I was running around my hotel room packing yesterday, when I accidentally caught my foot on the corner of the coffee table in our suite. After being forced to stop, do some quick triage by relocating my cockeyed little toe, the full profundity of the event sunk in. It was a sign—albeit a nasty one—that I was as dislocated as my toe. For me, whenever I stub my toe, accidentally slice my finger, cut myself shaving, stumble, bump or bruise myself in some other minor injury, it is always, always a sign of me being out of alignment with my inner self; with what I know to be true.
Given the events of last week around our nation, the heightened emotional build-up, the acute polarization, the outright and disappointing lack of compassion (some would say crassness or worse) displayed by the office of the president, I had allowed myself to get out of alignment. And as my most dependable cause and effect, I was being made aware of my misalignment through the burgeoning bruise on my foot.
Though my goal has always been to catch my misalignment at the budding point of mere dissatisfaction, when I don’t, I am actually incredibly appreciative for my body’s recognition and alert system. So often we get so caught up in our schedule, work, responsibilities, that we forget to check in with ourselves. And the longer we go without checking in with ourselves, the more possibility there is for a growing chasm between our inner being and the outer being that we wear, we maintain, to get through each day. That discrepancy can cause resistance which never feels good. However, most of the time we allow ourselves to get so busy that we accept this low-level noise, drag, discomfort, as simply a part of life, a part of the grind, while it slowly becomes louder, exhausting, more uncomfortable...and in my case, clumsier and downright painful.
Before I started limping my way around my hotel room to resume packing, I needed to stop, and close the gap of my own mind/body/spirit dislocation. It was time for me to ask myself into alignment using a seemingly simple version of an exercise that I had learned in my acting training. Modified for life, I have come to practice this mandatorily in cases of my own misalignment—and it works without fail.
I started by taking six deep breaths, to infuse my system with oxygen. I then stood in one place on balanced feet, put my hand over my heart, and asked the magic question out loud to myself, “how do I feel?” I answered myself, “I feel rushed. I feel distracted.” I asked out loud again, “how do I feel?” I answered out loud again, “I feel my heart beat in my chest. I feel blood pulsing in my toe.” I continued to ask and answer aloud to myself. Each time establishing a lexicon for my emotions, each time going deeper and deeper into my state of being, into my psyche. It was not easy—it took a while to truly identify, using words, the intricacies of how I felt...but it was invaluable. For, labeling the nuances of how we feel allows those disowned parts of ourselves to speak. It brings those emotions into the light of acknowledgement, and out of the darkness of denial. And we all know that the monsters of negative emotion grow exponentially in the dark. Giving them a voice, an opportunity to purge, beat their chest, exorcise themselves dynamically, is the safest way to ensure that they don’t come out or manifest through ignoring a low level fever of discomfort, clumsiness that can quickly grow into pain or even dis-ease. I asked and answered until I dug deep enough to reach the root of emotion that had split my inner being from the outer being I show to the world—the ‘who’ I am from the ‘how’ I am. “How do I feel?” I asked. “I feel wholly disheartened, bereft.” “I feel utterly devastated.”
And there it was. The feeling that I had been distracting myself from feeling for an entire week—through hearings, through protests, through social media storms and other people's terrifying rants. I said it again, out loud, to myself, and hearing it again made me tear up. I exhaled what felt like all the oxygen from my body; purged what felt like all the sadness, the grief from my heart, lifted what felt like all the weight in the world from my shoulders.
I had allowed the angry, aggressive ammunition hurled from fear to worm its way into my consciousness and separate me from that which I know to be true, and it left me mentally spent and emotionally bankrupt. I felt utterly heartbroken over the recent events surrounding our beautiful nation’s conversation—nay, battle—over sexual assault, violence, power, reputation, government, Kavanaugh, Ford. And as I stood there, in the middle of my hotel room holding my tattered heart, I finally felt the exhalation that comes with alignment. The exaltation of authenticity. I salved my wound with the knowledge that my feelings were valid. That the fact that I feel is an unavoidable part of being human, and that the emotions that bubble up are natural and rarely controllable—but my thoughts and actions subsequent from my innate emotions are absolutely within my control.
I reminded myself that what makes this country so amazing is the freedom we are given to have diverse opinions, and to voice those opinions. I reminded myself how far we’ve come to even have had the space made within our media, government, society to talk about horribly difficult things such as sexual violence and harassment. And that even though we still had so far to go, we are on our way to exploring at their root how our culture viewed power, aggression, violence, love, respect, masculinity, femininity. We have finally reached a pivotal point—hopefully a tipping point—where archaic assumptions and disrespect can finally give way to a whole new discourse, an updated framework. And since having been able to identify my life’s GPS coordinate into which I had stumbled and stubbed that day, I have finally gotten back on track to do what I can to move the greater conversation regarding these matters, forward. I can only hope that others who feel out of alignment will take a moment to stop, make the choice to sync themselves to how their inner being feels, and then move forward from a healthy, whole and hopeful place.
We all deserve to feel better…so that we can then do better.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]