The Beloved Body Day 7: Pleasure

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The Beloved Body Day 7: Pleasure

The Beloved Body
Day Seven:  Pleasure

"Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” Mary Oliver

This fall, I took a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course for cancer patients and their caregivers.  My meditation buddy and dear friend is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and we thought the group would be helpful for both of us.

One of exercises that I found most valuable had to do attention.  As we know, in any given moment there are multiple things that are happening in our bodies and in our environment.  We can choose where our attention goes. Sometimes it important to be with sensations and feelings that are uncomfortable and painful.  There is a fortitude that is built is doing this. Sometimes we need to feel uplifted and remember that pleasure and pleasant sensations exist even when challenge may be present.  It was particularly inspiring to hear persons with stage-4 cancer talk about turning their attention to pleasant experiences when I was aware of some of the significant discomfort and challenges that facing them everyday.

Today, I invite you to bring your attention to what amazes you - to what brings you pleasure and enjoyment.  Feel what it is like in your body to feel pleasure and pleasant sensations.   What sensations are present.? Where are they present? Notice how the World (the wind, the rain, the air, the sun, beauty) touches you physically.   May amazement capture your attention and may you remember to linger in it by bringing your attention to how life touches you over and over!   

This is the last post of this 7-day installment of the  Beloved Body.  It has been a pleasure getting to journey with you. I hope these posts have been helpful and nourishing.  Mostly I hope that you continue to cherish and get curious about the unique beloved being that you are. I have put all these posts on my website should you want to revisit them. Please keep in touch.  I have loved hearing from some of you during the past week.  I love knowing that there are fellow travelers out there who want to live fully and reverently in their bodies.  And of coarse if I can be of service, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.

Should you want to feel and get to know your beloved pelvis. Starting this month,  I'm offering some upcoming writing & experiential anatomy workshops for women called Writing the Story of Our Pelvis. (details below).

My beloved body bows to your beloved body over and over,
Donnella

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The Beloved Body Day 6: Awakening to the World Around Us

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The Beloved Body Day 6: Awakening to the World Around Us

The Beloved Body
Day Six: Awakening to the World Around Us

"When we’re awake in our bodies and senses. The World comes alive. Wisdom, creativity, and love are discovered as we relax and awaken through our bodies." Tara Brach

I'm going to get slightly technical here, but bare with me because what I'm going to share is really cool and it can help you learn a lot about how you orient and experience yourself in the World.

Our body has mass and our body like the universe is made up of space. When we move we do so in relation to our experience of weight (the Earth) and space (the space around us).  My teachers Caryn McHose and Kevin Frank call this gravity orientation. And what's super interesting about this is that each of us organizes around weight and space differently. 

Most of us have a preference for weight or space. And this preference affects not only how our body moves, but how we perceive and feel in relation to others. Knowing our gravitational orientation preference can help us practice its opposite and this supports body organization and our general feeling of being supported.

These fun experiments come from my teachers book, "How Life Moves: Explorations in Meaning and Body Awareness."

1. Start by just considering what interests you most weight or space.  When feeling or sensations arise when you think about each? You might write or draw about your experience..

2. This experiment is easiest revealed in a group, but you can try it solo or with a friend. Jump up and down.  In a group, you can start to see who jumps toward the sky and who stays closer to the ground.  You can identify who has a preference for weight or space.

3. Here's another fun one.  Press your hands together. Rub them vigorously against each other, back and forth. After your hands get hot, stop, and see what you notice. What sensation/s do you notice? If your sensations includes movement, is it inside your hands or between them? Is the reverse possible? Can you go back and forth?

You have just exercised a shift between weight and space orientation.The inside-the-hand feeling in an example of weight orientation and the between-the-hand feeling is an orientation to space.

A footnote -  Playing with gravitational orientation has been some of the most profound work I have done.  It has supported me in understanding how I dominantly engage in the World and helped me find new ways of being in  my body and in relationship.  In turn, this has helped me feel more balanced and relaxed.  It you want more information or want to explore this further,  feel free to get in contact.

Enjoy!

