[This post is part of the #reverb10 initiative. If you are curious about #reverb10, visit their site and join in by writing or reading during this month. Each daily prompt invites a reflection on the year past, and to create positive intentions for 2011.]
December 12 – Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)
Love-making. Sharing a hearty laugh with close friends, such that wine almost squirts out my nose and tears stream down my face. Savoring the complexity of delicious flavors and textures in a dish I have prepared.
The sting and ache of bruised and jolted tissue after a car wreck. Powerful and terrifying contractions as my system goes on “survival autopilot” to purge during a bout of food poisoning. The depletion and downward spiral of a full-fledged common cold, with fever, cough, congestion, and exhaustion.
These are examples of times in the past year when I have felt alive and fully present — and not always in a good way. However, I can’t just let it go at that, because I have a quibble with the author of this prompt.
Because we have two separate words to enable us to talk about “Mind” and “Body,” we fall into the belief that they are two separate things — and they are not. There is not a moment of my life, or yours, where body and mind are not operating inseparably, like two sides of the same coin. I would argue that we couldn’t separate them if we tried — except through language. Language is very powerful. Language reinforces the idea that Mind and Body are separate. As a result, many of us EXPERIENCE them as being separate. This is a fine distinction.
My work as a teacher of the Feldenkrais Method is to help people have the experience of aliveness, vitality, and presence, of a cohesive and complex self in all its wholeness, in a way that is increasingly available to them. I help people to develop a felt sense of themselves in this way. I use awareness of sensations, emotions, and thoughts in action and movement as the primary tool in this developmental process. It’s an important process, because increased capacity for awareness and sensation can fine-tune your ability to function optimally in every aspect of your life. As a result, they begin to have more and more “moments” of the felt sense of cohesive, whole, presence.
This cohesiveness and integration is present all the time, whether you are or not. Just taking time to be quiet and lower the stimulation level of everyday busy life, can open a space for awareness to emerge and for sensations to flower. Not all sensations are pleasant, but they all contain valuable information — status updates, if you will — for how you are in this moment.
The world of sensation is not much valued in contemporary culture, except in the context of excess, dissipation, and self-destruction. Appetites run amok. However, your sensations are an important data stream, and paying attention to them can yield a rich array of possibilities for conscious and mindful living.