Body + Language = Emotional Experience

We fully realize that this exercise might prove to be a bit too complicated for you to try out without having attended a Seishindo workshop. Nonetheless, this is one of THE classic Seishindo exercises and thus we wanted to introduce you to the concepts involved. Hopefully you will enjoy your exploration.

We have not included hormonal changes as one of the somatic variables. The reason for this is that we find it best to work with variables that people can have fairly easy access to altering. The seven variables we have chosen offer us great potential for behavioral change, because we can have a reasonable degree of conscious control over each of these variables, and altering these variables will make the process of change readily available to a wide range of people.

A three person exercise: A Coach, an Observer, and a Client.

I) The Client discusses with the Coach, a situation that is problematic.

II) While the Client is talking, the Coach and Observer are to notice where possible, the following seven variables, with the Observer taking terse notes on the chart provided below:

1) Posture – Especially note the tilt of the torso, and the shape of the chest/rib cage. Consider the chest to be two wings joined together at the sternum. In general: The chest should lead from the sternum area and be rounded back towards the shoulders ever so much. The torso should be tilted ever so much forward.

2) Balance and carriage of the neck and head – People tend to tilt their head to different positions depending on what they are feeling and talking about. Some people tend to carry their head forward of their torso, other people always have their head facing down somewhat.

3) Micro Muscular Body Movements – Does the Client seem to have a somewhat rigid posture, or do they have fluid movement? Fluid movements are usually best. If you are able to very carefully notice, you can detect that the client rocks ever so slightly in different directions, depending on what they are thinking/talking about. (For instance: If a client rocks from front to back when thinking about a specific topic that has a positive connotation, they will tend to rock from side to side when thinking about topics that have negative connotations. Such movements are usually subtle, highly systematic, and of great importance in regard to the way in which we think and feel.) Hand movements, or lack of them can also be important

4) Breath – Does the Client talk only after fully inhaling, or do they talk without having fully inhaled? What location does their breath seem to come from? (Stomach, Chest, Throat) In general, it is best to breathe from the stomach and talk only after fully inhaling. Copious breathing tends to calm the system. Insufficient breath tends to make one feel anxious. In general, when wanting to be more generative you will do best to take deep breaths whenever you would normally pause during the course of conversing, and particularly when you pause to think about what you will say next. Use the breath to slow down your system and also to slow down the pace of your conversation.

5) Facial expressions – Does the Client tense their eyes, or mouth prior to talking? Do they smile even though they are not talking about something that is pleasant?

6) The movement and focus of the eyes – How do the eyes move and focus depending on what is being thought about, felt, or spoken?

7) Speed, rhythm, tone, volume, and pausing of the verbal communication – When wanting to make generative changes in one’s life, most everyone does best speaking more slowly than usual when discussing a problematic situation. In order to remain relaxed and solution oriented, we usually do best to have: A resonate rhythm and tone to the vocal pattern, moderate volume, and ample pausing in between phrases, to allow for sufficient breathing, and processing of what has just been said. When you significantly slow down the pace of your talking, you significantly increase the chance that you will actually feel what you are talking about. Feeling what you are talking about is an important thing to do.

III) Once the Client feels like they have fully explained their situation (It is best that they do this in not more than a minute or two, rather than carrying on with a long winded explanation), the Coach and Observer look at and amend the notes taken by the Observer, and discuss what they noticed regarding the above seven variables, and what variables they need to check out further in order to gain useful information.

IV) Questions/Prompts you might use to gather more information (for instance):
“Please rock your body some from front to back a little bit and once you are rocking, please talk about your situation once again.” Let them talk for no more than a minute, and then thank them and ask them to stop. “This time I would like you to rock your body from side to side and talk about your situation a little bit more.” Again only a minute’s talking maximum. Then ask them, “Does it seem easier or more natural to talk about your situation when you are rocking front to back or from side to side?” Usually the difference will be fairly dramatic. Fill in their answer in the chart below. Do the same with other variables as necessary, until most, if not the whole chart is filled in.

V) Once the Coach feels they have all of the necessary information, the Coach makes specific suggestions concerning how the Client should use their body differently, and change their pattern of speech. (When we say “pattern of speech” we mean the pace, rhythm, tone, and volume, and NOT the actual words.) In general, the Client is simply asked to change each somatic variable so that they are doing something different than what is usual for them. Once these instructions are given, the Client is to tell their story once again.
For example:
If the Client’s trunk was tilted backwards to begin with, you ask them to tilt forward.
If the Client initially had their head tilted to the left, you suggest “Please tilt your head to the right.”
If the Client used their hands a lot while talking they are asked to restrict their hand movements.
If the Client tended to keep their eyes up and to the left while talking, ask them to look directly at you the whole time.

Also, make sure the Client breathes sufficiently and speaks slowly while pausing frequently. This variable in particular is crucial.

If the Client does not continue to maintain the suggested somatic changes, either give them terse instructions that they can change as they continue talking, OR, have them stop, tell them what they need to pay more attention to, and have them start again from the beginning. The method you use here is an aesthetic choice. If you feel they are maintaining the old stuck pattern, it is VERY important that you give them instructions that help them to correct each variable. Of course you will want to maintain a pleasant relationship with them while doing so.

Note: The Pace/Speed of their talking and their Breathing Pattern are VERY important. Make sure they maintain a SLOW pace, and BREATHE in between sentences and when they are thinking.

VI) When the Client is finished talking ask them what is different about their experience. If you have worked well together there will definitely be a change in the way the Client perceives and feels about their situation.

The suggestion is:
Notice when new ideas and shifts in language usage lead to meaningful bodily changes.
And notice when bodily changes lead to meaningful changes in language usage (including thinking and internal dialogue).
And continue to experiment until you notice when shifting one (Body or Language) shifts the other.
And when this happens, you have found a meaningful leverage point for changing ones emotional state as well.

Let us know your thoughts...