One surprising effect of Body as Living Presence was for me a significant weight loss that I’ve had no trouble maintaining ever since. When we began, I was overweight and beginning to feel the consequences of two decades of my feminist defiance (and denial) of the issue which I had dismissed as a question of culturally conditioned image.
Paradoxically, having experienced my body from the inside, through all those explorations and expressive practices early on in the yearlong, I got serious about the weight loss program I had started at that time, and was able to follow through until I arrived at a healthy weight. I think that through the embodiment work, I had gained a deep sense of body acceptance, and that helped me land again in my true size.
Another personal shift was my greater ability to drop into a mindfulness state. Most of the time now I am able more easily to slow down my mind. When I want to be present, mindful, undistracted, I am much more able to. Meditating never worked for me, I thought it was great for other people, but this way of quieting down my thoughts and getting centered totally works for me.
I have also learned to recognize and honor my need for alone time. My idea of self care used to be to take a yoga class or a walk with a friend but now I see that I really need to be by myself more, and quiet; it is a new way of taking care of myself and I am making conscious choices to support that.
In my teaching and therapy work with clients, I have more patience, more spacious attention, and again, more ability to slow down and help people slow down, support them in being present with their experience. Now I know that my true, ‘essential’ pace is way slower than what my frontal lobe can do. When I run at the fast pace of my mind, I get tired more easily. When I slow down, I have so much more energy and I can rest while I work.
When my clients come in anxious and speedy, I am better able to meet them where they are and then to invite them to slow down, connect to their body, breath, sensations, and feelings. Those are skills we practiced in dyads and triads during the program, but even more, it is something that Zuza models so well, working with individuals and with the group from this spacious, patient presence. The way she sits with me helps me be with myself and then offer this kind of attention to my clients.
Karen Drucker, Psychologist, Psychodrama Trainer