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In this new series of Resilience Practice we journey into our inner world of skin, muscle, connective tissues, bone and vital organs. As we contact each aspect of this amazing world within us and experience the support and aliveness that if gives us, we can build up our individual strength and resilience. With this inner resilience we are better equipped to face the challenges presented by the world outside us.
Session 1 : 9/11/2020 – Finding our ground and relaxing onto it
Through contact, movement and breathing we become aware of the constant support from the earth beneath us and learn how to trust and rest on it. We start to notice the support given to us by our vital organs and experiment with how to relax our tense muscles onto this substantial inner support.
Session 2: Finding our Breath
In this session, after touching base briefly with our skin and the wobble in our insides, we visit our lungs. We start by gently stretching and easing the muscular holding around our ribcage and then move into encouraging our breath to inhabit the different areas/lobes of the lungs themselves. We also spend some time with bottle breathing, which connects the abdomen, solar plexus and chest through the breath.
Session 3: Relaxing into the Inner Support of the Large Intestine
In this session, we continue to connect with the inner support of our internal organs, focussing this time on the inner support we receive from our large intestine. We move and free the abdominal area, and then explore how to bring the expansion of the breath into this wonderfully substantial organ that fills so much of our belly. We explore how the large intestine connects energetically down into the legs and up into the arms. In Oriental Medicine the Large Intestine function is one of protection, and we experiment with how the gentle but powerful push from this organ, can be effective in maintaining a healthy balance between what we allow into our lives and what we keep out.
Session 4: Opening up the front of the body and engaging digestion through the Stomach
In this session we revisit and review some of the aspects of the three previous sessions and then focus on the function and movements that relate specifically to the Stomach. In Oriental Medicine the Stomach function is about our needs and how we get satisfaction. On the physical level this is about the food and nourishment we take in but, in a wider sense, it is about our relationship with asking and getting what we really need. The Stomach and Large Intestine have a close relationship here. The Large Intestine, our focus in session 3, is about knowing and protecting our boundaries and limits. Without this ability to push away and say “no” to what we don’t need, it is difficult for us to be able to distinguish what does or doesn’t really nourish us. When we have clear boundaries and limits in ourself, it is much easier to say “yes” to what comes from outside and for the Stomach to take in and digest.
Session 5: Moving and opening the shoulders and activating the fire in the belly through the Small Intestine.
The Small Intestine is a less well-known but very important organ whose function helps us to simplify and absorb the vastly complicated world around us. It helps us to transform everything that we take in, both the physical and emotional, so that we can assimilate well, and feel the warmth in our insides. It influences how we use our shoulders and arms, and how we reach towards what nourishes us.
Session 6: Contacting the Power of the Bladder function and channeling it through the spine into action
As the year winds down to its deepest point, our focus shifts from the transformational Fire of the Small Intestine to the depths and potential of the Water element manifested in us through the Bladder. The Bladder organ is the lowest organ in our body and often not really talked about. I think of it like being in our cellar – we don’t go down there unless we need to! It is connected very strongly to the sacrum at the back of the pelvis, which then connects directly up into the rest of the spine. The Bladder function is all about aligning our intention with action, and we will be exploring this through some archetypal movements and, at the end, linking it with the Small Intestine movements from the previous session, uniting Fire and Water into action. In this way we can experience how a movement can come from the tip of our little toe all the way via the spine to the outer tip of our little finger!
Session 7: Resting into the Deep Support of the Kidneys – allowing deep relaxation
In this session we will be staying with the Water element, but going deeper and exploring the depths of the Yin aspect of this element represented by our Kidneys. In Oriental medicine the Kidney function includes the adrenal glands which actually rest on the kidney organs. This means that the Kidneys influence our state of being: directing us either into “fight or flight” mode or into the more chilled “rest and digest”. With so much uncertainty around it is likely that we are in a more anxious state than we realise and are holding more tension in our muscles than we need to. We explore movements that ease and release the kidneys and the back and encourage a sense of rootedness. One of the best things you can do for your Kidneys is to learn to just rest!
Session 8: Finding authentic expression through the Heart
All the giving and receiving of the Christmas period make it an ideal time to make contact with our Heart function and explore it within ourselves through movement and expression. The heart organ is so much more than just a muscular pump that pushes the blood around our bodies. We will be doing some “aerobic” movements to bring us in touch with this pumping aspect, but also explore movements that bring in the important aspects of its wider function in Oriental Medicine.
