“The Body is the Shore on the Ocean of Being.” (Sufi saying)
Our bodies are so precious and filled with possibility for rich and meaningful living. If we really slow down, tune in, and notice, we engage our inner adventure, and discover the universe within. In our daily lives, it’s easy to focus on everything we must do, our goals, our thoughts and desires. We forget to value the communicative cues and pleasures of our bodies. Our bodies contain and represent our beings. They are the sacred, tangible forms that manifest all that we are. When we connect deeply and fully with ourselves, our compassion and empathy for others is exponentially more possible.
And it can feel so difficult to be in our bodies! We suffer, feel numb or exhausted, stressed out, hurt and lonely. We have seemingly bottomless needs and desires, and can feel overwhelmed with life. For most of us, sensations and emotions may have overwhelmed us so much that we end up disconnecting from something essential in our bodies. When we try to escape the pain, we end up also shutting down our capacity for joy. We hold back and brace ourselves for so many reasons, but then find it hard to access our vitality and heal our wounds.
Healing happens in the present moment. The best way I know to help myself cope with a challenge is to bring my attention inside myself and to “accompany myself” through noticing sensation and emotion in my body. My nervous system has a mind of its own, and makes my body experience all sorts of things that are out of my direct control. However, the more I tune in and feel what is there, the more I can learn from, and influence what is happening within me. Behaviors, emotions and our bodies themselves shift when we address what is happening in our autonomic nervous system.
This is different from using will power to push through a task or control a behavior. It is not telling my body what to do. Often people say to me, “I have mind-body connection. I talk to my body all the time and tell it what we need to do and how I should feel. I tell my body to relax, to not crave chips and cookies, to buck up and stop feeling sad, to pull it together and stop being so nervous, and to workout at the gym so I can be healthy.” And then I say, “But how often do you truly listen to what its telling you?” They say, “What do you mean? If I listened to my body all the time I would never get anything done or fulfill my responsibilities! Or I might become gluttonous or lazy or do things that I would be ashamed of! I would be like an animal!” And I say, “Yes, we all have that of the animal body within us, but most of us don’t include or value that part of us in our daily awareness. Our attention is often based only in thoughts, and in trying to manage, control or deny our feelings and physical sensations. “
“What’s wrong with that?” you say?
It keeps us from having all of our being integrated into present moment awareness. We limit ourselves to analysis and linear thinking to problem solve and relate. We miss out on instincts that help us know and value basic truths. We miss out on cues our emotions give us about maintaining good boundaries, developing intimacy, protecting ourselves, allowing goodness and abundance to come to us, and connecting through care and compassion.
Tending to the automatic responses of our physical bodies and emotions, in combination with our fine thinking minds, helps us make good choices for our health and well-being.
Check out the Language of the Body page on my website to learn about basic nervous system cues.