Embodiment Education
uses breathwork, sensory awareness, focusing, vocalization, movement, massage and playful exercises to learn and practice body awareness and bring you back to your natural state of authenticity and ease. To be embodied means that your physical and mental aspects are integrated and work together so that you can respond intelligently and creatively to life’s challenges. Embodied people are comfortable in their own skin. They think on their feet, roll with the punches, move with grace and efficiency and set those around them at ease.

The physical body is naturally wise and gives us valuable information if we are open to receiving it. However we learn to ignore or repress this information as insignificant, inconvenient or imaginary. Embodiment sessions get you in touch with the wisdom of your body and help you work with the information that comes forth. You may become aware of where you hold tension, old feelings of shame, grief or anger or how you behave habitually when it no longer serves you. With awareness comes the opportunity for change.

The body in it’s natural state will respond to the information that comes, but here we also learn to repress and ignore this impulse. In my role as educator I observe the body’s urge to move, emote and express and support you to engage and respond. Where your impulses are entirely repressed I will invite you to explore different ways of moving, playing or using your voice that may resonate with the body’s desire for pleasure, healing and release. In letting go of preconceived notions of what is acceptable physical expression, and beginning to explore the possibilities, the body can bring itself into balance and move towards it's natural state of joy.

My work with embodiment is strongly influenced by the ideas of Wilhelm Reich and Re-evaluation Counseling (Co-counseling). It is also informed by my years of play as a contact dancer, theatre performer and improviser.

Reich believed that through our upbringing and the development of our character structure (or personality) we become armored. Part of this is a shutting down in attempt not to feel what we can’t handle, part of this is an attempt to control bodily expressions, such as raging and crying, which we deem unpleasant or wrong. The armor occurs in segmental rings which amazingly correspond roughly with the chachra energy system. In becoming armored we have less access to our full potential as humans. Typically people are armored in their throat, chest (or heart chakra) belly and/or pelvis (root chakra). Each of these physical centers is important for our full expression and functioning as humans—the throat is our voice, the heart, our capacity for feeling connection and compassion, the belly connects us to our will and capacity to survive and the pelvis to our innate creativity and connection to the cycles of life and death.

In working with breath, movement and massage to loosen these rings of armour or to “de-amour,” we re-gain access to essential energetic aspects of ourselves which have been shut down and become more free in our actions and ability to respond. We gain access to the body’s wisdom and unending capacity for sensation and pleasure. Reich believed that a fully free individual was fully orgasmic and that the freedom could be observed in the waves of energy that would flow though the body during orgasm. These waves or jolts of energy can also occur spontaneously outside of the sexual arena when a body is freed up to do so.

The core concept of co-counseling is that we are born naturally creative, intelligent, resourceful and whole. It is only through negative messages and traumatic experiences that our intelligence is hindered and we form neural pathways that result in petty behavior, narrow thinking, low self-esteem, self-destructive habits or shame. These neural pathways take up brain space and divert the resources we would naturally use to respond creatively and flexibly in our lives. The Co-counseling model attempts to interrupt or “contradict” the original hurts through offering other possible messages. The intent is to cause the individual to “discharge” by crying, laughing, shaking, sweating or rapid talking. Thus we re-visit (or re-evaluate) the negative experience, discharge the feelings associated with it and re-integrate the experience as a simple memory. Once the experienced has been thus re-evaluated, it no longer takes up so much space and we are able to respond to the world in the present time, rather than through the filter of old hurts.

In our peace-loving, affirmation-based culture an entire area of human experiencing has been maligned. I am talking about those twin devils, anger and sadness, the “negative” emotions. Emotions, and especially those that respond to trauma or crisis: fear, anger and sadness are necessary aspects of the body's process of healing itself from pain. If we do not allow the body to feel sadness, rage, grief or shaking in fear we cannot move through the pain or trauma and return to balance. Emotions of this sort are not only vital and reasonable bodily expressions, they are necessary for our mental and physical well-being.

Emotions themselves are neither negative or postive. They are transitory states which, if left to themselves with out assigning them value, simply serve their function until we return to our baseline. By assigning a value to them we double the hurt. Not only are we sad or mad, we are wrong for feeling those things and this stacks more fuel on the fire of our low self-esteem. Of course emotions can be used in hurtful, manipulative or malicious ways. But this should always be delineated from the fact of the emotions themselves, which are neutral.

There has been a popular idea amongst bodyworkers and other somatic healers that emotions get “stuck” in the tissues. It is not the emotions themselves that are stored. Rather, as we attempt to cope with unpleasant, traumatic or uncomfortable experiences, we tense up or shut down in an attempt not to feel what is too much. When we breathe and direct our attention towards our body, we become aware of this tension, holding or discomfort in the body. In addressing these tensions the memories and emotions associated with them can arise, giving us the opportunity to revisit them and release them in the present moment within a safe atmosphere of kindness and support.