Taking Responsibility for your Next Move

What is Driving your Movement?

“All the physical movement is to give her a change so she can own the responsibility for what she wants.” 

How does changing how you move affect the rest of your life?  Movement is movement and the rest of your life is the rest of your life.  Nothing more to see here, right?

Part of me wants to go epic and deep, to talk about the nature of matter, of our existence as movement – the vibration and movement of atoms, the space between parts of molecules, the matter of our cells.  As fascinating as the nature of matter is, it failed my Mom test – the practical, simple explanation I would use to tell my Mom about this.  (Thanks to Rob Fitzpatrick for the concept from his book, The Mom Test).

“All the physical movement is to give her a change so she can own the responsibility for what she wants.” 

This statement came from a teacher and mentor of mine, Candy Conino,  in the discussion of a client case – some of my peers and I gather once a week to discuss questions from our practice which gives us a rich learning environment to build our professional competence and confidence.

In the search for a practical, simple explanation of the what this means –  “All the physical movement is to give her a change so she can own the responsibility for what she wants” – it comes down to this.

We can lose ourselves in our unconscious habits.  We need our habits – try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand – to know how much attention this basic hygiene task takes without your habitual movement.   But habits can become a trap.

One way that our unconscious habits can become mal-adaptive behaviors is when something important in our environment shifts.  A partner becomes seriously ill or dies.  You have a serious accident or life event that changes how you get through each day.  We can do what we have always done and it doesn’t quite work anymore.  Or we can change but what we do now doesn’t feel quite right and we create a story that explains what is missing now that our partner is gone or our ability to run or walk is altered.  We create our story of coping.  And we cope.  That’s how we survive past the hard parts of life.

One kind of coping is to dive hard into an unconscious habit that feels like a save.

Let’s imagine Lidia’s journey – when Lidia’s partner dies, after an initial grieving period, one possible move is for Lidia to dive into activity – all of the classes, experiences, trips – everything that might have been on hold due to her partner’s poor health or just her unexpressed dreams for what she wanted but didn’t do.  And in that flurry of activity, Lidia sustains an injury, some physical way of breaking down.

She did too much, we say, her body wasn’t able to keep up with all this intense activity.  But more than volume, frequency or intensity of activity, we can also take the measure of the compulsive nature of what Lidia dives into – a way of coping that leads her away from herself.

What somatic coaching can help Lidia do is to bring her movement and her movement habits into conscious awareness so she can choose both how she moves and who she is in this new environment.  Unconscious coping creates a compelling and frustrating experience – while doing it you can lose yourself in the coping activity and at some point, Lidia comes back to herself.  And faces the frustration, the longing, the grief, the fear of what she is adapting to. And the limits of how she is coping.   Time to dive back in.

Somatic coaching can help Lidia listen to herself, her body and how she is functioning in her environment now and know herself – not through a story of who she was or is now, or the way she is coping to save herself, but in a concrete way right now.

Keep it sample, Mom


The practical, simple explanation I would tell my Mom is by helping Lidia become conscious of how she moves, she can choose what to do now because she can feel herself as she moves now. And her conscious choice is how she creates the person she can be, with each move, in every day.

Interested in learning more?  Book a free 15 minute call with Cheryl.  No sales pressure, just a caring conversation about what you are looking for and what I can offer.   https://www.kindpower.ca/book/

Ready to start?  Book a 45 minute somatic assessment session.  Then based on what we discover together, I will make a recommendation for what can support you.   https://www.kindpower.ca/book/

Word Magic leading to suffering or wholeness

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

I realize that I have almost always picked work that requires me to learn on the job.  Coming from a family with a high number of teachers, grandmother, cousins, aunt, I grew up in an environment where the value of learning was infused in the air.  Growing up in my farming family, my earliest school room was the freedom to play outside as long as I was home for dinner.

It is no surprise to me that one of the people who influences my learning now is David Abram, an ecologist, philosopher and an accomplished slight of hand magician.  What I most want to share from his first book, The Spell of the Sensuous, is his ideas about word magic and how our language affects how we participate in what we sense.

My early outdoor expeditions in the shelter belt of farms in southern Alberta (the double row of trees surrounding the house and outbuildings) were wordless ones, shared with a black Labrador dog, sometimes a sister.  The smell of sticky poplar leaves on a warm spring afternoon, attaching anywhere I pressed close enough.  The sound and vibration of weighted wheat stalks tossing above my head to the persistent southwest wind, framing the autumnal blue sky.  These words may evoke the memory of what I sensed but it is not the same as the sense memory awakened when I smell poplar trees again or pause to listen to the swaying of a soon-to-be harvested wheat field.

The word magic he writes about is a simple sleight of tongue that hides what is right there in front of us. When we speak about touching the cat, about smelling the paperwhite blooms, about listening to the wind in the branches above the path – there is a word magic in “the”.  That small word renders for us a notion that the being we sense is an object.  Abram says, “To define another being as an inert or passive object is to deny its ability to actively engage us and to provoke our senses; we block our perceptual reciprocity with that being.”

