Imperfect Transitions: The Subtle Art of Recovery

door | okt 6, 2023 | Health | 0 Reacties

Recovery: A Quest for Reconnection

In a world full of noise, where every whisper often gets lost in the wind of endless stories and self-reflections, I feel the need to share a soft, sincere sound. I know much has already been shared, but this is a necessary moment of openness. Forgive me, as a member of the millennial generation 😉

Movement Matters is navigating a quiet journey of transition. The grief of parting from a treasure trove of valuable masseurs and the space on Papaverweg—where much was felt, moved, and we could be close to what truly matters—is profound.

This change means that space for massages is less frequently available than you are used to. Of course, I acknowledge the existing need. We could hardly keep up with the demand for treatments. And yet, it couldn’t be helped. How do you explain such a thing?

Not Without Missteps

At this intersection of seasons, where summer has gracefully bowed to autumn, I find myself in a liminal space of reflection, research, and recovery. But not without missteps. I fully acknowledge my shortcomings, especially regarding my negligence in communication through various channels and updating the website. This failure, this delay, is partly due to my avoidant behavior and partly to the overwhelming transition that consumed both my mental bandwidth and physical energy.

To my formerly dedicated team and everyone who felt left out due to my actions, I offer my apologies. I understand the confusion and discomfort this may have caused. Do you recognize this?

Finding Recovery Amidst the Chaos

There have been moments, just a few months ago, where life took on a pace that almost passed me by. If you live in the city, you probably recognize this feeling, right?

But today, in this moment of pause, I feel the call to deepen. I recognize the silent symphony of change, like a leaf willingly surrendering to the wind.

Our Shared Lives

In recent years, I have increasingly encountered people in my practice who did not come to explore the richness of the somatic field but to reconnect with their bodies. Some had ignored their bodies for so long that they were desperate. This made me think about the larger context of our existence and our society.

It challenges us to critically reflect on the values and structures of our culture. It calls for a reconsideration of what it truly means to lead a meaningful and balanced life. Together with my partner Branko, I constantly marvel at this time. It motivates me to revisit the writings of Paul Verhaeghe, the Belgian clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. Chances are you know him.

The Foundation of Our Humanity

As Verhaeghe says, in these times of increasing performance pressure and digitalization, we see a striking paradox: as we become more technologically connected, we seem to become more emotionally and mentally disconnected from each other and ourselves. Our current society, where individualism reigns supreme and the emphasis is on self-realization, has a shadow side. While we chase success and recognition, the foundation of our humanity—the deep desire for meaningful relationships and connection—gets buried.

We compete with others and with ourselves, driven by ideal images presented to us. We are “never good enough,” which is a new form of alienation.

This disruption manifests in the growing number of people struggling with burnout and depression. These are not merely individual disorders but symptoms of a broader societal malaise. A highly respected massage therapist from Practice Het Morgenland has written a beautiful article about burnout.

How Do We Define Success?

We are faced with a crucial question: how do we redefine success, well-being, and happiness in a demanding world? The answer may not lie in striving for more but in rediscovering what it means to be human in relation to others.

I recognize that this time calls for a re-cultivation of body awareness.

Losing Contact with My Body

During this time of transition, I realized something crucial: I too had lost contact with my own body. Despite my expertise and knowledge, I felt an overwhelming shame. It felt odd as someone who has been working in the somatic field for so long.

I once immersed myself in the influences of Jacques Lecoq and Rudolf Laban. Both prominent figures in the world of theater, movement, and physical expression, they have made unique contributions to the understanding and practice of body awareness.

Universal Movements

Lecoq’s approach to theater was grounded in the idea that the body is the primary source of expression and communication. According to Lecoq, the body is an instrument through which stories are told, emotions are expressed, and characters come to life. His methodology emphasized physical training, movement dynamics, and the actor’s ability to adapt to different styles and genres. Lecoq believed in the universality of human movement and how certain gestures and movements can carry common meanings across different cultures. By delving into these universal movements, actors can achieve a deeper level of body awareness and express themselves with greater insight and empathy.

Understanding Movement

Laban did groundbreaking work in the field of dance and movement. His methodology, known as Laban Movement Analysis (LMA), is a comprehensive system that describes, visualizes, interprets, and documents movement. Laban’s approach identifies different movement qualities and dynamics, from fluid to staccato, from bound to free. By studying these qualities and their underlying emotions and intentions, dancers and actors can develop a more refined body awareness. Laban believed that by understanding the body and its movements, we can also understand the deeper aspects of ourselves and the human experience.

Holistic Understanding of Body Awareness

Combining these two approaches results in a holistic understanding of body awareness. Both methodologies invite a deep exploration of the body as an instrument for expression, communication, and self-discovery. They teach individuals not only how to move but also how to ‘be’ and ‘feel,’ and how to use their bodies as a means for profound self-expression and connection with others. In a world where words often fall short, these methodologies provide powerful tools for non-verbal communication and understanding.

