For years now, I've been bringing the light of awareness to the dark places in my past in order to look at, better understand, and tend to the parts of me that were left on "pause."
"Pausing" is a healthy reaction to trauma. It happens when things in the moment simply feel too much to handle. Like during a car accident, while witnessing violence, or when under attack. There might be too much shouting, too much hurting, too much violence, or too much fear. If it feels too much to you in the moment, your nervous system will likely perceive it as an assault and react accordingly.
In these moments, the aware, resourceful, and resilient part of yourself might say, "Time to check out!" In psychology, this checking out or "pausing" is referred to as dissociation, a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often carries a negative connotation. The way I see it, "pausing" is a brilliant human mechanism for survival. If the aware-me recognizes that "this is too much to handle," it simply shuts off the part of me that is experiencing the too-muchness. I'm still alive. I'm still more or less functioning. And, the part that feels the "too-muchness" gets to take a little break. Efficient, isn't it?!
While "pausing" is a real healthy reaction in the moment, it can become a real obstacle when big chunks of your life remain on "pause" and/or when "pausing" goes on automatic (i.e. it happens without you noticing).
Typical signs that some part of you went on "pause" are: not remembering what happened during a certain event or time in childhood or later years, feeling not like yourself and unsure as to where the real you has been lately, and feeling as though you stepped outside of yourself and maybe outside of time, too (body present, but the rest of you not so much).
This is by no means a clinical list or a comprehensive one either. These are examples from my own experience and signals that I have learned to watch for as markers of checking out or "pausing."
When "pausing" goes unnoticed and untreated, it can really inhibits one's movement in life. I mean that literally because it shows up as tension, aches, and pains in the body. But also metaphorically, as emotional blockages hinder your relationships and work, and you feel trapped in limited and limiting patterns of thought and behavior.
Now, if you're reading this and feeling "this is me!", please do not despair. While we cannot change what happened in the past, we can definitely heal the parts of ourselves that got put on "pause." We can bring these parts to resolution and integration in our whole being. This is true healing, and this past weekend, I got to do just that! (Finish reading HERE).
At an intensive Soul Lightening Acupressure Training, I went deep within myself and witnessed how my nervous system used to react to "too muchness." I felt the rise of tension throughout my body. I heard alarms going off in my ears. I saw red flashing lights. And, I could feel myself begin to cringe, shrink, and crumple. A moment later, I noticed that I was no longer here. My body was lying on the massage table, but I could feel how the part of me that experienced "too muchness" and felt unsafe was taking a side seat. Scary as it was, it was a perfect opportunity for me to get to know this internal mechanism inside out.
With dedicated attention and the full support and presence of a trained colleague (oh yeah, and gobbles of courage!), I stayed with the process and worked it through to resolution--releasing the "pause" button and embracing the "me" that got disconnected. How do I feel now? Liberated. Lighter. Full of joy.
While all of this feels very tender and vulnerable, I am sharing it with you because I've learned that vulnerability is a sign of truth and a pointer to my greatest strength--more on this at the upcoming Vulnerable & Alive Workshop on Sept 25.
I am also sharing it with you because if you're out there looking for support, I want to tell you that I am here. Together we can bring our combined light of attention to parts of you that got put on "pause" and see them through to resolution, so that you too can feel liberated, lighter, and full of joy.
Call me for a free consultation @ 240-839-1661 to see if what I can offer is right for you, or book your next acupressure session now to invite long-lasting healing to all parts of you. More info and schedule @ http://www.shiraozsinai.com/acupressure1.html (no needles involved; just gentle touch, when appropriate).
May you always find your way back to experiencing the joy of life,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Have you experienced this "pause" or check out? What has been helpful to you?
Please leave your comments and share your feelings and thoughts below.
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.