Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The common thread of effective pain relief methods

There is a common thread between various philosophies and methods that I have come across, which is to see body pain as an experience that hasn't been completed.

Shinzen Young talks about pain as an incomplete experience, and so does Avi Grinberg and Peter Levin. Ken Wilber talks about the Shadow elements as disowned parts of the psyche which get a life of their own, and show up as behaviour outside of the self's volition (in Romanian there's a saying "Dracu m-a pus" - the devil made me do it); they also show up as pain and symptoms in the body. Gendlin's Focusing protocol starts by greeting and acknowledging the pain or discomfort, as if talking to an entity.

When I walk a client through the process of touching upon an experience and bringing it to its full completion, she / he attains almost immediate ( within minutes) body-felt relief, going from pain, tension and tightness to whole-body buzzing vibration, spaciousness, luminosity and peace. I have tried many methods in almost twenty years of healing work, and have not encountered an effective and sustainable way to achieve relief that does not work with the fullness of embodied experience.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trauma Recovery Practices

Part of my stress, distress and trauma recovery process, besides therapy, consists in the cultivation of resourceful, positive states.

States are temporary ways of being, and the longer you spend in a certain mental - body state, the fastest it becomes a trait. Cultivating the qualities of joy, peace, love, openness, power and flow require clarity of intention, awareness, purposeful action, and frankly, it's a full time job and not an easy one as life happens, and gets more stress my way, or I get triggered and off-center.

Some of the things I do (or don't do):

- Avoid all the mental pollution that I can, especially here on Facebook - disturbing images, fear mongering writings, hate posts etc. I have unfollowed and unfriended people because of these kinds of posts. I do follow news, and in general, if there's nothing I can do about the bad news, I don't need to know them.

- I chose to see only movies that uplift, inspire and teach me something useful, and avoid depressing or infuriating ones. This is quite hard, because I am sooooo tempted to watch the latest season of Orange is the New Black, and I hold off, because watching it makes me angry and tense; and even though the script is funny, the jokes are "victim humour" (a concept I learned from Paul Linden)

- I spend as much time as possible outdoors, in nature, in vast and open spaces, near trees and flowing bodies of water, walking, chasing the sun, stopping to pet passing by dogs.

- Whenever I am in a pleasure-inducing environment, such as beautiful nature or listening to beautiful music, I breathe it all in, visualize beauty entering my body through the pores of my skin, and magnify on purpose the pleasurable sensations - tingling, buzz, warmth, glow, spaciousness. I really make a big deal out of beauty and pleasure.

- I maximize beauty in my living environment for the same reasons, and try to start the day with beautiful music and fragrance before noises and smells from the street or the neighbours arise.

- I start the day with a morning routine that sets the tone for the day and make sure to complete it before interacting with people. Some women don't show their face to the world before putting on makeup; I don't show my face to the world before placing myself in a centred, calm state.

- I avoid sneaky people. Post traumatic stress makes me hyper-vigilant, I can sense very keenly when someone is lying or hiding things, or taking something of mine without telling me, and I get super-triggered. Traumatized people have a highly sensitive bullshit detector.

I can only relax around people who are open and upfront with me and so I cultivate relationships with them.

- I limit my exposure to suffering. Friends and clients Ok: friends bring me both their suffering and their joys; and clients bring me the kind of suffering that I can help them alleviate. Then there's the inevitable suffering of family members, so I avoid adding to that, especially when I can't help.

- I get as many hugs as I can. Easy with my dancing and healing tribes, but needing way more than that, so when we meet, remember to give me a good hug.

Also, I'm open for cuddles. Because recovery :-)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Emotions and Shadow

1- Emotions are a language worth paying attention to. For instance:

Fear says: "Your physical safety is at risk. Get going and save your butt!"

Sadness says: "This thing is not working. Fix it or ditch it!"

Anger says: "Your boundaries have been breached, and this is not fair. Do some justice!"

2- Many factors can get you emotional, it's never one thing. It's much more effective to look at those factors that you can do something about than explaining off your emotional states to external forces that you can't control. Focusing only on such external forces - "I'm sad because of the planetary alignment and cosmic energies" makes you feel helpless. Listening to your emotions with kindness and curiosity will bring you useful insights and often body-felt shifts and releases, which empowers you. 

As a general rule, it's more empowering to focus on factors that you can influence and actually do something about!

3- Emotions are information worth paying attention to. They happen in the body - YOUR BODY, not the body of a book's author. Use embodied methods like Focusing and Vipassana to feel your emotions and learn from them.

4- Shadow is what happens when you ignore, suppress or repress emotions, and they turn dark on you, meaning you still have them, but you don't know that you do, and they get a life of their own and make you say and do things that aren't helpful. The unconscious attributing of your own emotion or trait upon another human, animal or event is called "projection" - when someone projects a disowned aspect of their own self upon another. Projections cause pain and conflict in relationships. 

5- A great deal of relational pain is resolved when projections are owned and Shadow elements are integrated. I have helped many clients overcome anger towards family members and friends by leading them through specific steps of Shadow work.

6- Emotions need to be listened to, owned and expressed kindly - all emotions, without exception! 

7- There is a difference between acting an emotion out and expressing it. For example, acting out anger could do harm, as it is violent - physically or verbally (punching another, yelling at another). But anger can be expressed through movement, breathing, journaling, dancing, singing etc - in a conscious, embodied, and kind way. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Awareness Heals

Awareness heals. Awareness is the ultimate surgeon, mender, therapist.

