Imagine yourself as an octopus inhabiting the landscape of your body.
Think about the place in your body where it feels comfortable, where it feels at home, this octopus. My octopus lives in the back of my head, warming my
Where could the nest of your octopus be?
Now imagine this octopus floating in the landscape of relationships. There are other octopuses, objects, or situations floating around it. Each of your eight arms is reaching out to
different directions. Each one is holding something. Or touching another octopus. Holding a situation. Repelling something. Playing with something.
Think of the situations you are currently dealing with and let the octopus hold them.
Picture the octopus arm as it holds, or tries to hold such a situation. Maybe there is nothing to hold? Maybe the grip is particularly tight? Who is holding the situation at the other end? Or is the octopus arm touching another octopus’s
arm directly? Maybe the octopus is holding on to something? Or is being held?
The octopus has eight arms with which it can grab hold of things. Go through each of them and imagine up to eight situations.
Now, let go of them one by
one. Imagine the octopus letting go of a situation. Whatever the octopus lets go of doesn’t fall or disappear, it stays where it was. Let your octopus arm contract, curl up.
Go through all the situations you imagined one by one. Release
your grip on them, let them stay where they were, roll up your octopus arm and withdraw.
Now all the octopus arms are rolled up. The octopus is floating, unconnected, with its arms comfortably curled up under its body.
that feels. Does it feel airy and bright? Warm and protected? Allow yourself to linger in this state for a while.
Now start to roll out one of your arms again. Touch whatever you like, not necessarily what you’ve held before. Explore
it. Caress it. Hold on to it if it feels right. Or go on to find something else.
Repeat this procedure several times with the free arms, but make sure to let one or two arms remain unconnected. They are free to explore yourself and
Feel yourself connected again. Listen to how that feels.
Sense how it feels to know that your octopus arms could let go or grab hold of something again at any time.
Once, during a sparring session, I started crying. I cried even though I wasn’t really hurt by my partner, nor was it a fight I felt completely powerless in. In fact, I was challenged to the maximum. So why did I start crying? She managed
to strike my chin twice. I guess that was too much for me. Me – my body, me – my mind, me – my soul?
It was merely my body that was irritated, I was actually very proud of having fought that fight and did not fail entirely,
considering the fact that my opponent was very well trained. After I started weeping, my trainer came over to me. He had watched us fighting and now started to explain what to do in a situation of powerlessness. By using my very own arms,
my torso, my shoulders and my forehead, I can modulate a Faraday cage around my vulnerable parts – my eyes, nose, lips, and ears are protected by my gloves and strong arms; I feel my heightened shoulders protecting my neck; my breasts
shielded by my elbows, as is my belly. Anything not covered by this protection can get hit, which may be painful, but not too bad.
Whenever I feel powerless, I put myself into this setting. Whatever the reason, I try to put my
body into this pose. I place my hands in front of my face, set my feet one shoulder length apart, and hold my elbows tight before my upper body.
Once I began to realise how much I relate this pose to a feeling of support and
strength, I started to also use it as a mental image. Just imagining myself being in this pose makes me gradually feel at home within myself again, building a strong cage around me, stabilising myself standing on my own two legs. By doing
this, I also regain the strength to reach out to others – whether that’s to punch them or ask for help.
This is the pose I transferred to everyday situations of powerlessness. It became a quotable gesture, a reference my mind
could use to remind my body, or if needed, the other way round.
A Self-in-Relation, Not quite a Proposition
1. How can we work with what already surrounds us?
Two fingers make a sausage.
Stretching out two index fingers at eye level, pointing at each other approximately 20 cm away from your face, fingertips just a couple of
centimetres away from touching one another: a sausage will appear. Look at what is behind your fingers, look beyond yourself. A sausage appears. A sausage whose length varies depending on the distance of the fingers. First, the sausage
might appear blurred; if you try to look at it and fix it with your gaze, it will disappear. It is only present if you look beyond.
2. How can we expand the concept of relationship?
The mind is a natural healer.
