Engaging the Movement of Life: Health and Embodiment Through Osteopathy and Continuum

Through my experience studying and practicing osteopathy and Continuum, in addition to exploring a variety of other physical and metaphysical approaches, I have synthesized and integrated a unique path of inquiry into the nature of embodiment and the vast scope of human experience. My approach is at once scientific, metaphysical, and poetic.

What does it mean to have a body or be embodied? Supposing that any model of human life is the truth traps us in an artificial construct, and prevents us from having an actual experience of living. Rather than definitively proclaim anything I think is true about embodiment, I propose possibilities and ask you to consider them.

The root of the word “consider” is considerare, from the Latin, meaning, “to be with the stars.” It is in this spirit that I invite you to contemplate a shift in your paradigm of embodiment. Imagine how you might feel if you were lying on the beach at dusk and waiting for the stars to emerge from the night sky. A state of open attentiveness would be conducive to the receptivity necessary to see and experience something new. If you stare at any one place where you think a star will appear, you will most likely miss its emergence, along with all the other things happening in the rest of the unseen sky.

It is with wide openness that I ask you to be attentive to your own body. Can you gaze openly, taking in the scope of the body as a whole, and wait patiently, without specific expectations, for something new to emerge and capture your attention? This style of inquiry asks for all assumptions to be put aside, to have the willingness to consider the unexpected.

The way we ask questions often limits the possible answers. When we inquire from a different paradigm, an unexpected answer may arise. Embarking on an exploration of the possibilities of what it means to be embodied, it’s fruitful to learn how to ask novel questions in new ways, and learn to alter the tempo of our listening so that we can hear the answer that has been here all along, waiting for us to become resonant with the rhythms of life, the Earth, the cosmos, and the silent Stillness from which everything emerges.

To be “engaged” requires a commitment to be wholly engrossed and participatory. Thinking about your body does not create the experience of embodiment. The movement of life can be fully appreciated when you allow it to enfold you completely.

The adult body is composed of about 70 percent water. Water is the ultimate resonator. It is a powerful solvent. It has the ability to carry and store energy and information in a wide variety of ways. Learning to identify with the fluid nature of the body opens doors to realms you would never find by exploring the mechanical model of the body we all learned as children and grandchildren of the Industrial Revolution.

Both Continuum and Osteopathy ask us to be in relationship, to be engaged with both the physical body and the nonmaterial vitality of life. Vitality is a characteristic of the potent life force. It is not a substance; it is not material. We cannot image or measure this force. We can, however, detect and experience the effect of its presence, as it is manifest in physical movement and form. Human beings are the summation of life processes moving in relationship to the matter of which we’re composed. On the physical plane, all life involves motion. Water, minerals, ions, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutrients move through and around the cells and the spaces between them. Cells move, tissues move, organs move, and the space in and around these things move with them, all in concert with an unseen animating spark. There is a miracle that began at the moment the sperm met the egg, that became you. That miracle hasn’t ended yet. The mystery that propelled the growth and development of an embryo continues after birth and throughout life as the forces of adaptation and healing. The movement of embodiment is the vehicle for the expression of this life force.

There is no spiritual path without a physical body in which to have it. And there is no physical existence without the presence of the mysterious nonmaterial life force, often referred to as spirit. The separation, either conscious or unconscious, of physical being from other aspects of life has lead many people into a quandary. Many people have artificially split their physical and spiritual paths, believing that they don’t belong together. And yet, our physical and nonmaterial existence is inseparable. One cannot exist without the other. The body informs the spirit in a silent language that is spoken from the dark watery depths, and the spirit brings breath, light, and fire to the body.

Spiritual practice, embodiment, self-care, and pleasure do not contradict each other. They can all occur simultaneously in one arena of practice. Continuum offers an opportunity to bring the consciousness and commitment of spiritual practice to an engaged embodied movement practice. Each individual can be the vehicle for devotion in a grand exploration of life in all of its expressions.

Find out about upcoming programs with Bonnie Gintis at Kripalu.

Excerpted with permission from Engaging The Movement Of Life: Exploring Health & Embodiment Through Osteopathy & Continuum by Bonnie Gintis, DO.

Bonnie Gintis, DO, has synthesized her self-care approach from her experience as an osteopathic physician, her fluid movement explorations with Continuum, and her meditation practice.

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