It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of living, almost as though we are free-floating beings made up entirely of our minds, and without any body or notion of the ground under our feet.
Until something happens, like we get sick, and suddenly we have no choice but to remember that we have real bodies with real needs—there’s advice for us, in the event that we want to have a better relationship with our physical selves.
We can think of our bodies as the country and the road map at the same time.
We live there, but it’s also the very thing that can bring us back to ourselves. Unfortunately, it’s not always second-nature for us to navigate its landscapes and hidden alleyways, despite the fact that they never disappear.
Your body inevitably knows when you haven’t laughed in a while, or when your stress levels are running high, even if you aren’t fully aware of it yourself.
We can think of our bodies as an intimate friend (our most intimate): it has our best interests at heart (or it wants to, anyway), and it is a fantastic mirror of our inner world.
So, how can we be more in tune with what our bodies are telling us?
Have a Heart to Heart with It.
If it’s time for a long catch-up session, go where you love it best—it can be a café, under a tree, church steps on a busy, thriving street, or in the forest—and just fully immerse yourself in the experience and the moment.
What does your body want to chat about? How is it feeling? Does it want to share something very personal with you? You are in your happy place now and have nothing in the world to do but listen.
Meditation can be a scary word, conjuring all sorts of visions of orange-clad gurus belting out OM, or shiny-headed monks sitting as unmoving as a rock for days. Those who have never meditated, or even those who struggle to stay motivated to practice, can tend to overplay what it takes to have a meditation session.
It can be as simple as this. Sit down in a comfortable position, in a quiet space, and just check in with yourself. Release the body with each outbreath, and mentally scan your body, slowly and lovingly, part by part, to see where it’s tense, where it hurts, and where you are feeling peaceful.
Do Yin Yoga.
Oh, the gorgeous power of yin! Yin: the feminine, the moon, the deep and dark place from which creation and life emerge.
Any form of yoga is an exemplary way to work with the body to know the body better. With yin yoga, the space for expansion increases as you rest deeply in poses designed to help your body move toward increased space for movement, and relaxation.
It might hurt along the way. But as you lie there, quietly extending the limits of your physical capabilities, without the strain that can occur in the more ‘yang’ positions that require a lot of exertion, you might find yourself really confronting your sources of anxiety and stress in a profoundly meaningful way.
The beauty of mindfulness, rapidly becoming a catchword today, is that it can be done anywhere, anytime – and it should. It’s not easy, of course, and we’ll stumble into lack of awareness over and over, but every action done, every word spoken with a clear and attentive mind will help bring you closer to yourself, and what’s going on inside you, body and mind/heart.
It’s kind of like a feedback loop. Your mindfulness has an effect on the world around you, which has the effect of making a world that allows you to reflect you to yourself in a more calm and beautiful way.
Check in with your Breath.
It always comes back to the breath. And for good reason.
As long as you are here, so is your breath. It never leaves you, no matter how much you forget to check in with it. Your breath has a world of information to give you about your state of being, and it is also extremely open to working with you to create a more harmonious self.
Take three long, luxurious, gorgeous breaths that move from your mouth to the depths of your belly, in and out, visualizing wholesome air moving through you, cleaning and purifying and enhancing your capacity to be in this world with vitality.
This is the power of the breath having its dance with life, and it’s all yours.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own