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Being
  • The Art and Act of Perceiving

    Click here to read Part 1: The Sky and Earth of Orienting.  

    What is Perception? 

    Perception occurs moment to moment as we notice our environment (exteroception), how we feel (interoception) and where we are (proprioception). 

    We perceive using our 5 senses, and our inner ear and nerve receptors that are located in our fascial web. We could say we have 7 senses. 

    • Seeing – through our eyes 

    • Hearing – through our ears 

    • Touching – through our skin 

    • Smelling – through our nose 

    • Tasting – through our tongue 

    • Balancing – through our inner ear 

    • Body sensing – through our fascial web

    The Three Modes of Perception 

    Exteroception  

    Occurs when we perceive the outside world. 

    It is an active engagement with the world through the senses and it is the most familiar style of perceiving for most western people.  

    • Yang (masculine) 

    • Outer 

    • Space orienting 

    • Expression capacity 

    • “I actively see, touch, smell the world and I penetrate the space” 

    Embodiment: Can I consciously notice myself as I actively smell, touch, hear, taste and see the world? Can I penetrate the space with my gesture or voice. 

    Imagine a person shooting with bow and arrow. I am the arrow.

    Interoception 

    Occurs when we are aware of our internal experience.  We know our internal space through body sensations. These body sensations are registered by nerve receptors in the fascial web. We feel physical needs like hunger, thirst, need to urinate, sleepiness etc. We also register our emotional experience through these body sensations. 

    This is a receptive mode and tends to be less familliar than exteroperception. 

    • Yin (feminine)

    • Inner 

    • Ground orienting 

    • Impression capacity 

    • “I receive the sight, touch and smell of the world, I feel my internal space. 

    Embodiment: Can I open to allow myself to be touched by the world.  Can I consciously feel the ‘impressions’; the sounds, touches, sights, smells and tastes of the world.  I feel the impressions as body sensations. For example, the vibrations of the music touching my bones. 

    Imagine a person shooting a bow and arrow, I am the bow. 

    Proprioception 

    Occurs when I perceive my body in space.  Proprioception utilises the eyes, the inner ear and the nerve receptors located in the fascial web. 

    • I can feel where my body is,
    • I can judge distance,
    • I can feel where I am in relation to others. 
    • I am graceful, efficient and stable.   

    Embodiment: I am alive in my fascial web, I feel myself from my toes to my nose, from my fingers to my sit bones, my eyes perceive the landscape and my feet feel the gravity.  When I move I am whole like a martial artist.  

    Imagine a person shooting a bow and arrow.  I am the person.  

    Perception is not static.  Perception is an ongoing participatory event.  The way I perceive the world depends on my history and my expectations.  It depends on my mood and my beliefs.  We can perceive in narrow familiar ways, where we expect what has come before.  Or we can perceive freshly each moment, each day, taking in our experience as it is right here right now. This way is a creative way, it is more vulnerable, and it allows us to continue updating our beliefs, our expectations and our life narrative.  Living ieverchanging, flowing like a stream, rather than a safe but restrictive fish bowl. 

    Embodiment: Imagine seeing the world for the first time.  Imagine you have the eyes of wonder like a baby.  Every new smell, colour and sound is unique and deserving of attention, of interest.  How does this affect what you see, how you feel and the way you are in your body? Does it change your fascial expression? Does it change the way you move?

  • Fate and Destiny

    I love listening to podcasts and recently heard Michael Meade's podcast entilled 'Unlocking Destiny'. This inspired me to reconnect with his book  Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul. He speaks about two inherent aspect within human life.

    "Fate is an old word which suggests limits and even hints of fatality, and yet fate is also the doorway to destiny.  In the very old ideas of this world, it is the limitations that create the openings for growth.  The refusal to accept limitations keeps people stuck where they are."

    It is the limitations that create the openings for growth.  I am deeply touched by this statement. Often times limitations feel like failure or even punishment.  We think "what have I done wrong?" or "what have I done to deserve this?". Michael turns this idea on its head.

    Some of the ways we might embody times of limitation are feeling contracting, narrowing, stiffening, gripping, collapsing, depressing, resisting and hiding.  Some emotions are frustration, anger, hopelessness, despair, distress, lack... Each one of us will have a unique constellations of sensations, feelings and narrative for our experience of limiting times.

    Michael offers us a radical shift in perceptive; to include our limitations.  Not only that, but to also see these as required on the path to growth.

    "Fate is exactly that which limits us and destiny is that great thing to which we are called. And we have to struggle with the fate in order to get closer to the destiny."

    When we are right in the middle of difficulty, stuckness and limitation we are also at the doorway to growth, to destiny.  I find this extremely helpful to remember as I traverse difficult times.  To keep my balance when the winds of life are blowing a gale and I fear I may be blown over.

    Another way to keep balance is in our body. As I write this I am sitting on a stool that I can raise up high so my thighs are slanting downwards towards my knees.  I am sitting so that 25% of my weight is in my buttocks and 75% in my thighs.

    From this position I imagine my inner ear - left and right inside the ear and behind the eye.  I tune to this location and notice if both sides are feeling equally boyant.  Imagine rolling a marble back and forth your open palm. These marbles are in your inner ear and when you roll them back and forth your inner ear awakens into boyancy. Its a tiny movement.  So small that your head only moves a milimetre or two.

