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Body language

Youíre at the Thanksgiving table, fumbling for the Tums, wondering why you ever had that third helping of Spam-and-walnut stuffing. The ache in your gut, though, may have less to do with momís cooking than it does with your feelings about mom. According to " Integrated Awareness " teacher Mark Fourman, emotions can be pinpointed by identifying physical sensations ó a pain in the lung, for instance, may suggest grief and denial. This Saturday (Nov. 16), Fourman will host a " Family Holidays: Blessing or Curse " workshop, in which he will help students navigate " the body map of consciousness, " and so prevent a repetition of last yearís unfortunate incident with little Jimmy and the turkey baster.

Q: What is Integrated Awareness?

A: Itís the patterns in the mind and body. From the minute itís born, a baby is eating, using its bowels, interacting with the family, all that stuff. Early on, our brains arenít developed enough to remember what weíve learned. So where does all that learning go? The simple answer is in our body posture ó the energies and emotions that get stored in our bodies.

Q: How will that theory play itself out in your workshop?

A: People will adopt a posture of how they are in the family. If someone leans over to the left in a particular way, that might be compressing the spleen, which is related to issues of unfairness. In that case, I might suggest everybody think of something in the family which they consider to be unfair, then I suggest they make a movement to how they try to deal with this unfairness.

Q: I donít get it.

A: If something feels unfair, how do you move? Do you sit up straight? Do you thump the table? How you react is going to be how you move as an adult ó Iím not going to put up with this. Next, I have you move like you canít do anything about it, and thatís how you moved when the unfairness was first imprinted on the body. From there, weíll encourage the body to find a new movement. Iíll suggest a new way of interacting, which repatterns the root of the problem.

Q: So family squabbles can be solved by sitting in a different way?

A: No ó by revisiting unconscious patterns. As I talk about unfairness, I slump down on my spleen ó thereís a feeling of hopelessness. But if you repattern so thereís no longer the pull to slump, the problem will be solved.

Q: Okay. So how will this help when someoneís brother hogs the turkey?

A: My little brother always felt that he didnít get enough attention as a kid, so he acts the clown. In my world, he got more attention, so I felt ignored. Iím going home for Christmas this year, and Iíll get pissed off. What Iíll do for people in workshop, Iíll explore my issue in an Integrated Awareness way, try to get to the root of where that pattern resides in my body. Iíll find something thatís outside of awareness, probably something that had its roots in when I was two.

Q: What other issues might arise at the Thanksgiving table?

A: Resentment ó youíll see that in the gall bladder. A feeling of shame, which is in the colon. The insides of the knees are related to self-abandonment. With guilt, youíll feel it in the lower intestine in guys, in the ovaries for women. Self-judgment, this will be on the brow. Sadness would be a collapsing around [the] solar plexus.

Q: If this works so well, how come you still have issues with your family?

A: Iíve been in Integrated Awareness for about five years, and Iíve grown more in that time than [in] any period in my life. A few weeks ago, I found a place in the back of my left lung that was highly charged emotionally. It felt like it had to do with the grief of my mother dying. When I explored the feeling, I found out it was stuff from when I was young. My mother was caring, but not very emotional. So it was the pain of not feeling a connection. Discovering this had a stunning impact on my relationship with my girlfriend; it really increased the level of intimacy.

Q: People must think youíre crazy.

A: Absolutely. Iím used to it.

The workshop takes place November 16, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., at Cambridge Health Associates, 335 Broadway, Cambridge. Cost is $45. Call (617) 661-3414.

Issue Date: November 14 - 21, 2002
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