I've had a strange but educational past week.
I've just finished my first module of training to become a Hanna Somatic Educator. Honestly, I wasn't sure even up until halfway through the training that it was a good idea for me to be there. Being pretty high in the range of introversion, I've never been very good in groups, and after four years of gradually transforming into a zombie living isolated in Brazil, dependent on an alcoholic and compulsive liar, I found myself socially paralyzed--retreating behind a mask of the most boring, reserved, invisible person I could possibly be.
To avoid traffic, I drove to class extra early and napped in the car before going in. On the fifth day of my training, I had this dream right before class:
After I got on the ferry, I discovered that it wasn't returning that night, so I was going to be stranded in the city. It was dark and cold. As I passed by a storefront amidst the crowds, a masked man with brains for eyes asked me from behind the glass what I thought of nuclear war. I felt a surge of fear and began to explain why nuclear war was wrong, speaking with a vehemence that I somehow felt might make a difference in changing an inevitable feeling of doom. I was talking about ecological consequences when bombs began to explode. Buildings blew up all around the city, and the smoke formed giant clouds shaped like men and women dancing. I was afraid, because the terrorists were just hinting at dreadful things to come. I flew through the air in the darkness away over the water, then found myself on a roller coaster ride going into a steep dark tunnel.The morning of that class, we did an exercise in which we observed and palpated each other in pairs. Being looked at in this way and for a good length of time, even with total non-judgment, triggered me all out of proportion to the stimulus and I found myself upset and shaking, and during lunchtime I had a meltdown in my car, crying and feeling like the biggest loser to ever walk the earth.
What it made me flash back to was a bodywork training seven years ago when I had to stand in my underwear in front of a group of students and this one fellow blurted, "Wow, that's the most screwed-up back I've ever seen!" and even though I tried not to, I ended up bawling once I lay down on the massage table to get worked on. And then I flashed back to when I was a teenager and still liked to hug my parents--until one too many times a hug turned into a groping of the weird s-shaped curve of my spine and making me bend over so they could examine it and exclaim about how horrible it looked.
But really, these memories were just a superficial part of the pattern of mind-body dysfunction being exposed--a pattern of self-protection through avoidance of being in my body. I received a very gentle Somatics session that afternoon that helped me begin to discharge some of the held emotions, and I felt better. And the next morning, before class I had this dream:
I needed to use the toilet. But when I sat down on it, I realized that it was submerged in a small pool of lukewarm water in which people were relaxing. If I shit in the toilet it would dirty the pool. Even though I suspected that other people had already shit in it and thus dirtied the pool, I didn't want to add mine. So I picked up the whole toilet, walked through a larger pool of cold water, and set the toilet up on dry ground.
Next part: Popcorn and soda were given to an extra-tough gang to fight another group intending to destroy a certain shop. I was pregnant and was going to give birth in that shop, but I changed the home birth location to my parents' house. I complained a bit that I didn't want my parents to witness the birth, but then I decided I felt safer there anyway. Susan, one of the three midwives, told me she'd midwife the birth alone.So whenever I dream of water, it represents emotion. In the first dream, the ferry not returning that evening forced me to confront some inner demons. In the second, I had some emotional shit to dump and something to give birth to. (The part about the midwives was somewhat precognitive, as directly upon entering we divided into groups and Susan, one of the three workshop teachers, led my group.)
Anyway, as we did more somatics exercises and got more work, I had this dawning realization that I felt something different in my body--something I haven't felt in a long time. For years I've felt as if my second chakra has been shriveled up--I've felt emotionally dead, grief or anger coming out only in occasional jagged explosions, and I've been chronically tired and libido-less. But I realized that this simple trigger--being seen in non-judgment when I had been trying to hide--peeled a scab off of a festering old wound and the rest spilled out as I received more work and did more exercises--as this work is intended to help people come into their bodies and fully own all the disassociated, forgotten, paralyzed parts held in stasis with stuck emotion.
The next day I remembered no dreams, but I felt different--I realized that my second chakra felt as if it were blazing open in a way I hadn't experienced since before my marriage seven years ago. It made me remember how much energy I used to have, both creative and physical, and what it was like to reach out to the world rather than constantly just retreat inward behind my walls, afraid to feel anything beyond the low-level frustration and irritability which had become my daily norm. I felt that I could actually feel again, that it was good to be in a body and to be able to touch things and love people and hope.
And then came the final day, during which I received a session from my "midwife" Susan. It was rather amazing--as she worked with my left leg, I felt as if something in my solar plexus (third chakra) slid to the left and a surge of grief rose and popped like a bubble. Then my heart (fourth chakra) began to hurt, until Susan worked with my right leg, when several convulsions traveled through and up my body and the pain dissipated up with it. When I finally got up afterward, I was disoriented, but felt an incredible openness.
Unfortunately, through the next couple days my body gradually has gone back into its usual holding pattern. I still feel some of that new openness, but it's combined with more of the raw insecurities that arise from being able to feel more. I suppose that during that hour of my session, my customary attitude of mistrust was replaced by something much nicer...but it takes more than an hour to overcome 39 years of mistrusting the world. But it's a reminder of a way of being and perceiving that will probably work much better for me, if I can successfully adopt it. So I'm going to try 40 days of daily Somatics exercises to build the habit, and then we'll see.