Podcast: Episode 164: When It Is Difficult to Feel – Tips, Ideas and Suggestions with Ruth Ann Penney and Kim Marion, OT

Have you worked with a client that is numb or cannot feel? How do we work with those who have difficulty expressing themselves? This week, discover various techniques, methods of connection, and ways of focusing when working with your clients. 

As therapists, we often have to help our clients find language to express what they are experiencing in their bodies. We shift between sensory avenues to find methods of communication that encourage understanding of the feeling while tailoring this sensory language to each client's felt experience. 

This week, I'm joined by two educators and therapists, Ruth Ann Penney and Kim Marion, to talk about openness, trust, and relationship building. This enlightening conversation touches on the nuance of sensory perception, the essential nature of trust in our ability to communicate, and so much more.

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to welcome clients in a way that helps to prevent blocks.
  • How to identify blank spots with clients.
  • The connection between feeling and language.
  • Techniques of finding means of expression via sensory systems.
  • How to identify the sensory systems that may be quiet within our clients.
  • Some methods of noticing and working with the “feeling brain” vs the “thinking brain”.
  • 3 key points that are helpful in supporting clients in feeling.

Featured on the Show:

  • If you want to dig deeper into this work and would like to explore and connect to your body and being, I recommend you join me for the Therapeutic Yoga Intensive. It runs from Saturday April 15th, 2023 – Thursday April 20th, 2023, 8:30am to 2pm MT. Click here to learn more and sign up. Have a question about the Therapeutic Yoga Intensive? Email us at [email protected].

Full Episode Transcript:

Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.

Susi: Welcome, and welcome back. I am so excited for this conversation because we are in the mini-series of getting out of pain or reducing your pain and all a lead-up to my therapeutic yoga intensive that’s happening in April, which I’ll share more about later.

But why I’m excited and why I want to just get to this episode is, over some of the previous episodes have been talking about feeling. And not even just previous episodes, I talk about feeling a lot, and how feeling is so essential to getting well, reducing and eradicating pain, it’s the key piece. And one of the struggles, if I can call it that, that I’ve encountered is that people aren’t walking around expressing their problem and why they are in the state that they’re in is because they’re not feeling.

So it’s not something people are really seeking, like, “Oh, can you teach me how to feel?” But rather when we are in the process of doing movement and I’m asking them what are they experiencing in their movement? What are they feeling? And then they start to learn about the yellow lights and start to get a sensory experience of their state, then they begin to experience feeling and how it relates to their symptoms and how it relates to their symptoms reducing.

And so in our certification program we’ve been, obviously, talking about this a lot and had a great dialogue with two – Well with the whole group, but particularly with Ruth Ann Penny, and Kim Marion. And Ruth Ann has a long, long history as an educator. And Kim comes into the conversation as an OT. And so both of these folks have a strong background in this idea of feeling from different perspectives.

So I wanted to bring them on because the dialogue we were having was really about a key feature about feeling is this idea of proprioception. So where we can feel ourselves in space and our awareness in space, and interoception, like just feeling our inner world. And it’s difficult, in fact not really possible, to think your way into feeling because it’s a different process.

And yet, many of my clients are big thinkers. They’re very, very logical thinkers, they’re analytical. And try as they might to think their way into feeling, they get frustrated when they can’t go there. So over the years, I’ve adopted this yellow light, listen to the whispers so you don’t have to hear your body scream as this methodology or as a metaphor to support people.

So we’re going to be talking a little bit about that today. But I also want to just get into it with the perspectives that Ruth Ann and Kim have because I think they will be able to give you an opinion as well as some tools that you can utilize, whether you’re a health professional working with people, or you yourself as a client. So I think it’s going to be rich from all angles.

So let me first, just welcome you two. And I’ve mentioned before we got this recording that I wanted them to introduce themselves, because seriously, these guys are so educated and experienced that I could talk on and on and on about them. You’ll get a very, very rich and succinct version if they share more about themselves in relation to this conversation.

So Ruth Ann, let’s start with you. Give us some insight into your take on the conversation in terms of your background, your education. What would be meaningful for people listening?

