somatic meditation

Living Your Body's Intelligence: A Home-Play Episode (71)

Living Your Body's Intelligence: A Home-Play Episode (71)

Over the years many of you have gotten in touch with me to say how much you liked the “home-play” part of the Liberated Body episodes- i.e. the body-based explorations at the end of each show. You can think of this as one long home play episode! 

This little embodiment gift is courtesy of myself and Liam Bowler, who is the creator of the podcast The Body Awake. I lead a somatic meditation, and then Liam leads an embodied movement exploration. It is also an appetizer of our upcoming weekend workshop: Living Your Body’s Intelligence which is this July 28 and 29 in Seattle. Which still has tickets left- so if you want to come play with us you can read all about what exactly we'll be doing and/or get tickets on its Eventbrite page

How Liberated Body Changed me with Brooke Thomas (LBP 061)

For the final episode of season 3 Bo Forbes turns the tables and interviews me, Brooke Thomas. Bo asks me her own questions as well as those submitted from listeners (thank you!) and we cover a lot of ground. If you want to hear about my personal path with my body, how learning through the podcast changed the way I see all bodies, how I parent based on what I've learned, my current practices (particularly in natural movement and somatic meditation), and what the road ahead looks like tune in.




Conversation highlights

Bo and I spoke at length and below are the questions that were asked. The circuitous route that ensues after a question was asked is hard to capture so...

  • What’s your earliest memory of being in your body?
  • The sense of being different can be an impetus for innovation or a life sentence- how did that go in your life?
  •  What stands out as key moments bringing you into this work?
  • What did your healing journey look like?
  • How and why did you start Liberated Body? What was the intial vision, how has it changed, how has the practice of doing it changed you?
  • From Rebecca M: "1) You mentioned you had health issues and became really good at eating crackers on the bench while others were involved in activity.  When did you realize that you had crossed over from sedentary to a true lover of movement? 2)  What were some of the obstacles you had along the way and how did you solve the problems?"
  • Bo "The idea that the body should be or should do... it can give people imposter syndrome. Sometimes we just have to step into our place. Often the tipping points we experience are small and subtle, yet the world often conditions us to look for these big momentous transformations.
  • From Patrice N “I know that your curiosity (at least I think I know that) and some physical issues brought you to looking more deeply into embodiment as a topic - but now, after this time of exploration - can you say something of the value you've gained from working with embodiment practices? Often, students/clients don't get what or how an embodied existence enriches the experience of being human.  They seem to think that if they simply feel "no pain" things are fine."
  • From Jill Miller “What do you do for your non-negotiable daily self-care?”
  • From Kristin W "Your mention of the Meditating with the Body program, inspired me to check out Dharma Ocean. The result is that I have been meditating on a daily basis for the first time in my life! The Dharma Ocean approach of deeply grounding in our sacred bodies has changed my life in a short few months. I would love to hear about your experience with it."
  • Luna E “What are your movement actions/daily/weekly/monthly? and how have you dealt with or have you had any injuries?"
  • Natalie “With all the info that you gather how do you discern what to practice for yourself?”
  • Marita “Who or what has changed your way of thinking about your body?”
  • John S “In season 3 we’ve heard from some fabulous researchers. I know there is so much that can be learned through the lens of science. At the same time, I sometimes question how suitable science is for learning about the embodied experience. Science is necessarily based on objectivity and reductionism, while our embodied experience is inherently subjective and holistic. Given these differences, what do you see as the promises and pitfalls of research into the embodied experience?"
  • Julie F “1. Given that body and mind is not separate, and this speaker's discussion has implications for body, mind, and life practices - I would like him to expand that more. Also how he practice the line in his life. 2. Do you have 'play list by theme', also for women..since I don't see too many women in your talks."
  • Ana Maria “I want to know how all the body nerdery has impacted what you're teaching or practicing with your son?”
  • Kathleeen L "Anderson Cooper' recent comment about his massage therapy experience has incited much conversation in our profession. I have been inspired by his experience that negative emotions can be massaged into the body. For the past few days, I have been asking my clients to share a happy, positive thought as I address their area of concern. For example, I had a teacher with tight shoulders. I prompted her to talk about why she got into teaching and her favorite memories as I massaged her upper trapezius. Is there any research or theory to support the idea that positive or negative thoughts can affect muscles in this way?"
  •  Cathy H “How do you metabolize this incredible world of questions and discovery and constant emerging-ness that the podcast invites us into? Everything I believe to be true is only the case for a moment in time and sometimes I feel that what makes me feel curious and alive also makes me feel a touch overwhelmed.”
  • What will you be up to in the off season? What projects are next?


