Friday, July 11, 2014

Coming Home to the Body

What is your relationship with your body? Is it a shell that houses your mind? Is it something that you just carry around with you? Or is the relationship sacred? Do you feel as if your entire life is built on its foundation, as if it is the testing ground for your truth?

Lately, I have been exploring my relationship to my body. Part of this has to do with weight, and part of it with how connected I feel with my body.

In relation to the connection, I have been doing yoga and some bio-energetic exercises. Some of these exercises are meant to charge the body and bring more energy into the legs and feet, so that you feel energized and dynamically present in your body.

Others are meant to discharge pent-up energy - the accumulated stress and tensions - and leave the body feeling lighter.

If you wanted to do a common sense energizing exercise, you might try jogging, even just jogging on the spot. If you wanted an exercise to release pent-up tension, you might lie down on your back and kick your legs in the air, just like a baby does.

For me, easing into the yoga stretches, doing these exercises brings my conscious awareness into my body. In the moment of the stretch, the mind falls off. There is something wonderful about joining as one with the body, instead of thinking of it as a secondary thing and identifying with the mind.

I have been reading the works of the wonderful somatic therapist and writer Anodea Judith, and she talks about how "to validate the body is to identify with it. If my chest is hurting, I admit that my emotional heart is hurting."

And what follows naturally is that certain movements bring up feelings and sensations that are part of the body's memories. Our emotions leave imprints, and shaking our bodies, moving them puts us in touch with things we thought had passed, but haven't, and dislodges these feelings and sensations from the space they occupy.  

In one of my favorite writing books, Writing Begins with the Breath, Laraine Herring talks about this. There is something to be said about slow writing, she says, just as there is something to be said about staying with a movement or posture in yoga. In both, there is something we learn by going deeper, by staying with the writing as it emerges, with the yoga pose as it deepens.

Going deeper changes our understanding. The language of the body communicates things to us.

Judith, in her books, also talks about how, sometimes, we don't want to be in touch. Being in touch means that we have to let ourselves experience what's there, and when there is pain stuck in the body, or something else that is negative, many of us don't want to go there. Even if going there could ultimately help us release that thing.

So, we treat our bodies like aliens instead of seeing them as us. If our bodies are cramped or weak or numb, it's quite likely that we are also cramped or weak or numb.

As I have started listening, only little murmurs till now, I can see how my body is me. I can see its rigidity, and sense my own rigidity. When I feel its strength, I gain confidence in my own strength.

I can also see another part of the equation that Judith talks about. She says that "When we have a sense of self that comes from the body, we have less need to affirm ourselves through ego inflation." There is a sense of home - security and safety - that comes from resting in our own selves.

I am beginning my journey to a place where I don't treat my body and soul as separate. My mind also has its place, so does my body, and I can see that aliveness comes through the body. I can start treating my body better.

There is a feeling of rightness about it, and it feels natural as I affirm my body bit by bit.

How has your relationship with  your body changed over time? How do you stay connected to your body?       

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