Sometimes it relies on your imagination to work its magic. In several therapeutic disciplines a mirror
is used to create the illusion of an intact limb. This works, by placing an impaired limb behind a mirror, so the reflection of the opposing limb appears in place of the hidden limb. This method tricks the brain into noticing positive
visual feedback by watching the limb move without experiencing any pain.
3. What forms can relational work take on?
Ill. macOS Catalina 10.5, Apple default set stock image
Catalina - A fascinating landscape, a place of longing. A place full of freedom, loneliness, infinity. The landscape is a state of mind. It reveals and radiates melancholy.
composition is strongly symmetrical. In clear simplicity, the horizon divides the sea into two thirds and the sky into one third. It splits the represented landscape into three elements: land, sea and sky. The name-given island of
sits in the centre. Nature, rocks, foggy landscapes. The static language of form contrasts with the “naturally formed” ruggedness of the coast; in the background, the blue, almost magenta tinted sky refers to the rising or
sun. This light represents the transience of things in the day and night cycle. A play of light full of emotions! Such colour mysticism! What a life of nature! Nature as a mystical place, the “sublime” (according to Burke), the
The original logic and norm of romantic landscape painting is broken up by the island motif moving into the centre. The barren rock illustrates the harshness of the landscape, which offers no protection
whatsoever. This supposedly unobstructed view of the central pictorial motif obscures the actual content of the same, it is kept in the dark whether there is one at all. God’s perspective!
Almost typical for reformers of
painting is the incongruence in relation to the position of the viewer, who is not assigned a standpoint, instead s*he floats at a safe distance above the ocean. In relation to the human being, it is precisely the sublimity of nature
is accomplished through the removal of a human’s position; the human being does not stand on supposedly fixed certainties (any longer). Her*is insignificance and tininess in front of the all-encompassing rock clarifies the temporal
relationship between human existence and the immovable, billion-year chronicle of the stone, it does not forget. Barren and isolated, the rock loses itself in the infinity of nature. There is no limit, no hold, only the limbo
and night, doubt and hope, death and life. Lonely or not. And yet, solid as a rock.
The deep black lower edge of the image resembles an insurmountable trench between the viewer and the “land”. A single rock outcropping
cautiously stretches out towards the observer, like Leonardo’s (or Urbano’s) finger trying to make contact, to allow a touch, a leap over on solid ground. This may be filed somewhere between a glimmer of hope or a slap in the face,
depending on one’s state of mind. Emotionally charged! The lingering eye (gets stuck). The necessity of conscious seeing (German: sehendes Sehen) becomes a prerequisite for an rapprochement.
“Romantic irony“ (according to
Schlegel) describes an individual or a fact standing before the infinity of being. Landscape and identity are one and unite allegories of loneliness and ideas of being. The irony refers to the simultaneous reflection, it describes the
awareness, what one does is only something made by hand. This is a relativisation, because of course, one could do it differently.
There is no better cure for loneliness than spaghetti with tomato sauce.
Cook a handful of spaghetti al dente.
Roast onions with a bit of basil, tomato paste, sugar and bouillon mix.
Close your eyes for a moment and sniff
Deglaze everything with tomatoes and let it boil briefly.
Mix the sauce with the noodles (a lot of sauce helps a lot) and drape it on a soup plate.
What does it smell like
One by one, suck
the noodles in through your lips.
How does it feel?
Twist them with your tongue.
How does it taste?
Can you taste all the ingredients?
Put way too many in your mouth and smack with pleasure.
sounds do you
Eat with your hands.
Is it warm, cold, squishy, runny...?
Grow a spaghetti beard.
Barbarossa or walrus?
Right now, only you and your spaghetti are important.
Enjoy being a child to the fullest.
When the body was an Unnamed Place
Extract from Memories of Skin
In my greatest sorrow, you are my haven in the void. You welcome me into your home, and we become a duet:
It’s about trust,
You are me. I am you.
My chest raises
Up and down, in and out.
The pulse is slowing down.
Boom . . .
I’m glad you’re here today.
May I ask?
breath is getting wider.
You stand there quietly and feel every single movement.
Don’t turn around, have faith in me.
