With not much to do these days, we’ve had to be creative in how we spend our free time. One of our new ‘fun’ activities is puzzling. Before all this, I never saw myself as a puzzler but, here we are! Our first puzzle was a beautiful starry night at an old lake house with three dogs sitting on the dock. Unlike our second and third puzzle, this one had very intricate pieces that had us seriously baffled. After an hour of puzzling our eyes were seeing similarly toned pieces as a wash of undistinguishable colours. Several times we had placed a piece in a spot that appeared to fit but did not. That one misplaced piece threw off the chance of fitting any other piece around the area, adding more hours to our puzzling fun.
Time spent puzzling made for opportunity to reflect (a constant practice in my life). Puzzling revealed more than just a beautiful old lake house under a starry sky. It also uncovered an interesting revelation: putting the wrong piece where it doesn’t belong tries to solve a problem but in actuality it doesn’t. It only throws you off course.
A reoccurring method of resolving many problems in my life is simply telling myself the familiar adage, “You’re okay!” If I could convince myself that I’m okay, I could persist in any tough situation. Years of solving problems in this manner left me feeling stuck, voiceless and ignoring the truth that I was, in fact, not okay. Once I understood this sobering reality, that was the moment I spotted the misplaced piece and knew I needed to remove it. This involved stepping back from what was second nature to me and inviting new and fresh perspectives. I never really learned to trust the best possible truth-teller: my body. Every time I told myself “You’re okay!” the sensations in my body were yelling back “No you’re not!” My mind and body were in a nasty dispute and I needed to end it.
With the help of a therapist, I have learned one of the most rudimentary ways to acknowledge and process through my emotions. Throughout a session, she will often ask me to mindfully bring awareness to different sensations in my body. I locate the sensation, sit with it, describe what it feels like and finally name the emotion. Then she asks, “Does that feeling seem right?” and I’ll reply. Although the process is straightforward (which I wasn’t expecting), it takes tremendous courage to tap into feelings that you’ve subconsciously tucked away most of your life.
By spotting and removing the misplaced piece, I have opened myself up to a more fruitful practice of body-mind integration. Mindfully tracking my physical sensations and matching them to an emotion has fostered wholeness. I now understand how to move through a range of situations by caring for my needs and solving problems with integrity…and after all of this, I can in good faith place the “You’re okay!” piece where it belongs.