I feel very inspired by the rock art of Michael Grab – it shows me that the seemingly impossible is actually possible if I take the time to find support and feel the integrity of my own wholeness and interconnectedness.
Looking at any sculpture he makes i sense my own body and feel the structure of my own self in physical terms and in less tangible ways too. Right now as I look at the above image my awareness goes first to the feeling of my feet on the floor, i feel the way my body weight is dropping down into the earth and i notice the points at which i am resisting gravity. My knees slightly buckled, my pelvic floor a bit torqued, my diaphragm held, then i breathe and wriggle a bit and feel a bit more of a letting go in these places and i feel slightly calmer and slower in my thinking mind. I stay with this until i feel a further settling into my own physicality and a further dropping down into the earth. There is such relief in this simple act and i realise how much unnecessary effort i have been making today as i have gone about my life. I realise how much more I could have achieved and with ease and grace if i had just remembered to accept the support offered by the earth and it’s gift that is gravity.
We resist the earth because of learned behaviors – learnt in the womb (our first encounter with the earth/mother), at birth and in the early days as we discovered tummy time, crawling and so on. Our environment then may not have been ideal, perhaps we didn’t feel completely safe and we may have learnt that in times of stress or challenge we needed to push, struggle and overly engage certain muscle groups. Our culture of competition and ideas of success no doubt further deepened these patterns.
So for most of us our bodies have developed habitual patterns of holding, resisting, pulling away from, pushing against and working unnecessarily hard at times. For most of us these patterns only become conscious when they start to cause us pain and suffering – sometimes physical, sometimes psychological, most times both. It takes a lot of conscious loving awareness and some relearning to change these patterns. It takes time and patience and it is entirely worth the commitment.
It involves learning to trust our own bodies and the body of the earth. It involves learning that the here and now is not the then and there of our pasts. This is not just a cognitive knowing but a felt sense of differentiation. A bodily knowing, a innate sense of safety and calm that we can not think ourselves into.
Imagine how different you would feel if you felt at ease in yourself, if you felt calm in times of stress and crisis, if you knew you were always supported in your actions and felt an easy rhythm and pace within your life. How enjoyable, delicious and easy life could be. How it would be possible to stay true to yourself and form relationships easily.
What I am talking about here is the ease of integrity. Integrity being a sense of wholeness or togetherness in oneself. In my own process I have found relationship between the words integrity and tensegrity and i have found at times (and lost at other times) the tensegrity of my own body and being.
We are taught in schools and colleges that the body is made up of many different systems and support comes from bone and muscle. This idea is extremely limited. The body is also a whole – each system intricately connected to the others and sensuously woven together by all sorts of connective tissues. I have found that by working with connective tissue I can begin to sense a wholeness and completeness of self which feels liberating and expansive at the deepest levels.
Connective tissue helps me find the places of connection and wholeness within myself. To sense myself as a whole entity and in that way the torques and twists of my souls expression in physical form can know themselves and find resolution within the wholeness.
I am, as we all are, a tensegrity structure. To understand this think of a tent – with poles, canvas, rope, pegs, etc…. when all the parts are in place the structure seems to stay up effortlessly, however if say a peg gets loose we might find the canvas dropping or if a pole loses it’s footing in the earth we might see the middle of the roof collapsing. So too with the human body.
Also think how the tent can’t be pitched unless it finds supports external to itself too – the earth, trees – something it can find support on. So too with us.
So I spend a lot of my internal cognitive awareness on noticing where my support is coming from, how i accept or reject it, how I feel when i accept or reject it and what i might do differently to feel better somehow. I spend a lot of my time as a therapist and teacher of somatics helping others reflect on their supports and how they relate to them. It’s a way of working from the bottom up and building a self that is a sustainable, stable and inter-connected entity.
Gwen Mc Hale is a body-orientated therapist, teacher and artist.
My gratitude to all of my teachers, especially for inspiration for this Blog, to Joan Davis and all I learnt through her training in ‘Origins’. http://www.gorsehill.net/origins.htm