Joy Ignites Success

What is all this resistance about?

By  - Tuesday, February 02, 2021

 What is all the resistance about? Read More

I am not a body I am free

By  - Friday, February 14, 2020

A Course in Miracles and the Body

In the study of A Course in Miracles, one of the core lessons, “I am not a body, I am free” sends many folks into a spin. As a body-oriented psychotherapist, I understand the struggle. For over 20 years I have been teaching that the body holds wisdom and is here to teach, guide and support.  Are these beliefs in conflict? Not for me.

In my experience, knowing that I am not the body does not prevent me from working with the body’s wisdom. In fact, quite the opposite. As I learn to identify less with the body and sensations, less aversion and attachment to it arises. When I believe I am the body, I also believe if the body is not okay, I’m not okay, which cannot be true. Stephen Hawking (who some would say was imprisoned in the body) and Victor Frankl (whose body was imprisoned) clearly demonstrate that we are so much more than the body.

When overly identified with the body and sensation, there is a tendency to extremes: we either exalt it as God, or vehemently deny it as the devil. In the hands of the ego, the body becomes a problem to solve and a tool to enforce the belief in separation. Clearly, if all I am is a body and you’re also that; I am not you and you are not me. And this completely contradicts any belief that we are one.

New age thinking has also had a heyday with the body; often blaming and judging those with physical ailments with a proclamation: “if you would only think right, you wouldn’t be sick.” This is not completely out of accord with the teachings of the Course (which says only the mind creates), but it is certainly out of accord with “Teach only Love, for that is what you are.”  I have certainly dealt with my share of physical ailments. Blaming myself and trying to figure out what I did wrong to create them is an attack upon myself and not useful and not kind. When we believe we are the body, we are inclined to take credit or blame for everything it does, which leads us further into separation and egoic thinking. Instead, I choose to heed any lessons (i.e.: "slow down," "don’t push so hard," or "don’t worry") and as best I can, to allow the wave of illness or discomfort to be just that.

The Course says the body is a way of joining and uniting minds with Spirit. And “the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.” Recognizing the body as a communication device and not what we are, opens up a whole new conversation. When I think of the body in this way, it’s a little closer to the way I think of my car. I love my car, but I am not my car. My car has a purpose and serves it well. If it should break down, I would not say I am broken. When I look at the body in this way, it no longer has power over me. And then, I can truly listen to its lessons.

In my work as a somatic psychotherapist, I teach clients how to listen and respect the body. To understand that it holds unresolved emotions; that it registers upset before the mind; and that it can teach us how to open and let go. When I know I am not the body, I can give it the respect it deserves. For more on having a respectful relationship with the body, see my previous posts Using the Body to Let Go, What is Your Body Trying to Tell You, and Where the Body Goes.

I would love to hear your insights and questions. Please share below or email me directly at Read More

How Do We Let Go?

By  - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In 30 Ways or Less

It’s one thing to know you should let go and to even want to let go and it’s another thing to know how and actually let go. In this post, you'll find a summary of the three primary ways to let go and a list of 30 suggestions based in movement, play and Sedona releasing.
1.    Move it!
Emotions live in the body (for more about this, check out Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert). One of the most effective ways to let go of a feeling is to physically move it. Whether you dance with it, run through it or hike it up a mountain; getting conscious to what’s happening in your body will help you to let go. Suggestions 2-4, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22-24 and 27-30 all involve moving.
2.    Play with it!
Many of our habitual patterns developed when we were little trying on adult behaviors. Playing into stuck-ness is a natural way to let go. “In play all definitions slither, dance, combine, break apart, and recombine.” (S. Nachmanovitch, Free Play) Because of its spontaneous nature, play takes us out of strong habitual patterns and brings us into the present moment, where we can make a new choice. Suggestions 5-7, 12, 13, 17, 21, 25 and 26 all stem from play.
3.    Release it!
The Sedona Method is a phenomenal technique for letting go of unwanted thoughts and feelings. I have written many articles about and incorporating the method. The first two are the basics: 5 Ways to Release and The 4 Programs (that underlie thoughts, feelings and behaviors). This link takes you to 25 blogs that reference the Sedona Method. Suggestions 1, 2 and 16 are examples of Sedona Method releases.

