The inner critic is a powerful force and sadly it is all too familiar in today’s culture. It appears in many guises but frequently as self criticism, shame, disconnection and difficulty in expressing ourselves. It saps us of confidence and energy, triggering conflict and misunderstanding, and brings untold amounts of misery. It has a powerful effect on our body and on our health often shaping our posture from the physical hold it has on us.
Held within our bodies these contraction patterns interfere with the function of our breathing and digestion further impacting on our health. Classically the person with a strong inner critic may feel slightly hunched almost as if they’re being put upon by an external force.
I’ve copied a link here to one of Rob Burbea’s talks given at Gaia House – a well known and respected retreat centre that I’m blessed to live a short distance away from. It offers a detailed and deeply insightful exploration of why and how this has become so insidious in Western culture but more importantly it offers a possible path of what can be done to help erode the habits of mind that can at times seems unrelentingly imprisoning and suffocating. His insights draw heavily on the Buddhist tradition of mindfulness and befriending these darker elements of ourselves by bring a sense of kindness, warmth, awareness and understanding that can not only free us from our own suffering but can also improve our creativity, connection and confidence. This is likely to then ripple out away from us benefitted the people around us, most likely to those close to us that we hold dear.
As an osteopath I’m not only concerned with releasing people from pain in their bodies. I’m also interested in trying to help him deal with other forms of pain within their own lives in whatever form it takes. I’m also hoping to somehow reduce their burden. When our burden (both physically and emotionally) is lighter we put ourselves under less strain, we have more energy, tensions can dissipate and we stand taller.
During my own practice of meditation I’m often aware how emotional knots manifest in the body and in those lucky moments when release occurs a greater sense of freedom and opening can be reflected in the body, freeing me of low back pain, tension around the shoulders, holding in the jaw and neck and the other familiar places where we store tensions.