SFH #80: Where are you holding stress?

Unlock your patterns 🔒

I noticed a few minutes ago that I was clenching my jaw, and it spurred me to start typing this out. 👨‍💻

Are you aware of how stress may show up in your body? The first time I figured out that I was clenching my jaw unconsciously was during meditation. It was as if someone connected a new circuit in my brain. I started to move my mandible right and left, up and down, realizing a more profound release with each slow breath. It was the first of many times I would slow down to find something deeper underneath.

The science of how we hold stress and trauma in our tissue is the subject of The Body Keeps the Score. In it, Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk unpacks his research and field experience in the effects of trauma on brain function, memory, and physiological patterns. The repercussions of stress are wide-reaching and likely unsurprising related to our overall health.1 The more modern revelations that I've discovered in the pages of this book and 'in practice' over the past three years are how we can integrate body awareness to open the door to rewire our experiences and counteract stress and trauma.

Today, I want to share with you one straightforward process to tap into your physical awareness and feelings beneath the surfaced patterns. Through my time learning and practicing this method from the founders and members of Evryman, I've been able to crack open the shell regularly. 

The process is called R-O-C. Relax, Open, and Connect.

  1. Relax = ssssssslow downnnnn. We are used to a fast-paced always-on world. It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to keep up. The purpose here is to pump the breaks and go from 200 mph to 5 mph. Take deep breaths. Breathe in for at least 5 seconds, hold for 2-3, breathe out for 5 seconds. You can try a few different patterns with an app like Breathwrk.💨

  2. Open = open your awareness to everything going on in your body to open up to your emotions. This is executed through a body scan (somatic meditation) to notice what's happening in our body. As Dan Doty, founder of Evryman, put's it, 'it's the back door into our emotions.' All of our emotions show up differently, and this technique is an entry point to help us understand our patterns from physical to emotional and vice-versa.🚪

  3. Connect = make the internal, external. This is where the magic happens—putting words to the feelings. We are communicating the physical sensation in our bodies and what lies beneath. Easier said than done, right? It just takes the willingness and practice. 🧩

Executing this process can be pretty simple once you get the hang of it. The difficulty that I've noticed amongst the men I've practiced with can be either 1) identifying a genuine feeling behind a physical sensation and 2) communicating with clarity around the feeling. In the end, every person (man) I’ve met that has stuck with this practice for at least several months has opened up awareness to a consistent pattern. It's typically connecting a 'hot spot' in the body to a deep thread of emotional hurt regardless of background (age, race, geography, and socioeconomic status). From my experience, the ability to tap into this practice has been the gateway for a brave new world of health. 🙏🏽

So, where do you hold your stress?