Physical Exercise to practice Integrity
I have learned to use the physical experience of integrity as a compass in complex situations.
In situations where there either might be arguments for different actions or I simply cannot think of everything, I might have to go for something in a kind of experiment. Taking a decision and acting, despite the fact, that I do not have all the answers or do not know who else might be affected in which way.
Instead of going only after my principles, which could be a way of doing it, that I used to practice, I aim to go after this integrity-compass. Because integrity includes a sensation of confidence and being able to stand behind my decision, in a complex moment it seems to be the only reasonable thing for me to go after.
As I wrote earlier, losing my integrity for me feels like a kind of fine sandpaper is sanding the inside of my chest. In the beginning it is just a tiny sensation of discomfort. And as it continues, it starts to be more exhausting, painful even and somehow there is a layer of „dust“ in the whole body. A mood that can be covering every subject and make it unclear what actually started the sensation in the first place. Moving the chest would be uncomfortable, also because it would stir up the dust everywhere else. A weird mood, somehow related to nausea but spread in the whole body, potentially questioning my values.
There is space, I can move my arms, my head freely and I breathe more. There might still be a sensation of pain or sorrow, but it is usually clear, where it comes from. Maybe I just had to make a difficult decision, that I know impacts other people and is not all pink and glitter. But my values are intact. I don’t have to hide any area of my life, in order to protect it from another one. I can say ‘these are my choices, some of them hurt, some of them are difficult, and as a whole I stand behind who I am’.
When I notice the sensation of dust and wonder where it comes from (sometimes it’s easy to notice, where you chose something that goes against your values, but sometimes, when you’re good at rationalizing your choices, it might unclear which of them it is…)
I do an exercise to gain clarity that I would like to share with you.
Remember a situation where you made a decision, that for some reason or another made you doubt your integrity (or that of someone else).
Maybe you can’t even put your finger on what exactly brings this doubt. Notice the feeling that comes along with this. Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is a specific sentence that you had in your mind or that you tell yourself thinking back to this situation.Stay with whatever remains as a memory of this situation.Feelings can sometimes be a bit abstract, so what I would like to encourage you to do, is to describe the physical sensation that you experience now. (Take your time, this can be up to 5-6minutes)
And then, without changing it notice the position you’re in.
- Are you sitting? How are your legs?
- When you breathe, which area of your body do you feel most free and which most restricted? How is the rhythm of your breathing?
- When you feel a tension somewhere in your body, in which direction does it pull you? Or is it pushing against the back of your chair?
- What do you do with your face and in which position do you hold your head?.
- Go through the sensations in all areas of your body curiously, and in a way „freeze“ the feeling for a moment. Keep it in place, now that you’re so consciously learning about it. And discover the physical experience of a feeling.
- As you describe it, the tension might intensify a bit or the position becomes more fixated than it was realistically in the situation you’re thinking about. But bare with me.
- Whatever you’re sensing, investigate curiously and notice this physical experience connected to your experience.
- While you continue breathing, make it even a bit stronger.
Now let go of that tension.Get out of the position you were in and move freely again.If you need to stretch or get up for a moment to get out of this posture, do so. Until you can really feel that you got out of the previous experience (this can take 2-3 minutes).
The next step of this exercise is to now again remember the situation you started with.And while paying attention to not return to the same physical effort you just did, allow yourself to just notice what appears.
If you relax your body and breathe fully and pay attention – is there still doubt? Is there a question that you need to answer? Or a clarity that appears. How do you perceive the situation now?
(And yes, if you would be curious about a more physical description or being able to notice more details in your body to help you with this, one option could be to come for a session with me. I would be happy to explore with you.)
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