Susan shares how practicing body-mind connection makes life nourishing.

Off the Mat and Into the Marketplace

Jan 12, 2020

by Susan Mankowski

Translation available in Spanish

Body-Mind Connection in Daily Life

I first heard the term “body-mind” in the ‘70s while in the Milwaukee University dance department. I was introduced to many evolving approaches that explored the interaction between these two parts. During that time, I learned how to use the mind as a tool to discover the nuances of sensory-based states, conditions, and stored experiences in my body. These methods are currently the roadmaps for the field of somatic practice.

Several decades later at the Breema Center, I felt well versed in being in my body and using my mind. My collection of expanded information about myself was the foundation of my connection. Yet here, I experienced a new definition of “body-mind connection.” The direction at the Center was to “bring the attention of the mind to the activity of the body,” and to stay with this until the feelings entered in. When body, mind and feelings are together, this is described as a “taste of being present.” This taste of being present is a simple and direct experience in the moment, free from the “extra” of associative thoughts, reactive feelings, sensations, and concerns of past and future. It is an entrance to reality rather than the myriad of competing subjective points of view within us.

During Breema practice, I began to observe where I was in relation to my body, mind, and feelings at any given moment. Surprisingly, I began to see that for the most part they didn’t function in harmony with each other. On countless trips on the freeway, I would find myself arriving at work with my entire schedule planned out but minus the experience of driving the car. New Year’s resolutions for supporting the body with more exercise and healthier food choices could be forgotten impulsively in the face of daily stresses. And with my loved ones, whom I wished to be more patient and understanding of, I could melt down when I felt hurt or upset.

Countless observations of behaviors like these showed me the difference in how I wished to be and how I really was. Even though my past studies of “body-mind” showed me many things about my inner terrain, I still was attached and identified with these states as “me” and so remained in an even more elaborate and complex definition of myself.

Gradually, through the practice of Breema, when I experienced being present, all that I thought was “me” was seen more as a temporary event that was continually in flux. And in its place, a new posture of being present came to be. With this shift of focus a possibility surfaced, a part of me existing that was virtually undeveloped and unexplored but quite real and was able to directly be known and accessed in the present moment.

Furthermore, my way to develop this relationship was simple, practical, and not exclusive to the classroom. It was for my life. Bringing the attention of the mind to the activity of the body was an available direction not only during the dynamic and nourishing movements of Breema bodywork, but I could bring it to the marketplace, to family gatherings, to the quiet of my own room. I just needed to remember and then do it. Whenever I remember, I have a choice and a possibility. And there is something simple I can do to make life nourishing.

I have learned and still am learning about myself continually, each moment and every day, as the years go by. This practice is a way of living, an experience of myself in meaning, and a means of coming to body-mind connection step by step.

“Always and everywhere, we have the possibility to come to unity with all that exists.”—Quotation from Your Home Is the Entire Cosmos by Jon Schreiber

Susan Mankowski is a staff Instructor at the Breema Center in Oakland, California. 

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