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Holding Back

"We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance


A few weeks ago, I was taking Casey’s restorative yoga class and had a revelation of sorts. In a restorative class, you hold each stretching pose for about three minutes. This aids in relaxation as well as works into the ligaments and fascia of your body. As I was in the middle of a pose, I had the realization I was holding back from the posture’s full expression. Part of me was holding on to and tensing up that place in my body where the stretch was trying to reach, disallowing myself the full enjoyment and impact of the pose. This got me thinking: Why am I holding back? Is it because I am afraid it will hurt if I completely let go and fall into it? Or is it because holding back is what I have always done? In what other facets of my life have I held myself back out of fear, habit, or both?


Of course, sometimes holding yourself back from fully expressing yourself is a good thing, especially if you are triggered. Expressing yourself in this context means saying what you are feeling from your amygdala, aka your lizard brain. As we all know from experiencing, that never goes well.


Rather, fully expressing ourselves in a skillful sense is the art of embracing the present moment and living it completely, feeling the full impact of that point in time in all its various colors. It also means being mindful of when we are holding back out of fear or habit. Living wholeheartedly is allowing the full expression of ourselves to be that divine idea to which Emerson so beautifully refers.


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