General Orientation Directions for the body as a whole shape with differently recognized parts.

December 27, 2019

Use this as a warm up exercise if you want to start at an easy level.

Many years ago I was working with a client with a severe pain problem in his leg. The problem included a remarkably complete dissociation-disconnection-loss of his leg below his knee and above the ankle. So, even though he had his calf section of his leg alive and attached to him, he couldn’t actually feel himself as existing in that space/place.

This part of him not only was gone from his internal map of his body but was horribly painful constantly and could not tolerate any kind of touch. So, we were treating a part of the leg that was tolerant to contact that was nearby in a safer place.

As we explored his felt sense of his leg with me gently touching his outer thigh, it occurred to me to ask ” Without looking, can you tell if I am touching on the front or the side of your thigh?”

He answered “I can tell you are touching my thigh but I cannot tell if it’s the front or the side.” I was stunned. It had never occurred to me that a person could lose such a fundamental sense of processing. That got me thinking about how some people need to start from a place thats kind of like preschool.

For that reason, you may find it worthwhile to embark on refining a sense of your body position awareness from a basic place first just to be sure you connect yourself to the parts that are easily and securely in place.

Another point worth mentioning is that there may be parts of your body that are quite painful. You might find that as you touch base mentally with a painful place that even noticing the front…back…top of the area…bottom of the area…middle of the area that this is difficult.

Somehow you might also notice that is disturbing to you overall. You may have a body part or region that you avoid noticing because it somehow upsets your overall relative calm. If you have something going on like this, don’t focus on what is deregulating. Instead, practice feeling the parts and surfaces of yourself that are acceptable to visit.

We will get to this more in other posts but I wanted to point out that this deregulating quality is a kind of awareness to be on the look-out for. I generally call this Central Nervous System excitation. As a companion part of regaining a detailed ability to feel your body and it’s parts, keep some attention to whether your overall sense of relative calm gets changed.

You can use this starting place as an exercise in and of itself. You might find this all too easy and therefore boring. That’s great. Move on to something more refined. A crucial part of these exercise progressions is staying in a curious and exploratory state of mind. If the exploring is too easy you will quickly lose interest. If too hard, you’ll likely quit. As you investigate your sense of your parts and their position in increasing detail, you will find the right levels to train at. Stay tuned. This will get clearer as you will see as you move into intermediate level training ideas.

But, if you find that you are someone who has difficulty noticing your body as a whole shape, or some parts are difficult or disturbing, this is a good starting place.

You can do this as a 3- Dimensional grounding/centering exercise.

Notice you have a front side.

Notice you have a back side.

Notice you have a top which is your head.

Notice you have a lower part which might be your feet (or once was your feet.)

Notice in the top to bottom dimension that somewhere there is a middle. Most people experience their middle as somewhere in their torso.

Notice you have a side on the right and a side on the left.

You can be in any position and do this basic orienting exercise. You could be standing, sitting, or lying down.

Then visit your limbs.

You might say to yourself :

“I have a right leg.”

“I have a left leg.”

“I have a right arm.”

“I have a left arm.”

If you are missing all or part of a limb you can choose whether to visit what you have left or your memory of what you once had. If a limb is too painful to notice you can become curious about how near that place you can visit without overly disturbing your starting sense of relative calm.

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