Inquiry with a bodywork emphasis

 

I had a session earlier today where we combined bodywork and inquiry. This client is familiar with inquiry and is aware of a chronic contraction in his solar plexus/belly that’s connected to some long-standing issues, so we decided to start working on it from the body side and then see what came up.

Any psychological issue – whether it’s anxiety, depression, trauma, cravings, deficiency stories, or more generally beliefs and identifications – has a body side and a mind side. They are two sides of the same coin. So it makes sense to work on them from both of those sides.

When I first heard of the body-mind connection, it was partly from the new age world where it made intuitive sense but seemed a bit fuzzy and mysterious, and it was partly from science where I explored psychoimmunology and similar connections.

We can also explore this body-mind connection in a more simple and immediate way in our own experience, for instance through inquiry.

Body contractions give charge to any psychological issue, whether it’s anxiety, depression, trauma, cravings, deficiency stories, or anything else. These issues are unable to exist or have any sense of reality or charge unless they are associated with body contractions. It seems that for the mind to create these issues for itself, it needs to connect them with sensations, and the easiest way to do that is to create body contractions which provide these sensations. Chronic issues then come with chronic body contractions. These may not be obvious all the time, but they resurface whenever the issue is triggered. And sometimes they are obvious and present all the time, as with my shoulder tension.

The other side of this is that imaginations and stories (mental images and words) give meaning to sensations and body contractions, and any emotionally related body contraction will have imaginations and stories connected with it. If it’s chronic and long lasting, it may have a great deal of meaning – in the form of images and words – connected with it.

So if I am working with a client and we have done one or two sessions together, and we have identified a recurrent body contraction, we may do a bodywork session. A session where we focus on the body contraction, work on it physically, and then explore the mental images and words that come up through that work.

In this session, I massaged the belly contraction by leaning in, holding for a while, and then moving over slightly. The client rested with the sensations while noticing the (boundless) space they happened within. He also noticed and reported images and words, and rested with these as they came up. Occasionally, I would ask inqiry or mining questions such as is it a threat?, what is your first memory of feeling this contraction? 

During silent periods, I did run some Vortex energy to help heal the issue behind the contraction, and also bring up images and words related to it.

The client trembled (therapeutic tremoring, TRE) at times, and I used Breema principles and moves when I worked on his belly (hara), so we got to use Natural Rest, Living Inquiries, Breema, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises, and Vortex Healing in this session. They all came in naturally and seamlessly.

For both the client and me, the session felt grounded and real. That’s one of the benefits of working more intentionally from the body side of the issue.

I am not quite sure what to call it. Somatic inquiry? Bodywork inquiry? Mind-body inquiry? Inquiry with bodywork emphasis?

There is nothing new here. I believe there are many traditions and practitioners doing similar work. And it’s also an integral part of the Living Inquiries. One way to do it is to have the client massage the contraction themselves. And the other way, which I often prefer since it can go deeper, is for the facilitator to do it while guiding natural rest and simple restful inquiry.

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Body contractions as a component of trauma, anxiety, depression, addictions, low self-esteem and more

 

Body contractions are an important component of trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction, low self-esteem and more.

The mind needs sensations to give imagination a sense of solidity and reality and to give it a charge. So it tenses muscles to create these sensations.

They are sometimes temporarily amplified as needed in the situation. And if the mind wishes to create a more lasting experience of trauma etc., then the body contractions can be more lasting and chronic.

These contractions are somewhat individual and can be just about anywhere on the body, although they are often in the torso along the mid-line and also in the throat and head area. They can be on the skin or deeper in the body. (They can even sometimes be experienced as outside of the physical body, when imagination makes physical sensations appear in the space outside of the body.)

There are many ways to work with these contractions and what they are a component of. We can do inquiry on them and see how we relate to them and also what imaginations are connected with them.

Through inquiry, we get to see how we relate to the contractions and also what imaginations (memories, images, words) are connected to them.

We can tap on them, hold, massage.

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) can help release the physical contraction. This will, in turn, take some of the charge out of what the contraction is a part of whether it’s trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction or something else.

We can use different forms of energy and/or bodywork to (a) shift how we relate to the contraction (befriend it), or (b) release the contraction.

Exploring the contraction both from the mind (inquiry) and the body side is often helpful and sometimes essential.

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Body contractions follow and make possible stressful beliefs

 

It’s easy to think of body contractions as an effect of stressful beliefs (Velcro, identifications), and that’s accurate enough. It does seem that stressful beliefs create bodily contractions, and persistent and persistently retriggered beliefs may create persistent and chronic body contractions.

And the reverse may be true too.

Body contractions fuel stressful beliefs, and with it unquestioned fears, deficient and inflated selves, reactivity, and compulsions. Without body contractions, it may not even be possible to believe a stressful thought.

As I have written about before (long before I got into the Living Inquiries), it seems that in order to believe a thought, it has to be associated with sensations. These sensations lends a charge, and sense of solidity and reality, to the thought, so it’s possible to hold it as real and true.

So in order to believe a thought, the body-mind tenses certain muscles to create sensations which in turn can be used to give charge and lend a sense of solidity and reality to the thought. That’s, at least, one way to look at it.

It’s really not easy to believe a thought, so tensing muscles is one way to make it easier and more possible. And when the stressful belief is persistent and recurrent, it tends to require a persistent and/or recurrent body contraction.

This is one reason it can be very helpful to work at this – stressful beliefs, anxiety, depression, compulsions, addictions – from both the mind and body sides. We can do inquiry, loving kindness, ho’oponopono, natural rest and more. And we can massage the contraction, release tension through therapeutic tremors (TRE), do yoga, receive bodywork, and more. These approaches go hand in hand, along with working with the larger social system if possible, spending time in nature, engage in physical activities, improving the diet, and whatever else is helpful.

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All awake to itself

 

I am attending an intensive for the type of bodywork I am doing. The bodywork itself is a laboratory for practice and exploration, for self-inquiry, and it is a wonderful practice in many ways. Deep, nourishing and soulful. 

But one thing is left out, and it is a crucial step – and also quite obvious when we see it. 

With its emphasis on mindfulness of the “me” only (the human self and its identities and dynamics), an identification as first the doer (shifting into observing) and then the observer may easily become “invisible”. If it is habitually there anyway, it may not be strengthened, but there is also not a direct invitation to bring it to attention and notice it. The sense of “I” may continue to lurk outside of attention. 

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