Holiday season feeling like a psychological obstacle course? Might be, in part, history-colored glasses...
In this article:
Glasses to our past
The curious somatic technique you may want to try out this holiday
Holiday prep for our emotions
based on an interview with Michelle Marks
By Simona Vivi H
History-Colored Glasses and what to do about them
Michelle is an expert in somatic tools & techniques, so thought it would be perfect to reach out to her for some holiday tips and tricks as we head into the peak of the holiday season. (plus, she's my sister & one of my favorite people in the world)
As Michelle said in our interview: “We all come from somewhere, and that somewhere can come with us.” That can feel especially potent this time of year. Whether that’s because we are physically going to be with our family of origin, or from being out in the collective stress of the holiday season, our past is with us.
There are parts of our brain that do not experience linear time, so we may, for example, experience a familiar smell from our childhood or notice a familiar facial expression and in a sense, we time travel.
If we are lucky, we notice the whoosh come over us, and we realize we’ve been taken over by a memory. If we don’t notice the whoosh, one clue that we are seeing through our history-colored glasses is feeling like we aren’t being seen or understood by ANYONE in the whole wide world. Other clues include noticing we’ve moved into black & white thinking, possibly righteous and/or resentful feelings, or noticing we are tense and constricted in our bodies.
What can we do when that happens?
It sounds a little silly at first, but a really powerful technique for returning to this NOW moment is to find our tongue in our mouth.
The Curious Tongue Technique
If you feel comfortable learning-by-doing, I invite you to get curious. Where is your tongue in your mouth right now? Where is it in relationship to the roof of your mouth? Is it down near the bottom of your teeth? Is it floating? Is it bumped up against your top teeth? Is it way back in the palate?
Take about 60-second and keep coming back to these two points. Where is the tip of your tongue in relationship to the roof of your mouth. (and, if you want to see my sister and I doing this exercise, here’s that clip from our interview)
It might move, or it might not. Allow it to do whatever it’s going to do naturally. You might notice you get more saliva coming online in your mouth. If you are wondering why we may get more saliva (because I was), the answer is because this technique is signaling to our body that we are safe. As our bodies shift into the NOW moment and into greater feelings of psychological safety, we shift into rest & digest mode. The opposite is also true. If you’ve ever experience cotton mouth, try to remember what was going on for you.
As Michelle explained, by putting our attention on those two points, we are bringing our conscious awareness to the present. And, it’s something we can actually do pretty stealthily as we are sitting at a holiday meal, or out in a crowded space.
Honor the Small Ping
If we notice we are feeling a bit defended, or a bit agitated, Michelle suggests paying attention to those small pings. We can think of the ping as an early-warning sign that we’ve started to time-travel. What we can do with that awareness is turn to a reorienting technique, meaning something that helps us get oriented to the present moment.
The Tongue Technique that you just learned is an effective reorienting technique. (Another is to put our hand on our hearts and taking a breath.)
Preparing for a Holiday Gathering
On the day of the holiday gathering, practice the tongue technique throughout the day. Aim to stay in curiosity about where your tongue is in relationship to the roof of your mouth for 60-seconds at a time, about once every hour or two. What you are doing is creating a routine of coming back to the NOW moment.
Bonus move: start that training the day before
Let’s just name that sometimes we may get activated, even if we are prepared. It’s one of those facts of life that we may not love, but that doesn’t change what is. If you find yourself in a pickle (or an exploding pickle), please try to remember that we’ve all been there, and if you are able to, offer yourself some grace.
No myth of perfection (sister-silliness)
Here’s an audio clip of my sister and I as we wrapped up the interview.
To watch clips from my interview with Michelle, visit @reMothering on YouTube Orienting the the NOW moment by locating our tongues (click here) History-colored glasses & working with our bodies to return to the NOW moment (click here)
For the full interview, plus access to the entire 2021 reMothering Holiday Summit, check out the reMothering.org store here.
Michelle Marks is an integrative wellness practitioner in Tuscon, Arizona. For the past 20+ years, she has been sharing practices in the somatic healing arts.
Michelle weaves her background as a yoga teacher, her Master's in Counseling Psychology, and her continued studies in somatics, trauma recovery work, and relational health into her private practice and community trainings. To read more about Michelle, plus check out her workshops and 1:1 services, visit: MichelleHollyMarks.com
Article written by:
Simona Vivi H
Simona Vivi Hadjigeorgalis is the founder of reMothering.org, a collaborative space where industry leaders create remothering resources for independent-learning. Simona also has a private coaching practice at The Center for Remothering.