THE BODY WISDOM BASICS
ASSESSING BODY WISDOM UNDER PRESSURE IN TEN LESSONS
I grew up with a mild congenital cerebral palsy that left me with chronic spastic tensions and asymmetric growth. I was rolfed, did gestalt therapy, worked with movement patterns and got acupunctured. I transformed myself from an awkward kid who grew up in corrective physical education classes into, a somatic healer, self taught skier, and survived twenty-five years of Aikido practice. In the midst of all this exploration, I sought biofeedback training to refine my dexterity, and discovered I could hear the quality of my touch on a piano. I rented a piano and used it for biofeedback. I discovered basic harmonies in my limited dexterity, and now I’m playing and composing music.
In your free introduction to this course you received an outline of the elements of somatic attunement as my body grew to know them. This course applies somatic attunement to challenges in personal relationships at work and at home. Personal relationships involve conflicts. This course includes mediation (Greener Mediations) and Aikido, and its mission is peace.
The Ten Lessons are arranged in an order for optimal learning. After learning the basics elements of body-wisdom, you identify your own somatic predispositions for responding to verbal pressure, and identify their relationship to how your mind thinks when engaged in word-wars. There’s physical pressure and there’s verbal pressure. Because they are closely related, we are studying mediation and Aikido together.
Then you practice grounding and centering, finding your core and learning to engage with physical pressure in a confident and relaxed manner. The final lessons reestablish the mental connections by putting words to your newfound body wisdom. This is reverse body-language. You will learn to speak your body-wisdom and you transform adversity in arguments and disputes into understanding, connection and collaboration.
It is unnecessary to pre-think solutions to a real conflict. Identifying and transforming our predisposition allows alternatives to emerge in a manner that is more timely and appropriate than predetermined strategies. Blending without losing integrity is an attitude, not a technique.
LESSON 1: The body-wisdom basics.
LESSON 2: Predisposed responses to pressures.
LESSON 3: ROTATIONS: Body wisdom basics in motion.
LESSON 4: GROUND AND CENTER: Your hara and gravity.
LESSON 5: RELEASING: The preparation for learning extension.
LESSON 6: EXTENSION
LESSON 7: ENGAGEMENT
LESSON 8: Reverse body language.
LESSON 9: Applications and practice.
LESSON 10: Aiki-dance: Two-step fun & games.
Science and MIND OVER MATTER? …actually it’s reversed.
The latest research shows that the body rules. Psychological research confirms body posture affects physiology, mental process and attitude. Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions. Hear her describe her remarkable work at: Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are.
LESSON ONE: BODY-WISDOM BASICS
Some Basic Terms
SOMATIC ATTUNEMENT: Somatic attunement means self-listening, akin to listening to sound, but it involves “listening” with all or your senses. It’s the sense of self-awareness one derives from perceiving within instead of the world outside our bodies.
CORE: The vertical integrity or tone of the central structures of the body. Contrast awareness of core muscles (psoas, diaphram) with peripheral structures such as pectoralis, quadriceps, deltoids, etc. The term is popular in many fitness regimens including Pilates, Alexander, and Feldenkrais trainings, as well as in Aikido.
HARA: The body’s center of gravity, roughly just below the navel midway back. It’s at the center of the core.
THE SACRED GEOMETRY
The martial art Aikido teaches that it is with the breath that we align ourselves with Ki, which creates all things. Kabbalah and Aikido both associate the spiritual dimensions of this vital energy with the three shapes, triangle with the head, square with the belly (pelvis) and the circle with the breath (chest.) They represent the elements of Fire, Water and Air.
(Click the shapes atop any page for more information.)
Let’s start by reviewing the BODY-WISDOM BASICS
Body-wisdom basics are three-fold.
HEAD HEART HARA
HEAD: Notice where your thoughts reside. Feel the weight of your head. Everything has weight, including your thoughts, especially the heavy ones, the interpretations and judgments. Feeling weight is the key to grounding and centering, which is what we will explore together later.
Press your fingertips into your neck muscles beneath your ears, lengthening your neck on an inhale, and slide them up over your ears. Then move your head gently from side to side. The inner ear is where we feel balance. Tilt your head back until you feel more weight behind center. Play with shifting its weight back and forth, then side to side. Cultivate the awareness of the center of gravity of your head.
