As a follow up to the burnout & emotions posts, I want to discuss de-armoring. This word / technique is something that a lot of people are using so I encourage you to be careful about what you hear / practice etc. The way I’m discussing de-armoring is the way I’ve been trained and how I use this practice for myself and my work. It’s based on the Reichian armor ring theory in addition to a gentle / slow approach to unwinding tissue / body patterns that is trauma-informed. The “soft-touch approach” instead of manipulative / hard-touch.
There are many deep experiences that run through the pelvic bowl (check out my post on emotions for a practice to begin there). De-armoring is simply unwinding or releasing patterns in the body. These patterns could be emotional, relational, physiological, ancestral. Many layers can come up and out depending on how far you go. Please know that one layer at a time, at a pace that feels sustainable to you is the best way to let your body integrate and not be blown out of the water / stressed to the point where you say “I don’t want to do that again!” I always bring this up because a lot of people who are into healing / evolution / growth can often bulldoze past the boundaries of their own body which ends up over-riding the system. One of my favorite mentors said to me once “it takes many lifetimes to unwind conditioning, so you may as well take it slow and enjoy.”
So…body armor. What is this?
The de-armoring process I relate to uses a spectrum that can relate to physical, emotional, and mental experiences and manifestations in the body. On one end of the spectrum is numb / disconnected / frozen. On the other end of the spectrum is alive, warm, spongy, vital, healthy tissue.
How do we get from numb or dead to warm and healthy?
This is an interesting question. A lot of the medical world says that dead tissue / dead nerves cannot come back alive. I wonder about this. From my work, I have felt nerves that feel like they are completely offline. Sometimes, after much time and practice and healing work, those nerves return to life. I’ve felt it in my hands. So…just saying 🙂
Back to the spectrum. If one end of the spectrum is numb, we start there. Breathing into numbness can be challenging because it can be disturbing, boring or anything else we associate with numb. But if we stick with it, that numbness can melt like an ice cube. It will often turn into a tension or pain pattern next. Again, stick with it. If we keep feeling and staying, that tension / pain will sometimes unfold into an emotional release. Sometimes it’s just a physical thing and there’s no emotion. When there is a big emotion, this can be intense and challenging but if we give love, permission, care, and time, that emotional release often gives way to an expansion and openness. In the body. In the heart. In the emotional space. In the mind. This expansion is so beautiful and in the body shows up as an opening, warmth, aliveness, tingles. Vitality is powerful!
Now, the whole spectrum doesn’t always happen in one focal experience. Sometimes it takes many inquiries. Sometimes it takes many cycles of different layers. This is the “it never ends” aspect of de-armoring. There is always more and that in itself is a beautiful thing because it allows us to have no goal. There’s nowhere to be except exactly where we are, and this is something I am always holding with my clients. We are simply being with “what is.” Permission to be, where we are, is the way to get to wherever we are going.
Curious about de-armoring? This is the main way that I work.
If you want to start to practice de-armoring with yourself, here is a beginning practice:
– put a hand on your body somewhere that feels in need, send care through your hand. say a prayer to yourself “whatever is ready to be known, felt, heard, I am here. I am listening.”
– find somewhere in your body that feels nourishing, safe, warm. If there’s nothing, find something neutral (surely your nose or pinky finger has some kind of resource available for you). if there’s nothing in the body available, use an image of somewhere safe and beautiful.
– take 3-5 breaths there and notice what you feel in your sensations in your body
– now find something in your mind, body, heart that feels challenging and uncomfortable. take 3-5 breaths here. put your hand there is that feels helpful. notice what you feel
– return to the nourishing, safe, place. breathe here
– keep alternating until you feel just a little tired and pause. beginning with 5-10 minutes is a good way to get used to this practice
– if you are familiar with working with your internal pelvic bowl / floor tissues, you can do this same practice just with the inside of your body (with your hand or tool, find somewhere in the tissue that is nourishing & supportive, breathe with it, then find somewhere in the tissue that is challenged / tense / whatever you are willing to feel)
– give simple thanks to your body (thank you, I love you, I see you, good work)
If this is simply not possible for you, you may want to consider working with a counselor. A body-based counselor can be a great way to begin to inquire into these levels. If you’re ready to work with your body in these ways but need support and a container, please reach out to me, it is my greatest joy to offer this service to you all.
With love, Alicia