We’ve seen how someone can be technically perfect in a performance (say on a musical instrument, in a dance, or in sports) but not only is the passion missing – the life – but we ourselves don’t rise and fall in pleasure in seeing or hearing the performance. We ourselves are not carried away by the performance because neither is the performer.
In any art or discipline that involves movement, there is a balance between technique (training in technical skill) and passion (spontaneous life and movement). We have seen both technique absent passion, and passion absent technique. In The Spirituality of the Body, Lowen writes, “If training is not to destroy the natural gracefulness of the body, it must not run counter to the body’s flow of excitation. When that flow is strong, one can direct it to produce a graceful and effective action, if the flow is broken, the spirit of the organism is broken along with it.”
In everyday life, where we are not bound in the same ways as by the rules of, say, ballet or playing the piano, we still impose “training” on ourselves – to move, live and be in certain ways. To appear certain ways.
This is often quite unconscious. It often emerges from a desire to project a certain desired image (one of being beautiful, or powerful, or efficient, or nonattached, or something else). This imposition on ourselves also too (at the same time) can emerge from fears we half-consciously have (of being angry, or looking scared, or being out of control, of being soft, giving in, or being used).
These kinds of desired images and avoided fears often arise out of early life experiences and decisions, and are carried in our bodies. Because our mind, emotions and bodies are not separate, these images and fears have bodily consequences. Some feelings, instincts, and natural predispositions are stopped in their tracks – but blocking them leaves blocks in our body-minds. We are left with numb spots, painful parts, aches, or limited movement that leave us feeling ill at ease, or dis-eased.
When we impose this image on our body, when we subject our body excessively to our personal ego-driven will, we become disconnected from the natural pleasure and grace that can spontaneously emerge from the life that flows through our bodies. Excessive use of one’s personal will (again, typically semi- or unconsciously) to control one’s body can lead to dis-ease, that is, a lack of ease in one’s body, one’s movement, and one’s being.
Life, energy, and our natural core self no longer flows freely through us. We may control ourselves consciously or unconsciously via our mind and will, but now grace is lost.
We can use our will to block the graceful flow of life (instinct, emotion, intuition) and to create a body or movement that we believe projects an image that we want to project – but we cannot use will to create grace. Grace happens. Grace emerges from melting blocks that we’ve imposed in our body-minds, blocks that interfere with our pleasure in simply being our natural selves, in allowing the free flow of our core selves to emerge.
“Effective therapy that aims at promoting health must be based on an understanding of how and why the individual fell from grace” (Lowen in The Spirituality of the Body).
Grace, health, and energy depend on finding the balance between between the images/rules of the mind (needs of the ego) and the spontaneous life of the body. Most of us are not aware of how we unconsciously control, limit, or otherwise mistrust the natural movement of energy (feeling, intuition) through our bodies. And thus, healing begins first with becoming aware of the natural flow of life in our body-minds, and how we block it.
Certainly we need control at times. Healthy behavior needs both self-containment and self-expression. But healthy behavior also needs awareness, so whether or not to contain or express an impulse is a choice. The reality is that we live so much in our heads, that simply becoming aware of our natural impulses, our energy, instincts, emotions is an important first step.
Be in the here and now. Be aware of what is really happening right now in our body-minds. Be in our bodies. Feel in our energy. Discover the impulse. Discover where we stop ourselves breathing, feeling, and moving.
Grace can happen, if we don’t squash it!