Those that teach with generosity (pointing people to their own sense of empowerment and agency with a fierce kindness and desire to share), humbleness (by staying with the people and insist on learning as well as teaching, sharing parts of their own stories) and with the intent to integrate into people's daily lives (truly co-creating by weaving and encouraging community) are the ones that change the world.
After completing two of the six weeks of Animano, it's clear to me that Barbara Droubay is one of these teachers; a woman on the verge of a brilliant revolution.
The revolution is what she calls "Raging against the machine;" the machine of fascism which most of us run our lives with our "shoulds, musts, better haves," - can we put down our notions of what is right and wrong, good and bad and understand that there is nothing to overcome, get over, fix - but rather a a tuning in to what is and return home to our wider set of options and possibilities.
With this approach, 30 of us students are rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. We are hunters, tracking these possibilities and the character shaping our usual patterns - what is the character doing in the body right now? Where does this character start to defend, get anxious? In this training, we get the permission to agree not to worry about having to know and to be right and with this approach, we get to lean into learning co-creating this experience together.
"I'm not sure let me ask the questions. Let me have a conversation. Let me touch and see what works. Let me see where there's energy. Let me see where there's flow. And that is working together.”
In giving touch, I feel allowed to be creative - letting my hands go where they sense to go, intuitively - feeling what those I touched might be feeling by feeling into my own body, tracking the focus and bringing them back to what they said they wanted.
As part of our practice, Barbara offers a training for our own bodies. She leads and reads the room with an intention, working on areas of the body that are generally full of contraction by doing movements based on and borrowed from various systems (Kundalini, Thai Chi or Chi Gong) with a bit of her own flavor, spontaneously - "There's nothing wrong or right, there's no technique. Instead, it's about actually feeling what I'm doing, meaning experiencing what I'm doing in my body. And that is for me training.”
Essentially we learn the ability to control relaxation and movement, and breath. And in this sensing of "what i'm doing" is a feedback loop between two bodies, a "practitioner" and a "client." But not in some woo-woo way where we only focus on the positive or try to solve problems, and yet, we're not by-passing or avoiding anything:
“Fear and pain happens in life, we’re not here to avoid or say this will go away.”
The truth of the moment lies in simply observing 'how I am responding (with my body/mind right now' and it is only in understanding what exactly that is that we can start to open up to different options. With this awareness, we can start to ask: Can I do this same shape but with less energy? Can I allow images into my eyes rather than using darting energy outward in order to see? What kind of possibilities are there and what is my tendency? Do they match? Is what I want in harmony with what I do?
She also shook her head at the usual approach of therapy and practitioning. By "taking care of others" we are essentially saying "you are not able to take care of yourself, creating a cycle of dependency. Because as a therapist and as a practitioner, I know better than you." This is also creating a cycle of forever needing the “caretaker” because the problem will never go away.
In the Body-Mind Healing technique, it’s options were looking for. Returning to and remembering possibilities. Which is something each person has to answer for themselves. What you are giving your attention to? Is your attention fixated on something with your mind which is holding your body in habits that block the flow of your energy? Has your focus become fixed on what you are doing wrong, what you are lacking? Can you shift that to rather focus on what you want?!
Barbara's decision to open up her practice to the world is her version of kindness and generosity. Not only as the driving principle behind the teaching but as a consolidation of techniques that took her 15 years to learn, a culmination of her experiences over the last 30 years into a six week course.
All the body work training she observed, studied, and developed came from a need to make a living to supplement her life as a painter but also seems inherent to her story as very physical person, growing up in the circumstances she did and a need to sate her granular curiosities.
“When my mom was pregnant with me she was hit by a bus and she was paralysed from the neck down. So I grew up with a woman who was always moving between recovering movement and having capacity; so a lot of chronic pain, a lot of body stuff. And I watched my mom heal from that. So my life was growing up around somebody that had a very strong will and potential to live. They told her she would never walk again. And she said well, let's see about that.
As she came into herself as a painter, she also went on to take a degree at an experimental school in Seattle, which included a deep dive into Bowen, Rolfing, Feldenkreis, Myofacial, Trigger Point Therapy, Deep Tissue work, Cranial Sacral, Osteopathy, Anatomy and Physiology. In parallel to painting, she constantly explored other body work methods and any and all systems that she simply found interesting. Grinberg was one of the main influences.
“[With] Grinberg method, I was absolutely blown away because they were covering the whole range of experience, plus it was a teaching methodology. That means fire, water-like states that the body experiences; so fascia, bone, muscular tissue, breath, air and nerves. All all of that, plus different qualities, intensity, speed and quietness.”
When I've watch her working with someone it is like watching someone painting but with energies, spreading the embers of their fire and tuning their focus.
What really distinguishes her method from others seems to stem from this special lens she sees through not only as an artist but also with her work with a Shaman in Columbia combined with her constant questioning and investigating how she can give sessions that do not require her to be an expert but a guide to show people how to keep coming home to what they want rather than what is lacking in themselves.
“This became absolutely fascinating to me, because we feel bad instead of taking action to do what we said we wanted to experience. ”
"If you really want to comprehend and really heal, refuse to feel bad about yourself ever again.
Okay, but what if I did something bad?
Don't feel bad about it, fix it. Do something. ”
The heart's wish is sometimes expressed as a “I should be or shouldn’t be” or “I don’t want” which means “i’m trying not or to be something other than what i am” and all my energy is going towards that trying, that effort. Words of extremes like “everyone”, “everything”, “always” and “never” are good indicators of a story keeping you in a pattern. This is a focus. And it works in tandem with what we do.
"It's being able to be really just genuinely whole in our experience. So we relate to things as a problem, because we're conditioned to but if we relate to things as this is what I want, and I just don't know how to do that, and it's not a problem. It's just I need to learn new skills, or I need to let go of something that I've been doing. And then there's integrity again, because there's not a thing to fix.”
Going back again and again to “what is it you would like to be experiencing?” Recognizing what is real and present, that’s the warm data we can mine from our experiences in every moment. And our job is to say yes, and…
"Yes, and..." is an improvisation technique to keep the flow moving in allowing what is to be and add your own flavor into the ongoing story unfolding before you. Yes, this is one way (to be, to try and not be) And many many other possibilities for you to try out. What would you like to be experiencing? Yes this is one way to be in the moment and there are other ways, possibilities. When possibilities open up, choices are accessible. This is freedom.
“In this kind of fascist training of there's a right way and that means that we start to become a specific shape and we hold that shape. And so how can I shake the shape? You know? It's like method acting, it's like dancing. How do I shift my form? In shamanism, it's shape shifting.”
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