Growing strong is a challenge that requires focused determination and action.

So does growing soft.

Massaging the body's knots with foam rollers and balls is not enough when the tension is mental.

After years of chronic built up body tension, relaxing is a challenging task in itself. The whole body feels like one big tension knot, contracted and tight - not tightness of muscular strength, but tightness of tension.

I lie down or sit in a chair, and bring my awareness to the body as a whole, with curiosity and care. Awareness is integrated: body-felt sensations, together with mental pictures, together with verbal thoughts. At first, the body is one tight blob, grey, dark, with shallow, quick breathing and conflicting thoughts.

I take one breath in, and on the exhale I loosen up whichever muscles are first to cooperate: the belly, the pelvic floor, the jaw. Another breath in, and on the next exhale the cooperative muscles soften a bit more, creating spaciousness and luminosity. Breath and thinking slows down. The dark, grey blob lightens up in some areas. I notice my thoughts, but pay attention less to their content, and more to their quality. Mental arguing dissipates and thoughts become more peaceful.

The head, neck and shoulders are the least cooperative in releasing tension. The front of the body lightens up first, at first in waves of warmth, and then the occasional muscle jolt of spontaneous release, followed by a sigh of relief. The mental images are more luminous, as if the dimmer's turned on brighter light. The belly and chest, more spacious, and the inhaling has become softer on the top, deeper, and more fulfilling.

The head begins to soften, at first the right hand side. The left side of the face and head, by comparison, feels dark, small, contracted, heavy, stuffy, the left eye squinting. The trick with Awareness is that it must be caring and non-judgemental, so instead of the old, habitual self-deprecating internal dialogue "Why the fuck can't I let go of tension?", I regard all of my feelings as being equally lovable parts of me, of the Self, some of them parts that I am aware of (the soft, bright, spacious ones), and some of them parts that I am not (yet) aware of (the tension, pain, gray heaviness).

Loving, caring Awareness washes over the entire self, dissolving whatever it's time to dissolve, accepting that which lingers, and then the stretch reflex kicks in, a sure sign of relaxation, and I stretch, and smile, and sigh with an audible 'Aah', and bubbles of energy percolate down the limbs, and I am a tad softer now, a bit lighter, brighter and more spacious.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Grief comes and goes in waves.

When a wave of grief washes over me, like it has been for the past few days, I'm grieving all my losses that I hadn't fully grieved in the past. The 'knot in the throat', heaviness in my body, the downward movement (like I want to lie down on the ground), and the tears arise together with mental images - memories of past unfinished grief that I now can, and do finally address, now that I'm well equipped with what it takes to face, feel, and process.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fixing what's broken in life, beginning at home

Repairing everything I can, beginning with what's accessible - the "Low-Hanging Fruit":

- A piece of broken jewellery that I wasn't able to use for years is now fixed! Jewellery represents something valuable and beautiful, an externalization of inner qualities and strengths, like talents. When I sent my pendant to repair, I thought of the talents I hadn't been able to use and share.

- Anything beyond repair gets disposed of. That's the easiest way to get rid of dysfunction :-)

- A beautiful pair of linen pants kept falling when I danced, so I stopped wearing them, and every time I saw these pants in my closet, I told myself: "Such pity!" How does the "Such pity" mental state affect various areas of life?

I sew an elastic band to the linen pants and now I can dance in them!

- Anything that doesn't fit, goes away. That's how one wave of clothing left my closet. The second wave gone were clothes that don't suit me, even if they fit, and even if they're new: not my colour, not my flattering shape, "not my thing". I've exorcised the devils in my wardrobe! Who wants things in life (jobs, relationships, surroundings) that don't suit you?

- All the shoes that hurt my feet are gone! No more painful movement! I'm keeping flats, minimalist, comfortable shoes and cultivating Moving With Pleasure!

- Weeding the garden. Weeds are plants in the wrong place. If I didn't put it there, or if I put it there and there's too much of it (like the peppermint plant this year), or if I put it there and I have changed my mind about it, it gets weeded! Weeding the garden, then the Facebook posts I follow, then relationships.

- Cleaning and tidying up regularly, because it's easier and more accessible to turn chaos to order in one's home than in all other areas of life!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Awareness Through Movement

Awareness through movement:

I woke up thinking of a topic that brings up fear, and I tense up. I close my eyes and notice what specifically I am doing, and feel that I am squeezing my thighs while rolling my pelvis backward. I am now curious to see exactly what I'm doing, so I repeat this motion slowly, with attention, squeeze and roll back, then relax, the squeeze and roll again. 

What else participates in the movement? 

I notice that as I roll my pelvis backwards, I press my shoulders forward, as if they meet in front of my body, and I lift my chin up and tense my eyebrows. I repeat the tensing and releasing over and over again, deliberately and very slowly, small movements, and I let a sigh of relief out, a spontaneous tension release.

I take a rest and feel my body. It's easier now to relax the pelvic floor muscles, and there's flow down my legs, with occasional twitching, a pleasant feeling of something bubbling up.

I ask myself, what else? As I resume the movement of tensing, rolling and releasing, I notice how the balls of my eyes participate in the movement, tensing up, focusing in one particular point where I look at the mental image of a disturbing memory. The movement becomes a rocking between the past (past 'tense', hahaha!) and the relaxed present moment, and I continue to sigh and relax into the now, in my my body. 

Being in my own skin has just become a little bit easier. Thinking of the topic of my earlier concern, it seems now manageable.

#awareness #embodiment #awarenessthroughmovement