The word pendiculation means ‘to yawn’ and it is a three-part process of contraction, a slow mindful release, and then letting go. This process is natural to our being. When an animal, for example, experiences trauma, it moves into a pendiculation process. So it contracts, releases, and lets go. The animal doesn’t hold onto trauma – the mind doesn’t hold onto trauma and make a story of it – because it is able to let it go. Animals release trauma more readily than humans do because the mind grasps onto the trauma and makes it concrete in the body.
When we hold trauma in our bodies, over time it becomes sensory-motor amnesia.
The psychotherapy field has a long tradition of promoting therapist neutrality and ignoring the person-of-the-therapist. In fact, in some approaches, therapists are actively encouraged to check their “self” at the door. The reality is we bring ourselves into our sessions whether we intend to or not. When we do so out of awareness, we risk getting in the way of the therapy.
For instance, many of us will be able to relate to this scenario: Imagine one of your clients, Mark, coming in for his 5th session complaining and expressing discouragement.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is uniquely designed to keep us safe in dangerous situations, and it may be key to our remarkable survival since we began to walk the earth. The SNS kicks in when we are faced with any perceived danger, and instantaneously biases the body and mind for action to protect us. Powerful chemicals pour into the bloodstream; our higher brain functions, immune system, and digestion go offline; blood is diverted from the interior of the body to our muscles; the heart races; and blood pressure rises.
These days, in the workplace and at home, that automatic system is still at work ramping the body up each time a threat presents itself. Here’s the rub – it takes 3 days to metabolize the biochemistry of each event. The workload, the deadlines, the bills, the nightly news, grief, heartache, driving downtown – none of these may appear as scary as a tiger, yet the body responds in the same way, and the result is a metabolic backlog that the body can’t clear before the next event arrives.
By Constance Kellough, who will be presenting Innerbody Meditation at Hollyhock on July 12-16, 2017.
There are many different meditation practices originating from various spiritual and secular traditions. Most, however, stress the importance of quieting the compulsive thinking mind, which wanders on average 50 times in 5 minutes. This on-going thinking (which is often unsettling, non- productive and not related to what we are experiencing in the present moment) usually emanates from some level of egoic fear and pulls us into the past or into the future.
So instead, we may crave to experience blessed stillness. Why? Because stillness is our natural state; it’s our essential self.
Stillness rises on its own when there is no thought. Eckhart Tolle has said, “Stillness is the language God speaks.”
So how does stillness relate to love? It has been said, “Be still and know that I am God.” Because God is love, one could also say, “Be still and know that I am love.”
When two people are authentically themselves in a state of stillness (some call it “presence”) with one another, they are in a state of love.
The more I work in medicine and with healing, the more I appreciate the power of touch. It is a profound way to reach and connect with another, and connection is wonderfully enlivening and healing. And now the power and benefits of touch have become better and better delineated in the medical research recently.
Touch clearly relieves many types of pain and speeds up wound healing. Touch helps people recover more quickly from the emotional pain of break ups. Touch stimulates our brain to release oxytocin, one of the chemicals released by the brain when we experience love. People with depression make less natural oxytocin and touch can stimulate this. Tragically, depression is on the rise globally. I often wonder if this is, in some ways, because our culture has stopped touching. Continue reading The Power of Simple Touch→
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