By Melinda Glenister
We live in a changing world. A time of paradoxes. Everything we thought we knew has been turned upside down. It’s easy to be disoriented when we cannot find which way is up.
As I discussed in my last blog, Self Re-Evaluation & Reinvention Version 457835- letting go of our attachment to our identity is necessary to find any feeling of flow, and to remove the massive resistance that many of us are experiencing,
We now live in a world where we do not know who to believe when we look around. And it is more important than ever before to find a guidance system which will foster trust not create more anxiety. This becomes a very big issue when we have adopted beliefs and practises which inhibit our ability to tune our own guidance system.
I’d love to present this in a more palatable way, maybe with a ribbon around it, but the truth is we are screwed if we think the answers we are looking for are going to come from outside us. We are equally screwed if we continue to dissociate our heads from the rest of our bodies and give creative and reasoning control to the parts above the neck, and keep that prioritised above any other information the body may present us with.
It is part of the human condition to experience disconnection- from the self, within the self, and from the environment or those around us. It is all the same kind of disconnection, and once we have this awareness it can begin to set us free. We do not need to keep falling into the same traps again and again. We can, perhaps, even stop creating our own traps.
Disconnection or dissociation happens when we have an injury or a trauma, physical or emotional. Many of us learnt as children to dissociate or leave our bodies completely if we grew up in abusive households. Some learnt to dissociate through perfectionism or overachieving, some were just schooled by having to sit still and study in ways which are unnatural for a moving child’s body. We all learn it one way or another. Separation and disconnection is so ingrained into society that it is practically invisible to the untrained eye.
We learn to disconnect from physical pain just as we learn to disconnect from painful emotions. It’s such a foreign concept to us that there could be a gem hidden somewhere in that pain... But it's true! Like a treasure map- It’s guiding us with cryptic clues towards the chest of gold. We just might need to be a little bit like Indiana Jones and fight some snakes or crawl through some jungle to get there. I’ll let you in on a secret- in my experience pain never tells you straight exactly where to look or how to get there. At least not the complex, muddy, hidden pain that tends to surface from the shadows when we least want it to.
The only way out is through
How you get though pain without disconnecting from it? That is a whole topic in itself.
I am not advocating that we blast our way through- play through the pain, man up or medicate. The Indiana Jones I am referring to is the archetypal spiritual warrior that we will need to tap into if we are going to go headlong into our own dark mess in order to reconnect. ‘Through’ means we first have an awareness that there has been a disconnection within ourselves… unconsciously we have started to think of the injured ankle separately from the rest of the body, or we start to see the myriad ways we prioritise the thinking head over the feeling senses below, or we realise we have been medicating the discomfort away so we didn’t have to feel, or we suddenly notice our feet are killing us only we take our shoes off at night, or our marriage has disintegrated and our heart is beginning to crack open and we notice that we start looking around frantically for ways to distract, dampen and take away the pain.
Taking away the pain without first extracting the diamond is a missed opportunity.
I sometimes write notes or quotes and leave them around my home.. I have had a quote from Rumi on my wall for some time now- I never really got it, but I new there was something in it for me so I kept it. Just as I began writing this piece it suddenly hit me… I recognised the truth in it.
“The cure for pain is in the pain.” Rumi
It is the most natural human response when we are triggered or experience pain to want to remove it as fast as possible, or run away from it, or deflect it in some other way. To override that knee-jerk response can be very hard, when we are really triggered by our core wounds it can seem in the moment as the most difficult thing in the world. And yet the moment we truly step into the emotion and open up to it, we see that it passes very quickly. According to Jill Bolte Taylor in 'My Stroke of Insight'- even the strongest emotions pass within 90 seconds if we truly open up the space to them and allow them to burn themselves out.
So if emotions pass so quickly why can we sometimes feel ongoing suffering? The suffering comes from continually pushing away our feelings, refusing to accept and integrate them, and resisting whatever circumstances we think are causing us to feel the way we do. The suffering comes from the disconnection and the dissociation. the pain of moving away from our centre, separating parts of ourselves, or separating from ourselves.
The process is the same to bring ourselves back to a state of connection whether it is an emotional or a physical pain. The question is how to move towards reconnection.. If we accept that emotional and physical dissociation is the same process of wanting to move away from the pain we are experiencing or anticipating, then the way back to wholeness is to come back to a place of embodiment. Not back to the head- where most of us are residing most of the time- but back to our centre, our hara or tanden. To bring our consciousness back into our body, at the centre of ourselves takes us immediately towards reconnection and wholeness.
Bringing our awareness back into our bodies, we then have a chance at finding that treasure. The map is there, within our selves. Once we are back, and from a place of embodiment - we can begin to listen and follow what our bodies tell us, see where they take us. We can begin to build a relationship that brings us to a place of self trust and confidence. Ignoring or blasting through our body’s signals at this point would be counterproductive, it would again cause us to shut off, split off and create anxiety. This is where we can use the practice of feldenkrais, as a way in to bring ourselves to unity within the physical body, and then letting the world turn upside down using the physical body as a link and a perfect mirror between the thinking, physical, emotional and spiritual body is such a powerful way of working with ourselves. Then we use our selves as the mirror for what we are experiencing outside of ourselves in the world -(look around and see the heads disconnected from the bodies, see the leaders disconnected from the cost to the environment, and the trail of fear they leave around them.)
What's the Core got to do with it?
All of this intro is necessary to give an insight why I believe the practises that we have adopted as part of our standard training in rehab or fitness, ingrained in our culture around the concept of Core Stability are actually helping people to stay in a state of disconnection. The physical core as an anatomical structure doesn’t exist, (see my previous post on this The Myth of Core Stability,) but the core as the centre of our being does.
Now is the time we need to be even more connected to our centre- the world is so crazy that the only chance we have of navigating through is if we develop a deep trust with our own bodies as our guides. If we instead train ourselves into bracing, stabilising, and leave our fear based beliefs unchallenged we are taking ourselves away into a state of disconnection again. If we actively pursue a state of co-contraction of the belly and the back muscles- we actively bring ourselves into what Moshe Feldenkrais called the body posture of anxiety.
This.. people.. right now.. is not a good idea :) Core stability practices done without awareness of the bigger picture, make embodiment very difficult. We need to understand that our true self, our true feelings, our true guidance resides around the pelvis and the lower belly. Mindlessly protecting, holding, numbing, stabilising, whatever word we use, its disabling to our ability to use our body’s messages and reflection to bring us towards wholeness, connection to true state of peace and confidence, and to connection with another or with the world.
Radically changing times call for radically different approaches. The method I use to bring myself and the people I work with into a state of embodiment is feldenkrais. You can find out more about how I work with this through my audio programs, workshops or retreats which will be announced soon.
My next workshop is on this subject - The Myth of the Core Continues March 11-12th info here.
You can listen to a preview audio lesson from the Myth of Core Stability Workshop - listen here..