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The Beloved Body Day 5: Appreciate

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The Beloved Body Day 5: Appreciate

The Beloved Body
Day Five: Appreciate

The spirit
likes to dress up like this
ten fingers,  ten toes
 
shoulders, and all the rest
at night in the black branches
in the morning
 
in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course
but would rather
 
plumb rough matter. 
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs the metaphor of the body,
 
lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body’s world instinct
 
and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
sweetness and tangibility,
 
to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns where no one is—
 
so it enters us—
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning
 
and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star
                     
--Mary Oliver

What would it feel like to move through the World today knowing your movement, your gestures, your expression is a unique expression of spirit?   You are invited to find out. Enjoy!

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The Beloved Body Day 4: Knowing Our Place

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The Beloved Body Day 4: Knowing Our Place

The Beloved Body
Day Four: Knowing Our Place
 
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go." Dr. Seuss

I often start my sessions by having my clients wake up the bottoms of their feet.  They will walk on textured surfaces or stand on a tennis ball.  Your feet are important!  Not only do they help support the weight of your body and help you walk with more ease and integration, but they can be a conduit to help you feel secure, grounded, and oriented.  When I am feeling scattered, anxious, or I just want to get present quickly. I often will bring my attention to my feet. 

Today, I invite you to experiment.  Set aside 10-15 minutes if possible.  Take your socks off.  Stand up if you are able otherwise sit on a chair.  It is ideal to have your feet on a wood floor or smooth surface. Notice where your attention is going and your emotional state. Are you aware of sensations in your body, thoughts, emotions,  or something outside of you or something else?

Now, bring your attention to your feet and what part of them are touching the ground.  Notice the pressure on the feet from the contact you are making with the ground.  Do you feel any experience of weight?  Keep bringing your attention back to your feet. After a few minutes see if you feel different.  What sensations are you aware of?

Now, find a textured surface, a doormat or something that has a bumpy surface.  Walk over the surface. Stand on it. Do this for a few minutes and then stand on the floor. Repeat what you just did. Notice if the pressure or experience of weight has changed.  Particularly make note if you feel more present in your body and if you feel more solidly planted on the ground.  If so notice if this experience is valuable to you in any way. 

For many of us, when we feel more solidly aware of our feet and how they are making contact and being supported by the ground,  we feel more secure.  That awareness helps us know where we are (literally on the Earth) and that can help feel more clear about our feelings, our boundaries, our place. 

And it is worth mentioning that this may not be your experience. All of us have a different degree of comfort with experiencing weight and connection to the ground. So find what is comfortable for you now and get curious about your experience and about your preferences.

Enjoy,
Donnella

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The Beloved Body Day 3: Breath

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The Beloved Body Day 3: Breath

The Beloved Body
Day Three: Breath

"Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life."  Mary Oliver

Whenever I read that Mary Oliver quote, my lungs instantly start to fill up with more oxygen and I feel my body desiring to receive more fullness.   I feel tension diminishing and my body soften as I exhale. I am more able to be present,  attentive, and receptive. 

Many of us know the benefits of letting our breath deepen, but at the core the breath gives our body more space for movement. It helps us relax so we can  feel and sense what is happening. It provides more internal resources for working with whatever stress is present.  It allows us to take in and let go with more ease.

Today, I invite you to let your breath  fill you up.  Allow the breath to come in to you so you are not making an effort,  but instead receiving her nourishment.

  • As you inhale allow the breath to fill lungs so your ribs move out and your diaphragm moves down so that your belly can expand.  Can you feel the breath move in through your nose?  Can you feel your torso expand in all directions?  Can you feel your spine move as your breath in? Do you feel the pelvic floor move down while ribs and clavicle bones move up?  Do you feel like you have more of a sense of the container of your body? Notice where you would like more space?  Notice if you feel any benefits from allowing your breath to be more deeply.

 

  • As you exhale, feel the belly draw towards the spine, ribs move inwards as the lungs release carbon dioxide & breath moves out the nose or mouth.   Experiment with how it feels to slow down your exhale a little.  Attend to how the pelvic floor & the diaphragm move upwards on the exhale. Notice if you can feel your weight more clearly as you exhale.

The benefits you are experiencing from breathing more deeply are what are most important.  Take note for those benefits.  Just for fun I've listed a few other benefits of deep breathing below.  May you be filled up & more at ease as you nourish yourself through with the food of breath. 

Benefits of Full Breathing:

  1. It slows your heart rate, increases oxygen supplies to the brain and other tissues
  2. It helps expand the lungs and forces better distribution of the air into all sections of the lung
  3. The motion of breathing more deeply massages your heart and other organs
  4. It provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the body to release endorphins
  5. It lowers blood pressure
  6. Having properly oxygenated muscles also improves fat burn and muscle function
  7. Experiencing our internal volume supports our posture

Enjoy fullness and ease!

