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Thoughts about menstruation, pain and ‘not more than others’

How many times have I heard, when I ask a client, whether they experience pain or discomfort around the time of their menstruation.

‚Not more than others‘
‚Only the first few days‘
‚When I take painkillers, its ok‘
‚Well yeah, of course‘
‚Yeah, just like my mother‘
‚In our family it’s normal to have migraine the day before‘
‚It’s the hormones’

And somehow this frustrates me so much.
I mean – there are different aspects to consider here.
Of course, it seems wonderful not to be too distracted by such regular pain. To be able notice that things could be relatively worse and so that seems to reduce the suffering.
The part that I can’t accept though, is a kind of giving up on the idea, that menstruating can be just another natural process of the body. The resignation in a way… having your period means having pain.

Which would mean, being a woman between 12-51 (average) means having pain. And for many, many women this is true.
And along come these comments, that women are unpredictable ‚in that time of the month‘, too emotional, too…
And there is a kind of acceptance, that this is how it is. Deal with it.
But I cannot accept that.

Mainly because I know it doesn’t have to be that way: There are enough women who don’t have pain, for me to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. And there is my own experience, that I used to have pain and learned to notice and relax the areas affected in a way, that I don’t have pain on a regular basis.
There is my experience with clients, who learn to notice what they can do, to be more flexible, clear and rested instead of being overwhelmed by cramping or feeling.
Which makes me curious to find out with each new person, what it is they need to do, in order to experience this cycle without pain.

If it were the hormones – then anyone with those hormones would have to have the same symptoms, no? So, instead I’m thinking it is my (learned, unconscious) reaction to a change in my body. Whether that is because of hormones or other processes, is irrelevant, as I’m experiencing it on a much larger scale anyway. (Or is there anyone out there, who literally feels the hormones? Those tiny-tiny-thingies?)

If it were the contraction in the low belly – then anyone with bowel movement, should also experience a form of pain, every time they go to the toilet. So (hopefully) daily. Which (fortunately) is not happening. Or when it does, it is considered something to be taken care of and not ‚just something you have to get used to‘… And then when we learn to relax the belly, the low back, the buttocks, the thighs… things can change.

Not to mention how little sense it makes in terms of evolution, to have such a crucial process for species’-survival be painful…

It makes me curious to find out, how we can listen to the pain and react to it, instead of getting used to it as a background-noise of our experience. When it’s not dramatic, but always ‚in the background‘, not as bad as others or other versions of a ‚normal‘ – it might be easy to ignore, with just a little effort.

Having listened to and observed bodies, it seems to me ‘that little effort‘ over time, becomes more. Or it numbs sensations that are otherwise important and then we only react when they are screaming at us. So maybe the monthly suffering is reduced by these ‘arguments’, but affecting other areas of life or times of challenge.

Pain, I think, is part of life. So I’m not proposing that we get rid of pain. But I’m proposing that we learn to listen to it, and react, move, change – in all those undramatic ways that are possible.

Relaxing the belly in daily life. Moving the pelvis and letting go of contractions in the neck. Letting go of the assumption, that some things are just so and we have to endure them.
Inviting curiosity.

Imagine, it can be just another process, happening in your body – as many times a year as it does, not complicating your life, but actually just as a part of its’ complexity. Enabling survival, pleasure, life…

If you want to explore this with me – with strong symptoms or subtle ones or just because you’re curious… Get in touch. I’ll be happy to accompany part of your journey.

Aninia

How to create a culture of consent and respect?

(this is part two in my series on looking for integrity in teachers, coaches, and other “inspirational authorities“.)

If someone has not learned to say „stop” or „no” according to what their actual, physical and emotional need is, it is tricky to talk with them about consent. Consent is based on knowing when to say stop. Knowing that whether I want something or not makes a difference.

To say stop can be uncomfortable for many reasons – it can trigger a fear to wake up the others’ anger or disappointment, it can imply that I’m not tough enough if I need to say stop, or that I’m in some other way not as strong, smart, relaxed… as I’m supposed to be in this moment. And in the case of being in a learning environment: that I cannot live up to the apparent expectation of my teacher, coach or parent.

 

So, both saying stop or giving consent are based on trust and courage, when I express how this situation is for me.

 

When I enter a learning process with my students or clients, I assume and clarify that we’re working together. Even though for me it is obvious, I explicitly mention, that I learn about their body just as they do and we are finding a language together, that makes sense for us.
I respect them very much. Most of them are adults, living their lives, in many cases having responsibility for other people as well and no matter what they went through, they found a way to live. I know that they’re able to take care of their lives and find ways to cope, even if they might be in a moment of challenge or frustration.

I appreciate that they come to me and trust me with their bodies, their stories; that they allow me to accompany them in a process of change. And I appreciate that they in this process might question some of their old ways of doing things, in order to create a change, move a limit and experiment with the unknown. They meet me with their trust, for me to watch out that in this process, they won’t lose themselves.

