thought about it and specifically nourished it with words and actions.
I started Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR programme, which led me to yoga. I tried a number of different classes and found that I loved Yin most of all. Holding the asanas for three to five minutes is hard and in those minutes I started to listen to my body and be with it.
Another piece of the jigsaw was having sessions of Cranio Sacral Therapy (CST). Helen suggested it would help my body recover from the shock of a sprained ankle and it did a lot more than that. My experiences included feeling relaxed, peaceful, calm, definitely more balanced, and out of the blue one week I said: ‘I am my body’.
The final piece of this jigsaw was deciding that, as I love Yin Yoga most of all, private lessons would be useful. Many times in my life I’ve asked for help with one thing and my unconscious knew that I needed something different. I thought I wanted to know how to do the asanas so I asked my yoga teacher to teach me.
Of course she did this, but both she and my unconscious knew that what I really wanted was to deepen my mind/body connection, to learn about my feelings, to release those trapped emotions, to release many limiting beliefs and, almost as a side effect, to become more supple and bendy than I’ve ever been in my life.
I love the meditations of Tara Brach and she often refers to the body as a ‘field of sensations’. At first, I couldn’t get this at all. Of course, I can feel my feet on the floor, but anything inside? No.
Now that I’ve been practicing Yin for almost two years, I really understand what she means. My body really does feel like the field of sensations Tara mentions. I can feel this all the time now, and it is absolutely wonderful.
I’ve learned to recognise how different emotions feel and to let them flow. Sometimes I realise what thought or feeling has triggered them, other times I don’t. And it’s okay.
I am now more attentive, still, and patient. As someone who finds sitting still under any circumstance to be a real challenge and has never been called patient in her life, you’ll understand how much I’m changing. I stretch my body to the edge of where it can go, I breathe to that edge and into the discomfort, and ask myself over and over, ‘can I be with this?’
Almost always the answer is ‘yes’ and after a while I notice that the discomfort has lessened and I can push beyond my previous boundary. Sometimes this is a small movement, and other times it is a massive stretch.
What my body can do and how far it can stretch has astounded me many times. I am more bendy and supple than I have ever been in my life. Each time my body does something unexpected; another belief I had about my limitations is shattered. Each week it shows me that it can do more and more, and where my body goes, my mind follows.
If my body is telling a story of determination, strength, power, and achievement, why shouldn’t my mind?
If I can do these physical things, why can’t I do other things?
If the limitations I had about my body no longer apply, what about those other beliefs I had about what I can or can’t achieve?
When I started this work, I regarded my body as the thing that carried my head around. Now? Well I’m proud of it, amazed at what it can do, and I respect and nurture it. I’m not yet ready to say that I love it, but I’m almost there. I also know that it has things to say, and I'm listening.
How I’ve changed.
Since doing this work many friends have said that I look different, especially lighter and I’m certainly more content, confident, grounded, and comfortable in my own skin.
Mostly, I feel a deep inner peace and calm. Connecting to my body has enabled me to peel off many layers that were hiding the real me so I could become the true authentic Lesley that was hiding inside.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s Helen
For me connecting to my body was key because as far as I was concerned it had let me down in many ways. I had a lot of reasons to be very cross with my body, but you can’t run away from it. It’s the house you live in.
You start to recognise that when you view it negatively or you're not really connecting with it and have less of a foundation in which to live your life, you’re disconnected from the neck down and not living as intentionally as you should.
The more you dislike or hate your body the more you start to break yourself physically. For me it was eating the wrong stuff, then physical symptoms. I was achy and stiff, had low energy levels and would often crash.
One of the simplest of things with yoga was feeling into your feet, and noticing the ability of them to walk you around.
Think of your body as your house, and the house you’ll have for the rest of your life. Do you want to inhabit it, or live in it? Living and feeling alive is what I want and connecting to my body has made this happen more than anything else I’ve done.
So I’d like to end by encouraging you to consider what difference connecting to your body could do for you.
If your life path has led you to the same place it led Lesley and I (and our lovely husbands), I want you to know that this path can provide more joy and fulfilment than you know. I know that because I have found it - and these days I wouldn't change a thing.
If you aren't there yet, this book can help. I highly recommend you gift yourself a copy today - before your mind pixies talk you out of it!
Feel free to comment below and share your experiences or thoughts about reconnecting to your body, feeling feelings or dealing with grief below.
You never know whose heart you may touch in the process.
Lesley believes it is possible to have a fulfilling life as a childless woman. In her new book, Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life, she uses her own life experience as a childless woman, those of 19 others (including me), and her skills as a coach and NLP Master Practitioner to guide readers gently through the pain they’re feeling and out the other side to finding their joy again.
Lesley spent the first 50+ years of her life putting everything she didn’t want to feel in a box, including her grief following multiple failed fertility treatments and the loss of both parents.
She writes openly about her challenges and how she has emerged as a different person, able to say confidently ‘I absolutely love my life, the adventures I’m having and I’m excited about what will happen next.’
Her website is www.LesleyPyne.co.uk where you will also find more inspiring stories and social media links for Lesley.
You can buy Lesley's new book, Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness right here:
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