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?

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.

From FRAP-ing to body-listening

From FRAP-ing to body-listening

Today I like to champion the fine art of listening before you demand your body to change.

Do you recognize these situations in which you share something with someone, or you are facing a challenge or struggle, or feel sad or upset by something… and without first asking you what you need or want, people immediately start telling you what you should do, have to do, or what they have experienced and worked for them? How does it make you feel when that happens?

Did you know that there is a verb for this behavior of assuming someone needs your help and you know what they need: FRAP-ing. It is an abbreviation for:

  • Fixing
  • Rescuing
  • Advising
  • Projecting

It actually means that people are not truly seeing you, nor hearing you, and not acknowledging you for who you are and how you feel. I believe this is one of the most disempowering things we can do to each other. Because we all need to be seen, heard, and acknowledged for who we are, our own wise & wisdom, our feelings, and emotions, our own experiences, our unique stories, our boundaries … no matter what.

Frapping often happens because the frapping person feels uncomfortable by what they hear, see or feel, and by how the frapped person responds to a situation. The frapping person often feels triggered by the pain, struggles, or challenges that she witnesses. The frapped person often meets this frapping with reactions of resistance, withdrawal, or helplessness. And I believe that, even if a thank you is politely said, assumption-based fixes, rescues, advice, and projections are seldom helpful.

Do you so every now and then frap somebody consciously or unaware?

Frapping is perfectly human. It is a survival habit. It helps us to not have to feel ourselves in ways that challenge our feel-good states, our feeling of being in control of what is happening, or our own perspective on things. Honestly, it makes most of us feel better to think that we truly helped somebody, even if that means telling them how to act, to move, to feel, to think, and to see like us.

So outside, so inside

Why do I bring this topic up? Because almost every one of us FRAPs her body and nervous system at some point. With the often, still far too simplistic and mechanical view we hold of our physical selves, we fix, rescue, advise, and project our expectations, our stories, and what we think we need onto our body and nervous system, from how we want our body to move, look, and feel to how we think it should be better.

So often we ignore, or force, our intelligent, sensitive nervous systems to behave and act in a certain way, without enough understanding of their role in the complex living system that we are and its relationship to the sentient, living environment around us. Many times this results in physical, emotional, and mental pain, overwhelm, or anxiety. Reinforcing these patterns that keep us stuck in pain, uncertainty, low confidence, or tension.

FRAPing our body and nervous system is a form of not listening, not seeing, not acknowledging. It stops us from getting to know the underlying dynamic of relationships: the relationship patterns that make us move, emote, think, and behave in certain ways. When we FRAP ourselves, we try to change that single symptom that gets our ‘What-is-wrong-attention. The so-called elusive obvious.

And by our effort to get rid of this symptom, we keep reinforcing the uncomfortable neuro-biological pattern underneath. Our neurobiology will do what it can to prevent any rapid, forced change that disrupts its equilibrium. Because a change in one place means everything changes in expected and most unexpected ways.

How to then help ourselves without FRAP-ing?

There are a few universal principles underneath all interaction that happens in living systems/ living beings us included.

  • Living systems can only be interested, invited, or gently encouraged to change
  • Living systems only accept solutions that they help to create
  • Living systems only pay attention to what is meaningful to them in the here and now.
  • Living beings don’t communicate linearly and unambiguously! They communicate through complex layered messages that weave together biology, emotion, reason, physicality, soul, environment, now, and past.

By respecting these universal principles of change and growth, 3 steps will help you tap into the magic of self-healing:

  1. Listen actively with all your heart
  2. Follow the pattern with a curious inquiring attitude rather than focusing on a symptom.
  3. Stay in the question: What does this pattern want to tell you through sensation, feeling, thought, image, and movement?
  4. Dance and co-create with your nervous system; go slow, move small, attend to ease and pleasure, and don’t assume.

When there is no need for the nervous system to protect a pattern it lets go of its defenses and orients itself on what it perceives as meaningful now and here.

Exactly this is what the short free mini-course ‘ Co-creating and flowing with your nervous system’ will be about. You can find it on my YouTube channel soon.

In this course, I will give you a taste of how to rewire patterns with the help of your wise sensuous body and intelligent, sensitive, nervous system. A combination of cutting-edge neuroplasticity and powerful Feldenkrais functional integration. So you can feel more confident, relaxed, and joyful in your body. Let’s be MAMA to ourselves.

To play is to heal, to move the foundation, to sense the way in, your body the source

Movement is life

Movement is life

“Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.” Moshe Feldenkrais.
Everything in nature is in constant motion to create a harmonious ecosystem. A dynamic balance, so to speak. And if we zoom in, each of us is a genius ecosystem in its own right: A system of body systems, our nervous system, energy systems, mind, emotions, soul and spirit. A system that exchanges information 24/7, updating itself by interacting with all the surrounding systems and its internal sub-systems. Therefore, our system demands mobility, and flexibility to create dynamic stability. It needs movement to find its balance, just like every other system in nature and the universe. Without movement, life is unthinkable!

