What moves you?

What moves you?

When it gets freezy underneath.

In 2021 I gave a presentation for the online Movement and Wellbeing Festival organised by Angela McMillan.

I gave a talk about ways to move “From freeze to flow” And as I was writing on my presentation, memories came to mind of childhood times when I struggled with fear, shame, and insecurity, unable to control my turbulent inner world that was constantly put on edge by being bullied and ridiculed. It resulted in a lot of uncomfortable physical sensations that I couldn’t control at the time. Eventually, I tried to get rid of them by dissociating myself from my body or somehow controlling it. Slowly, I slipped into a continuous, slumbering state of freezing. Not much later I developed an eating disorder, followed by other destructive numbing habits.

Freezing symptoms can linger just under the skin for long times keeping you from engaging in intimate connection with yourself and others. On the outside you may look like a happy puppy, people may praise you for being such a good listener, for being flexible, helpful or so loyal. But between the lines, suffering happens. It can manifest itself by withdrawing from situations and people, feeling very tired, lonely, and depressed, feeling chronically anxious in your skin, not knowing what you like, want, or don’t want, or what has meaning for you, having trouble concentrating and focusing, having trouble putting your money where your mouth is, or to get moving. Physically you can feel like you can’t hold yourself up, feeling tight, tense, and limp at the same time,  a lack of fluid movement and stability, or experiences of spatial unclarity, bumping into things, tripping, and hurting yourself.

Actually, we all experience freezy states on a daily basis.
Now more than ever! Many of us are living more in the head than in the body. Our smartphones keep us attached to the screen even when biking or crossing a road. Mental information forms the biggest part of our nowadays intake of information about our environment.

We live in an expectation- and performance-oriented society in which there is little room for spontaneity, authentic self-expression, or listening to the heart and senses. Many of our physical activities are about looking good rather than feeling good. Feeling present and alive in the body is not so obvious anymore. The pandemic certainly contributed to this disembodied life.

magic happens when you choose to follow flow

For a long time, I tried to work with the turbulent emotions themselves. It was yo-yo-ing between feeling okay and feeling down again. It took a toll on my health and made me feel less and less secure with myself. It was exhausting falling and crawling back up again and again.

Then by chance, I discovered the somatic movement approach of the Feldenkrais method. During the first session, I felt calm instead of cathartic. Just feeling good without having to go back into that dark hole first. Wow! As I continued to deepen my understanding of the Feldenkrais Method and other somatic-, and systems-oriented movement and dance approaches, I gained three very important insights:

  1. Where attention goes, energy flows
  2. Each of us is a living system, a complex fabric, of biology, energy, consciousness, and soul which are interrelated, interconnected, and interdependent.
  3. All living systems have an innate capacity for self-healing, thus so do we, if only we follow our system’s way of ‘thinking in relationships, integration, and interconnectedness’ instead of being a hierarchy divided into a mind, a body with parts, a soul and spirit.

I discovered how I had gotten stuck in a one-sided negative attention spiral of What’s Wrong. And I learned that thinking and emotions are only two channels of a huger somatic constellation through which we know ourselves, and by which a living system informs itself of inner and outer relationships. Most importantly I learned how to help my system prime for healing, nurturing all somatic information channels with the input of “What is. Through Perception, reconnecting with my senses, and learning systemically from the inside out through movement, and now-attention.

In many forms of therapy and coaching, the focus is on the somatic channels of emotion and thought only. The attention is on What is wrong; the former experiences, the trauma… Reliving the triggering emotions, and analyzing them. And I experienced that this starting point keeps reinforcing the pattern of suffering instead of helping our system to self-regulate and heal.

Leaving the old experiences and analyses alone for a while and spending time with my senses in the now, renewed my ability to feel pleasurable, comfortable, and easy sensations in my body. Sensations that invited me to stay in my body, feel safer in my body, gain trust in my being able to surf the emotional waves, and slowly create a greater capacity to deal with all of life, including former traumatic experiences.

It certainly didn’t happen overnight, no quick fix here. And that is exactly why the healing happened! Instead of forcing my system to suddenly change, I danced with the system through awareness, movement, stillness, and time, crafting my attention to what felt good. Gently offering options to my system, in addition to the one my system was used to. I learned to trust my system that it would choose what felt best to thrive in life in its own natural time and wisdom.

You can find my talk below:

In the Movement and Wellbeing Festival 2021 of Online Movement Academy, I shared a Feldenkrais somatic movement experience that has helped me and my clients to follow and flow with our systems and move from freeze to flow. You can listen and move with it below.

Better your foundation for more ease and support

by Pingel Braat

What if you could feel more ease and pleasure in your life?

What if you could feel more ease and pleasure in your life?

Feeling more wase and pleasure all starts with becoming aware of how you feel in your body!

How do you feel? And is that how you want to feel?

Most people’s sensation compass is tuned to pain. To feel pain, you need more pain. It’s a vicious cycle that puts you in a downward spiral. By realigning yourself with the smallest sensations of pleasure and ease, you can begin to realign your sensation compass. It all starts with a more curious, intimate, and caring relationship with your body.

By feeling into your body without immediately judging what you feel, you can reconnect with that inner wisdom and tap into the healing capacity of your system and its intelligence. Pleasure attracts more pleasure. In this video, I tell you more.


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…

Re-membering yourself home in your body

Re-membering yourself home in your body

“Our bodies know they belong; it is our minds that make our lives so homeless.” John O’Donohue

I love this quote and I believe there is so much truth in it! 

Our stories start in the body with the way our autonomous nervous system ‘feels’ the world from moment to moment. It is called ‘neuroception’; a term originating from Stephen Porges’s Polyvagal theory. We only have little awareness of these subtle shifts in our states and the influence that they have on how we feel, perceive our environment, and behave from moment to moment. These wordless neuroceptive messages are somatic signals, like a gut feeling, sensations of temperature change, sensations from our organs, muscles or our heart intuition … The autonomic nervous system sends these neuroceptive signals to the brain.

