The Law of Attraction

Each month Body Comes to Mind hosts the Embodiment Lab (EL) where we explore topics that impact our personal resilience and wellbeing. These live, interactive sessions serve to supplement our online courses and to provide a training ground for anyone interested in transforming reactability into response-ability through the powerful tool of embodied awareness. Following is an outline of what we experienced during the lab, including paraphrased quotes from participants.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

The Rolling Stones

We watch the pendulum as it swings back and forth. The shaolin master is using it as an analogy for grasping after and resisting things. And we can easily see the effect: When we pull something toward us we work against gravity; pushing takes effort and depletes our resources . . .

Pushing & Pulling

It’s natural to want things close that appeal to us and to avoid things we don’t like. It is also the law of physics that eventually whatever we are pulling toward us will move farther away, and that which we are pushing away will move closer. So how do we navigate that inevitability? When we are grasping out of insecurity or slight desperation, or rejecting from fear of discomfort or something taking too much effort, we burden others, rob ourselves of connection or shift out of our alignment.

This month’s Embodiment Lab focused on Part 1 of The Law of Attraction & Avoidance: Attraction. We used Embodied Exploration to discover our unique relationship to things we pull into our lives. We found out how grasping affects us, how we react when things slip away and what happens when we guide them away. Most importantly, we honed our innate skills to shift toward alignment and connection.

The Law of Attraction

We found through the lab sharing that we generally have good feelings about our attraction to things. We’re interested in having more time, connection to self and others; peace, calmness, gratitude; health and stability. And in that way we feel pleasure, excitement, energy and sometimes a sense of restlessness toward attracting something. But we also recognized that being attracted to something or pulling it toward us could result in rejection or maybe having just the opposite happen. One participant noted: “It depends very much on the energy with which I focus on something: It often doesn’t happen if I want it too much!”

It depends very much on the energy with which I focus on something: It often doesn’t happen if I want it too much!

And sometimes we pull too much in and end up with too much responsibility and having said yes to doing things for others without leaving time for ourselves. In that way, sometimes what we “attract” isn’t necessarily what we want or like!

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Where is Attraction in Our System?

By exploring the place in our system that was activated when we pulled the pendulum toward us in the first exercise, we developed an embodied awareness that we could refer to later. One participant felt grasping in the throat and chest area, both contracting when activated. For another it was the solar plexus. Generally the sensations were in the upper part of our bodies and were slightly activating: tightness in the heart area, tense guy, tingling around the sternum . . . even a little nausea! We can use these sensations as a guide: when we feel that in our system, might it be related to over exerting to get or keep something?

The first exercise also gave us a sense for how pulling something toward us might change with distance: “In the beginning it is nice and pleasant. But when I pull it in closer, it starts to feel constricting, like I’m choking.” And also with speed! When we’re working through embodied exploration we may need to slow things down to get a sense for how they impact our system.

We were again reminded that whether we feel a certain way because we are using our muscles or because we are tensing our muscles as a result of sensing something, the sensation informs us about where we are in that moment. Whether we are pulling on something literally or figuratively, our system is activated. We can recognize when we are over exerting.

And how might that exploration relate to relationships? The resistance we feel from someone and the effort we’re putting into the connection is sending us vital information!

The Act of Pulling and of Letting Go

When we pull something toward us, and it slips out of our grasp, how do we react? And what does that say about how things go for us in our daily lives?

“Even though the object was no longer there, my hands keeps pulling”

“I noticed that there was a point where I became afraid it would slip. But when I pulled it closer to me it felt stable. I felt happy and relieved. And then suddenly, when it slipped away without warning, I felt very disappointed.”

“I felt relieved: I didn’t have to make an effort anymore.”

And when we shifted the unexpected slipping away to either intentional letting go or guided placement, we realized that being “out of control” was disturbing to our systems. That’s not surprising. To our head, anyway! We forget that just knowing something conceptually, in our head, is often vastly different from how our body+mind system receives it! And as we know from the study of neuroscience in the context of the physiology and the autonomic nervous system, the body filters all incoming information well in advance of our conscious awareness.

So here we found that our system was generally more comforted by being able to be involved in the letting go of the object. “It seemed much more fun and joyful. No deception anymore. I was just happy to see the object going its own way . . . But there remains a vague pain in the belly”
Control seems to play a role here: “I enjoy it more when I can decide to let go, instead of letting it slip.” In fact, one participant realized that they had not been allowing the object to slip from their hand at all, but had instead been purposefully letting it go:

“When I then let go without being involved in the decision, I felt a terrible loss.”

Exploring intentional letting go also revealed our preferences about how we pull something in and how we respond to the act of letting go. By letting go of the object very early in the process, one observed, the discomfort of losing it could be minimized. Another participant found their grip tightening just before letting go and yet another found that when she was intentional about letting go she disconnected from the object very quickly: “Letting go is a very difficult thing for me.” Guiding the object to equilibrium revealed connection and compassion:

“I felt very open to it, softly and gently guiding it. It warmed my heart when it was back in balance.”

“When I can guide it, wow!” another participant remarked, “It feels wonderful!“ “I felt touched by the gesture, holding it in my hand.” “It felt like dancing, so beautifully connected, very loving.” In contrast, guiding the object to equilibrium and letting it go there could be disturbing for some. As long as they were involved, there was a sense of responsibility. When the object just slipped away or they released it at its tipping point, it was all good fun. But releasing at the nadir, made them feel as though the object were being abandoned. Another participant even remarked that it was as though the object still “needed” their hand!

How We Control Attraction

Control, balance, connection . . . Loss, fear, disconnection. Unanimously, whatever our personal sense of “control” involved, not being in control was disconcerting at best, and could even feel extremely painful. We strive for balance and thrive on connection. In this Embodied Exploration Lab we found we can be intentional and let go of desire and connection when we want to. We discovered that we do that in different ways and we uncovered our personal comfort zones in how we do that. But often we are not in control. In the best of times other people are not always cooperating with what we think should be done and in the way we think it should happen. And these are not the best of times. We find ourselves watching a pendulum swing forth and back. We see events unravel before us that we can neither grasp nor avoid. We are affected by them but cannot control the outcome. What then? We need to rely on our intrinsic inner balance. We practice through our embodied awareness. We develop the ability to pause, to become friends with discomfort without compromising our well-being. We become intimate with our limits and understand where we have agency and what we can affect.

References & Resources

Body Comes to Mind provides EMBODIED skills and practices to the globe through online courses, skills labs & workshops to enable people to take care of themselves while caring for others.

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