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Cradling the Cortex ~ Playing with Plasticity

Next Generation of Trainers

Cradling the Cortex ~ Playing with Plasticity

By on February 17, 2011

As a cellular organism who receives and transmits information via a signaling system called The nervous System, describe how your process of integrating the four realms of your body has prepared you to teach the White Belt Intensive.

Mel Robin writes:  "actions originating at the lower, more subconscious levels can be brought into the higher, more conscious levels through the practice of the yogasanas" (p. 24), " with the somatic branch of the peripheral nervous sytem, so too can certain actions of the autonomic system be brought to the level of consciousness by the practice of the yogasanas" (p. 26), "reflex actions such as this can be brought under conscious control through the yogasana practice" (p. 84).  My process of integrating the four realms of my body began with unraveling the tangled ball of knotted yarn of decades' worth of habitual responses that had become hardwired into patterns of depression and anxiety.  My body was not a place I lived in before I met Nia.  My emotions whipped me wildly from here to there with volatility, unpredictability, and painful backlash.  My mind was an unruly problem child, hyperactive and unresponsive to tending.  In this landscape, my Spirit more often than not couldn't find open spaces in which to breathe and play and express.  She was stifled.  Robin speaks of "the flow of neural traffic signals" (p. 70).  My pre-Nia flow resembled a traffic jam.

In order to integrate, I first had to untangle the ball of yarn and learn to differentiate amongst the realms.  My key to unlocking the traffic jam was the daily, moment-by-moment practice of Awareness.  This became a tool I used to hook pieces of the yarn, pulling them out to discern where they came from and disappeared into, where they were tangled and furled.  White Belt Principle #5 became my invitation to drop down into my body, to anchor in physical form.  To train myself to embody this tool, I used what I called 'anchors,' visual or auditory symbols to condition myself to return to the practice:  my car keys, my toothbrush, the ringing of a phone became reminders to return home.  I nestled into my cells by conditioning myself to sustain my practice of Awareness.  From my Body, I learned to recognize Emotions (which once had me at their mercy) as energies and information experienced through the Body as sensations.  Sensation was something I could get my hook into.  Sensations were something I could work with.  To increase fluency in the language of emotion, I created a shapeshifter's offering bowl that became my tool with which to practice Freedance Stages 3 and 4.  I typed out the hundreds of emotions listed in the White Belt manual, cut them into small pieces and placed them into my bowl.  One by one, I would pull them out and dive into the emotions, conditioning plasticity into my nervous system by infusing my Body with the shapes and dynamics and cellular expressions of different emotional energies.  This process taught me pliability of emotional responses and to recognize how different emotional flavors affected my Body.  To untangle knots in my Mind, I spent time getting intimate with my Energy Allies.  I paid attention to moments where I was not aligned with my Energy Allies, and Witnessed the draining of my battery.  I conditioned my responses to more and more often more and more deeply align with them.  I paid attention to how my Beliefs, Attitudes, Thoughts, Feelings, Choices and Decisions affected my Body and my battery.  Through conscious attention and crafting, I began to learn to tame my Mind and Mind my Mental Energy.  Once I had unraveled much of the tangled mass of the Body, Mind, and Emotions, I found Spirit breathing in the middle.