Ruth Ann: Right. So I spent, over the course of 40 years in education I taught every age level. I started with young, young children in the kindergarten and up through the primary years. But eventually in the latter half of my career I went into administration and became very interested in how adults learn and how adults approach their own learning as teachers, and how adults begin to understand what’s truly required in the relationship between students and teachers.

And I became a consultant in that area and I trained teachers in that. And it really became a focus in my latter years of helping people into the most authentic teaching/learning relationship they could be in.

So, for me, as I look at the question of helping people enter a domain of learning or self-awareness or healing, I parallel it to someone entering a completely new field of learning in which they have no language. They have no experience, they have a lot of emotion or anticipatory, if we were to use vagal theory they’re in a state of high alert, wondering what’s going to happen, what do they do?

So what I am particularly interested in is how we move someone from that state to the place where they can be open enough to begin to perceive what’s happening to them more deeply and more authentically.

So yeah, that’s where I come from. And that’s what I’m very interested in. And I’m particularly fascinated with the idea of what is the role of the therapist/teacher at any given moment when a client or student is unable to proceed into the area that you would like them to proceed into?

In other words they’re stuck, or they’re blocked, or they’re frightened, or something’s holding them up. And what happens in that moment? What is the teacher or the therapist to do? So that’s what I’m very interested in and that’s where I come from, the teacher/student relationship.

Susi: All right, awesome. And Kim. So Kim comes at this from an OT perspective, which is also totally cool. So, Kim, let’s introduce you.

Kim: Hi. So I’m Kim and I’ve been in OT, practicing for just over 25 years. Most of my clinical experience has been with pediatrics. So with children, many who had developmental delays, lots of children who were considered to be on the autism spectrum. And lots of experience working in people’s homes, in the school division, out in the community. So a lot of different environments, trying to support children and their families.

And a lot of what Ruth Ann is saying really resonates because I think with kids, everything was new. So it’s constantly new for them, what they’re learning. And so you look at it as how can you help them first create some awareness, then some confidence, and then some stamina with whatever new skill it is that they’re developing.

And same with families, if we’re supporting a family it’s very similar. There’s the baby step of what am I trying to create? And then you’re trying to grow that with them, and support them through that. And what I’m seeing now with the clients that I’m seeing with this yoga therapy lens, it’s actually very similar.

There’s lots of adults that this is just a brand new area for them to feel their body, to feel movement, to understand the anatomy and the biomechanics of what’s going on in their body. And it is brand new for them, even though they may have been in their body for 30, 40, 50, 60 years. And so I get a lot of feedback in sort of the vein of, wow, you’re teaching me things about my body I never knew, or I never have felt, or just awareness.

I just think when, Susi, you talk about awareness, that is probably the biggest thing that keeps coming back to me, is helping someone create awareness about their body, their movement, their patterns. This is like such a big thing.

Susi: So when someone is getting stuck, how do you work with it from your perspective, Ruth Ann?

Ruth Ann: Well, if you go back to pre-stuck, if you go back to the beginning, to me everything is about the establishment of a trusting relationship. And that sounds cliche, but it is always, always, always true.

So if in the first initial meeting with the person that is going to be your client you’re candid, you’re warm, you’re interested, you’re curious, you’re open, you’re really, really, really trying to understand them and there’s absolutely no judgment and so on and so forth, then you’re doing the most essential thing.

And if that trust really lands with them and the relationship begins to build, then the fears, or the blockages, or the inability to process new information, those will be minimized, in my view. You’ve done your best to prevent it by establishing and sustaining, by the way, a trusting relationship all the way through. Because we all know that if someone is feeling anxious, or frightened, or closed up in some way, there’s really no way for new information at a sensory level, at an intellectual level, at any level to enter and stick. It just won’t.

So if then you go forward to someone who is in a relationship with you and feels stuck, that to me is where it gets really interesting because then you, the therapist/teacher have to start thinking along the lines of, okay, where do I back up to? Where was the rupture? Where was the fork in the road that I missed?