I’m part of you. I surround you.
Softly and tenderly.
Dance with me,
Creating the perfect
of you and me,
You are my greatest sense
I stand behind you,
in front of you, across from you,
next to you.
I embrace you entirely
your fears, your desires.
a never-ending dream.
I surround you
With warmth, love and comfort.
You’re giving me sense,
I’ll give you sensuality.
Can you feel? What do you feel?
I am holding you.
In and out.
Can you sense me?
– My desire.
I’m obsessed with you.
Because I am sensuality
And you are my greatest sense.
I follow you with
your spirit gives me form.
My existence, your protection.
I desire you.
An eternal dance,
the most beautiful dream.
While the lack of physical and social contact can evoke the feeling of loneliness, I believe that I only feel truly lonely when I’m not enjoying my own company. When the only person left to entertain me is myself, and I somehow make
uncomfortable. When being by myself feels uncomfortable, because without others, who am I anyway?
I once read that when everything is quiet around you and you just sit there in your room all by yourself, you get to decide whether
that’s loneliness or freedom. I can’t shake off the idea that I’m the only one who decides that I’m lonely and that accordingly, I’m also the only one who can change that.
Find a mirror that you can sit in front of, whether you
a big one or a small one placed on top of a chair, just make sure you sit comfortably. You can either place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest, or rest both palms on your thighs. Calmy breathe through your nose.
as close to your mirror as possible.
Look yourself straight in the eye, left or right, pick whichever you like, switch whenever you like. Look at your lashes, determine the colour of your eyes. If you’re really honest with yourself,
your eyes kinda look beautiful, don’t they?
Do this for at least 30 seconds, whatever 30 seconds feel like to you.
Feels uncomfortable, right?
Try and keep your gaze steady, start a little staring contest with
yourself. If you feel stupid and weird, try doing it even longer.
If you think you’ve had enough, let your gaze wander from your eyes to your eyebrows, to your forehead, then your hair.
Try not to think negatively about any
aspects of your appearance.
Instead, imagine seeing a human face for the first time, studying it curiously but neutrally, unaware of any flaws you might notice.
Right now, this is just a face.
Your face, sure, but just a
If your thoughts wander off, acknowledge where they took off to and then gently pull them back to your own reflection. Also: Don’t worry. Your mind will pull out all the stops to distract you. Just be patient with
Watch your nostrils as they subtly lift up and down with each breath.
Observe yourself for a bit.
Then try and smile as much and as fake as you can. Use all the muscles in your face (and there are at least 40 of
Then try and pretend you’re a crying baby in a silent movie. Go all out. If you’re by yourself and you feel confident to fake – cry out loud, go for it.
Now make an angry face.
Imagine someone is taking photos of
they’re asking for as many facial expressions as possible.
Try and look very confused.
Stick out your tongue.
If you want, wink at yourself.
Raise your eyebrows, or just one of them.
If you feel weird and uncomfortable,
doing everything right.
Any facial expression works. If you have to laugh, keep laughing. It is funny, after all.
Remind yourself, that you are by yourself. And when you’re by yourself, nothing is uncomfortable. Why should it be?
is just you. There is nobody around to judge. Only you.
And you wouldn’t judge.
There is no reason, and you know it. You’re not breaking any laws.
You’re not ridiculous. Thinking that you are is
Relax your face again and direct your focus back to one of your eyes.
Now try and smile, but more authentic this time.
Watch how your eyes change, when you smile. How they become smaller and more friendly.
those click pads you could use to warm your hands – imagine your smile triggered a warm stream slowly filling up your whole body.
When you feel lonely and uncomfortable, repeat this exercise to remind yourself that you’re only
uncomfortable if you allow yourself to feel uncomfortable. And guess what: you only feel lonely if you make yourself believe that you are.
Once you’re done, let your own silence fill the air for a moment, close your eyes for a few
seconds and then slip back into reality.
Remember that you can decide whether you’re lonely or free?
Use that powerful brain to try and turn perceived loneliness into experienced freedom.
