WE are committed to changing the way we connect and communicate, to find ways to open other pathways that go beyond a reductionist rational approach of sense-making. So recently Johanna partnered with Sophia Van Ruth, an Associate of our COOP to collaborate on an embodied process titled – Releasolution. The aim was to shift away from writing the wish list as the style of planning 2022 Resolutions to explore what is emerging from a more unconscious realm of being. Both Sophia and Johanna have been working with different expressions of embodied practices for many years – Sophia with Interplay and Johanna with movement-based Improvisation and both are masseuses!
There are of course a multitude of embodied practices so it can be confusing to know what is meant by embodied – we are of course always embodied!
Sophia sums it up well with this quote from her article – Systems Sensing: A Case for Embodied, Arts-Based Responses to Complex Problems
To be embodied is to be in touch with your felt sense of a situation/concept/ object/person, where this felt sense is experienced as a way of knowing
This way of getting in touch is an opportunity to loosen our habit of preferencing thoughts and stories swirling about our field of attention. The invitation is to share or broaden our awareness by also noticing our impulses, sensations, senses, internal images. The process of making meaning through embodied experience requires us to learn a new language or rather listen to a dormant language. Remember our first language is the language of the body.
Listening with the body is a less rational way of being in an experience. It can feel unclear, chaotic within a confusing rush of sensations. One can understand why the body has been referenced as, unruly because this type of awareness unearths another way of seeing and it can certainly be surprising, as reflected in participant feedback –
- ‘you may be surprised about what it reveals within your own thinking and feeling’
- ‘I gained insight and enjoyed every aspect of this workshop. As a facilitator, I SO admired the workshop design – sequencing, timing, space holding and more. As a participant, I enjoyed the play and its profound insights.’
- ‘Do it! It really allows another way of thinking to emerge.’
By moving away from our deeply entrenched cerebral communication process and into an embodied awareness we can immediately shed a layer of social masking. Awareness of the body and then including movement can often access and express our unconscious. This can be revealing and uncomfortable. This same discomfort when directed toward generating knowledge, insight or connection can be a benefit. We get an opportunity to loosen our attachment to the past habits of making sense to see other possibilities and insights by following the impulsive, the sensual, the playful.
Play supports this approach as it is an orientation where the means are more important than the ends, where you’re much more concerned with the process than the result.
Play is an antidote to the sometimes-stressful tyranny of getting ahead in life. Play brings us to the present moment, the connected moment, the fun moment, the expansive moment. It allows us to release fixed, habituated ways of relating and of seeing and allows for other responses and perceptions.
By engaging and moving our bodies we have an opportunity to broaden how we connect and communicate and when we do allow for body-based movement surprising windows into the experience can be illuminated. Group dynamics shift significantly when an embodied element is invited into the communication process. The question is often what to include to allow an embodied process into communication. Sophia and Johanna had many conversations to design a process that enabled participants to loosen their habitual more cognitive style of sense-making.
If you want to integrate embodiment into your conversations here are some ideas -.
- Shift attention to your senses for as long as you are able.
- Breathing together.
- Notice your body’s sensations whilst in your chair.
- Seeing with peripheral focus rather than a tunnel vision.
- Wave at each other (this will make everyone smile 😉
- Rather than only sitting and discussing a topic at some point invite a shift by changing chairs.
- Pause the conversation and stretch.
Embodied practices allow us to move toward coherence, making the unconscious more conscious, we awaken awareness to the fullness of our living experience, to each other and to our sensual world – nature.