So there’s this kind of retracing steps, trying to figure out what it is that is behind the blockage. And I view that as the most interesting part of the work. There’s no bad answer for how you remove any given block, it depends on the individual. But for me, if there’s a block or a blank spot –

More often that exhibits itself, I don’t know about you, Kim, but it kind of manifests as a blank spot.

You’ll be traveling along with someone and suddenly you’ll come to a place where they’re blank, conked out, nothing’s happening. And they look at you like a deer in the headlights and say, “I don’t know, I’m unable to go forward. I don’t know.” So, for me, that means the responsibility of the therapist/teacher is to backtrack and figure out where something may have not landed and to try and take them forward in bitsy steps.

And I can go into way more detail about some things that I’ve learned, but yeah, I guess I would say to start with what is always true, no matter when the block occurs, is that if the preliminary state of being in a trusting, open relationship where the person is in a ventral state and open is not there, then no techniques are going to work all that well.

So I feel very strongly that it’s incumbent on the therapist/teacher to maintain that relationship and to keep the wheels greased so that you can travel together to the place where the breakdown or the blank may have happened and work it out together.

Susi: And what’s interesting about that is, over the years that I have trained teachers or I have interacted with other colleagues who are yoga therapists, yoga teachers, it’s not uncommon for somebody to say, but the person just won’t be aware. Like they won’t feel. And how do I get them to feel?

And so where you’re saying it all starts at the beginning initially, with that initial relationship that’s there. But let’s just hypothesize, whether that’s there or not there, because if it hasn’t been created well, then that could contribute to the person not feeling. But then the person is not feeling for whatever reason, then what are some ideas that someone can work with at that point?

The therapist can kind of feel for themselves maybe how they’re contributing to the scenario. But what would your response be? What would be another response that you might give to them to consider when they say to you they’re just not feeling. My client is not feeling, how do I get them to feel?

Ruth Ann: Yeah, I think when people say they can’t feel, it could be a question of language. In other words, they cannot put language to what it is. There may be a sensation there that they cannot bring to the front and give language to, if you know what I mean. It’s vague, it’s amorphous, et cetera.

And so one technique is to assume that a sensation is there and that it has no way of expressing itself. In other words, there isn’t a language yet attached to it. And Kim and I were referencing this each in recent posts that we made about this topic, that going to the place where there ostensibly is no sensation and providing a context or giving them a compare or contrast. Give them a, I used to feel this. You said this last week, and now we’re at this week. What’s the difference?

Give them a variety of options. Give them scale. By scale I mean even a numeric scale. Is it a one? Is it a five? Is it a 10? But give them something concrete and vivid, really vivid, sometimes it has to be extremely vivid, to react to because often they’re just in this amorphous place that has nothing to hang on to.

So I will sometimes push my clients who say things along these lines to extremes in order to get them to say, no, no, no, it’s not that. And then they’ll begin to talk more clearly about it. And that’s what I mean, when I say the responsibility of the teacher is the teacher’s alone, or the therapist’s alone, because you have to push them into those places sometimes where alternatives are available.

Susi: Yeah, and I also think – We were talking about this before the recording. This isn’t about a kid’s perspective, although we probably could wax on about that for a long, long time. But I was telling the story about teaching my son how to express feeling for something that he and I are going through around some digestive stuff.

And for him, he’s been able to like, when my belly is squishy like Tiger, this happens or doesn’t happen. When my belly is medium like the sofa cushion, this may or may not happen. And when my tummy feels like my hot wheel, meaning hard, then it feels this way. But he has like hot wheel, couch, and squishy, right?

So what one thing we were saying, and it really brings it to the forefront, is so often as adults up until this point, we haven’t really been taught to feel. And so much of our experiences are about what’s outside of ourselves as opposed to what is actually going on inside. So sometimes it’s really brand new for people to be even able to go there, right?

Ruth Ann: Right. Exactly right. And so this technique of finding analogous terms like you were doing, or finding a metaphor, or finding something that’s in their life already that they’re very familiar with, that they can relate to and kind of link to as you did with the Hot Wheels analogy.

And then to move away from language, the other thing I was going to suggest is I am less afraid, and this is controversial, but if I feel I’m in a trusting relationship, then doing tactile work with people often helps. And Kim could talk much more about that than I.

