Daniela Stefanov http://www.vibrantsilence.com, 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 http://youtu.be/VOMJmNDV4Cg 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