Awareness through movement versus awareness of movement

Awareness through movement versus awareness of movement

We often move on automatic pilot in many situations of our lives, We vaguely know what we do, but do we really know how we do it? What is happening behind the scenes so to speak? How is our action benefiting our intention?
For most people, the most basic intention to move or act is to maintain or move into joy, ease, comfort, and pleasure. Our nervous system is wired that way.

Then how come our actions don’t always result in comfort and pleasure?

In a Feldenkrais somatic movement exploration, we explore HOW we move. The HOW is about our individuality, our unique habits, beliefs, and behaviors, and the way we see ourselves and act upon that image. How do we meet our intention with the way we move? What are the habits that interfere with our intentions? 

When observing the HOW we get clarity about which beliefs are in the driving seat and where our image of ourselves and the world needs updating. Are we ‘doing’ on automatic pilot or are we consciously choosing how we do what we do? And does it lead to the desired outcome?

Habits are when we decide how to act before we are aware that we have a choice (Moshe Feldenkrais)

Habits typically show up when we don’t choose or we always choose the same which is equivalent to habitual behavior. The outcome therefore will subsequently be the same as yesterday, today, and in the future.. Doing from habit strengthens the same beliefs and emotional patterns that keep us from where we want to go. 

So the goal of the Feldenkrais method is to bring our awareness to the moment between intending and doing by slowing down and paying attention. It is here where we can find out and correct course. In this moment we can recreate our responses by exploring other options and creating conscious choices. It is then that we begin to grow out of a habit and the beliefs that support that habit.

And this goes for all action; Whether it is about movement skill or an action that has to take us to something we want. Or maybe an action that has to take us away from something we don’t want. We need to slow down to listen into the body to sense and feel what happens with our emotions and thoughts. As no brain can think without a body (original quote by Moshe Feldenkrais)

All movement is driven by the mind. So the body’s movement is a great way to start exploring our mind’s way. Our most basic intention is to find ease, comfort, and joy no matter what. Our body is straightforward and accurate in its response. It does not create constructs like the mind does. It immediately tells whether it feels pain or joy. And it is always open to course-correct. It can serve as a wonderful guide on the path of growth and healing

Below is a link to a Feldenkrais exploration that will give you a taste of how to rewire patterns with the help of your wise sensuous body and intelligent, sensitive, nervous system.

Originally it was an FB live in which I verbally guided people through a 20-minute lecture and exploration. All you need is a quiet space on the floor and a (yoga) mat. 

Let your senses take you back to your heart

Let your senses take you back to your heart

In this blog, I share how you can tap into the intelligence of your heart by engaging consciously with your senses to come home to yourself and find your inner peace after an upsetting event or news story or simply after a stressful day.

And what’s more, it also helps you, help your beloved, stressed animal feel better and calm her nervous system after an accident or epileptic episode. As I did with our newly adopted cat Uma who suffers from a neurological condition.

Uma’s story

It all happened around ‘cat’ dinner time. Uma suffered a short circuit in her brain, resulting in a seizure that manifested as epilepsy and hyperventilation. She spent hours between heaven and earth. We took turns watching over her. Halfway through the night, she wanted to move. She stood weakly on her feet. I could see her panic. She had no idea where she was or who she was. She couldn’t recognize her scent anymore. So she kept walking, stumbling, and bumping into everything. At one point she was so exhausted that her legs couldn’t carry her anymore, but she wouldn’t lie down. She was so scared. And so were we for her. By sunrise, we were dead on our feet. We didn’t know what else we could do to calm her down.

And then my heart took over from my mind and sent my senses out to play. I sat down next to her, with my feet well on the ground. And my eyes wandered around the room and lingered on a floor tile. From the corner of my left eye, I could see Uma. And as my eyes took in the floor tile, my ears received the sounds of the early morning-the heavy hum of a plane high in the sky, birds singing, the wind, my dog’s snoring, the murmuring of the trees, and Uma’s fast, pumping breath. I felt the movement of my breath, which carried silent grief, while a gentle breeze stroked the skin of my arm. The heavy summer heat pressed down on me. Drops of sweat ran down my back. While sensing, my thoughts became quieter and quieter. Time stopped. I felt my weight rest heavier on the cough, my feet spreading out into the ground. My gaze softened and widened. I could feel Uma very clearly now.

From the corner of my eye, I saw that she had laid down. And while we were together in silence, receiving the surroundings in our hearts, I saw her breathing becoming quieter and quieter. Her eyes slowly fell shut. She began to doze off quietly into a deep, restorative sleep.

How aware are you in your heart?

All living beings have an energy field within and around their bodies. When these fields contact each other there is a subtle, very complex exchange of electromagnetic energy encoded with information. It is the language of all life.

