Have you noticed that most of our fixed thoughts are accompanied by fixity of the body? As we grow we acquire habits and postures of both mind and body, we tend to think in familiar patterns, we tend to move in familiar ways. We call this body language. Over time these patterns become so ingrained that there is no longer any alternative course of action or thought. We become imprisoned by the choices that we made at some time in the past regardless of whether these choices or attitudes, postures or positions are relevant now. We are armoured and defended against new sensations because we cannot and do not allow ourselves to experience them. We end up having no freedom of either mind or body.
In my work as an Alexander Technique teacher and Craniosacral Therapist I have noticed that many seemingly physical problems that are presented appear to have their cause or root in some early trauma or injury in childhood. As children we are vulnerable, we are totally dependent upon our carers for our most basic needs. Injuries sustained during these years can live with us for ever. These injuries may not necessarily be physical, we can be warm and dry and fed and watered, but not have our needs met in many other ways.
We all know what happens to us when we make a mistake, when we are ashamed, when we are upset or hurt in any way. We FEEL the sensations in our bodies, we may cry, we may have knots in our stomachs, pains in our chests, lumps in our throats, etc etc. We don’t like these sensations, they are very uncomfortable, and we take steps to stop them. Mainly we tighten to protect ourselves to stop these feelings and make them go away. We learn fairly early on that tightening and armouring ourselves works so we use this technique again and again until it is so much a part of us that to do anything different feels not only wrong and awkward but can make us feel vulnerable and exposed. The problem is not that these very successful procedures work, but that they work so well that they can stop us feeling anything at all and, depending on how tightly we hold, over time they can cause a whole range of different problems like frozen shoulders or back and neck pain, digestive disorders, insomnia or simply the habit of excessive tension. We may try to see doctors or physiotherapists but this can often result in being given medication to alleviate the symptoms rather than learning what is in fact causing the problem in the first place. I am not trying to say that these therapies can cure any ailment, but that the manner in which we habitually ‘use’ ourselves can be a largely unexamined factor of our conditions.
So, who among us deliberately puts ourselves ‘in the wrong’, or who purposely tries to make themselves vulnerable? And yet this is what we aim to help our clients/pupils explore – whether their reactions are serving them as efficiently as possible, whether they are responding to the demands of the present moment or whether instead they are causing the very aches and pains that they are seeking to address. Are our perceptions about how we are reacting true and accurate? We cannot change and remain the same and yet that is what most of us try to do – to establish some fixed point of safety from which we can operate. It is so seductive to know what we think, to be sure of our position, our place in life. What might happen if we dare to give these up, dare to be vulnerable? It might not solve all our problems but it might just allow us to see things differently, to move away from our stuck position and to give us some choice.
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