30 Ways to Let Go of Unwanted Thoughts, Feelings, Sensations

1. Be with what is here is this moment. Allow the thoughts and sensations to do whatever they are doing.  Let go of wanting to change what is.
2. Just drop it. (pen analogy)
3. Use your arms to Give Up. (arms in air)
4. Shake or bounce it loose (thoughts, feelings and sensations).
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Getting Your Head on Straight

By  - Wednesday, March 08, 2017

This morning, during my dance party (yup, dance party for one in my living room),  I was throwing my body and arms and head around, and found myself thinking that I was in the process of getting my head on straight so I could continue my writing. The importance of getting one’s head on straight (also known as getting your shit together), cannot be over emphasized. Our experience of the world is a direct result of how we see and interpret the circumstances of life. Think about it, when you are in a lousy mood, the world pretty much sucks. The reverse is also true, when feeling good about yourself, it’s easier to see the world from a kinder, gentler place, which results in more joy for you.
If we examine this expression from a body perspective, we can get very literal. Your head could be tilted to one side or another, or could be jutting forward (in yoga, known as forward head posture (fhp)) or even pulling back (pretty rare in our society). FHP is particularly common, thanks to computers, cell phones and devices that we tend to lean into when using.
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2017-The Year of the Pause

By  - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I recently completed reading the entire text of A Course in Miracles. This was a huge task and one I had set a goal of completing by the end of 2016. A bit out of character, but I completed it. The next task was to read the Manual for Teachers. On January 1, when I opened the book, I immediately felt some resistance. And a deeper voice, saying “not yet”. On exploring this, I starting pondering how quickly we jump from one thing to the next and specifically, from one year to another. I realized that as much as I was ready to be done with 2016, I was not yet ready for 2017. Like the pause between the exhalation of breath that comes before the next inhalation, I needed a pause between years. Read More

What would happen without an opinion?

By  - Tuesday, August 02, 2016


If you stop to notice, you might realize that most of your feelings of upset are related to having an opinion about what is right and wrong or good and bad. But what if you didn’t have an opinion? (The verse “I wonder if you can” from John Lennon’s Imagine comes to mind.) What would not having an opinion be like? And do you believe not having an opinion is wrong? In other words, do you have an opinion about not having an opinion?

We have layers of beliefs about our beliefs. But, what if, even for just a moment, you could rest beyond beliefs? What if you could recognize that all your beliefs are based on the past and on limited information? What then?   
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The Cost of Giving is Receiving

By  - Monday, July 06, 2015

The Cost of Giving is Receiving

This lesson from the Course in Miracles is one (of many) worth paying careful attention to. Whatever it is you are offering to others has to move through your body. It is your only vehicle for communication. When you are angry with another, it is your body that feels the anger. When you are loving to another, again, it is your body that feels the love. What do you want to feel today?
The Course in Miracles focuses on the perspective that there is no separation and that what we do onto another we are doing onto ourselves and that all grudges we hold against another show us where we need to forgive ourselves. Whether this aligns with your beliefs or not, it still holds that you cannot seek vengeance or even hold a negative thought towards anyone, without feeling the impact in your body-mind.
As an experiment, just think about someone you’re upset with. If you pay attention, you will notice certain sensations in your body. You may feel butterflies in your stomach, a tightening in your throat, or a gripping in your shoulders. Undoubtedly, it won’t be a pleasant sensation. So, for now, just open inside and let the anger dissolve as best you can.

Now, as part two of the experiment, think about someone you feel very loving towards. Perhaps a child or pet. Again, notice the sensations in your body. Much more pleasant, yes?

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Unexpressed Grief

By  - Tuesday, May 05, 2015

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Hug More, Cough Less

By  - Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war.
Where everyone hugs instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins,
and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.
Shel Silverstein

We all know that hugs feel good (from someone we feel good about). But did you know that hugging is also good for physical and emotional well-being? We now have scientific proof that a hug a day (okay 8-12 hugs) keeps the doctor away.


From the Huffington Post article 7 Reasons why we should be giving more hugs.
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A Body-Oriented Perspective on Stress Management and Self Care

By  - Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Don't Kill Me, I'm Just Trying to Help
   Read More

About MSI

Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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