Brooke's new project- the podcast Bliss + Grit

Bo Forbes

Yoga Tune Up


Julie Angel interview

Dharma Ocean

Judith Blackstone

Elm City Coach and Marannie Rawls-Phillippe Bauer

Bernardo Kastrup

Cynthia Price interview

Norm Farb interview

Will Johnson interview

Discovering The Line with Will Johnson (LBP 051)

Will Johnson is the founder of the Institute for Embodiment Training and the author of several books including The Posture of Meditation and Balance in Body, Balance in Mind. In today’s conversation we dove into what Dr. Rolf’s original concept of “The Line” was, and discuss its implications for both finding delicious support in our bodies and also for its ability to evoke our evolutionary potential.




Conversation highlights

  • What is “The Line” and how did Dr Rolf define it? It's more like a koan than a thing...
  • The evolutionary implications in Dr. Rolf's teachings and intentions which have to a large degree gone by the wayside since her passing. Rolfing was not just to feel better, but was a practice that would liberate a different quality of consciousness.
  • The idea was that playing with upright balance in this way would liberate evolutionary energies that would manifest as a growth in consciousness.
  • When we get in touch with how we are withholding emotional expression this work [Rolfing] is more akin to something like meditation or spirtiual pactices. Dr Rolf would at times implore and beseech students not to view this work as a form of glorified physiotherapy.
  • The parallels between Buddhist teachings and Rolfing felt remarkable. From the earliest moments of Buddhism there was an understanding that if we can bring the upright spine to a condition of ever greater alignment that will allow the practices to begin.
  • The whole thing about creating the upright in sitting posture is it allows you to let go and relax. Relaxation is nothing more complicated that to surrender the weight of body in gravity. If your body is out of alignment, what happens when you let go is you topple over.
  • The Buddhist dharma is to let go. We have to be able to relax and you cannot relax and let go through a body that is not playing with balance.
  • Dr. Rolf's answer to a student question about how a Rolfed [aligned] body breaths, "In a truly balanced and integrated body as we breath in and out breath cause subtle motion to occur at every single joint in the body." It is a condition of really profound upright balancing where things are so relaxed that as you breath in and out breath can move through the body like a wave moves through water.
  • We talk about alignment in many realms and it’s this imagined perfect locked-in position. in reality, it is an exquisite unfolding of finding movement and ability for things to flow through. For relaxation to continue the entire body has to be subtly moving like an amoeba. If this is not occurring you are going into holding and freezing and relaxation goes out the window.
  • The majority of people somehow have gotten this crazy notion that stillness of mind depends on a still and frozen body. That frozen quality just locks people. Buddhist dharma has painted itself into a corner of frozen stillness which ironically also fuels the unbidden thoughts.
  • Yoda “there is no balance, there is just balancing”. Balance is not a condition to attain and then maintain.
  • Letting go is tricky business. We both stop ourselves from allowing these spontaneous flows, and we also come across people who are “acting out”. It’s about finding that place in the middle.
  • There are traditions where people are moving or rocking constantly like Sufi or the Jewish tradition of davening. The magic is in the allowance of these as spontaneous motions. 
  • Is there an anatomical structure that describes The Line? No- we're each different and it's about the play with balance, or the integrating force as we play with balance.
  • Relaxation is nothing more or less complicated that the willingness to surrender to gravity.
  • In most practices the body is viewed as an obstacle. I think that notion is crazy. We’re here, we’re incarnated, the body is literally going to be our vehicle.


The Institute for Embodiment Training

The Posture of Meditation

Balance of Body, Balance of Mind

Retreats with Will Johnson

If you’re inspired to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher I would be oh so grateful. If technology isn’t your thing however you can just tell your favorite body nerds about the show. It keeps the show rolling and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

The Bliss of Your Biology with Ged Sumner (LBP 038)

Today's conversation is with Ged Sumner, the director of Body Intelligence Training, about his book Body Intelligence Meditation. This book posed so many fascinating questions about the current state of mindfulness education. For example: Is traditional meditation treating the body like a machine to be broken, and is it therefore anti-body ? And: Are we bliss-phobic as a culture and is that a part of the reason why we engage with mindfulness in the disembodied way that we (typically) do? This has certainly shifted my perspective on my own practice in a much more delicious direction!



