Knowing I Have a Body – The Art of Being Present

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I was standing on the curbside under an old pomegranate tree in front of my therapy office, delighting in the smell of Fall and the hint of chill in the air as my colleague spoke intently about a new concept he had about what motivates interpersonal behavior. 

“I’m not who you think I am,” he said, moving so he stood directly in front of me, entreating me to look him in the eyes, “I’m not even who I think I am.” He raised his eyebrows to emphasize this important new discovery, index finger pointing to his chest. “I’m who I think you think I am,” he said, triumphantly stepping back off the curb and pausing to let that sink in.

Wow… It sounded cool, but what did it mean? I saw my mind immediately grasping to possess the unfamiliar. I shifted my body’s weight from left foot to right and remembered that I have a body… I …am… I saw my mind reach to fill in the blank; I am what?… simple… I am. Even as those words formed in my mind, I experienced body standing, relaxed weight, exhaling. I experienced looking at my colleague as he continued speaking, sun on my face, hearing the sound of his voice, birds in the tree above me, swish of air, passing car, and the posture of my body as I leaned slightly forward, listening over the traffic…nothing was separate, all included… I am present, in this moment.

For the past 26 years, I have worked as a mental health and substance abuse treatment counselor, and am currently a private practice somatic-psychotherapist. It is my life’s work, my calling. Until last year I worked directing a public co-occurring mental health and substance abuse treatment facility in the East Bay area, as a clinician and supervisor, training therapists and counselors.  When I left to begin my private practice, two things I knew for certain:

1. The most potent, curative factor in the therapeutic relationship regardless of theoretical orientation or modality is the relationship between the client and the practitioner.

2. The relationship I have with my clients is the direct result of my relationship with myself. Truthfully I cannot offer something to someone else that I do not have myself.

In 1996, as the result of a spinal injury, I had the great fortune to be introduced to BREEMA. The commonsense wisdom yet profoundly encompassing effect of this body-based method brought me a long way in healing my back issues but also affected deeply, my psychological and emotional outlook on life.

You are inherently ok, you are accepted, you belong.

This was the underlying experience of my treatments at the Breema Clinic. Wordlessly, I received this.

Now, some twenty years later, it is hands down the thing that most informs my psychotherapy practice, and in fact, every aspect of my life. Practicing the simple self-care movements and bodywork, using the Nine Principles of Harmony throughout my busy day, I am reminded that I have a body and I come from the complication of my thoughts and commentary about myself and life to a simple, direct experience – body, mind, and feelings working in harmony, simply being present in the moment.

I experience vitality, a love for life, and an inclusive attitude that allows me to engage life with openness, confidence, and a real desire for meaningful participation. This is the genuine foundation of my therapeutic relationship with clients– the most potent ingredient.

And because the fundamental, universal principles of Breema are inclusive– I am included in the benefit– my energy is not drained in session. I am not giving my client anything that I am not also giving myself.

 

The Nine Principles Of Harmony

Body Comfortable

When we look at the body, not as something separate, but as an aspect of a unified whole, there is no place for discomfort.

No Extra

To express our true nature, nothing extra is needed.

Firmness and Gentleness

Real firmness is always gentle. Real gentleness is always firm. When we are present, we naturally manifest firmness and gentleness simultaneously.

Full Participation

The most natural way of moving and living is with full participation. Full participation is possible when body, mind, and feelings are united in a common aim.

Mutual Support

The more our Being participates, the more we are able to support life and recognize that Existence supports us. Giving and receiving support take place simultaneously.

No Judgment

The atmosphere of non-judgment gives us a taste of acceptance of ourselves as we are in the moment. When we come to the present, we are free from judgment.

Single Moment/Single Activity

Each moment is new, fresh, totally alive. Each moment is an expression of our true nature, complete by itself.

No Hurry/No Pause

In the natural rhythm of life energy, there is no hurry and no pause.

No Force

When we let go of assumptions of separation, we let go of force.

 

The nonjudgmental atmosphere created by the use of the Nine Principles of Harmony is deeply nourishing and enables us to let go of conditioned patterns, so that we can connect to new and more natural ways of moving, thinking, and feeling. These principles can be integrated and applied in any profession and in all activities of daily life, helping us bring greater harmony to all our relationships.

Breema begins with registering the fact that our body has weight and our body breathes, without feelings of like and dislike, and without taking information from the registering part of the mind to the automatic flow of associations. In association our energy and attention are drawn to the past and future. The aim of Breema is acceptance of our own condition, and from there, acceptance of the condition of the recipient. This creates an atmosphere of acceptance in which the recipient has a chance to accept their own body. They simply let go of the “extra.”

Breema can relax us, but that’s not its principle aim. Breema decrystalizes the body, mind, and feelings. As the body is decrystalized, it becomes capable of having new movements and postures. It’s relationship to the life force changes. The body, mind, and feelings have a new relationship and function cooperatively. The purpose of Breema is to unify our mind, body, and feelings so we can live in harmony with ourselves, with others, and with all life.

– Breema: Essence of Harmonious Life by Jon Schreiber

 

Breema at Kripalu, Stockbridge, Massachusett, April 20-22 

with Jon Schreiber and Matthew Tousignant

Breema is about self-transformation. Using a simple, natural form of touch and body movement, Breema’s unique individual and partner exercises offer a direct, experiential connection to the fundamental laws and guiding principles of the universe.  Timeless, yet down-to-earth and practical, Breema uses nurturing touch, tension-relieving stretches, and rhythmic movements to catalyze ongoing and revolutionary changes in your relationship to yourself, your life, and other people. As your mind, feelings, and body become more unified, harmonious, and natural, you begin to discover the real meaning of health—harmony with existence and a greater potential to live a more purposeful and meaningful life.
This program is a fulfilling entry into Breema’s philosophy, self-care exercises, and bodywork. It provides a distinctive approach to the body-mind connection, helping to nurture vitality, aliveness, non-judgment, presence, and well-being. No prior experience is needed. The program is appropriate for health practitioners who plan to apply what they learn with patients or clients, and for everyone who wants to enhance their own self-care or to practice with family and friends.

 

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