What makes a good teacher? And when do we really learn something new? How do I expand my comfort zone, to grow in an empowering way? I remember these questions already from high school, but over the last two years, I have increasingly thought about, where I learn the most fundamental, transformational things for my life. Where do I have the most meaningful and confident relationships, that make me feel strong and allow growth when I’m vulnerable? And in this regard, what makes a trusted teacher or companion (for me)?
Recently I have been prompted to think about this subject again and decided to dig a little deeper… In continuation of my thoughts on integrity, I want to start a short series of posts about looking for integrity in teachers, coaches, and other “inspirational authorities“. Today I want to share a thinking process about my own experience of finding teachers I trust.
I realized that it is closely connected the possibility to disagree with them.
In the very beginning of learning to explore my body with awareness, a teacher told me that I had anger in my body. It was a moment when we were working with my legs, I was learning to notice my pelvis and the connection downward. And what I experienced was simply a strong sensation of flow. It was hot and there was a lot of movement in my legs. But I did not associate this sensation with anger at all. It was a very pleasant experience actually, I enjoyed the powerfulness. Anger, for me was something different, something aggressiv and destructive and I didn’t want to feel that. I was afraid of anger and that I would destroy things or people, if I let myself experience it.
Instead of asking me, how I experienced the moment, my teacher said, that this is anger. And that I probably will know eventually. This gave me a feeling of being wrong, small and dependent on him to let me know what I’m experiencing.
And after that session, I went home with a doubt about my experience, instead of the powerful, pleasurable sensation that I actually had experienced just before that short conversation. And with a nagging sensation of doubting him, in the back of my mind…
Even though I today realize that anger can be a quality, and that aggression or destruction are different things, this is exactly the kind of situation where learning something new didn’t happen smoothly and without extra effort.
I was busy with his interpretation of something and whether or not he was right, instead of being able to explore what I could learn from this powerful, pleasurable sensation of flow in my legs.
I find this a very innocent example of an important issue in the context of learning and personal development. When I really want to learn something new, something that is essential to my well-being, to living and expanding myself and expressing more freely – I have to move into the vulnerable field of „unknown“, I have to fully say yes and trust my teacher in moments that are tender. I want to accept their expertise and for a moment let go of some of what I previously knew; safe ways of acting and defending myself – in order to discover something new.
In a way I have to say yes, to being totally confused or lost or open to be touched and transformed.
And this, to me, is the most frightening and often most transformational field to go through, especially when it allows me to deal with something like a fear of destroying everyone around me.
Sometimes life serves me a kind of challenge – it’s not a choice, but a combination of events happening around me, that lead to an overwhelming sensation of being lost and having to find a new way. And then, the best thing I find is to go, continue, experiment, walk on… And I, of course, learn profound things in this process of finding some ground under my feet and a way to dance with the challenges. Sometimes then I will act in the way I usually do, trying to just survive, sometimes I get forced by circumstances to do something, that I would never have chosen to do – that can make me creative. But it can also create a sensation of disempowerment, defeat or frustration – until I again find a sense of agency and participation; even if it is „just breathing”.
In an intentional learning process, I bring myself in a situation of unknown, with the wish to grow beyond my previous limits. My aim is, to empower myself and others, by seeking this field that can be frightening and face my challenges in order to find new solutions.
And my experience is, that only when empowerment is part of the whole process, does it feel real at the end.
If I feel that I was forced to do something beyond my comfort zone, or asked to “just believe” like in the example above, on the other hand, I need an extra step of dealing with this sensation of being forced, before fully embodying what I actually wanted to learn.
I have been forced and I have forced myself to do things. And I have experienced, that forcing something can also get things done. But that force always comes with a price. A kind of effort and a feeling of disempowerment. Leaving traces and a bitter aftertaste or even pain, or just years later a frustration with someone who otherwise taught me many valuable things.
I don’t want to expose myself to this intentionally. Especially since I know that I can learn something much more efficiently when I learn from someone I trust. When I can really learn with them.
In this field of unknown one of the scariest things is, to be manipulated. To be lead to a place that I didn’t want to go, that is actually dangerous and where I am used… to be ridiculed, to feed someone else’s ego, to be exploited for money… the fear can go in many different directions. But it is real in the way that there can be people who exploit the trust they receive in these ways. And there can be situations where I am left with that feeling because I didn’t stop or say no, when it was necessary (maybe because I didn’t notice, didn’t know how or was not aware that that was an option…).
