Welcome to the Ashes to Wings podcast, where we tell stories of overcomers, and give you tips and tricks to living a fuller, more embodied life, here's your host, Jenni O'Connor.
Hey friends! Welcome to Ashes to Wings. Today we’re going to talk about balancing how much we give, and how much we receive in a relationship. As you know, I teach pole dancing. Many of the moves we do in pole class require having our arms in front of us, pulling ourselves up the pole, or holding a position on the pole. Because of this, it’s easy to create an imbalance in your muscles, building up the chest muscles, and neglecting the back muscles... to the point that the chest muscles can become tight and roll your shoulders forward. We take special effort to make sure our warm-ups include back exercises, and we close classes with stretches that open and stretch the chest. But if you don’t know to do that, you could find yourself hunched forward, wondering why you’re in so much pain.
This truth translates to our emotional health as well. Since I’m a somatic coach, I’d like you to do a little activity with me to embody this. Hold your hands out in front of you, together and palms up as if you’re holding a gift out to someone. Keep your hands there until I say to move them, and focus your eyes on them. If possible, avoid resting your elbows on your chest or knees so you really feel this! Notice how it affects your breathing.
Giving to others is a good thing. You help breed goodwill, and change someone’s life for the better. It releases endorphins in your brain, leaving you feeling excited and happy... almost like a “runner’s high.” It also gives you a serotonin boost, which leaves you feeling satisfied. All good things, right? But if you give continually without also receiving, your “love tank” starts to get near empty. You may start to feel overwhelmed and stretched thin. You may even resent the people who ask things of you. Keep those arms up... you’re doing great!
We’ve all seen the weightlifter with giant arms and skinny legs... he only works the top part of his body... putting the focus on what people see most... and skips leg day. And because of this, his muscles are imbalanced. Giving... without receiving... puts you in emotional imbalance. So in order to give in a healthy way, you also need to be refilling your tank. Don’t skip emotional leg day.
Now how are those arms feeling? Probably a little tired? Shake them out and give them a little rest. Notice if your shoulders feel tight and pulled forward. You may even feel tension in your chest and neck. Your jaw may be clenched from focusing on holding the position. You see, when you’re out of balance, it doesn’t just affect one small part of you. It starts to spread into other areas of your life. Just like the other muscles compensated to help you keep your arms lifted, other areas of life will start to suffer when you’re out of balance.
So now I want you to sit tall, roll your shoulders back, and lengthen through your spine. Tip your chin up a little bit, and relax your gaze. Bring your arms out to the sides, bent at the elbows and palms up, as if you’re waiting for a gift to fall down from the sky. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and lift and stretch your chest, taking a nice deep breath. Feel how open and freeing this is. Notice the stretch in your chest, and the muscles activating in your back. Notice how much easier it is to breathe.
You’re welcome to stay here or relax back to a neutral position.
Now if we were to spend too much time in this receiving position, we would run into the same issue. Imbalanced muscles, sore supporting muscles, and the stretch would lose its effectiveness. So the key here is to spend time in both. Spend time giving, and then spend time receiving so you can continue to give freely and with a happy heart.
I’d love to hear what you thought of this activity, so drop me a note on social media! See you next time!
Thanks for listening. The best way to learn is to teach someone else. So take one thing you learned today and share it with a friend. Find Jenni on Instagram at the_Jenni_O'Connor and online at JenniOConnor.com. Subscribe for new episodes. Until next time, rise above