Living conscious with your body – levels of bodywork
We all use our bodies. Depending on who we are, where we live, what job we have and what the personal preferences are, we use our bodies either “just” to get through the day or to actually live with it in an extended relationship by doing sports, yoga or even meditation. (Yes, meditation has a lot to do with our bodies as well!)
“Levels of Bodywork” in this case literally refers to every conscious use of the body.
To know that and to know what we are doing with our bodies is a major factor in being conscious and self-aware in life. Obviously, it’s not possible to be 100% conscious about every move we make, but using the body without even recognizing it anymore because life is only perceived as a mental and maybe emotional happening is the other, even worse polarity. There are many levels of conscious living that lie between the two extremes and allow for a deeper understanding and a much happier life than either of the polarities.
There are many different levels of self-awareness to choose from throughout the day that will enhance your energy, your self-acceptance, your ability to deal with emotions, thoughts, behavioral patterns, stress, illnesses and injuries. Depending on how deep you want to connect with yourself and how much you value your path to personal freedom, you can choose which level or which combination of different levels of conscious self-interaction you use.
Even if you don’t want to make any special personal development, being conscious about and with your body at least at a basic level is the essence to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.
There are three main levels which can be further divided into more subtle nuances.
- Physical exercise
- Conscious physical exercise
- Superconscious physical exercise and or interaction
1 Physical Exercise
Whenever you decide to do something with your body, say, going for a run, doing some stretching exercises, doing some form of workout or sport, this counts as level one physical exercise. Why, because you consciously choose to use your body to perform a task that is not directly linked to your normal daily routine, like brushing your teeth, eating or driving to work.
It is this idea of doing something extra to help the body feel fitter, to be stronger, to be healthier, to release stress through movement, or to simply have fun. The simple act of granting your body space, time and energy that suddenly makes it the chief character in your life is the very foundation of greater consciousness and it’s extremely important. By giving your body this kind of basic attention you reconnect with the most crucial aspect of your current being, your physical form which is your vehicle to express yourself, to live, to perform your work, to make love, to feel and even to develop yourself spiritually, if that’s on your radar. Much too often we tend to kind of do all those things without recognizing the importance of the foundation, without which we wouldn’t be able to make all those experiences the way we are.
This basic attention nurtures the body and helps releasing stress. Reconnecting with your physical being in such a form can also help you to break through unproductive thought circles and can provide a short break from intense unwanted emotions.
2 Conscious physical Exercise
Performing a movement, body position or stretch in a way that you are consciously aware of what is happening in it is the next “stage”.
Here some examples to outline the difference:
When you meet with a friend for a tennis match, go for a run or meet for a good old fashioned football game, the basic decision is to do something with your body. However, as soon as you are performing the chosen movement, the main focus shifts towards something else, like hitting the ball or running those extra two miles, etc. This is all fine and yet, it’s still “just” physical exercise. It becomes conscious physical exercise when you stick with your body while performing a certain movement. For instance when you are jogging your awareness could still be in the joints of your legs and the muscles that motivate them. It is true that this type of conscious interaction with your body is difficult to maintain while playing or performing with others, but it is not impossible (more on that later).
Another example is simple stretching. A stretch using “bodywork-level” 1 is quite casual.
You choose a stretch, get into the position and start stretching. Maybe gentle and slow, maybe with a more dynamic approach, until you feel the muscle you want to work on being lengthened and stretched. This is the point where you normally try to release the muscle a little further in order to get deeper into the position. But as soon as this happens your mind instantly starts to wander again, or you are talking with a friend while you are stretching and so on.
Performing a stretch on a fully conscious level means that you connect through your intention and your awareness with the area you want to stretch, even before you get into position. This point is about actually feeling and perceiving the muscle you want to stretch and its surrounding joints, bones and structures. Your mind doesn’t wander; it is calm, thus supporting your consciousness in staying on topic and in focus or rather in deliberate observation while performing the task. This helps clearing the mind, trains your consciousness, intensifies the stretch and helps a lot in understanding your own bodystructure.
