When we find ourselves feeling a little out of control (when we are learning something new, going through a stressful situation, trying to figure something out) we tend to tense up, often unconsciously. We clench our jaws, shorten our breath, go up into our heads. This actually can make the situation worse.
It reminds me of the first time a child is put onto a swing. Usually she will get really unnerved—and will clench her jaw, shorten her breath, and grip the ropes as tight as she can. But there’s no fun there, and no control, really. It’s only when she begins to trust the swing and rope that she can relax and allow the adult to push her a little. Soon she learns she not only has more control, but a lot more fun as she engages her whole body to pump and go higher and higher.
I once had a client whose family situation meant she had to move out of town. She came for her last session, very tense, and I gave her the above metaphor. A few weeks later I got a note in the mail: she had gone straight from our meeting to a playground, and reported that within a few minutes of swinging her headache was gone and she was ready to make the transition.
I didn’t have a chance to try these wonderful bamboo swings, but they put them up every year in Nepal, so I’ll have to go back!
Photos: Swings are built every October in Nepal for Darsain festival celebrations