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  • 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?

  • 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.