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  • Annelisa MacBean

Body Alchemy

When doing psychological or spiritual work, there is an alchemical process in play. Being seen and held lovingly by others, we develop our capacity to see ourselves, our capacity for inner sight. We learn to witness ourselves and the movement of energy and life through our nervous systems. We become capable of observing our reactivity, rather than acting out thoughtlessly, without awareness. Part of developing these skills and abilities includes learning how and when to apply the proper focus of our attention to the sensations arising within the vessel of the body. Alchemically speaking, if the heat of our attention is too intense or not intense enough, the process of transformation may not occur. Transforming lead to gold requires precision and accuracy, timing and the coordination of multiple factors. So too, transforming resistance and opposition in the tissues and bones of the body into coordinated flow, synthesis and harmony throughout the body requires alignment of our attention with the qualities and characteristics of that which is emerging physically. Attending to the sensations in the body we attune to what the body is communicating to us about the balances or imbalances that might require deeper focus or fine-tuning. The specific nature of the attention, or heat required must be discovered by each of us in the fire of our own direct experience. We listen and learn from others, but we cannot take any one else's word for it, use someone else’s description of their fire, or apply a second-hand flame. It takes a lot of courage and trust to allow our own attention to focus on our experience . . . to meet what is emerging with a sense of presence and immediacy, an awake curiosity and response-ability to what is being revealed within the crucible of the heart.


Have you witnessed a glass blower working with heat, with fire, with glass? The artist is attending to the temperature, the relationship between the molten glass and metal shaping instruments; the artist is attending to their breath and how much or how little volume is needed. They are also following the movement of the glass itself, the color and shape emerging which is informing how they breathe and use their tools and how much heat to apply. An improper or premature fire, someone else’s fantasy of the flame, or a heat that is oriented in self-abandonment and self-aggression will scorch, deaden, or re-traumatize. Discovering the most skillful medicine for our unique psychic and somatic organization, which is constantly morphing and shifting, requires that we become artists of the inner landscape . . . alchemists. At times, a more passive, slower, yielding fire or flame of attention is called for, like a candle or a pilot light. Resting in the background field of awareness, gentle, constant attention to the details arising within can infuse our thoughts, feelings, and sensations with space, presence, receptivity, and compassion. At other times, a flame that is more active, imaginative, fiery, and alive is appropriate. Sometimes, entering into intimacy with the material emerging, with the sensations in our bodies, moving into relationship with the unfolding process; a penetrating, intentional attention-fire is called for. Unearthing and differentiating the images, figures, colors, and fragrances that are surfacing within the psychic world; dialoguing, unfolding, unpacking, listening. The invitation is not to attentional domination. We do not become attentional wizards who can command this inner alchemy to deliver an inner experience which is neutered, whereby all pain and loss is arrested and feelings of grief or anguish are eliminated. The nature and function of the human life is fundamentally alchemical . . . transformative . . . the process of transforming lead to gold, food to energy, love to light; and there is always more lead, no matter how well we master the attentional elements of alchemical processing, the process is perpetual.


The joy and the fun of being human, of being embodied, comes with the wisdom of understanding and accepting that regardless of how hard we try, how skilled we become, there will always be more lead. Ultimately, its’ a matter of receiving the flow of endless unknowns with reduced resistance until there is no resistance . . . until resistance transforms into humility and a spirit of playful experimentation . . . digesting and transforming each and every sensory experience to gold, to light, to the energy that is most useful and most needed in any given moment. Notably, when the alchemical process of this ongoing transformation is recognized and accepted, when we truly, gratefully surrender to the alchemical purpose and point of having a body, Love becomes obvious as the field in which transformation occurs. Love delivers the lead of life in honor of our alchemical transformative capacities!

The flow of Love is endless; in, around and through the body. Receive the lead and receive the Love through the vessel that is your body. Know that you are not your body; you are Love; you are endless.



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