The Psoas, a Resource for Resilience

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When I first started working with the psoas as a massage therapist a few decades ago I viewed it as a “problem” that needed fixing. Most of the clients I saw had overly contracted psoas muscles that caused pain, pelvic misalignment and sometimes issues with digestion, breathing and smooth reproductive functioning. Easy fix for menstrual cramps. And I was the hero that released it! Over many years of teaching experiential anatomy for the psoas, I have been humbled by what I have learned from my students as they sensitively explored this deep core muscle and developed a felt-sense of it. What we discovered is that the psoas muscles are supportive structures that not only function on a physical level to help people feel stronger and more upright, but also to provide a sense of internal support and stability on the emotional and mental levels.

When you befriend your psoas muscles in a safe, respectful and gentle way, you can tap into an inner resource that can become a touchstone for lifelong resilience. Whenever you feel buffeted by life, you can use the psoas touchstone to find the resilience to bounce back and find your balance. Over the years three general themes have emerged from student feedback. First, and most common, students re-establish a state of feeling grounded. This can generate a kinesthetic experience of being seated in the self-trusting yourself, trusting life and feeling comfortable in your own skin. Second, students report that by accessing the psoas touchstone they connect to an internal support, an inner resource, that helps them to self- regulate. When you have a clear sense of your own center, it’s easier to be in touch with your own needs and to respond rather than react to changing circumstances. This increased capacity for responsiveness can build more resilience. Thirdly, students report increased ability to be present in the moment. When you focus on the psoas in your midline, your physical center, your mind begins to settle and you are more able to see things just as they are.

These three themes-being grounded, self-reliant and present-are interrelated and often experienced simultaneously. Although you may initially work with the psoas to soothe physical discomfort, the physical healing can ignite a journey toward integration, congruence and wholeness. And you will have a friend for life, an inner resource that will help you to weather the storms of life and bounce back more quickly. As you befriend the psoas with gentle, subtle experiential anatomy practices, you may also find that you befriend yourself and treat yourself more compassionately.

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