HEART: At another time, or now if you are eager, notice the weight of your torso. On an inhale, feel your spine lengthen, lifting the weight of your arms and shoulders from underneath. Focus on feeling the center of your torso. Let your “heart center” move from side to side, then forward and back, equalizing the distances, then reducing them around the core.
Notice how your body can move from your torso, our place of emotional intelligence. Notice from this place whether your thoughts are still accessible, and how the center of gravity of your head responds. Cultivate the awareness of the center of gravity of your torso, your emotional center.
HARA: At another time, or now if you are eager, place your hands on your belly, thumbs over your navel. Focus your breath and attention into your hara, at your body’s center of gravity. Move your body from this place, forward and back, right and left. Imagine its connection with the core of the planet. Notice your thoughts from this place, and how these movements affect the movement of your torso and head. Cultivate the awareness of your center of gravity in your belly, the seat of your intuitive wisdom.
EMBODIED PRACTICE: Centering
When we center ourselves, we enter into a moment of stability that is soft and open, like a cup waiting to be filled. In this state of not knowing, intuition can arise. With no agenda and no boundary, the wisdom of our intuition enters, and we see, hear, or feel the answer. Not knowing has to do with depth, space, and stillness.
1. Pick a time for practicing the body-wisdom basics: head, heart & hara. When you start, identify whether what you think or feel comes from your head, from your heart (emotional center,) or from your belly. In making this determination, consider whether it’s about a concept or a feeling/emotion, and whether the tone of voice is revealing of meaning.
Continue following your thoughts or actions until the end of your practice time, identifying their source. Drop your attention into your heart and settle there. How does this affect your thinking? How is your thinking affected by dropping your attention further and allowing it to center in your belly?
2. Repeat this practice when you hear from someone else, or observe something they do. Consider whether their words or actions come from the head, heart, or hara, and whether it is received by you in your head, heart or hara. These need not correlate, and there are no wrong answers. This is about the practice of making distinctions.
3. What does this practice do for you when you are not practicing? Does it increase your options for replying to others or acting wisely in situations?
4. Is your field of awareness in front of you greater than behind you? If so, notice feelings in your back and expand these feelings to the space behind you. Turn slightly and glance behind you, retaining the awareness after facing forward again. Practice equalizing the fields. Or lying face up, but feeling your body weight on your back, then the surface you are lying on, then the ground, perhaps the core of the planet. Equalize the fields of awareness.
Taking this feeling of ground into standing, notice your awareness of what’s above you, and what’s beneath where you stand. Expand your awareness beneath in a similar manner. Feel gravity attracting your weight through your feet and project your attention through the floor, perhaps also the foundation down into the Earth, indeed even to its core. Equalize fields of awareness above and below. Do the same with your awareness of fields to the right and left.
1. How far down can you sense at the moment, right now?
2. Where in your body is the center of your somatic awareness?
3. When you stand, what is the pattern of weight distribution in your feet?
(Note and dating answers will accelerate somatic attunement.)
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a prominent cardiologist, promotes grounding or “earthing” as the solution for chronic inflammation. He says disconnection with Earth’s energy field is the cause of most common modern diseases. Grounding also reduces blood viscosity, supports heart rate variability and promotes homeostasis. See him in an interview with Dr. Mercola.
He’s a co-author of the book : Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?
In Lesson Two, you will reinforce your sense of center by balancing your awareness of what is before you, behind you, above and below you, and to either side. In Lesson Three, you will identify your pre-dispositions for responding to pressure. You will learn this from your own body. Then you will consider what words are experienced as pressure in your mind. Through personal “pressure statements,” you will connect the embodied feelings with the verbal process, and set priorities for learning according to your own predispositions.
Lessons Four through Seven teach simple movement practices that develop sequentially your sense of ground, center and extension from core. Lesson Eight teaches your mind to put language to your body-wisdom. I call it reverse body language, the ability to speak the attitude of comfort under pressure. The final lessons explore applications to daily activities, and build dance-like fun and games upon the movement practices we have learned.
Stay in touch with the planet, like the actions of water and the cycles of the moon.
Center Ground Extension
The founder of Aikido spoke of spiritual energy in terms of the three basic shapes.
The circle represents adaptability and unity. The triangle is focus and direction, and the square is balance and stability.
The triangle is associated with the head, in which coming to a point is an anatomical theme. Square reflects the energy of pelvis, and the circle connotes the chest/breath.