One of the most mind-blowing books I’ve read is a book called ‘The Secret Teachings of Plants’ by Stephen Harrod Buhner. He states that the physical heart is the most powerful organ of perception in both humans and many animals because it generates the strongest electromagnetic energy field in the body. And the heart becomes even more perceptive when it is in a harmonious connection with the rhythms in the rest of the body and brain and with the rhythms of the universe, and Mother Earth. This is called heart coherence. It happens when we shift our consciousness from our mind to our heart.

The more coherence the stronger the information exchange can be. A coherent heart has variability in heart rhythm so that it can easily adjust to movement intensity, emotional experiences, and other internal and external processes. This has beneficial effects on brain processes, our physical-emotional vitality, connection to others, openness to learning, and the neuroplastic capacity of our brains. It helps every part of our system work together harmoniously, and function efficiently. This creates space for auto-regulation, healing, resilience, and growth.

Did you know that your physical heart is a highly sophisticated communicator?

The physical heart has a huge amount of highly specialized cells that receive and transmit electric magnetic energy waves filled with information, much like a radio transmitter and receiver carries the music. These specialized heart cells group to form many finely tuned antennas with a very broad reach. This way the heart receives infinitely many different energy frequencies at the same time. No other part of the body and brain has this extraordinary quality. When the heart’s electromagnetic field meets another electromagnetic field, interaction and synchronization start to happen. In this process, information is exchanged.

The heart decodes this deep information by altering its beating pattern, pulse wave, electric output, hormonal functioning, and neurochemical release. These changes in function send information to the rest of the body and the different parts of our nervous system. It also acts directly with our nervous system through neurochemical releases in the brain that directly alter nervous system functions.

What does this have to do with the senses?

Our heart enters a state of *coherence when we shift from analyzing, thinking, setting expectations, and commenting to what we perceive through feeling and sensing. When we leave our senses free to wander around and take in the surroundings, we enter into our hearts. We re-member ourselves as part of our natural family. Resulting in our heart rate starting to slow down. Also, our eyes soften, our breath slows down and deepens, and a cascade of transformational chemical processes take place in the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system, emotions, and cognitive functions. As our hearts are both sending and receiving, this state of coherence is then exchanged with another Being when our energy fields touch.

And so by the simple act of sensing my surroundings and listening to my sensations, and feelings, I could help Uma feel more peaceful and start resting her exhausted body.

When was the last time you took the time to let your senses wander freely without any expectation?

Somatic dance play, somatic movement?

Somatic dance play, somatic movement?

(with a little taster at the end)

What does somatic mean? In the Feldenkrais somatic movement education community, we are asking ourselves this question: Do people understand what we mean by this word?

Soma means the body as experienced from within. The felt sense of ourselves. So somatic refers to the study of experiencing ourselves from within the body. An embodied experience of ourselves. Somatic movement adds movement as a way to experience our body through sensations.

Just as the mind gives us a felt thought of ourselves and a visual image of our body, our body gives us a sense of ourselves through the way we move and hold ourselves together. Sensing brings our attention to the space that exists beyond words and feelings, to our sensations and emotions. Gene Gendlin, a somatic educator, has written beautifully eloquently about the body as our compass for thinking, feeling, and acting. I feel he describes soma, the felt sense of ourselves very poetic and magical through his words.

He writes -and I quote loosely- that our body is part of a huge system that is both here and in other places and embodies the now as well as other times. It is in constant curious interaction with its environment, the energy of others, the earth, the universe, our ancestors, past times, and other dimensions.

Energies flow in, out, and through, evoking emotions and sensations. We touch, see, smell, taste, and hear our environment every little fraction of time. Millions of cells sensate with now-information, emote with past experience, are moved by energy, and inform and co-create our brain’s magic network of connections and relationships.

Being consciously in connection with what is alive inside, feeling from the body, and being present in the body is feeling bodily alive in this vast universal system of relationships, interactions, and movement. Our conscious mind only can just comprehend a fraction of this. For me, somatics is about this conscious embodiment and self-awareness that connects us in a sensory way to that bigger meaning of life where words and mental constructions fall short.

Wikipedia shares another definition of somatic that brings in psychology as well:

…the study of the mind/body interface, the relationship between our physical matter and our energy, and the interaction of our body structures with our thoughts and actions.

It brings me to a statement Moshe Feldenkrais made that there is a unity of body and mind. One does not function without the other. They are an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think, a body without a brain could not function. So when we experience the body from within, we experience our mind from within as well.

Through aware movement, we experience our brain’s way of thinking and organizing from within. The way our self-image and movement develop through emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

What are the benefits of the somatic movement practices I share?

