On Soak Time: The Process of Thoughts & Attention Becoming Embodied Understandings

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On Soak Time: The process of thoughts and attention becoming embodied understandings.


As a culture, we have developed strong patterns of believing that we are consciously in control of everything. In theory, we delight in the thought that our body is wise, intelligent, and intuitive. In practice, our true beliefs (and perhaps beyond that, our control patterns) show something quite different.

Most of the work I do involves using our conscious awareness to support unconscious processes, via a practice I refer to as sensing. Sensing is not a new word, but it can mean something different depending on the context that it’s taught. For me, sensing is the mothership; it’s the process of reactivating our sensory system via body-based processes that allow us to develop a different relationship with the patterns we find ourselves stuck in, the relationships we are a part of (including our horses) and the wider world at large.

If this seems like a big claim, I guess it is. But that has been my experience, and the experience of many hundreds of people that I’ve worked with, for the simple reason that: as humans, we are sensing creatures. The way our body is designed is complicated in its detail but simple if you break it down in blocks.

If our sensory system is compromised- as is the case when we get stuck in repeating patterns, have experiences we label as trauma that see us spinning round in loops, or can’t see the forest for the trees- we become victims of our own story, a spinning loop of everything that came before. Without a sensory system feeling out into the world, our body struggles to relate us to ‘what is’- to our horses, ourselves, each other.

We are mechanically misfiring, spluttering up and down the streets in a simple effort to drive a few miles to the supermarket.

My work is based on this understanding. If you come to me, we begin with sensing practices almost straight away, the catch being: If you are new to sensing, as so many people are, in the beginning the practice can seem fluffy, and like nothing is really happening.

You are ready for the big shift, and I tell you to do something seemingly ridiculously subtle! Gah! Tell you to hang in there, that things are going on behind the scenes that lie outside your conscious awareness.

Noticing something changing and something changing are two different things. The outcome of sensing can be instant (OMG! My life has changed overnight!), to a very slow build, that creeps up on you like a slow atmospheric shift until you notice that something is different. It’s the latter that is the biggest struggle with getting anyone to commit to ‘doing the work’.

Reaping the benefits requires trust. But how do you trust something when you can’t see exactly what it’s doing, or when you don’t really notice a big change?

Why SHOULD you trust someone like me, when they / I tell you it can take a while to notice the change?

How DO we get to a place where we trust in the unconscious wisdom of the body? Where we understand is to be something that desires, homes in on vitality and wellness, if only the circumstances allow for it?

If you need a reminder that the body is constantly working, adapting, changing beyond what you are consciously aware of, then the best analogy I can think of is the idea of “soak time” with our horses.

Why is it, when working with our horses, that we allow for breaks in between activity?

How is it, that after a rest, or a holiday, following a stint of more intensive work that a horse can come back ‘better’, provided that the processes they were taken through before were ones that were mutually understood?

Whilst we might not have deliberately labeled it as such, soak time is conscious learning being transferred to the unconscious. It’s the process of thoughts and attention becoming embodied understandings. The conscious supporting the unconscious.

Biomechanical change, change to patterns and behavior all fundamentally happen at the unconscious level. When we understand this and put it into practice, we are left to trust, observe, and decide what next action supports our intentions best.

There is practice and action, and there is also trust and allowing. All are essential.


❤️ Jane

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