Movement is the very expression of our existence.

Rolling about and around

Rolling about and around

The benefits of somatic floor play…

I love to roll on the ground. I love floor play whether it is Feldenkrais oriented or whether it has an NIA Joy in Motion taste. Rolling around and about, creeping, crawling, and playing animal… my daily dose of spontaneous play. Whenever I feel tired, overwhelmed, or just in a playful, silly mood, I lay on the ground and start sensing, feeling, and moving. It helps me to empty my overflowing, busy mind. Overtime is has proven to be one of my best working crumpy-mood changers and energizers.

The ground friend or enemy?

So often we hold ourselves with loads of effort. As if we have no backup that supports us when life plays tough on us. As if the ground beneath us is our worst enemy. Have we forgotten where our roots go? When I look around me I do get the impression that many people don’t remember their roots. So many of us are living high up in our minds and seldom come down to scent the moist fragrance of the rich earthy soil or sense the feet as they faithfully guide us through life, exploring the ground beneath us with their sensitive antennae. There are 7,000 nerve endings in each foot….

For a half year now, I live in the midst of nature in my beautiful paradise ‘Jardin de Luz’ in the heart of the Alpujarra mountains in Spain. I am surrounded by singing birds, and abundant tapestry of flowers in myriad colors, and lots of creepy little crawlers that fertilize the humid soil of my land.  I love to lie down in the green and watch the bright blue sky while a soft tepid breeze tickles my skin. And when the green is not too pointy, I love to roll around and about like a little kitten. It keeps my nervous system healthy.

The Human Nervous system, like any other nervous system, needs the ground to orient, organize and move the body. Yielding to gravity is the medicine for excessive muscle tone, anxiousness, and stress. And that is precisely why a little floor play a day keeps the doctor away.

When we are born we first learn to move on the ground. Our nervous system learns to navigate and negotiate gravity. This play with gravity also helps strengthen the muscles that later will support the skeleton, carrying us through life. There are 7 core patterns that we move through before we stand up and walk. And together with this physical process of creating these patterns, we develop our minds. We first learn about the world and about meaning through these early movements on the ground. We develop emotional intelligence while playing our way up into standing and walking. The physical body guides the emotional and mental body to wise up and get ready to play in life’s luxuriant garden.

The ground beneath us was a safe haven when the world was too overwhelming for our young minds. The support we could lean into when there was nothing else to lean on. A place to rest and digest. Yet on our path to adulthood, many of us mostly forgot that gravity supports us. Where did we start battling gravity and backing away from the ground? So many people deal with tension and back pain as a result of not grounding and co-operating with gravitational forces. Many nervous systems forgot how to lean into the earth and inhale its life force.

As a result, stressful tension cannot discharge and becomes trapped in the physical body, causing physical pain, fatigue and tension, emotional anxiety and stress, and an overloaded, busy mind that hardly is able to relax.

This brings me to a few of the most impressive benefits of floor play:

Relaxation, discharge stress, tap into life force, feel vital, vibrant, and energized. And most important, it will improve the way you move and help you thrive in life by giving your nervous system back its starting coördinates.

Every time I play on the floor, it helps me revisit the early core patterns that my nervous system once created to help me thrive in life. Every time this rolling about and around helps me tweak and refine those early core patterns and fill in the blind spots created by painful experiences, ignorance, and well-intentioned advice I once took for true without listening to my body.

Do you want a first taste of play on the floor? Let’s roll about and, around…

The pitfall of making assumptions

The pitfall of making assumptions

The pitfall of making assumptions.

The body tells…

After a Feldenkrais lesson people often share that a movement is more difficult on one side than the other. And often they immediately explain to me why this is so. I then hear about an injury or experience from the past. And I see their now-body trapped in an old story. I call that traveling with your backpack loaded.

This reminds me of my parent’s friends who loaded the caravan with potatoes and peanut butter on their holiday to France. We are all creatures of habit and it is the habits of thinking, focusing, and feeling that direct our movement. Bringing your assumptions into your movement is like packing your backpack with kilos of potatoes and jars of peanut butter on the way to France.

Our mind listens less openly when it is occupied with thoughts and beliefs. It also gets in the way of our nervous system’s ability to create efficient movement patterns and process emotions. The movement journey then reinforces the limiting patterns formed by the experience of the past. We have, as it were, traveled back in time instead of in the present.

The path of least resistance is about playing in the present.

How will and can your body move now? By moving small and slowly, you can hear its suggestions clearly and provide the nervous system with new information. In this way, the less efficient patterns in our feeling, thinking, and doing can cease to exist. We invite our mind to listen with childlike curiosity and attention so that it can become silent for a moment and learn from the body. And where that will take us is a surprise and a yet unknown point on the map.

Are you ready to meet your body where it is now and create something beautiful with it?

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