A couple of years ago a client asked me to stop,

because something was hurting too much, and I reduced the pressure until she said it was ok. A short moment after she asked me to go a bit deeper again, then said stop again and so on. Slowly we managed to work with a muscle that had been very tense for a long time and it became soft. She left very looking very happy.

Early in my practice, I had learned that I need to be able to touch pain and that people can deal with more than they think. And I think, very often this might be true, but it still depends on consent and is a movement along a fine line.

The experience with this particular client surprised me with a realisation about myself as a client: I would not have said stop. I would have either told myself to be tough and endure until it’s over, hoping that my practitioner would notice that it’s too much and will stop. Soon. Or I could’ve tightened inside and left with a grudge and finding the person incompetent and avoid them further on.

 

Since that session, I can see this happening not only with myself (after this, I have not had another session where I stayed in something that felt too much) but with a lot of my clients and I realised that actually, the first step I need to teach some of them is about consent. What should be obvious, isn’t, in so many cases.
And I discovered a new world.
First of all, I started to remind some people, not only in the beginning but also while we’re working, that they can stop me when something feels too strong. With some people, this is enough.
Some will then say stop at a point where they’re afraid that it will be too much, rather than actually feeling the pain is too much. But that allows us to then discover this fear and move at a pace that they can follow, without feeling panicky.


Some people still don’t say stop. And I actually practice with them. We do a couple of „rounds“ where as soon as they feel my touch they voice the word „stop“ or „enough“ or something that makes sense for them. And just this exercise is incredibly powerful for many of them.

To hear their voice and to notice, that what they say matters. When they say stop, I stop.

Sometimes we end up in discussions – „but I don’t know what will be too much, I might just be scared, maybe I could learn faster if I let you just push through“… And I discover that part of this practice is learning, that it is also ok to say stop too early, notice it and then ask to continue.

I have had full sessions with clients, where we work with this. Where they learn to stop me, – someone who they know has good intentions, who they know they trust and who still might have a different perception of the situation.

Secondly, when I ask my clients to describe a physical sensation, I can see them looking for ways to describe it in a way, that matches my expectation. Or when I ask them, what they mean when they say they are sad or frustrated – I can see them looking for a description of frustration or sadness, that matches my „expert book on feelings“…

So I have started also there to be extremely vocal about „I’m not looking for you to confirm what I experience, I’m interested how it is for you“, “which words or ideas are important for you?“.
I have also started to be precise when I describe what I experience, to start with „to me it seems like there is a cold airy sensation on your skin“ – inviting them to sense something they might not have noticed. And if they can’t feel that, I ask how it is for them or what else they’re feeling.

In the beginning of this practice, I noticed, that it felt „wrong“ to ask them because I was supposed to be the expert. And I was supposed to be confident and trust my own sensation. And, of course, I work only with their consent and don’t force anything on them…

But after a while, I realised that there is no conflict with that at all. I can have experience with bodies, many different ones even and flows and processes of the body. This offers me more ways of paying attention and angles to approach my client and their learning. And I can be confident in my experience. But how my client experiences something is the relevant aspect for adapting the learning process. And if someone hasn’t experienced, how to fully say yes, because they didn’t know they are allowed to say no – how could they give full consent?

If I’m honest about wanting to teach them, I need their perception and to offer them something they can connect to. Confirmation of my personal sensation irrelevant in this context.

I can be confident, that what I felt was relevant for my experience. And it might give me a guideline and will influence how I think about the learning process I’m working with. I need to be confident, that I’m working with their consent and for this, I need to find a frame with each client about how we express it.
In the end, hearing the words my clients uses allows me to learn better with them and to describe my experiences in words that make sense in their awareness.

 

Both the exercise of saying stop out loud and daring to describe experiences in their own words have been very powerful. The relief that they have expressed (after a short moment of disbelief), has been remarkable and made me wonder why it seems so special?

I understand because I have also had this experience of relief in my own way. And of course, I am happy that my clients feel safe with me and that I manage to teach them something that changes the way they approach challenges and even pain.

But why is it so special, that we can say NO to someone who we trust and who we want to learn from? Why is that not the normal thing to do?

And how can we, as a community of people working in the empowerment of others, ethical leadership and the likes, foster a culture where this becomes stronger? How can we invite others to guard their borders, while maintaining our own confidence allowing our students and clients to grow alongside us?

 

Especially: How can we make it public and normal, that you can say no to someone’s suggestion, that you can say respect my experience and find a way to expand, that doesn’t involve questioning me?

