Recently I was at a 5 day psychotherapy conference. Milling around and getting to know 400 hundred other people was both enjoyable (when I made a good connection with a stranger) but also fraught with moments of self doubt. How am I being experienced by others? How come I am not being seen as I thought I came across? Damm, I thought I had overcome this shyness? Why does my friend seem to get more positive attention than me? What is this discrepancy between the down-to-earth, warm, fun-loving person I am perceived as by my friends as opposed to the slightly aloof and shy person I may come across as to strangers?
Since it was a psychotherapy conference and being a trainee therapist I made good use of the situation to learn something by raising this issue with others in a group session. Feedback I got from an experienced therapist who works with the body was that I gave off mixed signals. Whilst the vocal part of me expresses the desire to connect with people, my core is collapsed and part of my body is holding back. With him I practiced a core lift where I really felt my sitting bones making contact with the chair and felt my upper half/chest area rise up and out as I pushed up from my sitting bones. I was supporting myself more from the core. It felt unfamiliar and so a little scary but observers said they felt closer to me as I looked at them from this stance.
The ‘core’, the ‘core’…….I started chewing on this cud that has come up again and again and I still feel like I don’t really know exactly what is meant by the word ‘core’. Is this indicative of the problem? So back home again I decided to investigate some more and found a movement practitioner that works with alignment, focusing on the Bartenieff principles and Laban. I attended a couple of sessions.
In one we focussed on shape-flow and moving from a horizontal, vertical and sagittal perspective. As I lay on my back on the floor with my knees bent and feet planted firmly on the floor, I breathed in and paid attention to my chest and stomach as well as upper back and lower back expanding, my spine elongating from lower back to head and my pelvis and shoulder area moving out sideways. I became aware of the 3D effect of my breathing.
I then used this shape-flow awareness when I focussed on a technique to ensure the pelvis is aligned and directed down and forward rather than hanging back. As I lay on my back and breathed out I very slightly shifted my pelvis forward and down. This is a subtle movement and not at all like a yoga pose where you curl your pelvis up and in. When I first stood up and walked after practicing this I was pleasantly surprised. I felt like at the same time my legs were pushing down and I was being pushed up Definitely more grounded but also more bouncy.
I have been practicing this pelvic alignment at home every day for the last couple of months. People that know me well say I am coming across as more ‘available’. I feel more solid and like I have a wider base. This allows me to take more emotional risks in interpersonal situations without feeling like my world will cave in if the other person does not support me. This is probably what people mean by my being more available. No doubt I have further to travel on this path towards inner security and I am in no way an expert on the subject. Alexander technique, somatic movement……so much more to experiment with and yet I wanted to share what I had learned so far dear reader as maybe it will help you too.