Body as an instrument of self-knowledge – 5 Questions Part II

Posted by Sabine on November 30th, 2011

Q. In the modern way of life both men and women are exposed to numerous stresses which often bring about the confusion with regard to the traditional sex roles. What are your observations in that sense and how can we overcome those conditions?

A. Traditional sex roles become less and less defined in our hyper masculine world of survival.  We all constrict and become more machine-like under the constant bombardment of stress.   Speaking especially about women I have seen how we overwork our masculine muscle to provide for our own ‘security’.   At first we might have had a lot of fun exploring and establishing our power in the male arena by making our own money and creating an independent life for ourselves and frequently our family.   Women have often accomplished more stability than men.  But this success can not ever touch most women’s deepest heart and our soft bodies tighten to an unhealthy degree.  The disillusionment comes when we don’t know how to swing back and relax into “The Power of Feminine Pleasure” [which is the working title of the book that I am writing] on a daily basis.

A woman in her masculine force naturally does not feel attracted to a man who is less masculine then she is and the sexual polarity for a great relationship might get lost.  We women have to take responsibility and learn how to invite our feminine back in.  In turn our feminine is what empowers the masculine in men.

In Radiant Embodiment I help my clients to experience the male/female aspects of their body and we build bridges for the “ultimate inside marriage” with right/left/front/back/upper/lower body awareness and integration.

Personally in my work and in my marriage I often search for the more feminine or the more masculine energy in each moment and find a balance.  For instance; I am a self employed one-women-show and while I completely hold my client or my students and the space and mostly give the direction of the session [masculine].  I also completely offer my deep feminine intuition, my nurturing touch and my heart and compassion [feminine].

When my, also self employed, husband comes home totally exhausted and stressed he may ask me to give him some time to recover his balance by himself [masculine].  Feeling into my body and his I might take the lead and offer another solution [masculine] and if he let’s me take over he trusts my guidance [feminine].  Then he receives my hands-on nurturing [feminine].  His tanks fill up sooner or later and he naturally takes the more decisive active role [masculine].  In this moment it’s my turn to learn to surrender and trust his direction.  When his direction is not serving the purpose, he has to feel his mistake himself.  I only need to express my feelings about that but not my judgment of him.  I learn to stay in my heart and relax into my deepest feminine trust in life without emasculating him.  This is how we balance to encourage each others natural feminine and masculine energies and have grown tremendously in our love and marriage.

Stressors will not go away.  They are here as opportunities for learning and loving.  It’s how we deal with the blows.  When we stay connected to the sensations in our body we are never in the past or in the future where bad experiences and false expectations trick our mind.  We stay here now in this present moment which is the open invitation to expand as the love we are.

Q. How can couples that you work with overcome the lack of communication in the relationship?

A. First of all acknowledge that you are two completely different people – that’s why you were attracted to each other in the first place. So, don’t try to turn your man into your girlfriend, or your girlfriend into your buddy.

Second: Don’t take anything personally! [Don Miguel Ruiz – The 4 Agreements]

Third: Go for a walk to talk.  When the body is moving and the breathing is deepened – even a little bit, the thinking also expands and can be expressed much more easily and grounded.  Even longer pauses feel natural.  You may find beautiful visual interruptions to ease the conversation and you both get a physical sense of moving forward.

Fourth: Don’t talk – touch!  As I have mentioned before little babies don’t talk – they sense everything through their whole body and they cry or tense up if they are held by somebody who is scared for instance.  That same high sensibility is still inside of us adults.  It lives just underneath all the protective walls we put up over the years.  So when we invite the other to a foot massage or a shoulder rub, and this touching is done gently and respectfully while listening into their body, both of you will relax and feel connected on the very primal nonverbal level.  A deep communication can grow from here.

Fifth: I often show couples how to lie down in spooning in the evening and breathe through their chakra system to harmonize their energies before any sharing of the events of the day.