The Danger of a Single Story
(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
“When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Meet with a person who lives at the same place as you. Take a
together through your town or village. Visit places you have a connection to, or a story to share about, and discuss how you grew up. Try to walk through your lives in small stages.
Where were you born?
What’s the earliest memory you
can think of?
What kindergarten did you go to?
What were your school years like?
Where did you meet your friends? What did you do?
When did you start your first job?
Are there places that are important to you? Why?
you know about the past of your place?
If you like, also talk about your parents, grandparents or siblings.
Talk about small details, about nice and difficult memories.
Do this exercise every night, when you’re alone at home after a stressed day.
Grab your phone, open your contacts and scroll through them. Scroll through all your contacts and ask yourself questions about the people you see there.
When did you see the person the last time? What is your relation to this person? How long have you already known this person? What kind of memories do you share with them?
Continue scrolling through your contacts and stop at least 7 to
10 times thinking about those questions.
Now enable your phone’s “flight mode”. Disable all other electronic devices around you which might disrupt you from the following steps of this exercise.
You are now in flight mode. Your
still switched on, but you are unreachable. You have many contacts and people saved in your phone but none of them can contact you. Scroll through the last messages on WhatsApp, Telegram and other communication apps on your phone. Those
messages are not up to date anymore. They might be outdated but for now, this is not important. Have you ever asked yourself why the flight mode is called flight mode? Flying is freedom, flying is being isolated from the earth, flying is
ground breaking, flying is an external perspective on your existence on earth, flying is being isolated, flying is being unreachable. What if this flight never ends? What if you could never come down again? What if there was no gravity? No
push messages? No contacts on your phone that could reach out for you?
Switch off your flight mode and check for new messages and updates. Welcome back.
For the following exercise, I suggest that you look for a quiet place where you can lie down on the floor comfortably for half an hour, with a little bit of free space around you.
Make yourself comfortable. If possible, lie on your
back and keep your arms and legs relaxed, but straight. You can close your eyes. Open your mouth slightly as you breathe, so your jaw can relax. Begin to inhale deeply and then hold your breath for a brief moment before exhaling again.
Repeat this a few times, imagining that with each exhale your body sinks a little deeper into the ground. Every exhale causes your shoulder blades, collarbones, arms, wrists, your jaw, the back of your head, pelvis, legs, etc. to become
Take another few breaths in your own rhythm. Wake your fingers by rubbing your fingertips. Then bring your hands together above your belly. Begin to feel every part of your fingers and then your hands for tangible
components. Sometimes you only get to pinch a piece of skin between two fingers with your thumb and forefinger, other times you hold your whole palm in your fist. Take everything you can grab. Try to estimate the quantity of each piece.
Measure the skin and flesh you can grab with the tip of your fingers, your whole hand, or anything in between. Use both hands to gradually explore your whole body this way. Imagine how much material you are mentally detaching from your
body. Don’t forget your neck, armpits, and nose, either. To examine your feet, you may need to sit or change your position first.
Once you have a rough idea of the quantity of the tangible material from head to toe, you can rest your
arms relaxed and stretched out on the floor. Breathe. Imagine the quantity of everything you grabbed. In your imagination, it can be as large as a cloud in the size of a house or as small as a jam jar. Perhaps it doesn’t have a concrete
shape, but it keeps growing and shrinking. Focus on the shape before your inner eye for a moment. Take a bit of time with it. Imagine it in a colour that you like. Assign two or three nice properties to it.
With the next exhale, the
shape dissolves and its individual parts migrate back to your body. In order to merge these firmly with you again, knead your body into the ground a little. You can also roll to the right and left while doing this. Make sure you’ve massaged
all parts of your body.
“All that you touch, You Change.
All that you Change, Changes you.”
– Octavia Butler
Find an object that you feel comfortable with or that interests you. Place it near you and find a relaxed sitting position.
Close your eyes.
For a moment, allow yourself to focus your attention only on how your body feels
Where are your legs and pelvis? Your spine, your shoulders? Your arms, your hands? Your neck, your face, the back of your head?