But in the world of physical sensation, I daresay when people say they can’t feel they’re in this equivalent of a snowy white out. There is no definition, there is no particular location where things are happening. It’s all just a blur or a big white mush. And sometimes putting a hand on the shoulder or the back of the neck or wherever things are happening helps them to focus and draw in towards a more specific, at least a more specific area, for sure.

Kim: If I can just add in, I think part of it, Susi, too, is the teacher or therapist being clear on what they’re asking their client. So am I asking my client to feel movement? Am I asking them to feel their knee? Am I asking them to notice their breath? Because then you’re kind of starting to hone in on different receptors, right?

If you’re asking about movement, then you’re going to get a sense of what’s the person’s proprioceptive system? What kind of feedback are they getting? If I’m asking a person about maybe their yellow lights, like their fatigue, maybe just noticing if tension is building, how’s their stomach feeling? Maybe they’re getting a bit queasy, then those are more interoceptive signals from our body. They’re very, very subtle for some people.

If I’m asking them about their movement, you know, are you moving fast? Are you moving slow? Well, then I’m starting to tap into their vestibular system and their proprioceptive system. So part of what I was hoping to share with our cohort a little bit is this is really complicated stuff. And feeling emotion is just another feel.

So I think what we want to also start to be a little bit more clear on as teachers and therapists is, what am I actually teaching and what am I hoping that my client develops awareness of? And being really clear about that because if I’m hoping for movement and the person’s not getting a lot of feedback from their proprioceptive system, then I know that and I can go okay, that’s okay, that’s just a quiet system for them. What else can I do?

I can add in some visuals. I go to my other sensory systems. I can add in language for auditory. I could add in touch, like Ruth Ann mentioned. I can add in movement. So it’s like then my mind goes to what other sensory systems can I add in, or as we’ve learned in our program too, different stimulus to help support the system that’s a little bit quiet?

And it’s interesting because weight, often weight is helpful for our proprioceptive system. It gives a little bit more to those receptors to feel. But I think it’s just important to be aware that the word feel can cover a lot of different things. And I would encourage us as teachers and therapists to be clearer on what we’re actually maybe asking.

Ruth Ann: Yeah, I’m totally with you on that. And I think that that’s, perhaps especially for teachers who are new to this game or therapists who are new to this work, being able to be self-aware enough in the moment, in the therapeutic moment to ask yourself what precisely or more precisely is needed here? What might I say? What stimulus might be offered that’s a little bit sharper, or a little bit more focused, or a little bit more perceptible, as you said, Kim, weight, or speed or temperature or whatever.

And that responsibility for clarity is something I think that it’s kind of a discipline. It’s work for the therapist/teacher to take that on. To say, okay, this client’s bandwidth around feeling is not going to widen until I can help them widen it with my skills around precision, around clarity, around whatever tool I’m using that will help something pop up that was vague or mute or fuzzy in the past.

And I dare say that that’s hard work for therapists. You have to be able to operate on two tracks at once, right? You’re observing, you’re watching, you’re taking in what’s happening. And you’re also going through your mental rolodex around what tool can I employ? What’s in my toolkit that will provide more clarity?

Susi: This is so fascinating. I’m loving listening to it because sometimes, having done this for so long, there’s a skill that I’ve developed. And what we’re doing right now is we’re breaking that skill down into these component parts and what is that specificity? And I remember first noticing recently when someone would say my pain is less, or my symptom is less.

And something I started to do was say, well, can you name that new state? And initially they would say, well, it’s less. And I’m like, I get that, and it’s still pain. So can you name something, because it’s a different state. So then I would work with them. And as I’m saying this, it’s a skill to not only teach that, but for someone to do that.

And I think about my husband, who, he’s always a willing subject, not being present in these podcasts, but tends to show up in a lot of these podcasts. I was helping him with an SI joint issue that he – He sprained his SI a little bit ago. And I would ask him about this and he’s like, I don’t know. Like, I really don’t know.

