Trungpa Rinpoche, Pema Chodren’s Buddhist teacher, observed in his visit to the United States that “Most people don’t feel themselves properly.” This leads to a lot of ‘over-efforting’ in daily life which results in a lot of unnecessary tension and work being done by the body.
This ‘compulsive’ efforting is not without cost. Many of our arthritic conditions, spinal degeneration and medical conditions, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and auto-immune conditions are a direct result.
As a culture we seem to have this attitude, that more is better. Not only more, but constant doing. It’s as if we feel, “if I am not producing every second, not doing or achieving; I am worthless.” Instead of just Being, we are always wanting to do.
A constant question my patients ask me, after only a few sessions, “Is there anything I can do?” While there is nothing wrong with homework to reinforce something learned, I believe the question fundamentally comes out of this state of compulsive doing. Many feel, “if I am not doing, I don’t deserve to be alive.” There seems to be a hidden compulsion to always do more. As Dr. Feldenkrais, my teacher, observed; “if what you have been doing all this time worked, why are you here?”
I believe we need to feel more, not do more. We need to develop the ‘felt sense’.It is important to feel yourself in a sensate way.
Most of the traumas that live in our bodies from earlier physical injuries, or implicit memories from early developmental trauma, are stored in the body. Books such as The Body Keeps the Score or When the Body Says No are testimonials of this Stress-Disease Connection.
The key to unraveling it, is to bring more Mindfulness into feeling what’s happening on a bodily sensate level.
To develop more perception of what’s going on inside our bodies. To go in and embrace the painful emotional feeling or physical sensation in our body. To develop more awareness and consciousness of ourselves internally. To discern what we are feeling inside; just as we would use our eyes and ears to differentiate what is going on around us in the environment.
The key to unlocking Trauma, or releasing the tensions and stress of daily living, is to feel into it. In our culture, we don’t do prevention. We wait till we have problems. By sensing the interaction between thoughts, emotions and the physical body; we come into greater contact with ourselves. The result is that we age well instead of deteriorating. We also come into a more authentic state of being. Not operating outside ourselves, but really coming into contact with ourselves so that we can truly ask ourselves, “What do I want?”