How is Body Dialogue related to BodySoul Rhythms?
What’s beautiful about BodySoul Rhythms is that Marion and the teachers were clear that they didn’t want us to clone ourselves to them. They encouraged us to create work that had our own unique signature on it. My work, Body Dialogue, is informed by the practices I learned in BodySoul Rhythms.
When I came to study with Marion, Mary, Ann and Paula, I had already been a teacher of the Alexander Technique for 20 years. I met them when I was 47, but I had been teaching yoga, qi gong, Alexander Technique, and Breathing Coordination for years before I met them. The most important piece that really pushed me to create the modality of Body Dialogues was a sentence that I learned from Marion in one of the intensives. Marion said, “There is no complete healing in the body if the metaphor and the image that is living within the symptom is not addressed.” And that sentence made me deeply consider how the work I was doing in the Alexander Technique and in Breathing Coordination was informed by the emotional and metaphoric language which was being expressed in the body.
There is no healing in the body if you just deal with the symptom. The symptom is an expression of something being out of alignment. The investigation into what is out of alignment and how it creates a conflict in the Body/Mind/Psyche is what I explore in Body Dialogue.
How did your one-on-one healing practice with Body Dialogue begin to shift as a result of your studies with BodySoul Rhythms? What problem were you solving when you started working with this new information?
The Alexander Technique is concerned with dynamic alignment, creating conscious control vs. a habitual control of thinking, but it didn’t address the emotional roots of some of the symptoms showing up. I started working with people one-on-one and noticed that we could heal or begin to explore some of the alignment and postural patterns. But I was never satisfied that that was the whole story. Whenever we began a session, I would ask the student to notice what was being presented to them. For some of them, there was no interest in investigation. They just wanted to be “fixed” and to feel better. But over time, if the student kept coming back, they would start to notice a change in their thinking.
For instance, one student who worried about everything. At some point in her sessions, her nervous system started to relax, her breathing became more easy and she felt less threatened to be in her body. That began the conversation that was possible because she had a different reference point in her felt sense. Could she trust letting go of the worry as a way of feeling safe in her body and the world?
Another student was so self conscious that her breathing was shallow that she kept trying to make her breath deeper. The more she worked at making her breath deeper, the more she exacerbated her feeling of breathlessness and her experience of never getting a full breath. When we investigated some of the emotional and mental pressures she was under, it became obvious that she had so many expectations pressuring her to perform a certain way, that really at the root of the breathing problem was her sense that she would never measure up to what people expected from her. So the breathing issue was a symptom, but the cause was emotional. Even if she did pranyama or kundalini yoga, she might get relief for that hour, but could that awareness help to shift her habitual pattern of grasping for air and feeling defeated?
What kind of people are attracted to your work?