Reconnecting to Your Body: An Exercise for Aliveness and Authenticity
December 12th, 2010
by Matthew Anello, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, A.A.D.P.
In my previous article, I asserted that most of us are chronically disconnected from our bodies, that this is reaching epidemic levels, and is a source of major distress for large numbers of people. I could almost hear the refrain: “Great point, Matt, but what can I personally do about it on a day-to-day basis?” I offer here a simple exercise, to reconnect to your innate resource whenever you experience a loss of power, freedom, self-expression, or peace of mind**. In my practice, this basic exercise can have significant results in sometimes as few as five minutes.
Find a quiet place to lie down (sitting is ok), where you won’t be disturbed, and notice your foremost concern at this moment – the thought or emotion you are most resisting – one you wish wasn’t there. Don’t worry about getting it right – whatever arises will work.
Read the following instructions several times – imagine following them – so you don’t need to read them during the exercise. You can try this many times, so don’t be anxious about getting everything right (unless “being anxious about getting everything right” happens to be the experience you are working with!)
Begin with eyes closed and attention on your breath. Breathe into the nose and out though the mouth, throughout the exercise. Place one hand on the center of your uppermost chest (below the neck), palm flat. Place your other hand flat on top of it, palm of one hand on the back of the other. For two or three inhale / exhale cycles, get a sense of the degree to which you can experience “movement and breath” in this one area of your body. Feel the breath, and the movement up and down, of your chest. We call the relative ability to experience a sense of movement and of breath in an area, your “degree of connection” there. For a few moments, feel your degree of connection in the area under your hands, as you breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.
Then slowly move your hands downward toward the bottom of your breast bone. Keep breathing gently as you feel for this second spot using your fingertips, moving downward, pressing into your body lightly, until you can feel that the rib bones no longer significantly limit the movement. It’s typically about halfway down the torso. Once located, get a sense of movement and breath, a sense of your degree of connection in this area. Just feel it, notice it, attend to it.
Finally, you will assess your ability to experience breath and movement, your degree of connection, further down, in the area right over your belly button (again, both hands together, palms flat, breathing into the nose and out the mouth).
You will find that each area has a different degree of connection. In my view, this exercise subtly reveals where you are, and where you are not, authentically connected to your body. Those places where movement and breath are not easily experienced seem to be associated with emotions and mental stories that you have been avoiding, resisting. This is bad news and good news! The bad news is that you’ve had a hidden limit on your energetic expression. The good news is that now you can do something about it!
What there is to do is first go back to that place where you found the most connection of the three. Spend two or three cycles of breath here, getting more present to how it feels. Consider that this is getting you present to the experience of when life is working and when you are fully related to your reality. Then bring your hands to the area that was least connected. Spend one cycle of breath here, and then it’s time to give something up! Yes, there’s actually something to say out loud! Start with “Sometimes I feel disconnected.” It may be strange, but keep saying whatever shows up to say, as you feel the breath and movement.
We have seen that it can be very effective to acknowledge where you are disconnected; while getting present to not currently feeling empowered, free and self-expressed. This exercise can powerfully facilitate a shift in your state of being – it relies more on bodily experience than on trying to figure something out conceptually. Once you’ve said what there is to say, move your hands and attention back to the place that was most connected. Get present again to that area, and actually increase the amount of breath and movement you are generating there. Go further! Breathe deeper. Enjoy the connection.
You can move back and forth as many times as you’d like. Sometimes, there’s a statement that you’ll need to make in that area that’s most disconnected, that hits a bit closer to home. Something like “Sometimes I feel overwhelmed” or “Sometimes it feels like nothing works” or “Sometimes it feels like it’s never gonna end!”. The closer the statement comes to what you are resisting, the faster the connection (actually, reconnection) can come – and with it, a sense of peace, ease and remembering your sense of possibility.
I’m excited to hear what experience people have in applying this very simple exercise for dealing with a loss of energy and power. Try it every morning for a few days and let me know what you find!
** This is a basic-level application of the Somato Respiratory Integration (SRITM Created by Donald Epstein) series of 12 exercises that I use in my practice to support people in reconnecting to themselves powerfully, effectively and quickly.