Chapter 1- Anatomy as an organizing principle
Chapter 2 – Health and vitality
Chapter 3 – Placing the breath
Chapter 4 – The organs
Chapter 5 – Skin breathing
Chapter 6 – Ujjayi breathing
Chapter 7 – Mudras for supporting diaphragms and organs
Chapter 8 – Mudras for chakras and the central channel
Chapter 9 – Diaphragms revisited
Chapter 10 – Vayus
Chapter 11 – Five elements revisited
Chapter 12 – Using mudras to experience meridians
Chapter 13 – A tour of the meridians
Chapter 14 – Samana vayu and primary respiration
Chapter 15 – Claiming inner spaciousness
Chapter 16 – Embodying transcendence
The word “embodied” is one of those terms, such as “grounded” or “centered” that can be discussed forever without being experienced.
Defining embodiment, though, can be quite tricky, because much of what is taught in western societies about the body devalues the felt experience.
The categories of formal learning, particularly anatomy and physiology, are taught with the fundamental source being cadavers (dead bodies), and conceptualizations that do not include our own vitality, or life force. Without the felt experience, embodiment is just another concept that can be discussed ad nauseum. The felt experience (or “phenomenology” in academic-speak) is the path away from these endless discussions and conceptual befuddlement.
This book provides a basic training on how to become aware of our physiological functioning and our sense of vitality. A part of this training comes from becoming hyper-aware of how we breathe. This awareness makes it possible to feel our own organs and how they function and interrelate. To help us refine our awarenesses of our own organs we are entirely fortunate to learn and practice methods, developed over thousands of years by Indian and Chinese cultures.
With these fundamentals this book leads us through a series of connected experiences using mudras to feel our organs, the flows of our life force (Qi) and the flow of that life force through our meridians. From that we learn to feel our own chakras and sushumna (central channel), and our ability to perceive our connections with our environment and ecosystem. This then provides the basis for a body sense of our spiritual existence and development. Thus the definition of embodiment evolves into deeper awareness within our bodies and deeper connection to the world.
Bill Harvey has been a Certified Rolfer since 1984, Certified Advanced Rolfer since 1990, Rolf Movement Practitioner since 1999, and Biodynamic Craniosacral practitioner since 1984. His interest in combining these three approaches while working with clients led to the development of his training in Biodynamic Structural Integration, which began in 2005.
Not being able to figure out how to not run out of breath while distance running, and being around adults with emphysema, captured Harvey’s interest with breathing at an early stage. A large part of his attraction to becoming a Rolfer lay in Rolfing’s ability to alter the texture and pliability of the intercostal muscles of the ribcage so that there could be more room for the lungs to expand, and more ease throughout the thorax to allow the lungs to deflate more fully. Since the early 80s his professional interest in breathing has followed two paths of inquiry: 1) how to free up tissue within the body, by working with connective tissue; by increasing the motility of the individual lobes of the lungs through visceral manipulation; how to tease out limiting habitual holding patterns through movement therapy; and how to titrate out emotional and kinetic charge through Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy; and 2) to discover whether or not there are any inherent feedback loops within the body that can be called upon to support our activities.
During his more than three decade full-time career in manual therapies, Bill Harvey has also pursued a variety of interests that deepened his work and instruction of Structural Integration. These interests have centered around questions of how life works. What is our proper place in Nature? What is the relationship between the wiring of our nervous systems, established through our attachment patterns and our physical structure and behavior? What is the relationship between our belief systems and structure? What is the relationship between ancestral patterns and structure and behavior? Most importantly, what can work with these realities?
Our breathing activates the answers to these questions, leading us on a path to embodiment that clarifies and contextualizes our inner experiences within the natural world.