There’s a lot to say right now. There are spaces in my mind pregnant with theoretical change and conceived practical application. I have a new language floating around in my mind as my fingers flip and reach for the truest truth available to me…mine. There’s a way of being, there’s an away with being, there’s being, in a way. I don’t even think I know how to get us all on this single page, so I won’t try.
But there’s something here…
The process of becoming a somatic psychologist is an interesting undertaking indeed. Dismantling, reassembling, fracturing, healing, shuffling and tossing about all I have assumed to be true about myself until the dust gets loose and the sun can come in without recoil. There are so many ideas on how to move and be in the world, countless thoughts on what we need to be doing in order to live in a way that supports all life on this planet….endless pits of “right way, wrong way, this way, that way… ” challenges on and on. This is a path I find myself walking and when a professor recently asked when psychotherapy comes into embodiment practices… I immediately thought of an experience I recently had with The HoneyRoot Embodied Feminine Leadership training and I feel called to share it here. This is my work..
Let the chaos of the inner world shine. Breathe sharp and powerfully, in and out through your nose, without rhythm, without a beat, without consistency, and don’t stop. When you want to stop, don’t, breathe deeper and more chaotically. Let your arms flail, let your shoulders move, shake your head…this is for your whole body. And so it was. I stood, my feet attempting to remain rooted to the ground as I shot hot sharp breathes in and out through my nose. My lips would curl and become dry and sticky as I attempted to stay away from the rhythm of the drums and blow out as much stale breath as I could. My arms, limp like noodles, flew up overhead and dropped down to slap my thighs with big, deep heaves. My head, dancing randomly between heaviness and airiness, would bounce up and down and swing side to side as I took sharp, rapid inhales and exhales. I could feel my eyes attempting to open during those long, pause like inhales that I would occasionally take when the breath became too fierce and I needed to swallow. Snot freed from deep within my sinuses finally made its way out into the world, first onto my drying lips before my hand would subconsciously make its way to this hot space and sleeve to nose, wipe it away. The fluttering of my eyelids allowed the trance of breath and flail to override any self-conscious voice that was telling me “Oh Tayla, pull back – you may be going in too far…” because that too far from the outside was the deep warm and safe cave of deep inside this experience. Every once in awhile, I would notice my feet on the ground, big toe stretching and reaching to stay grounded as my whole body began to convulse with each shift of breath.
I hear Deepika shout into the room of breath and drums “YOU CAN DO THIS. You ARE DOING THIS.” and I believed her… so deeper in I went. At the deepest point, when the world around me disappeared into the hollow of my nostrils creating a wind storm that maybe only my upper lip could experience, the gong sounded and the room erupted with anger. Phase two – all your crazy, all your anger and rage, all that stuff you’re hopelessly holding on to… your pissed as fuck – let her move and tell the world how it is. I exploded….. I dropped to my knees and beat the floor and wailed. I cried and screamed from the base of my spinal column. I was unfolding, coming completely undone. I could feel the heat and fire building in my core and the floor was not enough. Eyes closed, I came to stand and began attacking the wall.. Fists, slaps, pushes, kicks and the guttural NO sounding from a person that often hides deep inside of me erupted into this structure. My whole body tried to tear the wall down as this anger rushed up my throat in the purist fit of rage I’ve ever had the pleasure of hosting. What I was (am) so angry about wasn’t clear nor did it matter, but what was clear was that there is a fight in me so righteous, I would tear this building down with my bare hands if given the chance. My muscles exploded and fired, launching clenched fists into this wall with certainty and dedication until from my mouth leapt “STOP KILLING US!!!” and an intense, clear and proud lioness roar that shook my entire being. My teeth chattered, my head bounced, my hands trembled, my legs vibrated…discharge. Another scream and the whole world of my body shook again… discharge. Another, final cry…discharge.
The next three processes brought the energy back into my whole being, allowing me to integrate that power and force into my tissue and celebrate the victory of expression….We came together to discuss the past hour of intense feeling, expression, and discharge and it’s here I processed what on earth that was all about. Who am I so angry with, what is that story, what is that rage and how is it going to serve me. I realize through the discussion that I am so deeply rageful at “The System”. With capitalism, patriarchy, and racism. With this government that cares more about the profit of the few than the lives and wellbeing of the many… With the powers that be that do not care about me nor will they ever. I felt the power of anarchy, of feminism, of a different way of being in the world swirling through my body and coming out of my muscles. I could feel generations of rage moving up through my feet and rattling my entire body from pressing toes to the tingle of my scalp. I realize that I want children, I want a family, I want to do something that I feel is a natural right of mine that has been stripped away from me. I want to destroy a system that has destroyed my right to be the most fierce version of myself – the mother self. It is only through this sharing that I am able to find some kind of resolution for myself…that I am able to accept not only the position I am in, but feel it, know it, and channel its power.
Though intensely physical – this process was wholly psychological to me. It was a question of emotion and thought brought to the surface of my awareness through deeply and honestly experiencing it. I find similar questioning and awarenesses in so many of my physical experiences, regardless of their intensity (though they do require intentionality or consciousness when performed) – whether pleasure, cathartic, strengthening or softening and feel that both experiencing my body and exploring what questions arise from those experiences are therapy…are psychology… are the mind experiencing the soma and the soma experiencing the mind. The clarity provided by this dialogue is what releases me from the grips of subconscious pain and allows me to integrate it into my life. I now know what I’m fighting for in a way I have never known, and – perhaps more importantly for me – I know what strength and power I have in me for this battle. So – if asked when psychology comes in – I would say always. Sometimes, we require safe company just to be in our bodies; to simply enter the reality of our bodily experience. But, even if we are fairly familiar with our bodies, having the opportunity to discuss what’s arisen from body experiences and find guidance to integrating these experiences is often the missing ingredient and may be essential for transformation. The option for discussion (therapy) should always be present and available. Being well and fully functional is a human right – as necessary as water, food and shelter. Clearly, without it, there is a potential for dissociative behaviour to become a destructive force with the ability to strip people from their power and agency. The body, when fully experienced on the dance floor, with a lover, or in a fit of rage, always has something to say to the mind. Clearing the path for this communication is physical, having the dialogue is therapy, integrating and transforming is wellness, familiarity, and clarity.
When I think about this work, about this process… about being a body and sharing its stories, I get so excited, it’s hard to articulate the joy. I’m finding out so many edges for myself and getting as many tools as I can gathered so I can toe the edges with confidence…some of them I can even dive over. My hope… my hope is to work with both myself and those willing to find a better way of being in the world – one that takes into consideration all life…the lives of the four legged and the finned, of the plants and the waters – in an effort to live in reciprocity with the world around us. To use our minds and our bodies in a way that is deeply nourishing and is able to look at the various forms of chaos that we face with enough resources within ourselves to withstand the blows and move on with grace, compassion, and love in our hearts and minds. How it looks varies… it may be on a yoga mat, maybe it takes place on a hike or in a garden. Building a language of the body and its experiences until fluent, I hope to find my way through the wilds and hope to leave breadcrumbs for those looking in the same direction.