Workshop Review: This is Your Body. facilitated by Marian Dunlea. Dec. 2007

IAPA 07/08 lecture and workshop series,

Reviewed by Mary de Courcy  

The dancer becomes the dance. “Since psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, it is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing” (Jung 1946).

This is your body,
Your precious gift
Pregnant with wisdom you do not hear,
Grief you thought was forgotten,
And joy you have never known.
(Marion Woodman)

On a damp, blustery December day, a group of practitioners assembled in the school of nursing, St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. In a large, rectangular, wooden floored room of shabby elegance, we gathered around an altar of gracefully strewn textured fabric and a centre-piece of white lilies in a gracious, blue, jug vase decorated with a cream, spiral motif. Gentle music played as calm settled, while outside, the wind howled as the commercial bustle intensified on the streets below. A central candle, a symbol of feminine, Sophia wisdom was lit. From this light we lit our own candles and introductions began.

Marian spoke about the work of Marion Woodman and outlined the current developments of neuroscience in confirming this interconnectedness between psyche and soma. She spoke of the dance between the conscious and unconscious in the body and psyche. This in turn confirms the integrity of the body and its central role in the creative healing of both therapist and client. It is with this understanding that the psychotherapeutic relationship can move towards to new dimensions.

In an atmosphere of gentle compassion and perceptive wisdom, Marian facilitated the containment of the dual spaces within: conflict and struggle, and a grounded strength. The noisy knocking of sash windows and the calm containment of feminine energy mirrored the dual internal places within this reviewer. Encouraged to experience our bodies’ deep wisdom, connection with body sensations of grounding, safety and solidness and places of pain, struggle and conflict were held and acknowledged. Through voice, sound, movement and art, we connected with our individual bodies in a place of acceptance and gentleness. Yawns, sighs and chuckles echoed, and this reviewer wondered more than once about the connection between Jungian analysts and rolls of loo paper!

In a powerful re-enactment of a participant’s dream, the group experienced mirroring which allowed a depth of individual and collective recognition. Gentle re-grounding and Marian’s calm, slow attention to detail in a space of few words, brought us hungrily to lunch.

Moving into the body was easier in the afternoon. The dual internal places of pain and no pain, of fullness and hollowness, of sitting with the tension seemed more familiar. Working in dyads and triads, we mirrored the Other, holding and being held. A deep connectedness through gentle processing brought us to the conclusion of the workshop. Understanding of the core principles of self-regulation, of the essence of dream details, of working with opposites in the dream and of our bodies as a living landscape made sense after this experiential session. The importance of not staying in the re-traumatised body but of allowing the body to speak its knowledge of internalized light and shadows seemed fitting as we move towards the darkening days of the solstice. Taking a word or phrase with us, and being mirrored by the group, we blew out our candles. A gentle space remained within as I took my leave of a wise and compassionate teacher.

Marian Dunlea, M.Sc. is a Jungian Analyst working in private practice in Dublin, Ireland. She is a core faculty member of the Marion Woodman Foundation and facilitates workshops nationally and internationally.