As I grow older I notice how my memory changes, my short term memory fails me more often and I cannot place or remember some faces the way I used to.
Memory is fascinating. How is it stored? How do we select? Why is it there in the first place? How is it affected by trauma, by every day wear and tear?
The cornerstone of our schooling, our learning process. The building blocks of society, a culture, of our imagination even.
Its very existence a testament to our deep need for connection and a sense of belonging to something much much bigger than us.
I have also noticed that the more present I become, the more embodied I am, the more I re-member as ‘I’ emerges as a whole, the more my memory, imagination, my fluid self flows with ease, effortlessly.
I feel it whenever I travel deep within through a biodynamic craniosacral session or when I dance for long periods of time and let go, lose myself in movement.
My mind is not in control anymore, the whole of me presses full presence and ‘I’ observes quietly, merging within an interconnected spaciousness.
No more questioning, no more doubting, no more interfering and judging …just a true, clear presence freely expressing, like a river, past, present and future all as one endless motion.
This blissful ego-less state doesn’t last but while basking in it nothing else matters and yet everything does.
A full presence is stimulated when we feel safe and our ventral vagus nerve, the one that helps us with social engagement, with connection, turns on.
It's like a memory refill. A liberating lifting of the gauze, the veil.
Imagine a day with people you feel safe and with whom you can freely exchange, converse, emote, listen, be inspired…
Isn’t it so fulfilling?
And it is unforgettable because it is deeply resourcing. This is also the time, for me, when I can sense my creativity free styling, dancing within and bubbling up.
I remember witnessing a dancer once. I followed my teacher’s invitation to create a narrative while I let my imagination weave a story around her movements.
At first, my mind was in the way and suppressed possibilities, judged them, prevented this free flow.
But after a few hours of dancing, of reclaiming my physical space and emerging as a coherent whole, my narrative flow grew completely unabated, and ‘I’ watched and listened, surprised at first but so blissfully satisfied by this exuberant spring of untethered life force.
This full creative flow, its expansive force and desire to be at one with all is called Shakti in yoga. She is the Goddess of Creation and she dances while inviting and embodying fulness.
The minute we try and tame it, grasp it with our mind, the minute this fulness, this wholeness vanishes.
We are also prone to disappearing from this full embodied presence when the mind is triggered by unconscious memories.
Are you familiar with that glassiness, that sudden absence when you cannot recall someone’s name, or you’re struggling to remember what on earth you were looking for in that wardrobe…?
It can be due to a light, temporary ‘stepping out’ and when you bring yourself ‘back in’ the ‘missing piece’ usually comes to mind.
But it can also send you into full dissociative mode.
So what caused it? The person you meet, or the smell of this wardrobe or a simple sound you hear could have activated emotional imprints that have remained within you since a traumatic shut down, when your dorsal vagus nerve turned on a protective freeze mode.
Bessel Van Der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, explains that it is the verbal and reasoning centres of our brain that are affected during such shutdown.
A trauma can be so overwhelming that it is not possible to process it and build a coherent memory of it afterwards. Trauma breaks down such an integration.
Hence the inability to recall something or someone, or the sudden and uncontrollable spurt of something incoherent, or an awkward emotional overtake…
And the worse is we don’t really know what event is responsible for this, we are not consciously aware of the memory that triggered it.
It takes a whole lot of de-activating, differentiating strategies to first consciously highlight these imprints, and then slowly, with compassionate support, bring to mind the traumas these implicit memories relate to.
Sometimes though it is easier to learn to tolerate and build our resilience by resourcing and reconnecting with our fulness.
The vagus hold is one of my favourite during a biodynamic craniosacral session. It switches on the parasympathetic nervous system and down-regulates the whole body, allowing for deep readjustments and healing processes to naturally, spontaneously kick in.
It opens the gateway to the slower rhythms of our fluidic self, when we can step into surrender and trust whatever unfolds, reconnect with the fulness within and without that is Long Tide.
In my experience, it is like being showered with powdered light and engaging in full presence, maybe the way a butterfly feels when coming out of its chrysalis and taking full flight for the first time.
The stories of Shakti and Shiva in the Hindu tradition tell of similar episodes, cycles of full integration when they experience fusion; and dis-integration, breakdown when they are apart.
Life is this dance between expansion and contraction.
Here is a poem by Hafiz to invite you on this journey towards more and more fulness of expression