7 June 2023
6 min read

Strength, Sensitivity, and Overwhelm: Embracing the Ecstasy of Life

We live in an era where our innate sensitivity, so long ignored and without a language for its expression, is beginning to emerge from its chrysalis of obscurity. We are beginning to grasp the depth of our capacity for feeling, understanding, and connecting. We are beginning to appreciate our potential for experiencing life in all its vibrant intensity. And all this blossoming knowledge owes its birth to the deep study of our nervous systems..

Science, a branch of wisdom that has so often been seen as the enemy of our emotional and spiritual self, through deep study, has played its part in bringing us back into communion with our inner world. The latest studies reveal the incredible intricacies of our nervous system, the invisible webs that make up the tapestry of our internal experience. This intricate wiring can carry the lightest touch of a butterfly's wing, the gentlest whisper of a loved one, or the profound weight of the world's pain. It is an exploration that validates our exquisite sensitivity.

Yet with this newfound sensitivity comes a challenge. As we awaken to this extraordinary capacity for feeling and experience, we must also contend with the reality of overwhelm. The flood of sensations, emotions, experiences, can seem like too much to bear at times. Like a dam that has suddenly been breached, I hear more and more people speaking about the sense of their consciousness becoming inundated, leading them to feel lost, scared, or disconnected. And very often I hear people speaking about this as if this is a new thing. It isn't new. Our ancestors had very challenging things to deal with too. When we were growing up, it was not climate change that visited our nightmares. It was the possibility of nuclear war. What has changed is that we now have a language and a basis through which we can articulate this aspect of our human experience in a clearer way.

There is a challenge though. The more sensitive we allow ourselves to be, the stronger we must become in parallel, physically, emotionally and mentally. After all, our nervous systems are often in fact, responding to things that already happened a long time ago, at a time when we were far less resourced than we may be now. With our son and daughter-in-law's encouragement, Susannah and I have spent the winter and spring getting fitter and stronger. I am astonished by how much calmer I feel now that my core strength is so much more engaged. I am not talking about the brute force of a clenched fist or the rigid inflexibility of a wall, but the grounded strength of a tree, firmly rooted yet capable of moving with the winds of change. I am discovering more and more how when I work on my core strength in tandem with my sensitivity, the overall experience of life is so much richer. Blending the physical strength of our bodies, with the emotional resilience of our hearts, and the mental fortitude of our minds will allow us to ride the waves of our experience, rather than being swept away.

Let's also be careful about the tendency to talk about the state of overwhelm solely in a negative way. nor regard it as an enemy to be conquered. Without the state of overwhelm, there would be no exstasis, no recognised state of surrendering to a power greater than us such as the beat of a dam fine rhythm or the sheer magnificence and wildness of nature. Overwhelm precedes surrender, the dissolving the boundaries between self and other, between the dancer and the dance. It is a moment of unity, a moment of communion with the pulsating, vibrant life force that permeates everything. Like the magnificent tree that accompanies this piece, are wounds are visible to the world and so is our strength.

Imagine standing before a grand, sweeping vista - an imposing mountain range, perhaps, or the endless expanse of the ocean. Feel the awe that seizes your heart, the wonder that makes your soul tremble. Feel the overwhelming power of nature, the sheer enormity of existence. And yet, within that moment of being overwhelmed, do you not also feel a profound sense of connection, of unity, of belonging? That is the ecstasy of overwhelm - a transcendent moment that reminds us we are not separate, but a part of this grand, intricate tapestry of life.

Movement Medicine is a set of tools designed to support us to dance with whatever life brings. It invites us to continue to develop a dynamic balance between sensitivity and strength. Without overwhelm, there is no surrender. And without surrender, there is no ecstasy. Movement Medicine teaches us how to stay present in movement with what is happening, to breathe, to feel our feet in the ground, rooted, our core engaged, strong and fluid, our dance an ever-evolving blend of yin-yang and Yeun. We learn to not only endure these moments but to thrive within them, to allow them to open us up to the mysterious paradoxes of life and death.

Overwhelm can lead to disembodiment, becoming ungrounded and that horrible feeling of losing our ground. Panic is close at these times. But this exact same place is also be a gateway to a peace that is beyond strength and sensitivity yet born from their embrace; a genuine gateway to direct and personal experience of the divine. Resource is the key. Putting in the practice to develop both core strength and core fluidity is an absolute key. And this is why I do my practice. Last week, through the Movement Medicine Study Hub (the gates are now open for you to join at any time), I did the monthly mini-embodiment practice.

And this article was born in that experience. 15 minutes of Movement Medicine practice and the doors to a whole new territory of study opened wide. And of course, that will make its way into an offering in workshop form - so keep an eye open for my new Exstasis workshop next year.

Of course, if you want a little taste of what I'm on about before then, come to the Long Dance (only a few places left) and you'll be encouraged as always to go at your won pace and discover this marvellous edge for yourself.

Wishing you all the joys of June and the resource to dance with whatever else arises in this challenging journey called life in a body on earth.

YDK June 2023.

Ya’Acov DK

Ya’Acov Darling Khan, is the author of ‘Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart...