The One That Didn’t Get Away (Dec 1995)

Solstice Greetings to my many readers … may your New Year be well intentioned.

On this month’s front cover is a family portrait that is somewhat different… standing on top of the moose’s head is Donald, being held by Mom. Hanging onto the leg is Mike, Billy is standing on the bottom of the ladder, I’m next, then Paul, Phillip and David. This ol’ moose was spotted from Grandad’s bedroom window the first year we moved into the old telegrapher’s cabin in Rosswood, BC. It was strung against the shed a short distance away. The following year the wildlife knew better and Grandad and Dad had to canoe up the Beaver River in search of game. Usually the moose were skinned and quartered by the time they got them home. The sections were hung inside the shed to tenderize the meat and also so that the wolves wouldn’t eat it before it got canned or the cold weather froze it.

I used to think I was raised the same as everyone else. Today I am learning that each family has a set of beliefs that is passed on … generation to generation, most of it unconsciously. I can remember a few incidents that occurred when I was raising my children that made no sense to me. I was young when I had my first child and remembered what I didn’t like from my upbringing, so many of the changes I made were easy, but once in awhile my reaction to an event surprised me. Sometimes these reactions didn’t even make sense. When my husband would ask me “Why,” it would make me think and one day I realized much was due to my upbringing and instinctual reactions. It was time to change. I got books and started reading … and I haven’t stopped since.

I am grateful to the pioneers that have shared their stories and knowledge. This month I would like to focus on a book about the body written almost twenty years ago but that I have just started reading. It filled in the blank spots in some theories I have developed. As many of you know I have had much bodywork, trying to get the tension to release in my shoulders. When I was busy raising kids I knew I slouched, but I didn’t have the time or money to figure it out or do something about it. I just hoped it would go away.

About nine years ago I noticed that when I walked and swung my arms, the left one would fall asleep. The computer work I was doing increased the fire that burned in my shoulders. It was time to get beyond massage and my monthly fix-ups at the chiropractor’s. I wanted permanent change and my intention was clear when I asked the universe for help. I am delighted with the changes I have undergone and I thank my parents for teaching me to be adverturesome.

The information I am about to pass along is called Body-Centred Psychotherapy, as taught by Ron Kurtz of the Hakomi Institute and Hector Prestera, M.D. Their book entitled The Body Revealed integrates awareness of posture and body structure to reveal past trauma. They believe that attitudes and fixed muscular patterns reflect, enhance and sustain feelings that are expressed and unexpressed.

The mother’s feelings and her responses to the child’s emotional and physical needs set the pattern. For example, children want to grab and touch everything. If the objects are continually taken away from a child, s/he will either give up in defeat, or learn to get what s/he wants by force, or explore the many variations between the two extremes. As an adult, his/her arms could hang lifeless from drooping shoulders or they could become rigid and muscular. Either way the flow of curiosity and action are destroyed and spontaneity is lost. Feelings of either defeat or conquest will dominate and the body will reveal that evolution.

When impulses arise from our bellies, genitals, hearts, arms and legs and we are taught to shut them down because of a belief system our parents had, these impulses will create tension in that area. Using our muscles we build dams against the free flow of feelings. A child is easily overwhelmed with threats, punishments and demands that deny his/her needs. With needs unmet, the child compensates and searches for indirect routes to find satisfaction. Children thus get out of touch with their core, and life becomes confusing without this internal guidance. Progress toward adulthood becomes a patchwork quilt of roles and games.

In a healthy, open person, feeling flows easily into expression. A strong feeling of sadness spontaneously becomes trembling jaw, tears and sobbing. In a person with emotional blocks, chronic muscle tension interrupts this flow. For example, in blocking sadness, we tense the jaw, chest, stomach and diaphragm. If we do this often enough it becomes a habit, and soon our awareness dims that we are even doing it. Chemical, mechanical and spiritual blocks build on each other and impede the life force that gives meaning to life.

The process of undoing blocks involves arduous and sometimes painful work. The interlocking nature of fearful attitudes, habitual muscle tension, blocked feelings and restricted awareness can make any change difficult and delicate. However once progress has started and the momentum builds, growth can seem effortless and enjoyable … even the pain feels good as the deep core energy is released.

Changes on physical, emotional and mental levels affect the other levels as well. If we are physically healthy, we have a better chance of being emotionally stable. If we eat a balanced, nutritional diet, it helps all three levels. Physical exercises like yoga, tai chi or bioenergetics help to shift the energy that holds blocks in place. Active intervention using bodywork, massage or chiropractics can help to increase awareness and change habits of posture. This builds the capacity to handle deeper emotional changes and allows the energy to release. Once the tension is released deep in the inner organs, the vitality can be seen in the eyes as the energy of the individual rises.

Deep change removes self-imposed limits or restrictions grounded in irrational fears and childhood defeats. As these fears are re-experienced and we let go a new attitude towards life is experienced. By seeking to go deeper and deeper into ourselves, we find the meaning of our lives.

Finding a good therapist and bodyworker with skill and compassion is essential. The blocks were a long time in the building and they will not always yield easily. Being honest, loving and understanding will give strength and courage as the bonds that imprisoned us dissolve. Eventually, the body will allow the free flow of feeling once again. As it does, the tone, colour, posture, proportions, movements, tension and vitality that express the spirit within changes.

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