Cold Water

by Mona Kino – May 2017

„Your text is cold, massive, shattering and analytical“

Bang. My colleague´s comment to one of my work papers hit me hard. I gasped, as if I were suddenly thrown from behind into a deep, unknown water. I felt a pressure on the solar plexus, which made breathing almost impossible. I could see that my reaction was palpable for her and an uncomfortable tension spread, but I did not want to give it room. At least I did not want to discuss the fact that I found this an unfortunate phrase.

I think, we all know such a situation or something similar.

Although not so light and easy (because my good old friend, the perfectionist, was finally also in the room), I was able to get some distance by avoiding direct eye contact. I followed my stumbling breath slowly and tried not to be judgemental by muttering my mantra: Just perceive how and whether your breath changes.

I was amazed at what was happening in me.

Heart to body: “Do you have an idea? Shall we get up, leave the room? Make a coffee?”
Body to heart: “I’m still too exhausted from this hit and still want to sit.” Meanwhile consciousness spits out something deposited somewhere inside my brain:
“Traumatic experiences are stored in the nervous system.“ My body and my breathing relax. My creativity tunes in: „Let´s look for an alternative to fight or flight.”
More relaxation is spreading through out body and breath.
Creativity makes contact with the heart: “What do you think?”
“I just want an uncomplicated, structured, open and curious work related conversation.”
And turns to my consciousness: “Can you get something out of this?”
Even before consciousness answers, creativity speaks:
“Heart, what do you think of doing the work alone? You can make this very simple and structured?“
Heart shakes his head, no.
After a while consciousness speaks up again: “Hello, this is only a working text that says nothing about you as a human being.” And creativity adds:
“Exactly, this was not about literature.”
After another pause, the heart adds:
“Yes, that is how it is sometimes. Sometimes we write texts that are cold and analytical, and I think these are qualities that can be used for a working text. In a love letter, however, they are not so appropriate. ”
I have to laugh and my body says: „Guys, I need a break now, I will get up and make some tea.”

I was calmer again. Another challenging comment from my colleague about how the text felt so sad did not agitate my nervous system anymore. This time I could interestingly connect directly to the word “sad.” I remembered that I had already collected some funny ideas for the implementation of my text and told her this.
I had climbed back into the boat, from which I had fallen into the water. We both laughed – and the worries of my colleague, that everything could become too dreary, and for which she had no idea, were dissolving.

This morning, I wanted to deal with that hardened feeling that I had perceived in the solar plexus.

Writing and meditating are very close to each other. In both cases thoughts come and go. Only that when writing, a kind of intermediate step (the physical activity of moving the pen) is inserted before the next.

With a breathing exercise, I opened the area around the Solar Plexus, then I started writing.

Yesterday I had felt being hit by an unexpected comment. Now an early memory of this unexpected thrust came to my mind. My father wanted me to learn swimming. He grabbed me from behind when we were together in the swimming pool and threw me into the water. I was three years old and was so afraid of what was happening to my body under water. I was struggling, panicking. Gasping for air, crying, screaming, trembling. When I appeared on the surface of the water I saw my father standing at the edge of the pool, laughing. He looked up at my mother, who was lying on a couch reading a book, and said, “See, this is how you do it.” As I swallowed water and made my way to the edge of the pool, they continued fighting over their educational methods. And what I felt in my solar plexus now while writing down this memory was hatred. Hate of my parents, who, because of their conflicts, disregarded my boundaries and desires.

And so for me today a circle came together.

I understood that  ever since that incidence when someone or something, so to say, threw me into cold water, I was reacting with my nervous system as I did back then.

In contrast to back then I have a choice today. I do not have to swallow water, rage or hatred, but I can and may say, “Hello, sorry, that was just really unpleasant and I need a break to meet you sincerely and with all my senses.”

Even if the exercises with the solar plexus are more concerned with the unpleasant feelings than with the pleasant ones that are located in the heart, I find them now essential.

For as long as the unpleasant feelings are not felt and named, they will distort all our encounters, also the ones of love and joy, like a kind of coloured filter.

Open the area around solar plexus with your breath
Place yourself in a comfortable position.
Notice your breathing. Notice how you inhale and exhale.
Notice how your breathing makes your body move: stomach, chest, diaphragm or elsewhere.
Place your fingers on the solar plexus. Perhaps it is tense or even a bit painful, remember, there is no right or wrong – your solar plexus is as it is.
Breath in and loosen your fingers,  While you breath out, press your fingers against the solar plexus and turn to the left. Breath in, let loose, turn back to the middle. Breath out, press and turn to the right.
Beginners start with 2-3 minutes.
When you get more used to it you can practice for 10 minutes.
Then take 15 Minutes to meditate in a comfortable position on what is happening in your body, breathing, heart, creativity and mind.
If you want, you can listen to some music.
Then share with one of your collegues as described in the blog before-
If you are alone you can make some notes instead of meditating. Just write what is coming up into your mind. Also here – there is no right or wrong-

Illustrations by Gesine Grotrian

Edited by Kerstin Schöps