Thinking about the themes in my life, the one that rises to the top is about authenticity - being who I really am so I can relax and connect with other people as they really are. I'm not saying I've got this down, I'm saying I've got a deep yearning to be authentic, because I don't think it's been my go-to experience. In pursuit of myself (isn't that weird? me pursuing me?) I've been influenced a lot by various religious and spiritual guidances, academic doctrines and social expectations, but I've come to see that anything that rings true is not really an instruction for self-improvement but an indicator of authenticity. I notice that when I'm not trying to be agreeable I fall into agreement with myself, which is easy for other people to be around. When I'm not trying to be helpful I become honest, which is actually helpful! When I'm not trying to memorize concepts a bigger picture becomes clear. And when I'm not resisting myself I become tolerant, understanding and capable.
For a few years, I was a facilitator of a class in a women's prison. It was a volunteer gig with an organization called Truth Be Told. The class was called Talk To Me in which we all did background investigation into our current prisons. For the incarcerated women, they could look at what lead them to prison. For all of us, prisoners and facilitators alike, we identified our internal prisons. Then we wrote about how we got there and we took turns over several weeks reading our stories to each other and also did Authentic Movement to express the story though our bodies. It was an act of freeing ourselves from the silence and internal manipulations that were coming out in our lives in hurtful ways. It was an invitation to be authentic.
I took on that volunteer gig because I needed a platform of honesty for myself. I felt that I was missing the interactive, relational capability that I longed for and it was difficult for me to come clean to myself and others in my life. Facilitating that class, along with several other good decisions and commitments I've made over many years, helped me learn something powerful about authenticity. When I accept my own experiences I become free and I become a safe person for others to be free around. Now that's true facilitation! Not perfect, not an exact science, not someone else's idea of how my life should unfold - simply discovering that my own way is just right.
Through the lens of authenticity, the whole concept of "help" is turned on it's head. It's about embodying myself and discovering that I have faith in others to embody themselves. I don't need to hide behind stories, beliefs, theories and techniques, although those things do inform my understanding and they come in handy at times. But in those moments when I'm free in myself there's a natural outflow of helpfulness that does not require recognition or belief in a theory, technique, etc. And it really is a moment to moment thing. I don't believe any of us ARE authentic or not authentic, it's a matter of how we're relating in each moment.
I'm generally comfortable with my disposition these days. It's different than it was. I think that "just be yourself" doesn't come easy for a lot of us in our culture, so it's relaxing to embrace this imprecise experiment of being me. There is no ultimate program to follow or package to buy and sell; no theory to learn and defend, no religion to swallow as truth, no degree or costume or flag to stand behind - not in my understanding of authentic life. Sure, those things exist, but I'm not defined by them and neither are you. Sometimes it seems lonely to let go of all those identifiers, because that's supposedly where all the groups of "like-minded friends" hang out. Will I be alone without identifying with those clubs and products and beliefs? In the best way, yes. Alone and not lonely. Because authenticity includes autonomy - intimately alive in my own body, in the moments of my life, moving freely and touching reality, leaving the door open to those beautiful moments of true connection that remind me why I let go of the confining safety boxes I squirm around in. And it means that I can appreciate this in others, so relationships can stop being about expectations and pre-set agreements and they can become creativity and mutual freedom.
To me, the story of Easter, the resurrection, is about each of our awakenings, beginning with our physical birth and continuing with each healing, reunifying experience throughout life. The more subtle we become in our awareness, the more we ease open into unified essence. This is what the wisest meditation practices are about - knowing ourselves. I think the word "namaste" is a spoken reminder to open the door of consciousness to ourselves and each other and the whole thing. This has been a lot for me to make honest room for in my mind, but through healing experiences I feel a gradual embodiment of "namaste". I've been noticing this recently, even though my mind is a strong protester. When I've dug myself into struggle in my mind I can at least remember my body knows about the undivided ease of it all. And sometimes I fall back into the ease.
Biodynamic Craniosacral involves a lot of embryology. It really involves deep investigation of the entirety of the human body experience and super pivotal stages such as conception, igniting of our vital systems, development of body in utero and the birth process. The design of the body is carried through our genetic information, referred to as "original blueprint", and the building of the body in utero and even during birth - lungs start working when we are in air, nutrient intake switches from umbilical cord to mouth - is done through the actions being carried out by the blueprint information. Arms are not built to reach, it's the other way around. It is the intelligence of our systems to reach, and it's the reaching action of the early tissues that actually builds the arms! When I learned that, it was just awe. What elegance and amazement. Life is movement indeed. And the whole coming into air from a fluid world? What a transformation we each had on our birthdays!
We are sparked into being by the dynamic passage of human encoding carried through all the bodies before us. There is the blueprint of the human function/form and there is the limitation on that function/form imposed from disruption and repeated harm that gets internalized. Think of your own life and how many things have happened that are still hard to be with, things that have narrowed your view of safety and possibility since childhood, experiences that sparked a belief in separateness. Consider how the genetic information, passed through eons of human lives just like yours, might be carrying a narrowed expression of the vastness of human possibilities. The fullness of our nature gets pulled, twisted and blocked over the course of a life. Trauma (uncompleted process, segmentation of the whole) is a biochemical/material story that's being told for eons that we each carry. Trauma, passed along unrecognized and unhealed, creates a story of body disharmony coupled with mental beliefs we cling to, and our culture designs all sorts of medical procedures, laws and churches based on a belief that the uninvestigated trauma creates, and vice versa. I don't mean to be a downer at all here. It's just that, "if you can't feel it you can't heal it" (that's been said - it's true) and when we embody ourselves, our true and honest experience of living, even if we don't know what the hell happened to create that hard place in the belly or that familiar recoil in the nerves or that weird sounding voice that we know is not our true voice (ok, these are a few of my things), if we can just fall back into our true experience of all of it in the moment in the body, as a good friend who will not leave in hard times, the bodymind's urge toward wholeness, unity with self, unity with all - our essence beyond all conditioned traumatic holdings - does engage, and healing happens. It does.