Looking at the kindling politicians in this world, I have these same questions…
But to start with… Looking at my field of expertise, my community of colleagues, who are working towards a more healthy and sustainable world… I want to raise that subject, as it is larger than my working room. This is beyond an individual experience. We can each do our thing and we can each work with high integrity… But is there a way that we can become stronger? So that the approach of consent and acknowledging what can happen when there is a power- or authority-asymmetry, strengthens those who work ethically.

Can we gather?

I would be happy to be “a hub“, collecting and connecting people with similar interests for action. So if you’re interested in this kind of thinking process, please write and let me know. I have no plan, I just have questions and will continue exploring. (And if you know someone, who I should talk to, because they’re doing a similar thing already, I would be happy for a connection!)
Merken

Merken

Merken

Questions about embodied integrity

When I look back at how I lived integrity earlier I see a paradox that is part in making it challenging. And I have observed this in other people, who value it strongly, too.
When we are talking about a subject that is painful or uncomfortable, an act of integrity would be not to avoid something coming my way, that I have called upon myself. Or, even worse, if I have caused it for others as well. We could probably easily agree, that if I won’t wish for others to be able to move freely and express their opinions freely, and instead I just make sure that I can do whatever I want – this would not be an act of integrity.

So, if I’m in a leadership position and I promise and make sure that everyone else around me feels free and healthy, and at the same time I don’t take care of my own well-being, but slowly burn my energy resources, never giving up or resting.
Could that still be considered acting with integrity then?

Am I acting with integrity, if I have high moral intentions but am unable to do so at the level that I would like to, due to exhaustion or lack of emotional „surplus“ because I’m drained?

I believe, especially in the light of the current state of world politics and the way public communication works, that we, as people with integrity, need to be more consequent and add this element to our definition of integrity.
Taking care of our personal well-being is important. We should not be allowing others to burn us out and leave us behind. There are so many causes and reasons to fight for others, that we (as the world) cannot afford to lose our minds, our bodies, our living to being drained by people who just don’t care about the well being of anyone. (By the looks of it, not even their own.)

In my experience, integrity is an intentional process rather than a goal. We need to act and move in the world. As we do so, we make mistakes, we learn about new things that we didn’t even notice could be a relevant subject for our integrity. And we continue.

And I believe we can strengthen our impact on the world and the well-being of the people in it if we use the physical experience of integrity as a compass to take care of our actions.

More on this and an exercise for those of you like concrete, physical tools will follow here next monday.

Why ‘Embodied Collaboration’?

Welcome to my updated website! I’m excited to share with you the outcome of a process of thinking, conversations, and exploration with many people throughout the last year…

I offer both bodywork with individuals who would like to gain energy and attention to their body, as well as facilitation for groups who would like to enhance the pleasure of working together and be able to collaborate with each other in a way that is satisfying, successful and with integrity.

Working with the body and trying to define my work last year, I have come across many different terms. And the one that describes best what I do and how I approach this work is Embodied Collaboration.

I experience any successful encounter with a client – whether that is in individual sessions or in a group setting – as embodied collaboration. We define the desired outcome and frame as well as a common intention for our process of working together. We enter of course, with different roles, but with mutual respect and learn from each other and each others’ bodies.
While I am trained in paying attention to bodies and groups and adding awareness to different physical sensations or conditions, my clients are always the ones who come with the expertise of their lives. I get to learn about their habits, their worlds and learn from their courageous acts of daring something new or, confronting a challenge as well as from their questions and discoveries.

I share the exercises I know to strengthen this courage, determination, and curiosity when the world is challenging, we explore together, how to apply all of this in the life and situation of my client.
As we combine our attention, our experiences and our curiosity for creating a change in the current status quo – things change in the bodies as well as in our surroundings.

Embodied Collaboration also, because I believe that attention to the body and intentionally using the tools we have is strengthened by activating and combining all our qualities – collaborating for the best outcome possible at any given moment.

Breathing fully to gain energy is the successful collaboration of a lot of different aspects of our bodies. All the muscles, the lungs, our diaphragm, the skin… so much more. Our attention and understanding as well as our basic ability to live depend on this successful collaboration.
At the same time being able to breathe, be attentive and aware in the encounters with other people and our communication is the basis of being able to collaborate with them.

My experience is, that our work is most powerful when we collaborate successfully.
When we each ask the question we have, present the solutions we find as well as dare to challenge each other with an attitude of collaboration, we can grow and become stronger, mastering situations that previously seemed overwhelming or lonely.

My aim is, to create spaces in which this embodiment of collaboration can be explored, trained and developed.

My aim is for you to be able to strengthen the collaboration of all your qualities to master the challenges and pains you meet – with integrity.

My bodywork is aimed at creating a sensation of confidence and trust in your own abilities to heal and take care of your needs in life. In collaboration, we discover, which qualities you can leverage and which you need to strengthen, in order to deal with the pain or other challenges you meet. And where you can relax and enjoy life’s pleasures more easily.
Exploration and attention are key elements together with curiosity to try out and develop new exercises tailored to exactly your body and life.

