by Sherry Kent and Patrice Wooldridge
Interpreting something as a threat releases hormones in the brain, causing physical changes in the body, which can result in fight, flight or freeze reactions, along with the corresponding emotions, such as anger or frustration, fear or anxiety, sadness or hopelessness. Any self-judgment or conflict increases this emotional soup even more.
To address this mostly unconscious set of reactions, we worked a three-step process: recognize, reset and reframe, which we are calling the three “R’s”.
Doing Push Hands can magnify reactions, emotions and self-judgments.
‘Recognizing’ allows us to take a step back and observe what is going on. Once there is a level of consciousness, we have the opportunity to then reset our physiology and to reframe our experience.
There are three documented ways of consciously resetting and we recommend becoming familiar and skillful with all three:
– Recognizing what happened and what your tendencies are is already the first reset.
– Breathe: pause, take a deep breath and breathe deeply and slowly. This is the second reset.
– Kinesthetic or “feeling” sense is the third method of reset. We use the feeling sense a lot in tai chi, for example by reconnecting to our body, our feet, or focusing in the dantian or on principle.
Rather than experiencing PH’s as the threat of being pushed, overpowered, attacked, or having to be the one who “wins” or be the one who is “right”,
we have the opportunity to reframe our Push Hands experience, (and actually all our relationships) into an opportunity to be sensitive, to be present and to listen. “Reframing” is not about denying what we feel, but is about reframing what our experiences mean and using the opportunity to reset after recognizing.
None of us likes to just be pushed around with force, however we all appreciate someone being present with us, listening to us (even if we are out of balance, and maybe even especially at that moment), being recognized, having a safe place to play, express ourselves and to grow. By recognizing our reptilian brain’s reactions and taking a few moments to reset, we reframe our own unconscious reactions as clear opportunities for learning and change.
Through the process of the three R’s, we work towards being able to change our unconscious “reactions” as quickly as possible into more appropriate “responses” to our partners physical, emotional and verbal expressions.
THE THREE R’S APPLY TO ALL THE RELATIONSHIPS IN OUR DAILY LIVES
By observing tendencies towards fight, flight, freeze, related emotions and becoming familiar with the three “R’s”, we are developing life skills that apply to all of our personal or business relationships. Now, that is a real win-win situation!
Note: if you are interested in learning more about this material, you have the option of inviting experienced teachers to offer local weekend workshops to your community. This can be especially helpful for updating apprentices and students unable to attend regular summer or winter trainings, as well as for those who would like the opportunity to practice more Push Hands together.