Wednesday, December 28, 2016

SIFT-ing

I mentioned Sensation, Image, Feeling, Thought the other day, as a heuristic therapists use to help people become more familiar with their internal world, and more capable of useful introspection.

It seems to me this is also the order in which things happen.  Our body consists in large numbers of nerve endings, and a vast perceptual array which is mostly unconscious.  We are always hearing the background, even when focused on something else.  We are aware of smells, sights, tastes in our mouth, and all our skin, our gut, our heart, our hands and feet, all the muscles in our body.

When we tense up in response to an external stimulus or internal thought it amounts to the same thing.  Thoughts lead to feelings lead to a static image lead to sensations.  Traumatized people have fixed tension within their body, that lead to fixed images (of which they are mostly unaware), muted emotionality, and difficulty thinking clearly.

When we get distracted, it is because a feeling became too strong, intruded, and forced another focus.  This is how you get scatter brained.  And when meditation or yoga or some other discipline seeks to treat this, it optimally works backwards.  Yes, you want to reduce attachments to thoughts, but also to feelings, also to images, and work back to pure sensation, which is unlabeled.  I feel this is approximately correct, although I also feel something is incomplete here.

The other day I was laying in bed and I felt emotional wounds "load" in my consciousness, like computer programs in a computer which is booting up.  I felt one, then another.  Both hurt.  I felt the pain.  But it occurred to me I am slowing down, which is how you see these sorts of things.  You have to watch how you become you in slow motion to see the constituent parts.  We all become ourselves every morning when we wake up.  In sleep, our self is more mutable and latent.  This is why dreams can be so useful.

And I felt, just prior to writing this, so relaxed I didn't want to write. I  just discovered an important and very helpful addition to my Somatic Elicitation program.

When I woke up this morning, my stomach was unusually awake, specifically the muscles of my abdomen.  They felt pregnant with feeling and considerable tension.  So I massaged them a while--this is a Kum Nye exercise iterated in several different ways in different exercises, since this is a major place where unresolved tensions reside--then it occurred to me that logically the most tension ought to reside in all the contracting muscles which lead to a fetal position, starting with the stomach muscles.

So I rolled my stomach 3 minutes on a Coregeous ball, then sat 3 minutes, then again, then sat, then a third time.  Then hip flexors.  I rolled one side three minutes, Couch Stretch 3 minutes, then 3 minutes sitting.  I learned long ago with Feldenkrais that it is sometimes good to do one side, feel what happened, then do the other.  You teach yourself to feel your tension that way.

Then I rolled and used a lacrosse ball on one butt cheek and side of my hip, then Pidgeon, then sit, then the other side.  Then I did two side stretches to stretch my lats--key in contracting--and sat three minutes.  Then I decided to just sit nine minutes, feeling.  About half way through it occurred to me that I used to do Feldenkrais movements very slowly in my head.  It was in fact a method I used to relax myself.

So I thought, why not imagine a very relaxed movement to each side, mimicking the stretch I had just done, but very slow, very loose, very pleasant, warm and open.

I'll be damned if I did not get this deep, deep relaxation come over me.  So here is what I am going to try tomorrow: same routine, but in the 3 minutes rest, do the same movement in imagination, but so, so relaxed, easy, pleasant, warm and open. THEN sit 10 minutes and feel what is happening.

This system obviously can evolve depending on how you grow in flexibility or your perceived need to address areas of tightness, and self evidently can be tweaked to individual preference.

If I had been consistent--and I am rarely consistent--I would also have rolled my pectorals. But that was enough for today.  The butt would not be part of the fetal position, but being something of a hard ass--these words come from somewhere, like pain in the neck and stiff upper lip--it felt right for me today.

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