3 Super-conscious physical exercise and/or interaction
Super-consciousness includes all of the above plus some more aspects. It shows a lot about your physical form and its correlations with all areas of your life.
Super-consciousness includes awareness of structural correlations, not just in the immediate vicinity of the area you are primarily working on (in a stretch, for instance, a muscle) but throughout your whole body, emotional aspects (both current and old), mental patterns and programs, social imprints, and energetic flow in all layers.
Everything is connected and interaction between all of the above mentioned aspects, no matter if it’s consciously or subconsciously, happens all the time.
Almost all causal chains are possible. The physical body influencing emotions and or mental aspects, energetic aspects influencing the body, social imprints influencing the energetic expression, emotions influencing thoughts and so on. Sometimes the web of interactions is clear and sometimes it’s not that easy to distinguish which parts influence each other. To find out about how this internal causal web is actually woven can be extremely helpful to work through difficult issues, heal trauma, to understand oneself on a much deeper level, or simply to boost once ability of expression through movement thus reducing the risk of injury and enhance one’s ability to heal faster if necessary.
Examples of possible issues or traumas to heal:
- You always have the same contracting or limiting negative emotional response to a specific situation, no matter with who you are in the situation.
- You have tight muscles that you have been working on for a while already and you never quite seem to be able to release them or make any progress.
- You feel unwell in certain, normal everyday situations where others don’t seem to have any problems.
- You have been hurt and since then completely overreact every time you come close to what you think might cause a similar situation.
Consciously tapping into a super-conscious point of view on movement or body structure is a working approach to touch and heal old wounds or internal limitations. To switch to a super-conscious view with the sole intent of promoting ones ability to move or ones flow in the moment, like during a tennis match where you actually want to play tennis, is probably a bit too much. The reason is that a lot of the information you can obtain by using this point of view is not immediately necessary in order to perform a specific movement. On the contrary, it would most likely make it almost impossible to perform movements you are actually good at, at peak efficiency. This is because the correlations of tension, emotions, thoughts or energies do change the underlying tensional patterns in the muscles but they don’t change the intention to perform a specific movement.
Also shifting your focus changes the coordinative ability of the body, almost as if you had a toy wheel where you can change the position of the axis. If the axis is in the middle, the wheel will rotate in a perfectly round shape. Once you place the axis off the center the whole movement changes and gets bigger. If you look at your whole being as a multidimensional form the same is true in your body – as soon as you change your focus of awareness (focus representing the axis) your movement will change. So if you want to play tennis, play tennis. And if you want to try the superconscious point of view while playing tennis then don’t expect your performance to be as good as it could be. It might be, or not, because you are working on something else.
Tensional and coordinational patterns that arise while being in a super-conscious point of view can represent either the full potential of your being or an issue or blockage. Both are necessary to understand a healing process, to help you manoeuvre through it and successfully complete it in order to be able to live your full potential in a stable and clear manner.
As mentioned above the super-conscious approach can be used to clear your body structure and movement of obstructing beliefs, emotions, or energies and of tensional patterns that represent them in your muscles, your fascia and your way of coordinating the body. Changing bodystructure and movement in terms of ridding them from blockages always has an effect on your actual thoughts and emotions as well, so be prepared to allow yourself those changes and be conscious about them.
The positive effects of therapeutic systems like osteopathy, craniosacral work and similar methods are often limited by the patients themselves. Whenever you change something so profound as fascia and cellular pulsation in the body towards more freedom, free flow and a return to the healthy natural state, the mind and emotions have to adjust as well. Right after a therapy session those changes can be felt by the client if he or she is conscious and self-reflective enough to notice. In order for the positive changes to take full effect over an extended period of time it’s always necessary to allow mental and emotional changes as well. If the client is holding on to his or her old patterns or hurts, either because they don’t really want to change and only want someone else to take their pain away, or because they are not able to change because they are not aware of the subtle nuances, they counteract the healing efforts and manoeuvre themselves back on the same road of pain and trouble they have been on before.
This is a little different when a therapist is actually working on an acute problem like the after effects of an accident, but quite often, in order to make any positive adjustments in the body, it is necessary to touch underlying tensional patterns as well, where emotions and thought patterns are manifested.
