To complement the Expert Advice in the October 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.
The following practice will help you better navigate your unique inner landscape by inhabiting some of the key wisdom areas of your body and listening to what they have to share with you.
Set the Stage
Find a good location. This practice works best if you find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
Engage your curiosity. Allow your judgmental mind to take a rest. Simply be curious about new internal sensations, and open to new discoveries.
Keep your feet in contact with the ground. Sit comfortably with your back supported and the bottoms of your feet in contact with the ground beneath you. You can leave your shoes on if they are comfortable and allow for full contact with whatever is beneath you.
Close (or semi-close) your eyes. Entering the world of your inner landscape is best done when the visual system is mostly or completely quieted. If you tend to fall asleep when you close your eyes, allow them to be partially closed with a soft focus.
Notice that sensations are our building blocks. Allow yourself to notice whatever basic sensations show up: temperature, texture, color, space and symmetry. If emotions show up, simply drop to the layer below the emotional state into the direct sensation experience of this current moment.
Rather than being pulled out of the moment and back into the story that emotions often elicit, notice the sensations underneath that emotion.
For instance, grief might feel wet and heavy with dark undertone colors. Anger may feel hot or cold, sparky and have a color. Gratitude may feel warm and spacious. Shame may feel tight or contracted with a warm wash of sensation to the face; fear might feel electric, and so on.
Remember that everything is simply information. Whatever internal hits come into your consciousness, simply welcome them, acknowledge them and move on with as little judgment as possible. Curiosity and openness to discovery—not judgment—deepens your experience in each moment.
Listen to the sensation response in your own body. Your inner landscape speaks to you through felt sensations, images, words heard internally, and other intuitive hits. As you read the suggestions below, allow yourself to simply notice and feel whatever shows up in that area of your body.
Go at your own pace. If you need to slow down in one area and take more time, do that.
Explore Wisdom Areas
Begin by simply taking a baseline of your inner awareness, without trying to change anything. To do this, allow your feet to rest fully on the floor, eyes closed or semi-closed. As you settle in, following your breath, be curious about the temperature of the air as it enters your nostrils and fills your lungs.
Notice the rise and fall of your chest and back as you breathe normally. Are there any areas of restriction here or is your breath easy and full? Is your spine resting fully against whatever support it has?
Dropping your awareness down into your belly and pelvis with your next breath, notice how your sitting bones feel in contact with your seat. Is one more fully connected to the chair or are they both resting equally?
What do your legs feel like? Again, are they different from each other in terms of sensation, size, temperature, or do they feel the same?
How about your feet resting on the floor? Do they feel different from each other, or the same? Are you more aware of your heels or the balls of your feet? Simply notice what sensations come into your awareness as you read these words.
Grounding and Filling
Next, allow your awareness to drop down into the earth beneath you as though you were putting down roots like a tree, or riding a light beam, or floating in a river. Use whatever metaphor works for you.
Notice any new sensation hits that arise as your attention extends down into the earth. Let this connection to a safe, unconditional resource spread out and deepen at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
Having established a safe sense of connection, allow nourishing, nurturing sensations to flow in effortlessly from the rich energy field of the earth.
Let yourself fill up at your own pace, in your own manner, asking each area of your body in turn, “What would feel most nurturing and nourishing here?” For instance, with your awareness dropped down into your feet, ask them what would feel most nourishing and nurturing.
Then, rest back and notice what sensations show up in that area of your body, and how readily it soaks up nourishing, nurturing sensations. Move on to your calves, knees, thighs, pelvis, midsection, spine, heart and lungs, ribs, shoulders, arms and hands, neck and head.
When this grounding and filling process is complete from your feet to the crown of your head, and your energy reservoir is as full as it can be, your tour of the wisdom areas can begin.
Wisdom of the Heart
Allow your awareness to travel to the area of your heart, dropping your attention inside, as deeply as is comfortable at this time. What sensations show up here? Does it feel warm or cool? Does it feel like a particular color? Is there a hum or a pulse?
The heart is well-known as the home of our caring, compassion and love. Travel to an even more profound level and the heart is the wisdom keeper of our deepest inspirations, keeping our inner fire burning.
What is it that inspires you most in your life right now? What lights up your days and energizes you? Feel where it resides in your heart. What is the sensation of it? What images arise?
You might be inspired by a project you’re involved with; or something in your own healing process; or raising a family; or creating something new and exciting.
Whatever it is, allow yourself to notice what it feels like in your heart as you breathe into and acknowledge this inspiration in your life right now.