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The Beloved Body Day 2: Receive

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The Beloved Body Day 2: Receive

The Beloved Body
Day Two:  Receive
 

"So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray."  Mary Oliver


So often in our lives our attention is moving outwards. We are busy doing and attending to things that need to get accomplished. Often we need to nourish our nervous system by allowing things to come in and touch us so we can feel and sense more deeply. Today, I invite you to let the World touch you. Take time to linger in what you are feeling and sensing. 

Here are some things to explore. Hope it is nourishing!

Receive
When you hear the word "receive" notice what happens in your body. What is your experience of weight? What happens with your eyes?  How does your heart and skin feel? Is there a certain emotion that comes with this experience?  Notice if there is something satisfying about this experience.

Invite the Ground to Support You
We often hold our weight away from the ground which can result in more tension in our bodies. As you move through the day, feel the ground or the surface underneath you.  Allow the support of that surface to come to you.  Notice how it feels to let the body receive the ground & its support. Invite yourself to receive the support of your chair while sitting as well as its support while standing & walking.

If you want to a do a longer exploration, lie on the ground and the let your whole body pour into the support of gravity. Indulge in letting your body be supported.

Hear instead of Listen
When we listen, our ear moves toward the sound we want to hear.  When we hear, we allow that sound to come to us. Today experiment with letting sounds touch you. Notice what it feels like in your body to allow that sound to come to you.  Do you feel more relaxed? Is it nourishing?  Is it familiar or unfamiliar?

Let Your Eyeballs have Weight
Our eyes can become accustom to one way of seeing and focusing. Play with letting the weight of your eye balls rest in their sockets.  Imagine the visual information touching your eyeballs & moving into your body.   Notice if what you are seeing moves you in any way.

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The Beloved Body Day 1: Cherish

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The Beloved Body Day 1: Cherish

Welcome to the Beloved Body
Day One -  Cherish

"This very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now…with its aches and its pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” Pema Chodron

I am excited to be sharing the first seven days of the New Year with you as we consciously awaken our love for ourselves and our bodies.  Having a body is a vulnerable experience.  We experience vitality and  aliveness as well as illness, injury. and physical limitation.   It is easy to feel judgement or disappointment about our physical being.

The Beloved Body is an invitation to accept ourselves and love our bodies as they are.  It is a journey to help us feel more alive and awake in our World.  It is about getting curious and discovering new ways of experiencing ourselves. 

I hope in this New Year, that your feel yourself  Beloved.  I hope that your body continues to be a conduit for discovery and a source to open to life.

So let's begin....
 
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
Beloved on the earth.
       Raymond Carver poem entitled Late Fragment
 
When we feel ourselves  beloved, we cherish and nourish ourselves.  We are attentive and accommodating to our nature and needs.  We remember that we are important and that we need not be anything more than who we are at this moment.
 
Starting today, I invite you to consider what it would be like to cherish yourself more fully.  As you move through your day notice what it is like to shower, eat, walk, get dressed, have a conversation while consciously making the choice to cherish yourself.  Ask yourself if there is a particular way that you would like to be cherished today and this year.
 
If it is easier you can choose one time during the day when you will consciously cherish yourself.  Notice what it feels like in your body to bring that kind of nourishing attention to yourself.  Particularly notice if you are attending to  yourself in a new way that makes you feel really cared for.

At the end of the day, take a moment to write down one thing you discovered today about attending to yourself in this way and something you would like to continue in the New Year.  Place that piece of paper somewhere where you get to see it regularly.
 

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Befriending Pain to Find Freedom- A Client's Story

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Befriending Pain to Find Freedom- A Client's Story

Often clients come to see me because of physical pain in the body.  Sometimes that pain is addressed easily by movement education, finding new and more efficient ways to move.  Sometimes we find that pain is rooted in the body because of past trauma or experience.  This is the inspiring story of one client  who learned to use her pain as an ally to liberate herself from past trauma.

When I first saw Donnella Wood, I was having problems with my back.   My allopathic physician had diagnosed the persistent pain, grinding, and popping noise in my back as "arthritis."  I had tried traditional physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractors, yoga...

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