Jared Osborne is one of those men you’d be really lucky to get stuck on an island with. Not only is he a capable, intelligent master of the Qi Gong Kung Fu Tai Chi type, he is also a leader in the mysterious world of ‘men’s business’. For a gal like me who is fascinated with the mind (and men), Jared pinpoints exactly why it’s in everyone’s best interest (and as evident in his work, in the interest of men’s mental health) to give our mind a rest and enter the natural intelligence of our body. Here we talk about what that fancy word embodiment really means, and how being embodied contributes to improved health outcomes.
BFA: So tell us all about being an embodiment coach?
JO: What I am most passionate about is embodiment and I describe myself as an embodiment coach. I work specifically with men, getting them in touch with their bodies, and I love seeing the transformation and openings in people when they start connecting to their body.
I’ve developed incredibly powerful and easy, effective tools for dropping people out their mind stuff and into their bodies, and I support people through that journey. It’s not always easy. There are often good reasons for disconnection.
BFA: Can you explain why it’s a good thing for people to get out of their mind and into their body?
JO: There is too much benefit to actually answer the question properly! Stop me if I reach overload.
When we are disconnected from our body a separation is created between our mental thinking energy and our nervous system. The entire nervous system and the brain is the centre of all thinking and feeling. When we are caught up in the head we’re cut off from signals and impulses and the feelings occurring in the body. We are distracted with thoughts and worries that aren’t even in the present moment. A dissonance gets created between where our attention is and where our mental energy is, and our actual thinking and feeling separates. That dissonance itself creates a lot of stress.
Overactivity of the mind drains vitality and energy because our brain is the most energy intensive organ in our body. When that’s working over time you’re actually draining the vitality of the body. Fatiguing quicker. Ageing quicker.
Often posture is slack, breathing is shallow, the organs energy stagnates, tissue and fluid stagnates, and this opens us to dis-ease. When people become aware of their body, I find they can tap into what they are really feeling. It’s extremely rare for someone who is caught up in their mind to process underlying emotion from situations that have happened in life. Our core experiences come to light through body awareness. For some people it can be incredibly uncomfortable doing embodiment stuff – they can feel a lot of pain or fear, emotional trauma rises.
Guiding people through that process enables liberation. I have clients that experience physical release and big shifts that have been stuck in their body for a long time. Part of what I do is I get people to experience themselves as a whole body-mind. Rather than just their mental mind looking at something and processing something.
Our awareness is our whole body. There’s a separate mind. Mental awareness in the head is, in my experience, the framework of illusion. How I experience my self is as a whole thinking, feeling being.
From the mind we look from the outside in, so I guide people to drop into what’s really happening inside; taking people into a place of processing, for example, adolescent trauma. By tapping into that you can find emotional residual left in the body, when at the time of that occurring they didn’t have the tools to deal with trauma. Residual emotion actually gets caught in the body so we need to create supportive frameworks and environments for feeling them through.
BFA: What’s inspired your work?
It’s primarily drawn from my own experience. As a teenager I was incredibly insecure and shy – one of the most disembodied people you’d ever meet. Continually in a fantasy world and wanting nothing to do with the physical. At around 19 I’d suffered a lot of depression, hit rock bottom, which made me think – ‘It’s got to be better than this…Maybe I should just end it.’
I made a decision at that point: ‘What if everything from this point is a bonus? What if I do things differently?’ I began exploring psychology, awareness, Buddhism, Zen meditation, yoga … I stumbled my way through.
In my 20’s I discovered Qi Gong. It’s a Chinese practise related to Chinese Medicine, Kung Fu and Tai Chi. It’s quite an internal art where you focus on internal awareness in a combination of movement and meditation. I embraced and explored Qi Gong passionately, realising I needed to get myself back into my body. Eventually I started studying psychotherapy more seriously and got involved working specifically with men.
BFA: Tell us more about working with men.
I’m passionate about it. There’s something that happens when men get together that’s different to any other spaces that I’ve encountered. It really doesn’t take long for men, given the right structures and support, to begin to trust each other, open up and talk about some really remarkable things about themselves. I use Qi Gong to assist men to connect with their body.
Men are so willing to talk, in my experience. They’re craving to be able to share what’s going on for them. Even men who aren’t wanting to talk get so much out of listening.
It’s this sense of not being alone – as so many men feel really alone. We don’t often share really deeply; it’s often not acceptable in society to do that. Suddenly men who experience my work realise, ‘Wow, all these guys are different but really they are not that different!’ It’s a subtle and intangible space shared for transformation to take place.
Men have described my program as their ‘Island of Calm’. It’s the centrepiece of their week. It’s an amazing space to be part of. There is nothing to do, no one to impress. No social pressures and everyone can be themselves. Most men tend to behave differently around women although not in a negative way. Women can change their awareness or trigger deeper emotions. And what I experience is that a lot of men don’t actually trust women emotionally. They trust when they feel that their emotions will be held and honoured.
BFA: Your programs sound as though they contribute to good mental health and wellbeing?
It’s just good to get together with men. It’s men’s business. You’re opening this door to the Island of Calm. Yes, it’s mentally healthy. I think it’s powerfully healthy! It’s important for men to have time separate to share and connect with others who have a common experience. But my approach essentially is that our common ground is the human experience. We start from that place.
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