Feel it to Heal it

Aha! Moments of the Body. Part 1

The Body is the Subconscious Mind

Knowing yourself starts with becoming intimate with all of who you are. This means taking your attention away from the outside world and swivelling it round to look inside your own inner world, into the depths of your bodymind. It is from these depths that you receive information from your whole self, tuning in to all of your frequencies, not just the static in your head. The body holds a vital intelligence field without the need for any mental productions on your part. This intelligence is a an intuitive knowing that is prior to thinking, subtler than thinking, a way of understanding in its own right. The Aha moment of insight can erupt in the body, leaving the mind to decode it only after the event. Body and mind working together in concert, only this time the body is the orchestra leader and when the learning is embodied, it is felt at a more authentic level of being. This is because this intelligence is not knowledge, it is not gleaned from the outside world. This is an in-dwelling in-tuition waiting endlessly for your attention.

Body Aha moments can be life-changing because they come from emotional intelligence and are accompanied by a visceral sense of certainty and clarity that is beyond the thinking mind to comprehend. The rapier Aha cuts clean through the mire of sensations, emotions and feelings to expose truth. It acquaints you intimately with what’s true for you and in this way you come to know yourself, to befriend yourself.

This is an example of the Aha being sensed in the body before translation by the thought system:

My body senses it, my heart opens and my brain finally registers its meaning”. (S.H., client)

This quote highlights the sheer emotional intensity of embodied insight:

Goosebumps all over, neck hair standing up, blood rushing through my veins, tears in my eyes and a funny feeling in my tummy”. (M.L., client)

The fact that the body holds great wisdom escaped the Western mind post Enlightenment when all ways of knowing were relegated to the cranium. Recent studies like those of Candace Pert (“Molecules of Emotion”) have forced a rethink. We used to believe that chemicals involved in transmitting emotions (peptides and their receptors) were localized in the brain, hence ‘neuro-peptides’. Pert discovered that these chemicals are located throughout the whole body as well as the brain. They are found in profusion in the heart and the gut as well as being transmitted into all the body’s systems from the nervous system to the immune system to the very surface of the skin.

This has huge implications for understanding and healing the bodymind. Having a ‘gut’ feeling becomes more than a metaphorical description, it’s a source of somatic knowing. Instead of the brain conducting the orchestra that is the body, the whole bodymind is an orchestra of exchange with receptors swopping information about emotional states. Pert explains that the decision as to what becomes a thought rising to consciousness and what remains an undigested thought pattern buried at a deeper level in the body is mediated by these receptors, leading Pert to conclude that the body is the subconscious mind. So the body has much to teach us when buried feelings are unearthed through insight.

When Aha moments bring unconscious feelings to the surface, these are felt as true and they feed the mind with fresh ideas:

 “Aha! Confirmation of the truth from my gut – ideas popping in my head”. (A.D., client)

Practices

  1. Your life energy always follows the flow of your attention. So give your body the kindness of your attention. Become aware of your body ‘geography’ – how you hold your body, how you walk, sit, move, breathe. Play with changing normal actions – use your left hand instead of your right, try walking in a different way and at different speeds, sit with a straight spine if your tendency is to hunch up. Get creative with ideas on trying new ways of holding and using your body. If you’re sitting at a desk for hours, get up at regular intervals and stretch your body, noting where pain or tensions arise. Note also how pleasurable it is to feel that you are in your body, stretching it, using it, enjoying the strength of it.
  2. When you feel agitated simply take a 7/11 breath or two. Just breathe in deeply for a count of 7 and breathe out slowly for a count of 11. Making each out breath longer than the in breath naturally calms the body. The very act of counting distracts the mind from its usual aimless chattering. Give your full attention to your breath as you follow its journey into and out of your body. Continue until you feel calm. This body of yours that has been largely neglected since childhood will begin to thank you for the attention and will start to feel loved again. It is in the heart that you will find the answers to the most important questions.
There is a way of breathing
that’s a shame and a suffocation
and there’s another way of expiring
a love breath, that lets you open indefinitely.
– Rumi