I find the fear to be manipulated can infest and compromise the empowerment of an experience. Even if I learned something great and I changed a lot of things if I am left with the doubt whether I really wanted this or I did it because I was „made“ to… it doesn’t taste good. It can either just slow down my process of learning or actually add a source of constant doubt to my experience.
Therefore I need to know, that a no is a no.
I need to know, that the person I work with is someone I can safely disagree with. I need to know, that if I say stop they will stop. If I say no, they will respect that and adapt to my learning. I need to know that they won’t judge me or leave me. I need to know, that if they disagree with my no, we can have a dialogue about it and explore our common language. I need to trust, that if they make a mistake they will be able to apologize honestly. And that if I make a mistake that they will listen to my apology without becoming patronizing.
Part of this, I can only know through experience over time. Through trying something, daring something or taking the risk that I just have to hold on. Sometimes I have had a feeling of trust from the beginning, and I might dare more with some people than others. But even with them, I notice that the ability to disagree with them is part of my „compass“ from the start. I trust you as far as I can disagree with you.
Especially with a teacher, who I meet for their expertise in a field, I need to know that they respect my personal integrity. That they appreciate the trust I give them, when I say yes, by accepting my No when it comes. I need to know that they will look for ways to collaborate with me around the subject we met to discuss. That they will open up a space beyond my comfort zone and hold that space, so that I can enter it in my style and my tempo, rather than throwing me in it.
When a teacher doesn’t accept my no, I don’t know if they ask for my yes for my own sake or for theirs… If they can deal with my no and allow me my own pace, including the option that I will leave and find another teacher, my trust, and respect for them is there. I will full heartedly recommend them to others, even if I notice that currently, I want to learn in a different way. Or if I’m exploring how to train and practice on my own (as I describe in Everyday Presence*).
My personal process should not be part of my teacher’s ego or need to be right. It is truly about creating a space for me to learn and grow. Their role is to hold the space and learn with me. And in a context with peers, we hold the space together.
My challenge in this is, to learn to say no or yes. This is where my courage is required and strengthened… It is vulnerable, even with those who I do trust, and who I know I can disagree with or be at a distance for a while, without feeling disgraced or thrown out.
When I don’t know, I wait. When I’m courageous I throw myself out there and try.
When I know it is safe to say No, I dare to say Yes, – to letting go, to daring unknown, to exploring a way of being that is weird, awkward and maybe just different, to dance with a challenge and grow.
Photo: Stephan Ansorge
…*I describe my personal approach in „Everyday Presence – a personal description“… My first book, which I’m very excited to publish in April 2017. If you’re curious and want to drop by to hold it in your hands – I would be thrilled to greet you at the Release-Fest April 21st, 5pm in Frederiksberg, DK.
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.
On the morning of Wednesday, 9th of November, I woke up with a trembling belly.
I actually woke up at 4 am already, checking the first polls of the US presidential election in hope of being able to sleep more calmly after that. That didn’t happen. So I tried to just lie there and fall asleep again. Checked again at 7am. Still the same results, this time more manifested.
This has been a surprise in some way.
At the same time, it wasn’t.
At first, I was frightened of what were to come. Beginning to worry. Wanting to run and do something immediately.
I took some time, though, to notice this fear and to breathe and to notice what now?
There is something about this situation, that is even irrelevant.
The result doesn’t matter. Or it matters very little. What matters much more, is the state of the States. The political situation of the world. The fear that is in so many people is still the same. Now, the only uncertainty that is clarified is actually who is the face to all of this.
The campaigns in the US just amplified what is happening in so many places around the world.
People frightening people. (And channeling that fear for their benefit.)
Maybe, because fear is such a powerful fuel. Such an amazing power, that brings people to push through things and gives them the power to achieve something they never thought they could.
For some reason, fear has the reputation as something to be avoided. Or at least there is a lot of effort done, to show that we either avoid the things we’re afraid of (create safety). Or avoid feeling afraid and have a mantra of just trust the process, trust humanity, trust.
(Have you heard this?” I’m not afraid of anything.” „Don’t be afraid“? „Everything will be alright“? You just have to trust? Everything happens for a reason? Don’t worry? To me, these too are all sentences that are trying to avoid or calm our fear.)
And while some of these might be said with good intentions I also think, that this, actually helps continuing the image of fear as something dangerous and wild.
