After a very wet start of the season, as soon as the sun comes out, all life in the fields and the woods becomes frenetic with the lust of high summer. Buzzing insects, blooming flowers, hopping hares, maddening magpies to name but a few of the daily inhabitants of my small corner of Wiltshire, all welcoming the high energies of this time of the year. Paradoxically, all this activity is inspiring me to slow down, right down, to the point where I begin to feel that I can see what lies in between two moments merged into one.
Since coming back from Italy in May, I have become more aware of how strongly each and every one of us follows automatic and repetitive behavioural and thinking patterns which are written in our autonomic nervous system, outside of our conscious awareness. These fixated mechanisms bring us from A to B without any knowledge of any intermediate steps which have been called upon to produce such an effect. For instance, think of the last time you were surprised at flying into a rage because someone had done something, or of when you became aware of a pang of anxiety suddenly catching your breath for no apparent reason. How did you get to the final state of rage or anxiety? What caused the auto-pilot response? The examples are endless, possibly as many as our experiences.
Most of the time these automatisms do not bother us and we simply choose to ignore them. Other times though, we may get the feeling that we are not really in control of our reactions and that we are being taken for a ride by someone else. When this happens it can be a painful and isolating experience, especially if we begin to think that there are multiple parts inside us that are not in communication. We find that we are one short step away from not recognising ourselves anymore, that we have lost connection.
In Italy I have learned that by slowing down and tracking what happens inside our body we can trace the origin of pretty much every over-coupled sensation, behaviour, thought, emotion or image that compound an experience and, by bringing our focused attention to the body's inner language, we can expand our awareness of that experience, thus making sense of it. From the very first moment we came into this world, as babies, we have been responding to the signals and messages from our body, even before being able to understand their meaning, but along the way we have forgotten how to listen and how to observe the cues. This leaves us lost searching for firm ground. "The ego can only be strong enough if it is supported by the wisdom of the body whose messages are directly in touch with the instincts." (M. Woodman)
By creating a new/old dialogue with our body we can begin to build trust and in the messages the body gives us. Tracing the origin of a thought or an emotion via our body sensations, following the subtle movements of energy by tracking images, thoughts and behaviours, we can often reach an understanding, find a new meaning which allows self-regulation and integration of the experience. Integration is always felt as an expansion or a release of energy, at times subtle, other times quite dramatic. With new understanding comes freedom: that which was a fixated pattern becomes now a choice, made knowing what triggers us. It can truly be life changing.