Body Wisdom

In your lifetime your body has evolved with many unconscious patterns. This is true of the way we move our bodies as well as the way we think. Our minds process data and form opinions without much thought or consideration to the process. This habitual path of unconscious processing (of feelings and patterns) keeps us within our comfort zone and brings us to our conclusions, ideas and opinions.

This processing is similar to the way we move across a room. We just move and before we know it we are across the room. However, this ability came about from a series of simple, single movements that started when we were infants learning to hold our heads up, sit up, crawl and walk. All we have learned has become assimilated into our nervous system, always ready for us. What we don’t realize is that all of this learning is woven so entirely within our nervous system that our thinking and our movements are linked. Your thinking registers in your body and impacts how you feel, and what you put into your body impacts your thinking. Much is recorded and held in the nervous system that we are not aware of until some event or person activates our unconscious response. We have all experienced an overly emotional response to a situation that did not call for the high level of intensity we brought to it.

I experience this on a regular bases with my daughter. Her behavior can push my buttons faster than any one. If I go on automatic I usually yell or say something I regret (which she reminds me of too). However, if I take the time to access my body wisdom, I can inhibit my reactivity and go inside and listen to and feel the sensations that are activated. When I pause and inhibit the usual automatic response I feel calmer, more grounded, and have a choice about how I respond to her.

Here is a way to start to connect with yourself, with your own body wisdom:

  • Find a place you can sit, somewhere that feels comfortable.
  • Take a moment to sense yourself, start by noticing your breath.
  • Place your hands on your body anywhere you feel drawn.
  • What are you noticing in your body? Name the sensations.
  • What are you aware of?
  • Can you allow sensations and feelings to be there?
  • Can you let go of wanting them to be different than they are?
  • Can you breathe into them?
  • Can you meet the sensations and welcome them in?

It takes practice to do this. Start by doing this at different times and the practice will enable you to do this during stressful times.

Learning to recognize the sensations that lead up to any form of reactivity will help slow it down. Being able to track what is going on internally will empower you to make changes in your habitual response patterns.

It can feel overwhelming to stay with the sensations that come up when I feel angry: tightness, heat and the desire to lash out. When I take a break from the intensity of feelings by placing my hands on a part of my body or just focusing on my body, that stops the cycle of accelerating the emotions. I can move my focus or hands back and forth. Through this process the emotions become more neutral, and from that place I have choices about how I respond. When I have accessed my body wisdom I usually respond to my daughter in a calm yet parental way that she responds well to, and I feel good about it!

By understanding and undoing tension patterns and/or misalignment you can access deeper levels of aliveness. The Alexander technique can help you discover your patterns of movement and thinking that block your body wisdom. I am grateful to have found my body wisdom. Have you found yours?

Elaine Belle is a certified Alexander teacher with over 20 years experience. The Alexander Technique is a gentle, hands-on process to realign the skeleto-muscular system.