Many years back my insightful acupuncturist, Raymond Himmel (still practicing in Mill Valley, CA for anyone near enough) commented, “You know it’s okay for you to be big,” as he popped another needle in. Me holding back my bigness in one way or another has come up often over many years on this journey and among my various spiritual teachers and alternative health practitioners, he was not alone in perceiving and pointing out that issue.
Over the years I’ve done lots of work around the ideas of making myself small and fear of being big, from digging around in the issue to release work to efforts at changing my negative thought patterns, particularly those I see as keeping me small. For me it’s one of those major, pervasive issues with tendrils, and I imagine I will be circling back to it for the rest of at least this lifetime.
Years ago I understood the tight muscles all over my body created a defensive system almost like having body armor under the skin. More recently, as the final throes of unwinding in my face move through, I’ve been also understanding the same tightness as part of being small.
In my early yoga training, my teacher talked to us quite a bit about how we can see many things about our personalities and our ways of being in how we feel about postures, and in our relationship with the difficulty or easiness of various postures. I, for instance, did forward bend stretches with ease from the beginning. An indicator of introversion or inwardness.
Back bends, on the other hand, were a strain. Initially I could barely lift an inch off the floor into a cobra pose An indicator of being afraid to be open and exposed in the world. I didn’t exactly mind doing them but they were hard for me. Since I knew being more open in the world was an issue, I concertedly kept working at back bends.
My ability to move farther into postures like cobra improved in a complementary fashion with my becoming more outward in the world. Those are just a couple of examples, but it’s a lesson I’ve always carried and reflected upon periodically. So as my head has finally opened up significantly the import of the squeezed up muscles became a subject of contemplation.
Increasingly I’ve understood that the super tight squeezing in all the muscles in my head and face (I’ve described it as feeling like a vice grip that could squeeze to the max from every direction) served to keep me small. And as the muscles have opened up– and opened more of my body as the patterns in my head connected into and held up patterns all the way down — the feeling of being bigger has grown.
A few weeks ago while following along to one of Steve Nobel’s great meditations I suddenly opened into a sense of a big space in me while receiving a message that it’s time to be big, to let myself be all I came here to be. For most of this journey I’ve had visions occasionally of me in a much bigger, more out there life and, while excited, my main reaction has always been that it’s too grandiose, too much for “little ol’ me” to imagine I could be and do all that. Without the opening in my muscles, I don’t think I could feel the bigness as I now do.
For the first time I felt this really big, impactful life truly is the one I came here to live. I’ve been naming some well known teachers and saying I feel like I belong on the same stages they’re on. This isn’t a sudden complete transformation. Any given day (or even time of day) you could find me feeling anxious about stepping out like that or tearing up because it seems like too much.
But the rest of the time I’m mulling it and taking it in and telling myself, as Raymond so long ago told me, “It’s okay to be big.”