And I’d say, okay, just pause for a moment and just what’s there? And then something like space came up for him or grounded. I’m like, okay, that’s the state, all right? So when that space or grounded feeling starts to fade, the likelihood of pain is going to start to rise. So now there’s this sort of place where he can feel it’s becoming less, I think you used the word amorphous. It’s becoming less of a snow storm and more like you can see a bit of light between the snow.

There’s almost a language – Here’s a question for each of you. Is it a language or is it an alphabet? Like when someone is starting to name these states, are these words of a language? Like are they gaining fluency? Or is it just the letters of the alphabet? Or am I making it too complicated?

I’m just really, really curious because we’re building some skill level here with naming states, with experiencing what’s proprioceptive and interoceptive, all with the intent to enable change. Knowing that tissue can change and as we can name these states, we’re getting closer to being able to discern if we’re on the right track with that. We’ve got more evidence for that happening or not happening. We can quiet what’s not working, nurture what is working when we have more of that language.

Kim: Susi, one of my clients about a month ago said, “You’re teaching me a new language.” That is literally what he said to me. And the language for him was about his body. How it was moving, how it was feeling, even just giving him some anatomical terms, like describing his movement. This is flexion. This is extension. This is your scapula doing this movement. This is your humerus doing this movement.

I was giving him lots of words and lots of concepts. And then he reflected back to me after about our third or fourth session, “You’re teaching me a new language.” So I’m going to go off that for my answer to your question. He’s a pretty articulate person. I think there’s also room to say that I would think this could be on a spectrum for people.

Susi: Mm-hmm.

Kim: And some people it could be an alphabet, and that’s okay, too. It’s still a start.

Ruth Ann: Right. That’s exactly right, Kim. I would say whatever response they can give is the start, right? And maybe it won’t turn into a language and maybe it will, but at least it’s a start. And I’ve had very similar experiences where people are saying to me, “I feel like I’ve opened a door and I’m walking into a new place and I didn’t know anything about that place that I’m walking into. And now I feel like I’m starting to learn a bit.” And that’s enough. That’s great.

But I was also going to say that one of my clients who is a painter said, “I wish I could draw you what I’m feeling.” And that really interested me because to your point about language, language is my strong point. And this was something else I could riff on. It’s where I live. It’s a strong, rich world for me, and it’s not always that for other people.

I mean, yeah, I’ve got a toolkit I can draw on that’s really great, but it’s not often the preferred mode for other people, for sure. And this dear client of mine said, “I wish I could tell you in other ways because it’s hard for me in words.” And that really brought me back to that Nidra healing dialogue that we did with Ann where she asks us to give a color to the pain, to give a size to it, to give texture, to give sound to it if we wish. But going into other sensory avenues in order to produce the reaction, which may be what we need to permit to happen, if we can.

Susi: This is so good. And it reminded me of two things. One is that I trained a teacher years ago, and all of her words were sound. It was a tonality of quality that she could express. And then I’m also having a memory of when I would work with breath with people and would say, notice whatever it is that you’re feeling, so if what you’re feeling is like a tension, or if it’s like a knot, or if it’s like cement. I was kind of giving them opportunities of naming whatever this block of sorts they were experiencing, and then just let the breath come up to it.

Not to untie the knot or dissolve the tension, but to let it lap up against it or just notice the knot. Like let the breath explore whatever that thing was. So it’s not trying to get rid of the thing, but rather to be present to the thing, right? Because the thing, like that experience, I’ll just call it tension for a sake of ease here, or the obstacle or the block, it’s not a bad thing. I mean, it can feel bad, but in and of itself it’s not a bad thing.

So if we cannot try and make it go away, then we don’t add a layer of resistance, which is now another layer of feeling which can kind of get in the way of the experience of tissue change.

Ruth Ann: That was something I wanted to just bring up briefly, is that sometimes when these doors open to sensation, which happened to me recently when I was trying to help a person whose goal is to do a very secure and stable tree pose. Fine, I mean, that’s her agenda, not mine. But I knew that she would never achieve it until she felt her energy in a kind of Apana way, the value traveled down her body into the ground.

