What is traumatic is not just the events or environments in themselves, but an interaction of a sensitive and undeveloped organism that is not prepared or ready for what happens, and where the stress is so acute and/or chronic that it alters/impairs/stops the healthy development of the organism. Events that are traumatic can be one-time occurrences or, more usually, are chronic stressors that cause long-term impact in our very ways of being in the world. As we will explore, what maintains the field of trauma patterns is that at its core, horrific events and situations result in the essential parts of ourselves either not developing, remaining hidden or lost, or being given away. In addition, they are the effects that include carrying the energy, spirit, or soul of another in our own being. This includes the transmission of inter-generational trauma including deeply rooted beliefs, suffering, and pains that have never been examined, challenged, or released.
The repetition compulsion refers to the way that the past has been appropriated and incorporated into the patient’s generalized, embodied way of being (or, in other words, their character style). In analytic psychotherapy, the best access to this realm of being, to uncover the forces that empower the patient’s embodiment, is to attend to the manner with which the patient’s material is presented. The mode of communication, particularly the nonverbal reactions and style of speaking, and their effects on the therapist, offers an important inroad into the patient’s early life history (or, as I would prefer to say, to the tacit background horizon) particularly primitive affective states, internal object relations and preverbal trauma. This is enacted within the transference/countertransference (i.e. intersubjective) field. I will attempt to demonstrate the importance of focused observation and interpretation of embodied enactments, especially acts of speech. With careful observation, we can notice “breaks” in the compulsive repetitions, within which the horizon opens up, and affects as well as bodily reactions associated with early life trauma and infant danger situations emerge.
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Are you at the edge of a next step, yet one that feels hard to take? Are you aware of a chronic pattern, one that seems hard to break? Today we are going to embark on a journey, an embodied journey from intention through blockage to expression. I have been experimenting over a number of years with integrating elements from embodied improvisation and drama work in my practice of Wholebody Focusing. It has opened new avenues in my own growth and development as well as presenting exciting and expanded possibilities for deepened engagement with clients and students. Since Focusing is all about facilitating direct experiencing and bodily knowing, why have we restricted the practice to mostly verbal symbolization and the connection of head to torso? Why do we practice mostly with eyes closed and in a sitting position, when this can be very restrictive, limiting and disconnected from the visual field with another? Are not the eyes our gateway to the soul? Do we not body forth our patterns and life-stances in interaction? We all experience internal theater of inner dramas and characters that "inhabit" our personal world. The dynamics of WBF oriented drama-work is to allow our internal theater to be "played out" in an interactive space with others.
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For many years, I have been interested in the situation of life-impasse. It is an often baffling, mysterious condition where life seems to come to a standstill. It is not just a situational blockage or specific conflict but rather is a stalemate or stagnation of life-energy, a prolonged interruption of the ongoing flow of living, affecting one's whole existence. An impasse is like being in limbo, in an existential void, a state of suspended animation, yet a pressurized system. At the edge of impasse, there is often a painful awareness of being at a loss, not knowing how one got here or what to say or do to get out of this situation. This is the experiential edge of impasse–a feeling of doubt, disorientation, perplexity, and ultimately, deep despair. Yet I have found that if we can stay at this edge of "not-knowing," and give attention to our body, then something can arise from within that can show us: 1. how we are stuck and 2. offer solutions to move through the impasse.
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The philosopher David Michael Levin has said that “[The] living body of the spirit…is… the only authentic ‘body of knowledge,’… the body in its ontological wholeness.” Most of us, however, live in a rather narrow and limited embodiment, one that has already been conditioned to restrict or forget the original connectedness, wisdom, beauty and aliveness of the natural body of spirit. When we become disconnected from our original body, we have lost touch with the primal field of energies, vibrancies, openness and aliveness. Instead we. embody various forms of condition patterns and repetitive reactions.
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This notion that the living body has a spirit (psyche/energy) of its own is the foundation of Wholebody Focusing (WBF). When we allow the body to become more fully alive, this natural Source of energy and wisdom effortlessly awakens, showing us the way forward, leading us toward reconnecting with lost places within and retrieving the treasures held there. I call this WBF process Alchemical Transformation. ...
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Most of us live with some degree of bound energy and bodily constriction. Often, this bound up quality can be observed and felt in our bodily postures as well as in embodied life stances (lived comportments toward the world). Once formed, especially as a consequence of early life traumas, our body carries these life stances such that they become fixated, resulting in repetitive patterns of responding.
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The inward coming of life forward energy and movement is contained within the symptom of trauma itself, and knows its way back to membership within the Functioning Whole. Gendlin (1996, p.149) describes it beautifully as "It is a healing that comes from underneath. With this kind of relational and inward attention the whole intricate mesh reorganizes itself... We do very little."
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In this article, I will present some ways that I have observed and developed this process I have termed the theater of the living body. The main purpose here is descriptive of instances and examples, as these form the foundation of then stepping back and attempting to explicate what makes this type of process "work." Thus, the theoretical implications are still in process and will be presented in a future paper.
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A pantomime is a form of theatre and performance in which the actors play parts or express certain characteristics or feelings through nonverbal means. Thus, something done in pantomime would occur via gestures, facial expression, physical movements, often in a farcical or exaggerated manner.
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Disconnected process refers to a structure-bound state of blockage in which at least one or more aspects of oneself are kept out of awareness. Most often, there is a pronounced difficulty in recognizing and relating with the felt quality of experiencing, at times manifest as a distancing from immediate feelings and bodily sensations.
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... gestures are a way that our organism discloses something unformulated that could carry forward our experiential process toward solutions and further living. Our hands seem to convey wisdom of their own, providing a bridge, a visual, moving space that helps us to transition from what is known to what is emerging, but not yet known.
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