Misty Veil

It was a strange sensation. It’s as if a part of me that was always so vibrant had retreated into a deep hibernation. I can still see my feet, touch my hands, and yet they seem distant, as if separated from my consciousness by a misty veil.

But this moment of realization was also a turning point. Suddenly, I began to acknowledge my subtle bodily sensations instead of pushing them away. My thoughts: “I have a strong body, I can carry a lot” changed. I felt a slight tension in my shoulders, a knot in my stomach, and an inexplicable fatigue. As if I could finally acknowledge the change in bandwidth.

Wonderful Compass

My body, a wonderful compass, now whispers secrets about recovery and wholeness. There is hope in those sensations. A promise that even in the moments when we feel lost or fragmented, there is always a path of return and recovery. It just requires attentive presence. I thought again of the things Gabor Mate wrote. It’s not so much the external world that makes us “sick,” but how our inner world interacts with these external stimuli. To truly heal, we must not only address the symptoms of burnout and depression but dig deeper, to the underlying wounds and traumas that shape our reactions and coping mechanisms. It’s an invitation to not only look at how we work but also at how we love, how we see ourselves, and how we connect with others.

“But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?” — Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

The Space Between Words

How do you do this in this world of excess and information? Sometimes it’s too much. In that cacophony, I seek the silence, the spaces between words, the pauses. The moments when we can truly connect, where we can see each other, not just with our eyes, but with our whole being.

Finding Recovery in the Unconditional

I wish for a space where bodywork is more than just a touch, where it is a movement of a conscious mind, body, and all that we do not know. A fusion of wonder and therapy, of questions and discoveries. A sanctuary where you can discover your self-healing capacity. A place where you learn to listen to your body and pick up on the subtlest signals and marvel.

Finding Recovery by Seeking Beauty

In this quest, amidst the known and the unknown, I invite you to embrace the beauty of transience, of the simple and the intangible. To feel the unpolished splendor of the here and now.

“When we hunt for beauty, we learn to pay attention.” — Aundi Kolber

When we mindfully observe the beauty around us (a beautiful sunset, the yellow autumn leaves with light shining through them, etc.), the gray matter of the prefrontal cortex grows larger, helping with decision-making, planning and organizing, impulse control, emotional regulation, social behavior, and working memory. This is also reflected in the research of Andrea Mechelli: “Neurolinguistics: Structural Plasticity in the bilingual brain.”

Awareness of Our Mode

For me, it was an eye-opener years ago that when your body switches to fight/flight/freeze or please mode, your blood flow is diverted away from the PFC so that energy can be distributed elsewhere. When you live only from the brainstem, the rest is “offline.” This adaptive reflex is incredibly useful when you’re almost hit by a car, but it can become problematic when you’re trying to run a business or plan an appointment with a friend. Your brain wants to ensure that the people you’re with are safe before it can focus on social planning.

How Polyvagal Theory Aids Recovery

You may have heard of Polyvagal Theory, formulated by Dr. Stephen Porges. This theory offers revolutionary insight into how our autonomic nervous system responds to stress and safety. According to this theory, the human body has three different response systems: the social engagement system (associated with safety and connection), the sympathetic system (associated with fight or flight reactions), and the dorsal vagal system (associated with freeze reactions). (As someone from the therapy training mentioned, it can also feel like “fight or fried.”)

During trauma or prolonged stress, a person can become stuck in one of these defensive modes, leading to physical and emotional problems. By understanding Polyvagal Theory, you can develop strategies to help the body learn to recognize safety and respond from the social engagement system, which promotes recovery and well-being. In a future blog, I will explain more about this.

Presence

When I notice that my body is in a please or freeze mode, I try to mindfully focus on my surroundings. What do I see, hear, smell, feel? If possible, I try to observe a beautiful flower or tree. Slowly, I feel the sensations in my body change, creating more space to view things, people, and situations differently.

Embodied Experience

“We are not just minds, we are carnal. Textures, surfaces, skins, details are essential. And the body is central. Without any particular form, the space is only referring to the human body. Architecture becomes tactile and space is dancing for the body.” — Odile Decq, founder, Studio Odile Decq

I want you to know that the journey to self-recovery is not always easy. It requires courage, patience, and above all, compassion. But that may also enrich the human experience. Let’s walk this path of recovery and understanding together.

Sources

  • “Try Softer”, Aundi Kolber, 2020, Tyndale House Publishers
  • “Unstuck”, Fleur Kraanen, Marieke Hesseling | Boom
  • “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, Mark Manson
  • “Descent & Rising”, Carly Mountain
  • “De moed van imperfectie”, Brene Brown
  • “Verwondering”, Katharine May
  • “De kracht van betekenis”, Emily Esfahani Smith
  • “When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress”, Gabor Maté
  • “Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder”, Gabor Maté
  • “Liefde in tijden van eenzaamheid”, Paul Verhaeghe
  • “The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre”, Jacques Lecoq
  • “The Mastery of Movement”, Rudolf Laban
  • “Focusing”, Eugene Gendlin

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