We all know we’re creatures of habit. We all know that we get into patterns of thought, emotional response, movement, and social interaction. This is necessary, really. We can’t think about every little thing we’re doing all the time. We’d never get anything done. These habits have formed over time, from birth through age six foundationally, mostly without our consciously engaged mind.
Turning People Inside Out
In integrative bodywork, the work that I do, (which is different than massage, I’ll write about this more in the future), one thing that is happening is we are bringing awareness to deeper layers of the body and integrating this with outer layers of movement and habits. We are working consciously with body-mind, creating stability in the body, which affects both the mind and our emotional realms.
Any reputable therapeutic practice is offering this. We are layered beings and we are conditioned by our deepest foundational grooves of habits. We tend to live on the surface of things, unconsciously repeating thoughts, emotions and physical habits of behavior. We’re often stuck in grooves that we didn’t consciously choose that do not serve our highest aspects. It’s tricky to pause and notice what’s below or beneath these habits unless we are stuck, sick or in pain. It’s also difficult to do because we have blind spots we cannot see. Ida Rolf said psychologists work with people stuck in time and bodyworkers work with people stuck in space.
Stuck places, in both body and mind, are places where things simply are not moving freely. They are places where our our energy (physical, subtle and non-physical) is in an isolated groove, no longer in clear communication with the rest of our body-mind. As layered beings, all of these layers, from our outer physical shape to our deep seen and unseen inner workings, are all interrelated. They work together, like nested gears, and harmonize with one another. When one is stuck in either time or space, it affects the others.
Our Inner Healer
Rarely do we seek to change our habits when things are going well. When things are feeling good, we move light and easy—creating, living, and enjoying all the beautiful things happening in our world. When things are feeling good, we are in flow and all our gears are functioning as they should, humming right along in harmony.
But when one of these layers—body, mind, emotions, energy—begins to suffer and create pain, we turn all of our attention to it and search for remedies. Pain on any of these levels is suffering. It feels bad and many times downright drains the life force out of us.
One thing we rarely pause to explore is what layer are we in. Each of these layers has its own rhythm, density and feel. Our emotional body has a different feel than our mental body. Our physical body is our most familiar. Our energetic body is a little more subtle than these others, but if you’re sensitive, you’ve been feeling this one, too. Our energy body is where our nadis, our channels of energy and meridians flow; they are not completely physical, but not completely non-physical either.
We may already be aware of the above bodies, but lesser known are two other bodies—our inner healer and our inner bliss or quiet calm body. These bodies are both in and around us. Our physical body has an inner wisdom. Different traditions talk about it in different ways such Inner Healer, Inner Compass, Intuition, Guidance Homeostasis. We also have a stillness inside and around us, a center of quietude and calm. These bodies are always here to tune into, but they’re more subtle than surface ones we’re used to. Often, we’ve lost touch and lost trust that they are even here.
Our Wisdom body is like a loving conductor, familiar with all the different instruments and rhythms of our body and knows how to balance and harmonize our parts into a beautiful symphony. Our Bliss body is our sweet spot of unity, love, connection and oneness; it is pure being.
One of our greatest points of shift in our lives is when we get curious about our Wisdom and Bliss bodies and begin to tune into them. Humans are designed to pay attention to pain and suffering. It is one of our greatest survival mechanisms. Yet, we are more than our primal biology. We are beings and students of consciousness and we have apparatus designed to tune into these higher centers that are quite different than our primal inheritances.
“There’s a space in the soul where neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch.” -Meister Eckhart
Move Your Groove
When we’re in pain and suffering, if we’re able, we seek out assistance from a friend, teacher, healer (including doctors) or an advisor. One thing we’re doing here is tuning into another vibration. You can see this vibrational relation in the music world in terms of acoustic resonance. Simply put, if you have two tuning forks oscillating at the same frequency (note) and you hit one with a mallet, the other will respond to the vibration put into the air from the first. Our bodies do this, too. Women know this in terms of our cycles regulating when we live together.
Everything has a vibration and resonates at certain frequencies. When we are searching for relief from pain, suffering and disease, we are literally seeking a new set point for our vibrations and rhythms. Often when we’re in this place, we’re ripe and ready for a change in habits. This also means a shift and change in our way of being in the world.
What’s tricky is that we have to find a new habit to shift to as we are releasing our unserving habits and patterns. Here, it’s very helpful seek out something new to come into harmony with, a new resource, a new resonant note to tune into. And it has to land in both body and mind.
Awareness Begins the Change
Awareness is the way in. There’s no way we are able to shift habits unless we are aware of them. Awareness is simply noticing or paying attention. It’s also called mindfulness. We get stuck in ruts of habit in body, mind and even emotions. Our bodies and minds are formed and adapt to demand and experiences given to them. Repeated habits become new grooves in our nervous system, eventually becoming our new way of being that we don’t even have to think about. With time and intentional practice, these grooves become part of our autopilot system and we don’t need as much awareness to maintain then.
Our way to unwind habits is the same as our way to create new ones. We get curious. We experiment with new ways of being, with or without assistance. It takes time to build habits. It takes awareness and paying attention to what we are doing to land it in our brain. It takes repetition to smooth out and regulate this new movement and thought deep into our body-mind systems.
Moving From the Inside Out
One thing that deepens this moving of habits is to find ways to quiet and settle ourselves so we can eventually tune into our inner wisdom and quietude. This part of us is always here, always vibrating underneath the surface of things. Some call it our peaceful center. Simply said, it’s a place of calm relaxation. We can liken it to a tuning fork for our entire system. This deeply powerful, quiet center can become the setpoint for our entire system.
When we find ways to be still and tune in, this part of us can re-tune many of the parts of us that are out of sync and causing us disharmony and suffering. It will take time to unwind and reset to this deep center. Often we underestimate the deep value of tuning in and allowing this deep center of ourselves to recalibrate our outer functioning systems.
There are many ways to move into this deeper center space of calm:
- Breathing practices
- Mindfulness – simply paying attention or noticing
- Drawing (for some)
- Writing (for some)
- Watching nature
All of these practices lead us back to our interior spaces. I teach the first four in both private and public settings.
Shifting habits is not the easiest of endeavors, but when we have a guide or advisor to assist us on our journey, the journey can be incredibly rewarding, be it in body, mind, emotional or even the spiritual realm. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone with tools, resources, experience and confidence walk with us as we shift our grooves of habit. After all, we really are, as Ram Dass says, “Walking each other home.”