How Does Change Feel in Your Body?


Guest post by Natalie Fraver, co-instructor of Resilient Hearts in Times of Collapse: The Art of Self-Regulation and Navigating Complex Trauma in Community.

Just about an hour ago I got off a call with a dear friend who lives on the East Coast. We have weekly support calls, during which time we talk about whatever is most alive for us at that moment; what body sensations are present, the emotions connected to those sensations, recent occurrences, struggles, celebrations, etc.

Before entering into my share, I had no idea what was there for me. I began by breathing deeply into my stomach. I noticed my heart was pounding, there was a hollowness in my chest, and I felt overwhelmed by an experience of the world moving at a pace that my nervous system could not keep up with. I’ve recently moved house, the items I brought with me not even out of boxes yet. This move meant a transition from living with a life partner whom I have been with for the last four years; a close friend of 19 years; and her baby, whose birth I was present at. I was a bit frozen facing all this change. Making even the simplest seeming decision felt totally undoable.

My friend was there holding space for me on the call as I explored the nooks and crannies of this experience, supporting me by making guesses as to what I might be feeling and what the underlying needs could be. It became clear that my body was needing stillness and time to integrate all the changes that had happened, the changes that are continuously happening. I believe strongly that, as a species, we need to slow down, take pauses, and really look at what is happening within and around us. There is so much urgency and so many reasons why we need to move fast, to move on to the next thing. Cradled by the warm accompaniment of my friend, I was greeted by something a teacher I work with calls an impossible dream guess. This is an expression of resonance that acknowledged my heart’s deepest desire: I wish that for just one moment every human on the planet would pause, take a breath, and feel their bodies; feel their essential mattering, the mattering of all the beings around them; and the impact that each of us has. I wept as I spoke these words, feeling so much hope for widespread transformation should this actually happen, along with despair that this could never happen.

Many other emotions followed, such as rage, contempt, and playfulness, as I ping-ponged between these two seemingly opposite poles. Now I am in a time of reflection. I’m able to acknowledge how stuck I can be in this type of binary thinking, which I see as an inheritance from generations of humans impacted by systemic oppression and privilege. My body can feel the edges of my windows of welcome for my own grief, joy, and vulnerability. And, with every breath, I can feel myself expanding to hold more and more of life’s complexity.

Processes and experiences such as this are what we will be exploring in the course, Resilient Hearts in Times of Collapse: The Art of Self-Regulation and Navigating Complex Trauma in Community. We invite people to join who are ready to feel into what their bodies are holding, knowing you can choose the intensity of how deep you go, and to be present for the experiences of others in the room. We also ask that people show up with a commitment to sharing as honestly as you are able and be aware that we are stepping into one another’s energetic “fields”, meaning that we will be influencing each other’s experiences. Kevin and I will do our best to hold dynamics in the room with care and acknowledge the impact of living with different identities/experiences of violence under the different systems of oppression. Our hope is that people will leave the class having felt a deep connection to others and themselves, as well as a greater sense of choice and energy around how to engage with the massive challenges that we must continuously face being alive at this time. 

Photo credit: Elizabeth M