Liesje Smith

Certified Rolfing ®

What is a Disregarded Body that has Lost its Sense?



This is a follow up to my last blog, The Earth in your Pelvis, Connecting to the Sacred Feminine Within.

There, I described what I feel we lost in our bodily experience when we disregarded a part of who we all are—the divine feminine within. The pelvis, a part of the body with many implications, is where this feminine presence resides.

Now, I wish to continue by pointing out a huge cultural contempt for the body’s capacity to sense and to be, and by asking what that costs us all, both collectively and individually. (Stay tuned for Part III, where I share a few simple ways you can come to gain a greater sense of aligned aliveness through the core of your body, including your pelvis, from feet to sky!)

Phillip Shepard, author of an amazing book, New Self, New World, helps to clarify how we lost sensation from our perception and how to recover our felt senses, which, he says, are the feminine aspect of our natural equilibrium.  He warns us of the grave impact of our loss of self on our world:

“Indigenous cultures the world over consider people who take more from the world than they need to be mad.  And indeed, our disconnection from the body’s sense of being begets a maddened, dark hunger that consumes and consumes without ever feeling sated.  The fallout from that madness is tearing at the social fabric of our human communities, even as it overwhelms the naturally replenishing, delicate ecosystems of the world.”

Like it or not, we are many!

I’m sitting in an airport right now, returning from the Rolfing workshop on the female pelvis. I don’t travel much, so the spectacle comes to me as a jolt!

I see a pervasive disregard for the wellness of our bodies. Not only do many people have quite serious strains and imbalances in their structure, but the airport facility offers little for our structural needs as we wait, prepare and then hurtle through space, covering great distances.

The message seems to be that in order to handle this incredible feat (become so mundane), it is preferable to numb out as much as possible and survive the blur, to be left with a vague, forgettable experience of a day’s journey.

The terminals and planes give little that can truly support our physical forms, seemingly oblivious to the reality we experience through feeling! In the terminals, our bodies are restricted to a few activities: the indoor walk from gate to gate (thank goodness) and the sitting in slumping chairs that offer nothing for the curves of the spine. People slouch, slump and scrunch their organs, and stress the pelvic bowl.

Of course, we are offered entertainment in the pragmatic form of food! If you are hungry and you didn’t pack your own, you have numerous choices of cheap, processed un-nutritious food provided by large corporate chains. (Gratefully, Burlington Vermont was the one exception on my trip! They have both a small yoga room and a small, local, whole food dispensary.)

As I observe fellow travellers walking through the terminals, some move with hyper-vigilant, quick, stiffly held bodies, while others drag around inhibited, slumped bodies that could otherwise be quite beautiful.

It’s devastating to see so little appreciation for what exquisite forms many of us actually have.

When we lost the capacity to engage the inner aliveness of our sensate experience, we created a culture of fear that now drives us to disengage from ourselves in our bodies and lose our innate attunement to feeling.

I see predominantly disorganized bodies all around me: locked knees, slumped backs, deeply curved shoulders, collapsed pelvises with tucked tails and flattened and widened waists.

I realize we are a culture that largely abandons our full selves. We drag our bodies around as yet another part of our natural world that we have come to lose sight of and disempower… The catch is, like nature, like the Earth, our bodies don’t abandon us. 

How did we go wrong?

When early humans discovered their first tools, their perception began to radically change. Within a short time, their new discovery drew them from a reality that revered the natural world—animals, plants, and landscapes—as a greater force of support, guidance and protection, to a new reality, a new world where plants and animals could be managed in whatever way they deemed appropriate. Eventually, this shift led to the perception of a human hierarchy over both plants and animals.

As we shape this earth, we shape ourselves. As we continue the path of harm and disregard of the earth, we harm and disregard ourselves.  We poison the earth when we put bad, cheap food in our bodies, when we compress our inner landscape into an unsupported, crumpled mass.

And when we do that over and over again, we are met not with the responsive vitality of life that is only possible through harmony and interconnection, but instead, with our narrow, blind acts of disharmony, we are left to our confusion and our relentless unsated hunger for something more.

What we have seemingly lost, however, is right in front of us.

The earth and its forces haven’t gone anywhere, though clearly they have been weakened. And as we poison the earth, many of us ignore the fact that we also poison ourselves. The Earth receives our poison, our confusion, our ignorance and our disharmony.

She takes it in, with no restriction.

And then she responds.

And our bodies, too, respond.

I look around me in this airport and I see a sea of people. Far too many look un-alive, docile and complacent. Bodies are slumped into apathy or prickled with tension and anxiety. Bodies are aging and braced with stiffness, eliminating possibilities of articulation and mobility. Why is “self-care” all too often dropped off the list of important needs, even though we can hear the inner voice that tells us to put it there?

Freedom to move creates aliveness and vitality. Movement allows the body to breathe, the organs to slide, the tendons to flow, like an unencumbered waterway, heavy and fluid.

One place to begin to explore a deeper experience of the felt-sensed body is to develop a greater awareness of and attunement to what Phillip Sheppard refers to as the “pelvic brain.” The ability we have to embody the sensitivity the pelvis in a conscious way is a doorway to presence and aliveness.

The pelvic brain feels what is going on and honors that as intelligence. Optimally, it balances the “head brain,” which is more logical and reasoning, defining and measuring reality without feeling. When it is out of lost balance, it is heartless and disconnected, harshly evident in the heartless, isolated atmosphere of airports.

When we consider the felt-sense of the pelvic brain, we perceive the feeling of having a body. As we feel and sense the world through our bodies, we can begin to reconnect with the energetic field of the earth and the sky, the animals and the plants, and to see the connectivity constantly occurring between all aspects of life.

Learning to inhabit the felt-sense requires that we feel deeply into our gut responses and allow deeper bodily feelings to inform us in a balanced way.  When we feel not only ourselves, but our sense of others, their feelings are considered as a part of our own as well, and we experience a greater sense of aliveness and harmony.

Our lives begin to align with what is.