We don't have to remain traumatized and separate. As meditation and self-inquiry becomes more widely practiced and as mindfulness-based therapies such as Biodynamic Craniosacral, Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi, etc. reach more of us, amazing resolutions begin to happen in our lives and in our collective awareness. I included the graphic "Physiology of an Uninterrupted Third Stage" because it shows something so simple that can make a huge difference in human lives - not rushing things right there at birth. We are actually capable of feeling the residue in our bodies from any trauma we experienced at birth, and by feeling it in a safe way we might find some understanding of how that very early trauma has shaped our lives. When it is felt in a safe and aware environment, such as a bodymind therapy session or well-resourced meditation, the twists and turns in the tissues actually begin to heal. As a society of humans who are healing, reunifying and rising, our collective awareness leads us to change the way medical interventions are routinely done that cause trauma to our systems. Just as what's considered normal societal practices change and become more humane over time as we understand the actual life effects of all sorts of behaviors, such as human enslavement, sexual harm, ritualized killings for ceremony, etc.
When trauma at any level is resolved through our own bodies, harmonious connections are remade that go beyond our own lives. We participate in telling the ultimate story of unity and we enjoy living here and now and helping each other thrive. Namaste.
As a kid I had a secret. I don't know when this started but what I would do, laying in bed at night in the dark, is ask inside myself this question that seemed to come out of my body. The question was "who am I?" I discovered that when I felt the question come, and when I would ask it, there would ensue a sort of conversation between the question itself and my mind. Mind would answer based on names and identity traits and information I knew. "I'm Ginger", "I live in San Angelo", "My family is...", "I look like...", "I have...", In response to each of my answers, the question would keep asking. It was distinctly different from any other question I had ever asked or been asked because there was no judgement in it. There was just an invitation. There was a distinct body feel to the questioning. Intimacy. As I lay there, eyes closed in the dark, every answer about me being met with the same spacious question, I would sometimes come to a tipping point on which consciousness would go beyond everything I "knew". Like outer space but I was totally at home, expanded out of my sense of anything. I would wonder if I was dead but it didn't scare me. Utter peace. And then I'd sort of land back in gravity, confused but not, and fall asleep.
Life went on, we moved from San Angelo to Temple, my parents divorced, I started 3rd grade, made friends, I probably forgot about the question. In middle school I was aware that the Baptist Church was talking about salvation and God. I was good at following instructions and pleasing adults and I took to laying in my bed at night praying praying praying until I fell asleep. I was trying and reaching and asking their story of God for connection and I just got tired. Maybe I recognized something I had forgotten and was wondering where it was.
When I was probably 15, sitting in the passenger seat with my dad driving down Gen. Bruce Drive to the Walmart or somewhere for the 400th time, looking out the side window at mowed brown grass, a very distinct question spoke in my body - "God, is this all there is?!" But the question had a familiar, intimate tone, spoken so clearly inside me that I wasn't sure if it had broadcast into the car. I looked over at Dad but he just kept driving.
Our culture doesn't talk much about this stuff but we are starting to listen. I meet more people in recent years who are tuning into their body's information, this intimacy with life that might show up, and this helps me live more honestly than I could in the past. We are wired for social connection and we follow what others do until we have enough sense of our reality to start following our own inner messages, which I've heard referred to as "spiritual questions". They get our attention and they direct us back to ourselves. When we listen and allow, in that internally vulnerable way, what we eventually run up against is our beliefs - those readymade answers that are given to us by society, our families and our own minds as they've come to be conditioned.
Healing takes courage. It's not exactly comfortable to release beliefs so that we can find out what else, but that is exactly where the healing process will take us if we let it. It's up to each of us how and when we'll let it, so the process is unique for everyone. And we help each other find the courage when we share how unscary it actually is to move beyond beliefs. As a matter of experience, once a belief is disintegrated we can look back and realize just how fearful and limited our lives had been when the belief was running the show. And what I mean by beliefs running the show is believing a story that isn't true. When we are believing stories that aren't true, we wind up hunkering down and defending the story in some way and that divides us from what IS true. It could seem like an impossible or terrible proposition to let go of defended beliefs (or to find out just what it is we're believing that isn't true after all), but reality doesn't need us to believe in order to exist. Existence and reality are one, no defense or belief needed. I don't have a belief in sitting here, I'm just sitting here. I don't believe in breathing, I just breath. I don't believe in sleeping, I just sleep. Even though I didn't sleep much last night and I want to take a nap right now, I still don't have a belief in sleep. That would be silly. Who am I when I'm not believing a story about myself?
*photo credit: Body Intelligence Training, Brian Tierney, Instructor
Hi, it's Ginger. I hope my thoughts here will add to freedom, expansion and creativity for you as you read them.