Sixth: The more ‘feminine’ partner is usually the one who can communicate easier.  Find common ground with daily things and find the relatedness to your immediate physical experience.  Share only your sensations and feelings, not your thoughts and judgments.   Give the other space to digest your info. You might ask them about their own sensate experience.  This is how you invite your partner to enter into their own body and become present with themselves first.  I see this as a useful prerequisite before getting into a deeper sharing with each other. Your communication will be less emotional, clearer and more connected.
Q. Can you describe to us the exercise that you implement in order to renew the personal energy?

A. Of course my first answer is: Pleasure in any form – but that does not mean you get to “pig out”!

I am talking about feeding all of your senses with rest, self care, bathing, soothing your skin with essential oils, cooking with lots of time and good friends; what ever gives you a sense of ease; listening to music, creating art, restorative yoga, body work – passively receiving touch – ask your partner or friends for nonsexual holding and nurturing, [see my Foot massage DVD and Manual, 20 Ways to Please the Other] Being in nature – I am in my garden many times a day between clients; breathing with wide open arms at a wide open window, funneling the sun into every cell of your body; gentle hiking and anything horizontal and slow that makes your whole body smile.

When we finally listen to our body as to a baby’s cry and begin to give it the long overdue nurturing, lots of us may have to initially experience a much worse drop of energy.  In this ‘good mothering’ that I describe your body will soften and slowly release the old rigidity that held it together successfully surviving for too many years.   Now you get to feed it with delicious touch and good nourishing “activities” for quite some time before its depletion is quenched to overflowing and your natural zest for action jumps up.  This break-down-to-break-through is a healing crisis. It may even happen to somebody who’s intensely practicing yoga [which comes from a more masculine, structured and controlled tradition] without listening deeply to their body.

I hope I was helpful to you in describing how I have learned that our human bodies just need to be honored with self compassion and feminine nurturing in spite off our minds fear and throughout our whole life to reconnect us with our divine self.

With love and light


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Sabine Grandke-Taft

Embodiment Expert and Workshop Leader

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Body as an instrument of self-knowledge – 5 Questions Part I

Posted by Sabine on November 30th, 2011

Daniela Stefanov, interviews Sabine Grandke-Taft October 15, 2011

Q. In Yoga, the body is an instrument to gain an insight into the Self. I see a similarity between the practice of Yoga and your work in the general sense. Would you be so kind as present to us the Radiant Embodiment approach?

A. Thank you for noticing Daniela.
Yes, there are similarities, because Radiant Embodiment is a touch and movement process that teaches awareness and furthers insight into the wholeness of our Being through the physical body. To offer you and your readers a more inclusive picture I would like to start with a brief history for how Radiant Embodiment came to me.

I have studied yoga off and on since I was 25; a few years after I became a Physical Therapist. Yoga began to undo my extremely rigid and mental approach to the “correction” of the body. At the same time I was studying to specialize in physical therapy with infants and children. This brought me to the roots of human development and the huge impacts of childhood on all aspects of a person. I worked for seven years with babies and children using Sensory Integration and Bobath Therapy and these kids were my best teachers ever. Babies cried when I did not feel deeply enough into their needs.
A few years and a divorce later I was drawn to become a Feldenkrais® Practitioner [Awareness though Movement® and Functional Integration®] which deepened my growing curiosity about my Self as a body.
During those years I was fortunate to work very closely with a therapist and our group in Bio-dynamic Body Therapy. The profound nurturing that I received during the holding and symbiotic melting with other bodies for countless hours finally reached and soothed the old emptiness in my core. This somatic approach to psychotherapy filled the gap for me and I realized the vital importance of touch for growing and healing on all levels.

These early experiences were the cradle for Radiant Embodiment.
After immigrating to California in 1998 and having the absolute pleasure of living at the Esalen Institute on the Big Sur Coast for three years I began to give “my own” bodywork sessions ever freeing myself from the old limitations of ‘proper’ bodywork and allowing my whole body and spirit to flow while I was touching an-other. My own embodiment was well on its way and I relaxed into trusting the journey on which my hands and body would take me and my client.

