The subtle art of dearmouring

‘You may be able to fight and win battles in a suit of armor, but when you’re wearing one all of the time without knowing it, it becomes impossible to dance.’
William Reich

Dearmouring is one of those unfamiliar words sometimes spoken about in relation to tantra.  It can seem a bit ferocious and full-on, if you Google and watch the slightly scary films on Youtube, especially if you’re looking at massage techniques that look hugely impactful, intrusive even, without explanation or context.  So many different interpretations, so many possibilities.  Actually, if the intention is to offer the body a different way of being, it can be an incredibly subtle process, a slow, gentle unwinding over time, a letting go of tightness, tension and holding.  That’s certainly what we at Shakti Tantra would advocate.

Hilly has written about yoni and vajra healing as being one element of the dearmouring process.  Adding to that wisdom, here’s a bit more on the subject.

To give some background, there’s a recognised body of knowledge and theory on the subject of armouring going back to the teachings of Sigmund Freud, William Reich, Alexander Lowen and Gerda Boyesen.   The understanding is that in it’s natural state, without the inevitable disruptions of life, the body has a flexibility and fluidity – an energetic flow.  But physical and emotional tension and rigidity inevitably creeps in, as a way of creating a protective barrier against the world.

From the time we are born (sometimes when we are still in the womb) we experience stressful events that we subsequently hold in our bodies.  And let’s be real about this, we  all experience stressful and traumatic events, it’s part of being alive.  What’s important is how we are supported after such events, what opportunities we are given to process and release.  So sometimes we can move on, without much of an impact, and sometimes we get stuck, self-preservation makes us retreat and build barriers against a world that doesn’t feel safe to be in.  That’s the armouring.

The earlier these stressful or traumatic events occur, the greater the impact they have.  Likewise, trauma or stress that is repeatedly experienced also has greater impact.  Trauma doesn’t have to be ‘significant’, events that seem relatively unchallenging to an adult can seem catastrophic when we are young.  And as we grow, the trials and tribulations of life, like being touched when we haven’t given consent, being smacked, being shamed or bullied, all cause stress to be held in the body.  Our posture, our ability to move, even how we breathe can be affected.  And so on into adulthood.

And yet it’s possible to dissolve the impact of this stress and trauma, to offer the body a different way of being, to dearmour and support the natural flow and ease to re-establish itself.

There are many disciplines that recognise this, the potential resolution isn’t exclusive to tantra.  Google ‘somatics’ and you’ll find lots of options.  The inclusion and integration of our sexual selves as part of the process of liberation is somewhat more specific.

Our take is that dearmouring isn’t about bashing the body into being something different, it’s a reconnecting with our inherent body wisdom, a profound letting go that can feel like big heavy chunks of rock that you were carrying around always, masking your true self, just falling off.  Literally just falling off, so you stand taller, feel more sure, have a different view of the world, from a lighter, softer place.
We talk in tantra about understanding what serves us.  Patterns and behaviours that have served our younger, tender selves, that armour us for our self-preservation and protection, that may genuinely help us to feel safe, at some point cease to offer us anything other than restriction and constraint.

So when we are ready, when we come to a place of understanding that something needs to shift, must shift, that we somehow just know we want to be different, meaningful bodywork brings us to that place of embodiment, of congruence, the outside matching the inside.  We can’t do what we’ve always done anymore, it’s getting us nowhere, so we step towards change. Scary, powerful, and oddly inevitable.  It takes time, for most of us.  To carefully, mindfully, untangle and shift the patterns and habits of a lifetime, that have held us tight.  And there are many ways we can move towards this ease in our bodies, in our very selves, as well as the bodywork that actually offers the significant change.  We all find our individual ways to assist this move towards freedom.  Movement, in dance, in meditation.  Exercise that connects us in a conscious way with our breath, with being fully in our bodies, actually inhabiting our bodies.  Using our voices, connected to our core, our place of empowerment, speaking our truth. For the big shifts though, doing facilitated work IN the body, OF the body, is an essential component.

It’s interesting to observe that the dearmouring process is rarely the reason anyone comes to tantra, and yet it’s almost always a significant element of the process, the journey through a programme, one way or another. The possibilities creep up on us inexorably, and we come to know along the way, on the other side of doing the work, that we are more grounded, we move differently, we breathe deeper, we have a new skill set with which to move through our lives with confidence and ease.

We come to know that where before we braced ourselves to meet the world, now we may truly dance through it.