Present in body, healthy in mind

Have you ever wondered whether your fears have an impact on your body, leaving a trail in their wake? Or whether the body might have a lot more to say than the mind acknowledges or allows it to express? Well, the Grinberg Method says yes. In this Western world where we run by the clock and speak so many languages, we seem to ignore one that we carry within us all the time–the language of the body. Sensa Nostra talks to a Grinberg Method practitioner about how we are running away from our bodies and maybe even from our minds.

I was born in southern Germany in a small town next to the mountains. There was nothing there for me that could change my life like I wanted it to. As a teenager, I visited Berlin for 2 weeks with my best friend. I fell in love with the town and I decided that that was where I wanted to live. So I did. I was 19 years old when I moved in, and the main reason was simple: parties, parties and parties.

The city was full of people and the nightlife was as huge as the wall once was. At some point I decided to study fashion design. I started working for small, independent designers, and then later, I worked in the costume design department for movies. That was a safe time in my life, but that was also the moment I met the Grinberg Method for the first time.

I had an ex-boyfriend who knew about the method and he told me that it could be interesting for me. I was somewhat curious to see how this could help me, but doubtful. I remember at my first session the practitioner, a young woman, asked me what problems I had. I was a bit surprised and said oh, you have to have problems? I’m sorry, but I don’t have any. It was quite funny to see her reaction; I guess she expected something to be wrong but I couldn’t think of a problem.

I know I was not a good client at first but I kept on going, and there was something in those sessions that made me feel very good with myself, especially with my body.

At some point she asked me how I hold my body each time I sit in a chair. I listened to the question and in my mind I was asking myself: ‘why the hell is she asking me this? How should I know how I sit in a chair? I just do.’ I didn’t know what to say because I had never thought about it. Actually, the thing I wanted the most was for her to continue the body exercises she had taught me because they made me feel so good afterwards. Those exercises, I know now, were the thing that attracted me the most in the Grinberg Method. In doing them, I could be away from my head for a little while and feel my body totally awake, and I loved it.

I was a Grinberg client for almost 5 years, always interrupted by the movies I was working on, but by the end of that time I started to go to lectures about the method, movement classes, fitness classes and I began to realize that when I had a lot of sessions in the same day, I felt tremendously good. I would feel the real weight of my body and my feet on the ground.

I was still going ahead in my life as a costume designer, but I couldn’t resist looking to the side for Grinberg. I got more and more interested, and one day I asked my practitioner if her job was to be present in her body all the time? She said that yes, this was the aim. That’s when I decided to become a practitioner. I still had the contacts from the movie industry and the designers, so I could go back to it whenever I needed to.

The first thing I learned while studying the method was to allow fear and pain, to be more attentive and to be more in my body. Of course this process depends on each person and their background or culture, but I realized that all of us have a specific potential and that it’s a lot more relevant than we are aware of.

I understood that in some ways I was shrinking my potential and that the way I sat on a chair could say much more than I imagined. We all have repetitive behaviors in our body, or even chronic symptoms, and somehow we always build routines around them. What Grinberg showed me was to notice what really goes on in my body and how that may compress my real potential. Most of these behaviours are related to a special kind of feeling, sometimes connected to an old fear or a mechanism to protect us. But, if you learn to stop this repetition in your body, you’ll have a chance to have a new relationship with that fear and to see how the world looks afterwards.

One of the main focuses in learning the Grinberg Method is the analysis of the feet. It’s the mirror of our body, and by body I mean everything in you: your mind, your feelings, your skin and muscles. Sometimes from their shape or colour, may they be white or yellow, small or big, curvy or not, you can actually recognize where a person is blocking something.

I find myself in situations where, before Grinberg, I would have been nervous or focused on my own insecurity, where I would have crossed my legs real tight with my hands in between and would have shrugged my shoulders sitting in a chair. Now, I just start to breath and allow myself to feel my body. The best part is that I can then see the others around me much better–their insecurities, their fears and also their wishes.

Some people have past traumas that don’t allow them to live life fully, but most of them never question how fear and pain are held in their bodies. It’s easier to be a victim of the past because you don’t have to change a thing. Many people prefer to be that way and it’s far more frightening to face pain than to leave it as it is.

One of the most curious situations was a session I had with a client who was a prison guard. In our first session he explained how angry he felt towards the prisoners even when they didn’t do any harm to him. I asked him to show me how his body reacted to this situation. After seeing his furious posture, I saw how he closed his hands into his pockets and how much he contracted his upper body. I told him to try not to do that, to relax his arms and just breathe.

In the second session we had, he was very happy. He told me that he had tried to feel his body at work and that in doing so, he seemed to not become so angry anymore. He said he could even laugh at the nasty things the prisoners told him, and finally enjoy his own jailhouse rock.

It’s funny how we manage to concentrate our energy so much in our minds. While we do it, we forget that the only true link between the mind and the world is the body. The body is not just an extension of the brain or machinery without emotions, but is an inseparable part of the whole. We certainly don’t need a strong revolution in our thoughts and actions to become more at one with our bodies, but the attention we place on our bodies may give us an honest description of ourselves. The Grinberg Method doesn’t try to convince you to do that, but it surely gives you the option to look deeply into the body. So, as the Grinberg practitioners say: it’s okay, you can breathe, the change will happen by itself.

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