S.U.R.F. Practice

Questions are the mind’s way of trying to destroy a mystery.  Live with the questions while the heart dances with the answer.”

“Recalling an event of love or joy through creative imagination throws out a high frequency bridge from the prefrontal cortex to the limbic heart circuit. The heart automatically reciprocates on the that same frequency, lifting us into a higher level of the creative dynamic, defusing defensive reactions already in motion and opening an order of functioning not available to either intellect or imagination alone.”                                                                                                                                     Joseph Chilton Pearce

 

 

S.U.R.F. Centering Practice

Introduction         

Centering practices train us to await our own experience and to listen to the wisdom of our bodies. It brings clarity of the moment in through our senses.

Centering brings a wholeness that can shed light on the pros and cons of relative terms such as good/bad, right/wrong, nice/mean, and smart/stupid to define and judge ourselves and other. When centered we can observe and listen to another’s experiences and perceptions with less judgment and greater clarity.

2014-05-12 10.04.11

Our bodies are always communicating something.

Just like in meditation, posture is essential.  The way we shape ourselves effects how we feel, how we listen and what we communicate. Try talking to someone while leaning forward towards him or her or with your head cocked to the side.  It really is a different experience than if you are leaning back or sitting more vertically. If we genuinely smile at someone, we will create a different communication than if we’re frowning at someone. How we shape our bodies in certain ways, actually changes how we are received, what we perceive and what we communicate.

Our bodies contain the sum total of our histories and communicate a great deal more than we are aware of. The body is always communicating something and by shaping it intentionally we can walk our talk with greater integrity.

Lliving in relationship is so challenging, in part because we are always transmitting our emotional state.   Some days we feel centered and expansive, sometimes we feel tense and contracted. Contraction or expansion can be felt when you walk into the house and someone in the other room is angry. You can feel when another person is open to you or not by how your body responds to theirs. Emotions like anger, hurt, frustration, sadness, shame and guilt are contracted states. Qualities such as honor, grace, gratitude, empathy, playfulness, curious, caring, dignity and joy are expansive states.

 

Increasing your word vocabulary enhances your ability to articulate your thoughts, ideas and feelings. The SURF practice trains this word vocabulary across mind, body, emotional and linguistic domains. Over time along with a greater versatility and understanding of these qualities as a whole self-experience, they become felt and transmitted in your presence.

The Practice

Step 1: Shape Yourself

I practice this as a sitting practice, but it can be done while standing just as easily. First sit or stand in your full vertical length. Let your skeleton hold you up in alignment with gravity as it is meant to do with your head above heart above belly. If you are leaning, slouching or overextending, you are fighting gravity and using more muscle than you need to.

To aid you in relaxing:

  • Let your jaw go and let the back of your tongue relax.
  • Let your shoulders fall and relax as if you were letting any weight you might be carrying in your life fall off.
  • Let your sphincter muscles relax.
  • Imagine the bottom of your feet opening to the ground as you connect to the earth you are standing on.
  • If you are seated, feel your sit bone connect to your seat.

 

Step 2: Unify

Take one or two long, slow breaths in and then let them out with a relaxed “Ahhhh…” sound. Straighten your back as you breathe in, keeping the shoulders relaxed and uplifting from your back muscles- not by lifting the shoulders. Breathe up your back and release the breath down your front. Let your belly be relaxed. Continue to breathe in this way.

*If you have more time, after a while, just let your breath naturally flow without trying to control it.

Step 3: Re-source

Take a moment to connect to your deeper needs and consider one quality you would like to draw up from within yourself. Choose one word that represents what you would love to have a little more of in your life, such as: peace, dignity, respect, openness, acceptance, courage, joy, understanding, appreciation, gratitude, empathy…..

Ask your body:

What would it be like if I felt a bit more _________? (Fill in the quality, just one)

Live with the questions while the heart dances with the answer.

Try not to have a mental idea of the answer before you answer. Muster an attitude of open curiosity.

The quality you choose represents a forward movement of your spirit and by moving towards it, you embrace life. In the time between asking a question and getting an answer, there is a moment of not knowing, a state of openness. This is where intuition and creativity arise. We are trained from early on to want to know the answers and even give ourselves grief for not knowing. This is a wonderful practice for developing a tolerance for this open creative state.

Give yourself time and space for your body/soma to respond. Engage your imagination and just allow yourself to be curious as you let your body shift. Notice any changes in posture, breathing, body temperature, mood, etc. If you don’t know what it is like to have more dignity, for example, use your imagination to play with what it might feel like. Think of a person you know or a TV character that has that quality and try it on for yourself.

 

Step 4: Field

Sustain the shifts you felt inside in Step 3.

  • Bring your attention to the space from your body to a few feet in front of you. Now place that that much attention behind you, above you, below you and then to the sides of you. You can imagine this as if you are in the center of a bubble. Try to equalize your attention all around you.
  • Imagine the quality and feeling of the resource you feel filling the space around you.

 

In addition:

Remember that energy follows attention: Notice how you can enliven the space around you just by how you focus your attention. In the course of the day, as you engage others, practice holding them in this field. This is the essence of empathic listening. It is essential to that as you extend the space to include others that you extend this “listening field” in all directions, not just towards the person you are listening to. This gives you more width and depth to hold them.

As you do this process, do it with imagination engaged and curiosity. Be open and curious with an attitude of “Isn’t that interesting…?”It is important to make this work interesting for yourself; it must be compelling enough to draw you back from the drama of your life.

Maintaining these kinds of practices on a daily basis is how you make real changes in yourself. This practice can take only 15 seconds, less than a commercial break. So do it several times a day. Imagine your listening to a word from your sponsor.

This can also be a daily sitting or standing practice that you can enjoy for 15 minutes or more. My suggestion is to pick just one quality at a time and explore it in depth over a period of time such as a month, 6 months or a year.

*Adapted from Wendy Palmer’s Conscious Embodiment

 

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