Being aware of your body, you might notice what it’s asking for physically. For instance, you might use a roller to release tension. Or, to lose some weight and feel healthier, you might put your body through an exercise regime or change your diet. But most of us are not taught to be body aware, so there still is a disconnect emotionally.
Some people can be both aware of body and body aware, of course, but it isn’t taught in this culture. Hence, I wasn’t body aware until I was taught in the last decade and began to practice it regularly.
So, what is “Body Aware?”
I can tell you what it is, and then it just remains an intellectual experience. Feeling it will be more useful.
Read this and then close your eyes and give it a try.
- First, how are you feeling? Check in. You might feel somewhat numb or “fine.” See if you might discover a little more underneath. You might notice a slight joy or wistfulness rising. Maybe sadness – even anger. If not, trust the body to lead you to what needs clearing. (This isn’t about making you feel worse. Repressed emotion will make you feel worse. It’s about offering the body a chance to “speak” in order to release what has been held.)
- Feel in your body what’s coming up. It might get easier or harder to breathe. Or, you might just notice some grumbling in your stomach. All you need to do it sit with the physical sensations. You might be dealing with some pain somewhere – an aching in your hands or lower back. Just be with it. Notice. Observe. No judgment. Thinking isn’t wrong necessarily, but, initially, the mind tries to “figure out what’s going on.”
We’ve been trained to value judgment, reason and thought over feelings and intuition. There is a place for each.
Trust the Process
Stillness might be all you notice at first. Trust where your head wants to turn. The other day my head was turned as far right as possible, and I processed that way. Process with eyes open or closed. Trust even the thinking. Just notice it. You will begin to distinguish if the thinking is a defense or distraction, or if it is helpful, taking you back in time to moments that were distressing. There might be no thoughts at all. When I help clients to clear preverbal trauma, it is a very physical experience. There is no wrong way to do this. The brain will lead you on what feels like a stream of consciousness journey, and that’s how it heals.
Honor the Body
We might have developed good eating and exercise habits but not even realize we can have a deeper relationship with the body. We give language so much credit that we have lost touch with the parts of the brain and body that speak to us outside of language. The body has messages for us. Anger often turns to back pain. Instead of immediately thinking in terms of medical conditions, why not check in with feelings.
The Body Speaks
Pain might derive from stress and overdoing, but, more interestingly, often pain occurs “out of nowhere,” when we are “feeling fine.” Why!? It’s tricky because then we think there is no correlation to emotion. We think it must be physical since we are feeling fine.
An Example: The Day Half of My Face Fell
My ex-husband and I had just gotten back together after a brief separation. Suddenly, a company offered him a job in Florida. We had just moved from New York back to California where I hoped to have children near my west coast family. Being that we were trying at marriage again, I agreed to move to Florida.
The humidity was mind numbing. I didn’t know a soul. I did some extra work at Universal Studios, temp work filing papers, and I taught dance. Then, I got pregnant. The whole situation was daunting, and I was a trooper. I was “just fine,” until I woke up one morning, brushed my teeth and spit. It shot sideways, and my ex thought I’d had a stroke. Turns out it was Bells Palsy (half my face was temporarily paralyzed).
It’s not that I would have had to demand that we move back. What would have benefited me – and us – is if I would have grieved leaving California. It’s okay to be excited about a choice, because I actually loved our first house in Florida and the friends I made, but it is also okay to have the parallel experience of anger and grief. Instead, I shut down. As a result, my body caused me to make horrible faces at people for a while. These are not accidental ailments. The body has a sense of humor and expresses creatively and often directly.
Do it Yourself
Becoming body aware incorporates aspects of Brainspotting and other somatic awareness techniques. Each has their own guidance “in.”
To enhance the experience, wear earbuds and listen to bilateral music (Below I listed what to search when seeking the bilateral music), and hold your head still and allow your eyes to explore the room to see if looking at one particular spot evokes more feeling.
To break it down:
- Put on earbuds with bilateral music (optional)
- Check in with your feelings
- Notice what you are feeling in your body
- Scan the room and find an “access” point or a spot that feels like it increases the emotions (sadness, joy, grief, anger, calm, etc) Remember feelings are not “good” or “bad.” They are just sensations… notes on a piano – all worthy of being acknowledged and honored. The alternative is… pain.
In conclusion, you might want to include bilateral music in your practice on a regular basis. Search on YouTube for “bilateral music – Dr. David Grand” Click HERE for sample track.
The YouTube pieces are 6 minutes, so you might want to own a few tracks to listen continuously. I prefer and use the music from Bodhi Tree Bilateral at CDBaby.com. Especially the tracks on “Reflection.” You can also order music from Biolateral.com. I’m sure a search on ITunes will bring up pieces as well.