And she came upon that sensation, I could see it in her eyes for about three seconds and then it went away, you know, that sense of complete calm and groundedness. And she was in the pose. She was there inside the pose and it was very beautiful. But she was so blown away by it, that there was a whole new layer of, you know what I mean? She thought, why can’t I get it back? Where did it go? I want it.

And then there was a whole new layer of stuff to get through around her ambition and pacing, and all of this other stuff. So I get what you mean, Susi, when you say it’s a delicate matter. You have to travel into it knowing that when they get there, there might be other stuff that comes up. There probably will be, for sure.

Kim: And just to add, I think the other thing that’s easy to sort of overlook is state change affects what we can perceive, and also what we can potentially communicate. And so when your person gets excited, or your person gets a little bit more stressed, or tired, all of that affects sensory perception.

And so we know state changes quickly. And so I also offer then let’s be expecting that perception can change and sensory awareness can change. Because what someone perceives one day and in one moment could shift the minute they walk out the door and now they’re dealing with outside.

So let’s say in the session, right, in the session they became aware of their hip. They became aware of some yellow lights. They felt grounded in their tree pose. But as soon as we change the stimuli and they go outside and they’re bombarded by all sorts of new stimulation, their sensory awareness can go completely down because their system is now processing everything that’s going on outside, which can then quiet their awareness of their hip again.

So I just share that as awareness, again, for teachers and therapists and our clients to be like, you know, Susi, it’s an of course. Of course it’s going to be quieter again. Of course it’s going to shift. But that awareness and that understanding can also go a long way to getting rid of some of the frustration or hopefully easing it. And easing the sense of it’s not that they’re necessarily just not listening, it’s that their perception, their awareness can shift due to state, due to stimulation, due to all sorts of things. And it literally affects what they’re aware of.

Susi: Which is so great, and it makes me realize just one of the instructions or guides that I provide for people when they leave and sometimes they ask, so should I pay attention to this all the time? And should I do this number of times during the day? And my answer is no, if you don’t want to.

My suggestion is just to do this when you’re on the so-called mat. Like when you’re doing the actual work of the exercises, the 10, 15 or 20 minutes that we’ve scheduled out for them, then that’s when you play with this. And so just let your day run and notice just whatever you notice, but don’t worry about it. Let the work happen on the mat and let it bubble over into the rest of your life.

So then it’s not like they’re trying to make it happen. Or, oh, man it went quieter, I’m not getting it. It’s like, I actually don’t want them to get it. I kind of want them just to integrate and live life and just notice what they notice as a result of it.

Ruth Ann: Well, that’s the other big thing that I was thinking about in advance of this time with you today on this podcast, is that moving from the thinking brain into the feeling brain is not something you can dictate. And so exactly that, when someone leaves my studio and goes outside, I guess I’ve said a similar thing, Susi, was just have fun, see what happens.

And what you said recently to us, to our cohort, about paying attention to the quality of the time that you’re spending doing the particular program that you might be doing, as opposed to worrying about is it four reps, or five reps, or what is it, is really good advice. It’s very hard advice, often, for people to hear because they want the programmatic. But it’s actually the only advice that matters, because it’s the way out of the head and into the body.

Susi: And just to emphasize for people listening, what Ruth Ann is referring to is I often don’t provide my clients with a number of repetitions or sets. Like they don’t get sets and reps from me typically. It’s more about noticing how they’re moving and then when the compensation arises or when the bracing arises, and to see if they can stop before that.

But if they miss that, it’s okay, it’s all good. Just when they start to feel the compensation, then to settle out at that point. Or if they’re really wanting direction on the amount, then I might ask them to count five breaths. But they’re focusing on the breath rather than like a stopwatch, right, where it’s just like tick, tick, tick. They’re tuning into their breathing.

And then I might add in, if you can notice the quality of your breath, of like when it starts to get a little bit shorter or slimmer, that will be an indication of possibly you’re getting to the end of the duration. Again, we’re helping them sort of be able to gather the evidence from this quality perceptive place, so that then their thinking mind can do something with that data.