Conversation highlights

  • Meditation can be, in trying to escape or "rise above" the body, anti-body and can lead to dissociation.
  • What does it mean to "go into the cell" in meditation?
  • "The way to the formless is through form"
  • Is meditation treating the body like a machine?
  • What is the human drive to make things painful or filled with suffering? The body responds well to ease and success can spring from doing something with ease.
  • Is ease a radical concept?
  • "The body will readjust itself." Profound shifts in physiology can happen when we invite our own deep [somatic] intelligence to arise.
  • Proper meditation is like a body therapy.
  • Why does it sound ludicrous to people that we can shift our own physiology with mindfulness?
  • The way we learn biology can give the sense that all the cells are dead.
  • My "one thing"- when people ask me [Brooke] what the one thing is that I think most people don't realize about their bodies I say it is that we forget that we are alive.
  • The greatest miracle of all is that we seem solid when really we're 80% water- we are jellyfish essentially.
  • Most of us are just coping. Our nervous systems are cracking up all over the world.
  • How we're seeing more and more neuro-endocrine issues from this nervous system overwhelm.
  • The idea that thoughts need to stop [as in conventional meditation forms] is erroneous.
  • How does the vagus tie into our inner life?
  • What are some of the ways technology might be changing how we are embodied?
  • We have become too obsessed with pathology and not connected enough to what feels good.
  • "Biology is just another subject taught in school, but when you take away our beliefs, all we are is our biology."
  • The body is full of bliss, yet somehow we remove ourselves from it.
  • Have we become bliss-phobic as a culture?

Home play!

Let's do some somatic meditation shall we!?

First, do check out Ged Sumner's generous free downloads of some of the meditations included in his book. You can do that here:

Second, I put together this micro e-book with a somatic meditation (and meditation set up) together recently for a giveaway my friend Kate Hanley of Ms. Mindbody put together. That giveaway has since passed, so I wanted to share the goodies with all of you here. There are 3 files- the ebook Letting Go of the Busy by Saying Hello to the Body (which chronicles much of what was on my mind during the hiatus between season `1 and 2 of the podcast), and then 2 audios- one is for the meditation set up, the second is a guided somatic meditation.

P.S. I'd love to hear how it goes with your somatic meditations in the comments!

Letting Go of the Busy by Saying Hello to the Body- ebook


Body Intelligence Meditation by Ged Sumner

Audio downloads of Ged's somatic meditations

If you liked this episode, you might also like

Embodied Mindfulness with Jamie McHugh

Body Maps and Interoception with Steve Haines

Mindfulness Expressed in the Body with Bo Forbes

If you’re inspired to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher I would be oh so grateful! It helps more body nerds to find their way to the show and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

Embodied Mindfulness with Jamie McHugh (LBP 037)

Today we're kicking off season 2 of the podcast with a conversation with Jamie McHugh of Somatic Expression about embodied mindfulness. Somatic Expression helps people to research and resource their own bodies through the 5 essential somatic technologies: breath, vocalization, contact, movement, and stillness. In our conversation today we hone in on what embodied mindfulness means. Jamie says his work is really about changing people's perception of what it means to be a body. He asks, "How can we invest ourselves in curiousity? How can our bodies be places of inquiry and exploration?".



Conversation highlights

  • What are the 5 essential somatic technologies and why does Jamie use the word "technology" to describe them?
  • We spend plenty of time talking about teaching critical thinking skills to children,  but where are we teaching critical sensing skills to both children and adults?
  • What is physical education really?
  • How can working with the body in an educational setting be subversive?
  • Are classical meditation forms such as vipassana incompatible with the modern mind and with modern life?
  • Can sitting in this way (classical meditation forms) cause a person to go into  more of a fight-or-flight pattern?
  • Because of that does it pose some risk to those who aren't connected to the body?
  • Why sit in meditation at all?
  • What is a somatic mantra and how can we use one?
  • How technology is changing our perception of time and removing our fallow time where we aren't stimulated by input.
  • How do we re-calibrate this constant input to the neocortex?
  • The indigenous practices- especially Jamie's experience with the Pomo Indians- of using the expressive capacity of the body to connect the whole community.
  • Reviving the tradition of community dance and song in a non-stylized way (and how not to give your authority over to Beyonce).

Home play!

In the spirit of reviving spontaneous dance we're having a home dance party today! So turn on your favorite music and dance like no one's watching. What do you discover when it's just for you?


Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum Movement

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen Body Mind Centering

Marjorie Barstow, one of Alexander's first students

Fritz Smith and Zero Balancing

Richard Davidson University of Wisconsin Center for Investigating Healthy Minds

Daniel Siegel UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development

Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

If you liked this episode, you might also like

Judith Aston: Our Relationship to Our Bodies and Their Relationship to the World

Bo Forbes: Mindfulness Expressed in the Body

Steve Haines: Body Maps and Interoception

If you're inspired to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher I would be oh so grateful! It helps more body nerds to find their way to the show and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!