I liked the above chapter heading “Wholeness as Balance” from In an Unspoken Voice by Peter A. Levine (a book I enjoyed.)
The phrase highlights the foundation of Freeforming and, for me the practice of therapy. That is, the importance of holding a peripheral awareness, an openness, and co-ordination that allows you to keep in touch with the broader situation you are in with your partner without becoming immersed or concentrated on one aspect or figure. This includes both the dimensions within your skin, your partner and the space you are in.
(In Gestalt we might refer to this as the Id of the situation – thanks to Ruella Frank for highlighting this).
I have always been attracted to practices that demand this of me. Playing on a gym ball is a fun and convenient way of doing this on your own. Have fun.
bringing ourselves together with our partners.
the nub of the practice is becoming alert to fracture – noticing where I jump from one emotional/physical state to another.
this applies to flow of my own process and to my engagement with my partner.
a way i approach this is first to slow down so i get an early warning of creaks and cracks – maybe a sudden tightening of breath or perception of a gap between me and my partner.
sometimes it happens so fast. however, in working on my own process i can go back. re-visit that territory. find the tight crease, the air of urgency, maybe a place where my thinking leaps out of my situation. there will be discomfort!
I like to try reversing in and out of this hot spot. I try to take as much time as I can find. this needs a lot of breath. continuity in my breath. and as i come back to my breath i more often than not find a workable basis for smoothing and easing out this tricky corner of my experience. rolling slowly through and reversing back with sensitive use of the “clutch” of my breath/awareness. here is the gluing. and here is born the grace.
approaching my partner I look for synchrony. one aspect is not to surprise or split my partners apprehension of me. to this end I like to gear the whole of my movement at the same pace – torso, feet, hands and head all having the same approach velocity. for me this makes it much easier for all of us to keep tabs on what is happening. it helps me experience my unity and this is easily digested by my partner.
close to this how i support my self bridge distance to my partner. stumbling is disturbing for us all.
we have been exploring how when standing we stretch for support with feet rather than falling into them – a more insect like approach – which I became particularly aware of when practicing sword work. so sliding to sidle.
of course at speed we may find synchrony in a trot or gallop – but that’s another story….
on the more physical side things I find provide exciting challenges to me often involve challenges to my balance and any transition. I like to play on slack ropes, and balls and anything on one leg or four.
i guess we hi-light a central value in freeforming which is the development of emotional/physical continuity and coherence through as wide a range as possible. this is our challenge. this is our training territory.
working with a new freeformer the other day.
she was extremely experienced with mindfulness practices.
after practicing freeforming together she gave me her reflections.
she said that freeforming embodied everything she had experienced with the mindfulness practices, including mindful moving work.
however, there were two additional aspects in freefoming that had been absent in her previous work.
the first was the expansive scope of movement possibility and sense of “freedom” she found in freeforming.
the second was that although she was aware of other people in her mindfulness practice, they were not acknowledged as they are in freeforming.
she felt that our mutual presence did not impose on each other but fostered a sense of “respectful” togetherness which she felt enhanced her mindfulness.
Clarity of Connection
The weekends focus was clarity of connection.
This was understood in terms of coherence, and depth of mutual understanding or resonance.
Reflections of My Thoughts and Experiences of the Free Forming Weekend
3rd– 4th October 2011
I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the workshop except perhaps high energy activities and lots of body contact. I was hoping to break through a barrier of stuckness and learn more about how I make contact with other people.
My overall awareness was of how little I fully engaged all my senses in the course of my every day life and in particular in the course of my work with my clients.
I experienced a unique for of contact different levels of awareness, physical sensations and emotions. I am more aware of how limited was my peripheral vision.
On the first day I struggled with the exaggerated use of my breath and sense of smell which took me into personal boundaries of other participants. I suppose I also felt invaded and became more aware of my discomfort or avoidance of intensely close contact. I struggled as I attempted to stay with this process hoping for something that was not currently part of my awareness at the time.
I struggled initially with ‘doing’ and not ‘being’ and I suppose this limited the depth of my experiences. I recognise that this is useful information for how I may interrupt contact with my clients and others.
I realise how much ‘leading’ was part of my process and how much I resisted following and staying with the other. This I imagine for me is linked to my sense of mistrust. The weekend facilitated my learning to be with and to engage with the process of staying with the phenomenology of the other without losing sense of my own process.
In this way I became more aware of their emerging phenomenology and my own impulses. I am more aware of how paying attention to small movements physical or otherwise can support attunement in the moment.
The weekend facilitated for me an awareness of yearning for intimate, vibrant contact and a less dull existence. Contact with the group was on so many levels of sensory awareness that I felt met and attuned to how I make or don’t make contact with others. I learned that good contact can come from many unexpected sources and in unconventional ways. I experienced fantastic sense of support for my playfulness and spontaneity arising from the ground.
Some of the exercises enabled me to become more aware of limitation and areas that required attention. I learned that I could become selected with my listening. This I realise is often linked to my sense of shame. I then move away from contact with the other.
I was not aware until now the depth of communication that could be achieved without words and through the use of: synergy and space, movement and forming, sounds and smell, breath, sight and spatial closeness. I felt awakened at the end of the weekend. I expended a great deal of energy and received back lots of body feedback which on occasions were more powerful for me than words.
I took this workshop at a time when I was experiencing low moods, and felt depressed and desensitised. During the weekend I became energised and expelled lots of energy. I used my voice to more powerfully than I can remember ever doing before. The sounds for me were cries for longing and of loss. As I write this passage. I am becoming tearful as I remember how I was supported by the closeness of the other and felt the support for the expulsion of wailing sounds and primal cries from deep inside my body. On reflection I recognised that I still managed to hold back as I was unsure of the limitations of my body and was also afraid to push myself even further.
I felt I began to learn that I was capable of communicating more vibrantly, by just being more aware of my whole self. I think that at some time in the future that I will want to repeat or do more of this kind of activity.
I found the weekend full of challenges and was not prepared for the highly charged sensory environment. I am glad that I attended. There may have been less useful or vibrant experiences but they have now faded into the background.
I took away new experiences which I know will support me in my personal life and also in the work with my clients.