Gaining Present-Moment Awareness (Why Body Psychotherapy - Part 2)

September 23, 2014

In my last post, I explored body psychotherapy through a metaphor, explaining that when a car’s computer warns us of a problem, we are unlikely to only look at the computer as a likely source and solution of the issue. Likewise, when our thoughts or mood let us know that something is wrong, we should not only attempt to address the issue through our thoughts. In this post and the next two posts, I will discuss a few of the positive outcomes many clients experience from body psychotherapy:


  • Gain greater awareness of your present-moment experience

  • Develop internal resources to help you manage difficult times

  • Process unresolved issues from the past


Aren’t we always in the present moment?

Both our past and our future have an uncanny ability to encroach upon our experiences at any time. During any given day, how many times might you find yourself ‘elsewhere,’ either fixating on something that has already happened or worrying about something that may happen in the future? Or, perhaps less obvious, how many times have you felt like you were “in the moment,” yet you do something that, afterwards, you wish you hadn’t done? In both cases, your attention is not truly present-moment focused.


On one hand, being able to anticipate and plan for the future is critical for maintaining our lives responsibly. On the other hand, overly incessant worrying about the future, particularly about outcomes over which we may have little or no control, can undermine our ability to enjoy life. Similarly, disturbing memories can impact the present moment directly, through experiences of flashbacks or simply when we ruminate on the past event; either way, the difficult emotions associated with the event can come flooding back.


Disturbing events from the past can also impact our present-moment experience even when the memory of the event may be the furthest thing from our minds. Past events condition us to think, feel, and react in particular ways – even though these types of thoughts, feelings, and reactions may not create the ultimate outcome we desire. That’s because parts of our unconscious brain and other systems in our body work to keep us safe in similar situations, even though the present situation may be quite different from the past event and poses no actual threat.


For instance, if our car’s computer system worked the way our body’s warning systems do, it might look like this: