The power of permission
Cultivating a practice of curiosity in order to reclaim our personal power. By Lauren Bloxham
It can be a radical and powerful act, to give ourselves permission. Permission to breathe, permission to rest, permission to let off steam, to be alone, to be quiet, to not know and to say no.
It’s powerful because so much of the time we outsource our power through habit, to those around us who we perceive to be more worthy of our time or more knowledgeable in the circumstance than us. Whether it’s our children or partners, our employers, or our community leaders.
We can be so responsive to the needs, demands and sometimes intrusive or invasive expectations on our time and space, our bodies, and minds, that we forget we have the power to advocate on our own behalf.
“Cultivating curiosity about our personal circumstances takes time and focus. It becomes a knowledge-gathering exercise….as we gather that knowledge, we gather perspective and clarity. This is the point of transformation.”
Sometimes we find ourselves feeling burned out, over worked and unwell, and this is where harsh boundaries fall. Time off or space away becomes essential, but often we feel guilty during this time and gear up to get right back to the situation which burned us out in the first place.
It’s a kind of yo-yoing between action and depletion. It’s finding comfort through the familiarity of extremes; things become black or white, we’re on or off, in or out, and it creates a harsh division within us. It makes the middle ground, the softer space of uncertainty, curiosity, acceptance, and compassion uncomfortable, or even inaccessible.
Our vitality, our creativity, and our wisdom, holds unique and real value in the world – it’s like a precious natural resource. How we channel this energy, how we save it, and who has access to it, needs to be discerned with great care. When we feel that an external situation or individual holds power over us, then it can be easy to follow instruction without a second thought. We forget to ask: ‘Is this serving me?’ or ‘Is this nourishing me?’. Cultivating curiosity about our personal circumstances takes time and focus.
It becomes a knowledge-gathering exercise as we pay attention to what is asked of us, what our situation looks and feels like, how we are being treated and how that makes us feel. As we gather that knowledge, we gather perspective and clarity.
This is the point of transformation. The moment we have clarity is the moment we hold the power to act on our own behalf. This is the point where we give ourselves permission to hold the value of our vitality, creativity, and wisdom and to preserve it or to enhance it.
This is the space we cultivate for ourselves in which nothing external can hold power over us anymore. Instead, we hold power within our circumstances and relationships, and in giving ourselves permission to hold our power, we point those around us towards theirs. Our circumstances, relationships and actions become empowering.
It starts with curiosity, and as always, our yoga mats are the perfect place to practice. Come to a comfortable seat and begin to be curious about the feet. Feeling the soles of each foot noticing temperature and sensation. Invite movement into the toes, allowing the toes to curl and stretch.
Move awareness to the ankles and invite movement here. Notice how the ankles flex and extend and how that feels. Notice the left ankle then the right as you circle each together and separately. Do they feel warm, tight, do they click or creak, are they comfortable?
As you invite a sense of curiosity, the mind shifts from being an instructive mind, to a witnessing mind and you gather information about the condition of the feet and ankles. With this knowledge we can empower ourselves to stretch and move in a way that serves and nourishes us.
We can apply this curiosity to our whole physical body, to places of pain or injury. We can extend the practice towards our thoughts and emotions, being curious about the passing textures and colours of our minds, the light, the dark, the intense and the vulnerable.
With curiosity we gather knowledge, and with this knowledge we empower ourselves to become our greatest advocates, our own best friends, and our most loyal companions in whatever circumstances we find ourselves experiencing.
Lauren Bloxham holds space for self-enquiry through movement, mindfulness and meditation, online, in-person and on retreat. Visit blackdogliving.com for classes and events.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.