Move Freely in Your Body and Mind
“The way you walk across the room is the way you walk through life,” says Rolf Movement instructor Vivian Jaye. How do you walk across the room? Fluid and free, or fixed and frozen? '
How we move, our posture and our very presence in our skin speaks volumes about our way of being in relationship with others and especially with ourselves.
Beyond simple body language, like folded arms or avoiding eye contact, our unconscious, deeply held, habitual postural movements affect our consciousness.
When faced with stress or a frightening situation, we all hold our breath and tense up. If this happens continually over a long period of time, the body response becomes something we do automatically, without consciousness awareness. It becomes a neuromuscular pattern, embedded in our tissues as changes in posture and inhibited movement. The stressful or frightening event may have long passed, but the body remains stuck in a pattern that outlived its usefulness.
Take for instance, a child growing up in an abusive household. He or she may be continually ducking their head and curling their upper body forward with hunched shoulders. Their body becomes frozen in the past without consciously being aware of it. They are now unable to stand up straight, even though their posture may be causing pain. They may walk with a closed, shuffling gait, unable to move freely. Does it seem likely that this person has much self-esteem or will ever be a leader?
Imagine what might change in this person’s psyche and in their life if they could stand up straight, meet the gaze of other people as an equal, freely lift and turn their head to expand their peripheral and forward vision down the path of life and move into the world with an expansive heart space and a supportive, flexible backbone. It is in this way that the body has a crucial role in the structure and process of the psyche. Just as the mind affects the body, the body affects the mind. They are truly an inseparable whole.
Through becoming aware of patterns that no longer serve us, we can grow beyond their limitations and reconnect with that higher aspect of ourselves that has been forgotten. A simple massage or chiropractic adjustment can put one in touch with areas of chronic tension. Deeper holding patterns may be accessed with more advanced bodywork like Rolfing or visceral manipulation. Typically, the more long-lasting and transformative the bodywork, the greater the impact on consciousness.
Bodywork is not psychotherapy. Unless a bodyworker is also a trained psychotherapist, their work will be from the approach of transformation through touch, not with counseling. The process is not about pointing out what is wrong, limited or dysfunctional in a person’s pattern. It is about using bodywork as a tool to facilitate one’s own journey of self-discovery.
Through holding an unbiased presence and unconditional acceptance and using an educated touch, a bodyworker can evoke consciousness in long-forgotten areas of the body and mind. Holding patterns and inhibitions in movement are brought to consciousness. When bodyworker and client both avoid taking a for-or-against attitude towards the old pattern, pain or dis-ease, it creates compassionate space. The quality of unbiased presence can allow opening to difficulty held in our tissues, and we can then consciously include it as part of who we are. From that place of newly awakened consciousness, new options can arise and one can find a new way of being in oneself and in the world.
In this leaning something about oneself, there is a beginning for change that can be fine-tuned over time. Perhaps the stooped, defeated posture gives way to a more confident, open way of being. Possibly the hands can now reach out from the spine to say, “Stop,” or can reach from the heart to connect in a new way. What matters is that there is now choice. One is now on the journey of personal growth and self-empowerment through awakening body and mind consciousness.
Sharalee Hoelscher, RCST, a certified Rolfer, holds a BA in psychology and has 21 years experience as a bodyworker. She offers private sessions at her office in Cordova Square, Pensacola, and can be reached at 850-450-8508 or HealingWithBodywork.com.