What is the Bodymind?


Bodymind is a term that attempts to describe how the body and mind connect and interact. 

The body seems to have its own wisdom and its own way of processing events. The body remembers. While the mind can handle time -- past, present, and future -- the body experiences all time as now. The body is always in 'now' time.

Two Consciousnesses

For years I have said that we are composed of two different consciousnesses: our intellect, and our body consciousness. The intellect can handle discrepancy and contradiction; the body's consciousness cannot. Our intellect can tell us a falsehood to resolve a conflict; our body always and only tells us the truth each moment. 

The body communicates in images and feelings. The mind communicates in words. Living with our body consciousness is like living with a truth-telling youngster who can't speak our language; we must learn its language if we are to live together in harmony.

Memories and Emotions Are Stored in the Body

When I was in massage school, I began to understand that memories of events are stored in the tissues of the body. Trauma is stored in the body as if it were happening now, the only time the body knows. Injury memory is also stored in the body's now. Our minds can tell us, "Oh, that happened long ago. We are over it." But the body tells us that trauma, injury, and frightening experiences are still happening now. 

Body and Mind Together Form A Unique Wisdom

Where these two amazing intellects meet and mingle is the bodymind. The mind can rule us and send us out onto the stage to give a presentation, but the body may recoil in fear and fright, remembering that time in third grade when we had stage fright, forgetting our lines to loud ridicule and laughter from the audience. The mind says "we're over it." The body says, "nuh uh."

Trauma specialists understand this body/mind connection, and work carefully and slowly to resolve terrifying experiences held in the bodymind. The body is the animal that we are, and we have to be gentle and patient with it to help it understand about time and that these experiences are no longer happening in this now. Like a skittish foal, we can move our bodymind slowly through a new version of an old trauma, building a new, safer experience for it to store.

Books and Further Reading About the Bodymind

One of the first books I bought when I was in massage school back in the late 90s was Bodymind by Ken Dychtwald. Mr. Dychtwald examines the bodymind in detail from his personal experiences and from experiences he has had with his own clients in this bodywork practice. It has been updated and is still a classic. 

What he tells us is that body influences mind and mind influences body.

Other influential books about the bodymind connection are Focusing by Eugene Gendlin and Your Body Knows the Answer by David I Rome.

The Now versus The Story

Our 'story' about what is happening lives in our mind. What is actually happening in the moment is experienced in our body. The tactile touch of massage or acupressure on our skin gets us out of our head and returns us to the present moment, to the now reality of sensation. Touch allows us to have the felt-sense of our bodymind in real time and notice its beautiful rich complexity of experience.

Acupressure and the Bodymind

Acupressure returns us to a fuller bodymind experience; as we change the flow of Qi, so changes our energy and emotions, and awareness of what the bodymind knows.

When we are able to focus on our bodymind, story stops. Time expands. Relaxation deepens. Anxiety and worries melt into the present moment. This is life.