Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Embodied Teaching & Learning, continued

Dear Birth Peeps,

I am swirling in the Tao of Embodied Teaching and Learning. One cannot exist without the other. One feeds the other.

A friend of mine told me she overcame her fear of snakes by going through a guided process with live snakes and a "snake mentor." It was not a cognitive (thinking/talking) process. There were no affirmations on her fridge. It was not about exploring her feelings about snakes. Her relationship with (and feelings about)snakes changed through living a hands-on experience with snakes. Now that she is "One Who Knows," she cannot simply help another person who is afraid of snakes overcome this fear by telling what she experienced and learned. However, because she has drunk from this Well, this Water of Knowing is in her body and mind now, and she is more capable of guiding someone through an embodied experience of changing fear into being able to respond--not just with snakes, but in other areas of their life!

Embodied learning and teaching is manifested when we go to the edge, when we take a risk and DO the thing we had not yet done, or thought we could not do. We must live (not theorize) a new relationship with our environment, people, or ourselves.

I am inviting all Birth Peeps to consider what you would do, could do, perhaps have done, to bring birth preparation back into the body. You might not ever do it (I have some ideas that this culture would never allow for) but it is in thinking freely that we get out of the box, and perhaps we find a new task or process the culture would allow for.

Here's the thing. Embodied teaching is not a "tool box." We don't have a "kit" to bring to class. We must become so alive in this approach that, while we may rely on some standard embodied teachings (like the ice contractions for pain-coping practices), we can see what the specific task is for the person we are teaching, and co-create a way for the learner to take a small risk or experiment to experience it.

There can be no attachment to outcome when we undertake embodied teaching or learning. We cannot know ahead of time exactly what the outcome will be, i.e., what the learner will know or do differently, or that in learning they will make "better choices" or have a certain kind of birth/life.

Embodied teaching and learning is rooted in relationship; a sensory and visceral relationship with our immediate environment, emotions, breath, humans, and the chaotic sea of thoughts and assumptions.

When we ourselves have not dared drink from a Well of a certain kind of experience or Knowledge, that knowing is not yet ours. In this case when we want to help, we are inclined to source from the knowledge and experience of others and give cliche advice (or we may lead others to attempt to avoid the thing we ourselves have not yet faced and integrated). It might just be that we can only take others as far as we ourselves have dared to tread, or have been fated to tread!

Time is a great teacher. I think this is why Taoists valued longevity... not because living on earth in itself is so great, but that it takes a long time to have and to integrate experiences that gift us with wisdom and personal freedom.



1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking much on this and on the Hero's Journey.

    What I am hearing from these posts on embodiement and the Hero's Journey is that they are a feminine way of knowing/being, yes?
    And how does one approach a highly masculine charged person, practice, profession from this place of knowing - practically speaking? Without alienating.
    Much of where I am coming from/to Birthing From Within is how to explore ways of being within oppressive and/or patriachial environments - preferably ways of being that encourage growth, but also allows for and expands on the good intentions/motivations of those environments.

    Some questions rolling around in my head/heart. The answers I think will come from continued breaking thru my own fears and just seeing what happens.