Tension, Water and the Tracks of History

Tension, Water and the Tracks of History

The last days of August… the poster about the excess of involuntary tensions and the water that keeps the tissues of our bodies supple and elastic is at the graphic designer’s… the exploration of the tracks of history in the body last weekend revealed to the participants roots that penetrate deeply into the Earth, nourish body and soul and help them to approach matters, personal and ancestral, that are awaiting some kind of resolution, and to let go of others that really are none of their business.

Before I go to Washington on September 17 to present my poster at the Fascia Research Congress, I will go to my home town in northern Germany, Geesthacht, to participate in a historical walk through the terrains of the gun powder factory that was there until 1945. The title: “German Gun Powder for the World”. It is organized by an organization for the promotion of an industry museum in Geesthacht, which I am a member of.


I am following some tracks that history has left in my body. A few years ago I discovered that my grandfather had been an official in the guard of this factory. It wasn’t voluntary. If he had refused, he would probably have been court martialed and executed for high treason. But until recently I hadn’t known anything about all this. I had seen the photo of him in his uniform some time before, but I didn’t know anything about his participation in the war, or rather, I had been under the impression that he hadn’t actually participated. It had been a blind spot. Luckily an aunt, based on some childhood recollections, was able to tell me why my grandfather was wearing that uniform.

From there on I started to understand a number of things that had happened in my family within a wider context and an image began to take shape, like when the pieces of a puzzle fall into place. I had often walked with my grandfather in the forest where the factory had been hidden. I don’t remember him ever telling me anything about the bombed out bunkers we saw there nor about any experience he had had on those very same paths some years earlier. Anyway, I was much more interested in the names of that tree, this herb, that bird… These things he did tell me. Probably I did not ask about the others because I felt that I would touch on something he was not willing to talk about. What I remember more than anything is the silence that was between us. It was not a comfortable silence. But that I didn’t know at the time. It was normal. It was a silence that was weighing tons.

As a matter of fact, as soon as I could I hit the road and went 800 km away to study applied linguistic sciences and, once I had finished my studies, 2000 km away. I needed distance to gain a perspective… and another profession that would help me to understand what was going on between me, my family, my country, and the world. It is thanks to this profession as a practitioner of the Duggan/French Approach (DFA) to Somatic Pattern Recognition that I am able to recognize the fist I can still feel right now in my stomach as the same fist my grandfather used to hold in and compress to the smallest dimension possible all the feeling he could not allow himself to feel as the guard of the forced labor of people who had been captured in the occupied countries and others who were inmates in the near-by concentration camp who were working there to manufacture the gun powder that was killing and injuring people all over the world. The powerlessness facing abuse and injustice traumatize a witness, probably not in the same way as the victim, but in a manner that is as lasting. And if it is not tended to effectively, it will become breeding ground for repetition.

The same is true in the realm of family life. The little girl, who sees her father beating up her brother and her mother too afraid to protect her son from her husband’s violence, feels the same kind of powerlessness and terror as any person facing the violence of organized terrorism of any kind: perpetrated by a state, fundamentalist groups, economic organizations, criminals, as extra-parliamentary opposition, on TV, in the movies, by children in school who have become bullies following the unresolved traumas of their elders and ancestors, or colleagues who mob others at the work place.           

Fifty refugees dead in a freezer truck, twenty suffocated in the cargo space of a ship, shipwrecks almost every day, thousands of refugees day by day… It is another war; it is other people who make it. But is it really another war, is it other people? I don’t believe anybody can watch the news without feeling the same fist in their stomach as my grandfather in the attempt to give as little space as possible to the feelings of powerlessness and terror facing the escalation of suffering manifest in all those people. It is in the nature of the living beings we are to be receptive for the emotional state of others. We are compassionate, gentle and supportive by nature. If people do not feel these things, it is because without knowing it they are tightening their muscles to interrupt the flow of sensations they do not tolerate. Underneath the threshold of consciousness the fear of these sensations grows and breeds more violence, more victims.

What can we do? No matter how powerless I feel facing all this, what I do know how to do is to relate to this fist:

-       Moment to moment, I try to find the position of my body where I can feel the ground underneath the fist so as to be able to show it that it is possible to be supported by a greater force (gravity, the force field of Mother Earth).

-       Following the direction of the exhale, I go into the tightest place within the fist and rest there in order to take in, without fear or resistance, the support of the ground which is available at all times, even in this tight place where a multitude of difficult feelings is crowded and compressed, so I can let them flow, one by one, and leave space for the next thing to come up.

-       With the support of the ground, I wait there for the movement of the inhale to begin in this place and expand it.

-       I give time to this movement of expansion during the inhale until I feel that it expands my whole body, from the tightest place within the fist all the way to the surface, from head to toe, in both sides and in the back as much as in the front.

-       As I let the air go again, I surrender my weight to the ground, the weight of my body as well as the weight of anything weighing me down… resting, once again, in the tightest spot within the fist, which by now already is a little bit less tight… and feeling the powerlessness facing the magnitude of the suffering, the anger with all those who create it out of ignorance and the terror facing their violence, because these are the things I need to let go. The powerlessness, the suffering, the anger, the ignorance, the terror and the violence, all these feeling I also have in me, and I can let go of them only if I feel them. Because, if I were to not feel them, how could I know what I have to let go of?

-       In communication with the Earth underneath my feet and my chair and the space around me that extends all the way through the whole universe, together with the air I exhale, I send out my wish that those who create the suffering of all these people become aware of the fact that they are hurting not only others but also themselves and that they stop doing it.

-       I put my being, my talents and my skills at the service of life in all its beauty to help create a world where every living being can enjoy the beauty of life to its fullest.

When I’ll be in Geesthacht in a couple of weeks, I would like to have the opportunity to find out what kind of effect it had to work deliberately in the gun powder factory, in terms of health of the workers themselves as well as their families. I have good health because in my adult life I have made sure to research in order to understand any discomfort and find out what I needed as a remedy, whenever it made itself felt. Now, in retrospective, I can see that many of my discomforts had their roots in the family situation caused by my grandfather’s emotional state within the context of the traumas caused by two world wars, the insanity of the regime and his participation in the manufacture of harmful substances. He was forced to participate. What must it have been like for those who were happy to have work and be able to sustain their families by manufacturing the gun powder that killed and injured so many people all over the world? As for my own health, if it hadn’t been for the inner work I did during all those years, I am sure that at this point I would be dead or very sick. And here I am: happy, grateful and enjoying good health.

The project of the poster about the excess of involuntary tensions and the water that keeps the tissues of our bodies supple and elastic will end on Tuesday, September 6, https://goteo.org/project/cristal-liquido?lang=en. After that day it will no longer be possible to make any contributions. But the page itself will remain open and accessible to anyone wishing to consult or make use of the materials I had the opportunity to elaborate for this project during the months of June, July and August, except for some images which I will have to withdraw after September 6.  

I thank you for your interest and support!


Brigitte Hansmann