Part of the process

The dance festival asked me to write about my work at the Women’s Voices show. I worked with Katie Ewald on a somewhat interactive piece about receptivity. The article can be found here.

Living in the felt-seen

I propose:

In human experience the senses were not originally separate from one another. In our first stages of life they came all at once as a unified whole. The mind, using language to identify experience took them apart to study each sense one at a time. In our language dominated experience, we have forgotten the totality of the senses and tend to get stuck in one sense at a time.

I have begun to notice a major pattern in the relationship between different senses becoming dominant in my consciousness and others being relegated to the unconscious. When my visual sense is dominant, feeling or kinesthesia of my body becomes somewhat unconscious. When my feeling body becomes dominant, I often go ‘inside’ of my experience and stop relating to the exterior or seen aspects. I believe that this split between what we feel and see creates polarity in the bodymind. Through giving too much meaning to either the external or the internal, we begin to navigate our own abandonment of total sensory engagement, leaving other parts of our experience to the ‘unconscious’.

When our visual sense is dominant, we identify meaning by our relationships to what is external. Dividing our experience of all that we see into categories, the endless contents of space-time become objectified. Hence we identify meaning through objects. This manifests in innumerable ways, proliferated by language. Everything in our experience becomes named and the things we don’t have words for become forgotten or are not experienced in the first place. Through objective identification the dimensionality of embodied relationship is lost. We see objects as objects and disregard something once we have recognized what category it fits into or how it relates to our past experience. This disenchantment through naming instead of feeling the external world has unfortunately made it harder to feel ourselves and the contents of our own bodies. When we are not aware of our feelings unconscious behavior can take over.

On the other hand, when the feeling sensations become consciously dominant, we stop the natural flow of sensory information where feelings are always connected to what we see and what is in the world. The feeling becomes isolated or frozen for a time and the related part of us can become closed to the exterior or the seen. This is not like having our eyes closed though. It s more that the meaning felt of our experience colors everything that we see and whatever we see reminds us of how we feel. Too much identification with internal feelings can close us from relating outside of ourselves. This creates a chicken/egg dynamic where we blame the external because we think it makes us feel the way that we do. Really we chose to hold onto a feeling and let it dominate to the point that we withdrew from the world.

When we have experiences of empathy (feeling what we see) our senses recombine and this can allow for the flow between felt and seen to continue. If we can avoid shutting down from ‘over-stimulation’ we have an opportunity to heal. I recommend a natural and quiet setting when attempting this kind of deep work between the felt body and the senses.

Allow seeing and feeling equally in order to become embodied and let the flow of life energy move through you naturally. The sensation is dynamic, almost as though what you see gently looks back at you and allows you to feel yourself. When we see the world from a place of feeling we have compassion and respect for all that is. I believe that this describes why people can be so affected by their environments yet also heal and re-create the world. Start with the senses and help those around you to balance their experience out!