Just a note: A gift for being a subscriber!
Reasons for Hope is a great collection of “hopeful stories,” collected by my buddy Boogie Jack Gaskill. I contributed one of the stories. Right click on the link and save the pdf file.
Out‐standing in my field!
It seems that clients are showing up lately with what I’d call groundedness issues.
It’s not uncommon for people to describe feeling off balance, unsure of their footing, etc. and not “getting” that they are also describing a physical condition.
I remember a friend saying, “Have you noticed, as you get older, you get less flexible?” I replied, “Yes, and bodies get less flexible, too!” She laughed, said, “I was thinking physical, but now that you mention it, my mind’s tightening up too.” She then booked a bodywork session.
The process, for me, is to notice how the body and mind (and spirit) are always in sync.
Yet, the body stuff often gets ignored.
Take the picture, above. The 2 people were photographed the same day, standing in the same place, for a workshop I was leading, on bodywork.
The instructions: “Stand with your foot touching the tape. We’ll photograph you from the front, back and side. Just stand naturally.”
I decided to sandwich one person over the other, just so you can see the differences in their stance (allowing for the height difference…) The differences are also clearly indicated on the right 2 parts of the image, using orange lines.
- The woman in yellow is standing pretty much upright, in what I think of as a stable posture.
- The woman in blue is “leaning to the left,” from her pelvis up, and is therefore slightly “off balance.”
I’m not going to get into an explanation of what that means.
I just want you to get the idea that the woman in blue thought she was standing straight.
To her, off balance is normal.
This is how we get ungrounded or off balance, from a bodywork perspective. We don’t notice that our stance (both in life and physically) is off kilter. The body reacts to the internal pressures we create for ourselves, and mirrors our overall condition. Which is why we love taking bodywork pictures, so our clients can see what we see.
My clients lately have been reporting leg pain, and lower back pain, and if you think about it, that makes sense. If you are canted off centre, your body has to work harder, and that means pain—especially in the legs and lower back. And the knees.
From an emotional perspective, feeling unsafe, unworthy, unloved—all are aspects of not being grounded.
The internal feeling is as described—insecure and off balance. Typically, when asked, clients will then talk about how their way of being does not “fit the norm,” and when pressed further, describe an external “norm”— the “norm” comes from someone else. Mom or dad, a former partner, friends—someone has an idea about what “being a well‐balanced person” means, and then they judge my client as not being in compliance.
What happens is that my client has learned, over time, to not trust “herself.” In a sense (s)he is fighting against her own nature, by tightening up, and this tightening is what causes the body to go askew.
We suggest standing firmly on your own two feet, both physically and emotionally.
Part of this requires the willingness to resist giving in to the pressure to conform to the ideas of others. Balanced, safe living requires letting go of clinging—to rules, to family rules, to old stories.
We then do bodywork on the client’s legs, butt and belly, so that it’s possible for them to actually feel energy moving in their legs and lower body.
Another way to achieve balance and stability is to learn to stand firmly on the ground.
Two techniques are Mountain Pose, and Horse Stance. I’ve mentioned Horse Stance before, so I’ll just give you the link that describes it.
Mountain Pose (tadasana) is a traditional resting pose in yoga. (There’s a video of this on the actual blog page.) Superficially, it looks like you are just standing there. Not so.
First of all, the legs are active. Weight is evenly distributed between the feet, toes are spread, and the body is in alignment.
One way to feel this is to back against a wall opposite a mirror.
Stand with your heels against the wall, butt and shoulders against the wall, back of the head lightly touching the wall. The arms are also active. The fingers are extended downward, with a bit of tension. You can use the mirror to confirm that you are standing straight up, not tilted one way or the other.
Back to active legs. If you put a yoga block between your lower legs, and then spin your legs a bit (as if you were trying to push the block forward,) you get action in the legs, and this in turn helps you to feel the energy flowing in your legs.
Ultimately, this balancing and focusing exercise, when added to Horse Stance, improves your posture, your stance, and your balance.
Learning to separate what you believe from what others are trying to get you to believe and do is how we find safety and security in our emotional life. Both approaches, dancing together.