A Visceral Body Experience

Thursday 25 July, 2019

I met a friend for coffee at the beginning of June. A few hours later I left thinking that something about the direction I was taking had changed. I can’t recall much of the detail of what we discussed, except that we exchanged stories about families and our respective work. She told me more about the bodywork she does which helps to release stuck emotions, and recommended the book Grounded Spirituality by Jeff Brown. She even read a couple of passages from it. He seemed to be suggesting the opposite of my current focus. I was intrigued.

I returned home and read up on the book and the author. One main thought I had was that my own work is more about development of the self, whereas his focus is on healing the self. I wondered just how much healing I had done as a result of my work with Karaj. (He reminded me of Jeff Foster, a man who had inspired me to write this post 2½ years ago: Life Is Unimaginably Large.)

A month later I arranged an appointment for a session of bodywork, which I considered might bring up some deep-seated emotional content. I am already an emotional person, so as I made my way to see her in the Hague, I couldn’t help thinking it might be quite a revealing session.

However, soon after we began, it appeared as though I would not feel anything. In retrospect, this is a revealing comment in itself because of the implications it has for the body having shut down. In any case, as I would come to learn, there is a distinction between the emotions we feel on a daily basis, and the those locked in the body.

The whole treatment grew organically out of one unprompted explanation: It takes a while for me to be able to relax when I lie down. The muscles in my lower back have to release slowly or they are at risk of going into spasm. It used to be a lot worse, although there are still traces of the old pattern. She instinctively explored what I had shared, opening the subject up naturally with questions and suggestions, leading me down pathways I may not have otherwise examined. A part of me was wary of allowing my process to be hijacked by suggestion, but I was also determined to explore whatever happened.

With regard to the protective, unyielding rigidity of my lower back, she offered me five emotions and asked me to choose one. ‘Fear’, I responded, without too much deliberation. From there, I eventually found myself describing my back as being like a child on a beach who has lost his parents. There was reluctance to do so because it felt a little exaggerated, but my search for another description yielded nothing.

Abandoned?’, she asked. I wouldn’t have said abandoned, but again, it invited exploration.

As our dialogue continued, I remembered a conversation I’d had about guidance. Maybe the abandonment was more a lack of guidance. That’s when my body opened up and the tears began to flow. I flipped between images of myself as a young boy – 5 years old, perhaps – and thoughts of my young son. What might have become of me had I received the guidance I needed as a small child full of life, energy and curiosity? And how much of a difference can I make to my son by offering him the same?

I was surprised by my emotional reaction. It seemed to come from deep inside. It came quickly and unannounced. The tears are there again as I write.

Reflecting a few days later, I saw my body as the connection between me and my younger self. It has been a silent witness to my entire life, handling every experience in the best way it could. A continuum along which I exist in totality, I can connect with any part of my history by connecting with my body. Which means I can offer that small boy the thing he was crying out for.

Related post: Life Is Unimaginably Large

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