  • Experiencing ourselves from within makes us feel our depths, our wonders, and the magic of life. Well isn’t that a spark for our vitality?
  • Experiencing our body from within helps us understand our thoughts and feelings. It creates a co-creation between body and mind. It teaches us about the relationship dynamics that are all possible between our mind and body. What would it be like to tap into your full potential of strengths, gifts, and abilities?
  • Experiencing our body from within teaches us about the relationships between our muscles, organs, connective tissue, emotions, thoughts, and feelings. All motor movement starts here and can be improved by improving these relationships. What would you do if you would feel free and able in your daily life movements and actions? How would it change your life if you can consciously choose movement that feels free and pleasurable, that navigates you effortlessly through life’s challenges?
  • Experiencing the body from within teaches us about relationships. Our body guides us in getting to know our habits in relationship dynamics. Having this understanding helps us re-pattern habits that create struggles in relationships. How would be if you feel confident and open in relationships? How would it be if you could feel true, intimate, deep, and joyful in the relationships that are important to you?

In the somatic movement practices of Feldenkrais and dance movement creativity, I offer self-awareness and self-growth. Not because you have to be a better version of yourself but to guide you in getting to know, feel, and express more of yourself with joy, love, and innate playfulness. And experience relationships with more intimacy, ease, and being you

I call it somatic dance play and movement exploration. In playing we find all the tools to experience ourselves from a non-judgmental and curious place. Being playful brings us to a place where we can be open, exploring, and joyful. It is the most important state for organic, experiential learning.

My offer is an invitation to rediscover playful, spontaneous Being and consciously choose the path of pleasure and ease to navigate through life. I believe it all starts with coming home in our bodies and building a caring, joyful relationship with ourselves.

Are we loving enough to ourselves to receive our gifts ourselves first?

In this link, you’ll find a somatic dance play audio to start your own somatic journey. Dance through it with your eyes closed or open and have fun exploring relationships through your joints.

Self improve through self-connect

Self improve through self-connect

Many people are so busy becoming a better version of themselves. Often before even feeling themselves, feeling familiar with the deeper parts of themselves, or their living body (the soma). Before knowing who they truly are or knowing how to get to know their most authentic selves. Let alone having a relationship with themselves that includes all of them.

Improving yourself as a way of escaping from who you are, and of escaping from building a loving, attentive relationship with your inner self.

Being busy improving yourself before creating a relationship with yourself that is self-respecting, nurturing, and compassionate. Or setting up for improving yourself before being able to be wholeheartedly and consciously present in this relationship with your inner self, and your living body.

It is in the quality of this relationship with yourself that the improvement lies. Not in how you become better or change.

This beautiful quote says it so clearly and precisely:

“Drop the self-improvement project, for now at least, and first spend some time learning how to connect to your innermost Self, and how to nourish that ability to connect.” Christopher “Hareesh” Wallis

Do you want to connect with yourself in a more loving way and get to know yourself more intimately? Do you want to experience less effort in being?

I offer various live retreats that help you deepen your relationship with yourself and find joy and vitality through self-love.

The sound of you

The sound of you

Sound is our channel for expression. It is the energy of vibration and has the potential to heal and open the spaces in ourselves energetically and physically. It eases our breathing, and softens tight places in the chest and back. Therefore sound is an important element of the sixth chakra; the throat chakra.

When we are at ease with our voice and sound and we speak with clarity and confidence, the energy of this chakra can flow optimally. This keeps our throat, mouth, thyroid, neck, ears, cavities of belly, face, and chest in good health.

We heal and balance our throat chakra when we speak our truth, communicate kindly and non violently yet with clarity. When we are able to listen attentively and receive through our listening. And last but not least when we speak kindly and compassionate to and about ourselves. A balanced throat chakra is a must for our spontaneous expressive energy to flow freely and nourish us with joyous vibrancy and meaningful connections with others.

For as long as I remember, I have been shy and anxious to speak out loud, speak my truth, show myself through my voice.   I would hide in myself as soon as the fire reached my cheeks in a turbulent red. Ever so now and then I still feel panic and blockage when it comes to finding words and sharing my thoughts and feelings through them.

Old wounds as so to speak. It took me some time to realize that blocking my voice caused the tightness I sensed in my chest and upper belly and my shallow breathing and states of anxiety and emotional tension. It even touched upon my digestive system. My journey to get to know my voice and free her started during the Feldenkrais training I took and led me to dance, sing and lament, to NLP, and voice and breathwork.

