As a follow up to the burnout & emotions posts, I want to discuss de-armoring. This word / technique is something that a lot of people are using so I encourage you to be careful about what you hear / practice etc. The way I’m discussing de-armoring is the way I’ve been trained and how I use this practice for myself and my work. It’s based on the Reichian armor ring theory in addition to a gentle / slow approach to unwinding tissue / body patterns that is trauma-informed. The “soft-touch approach” instead of manipulative / hard-touch.
There are many deep experiences that run through the pelvic bowl (check out my post on emotions for a practice to begin there). De-armoring is simply unwinding or releasing patterns in the body. These patterns could be emotional, relational, physiological, ancestral. Many layers can come up and out depending on how far you go. Please know that one layer at a time, at a pace that feels sustainable to you is the best way to let your body integrate and not be blown out of the water / stressed to the point where you say “I don’t want to do that again!” I always bring this up because a lot of people who are into healing / evolution / growth can often bulldoze past the boundaries of their own body which ends up over-riding the system. One of my favorite mentors said to me once “it takes many lifetimes to unwind conditioning, so you may as well take it slow and enjoy.”
So…body armor. What is this?
The de-armoring process I relate to uses a spectrum that can relate to physical, emotional, and mental experiences and manifestations in the body. On one end of the spectrum is numb / disconnected / frozen. On the other end of the spectrum is alive, warm, spongy, vital, healthy tissue.
How do we get from numb or dead to warm and healthy?
This is an interesting question. A lot of the medical world says that dead tissue / dead nerves cannot come back alive. I wonder about this. From my work, I have felt nerves that feel like they are completely offline. Sometimes, after much time and practice and healing work, those nerves return to life. I’ve felt it in my hands. So…just saying 🙂
Back to the spectrum. If one end of the spectrum is numb, we start there. Breathing into numbness can be challenging because it can be disturbing, boring or anything else we associate with numb. But if we stick with it, that numbness can melt like an ice cube. It will often turn into a tension or pain pattern next. Again, stick with it. If we keep feeling and staying, that tension / pain will sometimes unfold into an emotional release. Sometimes it’s just a physical thing and there’s no emotion. When there is a big emotion, this can be intense and challenging but if we give love, permission, care, and time, that emotional release often gives way to an expansion and openness. In the body. In the heart. In the emotional space. In the mind. This expansion is so beautiful and in the body shows up as an opening, warmth, aliveness, tingles. Vitality is powerful!
Now, the whole spectrum doesn’t always happen in one focal experience. Sometimes it takes many inquiries. Sometimes it takes many cycles of different layers. This is the “it never ends” aspect of de-armoring. There is always more and that in itself is a beautiful thing because it allows us to have no goal. There’s nowhere to be except exactly where we are, and this is something I am always holding with my clients. We are simply being with “what is.” Permission to be, where we are, is the way to get to wherever we are going.
Curious about de-armoring? This is the main way that I work.
If you want to start to practice de-armoring with yourself, here is a beginning practice:
– put a hand on your body somewhere that feels in need, send care through your hand. say a prayer to yourself “whatever is ready to be known, felt, heard, I am here. I am listening.”
– find somewhere in your body that feels nourishing, safe, warm. If there’s nothing, find something neutral (surely your nose or pinky finger has some kind of resource available for you). if there’s nothing in the body available, use an image of somewhere safe and beautiful.
– take 3-5 breaths there and notice what you feel in your sensations in your body
– now find something in your mind, body, heart that feels challenging and uncomfortable. take 3-5 breaths here. put your hand there is that feels helpful. notice what you feel
– return to the nourishing, safe, place. breathe here
– keep alternating until you feel just a little tired and pause. beginning with 5-10 minutes is a good way to get used to this practice
– if you are familiar with working with your internal pelvic bowl / floor tissues, you can do this same practice just with the inside of your body (with your hand or tool, find somewhere in the tissue that is nourishing & supportive, breathe with it, then find somewhere in the tissue that is challenged / tense / whatever you are willing to feel)
– give simple thanks to your body (thank you, I love you, I see you, good work)
If this is simply not possible for you, you may want to consider working with a counselor. A body-based counselor can be a great way to begin to inquire into these levels. If you’re ready to work with your body in these ways but need support and a container, please reach out to me, it is my greatest joy to offer this service to you all.
With love, Alicia
Free-bleeding. Ever heard of this? It’s a whole new way for most people. I know I certainly didn’t begin my menstrual journey in this way and sometimes I still feel sad about that.
I recently wrote a few posts about the menstrual cycle and I felt like I had to follow up with free-bleeding. I’m going to give a peak into my journey, illuminate the purpose & gifts of this practice, and give you a few resources if you want to look into it.
My journey started with standard bleached pads and tampons, for years. Once I learned about materials / quality and impact on the vaginal tissue (a very receptive space in the body), I felt really sad for my body and the quality of material that had been there every month for years.
How tampons impact our body
During my pelvic floor training with Tami Kent, we touched on how tampons produce an inflammatory response in the tissue each time they are used. I couldn’t even try to count the amount of tampons I’ve used, but I know that was a lot of inflammation and again, I felt sad and confused. I know that this is political, advertising and the amount of money companies make off women’s bodily needs is just insane, but that’s not what this post is about.
Alternative options for your menstrual cycle
Years later, I started to look into alternative way to manage my bleeding time. My first look outside of tampons / regular pads was the menstrual cup. There are many versions available now. This did really well for me for years. I felt much better about the material (even though it was rubber and now I’m not a fan), I knew I wasn’t producing the same kind response in my tissue, and I could feel a difference in what it actually felt like to bleed instead of “plugging” it.
