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Mari Winkelman – Featured Practitioner

Mari is an IBMT Graduate, Registered Somatic Movement Educator & Therapist and has an MA in Dance & Somatic Practices (UCLan). She practices as a body-oriented counsellor, therapist, educator and guide. Here she shares her film that was made to mark 12 years of one aspect of her work and offers an article that describes her approach.

Cellular Self – Human Organism

I made this film as a marker of about 12 years of consistently practising and facilitating somatic movement groups that are about intimate connection with, and expression of the embodied systemic and cellular experience of self.

It is the essence of my understanding of embodiment as taught and evolved in my experience with Linda Hartley (IBMT) and before that Penny Collinson and Amanda Williamson (UCLan) and their teaching faculties. 

My enquiry and message

I hope that in watching the 7 minutes of film, your inner senses will begin responding to the sound and imagery as well as the words. It is simple, really, and very radical to return our enquiry to our cellular bodies and processes. It’s so simple, that we do not see it… most of us most of the time do not feel this or turn our awareness to what our cells are experiencing unless we are ill, uncomfortable or out of our familiar environments and feeling strange. I wonder how do our cells experience awe, joy, aliveness and balance?

Modern humans are so cognitively oriented, seeking answers outside of themselves. To turn inwards for authority and guidance is still very difficult for most people to access and trust. Our bodies are full of conflicting memories, patterns and vulnerabilities and this complexity is not easy to navigate in our traumatised species, where our orientation systems are often disrupted and jammed by memories of trauma and fear of overwhelm. 

We can find deepest knowing relationship with Nature around us and within us in this practice of cellular organismic awareness. Returning to the original cell, a more simple living process than our bodies, can help us settle below the complexity and discover anew where our inner orientation wants us to turn. The ground and qualities of place, the breath and nourishment are the basics, upon which foundation the continuous attention can be opened to inner and external conditions of balance and the responses can unfold in each moment at a time. Simple?

My practice

In these years, I’ve mainly practiced inside a studio as a student and facilitator but I have increasingly brought my own embodiment enquiry and facilitation of others’ enquiry into the outdoors. I realise that direct relationship with Nature has so much to offer as facilitation of our embodied awareness because our cells recognise the natural conditions as nurture, as replenishment, as home through sounds, colours, rhythms, animal life, elements all calling us inward and outward into connection with essential truth of our lives.

As a therapist and facilitator, IBMT has laid the theoretical ground for how I help people to enquire curiously into what they do and do not yet know about themselves. I do this through modelling curiosity and never pathologising people’s experience. I become curious about their living anatomy and systems of nourishment, support and cleansing and I wonder with my clients as a co-creation, resourcing them with my presence, to validate their experience, yet also tolerate not knowing how or what all the time. Then I co-create ways with each person to relate with their senses – as in embodied cognition, rather than merely mental cognition – at times through their own touch and movement awareness – the embodied imagination. Enquiry and tolerance of unknown experiences can come more naturally through curiously engaging with somatic senses. I’m very heartened that after slow beginnings, I have a feeling of arriving more fully in my client and group practice. I feel fully engaged, curious, aware and in enquiry most days that I am working and feel well supported now by an external environment that reflects recognition of the value of my work and desire to learn with me.

A counter-culture 

It is a revelation about our modern socialisation and lifestyles that we have to develop a practice or receive therapy/coaching in order to give time, attention, touch, sound and movement as stimuli for us to experience our own bodies. When we do this, we validate and come to understand the messages from our body senses, and this facilitates the undoing the human social conditioning that forces us into ‘knowing’ and ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Then we become more naturally attuned to wisdom that is embodied and grounded in sensations and movement: more of our awareness will be free to focus in the here and now senses. We can become more wholly organismic, responsive and authoritative about what matters most here and now.

The IBMT Somatic Psychology and Body Systems modules were so educational for me in my own embodied system. I feel this is particularly pertinent in our awakening humanity. We are in the wake of dominance by large-scale mechanistic, virtual reality and capitalist processes. Their values and activities have laid waste so much human and environmental resources. Engaging in my bodymind, I remember in my physiology how I enacted cultural dominance over my body’s innate intelligent systems. I feel compassionate and so grateful for the education and practice that has transformed me into new ways of being embodied.

I would love to hear responses to the film and my enquiry. I’m very interested in conversations on the themes of dominant systems and how we can locate them in ourselves. I want to study how we help them become self-aware and enable other less empowered systems to awaken and to take more space.

Please contact me on connect@mariwinkelman.com

Mari is also offering some online workshops: Details here.