This is why it is important to always find a therapist who knows about such things and is willing to share them with you so that you have a choice.
With training, over time you will develop an implicitness which will allow you to use this superconscious state at will in every situation and it will be your choice how deep you give yourself to the process.
This is important because sometimes it can occur in intensive training sessions of yoga or bodywork, that cascades similar to the superconscious viewpoint sort of pop up uncontrolled. Many teachers of Yoga, stretching, meditation or bodywork know that from time to time it’s possible that breathing and/or movement can lead to a spontaneous release of some bottled up energy, emotions or issue. Those outbursts should be channelled properly and the trainer or teacher should always help students who experience something like that before sending them home, as such episodes might be quite unsettling for the inexperienced client.
To be able to switch between “normal mode” and “super-conscious mode” is a wonderful tool for one’s personal development and it’s definitely possible to achieve that.
A more concrete example about a superconscious approach:
When you perform, say, a certain stretch, you can start by simply going into position and connect with your body, like you would do in level two.
While you stick with observing your bodystructure like in level two, you expand your consciousness and allow yourself to perceive more subtle aspects as well. This can be to be conscious about unintended rhythm changes in your breath or even your colon, secondary tensions that arise in completely different body parts that are not stretch related due to the body position, but it can also be certain thoughts that suddenly pop up, emotions or memories of emotional situations.
Every thought and every emotion has its own tensional pattern in the body. Behavioral patterns are quite often linked to a certain body movement, tensional pattern, breathing rhythm, your pulse and so on.
Performing movement, or like in this case a stretch while using a superconscious point of view will allow you to see all aspects that are in one way or the other linked to this specific body position, coordinational pattern, or movement because you use your body and focus your awareness specifically to do so. And it’s not just simple thoughts or emotions. Sometimes it’s actually whole mental programs or behavioral patterns. How strong things get triggered thus showing themselves depends on the intensity of the movement or stretch, on the precision (how much a movement or stretch actually mimics a certain emotional, mental or energetically linked tensional pattern) and on the amount of awareness you give it. In the superconscious work you actively try to figure all those connections out in order to become conscious about them and be able to change, heal or correct them if necessary. It’s all about finding the right access points because they allow you to dissolve and understand blockages easily.
Once you found them the actual healing work starts. It’s like actively repainting a picture using your conscious intent and your new understanding of situations that comes from your ability to look at patterns from a different perspective than before.
This work sometimes takes a couple of “sessions” because in between healing impulses your body, energy system, emotional and mental aspects need time to adjust. It also takes time to implement the changes into your life which is the most important part of any lasting healing!
It’s actually quite simple. The only thing you have to do is learn to focus your awareness on all those subtle connections and internal links. It’s like a web that constantly rewrites and expands itself into a more complex version, due to new experiences. Being free (some call it enlightened) means to be able to be in the present moment and to deal with every given situation, every emotion and every energy you might come across in exactly the way you want to, out of a state where you truly have all options! Limits only exist due to “blockages”, meaning things where you automatically base your actions on a specific response that you might have used in a similar situation in the past, without the ability or even the idea that you could act differently. So, having the true freedom of choice in any given moment, situation or interaction (no matter if alone, with other people or with energies) and being able to act on that choice, without clinching on to the situation or any emotion, thought or energy associated with it, is part of enlightenment. Rewriting the web only means to change the points where you are consciously or subconsciously holding on to some situation, emotion or pain so that you are flexible and flowing again, free of any internal restrictions that would otherwise limit your expressions, feelings, actions and thoughts or your being.
Though it takes a little practice it is quite simple! Everyone can do it! And you potentially gain independence, because you can learn to do most things without the help of a therapist.
“The superconscious approach means that you are alert to quite subtle changes in the tensions of your organs, muscles and energy field. One’s own mental and emotional field is so closely related with the body that those changes literally map out what’s going on in the physical, the emotional and the mental areas. It is then possible to reprogram them and fill the gaps with positive, new intentional energies and programs, which leads to a system-wide change in all the previously affected areas and the life you live. “