How is your breathing? Shallow or deep, fast or slow? Where do you feel your
Then, with one hand, take your other hand. Hold it.
Imagine that you don’t know this hand, maybe you’ve never held a hand before.
What is the weight?
What is the temperature?
What is the
How does the surface feel?
What do you feel when you gently press deeper with your fingers?
Can you tell what is outside, what is inside?
Then separate both hands from each other. Rest them both, for example on your
Now grasp with both hands the object you have chosen.
Imagine that you do not know this object, perhaps you have never held it before.
What is the weight?
What is the
What is the shape?
How does the surface feel?
What do you feel when you gently press deeper with your fingers?
Can you tell what is outside, what is inside?
Now let both hands rest on the object, or hold it
Feel your breath.
Imagine that the object is also breathing.
Can you breathe together?
Can your hands and the object merge a little?
Take your time.
Then move your hands a little, as if they were stretching and
Feel the skin of your hands on the surface of the object.
Let your hands touch each other and let the object touch your hands.
For a moment, focus on the differences between the hands and the object, like three familiar
beings who are familiar with each other and yet different.
Then, with your eyes still closed, gently set the object aside.
Rest your hands, for example, on your knees.
What has changed?
Do your hands feel different
to when you began the exercise?
How is your breath?
How does your body feel?
Gently open your eyes.
If you feel like it, draw or write about your observations.
“All that you touch You Change.
All that you
Change Changes you.”
– Octavia Butler
Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and enjoy the complete silence within and outside of you for a moment.
Then try to think of a place where you once felt at ease, a sort of personal safe space, where you didn’t feel lonely. The
place should really exist and therefore mean something personal to you. It could be a place where you regularly spend time or somewhere you once visited. A place where you’re either alone or with people. The only condition is that you have
never felt lonely at this place!
If you find that place, try to remember it as precisely and accurately as possible with your inner eye.
Once the imagination is vivid, squeeze one of your thumbs for 10 seconds without losing
Now, your safe place is imprinted in your finger; whenever you feel lonely, you can squeeze your thumb and immediately find yourself back there.
You can also do this exercise with several places and overwrite your
like a hard drive. Whatever serves you well. I personally have one place for each thumb.
Lonely and Blue.
Mindfully, the world perishes
I’m standing on one leg until I fall.
Has the floor beneath me become slanted lately or has one of my legs become shorter?
I am in danger of losing my footing, towards the wall on the right, into the blue sky.
I take a
pathetically combative posture:
On my leggings it says BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
I turn my heating to level 6,
Take off all my clothes.
Practising a naked downward facing dog,
I crash and remain lying on the warm
I’m thinking of the strong woman in EDEKA the other day before Christmas, who told me that it’s as sure as eggs is eggs that she will have a fourth. She didn’t want it at all, but that’s the way it is now.
I cringe at
the thought of puking children, of my puking self.
Trying to remember the song the assistant at the dentist hummed during my last check-up while she was holding my sweaty cold hand.
Trying to cry a little,
Grandma told me the other day that she is now knitting bed socks for a woman in the old people’s home with cold feet. She is positive. Not my grandma, but the woman.
I think of all the other positive people without any bed
I let time pass.
My room would be staring at me if it had eyes –
So terribly tidy.
For their whole lives, hermit crabs borrow dwellings from limy worm tubes and corals.
I can’t help myself.
I remain lying down.
When I feel lonely it doesn’t really matter where I am. I cover my ears with both hands. I really try to press skin on skin to avoid letting anything inside. As if I can’t hear anything.
Then I start to listen to the sound inside. I
follow the swoosh in my inner-ear.
I ask myself how big this world I listen to is.
With my eyes open I look around. I look slowly. I look but I also overlook. I stare.
Then I watch things moving. In case I find myself indoors I
might look out the window. I ask myself why those things are moving. What initiates this movement, why it is reacting. I see the tree moving in the wind or I watch the lights switching on and off. An animal sitting on the wall or people
I follow this movement. I see that everything is moving.
My breath is moving my lungs, my chest, my shoulders, my stomach. The blood flows through my veins. I feel the pulsation.
