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It’s hard to believe that the program is more than halfway over! Although we were free from seminars on Monday and Wednesday, on Friday we had the opportunity to meet Dr. Wilbert Smith, the author of Hole in the Head. Dr. Smith has a pretty authoritative presence. It’s definitely one that demands attention and asks you to consider every morsel of advice he graciously apportions.

Perhaps one of the most striking things he mentioned was near the end of his talk. “Watch my lips carefully,” he said. “Unacknowledged anger always leads to pain, and unacknowledged pain always leads to anger.”

I am currently reading a work by a bodywork therapist entitled The Psychophysiology of Self-Awareness, in which the author talks about a particularly intense and emotional Rosen Method Bodywork session with one of his patients. During the session his patient – let’s call him David – admits that he feels his responsibilities have become a burden, that his hard work oftentimes goes unacknowledged, and that people take advantage of his naturally generous nature. The therapist feels his patient’s shoulders tense while he is saying this, and realizing David is unaware of it, brings him back to an awareness of his current body state by asking David to feel where his hands are on the small of his back. At this moment David, in a eureka moment – due to his newly acquired awareness of his body, realizes that he has been tense in that area, which then allows him to suddenly understand that he is angry despite having not been conscious of it, and that most importantly, the same anger –at his coworkers and himself – has stayed suppressed throughout his entire career.

With the help of his therapist, David comes to an understanding that the root of this feeling of under-appreciation stems from a lack of emotional responsiveness and gratitude his parents failed to demonstrate in his childhood. David is thereby able to become more aware of when his anger arises, and thus prevent himself from over-committing to his coworkers and keeping himself from feeling like he’s been taken advantage of. It was interesting to me that David’s anger had not been consciously suppressed. He had not had an intrusive thought and then pushed it away because he felt inadequately prepared to work through it. In fact, he had not been having these thoughts at all: instead, his suppression occurred through at the complete lack of awareness of emotions, which was brought to his attention when he first paid attention to his embodied state.

Thus, coming to a heightened awareness of one’s current body state and the sensations and feelings that accompany it – whether through yoga, meditation, sport, or exercise – may thus allow us to prevent suppression and as Dr. Smith says, acknowledge our anger, and acknowledge our pain.

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