Integration – “Feel your tension body letting go of you.”

Feeling strong and balanced
Feeling cramped and decrepit


Have you ever noticed how you feel in your body when you are completely relaxed, and yet strong and ready to respond? I imagine stretching awake from a refreshing nap taken in a sunny place on soft grass.  This is inhabiting your mammal body.  Contrast this to the tension body– that collection of movements and tightening of muscles learnt over our lifetime- the compensations for a thousand small injuries that hunch our shoulders and shallow our breaths.

Yesterday I attended a workshop in the Alexander Method, With Rebecca Harrison from Portland. The topic of the class was integration. We spent the 2 1/2 hours of the workshop primarily playing with understanding the way our neck and skull meet. This focus was used as a tool to noticing the difference between our tension body and our inherent mammal body.  Both exist she said like two transparencies laid together.

integration |ˌin(t)əˈɡrāSH(ə)nnoun

The coordination of processes in the nervous system, including diverse sensory information and motor impulses• The process by which a well-balanced psyche becomes whole as the developing ego organizes the id, and the state that results or that treatment seeks to create or restore by countering the fragmenting effect of defense mechanisms.    Oxford American dictionary

I’ve been seeing Rebecca fairly regularly since my surgery to help me fully integrate the changes to my body while maintaining full range of movement in my arm and shoulder. I’ve seen other benefits too, especially to my ability to be more present in my body at will. I was the girl that was always up in my head. (I can hear my loved ones say with mock surprise “Really? you don’t say.”) Anyway the class was really nice for me. I feel like I had a few little breakthrough moments of understanding how the mammal body and the tension body coexist within me.

“Feel your tension body letting go of you.”

Rebecca Harrison

I like the state of curious-non-judgement, an awareness that seems to be inherent in the the Alexander work.  You move into ease, not because you are bad and wrong to be hunching your shoulders, but because it feels better, more natural to be in alignment. Noticing Noticing Noticing.  Each session I feel like my body is understanding a bit more of what is happening. The Alexander work is primarily somatic – non verbal – kinesthetic.  As such it is difficult to put into words.  Ah.

BTW Rebecca will be teaching an all day workshop in Portland next month. (Saturday March 19th 10-5)  She will also be returning to the coast April 2 & 3 for individual healing sessions and to teach another class. You can sign up for the class on the RiversZen Yoga website or sign up for an individual session by emailing: (Contact me here also if you want to be on the alert/sign-up email list. I am Rebecca’s scheduler person on the coast)

May today bring you moments in the experience of fully inhabiting  your mammal body.


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