She came to me looking for support around ending a long-time partnership. As I looked down at her feet, I could tell that she'd faced severe trauma as a child, and had not processed it much yet. The toes were crowded together and were unable to spread and find the earth, the arches had collapsed, and there was a lack of flow to the blood vessels, indicating that a kind of energetic amputation had occurred.
Most of us live lives of quiet desperation, mired in perennial loops. There doesn't seem to be much relief. Most practitioners would simply dive in and begin dissecting the relationship itself, its particulars, perhaps past relationship patterns, and belief systems without noticing this glaring detail; massive unresolved trauma... much attention still unconsciously flowing into the past. An approach like this is inherently flawed. It's like the allopathic model of medicine looking at a single organ instead of the whole organism.
In ancient traditions, the right foot is the masculine root, and the left foot is the feminine root. In this case, they were both displaying symptoms of challenges, the right more misaligned than the left, which she was favoring, standing akimbo.
If we're in asymmetry, we've adopted a posture in order to avoid feeling something.
Of course, by avoiding it, it accumulates and the body's messages become louder, eventually manifesting as a scream we can't ignore: a trauma or a disease.
After a brief discussion, I found that she'd tragically lost both of her parents before the age of 12. That is certainly one of those life lessons that can 'sweep the feet out from under you,' as Peter Levine put sit.
Trauma cuts us off from the lower centers... we lose our ground. In this way, our life force energy and our awareness accumulates higher in the system. Breath becomes shallow... we become head-centered. A process of sustainable healing reconnects conscious awareness to the lower half, so that the consciousness can flow back down into the lower centers.
As I worked physically on his foot, reminding her that the bones of the foot are not fused, but are fluid and can move, a flood of tears and a litany of memories about her father... about the last time she saw him, what he was wearing, what she wished she'd said.
Say it now, I suggested.
'I always blamed myself for your death.'
That is a belief that will impact relationships, vitality, just about every human function. As we touched into that, all of which seemed to arise out of this manipulation of the bones in the foot, her whole body softened and a shuddering breath carried itself further into the viscera.
After the sobs, the familiar peace descended.
'They feel heavy', she said. 'My feet. And tingly. I guess I'm just feeling them now.'
She stood up in wonder, looking down at these new additions to her life... 'I feel my heals, and I feel the blood flowing, and they feel warm. My feet have always been cold.'
The relationship is now free to change and evolve, as she meets the other 'standing on her own two feet.'
So, in this way, using our unique and radical approach, we were able to shift what decades of therapy and years of yoga could not budge. It took an hour.
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