Fast forward, I now go live on Facebook in a language that is not even my mother tongue. I voice my thoughts and ideas. Daily I get to listen to my voice and the words I choose when I offer Feldenkrais somatic movement play, and Somatic movement creativity online. I celebrate this new step with joy, more confidence, more breath, and resonant spaces in my chest, belly, and bones. And certainly more courage to authentically dance play myself into the light and help other people to step into theirs.

In 2021 I offered a miniseries to free the body’s sound system in my former FB group. People told me how much they had enjoyed exploring their body’s sound system, expanding their potential for more ease, range, and freedom in expressing and breathing, and to give a voice to their trapped emotions and the beliefs they were holding about their voice and self-image. And how they felt more of themselves.

Do you want to embrace more of you? I now offer the free mini-series ‘The Sound of You’ on my YouTube channel

From being hard to a heart for yourself

From being hard to a heart for yourself

Today I was working on a new online program ‘From Being Hard with Yourself to Having a Heart for Yourself’. And that brought back old memories from when I was still auditioning for dance. And the journey I made then, stepping out of patterns of insecurity, self-criticism, and sensory anxiety. I had to learn to have a heart for myself to build a caring, respectful relationship with my body and feel the life force, love, and lightness, to sparkle again.

Learning to feel and look at my body differently then, changed my dancing and also the way I dance through life. I experienced a renewed relationship with my physical self, my felt self, my dreams, and my environment. And to my amazement, this happened over time by changing the way I move: The Power of Movement and Dance. And most of all, the power of moving in a relationship.

It is all about relationship!

If there is a harmonious relationship between the muscles, bones, organs, and breathing, we experience softness, strength, and mobility at the same time. All members of the body can regain their place in our greater living system and our nervous system operates in sync with what is needed for the good life. That way our system operates efficiently and flexibly, allowing the energy to flow optimally again. There is interweaving, teamwork, support, and non-stop interaction between the members of our system: the body, mind, brain, and heart. This is where the path to lightness, energy, creativity, connection, and growth begins. The way that we as a system function is similar to the way other living systems work. Systems are about networks of relationships and the better the quality of a relationship the better the system works.

We sentient beings benefit from a well-functioning system physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. When there is constant conflict between body members we experience that as tension, stress, pain, or fatigue in our inner lives, leading to us being more quickly overwhelmed by our environment. Most people react to this by hardening, armoring themselves, and disconnecting from their bodies and their environment.

Our ‘movement mirror’

The dynamics in relationships within our bodies teach us about our external relationships with others and our environment. It is not for nothing that people say, ‘So inside, so outside’!I have noticed that when the various physical parts of myself are better attuned to each other and the energy flows optimally again, the judgments and convictions about others and myself dissolve and my capacity for (self) compassion grows.

So I came to believe that the way we move is a mirror for our thinking and feeling. When we move, stand, and sit more freely physically and experience more options in doing so, this will also be reflected in our thinking and feeling. Many people then experience more playfulness, and flexibility in their mind and emotional life and feel more resilient in their lives. They are more able to face the world with an open, uninhibited heart.

Conversely, restrictive thoughts and emotions that constrict us have a compressive effect on our cells. We feel our muscles tighten. The organs experience less space because of this muscle movement and can no longer do their work properly. The bones are pulled and the joints experience more strain. There is no longer a relaxed balance in standing and sitting. Our nervous system starts worrying about survival.

How then can we heal ourselves in wise ways?

Often people don’t think of changing what they do, think, or feel. They give the same input and expect the body to act differently. Their choices are often based on the separateness of body, mind, and soul, and the belief that the body is makeable.

Changing one thing in such a complex living system changes everything for the better or worse. When we look at the dynamics of living systems, just like us, there are a few systemic laws that I want to bring forward in this context:

  1. Living systems are interdependent – change in one part of the system influences other parts of the system in expected and unexpected ways
  2. Living systems cannot be steered or controlled, only attracted or nudged.
  3. Living systems are never static; they are always in movement
  4. Living systems only accept solutions that the system helps to create
  5. Living systems only pay attention to what is meaningful to them here and now.

Often our mind’s way of isolated thinking, and acting does not respect the laws of our system. This leads to changes that do not serve our well-being and limit our potential. Our nervous system slowly becomes overloaded with these unbalanced relationships and the resulting dysregulation. Eventually, it loses its flexibility, creativity, resilience, and zest for learning.

Systems are all about networks of relationships and the better the quality of these relationships, the better the system operates.

For that reason, when working with chronic pain, tension, stress, and distorted body image, I look at the relationship between body, mind, emotions, and spirit: the relationship between perceiving, feeling, imagining, thinking, meaning, and moving.

Check my YouTube channel for tons of free, short healing practices that approach our whole being and follow the life laws of our system to move toward joy, transformation, and growth.