Sensorimotor and Mindful Awareness – A Learning Opportunity

Asphalt road towards the rising sun

When things are going as they usually go (down a rote pathway of the brain that runs at a subconscious level on autopilot), we may have little to no awareness of what’s happening as we move through our days.  Here, we can get stuck in our patterns. Conversely, when we pause and place awareness in our present moment experience, that is where the magic happens. 

When we focus on and practice to intentionally show up in the situations we get stuck in over and over again, we have the opportunity to create pause.  It’s here we can get curious about “why” a pattern may play out in our lives again and again.  When we intentionally focus our attention either toward or away from the details of our outer or inner experience, we can shift past patterns and create new neuro-pathways.  Our brain has the capability to learn new ways of navigating adaptive survival responses that no longer serve us in our current circumstances. Exploring where and how we intentionally focus this energy will help us to learn how to better listen and respond to our nervous system. 

Pause is everything. If we don’t create pause, we can’t interrupt the pattern or “track” that is potentially a very well-laid path of automatic responses.  It’s in the pause of coming to the present moment that we can create the new tracks.  With intentional practice, this new path will eventually be the “go to,” leaving the old, outdated response patterns behind. 

Curiosity, for me, indicates that I’m in the present moment.  Other indicators of this self energy are calmness, clarity, compassion, confidence, courage, creativity, and connectedness. (Internal Family Systems)

When I am in the present, I can begin to use my curiosity to explore what’s happening. What internal and external experiences do I notice? Does it feel safe to let myself notice? If so, can I let my body respond in a way that feels calm and connected to my experience? What does my posture communicate to me and why is it doing whatever it’s doing? These are a few of many questions which help me explore what is happening.

I use these questions often, and wish to share a personal example of how this plays out in my own life.  This morning getting out the door for our trip, I felt sore and overtired. I was feeling a little off balance.  My partner, Charles, and I had a disagreement right before leaving, and we both felt feelings about a few  of the exchanges we had had. These interactions have caused my system to feel more activated, and I can see Charles feels activated as well. 

We start the journey with a six-hour drive ahead and this was my experience. 

The roadtrip begins – I am feeling disappointed, which for me is a hard feeling to feel. I notice that my posture feels smaller. I don’t turn my head as much. My gaze and what I experience, happens from a periphery that feels much more narrow that my normal gaze. I actually hesitate to look around.  Why? 

Time passes on. 

In this moment, I am in my window of tolerance because I can think enough to formulate these thoughts. I am intentionally feeling into my feet. One of which is against the seat and one under my other knee. I am purposefully looking up and around to take in my surroundings in a comfortable relaxed-muscle body. I am feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. I am aware that the sky is a beautiful shade of blue with bluish grey clouds scattered here and there. 

I know here I can shift aspects of my experience because I am aware of what is happening.  

Time passes on

In this moment, I am awake in the present and able to find calm and connection.  To notice what was happening in my body and my outer world, and choose the next step in the process with intention.

Rest stop 

I decided to wait at the hood of the car when we stopped at the rest stop. Charles has stopped to look for something in the backseat so I decide to pause and soak up the sun while he does. One of us reaches out a hand and the other receives it. I walk mindfully and slowly along the pathway to the restrooms while taking in the details of people soaking in the sun and walking to and from their cars.  When returning from the restroom, Charles is waiting at the door for me, and we begin walking hand in hand again on way back to the car.  We stop at the car and give each other a hug and embrace long enough to soak in the rhythm of each other’s heart beat—intentionally embracing to find synchronicity before continuing to our destination. This creates an experience of balance restored, all without a single word spoken. 

Coming to recognize and shift our out-of-date patterns that no longer fit in our current experience is powerful.  

We both could have run on autopilot with the same bodily postures, movements, and responses, but we didn’t.  I got curious with questions and shifted the way my body responded, and Charles utilized humming which is a very powerful somatic exercise. He hummed for 2 hours. This is the benefit and result of our own individual trauma work, and the continued practice of mindfulness, somatic work, sensorimotor work, parts work, EMDR and more. 

That is intentional healing. 

Within our mindfulness journey, we may benefit from support of a trauma informed provider so it can feel a little gentler. We are here to support you in the process.

Megan Shane

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