My facilitation is based on creating a space and the trust for a group to discover their wishes and leverage their individual qualities to enhance the collaboration and be more effective and relaxed when working together. I come with tools as well as with my questions, to explore with you which needs your team currently has, in which way body attention can add value and where it is actually about finding a process of successful communication for all of you.

In February I offer Individual Sessions „Create Clarity with Your Body“ at 1/2 price for you who is curious to discover this approach. And if you decide to go further, the first „Short and Focused“-learning process will be at a reduced price of only 2200 (instead of 3000kr), including 4 sessions and exercises for training at home.

If you’re curious about the Courageous Spaces for your team, contact me and tell me about your situation. I’m happy to discover how we could work together and which kind of gift could be fitting for you.

If you are looking for someone to explore with you, who respects your experience and expertise and challenges your assumptions, who will be there with you in the moments that require courage and curiosity – I offer my company and collaboration on your path.

Client Feedback: Nærmest skræddersyet til graviditeter!

Jeg tænker så tit på hvor meget sammenhæng der har været for mig i min graviditet mellem min krop og mit hoved, mens jeg gik hos dig. Nu har jeg jo prøvet at være gravid før, og selvfølgelig er anden gang ikke så overraskende som første gang.

Men alligevel var det så markant anderledes denne gang, med en kropsterapeut som ‘en del af’ min graviditet. Opmærksomhed og sammenhæng står tilbage som nøgleordene for denne tid.

Jeg følte mig afskåret fra min krop før jeg startede. Jeg ville flygte fra den. Det hele foregik fra hovedet og jeg lyttede ikke rigtigt til den krop. Den føltes – for mig – svag og syg. Det er tanker jeg gør mig nu, bagefter.
Samtidig savnede jeg virkelig kontakt med ‘mit indre’ og at finde en ro.

Det jeg oplevede i sessionerne var en fastholdenhed i kroppen. En dyb ro som ‘belønning’ for det at give slip.
Her var ikke noget hokus pokus, blot et stille og roligt fredfyldt nu, som du blev ved at holde fast i, og som jeg både blev provokeret af, prøvede at komme udenom, men som jeg samtidig længtes imod.

Jeg vred mig som en orm for ikke at lande i nuet, men vidste alligevel at det var den vej jeg ville. Du holdt mig fast kan man sige, ved blot at se mig – med få gode ord og en ærlighed som spejlede. Der er så meget rent, ærligt og fastholdende ved dig og din tilgang, noget ekstremt anti-flovt (hvis du forstår? – altså en skøn ting) som er så trygt og dragende at træde ind i. Det smitter så meget at du står så fast på dine ben og viser så stærkt hvem du er.

Nå, men alt dette kunne jeg tage et stykke af med hjem hver gang. Og det voksede langsomt i min krop og bevidsthed, denne ‘given slip’ i kroppen og fornemmelsen af fred.

Jeg ledte længe efter en FORSTÅELSE for hvad det var der skete, men du sendte mig igen og igen ned i kroppen og det blev derved mere og mere en kropslig erfaring som slog igennem, som gav ro og fokus.

Alt dette bragte jeg sammen med dig ind i min graviditet, ind i maven, ind til det lille barn. Det gav en samhørighed og skabte sammenhæng mellem mig og den lille. Jeg kunne helt klart mærke roen i mig og også i maven.

Det er svært for mig at forklare helt, men da Solvej blev født og i det halve år der er gået har der hele vejen igennem været en ro og sammenhæng mellem os, hun er det mest rolige, trygge, sovende, bløde, varme lille menneske, hun har en tiltro til verden, en ro som jeg er helt overrasket over.

Jeg er ikke et sekund i tvivl over, at besøgene hos dig har haft en kæmpe betydning for roen og trygheden i hende og i mig, både igennem graviditeten og videre ud i livet. Der er en naturlighed mellem hende og mig, som om vi har gennemgået noget sammen, allerede da hun lå i maven. Din kropsterapi er nærmest skræddersyet til graviditeter!

Tusind tak, Aninia!

  • “Tænker tit på dig og alt det du har åbnet op for mig. Jeg står stærkt i mig selv, stærk nok til at jeg kan hjælpe andre med at stå på deres måde.”

    / Hans Peter

  • “…hun er en fantastisk historie-fortæller med en no-nonsense måde at tale om personlig udvikling.”

    / Magdalena, trainer & facilitator

  • “Du hjalp mig meget med at komme ud af en slags boble jeg har været i siden ulykken.”

    / Astrid, 42 år

  • “Aninia har én helt særlig evne til at sætte sig ind i kroppen og dens reaktion på smerte. Hun er grundig, tillidsfuld og ikke mindst en god formidler.”

    / Stine, 28

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