We will look at the Heart’s relationship with the Kidney, in these innermost and vital of body functions. The Kidneys represents our unconscious self, which makes up a very large part of us. We are at least 80% unconscious, and the Heart’s role is to bring our awareness to these parts and bring them more into consciousness. This is a very important aspect when we wish to change our habits – noticing the pattern in the first place is the starting point for change being able to happen. So there is very spiritual, meditative aspect to the heart, too. The joy we experience when expressing or making sounds relates very much to our Heart. We will be including some voicework in this session!
You will need your mat/floor space, a firm cushion for sitting on and a space where you are free to make a noise without embarrassing yourself!
Session 9: Discovering how you connect through the Fascia and the Pericardium
The anatomical heart is surrounded by the pericardium, a sac of connective tissue that contains, insulates and protects it. Connective tissue (fascia) not only wraps around the heart forming the pericardium but also wraps around every internal bit of us, every bone, organ and muscle bundle, and also forms the tendons and ligaments that hold us together.
In this session we focus on the fascia in general and the Pericardium in particular, as the representative of the qualities of connection and communication that these elastic tissues give us.
In Oriental Medicine the energy of the Pericardium is like a candle flame, gentle and healing, protecting the Heart from physical and emotional knocks and maintaining its integrity.
Session 10: Working with the Liver and learning how to engage the psoas muscle
In this session we explore connections and movements relating to the Liver, the Yin pair of the Pericardium function in this Third Family. Whilst the Pericardium meridian connects us up into our arms, the Liver meridian connects us down into our legs, with upper and lower halves joining together at the solar plexus. The Liver meridian relates directly to the psoas muscle, which connects our thigh bone to the spine. We will learn how important these connections are by revisiting an important stage in infant development.
The largest of our vital organs, the liver works hard to break down all the products of our digestion and metabolism into a transportable or storable form. In Oriental Medicine the benign Liver values all these different parts and functions of the body, bringing them all together in the central purpose of the flourishing of the system as a whole. It is a bit like when different members of a group or team learn to work together by having a core aim. It is this core aim that gives them all a purpose for being together. In the body it is the fascia that joins all the different parts together and the Liver that values each part.
You will need a firm cushion to sit on and enough clear(preferably carpeted!) floor space for some movement.
The work with the psoas needs practice to wake up those inner connections through the body, so I suggest you play with the binding before rolling in preparation for our next session which will introduce how the Gall Bladder meridian also helps in the movement of rolling.
Session 11 – Connecting through natural spirals in the body and helping our Gall Bladder
In western anatomy the Gall Bladder is seen only as a small sac which stores the bile produced in the Liver. When we eat fat/oil in a meal, bile is then secreted by our gall bladder to begin the break down and digestion of this important and nourishing food.
In Oriental Medicine, however, the Gall Bladder has a much wider function. The Gall Bladder meridian runs all the way down the sides of the body and is, therefore, the mediator between the front and the back. Twisting movements are particularly beneficial here since they bring together the opposite sides of the body. Twisting of the torso in particular gives the liver and gall bladder organs a squeeze, helping them to function well. Spiral movements are an extension of the twist as they bring in the joining of upper with lower as well, and so connect left to right and head to toes. We explore these movements as we revisit the rolling from our development as infants!
This ability to involve all aspects of the body influences us in our decision making. Our Gall Bladder enables us to see and value all the different sides to an issue and then make an appropriate decision.
You will need your mat, firm cushion for sitting on and plenty of floor space around you.
Session 12 – Warming and connecting through the Triple Heater
In this session we work with the fourth member of the Third Family, the Triple Heater. There isn’t a function in Western Medicine that corresponds with the oriental understanding of the Triple Heater function, but it acts a bit like a thermostat; warming us up when it is cold and cooling us down when it is hot. This regulatory function happens by us being connected from our head to our toes through a vast network of blood vessels. Our Triple Heater gives us that comforting “Ready Brek” or “Hovis” inner glow and is fuelled also by the warmth of our relationships. The Orientals describe Three Burning spaces in our torso where the heat is generated, and ideally these three communicate and connect with each other so that we can be at full glow!
The Triple Heater is the Yang pair of the Pericardium and the meridian is also in the arms, but on the outside. We explore how as babies we learn to reach with our hands as well as our feet to bring us onto our front. The Triple Heater also reaches to the corner of our eyebrows and we can even use our eyes to start a spiral! This is often something we forget when we grow to adulthood.
As it is the last of this family, we also revisit the other three functions in this family so that we can experience how, together, they warm and connect us.
Youl need your yoga mat and plenty of floor space, a firm cushion to sit on and an object of some kind that you find attractive – an ornament or toy, for example. All is revealed in the session!