 Our mind then starts to give meaning to this somatic story that our body tells by creating the beliefs that guide our daily life. A story is being born.

Since this process usually takes place in the unconscious background of our daily lives, ‘our moment-to-moment being’, such a story has a chance to take deep root. It is often the seed from which unconscious habits in perception, behavior, movement, and attitude grow. And these habits influence our decision-making, self-image, reactions, and how we see the world and give meaning to what we perceive, and ultimately how we relate to others and our environment.

Awareness is the key to our unconscious stories

We can become aware of this unconscious flow of information by pausing, listening in our body, and attending to our body sensations before we interpret them with our mind. Much like being a witness

 When we can observe from the curious, playful “infant mind space” rather than our more judgmental “ego mind space,” we create a new space for trying out options in response, behavior, and perception. An option to enact a new story by using the ability of our nervous system and body to adapt, change and grow.

Unlock your capacity for self-healing

We meet ourselves through our infant mind space when we attend to conscious movement, expressive dance, and arts. When we invite ourselves to reconnect with our bodies, to play, explore and discover the wisdom that our body holds for us. I believe this unlocks our capacity for self-healing

It’s how I healed myself many years ago when I realized that I had lost my zest and sparkle and felt alienated from myself. I made the choice to change how I listened to and looked at myself, to re-story, to meet myself again in movement, in the moment, to re-member myself home in my body.

Are you curious how you can feel more whole and connected to your body?

Maybe a dance movement creativity retreat at Jardin de Luz is something for you.  Feel welcome to contact me for A free orienting conversation

Are you trapped in an old story?

Are you trapped in an old story?

Yesterday I participated in an online training course to become an NIA Blackbelt teacher with about twenty other women. The assignment we got was to take turns in front of the camera, engaging the other women in your dance. I felt the shrinking motion, so familiar to me, of wanting to vanish into thin air. I am back on that bright spring day more than 40 years ago.

‘Birds are twittering and a gentle summer breeze rustles through the trees. Other children’s laughter and voices echo through the hallways. It is my first day at a new school and shyness and curiosity fight together as I hesitantly step into the new classroom.

I am watched closely by a group of girls and crack a shy smile. A sharp voice cuts through the room. The piercing cold eyes of an old gruff woman bore into me. I feel awfully uncomfortable. She calls me to come to the front of the class. With clammy hands I stand in front of the blackboard, sweat gushes down my back, and I feel the heat rising to my cheeks… She is the teacher and I feel that she does not like me at all.

She makes a snide comment about my father and pulls hard on my ear. I feel myself shrinking and my cheeks flush red, tears prick my eyes, clouding my vision. In front of me, I hear booing and laughing and commenting about my fire-red head, my weird name, stick-out ears and hazel teeth. I feel something is terribly wrong with me, but what and why?

Later in the schoolyard, they stand before me, the group of boys from my class. They pull at me, push me to the ground, and hiss that they are not done with me yet. I hide, I tremble, in my own little world, “I do not belong, I am not safe”.

 I quickly turned off my camera in a flight response. I feel caught again in this old story of being pilloried, being punished, the shame, the feeling that something is wrong with me but what and why? A story that keeps repeating itself over and over again.

But there it was the voice from deep inside: “IT IS ENOUGH”. “I’m done hiding, being invisible.” Back on again I put the camera, raising my middle finger to this story. Shy, nervous, and at the same time curious and determined to enjoy the dance, I stepped into my light and showed my sparkle.

Do you have old stories that keep you trapped in pain and tension?

Old childhood pain takes on big forms. In our subconscious, the hurt children go their own way. In the therapy world, it is also called the shadow. That’s where all the emotions live that are too painful and unsafe to deal with. I had my ways of pushing the shadow away from me, dissociating was one of them. It was in no way pleasant to live in a very tense and exhausted body either. I was very easily overwhelmed and always on high alert with others.

Living with so much tension and anxiety comes with a price. Sooner or later, the body says “No”. My body decided enough was enough on one rainy, grey, and cold winter day. She was done with the toxic environments that I managed to get myself into, time and time again. As if this past painful story had to be told over and over again.

That one day, ‘that tough day like all the other days’, I chose a new movement in a different direction, while my body took the lead.

This is where my journey into joy, spontaneity, and feeling free began.

Feeling safe doesn’t come overnight.

Only when the immediate threat is gone, do the survival patterns come to the surface. The coping attitudes- and behaviors, the deep beliefs and emotional habits that are on auto-repeat.

My journey progressed in stages. First I got to know my body, feel at home with her… Feeling safe doesn’t come overnight. It requires tuning in, again and again, attuning to the flow of feelings within, the movement of the body, the contraction and expansion, the pain and pleasure. I kept asking questions, curious about the relationships within, and eager to learn. Slowly descending, playing both with my fear and my desire for pleasure. Letting my roots sense into the earth while I gently fell through emotional layers.

Quaking, shaking, screaming, laughing through a sea of tears, I came home to myself, embracing my precious inner sparkle. The dance that once knocked me out, now lets me find my way back home.

Are you done with old stories that rule your life?

Do you want to re-find your inner sparkle and let it shine?

I am happy to shine my light on you here in Jardin de Luz. Let me be your sparkle guide and support you on your journey.

You can book a solo retreat here in the beautiful nature of southern Spain. You will stay in a sweet little house among olives and almonds, overlooking the beauty and power of mother earth. Besides the ‘inner journey sessions’, I will make sure you eat deliciously healthy and have all the space you need to unwind, digest and make a new movement. Want to know more? Book a skype/zoom session with me