Emotions with a mind of their own
Locating your emotions in the senses, in the flesh, bones, sinews and marrow of the body requires slowing down. Slowing down to a more leisurely pace than is comfortable for our analytical brains.
Something like watching a snail move.
With awareness moving around the body as slowly as a snail.
It takes a little practice to drop down to the pace at which we can linger or dawdle around the sensations that underlie thought and emotion. Everything in a time poor lifestyle says don't be lazy. Read more about a 'doing less' manifesto here.
It is more like allowing or inviting the mind to decelerate rather than making or willing the mind do it.
Silence is the companion of language
There beneath all the busyness and noise resides a tacit or implicit will to live. Written within each cell of our body. Almost as if each cell has an awareness of its own and a will of its own.
A body with a mind of its own.
It is something more subtle, pervasive and enduring than the cognitive 'will to live'.
Like a miracle the body has an innate ability to survive and rebuild itself after devastating exposure, catastrophic injuries or 'life saving' medical interventions.
It's not something you can choose. Happiness is a choice but this cellular survival is life embedded at the core.
It is a place that can be accessed in dreams and imagery that is a part of some basic encoding at the very centre of our personal lives... a drive to remain incarnate for purposes unknown to the conscious mind... Our deepest and most unconscious beliefs about our own essential nature, our worthiness to live, may be operating here. Source
In returning to health people who have survived involuntary paralysis, terminal illness or a near death experience may have befriended that cellular awareness underneath emotion and thought.
Here, at this soft, quiet level of embodiment one can watch the immune system like a beloved friend 24 hours a day carefully sifting out the cells that are 'me' from those that are 'not-me'. Safely disposing of the danger to 'me', maintaining body integrity and health.
Those who have had the considerable good fortune of growing up in a family and a culture that supports body awareness and a balanced brain come to this awareness of anatomy more easily than those who have not.
Embracing body awareness
When asked to become aware of what lies beneath their upset or distress, most of us look up and go into higher level or analytic thought.
To slow .... down into the body, and become aware of the sensations underneath feelings is uncomfortable at first.
To just sit in the sensations of powerful emotions, almost like the centre of a cyclone, is often experienced as a relief.
Disassociation happens without a body. It's a 'not me' place. When you're dissociated you're not associated with anything, not even with intimate knowledge of the self or of your beloved.
Break through's or a turning point in a previously stuck intimate relationship often occurs when some important lost felt sense or feeling is newly embodied.
Some describe this as a sudden awakening to the reality of their situation or of a feeling of tenderness for their partner they thought had been swallowed by hurt and disappointment.
So that's the good news about travelling into the under story of emotion.
The tough bit is that body is also a store house of unfinished experience.
A junk yard of sorts. Being embodied means feeling physical and emotional pleasure and pain.
The mind can hide parts of itself in the little cracks and crevices outside of awareness. If the person is busy, the mind can know it won't have time to pause and examine the hideouts.
There are many places in the body to lose fragments of traumatic memory or parts of ourselves we deny. And it's a wrong headed reason to keep busy.
With meditation, the mind gets a chance to notice hidden contents in those tender spots. Here's a brief article on mindfulness without meditation.
Thoughts and dreams may arise as well as long forgotten memories or body sensations. Some of these are delightful full bodied recall of childhood wonders or the not so delightful lack of them.
Being mindful is a dispassionate witnessing of the unfolding process of body/mind as it grows toward balance. We naturally cleave toward balance and harmony.
The paradox in the word 'cleave' resides in its meaning both to join together and to break apart.
Quoted from 'Being Bodies - Buddhist women on the paradox of embodiment'. 'Being Bodies' is a collection of women's stories of the struggle to stay with the body and not leave it behind, even under the extremes of experience from birth to death.
Focusing is the pre-eminent practice of slowing down and becoming aware of the body beneath the chatter.
A great introduction is Anne Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin's book "The Radical Acceptance of Everything". Chapters on line here.
The focusing institute web site focusing.org has links to worldwide focusing and more resources.
In the UK, where Barbara is based, the website focusing.org.uk lists workshops in the UK and Europe.
An Australian resource to follow up on this material is 'ACT with Love' by Russell Harris. His web site also has lots of good free material. This is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Copyright 2004-2012 ZPJ Fox All rights reserved