Effects of This Work.
For many people these practices bring about calm-vitality. They often soften emotions and enliven, 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 usually 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. Depending on where you’re at we might use quite focused mental-attention work, or body-based activation/play, we might work without ‘mindfulness’ at all. There are many options. We aim to start with practices that seem to fit you, right at you are in that moment.
Primarily I work as a guide, inviting you to investigate what you sense and feel. We work with asking yourself questions and I support you in listening 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.
Big and Small Changes.
For people who are seeking to work towards new habits, bigger life changes or 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, bringing 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-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 or thinking-emotions feel a bit more alive/calm feeling, less 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 and pace that seems nourishing? 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.
Bigger Than Self – Fostering Inter-relationships.
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? I work in a way which considers ecosystems. As I see it, not doing well is not necessarily a sign of one person not knowing how to better support themselves – it is certainly a sign that there may be something awry in the environment, in the social-ecosystem of their life.
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 with the aim of getting curious, listening to them. Exploring inter-relationships is very central in how I approach all of this work. 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’. In a literal way, I consider various organs such as skin, hearts, intestines, cells, as well as all of the flora and fauna in microbiomes – as well as considering any abstract, unknown or spiritual aspects that feel like you. For various reasons, some parts can feel rather shoved down, be ‘unheard’ by other parts, or go sort of dormant. When people do these practices, often times some learning or remembering often emerges. Time and again I find and people I work with tend to find a feeling of integration – with the parts of ‘you’ and with all in the world. In short, what I find is that when all the parts have space to ‘speak up’, they come into more integrated conversation. 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. When you do certain practices, it has an effect. Each part effects all the other parts – just like it is for all ecosystems. In many ways, I find science study to be extremely supportive of this embodied-doing work – so much so that I am now pursuing a science degree at Salish Kootenai College.
Before fields like neuroscience and psychology existed,
still alive and well – many cultures throughout time, throughout the world – work with a wide variety of related sorts of practices. Depending on the specific practice and the specific cultural context, many people throughout the world have various ideas of what is happening and how it works.
At the end of the day, I myself could not say I know.
A big aim of mine is to help you find experiences, tools, practices that support you – which also work with the spiritual, cultural, conceptual framing that you arrive with – rather than to define for you what they are or how they work. I arrive with my own ideas, speculations, preferences, ways of working. Yet, from a place of deep reflection and study, I feel there is much about how this works that I do not know.
I do know that – whatever is happening – this work frequently brings forth vital-alive and calm feelings.