Awareness Through the Body – Part 3

By Michael Lisak

What is the connection between the body, feelings and the atmosphere around us?

After understanding the importance of paying attention to the body as well as where to focus that attention to, we can investigate further and try to understand the connection between the body and emotions we experience. On the topic of emotions there are many elaborations, we know they are with us at all times, they are not always controllable – as a matter of fact, and they control us. But where are they? How, in fact, do our emotions control us? How can we make use of them?

We are all familiar with different types of emotional pain (loss, bitterness, despair, anxiousness, etc.), these emotions are usually experienced as a jammed situation in life that can either come to pass, appear alternately or accompany us all the time. What is the meaning of “jammed”? Where is it jammed? If we exchange the word “situation” with the word “movement” it will be possible to understand that these emotions are a jammed movement in the body, a strong reaction that resulted from a significant emotional experience. The intensity of the movement (the emotional experience) scared us, and became jammed in the body like a wave frozen while in motion – it is not in its initial state (meaning, something occurred that cannot be ignored) and yet it has not been concluded (there is no acceptance of the experience). The movement/emotion/wave is being held in mid-motion, a process that requires much energy. In time, the body tires of holding the “wave”, and so it weakens and physical symptoms begin to appear.

For example, an emotional experience or trauma such as humiliation or insult can make us afraid – this is a paralyzing fear, not a moving fear. In order to cope with the fear, we acquire certain habits and reactions in order not to feel and not experience the emotional trauma. There is no acceptance of the ordeal and no letting go of it. The experience is jammed in the stomach, because the most terrifying thing is giving it ample space. The body tires of the effort of holding it back and at some point stomach aches and digestive problems begin to surface. In a different situation, the feeling of anger is not given room because there is a fear of its manifestations. This individual will adapt a series of habits that enable him to not experience the intense anger, and so it builds up in the diaphragm or the stomach, breathing takes on a frozen motion, and the shoulders and neck become stiff, which creates a setting for migraines.

What can be done with jammed and frozen movements/emotions?

We can search for them in the body. The body can be a very simple working tool in dealing with aspects in our life towards which we have developed a long list of beliefs and justifications that restrict the course of our lives. Sometimes, the movement/experience is not completely frozen, sometimes something moves if breathed into, sometimes the area is painful of uncomfortable – this is where we divert attention to.

After paying attention there are two options: going with it or going against it.
When the movement is jammed, we breathe, pay attention and then feel how the tone becomes clearer. The physical feeling is spiced up: something angry, sad or perhaps exciting? Then it is possible to play, investigate and look into it. If you want to go along with the movement, then you must overplay it, exaggerate it and give it all the space that the fear of accepting it did not enable. For example, if a serious person notices a feeling of excitement, then he must start breathing fast short breaths and give excitement room it never received before, enabling it to get out of control, this is thawing the frozen state without knowing where it’s headed. The jammed movement will complete its course and the emotional experience will be exhausted.

It is also possible to go against the movement, jam the frozen movement even more. For example, when noticing anger assimilated in the jammed movement (for example in the diaphragm), you close onto it even further and not allow it the room it requires in the body. You contract the diaphragm so that the “spring” in the middle of it wanting to open, is closed even further until it can no longer be contracted. Then you let go and allow the body to do what it desires, allow the frozen movement to continue in its natural path. The fear, which up until that point closed in on the anger, is dissolved around the frozen movement, begins to flow and turns from paralyzing energy to moving energy. The movement that was jammed in the body unwinds like a spring and is released with force; there is no way to tell in which direction or manner the spring will bounce, perhaps the anger will turn into crying. When you let go, the body can surpass its own boundaries: we may feel flow, tremor, crying, yawning, sweating, etc. On the path opened up by the body, we can follow: surpassing our boundaries as well.

The emotional-physical processes mentioned here can be understood from learning through the body. This includes, among other things, sharpening attention to the body and learning basic physical qualities such as: quiet, contraction, resistance, letting go and more.

The thoughts brought forth here are a product of understandings from working with people through the body by the Grinberg method and inspired by the book “Fear, Pain and some other Friends” by Avi Grinberg.

12/05/2007