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Blog: It needs a Body

Updated: Apr 21

We need a body to experience ourselves here on this earth. Having a body is like having an electrical wire for the language of the universe to come through us. The more we are „embodied“* the better we are prepared and available for the enormous power of universal life force to inform us. A healthy and conscientious body provides the conductivity for this energetic information.

The best way of training our ability to hold and work with these energies is through BodyMind practices that encourage us to be fully present with physical (external), somatic (internal), emotional, mental and spiritual awareness. Not every exercise or form has to provide all of these aspects at the same time, but a well rounded Holistic Body will need physical strength, as well as flexibility, emotional connectivity and the ability to recognize patterns and behaviors, as well as an attentive mind and the ability to focus, but also to release linearity.

In this development, as many varied bodywork practices as possible are helpful, in solo, in duet, trio or in group, in touch or without, to attain and maintain a well rounded self. In this way we are able to discern, hold, transform and ground ourselves in the face of our own life energy and move with it rather than against it. This way we become the vessel, the wire, the container, the ship, the body for our lives. We develop into becoming a conscious being, right here, right now, that is centered in our own will and decision making ability, as well as our receptivity, permeability and creativity.

I am a true believer in long term sensitizing and training of the body. I have seen participants and clients "overdose" on high frequency information, through well meaning but ungrounded, unskilled healing practices. I first encountered this phenomena in my twenties, when I witnessed two friends of mine undergo intense bodytherapy. For both, the therapy had cured some of their symptoms of addiction and chronic pain, but at the same time left their bodies overwhelmed with intensity, they were not able to contain. Both ended up in a psychotic state for quite some time, had paranoid hallucinations, burned their belongings and one of them ended up in a psychiatric ward. This might have been their way of healing and hopefully they received good care in the hospital, but I would like to suggest that a slower more integrated way would have been more sustainable for them. (Note: I am not judging anybody who has needed the help of psychiatrist or has been in a psychiatric unit, all I am saying is that the body needs time to learn how to handle transformational energies.)

When there is a lot of unresolved trauma stored in our bodies, we can easily be overwhelmed with the amount of information coming through our emotional, somatic selves. When the release happens too quickly, too directly, it can be like burning a fuse in your electrical fusebox. The participant/ client might have a big high afterwards, probably also including calling you the best thing that has happened to them in this world. Be aware! This might be an enjoyable catharsis, and you might love being flattered, but it can also mean that too much unfiltered energy moved through their body too quickly. If the client is not able to integrate that release then you know you went too fast. My dear teacher Hugh Miles repeatedly says: "You can never go too deep, just too fast".

It seems that in these current times we are in dire need for finding healthy ways to be in connection with our feelings, our needs and our body sensations, to fully embody all or ourselves. Chronic diseases, allergies, mental health issues, cancer and many more devastating health issues seem to call for ways of dealing with the body holistically, rather than symptomatically. Looking at singular aspects of ourselves serves only the momentary relief of a symptom or provides a short term solution that has deeper roots than we like to think. This problem shooting attitude pervades our health system, social structures, climate management and politics.

Working with and through our holistic body, we learn to be compassionate toward our seeming weaknesses and strengths, by acknowledging and learning from our shadow, inviting unconscious aspects of ourselves to guide, nourish and lead us into a fuller being. Once having established a curious and inquisitive way of exploring our own body, it becomes an organic extension to want to explore other peoples experiences and the world around us. For me the logical direction is: me - friend - world.

The Holistic Body includes and interweaves the following aspects of ourselves:

The physical body: the physical facts about ourselves: the length, width, weight of our body, our skin, eye and hair color, as well as age; all the facts that you and another can relatively objectively share about having a body.

The somatic body: Our internally, subjective experience of our sensual, interoceptive, propriceptive self. The way we experience our bodies from the inside, the sensations and depth of interconnective information. What we can internally access and interact with throughout our different body structures such as muscle/ fascia, bones, organs, fluids, joints etc..

The emotional body: our ability to hold and allow for the depth of our emotions to flow through us, including a multiplicity of combinations of feelings, images and stories. A web of past, present and future that can express itself through spoken language, as well as through sound or movement or any other pathway or artistic form. Fundamentally relational, non linear including developmental stages from pre-birth, former lives to different ages within ourselves.

The mental body: Intention and attention, our capacity to hold and focus something in our minds, ability to notice distractions and mental loops, set goals, differentiate and evaluate, witnessing judgements and lack of attentiveness. An inner awareness of the brains activity as part of the somatic processes, instead of a separated, intellectualized, not sensing state.

The spiritual body: opening up, surrendering to, being in service to a greater power. Learning about, accepting and diving into the mythological aspects of life and the human spirit. Finding a grounded and fitting spiritual practice as simple as sitting in silence at the river or practicing ancient tantric meditation practices. Letting spirit be a part of our human existence neither overemphasizing nor undervaluing it, but including it as a part of a natural state of being.

The artistic body: our natural, intuitive ways of expressing ourselves and creating something unique and new, through any form that feels generous, life affirming and nourishing. This can mean writing a book or a two line poem, choreographing an evening length piece or a dance on TikTok, it can be a foot rub to your loved on, cooking a meal, finding a creative way to schedule your day or knitting a sweater. Highly individual, best done with non judgmental and compassionate attitudes for ourselves (learning how to handle the inner critic very helpful).

*The word "embodiment" is used in many different contexts in psychology, psychiatry, somatics and healing modalities. In dance, I believe, the work with embodiment in holistic dance goes even further than in most psychological practices, simply by diving deeper into the physicality of the matter at hand. (Although I assume we look for the similar goals). I understand myself to be "embodied", when I am connected to my senses and my feelings, when I feel present and grounded and when I have an awareness of what kind of state my nervous system is in.

Photo: (c) Olga Berdikyan, dancer Ronja Demel

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