Ruth Ann: You know, I often think too that really – You reminded me of something, Susi, when you just said that, is that often when someone moves from a state of being stuck or not feeling into a moment or a longer moment, or a shorter moment of arriving at sensation, that’s a big moment. It can kind of blow them up a bit and create a bit of chaos inside.

So what I sort of went to instinctively with a client when this happened recently was deciding to kind of end the movement session of the lesson or the session earlier in order to sit down quietly and regroup around what had happened and scope it back down into the two or three things that were takeaways that would be digestible, to use Ayurvedic language, and not overwhelming.

And that really seemed to help that person because they were feeling, the label I would give them was a bit shaky. You could see that they weren’t able to process what had happened to them and it felt a bit chaotic and overwhelming. So scoping it back down, as you say, leaving them with just a couple of things to think about as they go forward and not putting a number on it and scoping it down and giving it digestibility and limitations and boundaries is important as people go through these experiences.

Susi: So if we bring this to a close, I think this has been such a fascinating conversation. You were starting to summarize there, Ruth Ann, I’m going to go to Kim. Kim, if you could summarize into sort of three key points that would be helpful for a teacher, and even as the client who might be listening to this, what would you recommend in terms of supporting them in their feeling experience?

Kim: I think probably the first thing to consider is to simplify. So consider simplifying the movement. Consider simplifying potentially your language that you’re using. And I say this because what I’ve found in a lot of people where their awareness is growing in their feeling and their sensation, is when it’s a very simple movement and repetition. So just maybe bending that, you know, flexing that leg bone in the hip socket a few times, and what is their state? And bringing them into the most relaxed state.

And then, if words don’t come easily, I think Ruth Ann’s point is brilliant. We’re a very verbally dominant society, and yet lots of people, that’s not their main language. They think in pictures. They think in music. They think in other ways. And so giving people options for expressing themselves is important, whether it’s images, colors, words. And even in your own body, if a word isn’t coming to you, is there something coming to you? Like, Susi, you used the word cement. Does it feel like maybe an elastic band versus a taut string?

But I think for me, simplification, repetition, and truly understanding that it can change. It takes time sometimes and it’s okay because it’s complicated. I just want this profound sense of understanding it’s complicated so that we can all just be a little gentler as teachers, therapists and clients within ourselves and with each other.

Ruth Ann: That’s really well said.

Susi: Would you add anything to that, Ruth Ann?

Ruth Ann: I think we’ll take what Kim said about simplification is that don’t be afraid to slow things down. I think that, and I blame myself for this – I blame myself, I hold myself responsible for this a lot of the time. I want to go forward to the next thing either because I’m excited or I want to understand quickly, or whatever, I want to absorb quickly. And I often find this in my clients too.

So really taking the moment to slow things down. I believe I’ve seen it, thank you, Susie, as one of the easiest ways into sensation is reducing the speed, the time. And within that bucket of trust and loving the client and that kind of thing, that’s where sensation can emerge. When you’re rocketing past, it’s not going to happen.

Susi: So good and so rich. I love, love, love, love this. Now, if people want to reach out to you to reach you guys if they are inspired by what you’re saying, where can they find you? Ruth Ann, what’s the best way to find you?

Ruth Ann: I do have a website movebetternow.ca. But also via my email, which I don’t know if you post – Do post podcast notes, Susi?

Susi: Yeah.

Ruth Ann: Yeah, my regular email that you have is fine.

Susi: All right, so we’ll post that to the show notes. And Kim?

Kim: The best way to contact me would be by email and that’s [email protected].

Susi: Thank you so much, you guys. This has been a lot of fun.

Ruth Ann: Yeah, thanks.

Kim: Thanks.

If you have enjoyed this conversation between Ruth Ann, Kim and myself, and the idea of learning more with me for six days, the therapeutic yoga intensive April 15th to April 20th. It would be such an honor to work with you to improve your ability to feel, your ability to communicate feeling, and your ability to teach this really, really important topic that’s so vital to helping people reduce and eradicate symptoms.

It would be a great honor to work with you and you can learn more about the therapeutic yoga intensive at learn.functionalsynergy.com/intensive. We’ll see you next time.

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