Embodying Movement: 3 Explorations of Weight Flow
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
In my last article I discussed some background to Somatic work and provided three explorations around sensing weight as a way of connecting with gravity. Somatics is a way of understanding the wisdom of our body and of gaining and maintaining a body image from the inside out. Embodying movement to the extent that weight sensing and yielding leads naturally into movement initiation with intent.
Weight provides us with information about our inner attitude to mobilize. Our faculty of participation with weight indicates our intention, the desire to do something. How do we activate our weight to accomplish a task? The act of noticing transforms the action. When I notice my weight shifting, it changes the way I shift.
By sensing our weight we bring our attention to the experience of ourselves while doing something or nothing. We notice where we may have holding in our tissues, and which tissues are holding, or where we are able to flow into the earth. This holding, or not holding, is related to muscular tension and impacts flow.
One of my great teachers, Peter Madden, would have us explore the process of how our weight could flow from one place to another. He called the experiences Weight Flow. There are multiple expressions of flow. There is flow of time, flow of breath, flow of thought, and “being in flow”.
Picture in your mind’s eye lava moving down a mountain-side or towards the ocean. Feel the weight of the lava as it rolls down the slope. Where does the lava flow get blocked? What obstacles does the lava flow over, or around? This image helps us access our understanding of where we may have tension holding in our musculature, but also our bones, our organs, or other body tissue that contributes to our ‘weightiness’. Through this imagery experience we can understand that flow of weight is weight sensing in motion.
With flow and weight, an exertion/recuperation cycle is constantly in motion. Our faculty of participating with precision, expressed by progression and ongoingness, is indicated in our tissues. When actively sensing our weight, we establish our self as a material body. We are able to express strength or lightness and in so doing we establish our presence in the world.
Going with the Weight Flow
Try the following to experience the delights of weight flow. The only ‘rule’ to the exploration is to keep all your body parts, (fingers, hands, feet, head) in contact with the floor. In other words, do not lift your limbs from the floor.
Lying on your back take any support you need for your head or legs. Soften and begin to settle, yielding into the floor. Feel where your body meets the floor. Sense the places of contact between you and the floor. How do you respond to the presence of the floor? In the places of connection notice where there is weight. Feel the pull of gravity. Feel the support of the floor rising up to meet the weight of your body.
Now, imagine your body is full of beans. Roll your head to the right side pouring the beans to the right. Notice the flow of weight as your head turns, notice how your yielding self becomes activated. How does this weight flow affect the rest of your body motion?
Following the flow of your head, roll your shoulders over to the right. Allow the sense of pouring “the weight of the beans” in your body, peel your ribcage, then lumbar spine, and hip crests off the floor as you continue to twist and slide over to the front surface of your body. Feel the weight of your “bean filled” body flowing into the floor. Notice where your arms and legs roll and flow and softly land on the front surface.
Initiating from your sacrum, roll your pelvis to the right, feel the weight of the beans flow, allowing your legs, torso, and arms to spiralically sequence onto your back. Notice where your legs, head, and arms want to go as the “flow of beans” settle into the floor.
Slide your feet onto the floor (simultaneously or one at a time), until your knees face the ceiling. Allow your knees to fall to the left. Feel the weight of the flow of beans spiral through your pelvis and waist then sweep your right arm along the floor over your head to roll your chest over to the left side. Rest. Notice the weight of your bones as the “falling of the beans” settle into your left side.
Rest – Then initiating with your head or sacrum, roll back onto your back. You can repeat the sequence to the other side.
Flow of weight affects our emotions.
Stand up and feel your weight flow into the floor. Walk around the room feeling your weight flowing into your feet as you step and shift your weight. Stand still, then imagine egg shells or pebbles on the floor, walk around the room, Notice the holding back of flow or lightening up of your footsteps as you walk around the room. What feelings come to you as you move this way?
Imagine your feet sinking into mud with each step, how do you pull your feet out? Do you feel like you are getting sucked back in, or are you able to push through and break free? Is every step this hard? Where else in your life do you feel you are unable to free up?
When we connect with our sense of progression, outpouring or holding back as we move lightly (walking on egg shells, or sneaking up on someone) or firmly (trudging through a field of snow, or stomping a tree into the ground) we notice how our movement may impact our mood, or how our moods and imagination may be impacted by moving.
Connecting physically allows us to connect emotionally, psychically and spiritually. Discovering your relationship to weight and flow supports the integration of your body/mind so you can make lasting and healthy shifts so you can enjoy the feeling of your bare feet on the earth and the wind playing in your hair.