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March 22, 2004

Flat On My Back

The other day I walked down some wooden stairs outside my house and hit a slick patch of frost. My feet slipped out from under me so quickly that I couldn't react to break the fall. I landed flat on my back on the wooden edges of the stairs.

The first thing I did was yell, "Fuck!"

I was loud, and my body was angry. I got up, cursing, and did some gentle stretches. Then I stood and gently shook all my limbs. I did gentle shaking and stretching off and on for the rest of the day. I was aware that the force of the fall needed to be released from my body.

I went to sleep that night expecting to wake up with stiff, bruised muscles and a spinal misalignment. Next morning, however, I was happily surprised to feel only slight stiffness. In another day, I was back to normal.

It was a very hard fall. I attribute the lack of damage and the rapid recovery to the yell, the anger, the stretching, and the shaking. The yell was an immediate release of a large amount of the energy that entered my body as I hit the stairs. To stifle that yell would have locked in the energy and allowed it to turn into tension.

In the past I might have reacted with fear, which is more of a shrinking, contracting, tension-producing action. In contrast, the anger was a self-asserting, self-protecting reaction that left me feeling empowered. The stretching and shaking were another way to lengthen and relax muscles rather than letting them contract with tension. Every response was an ex-pression—a pressing out—of the solid hit im-pressed upon my back. Energy comes in, and energy needs to go out.

Keeping a balanced energy flow is what keeps us healthy. Expressing hurtful energy is a big part of that and a big part of primal integration.

Next time I'll be more careful with those steps—but I will always give myself the permission to yell when I'm hurt.

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