Tag Archives: body awareness

A Little Transformation

Flower Zoom

I’d say that going from  miserable, painful and frustrating to less miserable, painful and frustrating is transformation – even if it’s a little one.

In our June training, we did an Awareness Through Movement® lesson that had me doing a lot of internal growling.

Almost every aspect of the lesson, except for the side resting was difficult and uncomfortable and at times downright painful. Nothing I did seemed to give me any relief or allow me to do the lesson with more ease and comfort. At times, I allowed it to get so painful I had to stop and imagine the movements in my mind. Nothing like being hitting a concrete wall to be confronted with my limitations. I had to stop and rest many, many more times than usual and my ego was being a judgmental jerk.

“You’re flexible enough to do this! Do it!”

“Why can’t you do this without pain?”

“You’re doing it wrong! Stop doing it wrong!”

“Why can’t you do it right?!”

I felt as though I was twisting myself into knots, creating more and tension throughout my spine instead of less. And the only sensations I was noticing were uncomfortable: stiff, sharp pain, grinding, pulling and pushing. This lesson included spinal rotation in side-lying and all of the above was taking me further and further, not only from improvement but from awareness itself. The main experience that had my attention was achievement and pain.



The lesson finally ended 4 hours later! (Not really. It was actually under an hour, but it felt like it would never end.) For the rest of the training day I walked, sat, and stood in various degrees of discomfort with my low back whining and neck feeling sticky and uninterested in turning easily.

If that had been my first lesson, I would have possibly never taken another one. However, due to some learning I did in another less-than-comfortable lesson, I knew that the next time I faced this lesson, it would be a different experience. I hoped it would be a more pleasant experience, but I knew that it might take some time for me to integrate what I was learning from this lesson.

My only real hope was to approach it next time from a less physically hostile place!

Fast forward to today:

 After a month or so of opportunities to integrate the richly challenging lesson, today seemed like a good day to revisit.

It was.

From the beginning, I felt more able to pay attention to my body’s sensations rather than getting caught up in what my judgy mind was thinking I should be able to do.

I felt the stirrings of pain in my low back as a place to stop (and breathe) instead of a stubbornness to push through. Today my neck felt “congested” instead of contrary. I was able to feel  more clearly how much work I was doing in my neck that I didn’t need to.

This time through, the “see-saw breathing” helped me to soften along my spine so that turning was easier and better instead of being another movement to fight through.

I kept the repetitions low in hopes that I could avoid crossing over to the dark side of judgement, achievement, pain and anger, i.e. increased tension and increased discomfort.

Without the pressure of achieving something despite real or perceived limitations,  my experience of this lesson was much happier.

I felt the changes that have taken place since the first go-round. I was also present to what I could do a little differently in the moment to increase my skill level with less effort/work.

This time I could create movements that were smooth. Not every movement, but the entire experience was a distinct improvement in every way:

my mind was open, focused and just waiting for information

my emotions were quiet

my sensations were less intense and more pleasant

my body was more responsive and available.

(And, I don’t feel achy and sore as I go on with my day.)

What began as miserable, painful and frustrating is now pleasant, more enjoyable and more relaxed.

Touch. Move. Feel. Move. Magic in Relationship. 2

Stone Arch

Close to the end of Saturday’s class we went down to the floor (or deck as the case was), the Five Sensations showed up and we danced through each, separately, paying attention to the art of being in relationship with each.

Sensation of Strength – felt as tension; muscle wrapping – energy packing around bones; push-pull. Energy that is felt as contained and sustained. High energy output.

Flexibility – energy moving out along the bones; directional: extension, flexion, rotation; creating more volume and space around joints. Less energy output than strength.

Agility – the sensation of “start and stop”; distinct in beginning and end; clear, intentional, deliberate, decisive. Variety of speed.

Mobility – sensation of continuous movement; like Goldie Locks said, “Not too hard, not too soft – it’s just right!” Sensing a balance of strength and relaxation as you move.

Stability – “I choose to be here in space!”  Relaxed without collapse, Energy moving in and out from all directions. An energetically harmonious combination of strength, agility, mobility and flexibility.

How do I sense the relationship between my bones and joints through the sensation of strength? Flexibility? Agility? Mobility? Stability? How does agility affect the relationship between my spine and the music?

How does mobility in my pelvis affect the relationship between my feet and stability?

In what way is my head in relationship with my movement? With the rest of my body? With sensation? How does where I put or how I hold my head influence each sensation in turn?

Are my attitudes and beliefs the same, after moving as they were when I began?

How has my mental energy been affected by this dance?

Connected in another way is moving what I sense and pattern (put movements together into patterns and into music), in relationship with only the music and my body as a compass. (“Only” speaking to the the fact that I have no students through whom to receive feedback.) I’ll save that for another post…

As exploration, to discover the answers to the questions I’ve posed I could not rely on my mental or thinking self. This had to be a physically experiential exploration. Only through my body could I receive this information. My mind later processes my experience into words and images, but not until my body and brain have the material for my mind to “convert” into the type of information I’m sharing with you now.

What are the possible benefits to this experiment?

Stimulates the body-mind connection.

Mind: Squishy Pig:  Light, Soft, well – Squishy, Bumpy, Jiggly


Body: Sensations of Light, Soft, Squishy, Bumpy and Jiggly in my body.

= Connection

It has expanded my movement vocabulary.

