The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius have provided inspiration, comfort, and counsel to intrepid readers for approximately two millennia. Having read through it yet again (for at least the twentieth time), I found myself puzzled by the fact that I had never undertaken a similar exercise. Keeping a journal of my thoughts about the vicissitudes of the human condition, and my struggle to understand its challenges, had not become a habit. Marcus, as far as we know, never intended to have his ruminations published. Those thoughts were not meant for the world at large. He simply kept a journal for his own use, for his own efforts at self-rectification and self-governance. The original title was To Himself, and the book in which he recorded his thoughts was not, to our knowledge, shared with family, friends, or staff. The last great Roman Emperor thought a great deal about the nature of the good life, the nature of virtue, the temptations to vice and weakness, and his own insignificance by comparison to the vast Cosmos and the power of the all-pervading, governing Logos (the organizing principle of the natural world).
This book was composed by Gustl Marlock and myself to give a face to body psychotherapy as a whole. It is supposed to help mentally organize the scattered field and inform psychotherapists of all schools about its width and length, as well of its long history and its many methodologies. The idea is that this cannot be done by one author alone because nobody can correctly and fairly cover the contributions of so many diverse approaches. It is for this reason that the book contains the voices of 82 competent representatives of the field from many different countries, among them some of its most highly esteemed originators and teachers. They are meant to form the legs and arms, the trunk and the tail, the belly and the eyes of the now fully grown elephant named Body Psychotherapy.
Scanning the book list for a doctoral class several years ago, I noted the title, The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, by Louis Cozolino, PhD. I felt intimated—it sounded intense, dense. Then I opened the book. Lou’s ability to impart scientific data within a user-friendly framework wooed me. As a reader, I have a tendency to develop a vision of the author responsible for the text. From Lou’s voice—his presence on the page— I sensed he was serious, focused, and highly intelligent with a technical vocabulary easily accessed but not necessarily his first choice. I read with a sincere interest in the content, a desire to learn and understand the concepts, and to get a feel for their application in a therapeutic setting.
Part of me always anticipated motherhood with warmth, accompanied by an inner mantra: 'I'll have kids by the time I'm 30'. I guess this was my personalised version of what Melanie Holmes calls the 'motherhood catechism' in her book, The Female Assumption: The Schooling of Females to assume that they will someday become mothers (Holmes, 2014: 9). It's strange to recall that even by the late 1990s it wasn't obvious, to me, at least, that child-bearing was and is a choice - the first time that I had paid attention to the pronatalism of our societal messages.
For me, writing is like a river that runs through my veins, coursing more deeply than any other current in my life. Along with being a clinical psychologist and artist, I am also a wife and mother. I used to feel guilty about the intensity of my preoccupation with writing, as if this meant I didn’t love my husband and children enough. I’ve come to realize the falsity of that fear. If I don’t take care of myself fully first, how can I possibly serve others? This realization has freed me up. I now experience my personal history as marked by twin births. The birth of my body occurred more than 50 years ago, signaling my physical arrival on Earth. The birth of my spirit occurs in an ongoing fashion, through my writings, outside of time. This second birth feels like a successive awakening, an integration of intellect, passion, and spirit. This is the realm where I cobble together meaning on the grandest scale.
How do we embody words and ideas? The written word in general, and specifically in psychotherapy literature, struggles to embody. Ideas are indeed alive in the body, yet their ink form often floats, stirs thoughts and even more ideas, becomes distant from breath. I am never sure how possible it is to write in a way that maintains connection to the body, and to someone else, while still offers rigor of thought and style.
When I began speaking with Sounds True about a written book following my audiobook, Healing Your Attachment Wounds: How to Create Deep and Intimate Relationships, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I have always considered myself more proficient with the spoken than the written word. Nevertheless, we started the journey to The Power of Attachment, which I actually started over 12 years ago, but somehow, it never felt finished to me. I found that progress often stalled with new research and trying to contain everything about attachment theory between the covers of a single book.
I've learned about the simple bliss of making contact with my experience through meditation and character structure. My 'heady' part can now more easily dissolve into the ease of just sensing the softening of the scalp. In fleeting flashes, there is no me or mine in the way I conceive of me or mine in my every day mind. There's just this body, sitting and noticing sensations arise and fall, nothing to do, nowhere to go. A sigh on the out breath as my shoulders drop a few millimeters and I soften into the earth.
“Face-to-face communication is very fast, both in adults and mothers and infants,” Beebe says. “When we watch people interacting in real time, we often do not see subtle aspects of the interaction. When we slow it down, and view it second by second, or by fractions of seconds, we see a new subterranean world of the details of interactions. Viewing the film frame-by-frame is like having a social microscope. You can see how each person affects the other, moment by moment. You can see who acted first- did the infant turn his head away first, and then the mother moved her head in close, looming in? Or did the mother loom in first, and then the infant turned his head away?” .
Moshe Feldenkrais (1977), who developed the Feldenkrais method, considered walking as a series of controlled fallings. With each step we lose our balance and retrieve it. With each step we fall forward and block the fall with yet another step. Instead of perceiving falling as an undesired process, it becomes a prerequisite for moving forwards. Movement necessitates falling.