Wisdom of the Gut
Next, allow your awareness to drop down under your heart into your belly/gut area, noticing how this wisdom area is informing whatever inspiration lives in your heart. Does it feel connected to your heart? Is the connection weak or strong?
As your attention rests there, notice whether your gut is telling you how right this inspiration is for you, or perhaps how it needs to be changed in order to bring it to fruition.
If there’s something that’s a little off about how you are experiencing your inspiration, that instinctual gut feeling will inform you of it. Register what your gut is saying to you right now. Listen to it.
What we are looking for here is a natural alignment and full connection between your gut knowing and what inspires you. If there’s something that isn’t quite right yet, you can make an adjustment until it does sit right between your instinctual wisdom and what lights your inner fire.
The gut’s wisdom offers important feedback moment to moment. This information is vital to listen to in order to take action on only those things that are truly right for you at this time.
Wisdom of the Pelvis
Next, allow your awareness to drop down into your pelvis, into the engine of your body. This includes your pelvic floor and reproductive system, as well as your sacrum and coccyx.
Does it feel open and connected to your gut and heart? What sensations do you feel here?
The questions answered by this wisdom area are, “Am I willing to put my power behind this deep inspiration in my heart? Do I have the power to support what it needs?”
Just notice what your pelvis says and whether you feel as though you can support this project, this inspiration from this natural well of energy—rather than your will. This area will also inform you if the strength is or is not there at this time.
It may signal you that you need to regroup or slow down what you are doing. This is quite helpful if you are an optimist dreamer who needs the energy “reality check” that the pelvis has for you.
Wisdom of the Legs and Feet
Next, imagine yourself taking a walk with this issue, dropping down into your legs and down into your feet, breathing and stimulating the desire to move forward on this deep inspiration. Our legs and feet can help us with integrating the whole process.
Sometimes there are many sides to an issue, and layers of complexity to deal with in any given idea, quest or inspiration—perplexing problems to be solved, barriers to be met and dissolved. When this occurs, as is often the case in our lives, the wisdom of the legs and feet are needed.
In your mind’s eye, take this walk somewhere that’s beautiful for you so that your attention is on the scenery, and you can let everything digest without thinking about it. Imagine yourself walking at a comfortable pace, swinging your arms, your heart pumping.
As this occurs, effortlessly it metabolizes or digests the issue you are mulling over. This cross-body movement integrates the right and left hemispheres of your brain as well as moving it throughout the rest of your system.
When you’re ready, let your walk come to an end and notice what new information or answers appear in your consciousness.
Wisdom of the Bones
Next, allow your awareness to drop into your bones, deep into your innermost recesses—those sturdy, steady parts of who you are. Our bones are our densest, strongest connective tissue and most of them exist deep in the core of our body. They form the structure upon which everything else rests.
Take a few minutes now to sit in silence with your awareness in your bones—perhaps feeling your spine, your pelvic bones, or your legs and feet. Pick whichever of these areas feel easy to sink into, and rest there with your attention deep inside of you.
Notice the clarity that comes as the mud of your life’s activities settles and you sit deeper in the calmness your bones naturally provide. Take as long as you need to feel the steadying, clear sense that this wisdom area provides.
Wisdom of Full-Body Awareness
When you have rested in your bones long enough, allow your awareness to begin to expand from your bones out into all the rest of your body, infusing it with a clear sense of direction and steadiness.
Allow this expanding to include your head, your brain. Let the wisdom of your heart, gut, pelvis, legs and feet, and bones share information with the great creator and mapmaker in your brain so that you’re able to visualize what you want clearly, strategize wisely, make good plans, and see what step comes next. Let this process unfold, coming to you easily and naturally.
When you’re ready, allow your awareness to return to the outer world. You may want to take out your journal and make some notes about what you saw and felt and heard from these deep wisdom areas of your body so you can follow through in your life.
Explore Your Inner Landscape Further
If you would like to be walked through a more in-depth grounding and filling exploration for your whole body, click here to see how you can receive a free download of a 10-minute ground and fill audio exploration.
Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, C.M.T., C.S.T.-D., is creator of the training and audio series Healing From the Core: A Journey Home to Ourselves. She’s also the author of Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body’s Wisdom and the forthcoming Spring 2017 book Reclaiming Your Body: How Your Body’s Wisdom Can Help You Heal From Trauma. She has taught CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release for the Upledger Institute since 1986, and provides staff-development training at the Esalen Institute.
This online article is a condensed version of the Body Wisdom Area Walk Through from Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, C.M.T., C.S.T.-D.’s upcoming book, Reclaiming Your Body: How Your Body’s Wisdom Can Help You Heal From Trauma, which is available now for pre-order at healingfromthecore.com/reclaim.