Why does this matter?  It is grammatically accurate – a cat is a noun; the tree is a noun.  More word magic.  This construct shines a light on us as the sensing being and everything else as the thing being sensed.  It closes down what feels like real magic, that anything we touch, touches us back.  That anything we inhale, also shares the air.  That anything we hear, also feels our vibration as we walk by.  Abram says, “perception always remains vulnerable to the decisive influence of language.”

Word magic can magnify suffering.

In working with clients, I notice the impact of this word magic on their lives, as part of suffering that comes with pain.  Because one of the habits so many of us have learned, is to apply that objectifying language to ourselves.  The leg.  The neck.  If one of the superpowers of the Feldenkrais Method is making finer and finer distinctions as part of learning, this tiny distinction is a root of self-domination, the place where I try to control my leg to do what I want.  Without listening to my leg as a living being.  This small distancing in our self-perception, keeps us apart from ourselves. There is magic in claiming relationship with all of the parts of myself.  It doesn’t just change me, it changes the world I move in – how all of me can be part of all of we, living here.  Rather than part of me trying to control all of it, out there.  Expanded outwards, that small distinction makes all the difference. Please share this with someone you feel would enjoy it.

If this resonates with you, you might enjoy my upcoming In Touch series – starting Feb 4.

To register www.kindpower.ca/book


Brace or Embrace? That is the Question.

Photo by Jennifer Bonauer on Unsplash

You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation…and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else. (Herman Hesse)

What was the last time you had something happen to you that you really didn’t want to happen?   That thing that created in you a kind of digging your heels in, push back on reality kind of bracing.  “That is not what I needed today!”    Like driving to a car preventative maintenance appointment and having your car break down on the way.   Or finding out someone you believed was a friend has been spreading untrue stories about you, behind your back.   Or getting a health diagnosis for a loved family member that leaves you feeling powerless and devastated.

Life happens – when we brace for it, we are saying with our bodies, with our whole selves – “This is not what I want to experience, not these emotions, not these sensations.”  This is my reality and I want it the way that I want it.   In this moment of bracing against the reality we are actually experiencing, this moment of tension soaks up considerable energy, considerable attention – a proverbial square peg in a round hole as we protest how what shows up does not fit in our template of what we feel should be showing up.

So we should just accept what comes, right?  I hear and feel the calling, the higher self that can express in the moment, like a cosmic voice over, “Everything is all right as it is.”   The call to step back, tune in, expand out and feel that this road block, this upset, this unexpected change in fortune is all alright.  Yes.  Yes and…..I acknowledge I am my highest self – right now and also the self who is balancing connection with the people in my life and the list of priorities that come with work, with school. With caregiving.  With self-care.

I visit my higher self and live daily the really real with the rest of me.  I find it is often the mundane moments that bring out my tendency to brace rather than embrace, the spilling of the coffee grounds, the aftermath of taking the wrong turn on an unfamiliar road, the gap between small expectations of how time shared with a loved one will be and what actually happens.  Even when not identified with the clash of expectations and experience, I can’t claim to occupy the kind of spaciousness to embrace fully.  Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  Maybe you can relate.  I can go with the flow, finding that easiest when I don’t have a plan, when I am not following purpose.   But bracing happens when something that matters is at risk, when we project our fear of what could happen onto the event unfolding in front of us. 

What does love have to do with it?  The core of embracing what “shouldn’t” be happening comes from love, from warm attention, from greeting the experience.  From acknowledging what I have here, including my reaction to the experience as part of my experience.  A reaction that can flow into a response.  No extra baggage, no sticky labelling of the happening, the start of a story that surrounds your experience.  Just naked experience.

Being naked might feel freeing.  Or make you shiver.  Bracing stops the flow of our experience.  Puts on the brakes.  Might feel more stable.  Much harder to move from there.  We might feel the freedom to flow from one experience to the next, having our reactions without stopping the flow of our experience.  The flow of unimpeded tears, the flow of frustration mingling with ongoing curiosity and attention to what can happen next.

When you notice yourself next in the posture of brace, is there space to pause? To soften?  To open up just enough to breathe into the moment?  I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about what happens, to let go of what matters to you. You will have so much more available to you from a posture of embrace, so much more than hunkering into a defended stance.   I feel this choice strongly, in the daily work as an entrepreneur, the daily invitation and the daily discipline to invite openness into my purpose, especially when the networking connection fizzles, the client cancels.  This is a form of personal leadership to receive, without relinquishing, to connect without being overwhelmed.  To embrace what is at stake for you when things are not working out.  To lean in, to discover again what is valuable and maybe in that space another way will become visible on the path to your purpose.  

This is a personal leadership that can be with what feels like chaos, the breakdown of our predictions – the familiar tool of projection we use to withstand not knowing what will happen next.  We brace because it feels too vulnerable to embrace the unknown, because it feels slippery and we are afraid of falling, of losing what we would hold close.   Compared to our habits of bracing, embracing can feel defenseless, weak.  So start with embracing the mundane unwanted things, the car breaking down, the spilled coffee grounds.  Find out what is on the other side of embracing your fear of what you don’t want to happen.