I start moving my toes, my
my tongue. I shake my whole body for a little while. I stay with the feeling of moving differently but collectively.
best 1-2 hours daily
Put on warm clothes, go outside. There is nothing wrong with wearing large sunglasses. As soon as you step out on the street, look around inconspicuously, don’t be picky and attach yourself to the first person
in view. Always try to keep an eye on him*her and follow them, but always keep a certain distance between you. Let him*her give you direction and rhythm. If they take a different course that you no longer want to follow, stop for a moment,
take a deep breath in and out, let go of your secret guidance and reorient yourself, but do not stop the walk. Now it’s time to just stroll around.
Loosely based on Judith Schalansky, Verzeichnis einiger Verluste, S.101-116, Suhrkamp Berlin, 2018
The closer you get to finish, the more Work is to be done.
If you’d measure the coast of England as detailed as possible, you’d grasp it’s endlessly long
Lying on the floor I look at the ceiling, every time I look at the clock only or already half an hour has passed, I don’t know, the feelings I have about these two specifications alternate, sometimes it’s “already”, sometimes “only”, the
more time passes, the more “only”, I lose myself in it, sink into it, solely reminded of the following:
Being so absorbed in the process of cleaning that there might be nothing but cleaning itself. Absolutely absorbed in, let’s say, a
lime stain. The lime stain of an old shower that I wanted to make usable again. On top of the lime stain there is a blue shower mat, while the lime stain itself is no indication of a particularly dirty shower. Only the constant dripping and
the fact that the water used to accumulate in certain spots under this mat, again and again, had led to this calcification. It had basically turned into a sheet of lime, whose edges had already turned yellow and dark here and there, making
it look like actual dirt. So I grabbed a sponge with its rough side down – this lime stain was so persistent, I also could have scraped it off the tile with a spatula – and began, piece by piece, to take off every single layer of lime that
had grown over the years. You see it took years for these layers to build up and turn into such a thick slab. I scrubbed until my fingers shriveled up, and the vinegar I had poured on the lime had already started to burn my skin and small
injuries on my hands, both tiny and larger cuts, I scrubbed until there was hardly anything left of the sponge, I just kept turning it around, and turning it around. I scrubbed until there were only small spots of lime left, my eyes
deceiving me with every movement, making me believe that the stains had become smaller, that it could already be the last time I would have to move my arm; I wanted to use my thumbnail to scrape off the last tiny piece of the lime, but the
nail had already become too soft from the moisture, and simply caved in under the pressure that the complete removal would require. So I scrubbed until the monotony of the movement made my arms first heavy and then light again, my eyes
fixed on the stain that was probably getting smaller but never quite disappearing, and until everything around the stain’s centre gradually became blutterd before it eventually disappeared. A vertigo, apart from utterly wet, sore knees, and
battered hands, a sensitivity that can’t compare. Where I am now, I am alone, the only thing left is the certainty of having to stay that way; the closer I seem to get to the goal, the greater the work that remains to be done.
[This is not an exercise but an exemplary text or proposal for an activity of immersion. There are no specific instructions, rather a set of moods comparable to situations you might have experienced yourself, that you might come across
or that might happen to you.
Rather than being just playful, it is more a repetitive thing, actually a thing you sink in so deeply, leaving you unable to say whether you have performed it for seconds, hours, years, or forever. Emerging
ideas, the attention for something else, but also external factors of distraction or time, should by then be absorbed by the vortex of the activity, focusing so intensively on one thing, that it becomes hard to imagine there was ever
anything else, something essentially different. Even though you might call that loneliness – being far away from anything other than yourself – the idea of isolation as an entity in a dual system (where you can either be alone or not
alone) yields the idea of isolation as a room, that you can enter,get lost in, that you can encapsulate yourself in. The external doesn’t play any role in this space.]
Take a walk outside your home. Regardless of how long it takes.
As soon as I am leaving my home, I remain silent. As far as possible.
Still hearing my breath, my sniffing nose, my steps on the street.
This promenade can be
different than the ones before. Silent.
