What is Body Emotional Work? What are the connections between emotions and body? A few years ago Stefano Vanzetto started participating in the “Three-Year Course of in-depth study” groups of the LEC ( Body Emotional Work in italian: Lavoro Emotivo Corporeo) accompanied by Willi Maurer and co-animators. Later, driven by the benefits that the LEC has brought in his life, Stefano began to accompany other people on the same path towards greater self-awareness.
When did you start accompanying other people on this path of awareness? “My path has been so effective that I felt the desire to make myself available to accompany others, but I still don’t really know if this will be my way to accompany someone on a path of awareness.”
The chat with Stefano begins and continues like this. A chat lasting several months, alternating with the reading of Willi Maurer‘s texts: “The first wound. The influence of imprinting on our human behaviour” and “The sense of belonging. In search of our roots. An essential journey for a more intense and conscious life”. (Unfortunately not yet in English)
Stefano, in turn accompanied by Willi Maurer and co-animators, already seven years ago began to participate in the groups of “Three-Year Course of in-depth study” and, subsequently, to accompany other people (for the moment assisted by a supervisor) in the Body Emotional Work. The LEC (in italian: Lavoro Emotivo Corporeo) is a method developed by Willi, in forty years of personal and professional growth, which allows to regain contact with the removed aspects of one’s existence, to elaborate them and integrate them into the present.
The people who have made this journey and who today offer themselves as companions in the journey of other people, have already had the opportunity to face their wounds, their repressed feelings, painful memories removed. They have become aware that the relationship with the other is a resonance of self and “us”. Running away from the discomfort of the relationship is possible until you touch the bottom, then emerges the awareness that certain dynamics are repeated, bringing renewed suffering. We know why we move away, we want to avoid suffering. But why is this suffering repeated? We do not know, or rather, we no longer remember.
In “The First Wound. The influence of imprinting on our human behavior” Willi Maurer deals in detail with the experiences of the primary period, from conception to two years of life, with emphasis on the theme of imprinting that occurs in the very first hours after childbirth. In this fundamental phase he recognizes the first need for the newborn baby, in the request for a relationship, often denied by mothers and fathers who are themselves victims of the same abandonment.
The first wound therefore remains unexpressed, with the same urgency and desire of a newborn baby, even when, in order to survive, we have learned to ignore it.
Accompanying a person on their way back to their deepest wounds, means being aware of the emotional strength of others, a strength that can only be expressed in a protected place. Above all, it means having already embarked on a path that has allowed these forces to come out. Having felt the depth of one’s own wounds, allows the one who accompanies the person, not to be overwhelmed by the emotionality of the other, who is experiencing his or her own regression.
“In the accompaniment, the person finds a connection from reality, regressing in the memory of more ancient times through the “feeling” of the body. When I make such a deep journey around birth, I enter a place where there was not yet the selfish, thinking, discriminating mind…On the contrary, I return to the stage of the newborn, of dependence.”
Not only that, what the newborn baby expresses in crying, is the very deep need for belonging which, if denied, has repercussions on future life, when the child grown up will desperately seek it in the partner, with the risk of a new, painful denial. What Willi Maurer in his book “The Sense of Belonging. In search of his own roots. An essential journey for a more intense and conscious life“, gives a specific name: the GioLa syndrome.
The companion creates a protected environment where the person has the possibility to live, in the here and now, everything that one should have lived but was not possible or what one lived then but would not have wanted to live.
These are all those deep and destructive emotions that a small child cannot manage, but that he or she carries unconsciously within himself or herself during the course of life and that influence the relationships with others, without the person being able to recognize the cause.
“The liberation of emotions, accompanied in a protected environment, is then an awareness that allows repressed feelings to be released”.