Fear as something that, as soon as we feel it, we need to avoid, hide, fight or “overcome”.
What if we were to learn, to be afraid without avoiding, hiding or fighting the feeling of fear inside us. And instead use it to be more awake, clearer and sharper in looking what is causing the fear and what needs to be fought, avoided or changed outside of us?
What if we were to change our attitude towards fear and consider it a superpower, showing us when something really matters to us?
When I try to avoid a feeling or fight a feeling, I need to do a lot of effort. Often in the belly, the shoulders or the butt even. I can sometimes notice holding my jaw tight, too. But all this effort means that I’m using energy for keeping myself still. It is an attempt to gain control over something when already I can’t control my feelings.
But all this effort not only uses up my energy, it also makes me inflexible. And instead of moving with the flow of these feelings and still being able to decide what to do, I get very fixated on one way of being.
Or in order to do something new and different, I again need a lot of effort to break through this fixation.
When I relax, physically, not numbing my fear or pretending that I’m not afraid, but just because I realize that I won’t actually be safer by contracting these muscles, something interesting happens.
Fear gets combined with a sensation of vulnerability. And there might be a sensation of flow. Sometimes my body starts to shake in some places.
All of this is internal. When I now continue to move in reality, interact with the people around me and read the world, I actually manage to notice more detail.
I can notice, not only the area in life that I’m afraid of and where I don’t know what will happen. I can also notice, that I’m still very much alive. I can still move and do things. I can still touch people. I can notice, how many people suddenly are awake.
Because in my experience, being afraid makes us awake, if we dare to keep our eyes open. It can give us an amazing power to achieve things we never thought were possible.
Fear can channel attention.
And just as someone can play the trick, to use fear to get attention for their cause… if I learn to tap into this power, I can channel the attention to what I find important.
It might take a moment longer, to teach more people how to do this (as there is so much work done, to avoid fear in the first place, it kind of needs to be un-learned, I think).
So instead of denying my very human feature of being afraid in times of uncertainty and big change, I attempt to own being afraid, so that no one can take advantage of it. I train attention to my body and noticing in which way my initial reaction to fear restricts my movement and attention. I focus on it for a moment. And then I practice letting go. Not of the fear, but of the physical effort that isn’t helpful at the moment.
To be able to do this, I need to have a moment of silence and attention. I won’t do it, while I’m running away from an acute threat to my life. But when I’m, as last week lying in my bed at night, waiting for the results of an election and not able to sleep – I practice this.
One of the first things that I notice is the restriction in breathing. It could be breathing quickly. At other times it’s just stopped. And of course, in order to keep going, I have to have energy. So I have to have oxygen.
So I need to breathe.
It is so simple. Not because it changes the world, but because it keeps me alive. And then I can change the world around me. Which is quite an amazing, empowering sensation.
When I don’t invest all my energy into controlling a feeling (like fear) but into creating the change I want to see – I can actually be fueled by the fear. It can give me a push. It can keep me going and show me, where my world is still broken and needs my attention, power or determination.
Then fear doesn’t become the thing that makes me feel small and powerless because it restricts me. Instead, it makes me more awake – even in a moment where I don’t yet know what to do. I might need a moment to regroup, recover and rest when something unexpected or scary happens. But I’m not powerless.
I found, that this is something I can learn and train. And I’m happy to share one of my favorite exercises also with you, reading along.
Marianne kom til mig for 2 år siden over et forløb af 9 Sessioner. Hun havde haft ondt i skulderen hver dag den gang efter et styrt, som kom oveni en travl hverdag på hospitalet. Smerten forstærkede stressende situationer og omvent – der opstod irritation og en fornemmelse at være overvældet mange dage. En fornemmelse at alt og alle bare blev for meget.
Fornylig mødtes vi igen, og jeg spurgte hende, hvordan det gik med hendes skulder. Hun fortalte om hendes oplevelse siden vores forløb:
“Jeg har stadig nogen gang ondt i skulderen og den er ikke helt så fleksibelt som den havde været inden styrtet. Men jeg er jo slet ikke bange for smerten mere og det fylder derfor mindre. Jeg har meget mere overskud til også at tænke på andre ting.
Nogen gang, når det er meget slemt, så gør jeg nogle af de øvelser jeg lærte hos dig. Dem med at spænde op så meget jeg kan og bagefter give slip. Og det hjælper altså meget! Det synes jeg.
