Where Did My Arm Go?
I’ve know that my purpose in life is to open up the possibility for people to come more fully in to their bodies. I do this through BCST, Chi Kung and the Embodied You program (which teaches mediation and present moment practices). That’s my thing…. embodiment. I’m an Embodiment Worker.
Practising what I preach about embodiment underpins my daily practice of meditation. I use my body as a mantra. When I tune into my body during meditation, I always notice that there are some bits missing. I’ve been working to get these bits back and I’ve been excited to see that there are tangible benefits from doing this.
I start my meditation by focusing on the breath and lately I’ve been using Tim Altman’s dynamic breathing practice. I then start to tune into my body in a series of different ways. Firstly I feel the weight, then the outline, I try to feel my skin and then I notice my senses and lastly I get interested in the internal sensations throughout.
What I’ve noticed for a while now is that I have hands. Yes, I officially have 2 hands and they are very much part of my body map. (The brain has a huge area dedicated to processing information about the hands so this is often a common shared experience). I have a left arm, but I don’t have a right arm. There could be many reasons for this, it could be because of a physical, mental, or emotional trauma. I’m not really interested in the story. But I am interested in getting my arm back.
I’ve been sitting with the lack of sensations for a while now waiting for something to change. Nothing has. I was reminded of the work of Peter Levine recently and remembered some of his theories about dissociation from his book Waking the Tiger. In this book he suggests a number of ways to regain lost regions of the body map.
So I’ve been consciously working with my right arm. When I’m in the shower I purposefully hold my arm under the warm water and feel the sensations. I look at the water running over my skin and mentally say… “this is my arm”. When I remember I gently rub or pat my arm. All of this reminds my nervous system that I do have a right arm.
Slowly sensations and the outline have been getting clearer. There’s a different tone about this limb now. That’s great, I hear you say, but what is the benefit of this?
For the past year my movement goal has been to do a handstand. I have never been able to do one and have memories of feeling quite inadequate as a 5 year old as the rest of the girls could throw their legs up into the air and I couldn’t. At 45 years of age I decided I wanted to revisit this. It’s been an interesting journey of building up upper body and core strength as well as trust and faith in myself and my movement coach.
One way of building up skills has been to do half handstands against a wall and to try and step hands and feet laterally. I can move my right hand, the left is happy to take the weight. But it is physically impossible for me to move my left, despite being right handed, and therefore stronger on that side. There is no way that my nervous system has trusted that arm to take my weight. Until now.
Last week for the first time I was able to ‘walk’ with my hands. I only did one step because I was so surprised that I managed it. I got pretty excited though and am now even more committed to the process.
This journey to wholeness, to embodiment, continues to inspire and amaze me. It feels like it’s a life long journey and that’s ok, because so for it’s been wholly, fulfilling. (Pardon the pun).