Once I untangled by learning to recognize the nature and sensations of the different realms, I could begin the process of integration.  Integrating the realms had me weaving these four threads together into the whole of a tapestry that was made strong in context of the weaving.  My Body became my base, the space through which all other realms would be woven through.  Once I inhabited my Body, I had a tool that I could read, interpret, and shift. My Body became my anchor, my home base from which I could begin to unravel, meet, and recognize my other realms, all of which course through and express themselves through this home base.  Anchored in my Body, I had grounding from which to navigate and conduct my Emotional realm.  I could consciously tweak sensation in and arrangement of my body to affect and shift my Emotional body.  I knew I had reached the level of athleticism when I felt conscious Agility in my Emotional realm and Personal Power in choosing emotions.  Integrating my Mental Realm involved learning to trust my Body's wisdom and unhook from the assumption of the tyranny of mind.  The once unruly, domineering problem child learned that responsibility = the ability to respond.  In order to respond, the mind had to be in relationship and in receiving mode in communication.  The language spoken is trust.  My Spirit integrated herself into, around, and through the realms by showing up as surprising bursts of inspiration.  "Clicks."  Woven together, these four yarns formed a new creation, a tapestry of strength.  The Body yarn formed the base of the weaving with its solid sturdiness, woven with integrity.  It laid itself down as the grid into which the other realms circulated and flowed.  The yarn of the Emotional body contained wild striations and intense variations of rich, dense, vibrant color as well as varying textures.  The yarn of the Mental body brought pattern to the piece, deliberately interwoven into pleasing arrangements.  Spirit's is an eyelash yarn with surprising glints of smiley sparkles.  The practice of AIC prepared me to give language to the realms, an integral piece of the Body Literacy I seek.

My journey of untangling to re-integrate the realms was and is a process of constantly raising the bar by challenging my nervous system to adapt to increasing challenges, to grow, and to expand its potential.  By challenging myself, I consciously activate my sympathetic nervous system and sense the rise in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate.  From here, I go into Sacred Athlete mode as I condition my ability to jumpstart parasympathetic activation, to consciously slow down my breathing and sense the resultant decrease in heart rate and the settling sensation in my hara.  I shapeshift my Somatic Nervous System by aligning my posture and recognizing and releasing tension in my body.  Choices for Personal Power include knowing when to pull back and limit stimulation and inviting myself to settle into the sensation of somatic Peace.  Quantum leaps in the conditioning of my nervous system come through playing with Black Belt tools of The River of the Unknown, KWTDWYDKWTD, The Place of No Concern, and my Long Coat.

Constantly re-anchoring somatically gives me my Body as a tool to work with, a lab in which to hypothesize and alchemize.  A constant gauge throughout the years of conditioning my nervous system has shown up through my palms.  At the very beginning of my journey into Awareness as a White Belt in Training, I recall the sensation of sweaty palms and feeling anxious when I spoke to the group.  When I began teaching several months later, my sweaty palms were accompanied by nervousness.  During Intensives, Barring sessions have activated sweaty palms.  As I progressed along the Belt System, I watched with fascination the shifting emotional responses accompanying my sweaty Barring palms.  During White Belt, it was one hot mess of emotions.  During Blue Belt, I Witnessed the energy of Fear and entered into relationship with it.  Brown Belt brought an anxious Feeling that floated over the sensation of Peace and conscious directing of free-flowing breath.  Black Belt Barring brought sweaty palms and delighted amusement!  I recognized that my palms were insight into my nervous system AND that I had the Personal Power to direct my Emotional Body.  After Black Belt, stepping into offering Blue Monkey events activated sweaty palms (and soles of the feet to boot!) in a way that told me I was doing deep work with my nervous system.  The first time I heard Carlos mention (during my Blue Belt) Blue Monkey classes and showing up to teach to unknown music, my stomach did flips.  What a perfect opportunity to self-heal my nervous system!  I knew I needed to go there as a Black Belt.  Now I walk into these monthly events with ease and warm, relaxed palms.  Most recently, I embraced my sweaty palm signals during Day 7 of the NGT Summit.  Standing before 50ish fellow NGTs plus FGTs and hearing Debbie invite all up to offer my pod and another pod feedback very quickly translated into very sweaty palms!  I have learned to recognize this sign as a reflex response to my nervous system learning a "new-to-me skill."  And standing in front of the entire group of my esteemed colleagues while opening my BMES to feedback was a space I had never stood in before.  Underneath the sweaty palms, I felt held and supercharged by this incredible emotion of peacefulness and the sensation of opening through the heart space.  Radiance.  I continue to raise the bar on and for myself as I continue the journey, playing with plasticity of my nervous system, conditioning myself to sit in the White Belt circle as a Trainer.