Nogen gang kommer sådan en pludslig, stærk smerte. Så tager jeg lige et skridt tilbage, trykker på det sted og trækker vejret op til smerten.
På denne måde har jeg lige som en lille „rescue remedy“ jeg kan have med, istedet for at tage smertestillende. Smerten aftager altid efter jeg har lige trukket vejret et par gange.
Jeg er meget tilfreds, fordi jeg har lært noget! Som jeg kan bruge, når det er.
Hvis man gider bruge det.
Og jeg har ikke brugt smertestillende siden og gjorte gode ting for mig selv istedet for.”
Det gør mig så glad at høre, når folk kan bruge det de har lært også så mange år efter vores samarbejde.
Så fedt, når vi ikke bare fikser noget akut i vores samarbejde men også skaber nogle redskaber der kan bruges fremover.
Er du nysgerrigt på, hvad der er du kunne lære? Jeg vil meget gerne tale med dig om hvordan vi kunne arbejde sammen. Skriv eller ring endelig – så finder vi ud af noget.
Jeg har besøgt Aninia med flere forskellig ”lidelser”
Første gang jeg mødte Aninia var via et tilbud på Sweetdeal og jeg troede egentligt at jeg skulle have lidt massage.
I flere år havde jeg gået med en skulder med smerter i den store muskel langs skulderbladet. Behandlinger hos kiropraktor, fysioterapeut samt akupunktur kunne kun fjerne smerten i korte perioder.
Da jeg kom ind til Aninia bad hun mig om at smide sko og strømper og sætte mig således at Aninia kunne studere mine fødder. Jeg tænkte med det samme ”du bliver holdt for nar og de 300 kr. er spildte”.
Så blev jeg bedt om at lægge tøjet og lægge mig på briksen på maven.
Aninia varme med min ryg med lidt massage og gik så til sagen – min muskel. Hun trykkede på musklen og bad mig om at spænde musklen op mod hendes tryk, ”av”. Det fortsatte et par gange ”pres op mod min finger og hold presset – slap så helt af”
Så blev jeg spurgt om jeg kunne finde andre steder hvor jeg spændte når jeg spændte op mod hendes hånd, og det kunne jeg ikke. Aninia gjorde mig derpå opmærksom på min lægmusklen som stod som en flitsbue hver gang jeg spændte musklen i skulderen. Rejsen fortsatte ned i læggen og derfra op i min kæbe.
Ved hjælp af tryk og afslapning lykkedes det Aninia at få mine muskler til at slappe.
Der blev frigivet så meget energi i musklerne at jeg rystede og skælvede i hele kroppen og ikke mindst i kæben. Min aftale med min hustru om at gå på Café efter seancen måtte opgives.
Siden den dag har jeg ikke haft problemer med min skulder. Jeg ved at smerterne kommer når jeg spænder i kæben – specielt i stressede situationer hvor jeg bider tænderne hårdt sammen.
I sommeren 2015 var jeg blevet lidt stresset. Jeg var egentligt ikke helt klar over det men pludselige ukendte reaktioner i forskellige situationer fortalte mig at noget var galt. Når jeg kom hjem fra job havde jeg bare lyst til at sidde for mig selv for så kl. 20 at finde på en undskyldning for at gå i seng. Absolut ingen lyst eller energi til at stå end sige løbe en tur – som jeg tidligere havde haft meget glæde ved. Min læge sagde mindre arbejde, lykkepiller osv. Jeg kontaktede Aninia.
Stress er jo ikke et fysisk problem men starter vel mellem ørerne. Stress medfører bare nogle fysiske reaktioner.
Jeg besøgte Aninia og hun fik mig relativt hurtigt til at slappe af i muskler som formodentligt havde stået spændt i månedsvis. Det var ikke et sammenbrud men pludselig løb tårene ned ad kinderne på mig uden at jeg kunne forklare det. De næste to – tre møder arbejdede vi med situationer hvor jeg f.eks. blev ophidset på jobbet eller hjemme og jeg fik flere forskellige træningsprogrammer fra Aninia med bl.a. øvelser som hjælper med at stoppe en reaktion.
Jeg kan stadig huske hvordan jeg efter 4 eller 5 session cyklede hjem med en følelse af lykke i kroppen. En følelse jeg ikke havde haft længe.
Siden har vi haft 5 sessioner og jeg har fået værktøjer til at takle min stress. Jeg skal bare huske at gøre det.