I want to share with you how to meet your inner teacher that lives within your mind-body experience at any moment in time.
I had my inner teacher emerge as the road runner earlier this week. Beep, beeping with a frenzy and bumping into walls, literally and metaphorically. Not a very grounded inner teacher. Actually, I am still in the company of this teacher as I type this email right before I drive to the airport to fly to Mexico.
Our inner teacher isn't always a pleasant experience to meet. Yet its important to acknowledge the teacher of our experience in as many moments as we can remember.
Our inner teacher is reflecting our energy or feeling state. This energy state is a revelation of the state and connectedness of our mind, emotions and body.
The art of befriending this teacher is what converts the teacher (whose class you may want out of) into a healing guide!
In the Body-Centered Gestalt Psychotherapy work that I've dedicated a good chunk of my life in as a student, a client and also a teacher of, one of the tools in this system is borrowed from a Native American-inspired practice called the Animal Totem Process.
The Native American totem pole is a reflection of the different "areas of perception and experience" held in our bodies. The key is to allow various "totem" animal images to emerge from your body experience.
The Personal Totem Pole written by Eligio Gallegos describes this work in more detail--there are some good parts to this book--overall not a great book, but good parts to draw from).
In allowing animals to emerge from the felt-body experience, I'm not just talking about just strong bears or soaring eagles. I mean when we connect to our belly, yea we might want to feel a big bear emerging when we are having all jittery anxious feelings down there, but the reality is "Right now a bear doesn't live here it's more like a mouse with a broken leg." Or as you check in with your head spinning sensations, a tazmanian devil appears or in my case a road runner (the one from that great cartoon, The Road Runner--beep, beep!)
What's the purpose of working with animal imagery? It is a wonderful right brain intuitive tool to help access the primal truth of your experience without a lot of left brain analysis/judgement/critical thinking filters. It allows us to intuit our inner state and inner needs quite directly.
Dan Siegel, the neuropsychologist and author of MindSight talks about the proximity of the right brain to our emotional limbic brain and how the right brain is primarily responsible for getting to know our emotional experience. Hence it makes total sense to engage a creative, imaginal right brain process in order to know our emotional state and needs.
So let me guide you in a practice to help facilitate this inner connection, introducing you to your inner teacher!
OK, so lets give it a go in 5 easy steps:
1. Sense or scan your state of mind and body
2. Allow an image of an animal to emerge from what you sense inside. Take time and wait.
3. Just be with this image of this animal and sense the connectedness between your mind-body state and its nature.
4. Ask it for a message, specifically asking "why are you here?"
5. Lastly, ask this energy "what do you need?"
Play! You might be surprised at the information that emerges as well as the animals that come to mind, bubbling up from your mind-body experience.
And on the other side of play, I invite you take seriously the importance of these symbols and the messages that your messengers carry.
With kindness and beep beep! Got to catch a plane!!