Eventually, my cervix told me that it was not right to have a cup pressed up against this space while I was supposed to be releasing everything out. It was really uncomfortable for me to remove and the brand of the cup didn’t mention that if you tug on the cup without removing the suction, it can actually be pretty challenging for the cervix to feel that. Again, this made a lot of sense to me. It felt like pressure. It was uncomfortable. It felt crampy.
I’d heard about sea sponges but felt concerned about leaking. I had an awkward period of time where I was using homemade pads but they shifted positions easily, were hard to keep in place, and I ended up leaking onto clothes a few times. That’s when I found out about period underwear and my relationship to this bleed time got completely flipped upside down!
That was years ago and honestly I cannot imagine going back to having ANYthing up in my body while I am in this natural release phase. In fact, I realized the other day that it’s been years since anything besides a human body or a stone has been inside of me. No cups. No tampons. No nothing except human flesh and something that comes from the earth. I know that’s a little extreme, that’s just my way, I know that there are a lot of considerations that come in here when it comes to how to take care of our bleeding time so I have no judgment. My hope is to give you permission about exploring this for yourself.
Free-bleeding is the practice of simply letting the blood come out in its own natural way.
Onto underwear. Onto the earth (can be challenging to orchestrate but is a powerful experience in itself). Into plants (yes, houseplants LOVE menstrual blood! Try it, it’s great medicine for them). Into water. Into the toilet.
Free-bleeding is a different experience than the plug method.
And, it’s really healthy for the vaginal canal. Menstrual blood is packed with the nutrients that is necessary to make life. Letting that blood wash through the vaginal canal is a powerful healing tool that is available to us each month!
Even if free-bleeding is not right for you all the time (like if you want to go swimming, or have a particularly long day where you can’t afford to change your underwear mid-day, or you want to wear a certain outfit that can’t accommodate), I want to encourage you to practice free-bleeding when you can and bring curiosity. Perhaps at night and in the morning when you first wake before the day gets going. Perhaps one day when you’re at home all day. At this point, I find menstrual blood beautiful and it always makes me feel awe. Every single time.
Really, menstruation time is a time of meditation and deep internal states. I try to take a lot of time off for my bleeding time (I go into this in my other blog post on the cycle: https://yourinnerpower.org/
Thinxx Underwear for Free-Bleeding
What I personally do now is I have two sets of the Thinxx underwear (so I know I have enough and don’t have to do emergency laundry). If you have fibroids I know it can be challenging for the body to sit on blood for long periods of time, so you may want to consider how to work with that. Now that it’s been years, I can feel when my body really needs to release the blood and I just make sure I have access to a toilet every hour or so on the heavier bleeding days.
Questions? Need help? Write to me!
With love, Alicia
The menstrual cycle & fertility is a universe in itself (like most of my blog topics!) In this post I’m going to introduce you to the basic building blocks of beginning to track your cycle, why this is a valuable piece to explore, and a few tools to get you started.
In the wide world, even though this is beginning to change, I still see the menstrual cycle & fertility signs being shamed / avoided / and at best, mysterious. This is a problem because if you live in a body that has a menstrual cycle, that cycle has a big impact on life, energy levels, relationships, sex, and more. The cycle and fertility is actually not mysterious if you learn what you need to know about it all. Learning to have a relationship to my own menstrual cycle & beginning to track the changes happening in my system was one of the first steps I took to empower myself and repair the relationship to my body. After years of immensely painful periods, a few pelvic health scares, overall disconnection, and a slew of other challenges, I can’t recommend this enough.
Follow these steps to initiate and connect with your own cycle & rhythm:
– learn about the phases of the menstrual cycle. The phases of the cycle all have gifts and challenges. When we learn to attune to them, it’s one of the most efficient & energy-saving ways to live. In my experience, it’s also less painful. Even if you’re on birth control, the body still has phases and cycles. Stay tuned for another blog post coming soon diving deeper into the phases of menstrual cycle soon!
– begin to chart your own cycle. I like to make a huge circle and divide it up so that there is one pie slice for each day in the cycle. In each space I do a simple journal entry for each day: mood / emotions, energy level, sleep, sex drive, food cravings, social tendencies, and anything else that stands out to you as important. You can also use any number of different apps that will track this for you on your phone.
– learn about the fluids in your body (mainly cervical fluid, the fluid that is released from the cervix throughout the monthly cycle is an important indicator of the fertile window). There’s a wealth of information out there about this fluid but the key words are: dry / crackling, sticky, egg-white, slippery. Once you start to notice this range of your own fluids, it becomes easier to notice the changes that happen like clockwork.
– notice changes in your body based on the movement of your system throughout the month. If you pay close attention you may start to notice shifts in the pieces that you’re tracking with your app / chart.
– look into breast massage as a way to help with hormonal regulation. A lot of hormonal regulation is dependent on the breasts and most people forget about this important place in the body (I’ll also come out with a more detailed post on this down the road, stay tuned).
Tracking fluids, changes, and living in rhythm with this cycle has been one of the biggest life-changers for me in terms of the day to day. I feel more permission to be where I am instead of trapped in the “be the same” / wear the same size / have the same energy levels / eat the same that I feel being pushed by society. Basically, I don’t feel pressured anymore to be in a static holding pattern throughout the month. The ebb and flow of the cycle is a beautiful thing if we learn how to attune to it and meet the needs of our bodies. If we blow past the needs of our cycle, usually our bodies will let us know with some kind of physical symptom, emotional reaction, conflict in relationship, etc. So much about learning how to attune & regulate the menstrual cycle is about self-care, bodily needs, boundaries, rest, and optimal usage of our energy at the times when it matters the most.
Making sense to you? Hitting home? Write to me, I love hearing from you and always love working with you on learning how to deepen your relationship to this rhythm in order to best serve your whole life! With love, Alicia