There have been a couple of significant moments for me as I have travelled along the road of self-enquiry. Looking back sometimes these moments happened while deep in a meditation and at other times in totally unexpected places. Some were moments of realisation, some were insights and retrospectively it seems that some were premonitions. But one of the most poignant moments was a surprising connection with the sensation of feeling safe.
I distinctly remember a meditation on a Natural Movement Chi Kung Earth Element workshop where I experienced the realisation that it was safe to be here, that it was safe to truly inhabit my body. In retrospect, I know now that I had been operating for a large part of my life in a haze. I’d lost whole chunks of time, conversations and events. I learnt through my Biodynamic CST training that this a type of dissociation and it is a coping mechanism, in fact it can mean survival. So I don’t give myself a hard time about it, it’s just the way it was.
The idea that it was now safe to be here came out of nowhere. I think I can explain it by saying that It was about my nervous system down regulating because all of the safe, supportive people and health practices that I’d been engaging with. My brain worked it out there was an integration that could start to occur. It was the moment where a deepening into embodiment could begin.
I’d read lots, studied with different teachers and explored different philosophies and ideas about what it means to be present. I found the idea of the power of ‘now’ to be fascinating. How do we truly come in to that ‘now’ and experience the magic of the present moment? The beauty of a sunset, having fun, laughter, joy? There is no other way to experience it other than by being in our bodies and using our senses and feeling our sensations (comfortable or uncomfortable). There is no other way to be authentically happy. If we can’t feel it in or with our body…. we can’t feel it!
So how do we deepen into the process of embodiment?
We are physical, emotional, mental, conscious beings. If we ignore any of these parts of ourselves, then we can’t align and be integrated. Body based meditations, Biodynamic CST or similar therapies that require conscious presence and not ‘blissing out’ are a great place to start. Finding a personal practice that acknowledges the mind/body connection is really helpful. It doesn’t have to be anything complex or ‘spiritual’ but something that combines body movement with mindfulness and especially some form of movement that is interested in both interoception as well as proprioception.
Natural Movement (Elemental) Chi Kung is the perfect combo for me. But it doesn’t suit everyone. Yoga is fantastic and so is just practising moving mindfully, noticing sensations and also noticing when the mind has taken you off on a tangent.
So what changed after this insight about feeling safe?
My nervous system continued to wind down as I kept exploring present moment and embodiment practices. This means I feel calmer, I feel more energised, I’m not knocked around by stinky thinking so much, I’m healthier, I feel like I have more time and my relationships feel deeper and more connected. It hasn’t been all about deepening into feeling great, there is yin and yang to everything, so there’s been lots of uncomfortable stuff too. But given the choice, I’d much rather feel all of it than have bits missing. I quite like having it all!
Do you want to know more about interoception? Have a look at these recourses…
- Body Intelligence Meditations – a book by Ged Sumner
- Liberated Body Pod Casts
Although dissociation is a term physiologists use, to those of us in the body work field, there are different levels of dissociation from being ‘out of body’ to having a ‘distorted body map’ with bits of the body being not there in our awareness.