How is a person accompanied in this process of awareness? “The key lies in getting in touch with even the most subtle sensations of one’s body. Emotions can be perceived in certain areas of the body.” By focusing on today’s physical blockages and tensions, the question with which to begin the accompanied journey is, for example: “When did the first memory related to this tension go back to? Concentration on bodily sensations makes it possible to deal with emotional sensations, express them in their painful strength and depower them in their destructiveness. The protected and loving environment, created by those who have already undertaken this emotional and bodily work, supports the person in the journey of self-knowledge. The companion remains present in the face of difficult feelings. “Already at the beginning of the journey I am suggested not to control myself and to express myself as a small child would do, so I can trust the process and let the body speak”.
Finally, a reflection or recapitulation is necessary to reconnect in the present as an adult, who has been able to welcome her wounded inner child and take care of it, without judgment but with the unconditional love of a mother and father, finally ready for the relationship that generates well-being.
All this “It doesn’t happen in one session and relapse – in old habits and beliefs – is always possible. The wound remains. Awareness is as much in this acceptance as in the recognition of the resources I have found in me to deal with my wounds. I become so aware and, as aware, I act as an adult to that wound…and, perhaps, I can even indulge in regenerative crying.”
The figure of the accompanist is particular in this process. It is present but not for driving. He listens but without passivity. On the contrary, he also relates by denying or accepting an emotional reaction, even violent, as if he were the direct recipient of anger, hatred, revenge.
“There are works in which the accompanist is present in a different way. For example in those works made in the altered state of consciousness, through the use of external substances or through breathing and evocative music” (Stefano participates in groups of Olotropic Breathing with Dr. Claudia Panico since 2013 “The altered state allows the body to relive the different Perinatal stages and the Basic Perinatal Matrices. In this altered state of consciousness, it is possible to come into contact with the inner world through breathing, evocative music in a protected environment”.
Why is so much importance given to emotions? “Emotion has its own energy, I can let it flow or keep it inside me…Keeping the energy in itself is like closing it in the body, like in a box. If I can’t release it, it creates discomfort. But if I can receive it and free it, I also potentially free myself from physical evil”.
Not everyone, and perhaps not always, can accompany other people in this search for awareness. “It is important that I feel ‘clean’ when I accept a person’s request to be accompanied. It is the person himself who is responsible for his requests. You don’t take anyone where they don’t want to go. All I can do is stay present to those who decide to enter the path and stay with what is there…I’m there but I’m not leading you. Because it is the person who has to make his own path and everyone has a different path from the others”.
Stefano warns me, the work already begins in the basic request, if a will is not clearly expressed by the person, the path cannot be made. The accompanying person may not react to a request. This must be clearly formulated… “A simple “Would you like to accompany me?” is not enough because this question already implies not taking responsibility! The LEC, on the other hand, is a work in self-responsibility, where you learn to accept even a “No. I’m not going with you”.
“It hurts a ‘no’, it comes straight from childhood, from the denied relationship with the one I loved the most. To risk the other not being available is the uncertainty of the relationship. And it is also the authenticity of the relationship, it is being in life, accepting the uncertainty of the certain. It means learning to be in contact with one’s own needs, formulating them in questions that do not take away one’s responsibility, but rather satisfy it by taking all the risk of not being accepted. When, however, this happens, I discover that the other is available…this is an enormous joy! It is worth that fear, it is worth living the encounter with one’s own pain, that pain that I have always tried to avoid…But avoiding pain is eliminating everything…it is like “throwing away the water with the child inside”.
Then, finding the strength to release these emotions allows you to re-enter emotions without being overwhelmed by them, to become adults, responsible for yourself.
The last question, opens once again a chat, which, in the end, is a lifetime long! “Are you healed from your “first wound”? Stefano reminds me that the answer is not definitive and that it is not a question of “healing”! He also reminds me that we put our attention in the wrong place, where we believe it is our good. We cannot be sure of any
healing but along the way we have the chance to become aware of the strategies we have learned to use to move away from relationships, and finally to “be with what is there at the moment by living fully in the Here and Now”.