After returning, I try to remember: Where did I rest? Which path did I choose? Which sounds did I notice?
Drawing the path, I try to recapture my discoveries.
What did I hear?
other friends of yours try the same path.
Perhaps they like to extend your drawing on the map with their discoveries.
Perhaps this path can be done with a group of people. Together, with distance to one another. in distance.
seeing each other. Reacting to each other’s plans. Lingering in the same place.
Starting to walk again. Moving together in silence.
After finishing the path, I ask myself: What did I hear?
I try to capture it on the drawing of the
Perhaps, so does the group. Drawing a silent map together.
In this exercise we want to direct our whole attention to our body only. We sit on the floor, cross-legged or on our heels, hands resting on our thighs. We can do the exercise in silence or with soothing meditation music as accompaniment.
Our eyes are closed.
We imagine an energy ball moving inside our body.
First, we go in search of this ball of energy that is inside of us. Some perceive it as a lump in the throat, or a tightness in the chest, or a feeling of warmth
in the waist.
When we have found the energy ball, we start to move that part of the body slowly. For example from right to left, from front to back or in circles. The whole body moves with it, swaying. Sometimes weak and sometimes
strong, but always in flow. We visualize this ball of energy. What color is it? How does it move? In which direction does it move within our body?
We wander through our body with it and only move on when we feel we have received some
kind of signal. Maybe it feels like we have released an energy blockage, so we move on to the next one. Depending on how intensely you can connect with your body, a feeling of trance can set in. The journey ends when we return to our
This exercise can be done for about 10-20 minutes and is perfect as a morning and evening routine. Have fun!
Use the moments in everyday life when you are waiting for someone or something. Don’t pick up your cell phone but focus on yourself. Whether that’s at a red light, in front of a store, in the waiting room, or at an appointment.
Close your eyes for a brief moment and inhale through your nose as deeply as you can. Feel the air flow past your throat and into your lungs, expanding your lungs and pushing against your ribs. When nothing else fits in, hold your
breath for 1 to 2 seconds, your awareness is directed to your upper body. Now exhale forcefully through your nose. Follow the air as it flows out of your lungs, along your throat and sinuses, until it leaves your body. You hear the sound of
your exhale, feel the air brush your nostrils.
Keep focussing on your nose. Take a deep breath again, soaking up all the particles that surround you. How does the air feel on your nostrils as you inhale? Is it warm, cold, dry, moist,
acrid? What can you smell? What do you perceive as individual components? Do you know everything, does it smell familiar or a bit strange? Do not judge, just observe. What associative spaces open up to you? What do you associate with the
smell? Do memories of places, people or situations come to mind?
If you like, write down the smell, the place, the time and your sensation and map your olfactory experiences.
You can do this exercise in many variations by focusing on a different aspect of the person’s being each time.
Open the window.
Look at the scenery in front of you.
Whenever somebody comes in sight, transform yourself into
person: Imagine you were them, and write this moment down as a first person narrative.
Variation 1: Body
Imagine how it feels to be in that body.
How do I feel? How do I move?
Am I carrying something? Is it heavy
Maybe I am pushing a stroller? Riding a bike?
Variation 2: Time
Try to trace the moments before and after.
Where am I coming from? Where am I going?
Maybe I am on my way to work? Maybe I am on my
after running errands?
Maybe I am visiting a friend. Or taking a walk.
Variation 3: Space
Observe the surroundings.
What am I reacting to? What is reacting to me?
When am I speeding up or slowing
am waiting at an intersection to let a car pass? Maybe my footsteps are whirling up fallen leaves.
Do this exercise maybe once a week whenever you need a little break, or every day for a few minutes while making coffee. Just
find a moment where the exercise fits in organically.
After trying the different variations, you may find other aspects to concentrate on.
And after some more time has passed, you may find little moments in your day – while
standing in line at the supermarket or waiting at a traffic light – where you can implement the exercise naturally, without writing.
This exercise is inspired by the Proposition “Writing as a Transformative Practice” in To Become Two. Propositions for Feminist Collective Practice” by Alex Martinis Roe.