Working With Contraction: Grounding and Restoring Practices
This is Part 2 of a 5-part series with Vanissar Tarakali, Ph.D., a body-whisperer who offers learn-through-the-body workshops & coaching for people who are transforming our world. She teaches how to collaborate wisely with our bodies to transform trauma & sustain social change. Healing oppression facilitator & DiversityWorks trainer, Dr. Tarakali passionately practices Generative Somatics, Intuitive Reading, Energy Bodywork & Tibetan Buddhism.
Notice where your body is being physically supported. Pay attention to the sensations of your feet on the floor, your sitting bones on the chair, your back on the wall or chair. Keep bringing your attention to what your tissues and nerve endings are feeling with this contact. Notice what it feels like to have the floor/chair/wall, etc. consistently holding you.
Your bones are your body’s reliable scaffold. Directing your attention to the bones can be very reassuring. Here are three bone meditations:
Using your hands, squeeze all of your bones, one-by-one. Notice their shape, and notice how when you squeeze, your bones push back. Pay attention to how dense and reliable each bone is.
One-by-one, slowly raise and lower leg bones, your arm bones, each finger bone, your skull, your shoulder bones. Pay attention to how gravity pushes your bones downward. Feel the weight of your bones. Lie down and slowly raise and lower your hips, feeling the weight of your hip and pelvic bones.
Do a body-scan of your bones. Feel or imagine the bones or collection of bones in each area of your body; imagine the shape, length and marrow of your bones. Looking at a picture of a skeleton can help you visualize your own.
Inhale slowly and deeply, then exhale down towards earth, making a sound or sigh that matches how you feel. Repeat this at least three times. Notice how you feel afterward. Try adding this practice to your staff or community meetings. Doing this as a group enhances everyone’s ability to ground and settle.
Write down or speak aloud a couple of things you feel grateful for. Make sure you pay attention to the sensations that show up in your body. This is powerful to do in pairs.
Stand with one leg slightly in front of the other and gently sway forward and back for at least 3 minutes. As you sway, pay attention to any places in your body that feel warm or cool or neutral. Try doing this as a group. As you sway, call out appreciations of each other and the group. Feel your body sensations as you take in the appreciations. Notice what shakes loose. Allow yourself to yawn, laugh, shake or cry.