Moving like a “string of pearls” gave me a concrete example of how connecting the dots (one movement into the next) looks and feels in my hands.

It interrupted my movement habits.

“Tried and true” increases the potential for overuse injuries and is not the stimulation my brain (and yours) needs to stave off premature decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It stimulated my imagination.

How does Squishy Pig move?!

It made me giggle, which helped to encourage relaxation.


The ability of my brain (and yours) to change, physically, in response to stimulation (new stuff! how do I do this?) and activity (dance – considered one of the best ways to keep body and brain healthy).


Body-Mind Connection

New Moves

Awareness of old ways of movement


Brain Games

(For more information on the Five Sensations, click on For You,  then Learn and Five Sensations and the Art of Sensing.)

It’s A Body Thing

Hands to Hara

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest and I’ve given my mind its turn, I can move on.

To my body.

This post is a bit longer than most as I’m taking you along with me in real time exploration.

I have been aware for most, if not all of my life, that when I have an experience I actually have multiple experiences.

I know a few people who might suggest that I have the experience in four realms, body, mind, spirit and emotions.

Yes. That, for me, is the abridged version.

My mind, like most, tends to box stuff into categories with nifty little labels and beautiful packaging. Purples that glow, reds that pop, silvers that glisten. It’s really lovely.

My body, however, doesn’t give a snert about packaging. It is my body’s snerty attitude that gets my attention. My mind attempts go go about business as usual and my heart is being expressed through my body sensation.

(I have this visual with my mind happily bringing in the pretty wrappings and calmly believing it is safe, starts wrapping. My body shows up. My mind proudly shows off the trappings of its own process. A flurry ensues. Silver dust everywhere. Little fires gather and release. Purple odds and end lay like tiny corpses strewn across a Martha Stewart holiday program.)

Without malice or deliberate intention, my body has its own experience. This experience is pre-verbal. It needs no words and no permission and it doesn’t wear a watch. I have come to understand that my body doesn’t process an experience in any way I cannot manage. Unless I get in the way. This is worth repeating.

I have come to understand that my body doesn’t process an experience in any way I cannot manage.

Unless I get in the way.

Since I am a whole human and not four separate Catherine copies, I have four experiences, impossible to separate yet separate nonetheless. Four experiences that flow like fluid around ball bearings being both the fluid and the ball bearings at any given moment. This process even has its own gravity, which, unlike the external gravity we know, is not a constant. It pulls and pushes in what often feels like unpredictable ways. My body sends me a sensation in response to an event, then another but in a different part of my body with varying degrees of intensity and longevity.

What I’m talking about is not my own genius discovery (dammit), I’ve just uncovered my way to communicate the concept. David Berceli talks about it. Peter Levine talks about it. They have not only written books about it but created programs around it. Actor Josh Pais has even coined a phrase, “Ride it, don’t hide it” and offers video and workshop advice on the topic.

I’m one of those people who gets the jitters when speaking to an unfamiliar crowd. Even after teaching movement classes for 18+ years, I still get a heady adrenaline shot when subbing or teaching for a Jam. I’m not talking about “oh gosh, I’m a little nervous about this”. I mean my hands shake, my legs shake, my voice shakes, my breath-pattern becomes so erratic that I might see stars and threaten to lose consciousness! I’m not exactly a do-things-halfway kinda girl.

It’s not too terribly noticeable since there is usually so much movement involved, I get to more completely release the adrenaline. If I’m speaking, though, well, you can imagine.

Processing an experience in general is not a one-time freeze frame. Two days ago I felt emotionally lost, mentally flat and dull and my body was heavy and resisted movement encouraging me to spend some under-the-covers or better yet under-the-bed time. Yesterday, my heart was lighter but more fierce, my mind a bit jangly and unfocused and my body nudged me to “blow off some steam”. My spirit, that had remained quiet (not silent) until this point also began to speak up.

Now I’m restless;  a familiar sensation. This is my body’s way. My mind is at a different point, clear, humming softly; leading me forward. My wise heart knows that I’m not out of the woods yet; there’s more to come and my spirit has aligned with my heart. Rather than popping inspiration in, there is a sense of patience as if my creative side is waiting to be informed by my heart to inspire me.

Flesh and bone. Wind and rain. Lightning and thunder. Sun and moon.

I trust my body.

I know that it will lead me through every experience with clarity. That is its nature. Pragmatic. Essential. Honest. Authentic. My built in compass.

The Alchemy of Awareness Online Somatic Practice Tips

Delicate Pink 2 by Rachel

The Alchemy of Awareness Online Somatic Practice Tips

Have you been thinking about starting an Awareness Practice to improve the overall quality of your life making getting through life more like dancing through life?

You can start this very second and it will take you 5 seconds to practice!!
Are you ready?
Are you sure?

Tip 1: Notice the position of the soles of your feet.

Did that even take you 5 seconds?

Easy, right? So easy, I’m going to give you another tip that will deepen you new practice in just another 5 seconds!

Tip 2: Notice your soles again. Now reach down and touch the soles of your feet.

Did that just change your life?! Probably not, right? Alright, so to actually change your life, it looks like I’ll have to share another tip!

Tip 3: Do 5-second Awareness Practice 1 or 2 every time your phone rings.

Now you’re on your own until the next tip comes out tomorrow at 3pm central!!


 Be on the lookout for a new blog post every Thursday!