    As your inner year marbles dance the weight of your body hangs down into your seat - 25% buttocks and 75% thighs.  It feels like ongoing organising movements as your body balances in gravity. Hang out here for a few minutes and then take a walk and observe how you feel. How are your feet feeling? Your space? How about your head? Your pelvis?

    Here is Michael's again

    "We enter the world threaded in a certain way, aimed in a certain direction... gifted in certain ways, marked in certain ways, styled in certain ways.  And the struggles of life are not there to defeat us but to push us into a deeper place of self revelation in which we find out who we already are."

    Perhaps I can imagine in my body the location or feeling or movement associated with my inner gift. Perhaps it feels like warmth in my heart, maybe a silver thread that is weaving through me, maybe it is a golden glow deep in my belly or a pearl in the centre of my being.

    I'll leave you to wonder in your own imagination.  I'd love to hear what you notice.

    May we all be blessed by enough security to hold us and enough radical possibility for our inner gift to shine into the world.

    * All quotes are taken from Michael Meade's Living Myth podcast Episode 36, 14/09/17

  • Landing... again

    Sitting this morning after breckfast I began my awareness practice.  

    As I sat I could feel my right foot scrunched and almost hovering on the ground. When I checked in with my pelvis, I noticed this pattern in my sitting bone, along my right 'bicycle bone' (ramus) and into my inside thigh. I tried to correct by finding weight in my bones and clarity between the landing and moving part of my foot. No matter how hard I tried (or maybe because I was TRYING so hard) I couldn't find my desired coorination.  I felt a familiar old frustration.

    As a Rolfer I am often teaching a new coordination or movement sequence.  Its something I am very familiar with.  However sometimes new coordination is not what is needed.  Sometimes fresh perceiving and trusting in the intellengence of our body is far more helpful.

    So this morning I changed tact. I invited myself to stop trying to fix anything and to meet solely with presense and allowing. I brought my attention to the sensations of my body with no attempt to correct. I felt less space and more gripping on my right foot and pelvis.  I wanted it to go away and I needed perserverence to not start correcting.

    I tried to notice the feeling of contact with the surface of chair and floor.  I couldn't feel much contact. I sat a little longer.  Then I remembered the vocal sounds used in Continuum Montage.  I made the bussing sound "zzz jjj" and imagined my bones receiving the vibration.  All the way down my body into my seat and then all the way down my leg to my foot.  

    After a number of minutes I stopped.  In Continuum we are invited to offer these sounds into the body and then to allow the body time to receive and respond.  I opened my attention and imagined my body free to bathe in the sound.  I felt a slow dawning.  I felt a fluid feeling.  I was aware of tiny flowing movements. Like the feeling of water moving inside my body,

    I tried another sound.  This time a 'blown "ooooo"' where you make the "o" sound with closed mouth at the same time as puffing out your cheeks.  Its a very round feeling vibration.  I imagined this roundness and the roundness of my sit bones and heels being in concert.  I did this for a few more minutes.

    Again I stopped and waited in open attention.  Waiting to feel the fluid effects of the sounds.  Again I felt flow and my body started to reorganise. I imagine its the instrinsic intellegence of my body that is awakened. So I allow. Ny body weight shifts, muscles lengthen and awaken.  Finally I realised all this tension where my collar bones rest on my ribs.  As this tension softened I felt sadness tinged with relief.

    Slowly the emotions passed and my body gently landed a little more into the chair and floor.  Halleluja I could feel my body weight again! Here I ended the practice and went for a walk by the creek to harvest my new sensations.  

    I felt such a big change in my awareness of the space of the earth.  I was aware of much more space at ankle height in a blissful panorama all around me. I experiemented comparing the new feeling with the old more held up feeling until I got a clear sense of them both. I didn't realise how held up I had become until I landed once again. I didn't realise how decreased my awareness of space was until it had returned. I am smiling as I continue my day.

  • Courting the Unknown

    In our sessions, just like in life, there are times of 'knowing' and times of 'not-knowing'. When I discover a new awareness of my body or my movement, when I know myself more, it is often a good feeling. However when I meet the unknown, when something is unclear or still forming, I can feel afraid, confused and vulnerable.

    This not-knowing space is furtile ground.  It is like the soil before the seed has sprouted.  It is like the womb where the baby is growing.  Just like winter is an important phase in the seasons, so to is the not-knowing place.  If we can develop the willingness, the support and resources to hang out here, to court the unknown (so to speak), then we are ready for the sprout of new awareness, new life, new ways of being to come forth.

    Culturally we have a bias towards 'knowing'. From early in our school life we are taught that 'knowing' is good and 'not-knowing' is bad. Given this history, its no wonder that we are challenged to be here.  

    To support our capactiy to 'not-know' we need our body.  We can bring attention to our orientation.  To our awareness of our physical weight and the earth that holds us.  To the wide open space of possibility that is our environment.  We can feel our spine like a cobra snake anchoring our soft organs from behind. Backing not only our organs, but our feelings and our heart.

    We can remind ourselves that this place that rests 'in between' is a natural part of the rhythm of our being, its our winter season.  We might like to image a snow covered mountain in Tibet, the awe, the wildness, the vastness of nature.  We can be supported by this image. Just as the natural world can hold the cold and the dark of winter, so can we.

    I have created the following video as a practice to share with you.  We can journey together in this creative, somatic meditation where we rest in the space before the full stop, where we court the unknown. 

    Finally I would like to acknowledge and mention my teacher and mentor Susan Harper. It is through her that I have discovered much of what I offer to you. You can listen to her on this podcast talking about courting the unknown.