One of the chief signs of an integrated person is that their body, mind, emotions and spirit are in agreement. This is hardly something that can happen all the time, but as we work on ourselves, we hopefully find that we are aligned in our actions, the majority of the time. But most of us still often struggle with disagreements between what our bodies want and what our minds want; what we feel and what we think we should feel, what we know is right to do and what we actually do.
The state of our bodies and minds being in alignment is sometimes called congruence, and it’s a state that is rarer than it ought to be in many of us. Part of this is the simple struggle of being conscious, sentient beings: there is that part of us – the body – that simply exists in the moment and responds, and the part of us – the mind – that considers, reflects, doubts, second-guesses, weighs options, conforms to or defies expectations.
Because the conscious mind is such a complex thing, it can sometimes get us into trouble. It’s an amazingly powerful tool, and one that makes much of being human possible. But contemporary culture is so focused on the mind as the only source of wisdom that we can forget how powerful our bodies can be when it comes to locating our truth.
Probably the most frequenly-related example of this in Rubenfeld Synergy comes from an anecdote of Ilana’s, about a late-middle-aged woman whose husband had recently left her. She got on the table and began talking about how miserable she was since her husband left, how much she missed him, how she didn’t know what she would do now. Meanwhile, Ilana was touching her neck and gently rolling her head back and forth, and finding that the woman’s shoulders and neck were very soft, free, and relaxed. This went on for a while, until Ilana gently pointed out that the woman’s body seemed to be telling a different story from her words.
After a pause came laughter – slightly caught-out, cat-who-ate-the-canary type laughter. All at once she confessed: “I’m not actually lonely at all. I not only have a boyfriend…I have two! And I’ve never had better sex in my life!”
The idea that she should be grieving and feeling terrible about being left was so powerful that she felt guilty acknowledging the truth her body was telling: that she was happy, free, vibrant and fulfilled, maybe for the first time in her life.
The mind, while incredibly powerful, can play tricks on us. We can tie ourselves into knots, pile doubts upon doubts, see so many sides of a story we can’t come to a decision, bully ourselves into believing what the outside world tells us is true.
But the body only knows the truth. It cannot lie; it’s not equipped to do so. It simply responds, feels, reacts, knows.
Listening to the body in an RSM session can be a challenge, but always turns out to be a powerful tool. Often, our bodies know the truth about things that we are denying with our minds. My own shoulder, even 20 years after high school, knew it wanted to protect me from being seen and possibly hurt. That was my truth, but I didn’t know that, and that’s why I didn’t know what was holding me back. Once I knew – once I listened to that truth, I could have a dialogue with my body and help it to find a new way to move. One client of mine was so angry at her boyfriend, but she feared how she felt. Once we checked in with her body, though, she was compelled to express her anger (in some pretty colorful language!), and with each shouted swear, her muscles loosened and her body freed up. In the end, she recognized that she could trust her body to carry her through.
Tuning in to the truth of the body can help us get in touch with our true emotions faster, free up the pains and tightness that can come from repression and doubt, and give us clues to where – and how – to move next.