you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves . . .
~ Mary Oliver
Most people have heard of the right brain / left brain division. The right brain is the creative, non-linear, emotional side and the left brain is the analytical, linear, rational side (more or less). Those of us who have, for better or for worse, been immersed and/or indoctrinated by dominant culture have learned to prefer the left brain. When we try to access our creativity, we often get stuck. The problem is that you can’t use left brained methods to get into right brained modes.
That’s where the body comes in.
Not unlike night-dreams, and how they intervene into our experience, the body and its gestures and symptoms also intervene with their messages. You know, like when you’re having a conversation and you find yourself gesticulating wildly, or that special position you like to sleep in at night with your forearm over your forehead, or your toes sticking out of the covers (or whatever your particular thing is) — if we slow down these gestures, and inquire with humility and curiosity, important and generous meanings often emerge.
Similarly, often symptoms also offer messages.
Often these take longer to understand, and may even constitute an ongoing relationship (you with your symptom). Trying to get rid of your symptom is a pitfall, partly because we live in an imperfect world, and some symptoms are reactions to real systems and structures, but also, this is the real human condition.
Making universal generalizations has been a problematic move historically.
So, I say this with awareness of that fact, but the truth is some things are universal:
We all die.
We all breathe.
We all have beating hearts.
We all bleed.
The sun casts a shadow across the earth.
And while I can never say for sure, I have come to witness that at least some somatic gestures and symptoms are at least very close to archetypal universals.
For example, looking is an archetypal motion, fight and/or flight are archetypal defensive motions, bringing hands together is often an archetypal integrative-healing motion. If we can know something about these motions, we can identify which is which and amplify them as they make themselves known through the cracks in our somatic awareness. Then we can begin to hear their messages.
We try to get to creativity through thinking and trying, but the body is the portal to creativity.
An after-affect / bonus is that after you amplify and hear your symptoms, you unlock your creativity. There is a pitfall though – villainizing thinking. IF we lived in a culture that over-emphasized the right-brain, and therefore over-emphasized the body and we would need challenge ourselves to start thinking more in order to recover balance. Ideally, we have a balance between thinking and feeling, like day-dreaming and night-dreaming, like life and death. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that rational thinking is bad; it’s that we need to amplify the body and right-brain thinking to balance our thinking with our now weakened creative powers.
A big part of myth mending is working with the somatic wisdom of the body as if it were a dream.
You’ve probably heard of the linguistic phenomenon of the Freudian slip; well, there’s a somatic equivalent. In process work it’s called a double signal, or a crack. It’s when you think or say one thing, but you really act or feel another way. This is the core of passive aggressiveness – when someone is acting nice and politely, but they are inadvertently leaking subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) gestures of hostility. We hear their words, but we feel their unconscious somatic messages as well. It can be very confusing. Instead of just noticing and maybe judging someone (maybe ourselves) as passive aggressive, we can begin to listen to the gestures that are emerging sometimes in the smallest way and receive important guidance from them. Myth Mending incorporates this knowing so that we can increase the efficiency of our transformative practice. If we rely on just what someone says, we lose many opportunities. Myth Mending does this very gently and I will never confront you in a way that is shaming. We look together with curiosity and compassion.