The spiritual aspects of Nature, Native American rituals and Tantra training as well as becoming an assistant for David Deida in his work on Sexual Spirituality and living in India and Australia later on have just expanded and deepened my approach. I began to recognize and integrate the feminine/masculine energies of each body and psyche into my work.

Working with thousands of individuals and couples over the years I found one deep longing at the root of every body: “I want to FEEL loved and connected.”
Our body is what makes us real here on this planet; but for most of us the journey to heal the gaping wound of our perceived disconnection from our source/god/love/the ‘Onlyness of Being’ begins by looking everywhere else. We look for spouses, teachers, gurus, journeys, we try groups and trainings.

As in work or social life, in sports and even in yoga I have witnessed too many misuse their body as a tool to get fit, or get rid off something, or get strong or better than others to feed the deep inner hunger.

Radiant Embodiment is the gentle journey to find ‘home’ within the vast wholeness of ourselves and to heighten our awareness of the sacredness of our body. The vehicle to help us re-connect our own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual body is Pleasure. Pleasure is what moves babies to explore their own body and the world. Pleasurable sensations are what keep our curiosity alive. Pleasure is the key to learning and growing. But all too often we had to tighten up and numb our highly sensitive and skilled nervous system early on to survive. After a few years we have suppressed our pure and natural joy in pleasure. Pleasure has become a taboo and is associated with overindulgence, laziness or purely sexual gratification.
For me our ability to feel pleasurable experiences is the basis for recovering the clear sense of who we really are. The Self get’s realized through embodiment.

I named my bodywork ‘Symphonic Touch®, Integrative Movement Massage Process’. As in my Radiant Embodiment workshops I combine individualized Symphonic Touch sequences, Feldenkrais movement and more of the over twenty healing modalities that I studied including Cranio-Sacral Rebalancing and Somatic Experiencing – Trauma Resolution to guide my clients toward noticing pleasurable differences on their physical level first. Symphonic Touch is a total support for each individuals exploration and unfolding of whatever is held inside.

Our sessions are conversations, verbally and often non-verbally, between my listening touch and guidance and their expanding perception of sensations, movement and breath; as well as of the ever changing flow of thoughts and emotions. Through this kind of nonsexual nurturing presence my clients and students recover their ability to feel themselves fully again and develop Self compassion. This regenerates their innate healing capacity, their natural sensuality, their radiance and joy for life inside this body.

We are sentient Beings fundamentally grounded by our sensations and therefore we are able to awaken as embodied consciousness.

Q. Because of the fact that the modern man is alienated from his roots, from the ancient essence in himself, and thus from his very self, as a Yoga instructor, I find the meaning of practice in trying to connect again what has been alienated. As I get to know your work, I find a similarity in this sense so I would ask you to favor me with opinion and way of thinking.

A. I absolutely agree with you, Daniela. Expanding on my previous answer; for me our roots, our connection to source is our body with its incredible abilities to feel sensations, emotions and yes also intuitions. This is the only real experience of being alive and present. But our hyper masculine western control dharma has uprooted and replaced a lot of that groundedness and innate sense of safety that we carry inside each cell. It’s not just that we have lost touch with our body and the natural ebb and flow of nature. The unpredictable [feminine] nature of life has become too scary for us because we are buying that we are supposed to be forever young and sexy. J. Krishnamurti so brilliantly stated: “There is only love or fear”.

Discarding our instinctive embodiment from the natural life–death–life-cycle did not just cut us off from trusting our inborn gut feeling. Relying solely on our mind also made us easy prey for the uncompromising profit greed of the consumer industry and organized religions. We are becoming total control freaks. Fear of life and a frantic desire for any superficial relief from feeling IT has our world spinning.

Yes, return to your body, find gentle pleasure, caress yourself back to this moment and feel how you begin to breath again, expand, flow with the blows of life and how love is you. Be in nature, receive the aliveness around, the light and shadow, the perfection and find a place to rest inside outside. Resting in listening to our body allows us to find our essence.

Published in magazine  Ziveti zdravije “To Live Healthier” in Belgrade

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