Saturday, December 29, 2012

Somatic Awareness - Know Your Body

Psychology of the Body teaches somatic awareness. This awareness aids in physical, mental, and spiritual healing, well-being, and evolution. Awareness of the body/mind/spirit connection is cultivated and enhanced though the use of different body-centered modalities. Unit one focuses on the body/earth relationship. Unit two’s looks at the body/mind relationship. Finally, unit three uncovers the body/spirit relationship. While each unit has a specific focus, each unit cannot help but incorporate all three elements (mind, body and spirit) into its teachings and articles as they are all intertwined and in fact, emanate from the same energy Source.
            While developing my body/earth connection I learned to feel my body as I had never done before. It was a new idea to me. The article titled, “Yoga: The Art of Relaxation” (1979) by Keers & Lewenstain really helped with this! I learned how to truly relax my body and take in complete feeling of every limb. Now I wonder if I ever truly knew how to relax or what that word meant in its entirety before I read this article. My favorite exercise from this article was called sinking into the floor. I continue to practice this exercise when I finish working out at the gym and go into the sauna. I envision myself sinking into the wooden bench. The wooden smell reminds me of the earth. I imagine I am sinking into the earth and exchanging energies with Gaia. It is truly a somatically spiritual experience.
            I have also learned to look at the implications of certain ailments with regards to what my body is telling me about my mental, emotional, and spiritual states. I ask myself questions such as, “Do I need to slow down? What is missing? What is my Self telling my self? Am I truly listening to the Source via our means of somatic communication? What message am I getting? Where do I need to focus on my self?” These questions have led to a more holistic and fulfilling lifestyle even in the brief time I have started utilizing them more fully.  At the beginning of this unit I received my level three reiki certification under the Usui tradition. Upon completion my teacher sent me a meditation/grounding CD that not only helps me ground mentally and physically but has greatly aided in my physical sense of well-being. I have really started to somatically experience the benefits of meditation, feeling more focused and confident when I am finished. In summation, I have taken my experience of inhabiting my body to a new level of awareness and understanding. I have also started exchanging with Gaia rather than simply taking. I have learned the importance of talking and listening; giving and receiving energy; conducting equal exchanges with the Source.
            Focusing on my body/mind relationship was also quite insightful. I practiced reiki a lot on myself during this unit. I also did some yoga classes, as I wanted to continue developing my body/earth connection and learning how to listen to my body’s messages. The Imagineering article we read really reminded me of some insightful points I have heard before but forgot. These include ridding our vocabulary of shoulds. It also asks the reader the question, “What happened to your life?” Then it answers it saying, “You!”  I thought this was a great question/answer.  It really made the point that what is in your life reflects what is in your mind.  It also implores the reader to let go of the comfort of familiar pain if you want positive changes to occur in your life. I thought this was brilliant. I ended this article with a shamanic journeying exercise because I enjoyed this so much in our introductory course. It was equally as amazing. I have started doing this type of meditation more. It really resonates with me!
            The article on Forgiveness by Luskin and the Hawaiian prayer on forgiveness were really touching. I had a really great realization when contemplating both of these readings. I had also recently read the chapter on forgiveness in Walsh’s book Essential Spirituality. Thinking about forgiveness while eating dinner inspired me to liken forgiveness to the digestion process. I really gained valuable insights into the connection between forgiveness and our physical, mental, and spiritual health and growth. I also realized that many times what needs to be let go of in situations of resentment are my personal expectations of others.
            While doing some soul-searching on holding patterns in my life, developed in my youth and still active, I found several negative and positive ones. Some of the negative ones include perfectionism and feelings of inferiority. I am also highly critical. Letting go of these have been works in progress.  There is a tendency towards chemical dependency in my family that I gave up years ago. I am proud of this. There are some positive holding patterns too. I learned in Montessori school to put my hands on my head. We did this when we needed quiet time to gather ourselves and calm down. The teacher would say, “Everyone be still and put your hands on your head”, reducing the temptation to fidget and place our attention elsewhere. Today, when I need to gather myself I will usually pace around my home with my hands interlocked on top of my head. I sent much gratitude to my teacher for learning this technique. I may never have expressed this gratitude for this trait had the article not reminded me of it. Another positive holding pattern is my love of jumping on a trampoline when I need to vent and process stuff in my mind. This physical activity was developed during my youth. When I gave up chemical dependency I bought a mini-rebounder and reverted back to this activity to deal with stress.
            I also revised my healthy living plan during this unit. Once revised I really started implementing it into my daily routine. I began scheduling play dates with myself. I started doing all my own cooking again as I honored my need for a gluten-free diet. I started going to the gym regularly and meditating while in the sauna. I also made a concerted effort to do my grounding meditation once a day, even if it meant doing it while I was driving to work. I also learned the importance of keeping my word to myself. I really learned how important play dates with self/Self are and the detrimental effects of not honoring these dates.
            Unit three focused on the body/spirit relationship. I learned about the subtleties of body/spirit manifestations. Murphy’s article really showed me how we can have spiritual experiences by merely being somatically conscious. He uses examples of shamans and ascetics as well as physically disabled people such as Helen Keller. We can manipulate our somatic senses to facilitate heightened spiritual awareness. I also learned not to be so self-critical when I am ill (really timely as I had just caught a nasty cold and was really getting down on myself).
            During the nature walk I actually experienced a physical lightness to my step as I connected self with Self and had some insights into different parts of my life that are ready for some changes and transitions. I also really started understanding how our outward experiences are manifestations of our inner condition.
            I also started understanding the idea of unified consciousness - how we all emanate from the same vibrational Source. This understanding deepened when I read Healing Words by Dossey. Between the reading and Dawn’s commentary on the week six discussion board, I really started to visualize the unified consciousness of all beings and how this translates into vibrations which are heightened when we pray for others. I never looked at prayer in this manner before. I had always regarded prayer via the traditional ideas presented by the Catholic church. Looking at the body/mind as an energy system helped me understand reiki and its implications on a whole different level. It deepened my understanding of the kind of work that can be done with chakras. The excerpt from Brennan’s book Hands of Light also really deepened my understanding of this connection. This is also great because it is more information to put into my folder of dissertation ideas! I started this folder last quarter when I wrote a final paper about using the chakras as an assessment tool for gaining insight into what is going on with someone mentally, physically, and spiritually. There is more to it than this but for the purpose of this paper that is all I shall say about it.
            In summation, this class was great. It really helped me get some great ideas for things I want to incorporate into my holistic health practice. It motivated me to start writing stuff down for my website, brochures, and business plan. It helped me to define my niche in this industry. I learned the benefits of person-centered philosophies and process-oriented practices. I learned what these things mean and why they are helpful to clients. I really appreciate my time in this class. Additionally, I found a new tool – shamanic journeying meditations – which I never knew anything of previously and absolutely fell in love with! Studying shamanism and reading that book Animal Speak really helped me get more in tune with nature and all its subtle ways of communicating with me. Thank you so much for giving the blessings of this class and your personal wisdom to my cohort and myself!