Astrid Bunne, IBMT Diploma Graduate and Shiatsu Practitioner, writes about her own journey into somatic work and connections between mind and body. She gives examples of the relationship between meridians, body systems and developmental patterns. And writes with warmth and passion about the connection between inner life and social change.
During an impromptu improvised dance workshop on a Northumberland community farm in the summer of 2011 I experienced a powerful expression of myself through creative movement. It felt like I was in an explosion of light and joy in which doors had opened to a realm I had never known existed. This personal Eureka-moment convinced me that any form of therapy and wellbeing approach had to incorporate the body, and I returned to my Psychology degree determined to bring this new awareness into my studies. I ended up writing my thesis on “Embodied Wellbeing” and explored a wide range of body-mind disciplines and approaches to life. I found that the body not only has a thinking mind (the brain) but an ‘emotional mind’ embodied in the heart and a ‘gut mind’ in the digestive system – sources of intuition and inner wisdom.
I value the intellect highly and our capacity as humans to express ourselves through language and poetry. The power of the mind astounds me every day. Yet I also feel that our culture in the West over-emphasises this aspect of our being. There is a great wisdom in the Eastern yin-yang symbol. It shows how two opposite and complementary parts give rise to life (energy or Qi) through the dynamic movement between the two. There is a connection between the two halves that is at once paradoxical and mysterious, yet deeply logical. The harmony, creativity and fullness of life can only be experienced when we learn to integrate the mind (knowing aspect of our being) and the body (feeling aspect). Both IBMT and Shiatsu help us do this. They also use the phenomena of yin and yang as relational therapies. In a one-to-one session the therapist and client are co-creators of a new organism; a new and dynamic connection is created between two souls that for a period of time is experienced as one.
There are more ways in which IBMT and Shiatsu link. The meridian lines of the body mapped out by the Ancient Chinese are associated with physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual elements, all with a particular quality or energy (Qi). Experiential anatomy of Body-Mind Centering® helps to get a felt sense of body systems that shed light and understanding on the functions of specific meridians. For example, the Kidney and Bladder meridians both represent the Water element and are associated with the skeletal system, nervous system and urinary system. Embodied knowing of these systems helps connect deeply to the energy of Water and its emotional and psychological associations. Furthermore, the meridians are developed during infancy and have a direct connection with the infant movement development patterns. The primitive reflexes help an infant move and experience their body in space, develop their senses and gradually gain voluntary control over the muscles and body parts needed for a particular action or movement pattern. The Stomach meridian that stretches along the whole front of the body finds its expression first in the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) that helps the baby using the ground as support for movement as it pushes up and the Rooting Reflex that helps the baby orient its head and mouth towards a stimuli (food). The key function of the stomach meridian is that of receiving nourishment and finding support, which correlates with the physical and behavioural infant movement development sequence. For more information please read up on Movement Shiatsu, a discipline founded by Bill Palmer (www.seed.org).
I do what I do because I believe that somatic therapy and education, alongside the wisdom and skill of Shiatsu, can make a change in the world. Both are examples of methodologies that listen to the body not only through conscious dialogue but through the means of touch, showing the receiver that they are heard. I accompany my clients on a journey of self education in which they discover their unique individuality and sacredness as a human being. I aim to show them that they are noble beings with so much potential and skill to offer the world. By discovering the diverse aspects of our beings, whether it be in the language of meridians or body systems/parts we can begin to find integration and means of compassionate communication. The parallels between the inner life of the human being (and its body parts) with the dynamic relationships and social structures of society are striking. I believe that we can learn a lot about social change and global unity by engaging in personal and relational somatic explorations. For what other purpose are we here than to contribute towards a better world on an individual and collective level?
Astrid Bunne RSMT/E combines her training in IBMT with Psychology, Shiatsu, counselling skills and community engagement work to bring a coherent therapeutic and educational approach to the individual client sessions and workshops she offers. She creatively uses her somatic tools to link the deeply personal truths (arising from the individual client work) to a more universal and shared experience that can contribute to global social change.
If you are interested in exploring any of these topics further or would like to read more about the approach she takes to the IBMT work check out her website www.mindinsoma.org. She offer sessions in Bristol and throughout the Southwest of England.