As someone who has identified mostly with her mind and gotten lost in its assembly-line of thoughts, I have at last started to come home to my body.
I no longer feel like I am pulling myself up from my roots.
Instead, I am opening the door to greater integration and seeing that my mind, body and soul are all important and that each has its distinct place.
My body is not something to be discounted, something to be sacrificed at the altar of unconscious negative beliefs. There was a time when I didn’t understand this. There was a time when I thought that being spiritual meant denying my body and trying to transcend it.
Now, I think that destroying my foundation only stopped my progress.
It kept me at a level where I had to keep going back to satisfy basic needs. It prevented me from consolidating my life and moving ahead. The words of the wonderful somatic therapist Anodea Judith sum it up for me now:
“To see the spiritual being as separate is to cut ourselves off from our ground, our root, our home. We become less than whole, split, out of touch with the information our bodies can communicate.”
When we are disconnected, we stop seeing that the body not only mirrors our emotional and spiritual experience, it is also the very ground where this experience takes place.
Cut off from the sensations in my body, I was also cut off from my emotions. I couldn’t feel the fear, anger and shame that lived deep inside me.
Cut off from the chance to experience these feelings and release them, I let them drive me almost unconsciously. I had stopped listening to my body’s cues, its signals and its wisdom.
As I have started to reconnect with my body and experience its feelings are my feelings, my self-awareness has increased. I am learning to listen and respond to what my body is telling me.
The tools that I use to reconnect with my body come from Anodea Judith’s work. They might help you too.
1. Drawing what the body feels like: Instead of trying to draw a realistic picture, draw what your body feels like to you. This can help you understand, without intellectualization, what is going on energetically in your body.
Judith says: “A fearful, contracted person may draw a very tiny body, using only a quarter of the page, where an overly expanded person may need several sheets of paper. An under-formed, collapsed person may draw ethereal swirls with no concrete form at all.”
When I tried this exercise, I drew an out-of-proportion large head, which was no surprise. But I also drew a very small area of the heart, as if it had contracted. As a person who feels a lot, I had never considered that I could be out of touch with my heart and yet be bobbing up and down in a sea of feelings and sensations.
2. Bio-energetic exercises: For people who are too much in their heads, it can feel as if the lower part of the body is devoid of any energy. Simple exercises like jumping up and down on a soft surface or stamping your feet can help bring energy and aliveness into your lower body. If you want to discharge excess energy, try lying on your back and kicking your legs in the air, like a baby.
3. Yoga: Instead of doing them mechanically, bringing your attention to your breath while doing yoga postures can help you reconnect with your body. When your mind is still, you have the chance to experience yourself as something more than just thoughts.
Yoga can also be helpful if you breathe into the places that seem constricted. For me, this helped dislodge feelings of deep grief. This capacity of breathing and yoga to bring up feelings is something to be kept in mind as you go deeper into poses. Bringing stuck feelings into conscious experience and releasing them can help us feel better, but we do have to be ready to support ourselves through the process and be okay with feeling these feelings, even when they are scary or negative.
As I re-open the conversation with my body, I see that my body has many valuable things to tell me. It tells me of things that are buried deep but still operate underground. It points to the origins of my beliefs and feelings. It tells me that it has an instinctual knowing that can help me sense the right way to go. It tells me these and many other things.
What if you start talking to your body again? What things will your body tell you?
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Editor: Emily Bartran
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