effects of this work – For many people these practices bring about calm-vitality. They often soften emotions, calm nervous systems, bring about more fluid thinking, foster resiliency, soften past trauma, bring more ease with/in your body, and they tend to bring forth a sense of spaciousness. A feeling of alive-peace.
After awhile, people often experience slow changes in their daily-life behavior. This happens at about the speed of plants. Your eyes might not see the change happening – but the slow moving-ness seems to do it’s thing.
what is it, though, what do we do? – My best-favorite answer to this question is not words but instead, trying a short practice.
For a wordy response – We start our session by talking a bit. Once I have a little sense of you/your life situation, I propose a practice. Depending on who you are, we might work with a breath practice. Or we might work with imagination-visualization-memory, or moving actively. There are many options. We aim to start with practices that seem to fit you, right at you are in that moment.
I work as a guide, inviting you to ask yourself questions and I help you listen to your bodily-sensation responses. As we explore bodily sensations – thought and emotions usually begin to change. When that happens it often feels a bit like magic, spontaneous, without effort.
For people who are seeking bigger life changes/healing, that sort of change reminds me of making an emulsion sauce – you and the change you want might be similar to oil and vinegar. If we do too much too fast, we “break” the sauce. If we move at pace that fits you, these sorts of practices tend to integrate nourishing-feeling changes into your life.
When thinking about change, I’m reminded of the popular science term, neuroplasticity. A simplified way to talk about this is: how your thinking and emotions work, how your ‘neurons fire’ – this sort of stuff can change to some degree, there is some plasticity to it. For example, over time you may notice that your nervous system feels a bit more alive/calm feeling, rather than anxious.
Meanwhile, some aspects of you may be less prone to change. Our neuro/body types vary so much, and our social environments vary a great deal. All this seems to mean that what extent and what speed of change matches one person, may not work for someone else.
As far as I have found, there is not an easy-peasy test you can take to figure these sorts of questions out – what can you change, what can you not change. So, what we do, together, is to work in a super personalized way. We work at a pace that seems to fit YOU, we work with practices that seem to work for you. As we move along, we regularly take time to reflect, how’s it going? Does it feel like we are on a path that is filled with a sort of alive-calm feeling? Should we adjust our course or pace?
If all of this is sounds very unfamiliar or confusing to you, you are not alone. This stuff usually makes way more sense after doing a bit of it.
Along with sensing into your inner experience, we work to help you feel how you are in relation with the world-others around you. We work on sensing into the world, relationships and situations around you – noticing, how do you respond to different environments/people?
As you gain skill in listening into yourself – these same listening skills are then applied to sense/listen to other creatures around you – be they humans or trees. Thus, these practices might be referred to as learning, healing, emotional intelligence, communication skills, or so forth.
Broadly speaking about embodiment-mindful-somatic work –
Some practices, like sitting meditation, yoga or kung fu have a general name, with a variety of specific styles (such as Vipassana meditation, Iyengar yoga, or Shaolin Wushu kung fu). Some practices are integrated into cultural ceremony. Some practices are trademarked (such as Rolfing). Some practices never even needed a special name – people just do them. This sort of work is not so much defined by what one is doing. Rather it is more about how one is doing.
One can do this style of work in a variety of ways: in solo, in one-on-one settings, in groups, in formal practice, or woven into everyday life – such as having sex, talking politics or washing dishes.
The way I work with these practices aim towards “elastic terrain”. That is, rather than trying to force change, such as in boot camp environments – this work is characterized by mental-emotional-physical stretching, encouraging, allowing – not forcing. Sometimes we work hard, we lean-in towards difficult, edgy terrain. Sometimes we rest in a restoration practice, or sometimes we ‘work’ by doing nothing particular.
how does it work? – One way I think about it is that there are many parts of you. For various reasons, over life, some parts of you can get shoved down or go sort of dormant. When people do these practices, often times some embodied intelligence – or something – often emerges. When these parts that “speak up” are given space they come into more integrated conversation with the more heady-thinky parts of you. I sorta feel like all the parts of me come closer to being on the same page, so to speak.
Neuroscience, psychology and more academic disciplines study and sometimes provide science evidence about how this sort of work effects your physiology. I’ve heard many cognitive scientists discuss ways that your various body systems are in feedback loops with one another – and in feedback loops with the world around you. Aka, all the parts of you effect one another – just like it is for all ecosystems. I find science study to be extremely supportive of this embodied-doing work – so much so that I am now pursuing a neuroscience degree.
Simultaneously, many cultures, throughout time, throughout the world, have worked with these sorts of connections in a variety of ways. A variety of cultures have a variety of answers about what is happening and how it works.
At the end of the day, I myself could not say I know. I do know that – whatever is happening – this work consistently brings forth vital-alive and calm feelings.