The body speaks to us every day, all day long. It messages us when we are tired, when we are hungry and when we need exercise. It messages us when someone has hurt our feelings, when something has made us angry and when our environment is unsafe. It messages us when we are not living a life we are meant to be living.
For some of you, these messages are probably quite familiar. And for others, perhaps you may be thinking, 'no, my body doesn't do that. My body doesn't send messages.' For some, it can feel that body messages are all too often, overwhelming and impossible to ignore or that they impair functioning. While others can go on and on with self abuse and hear nothing. There is still a message in 'nothing'.
Our body speaks a language that we are born to know but have been systematically alienated from since early childhood. We don't have to point the fingers at our parents for this because it is so much greater than our upbringing. It is centuries old. Westernized culture, in its attempts and investments in civilization, chose to alienate the body and continues to do so at a rapid rate.
To be civilized, or in today's language—to be successful, we must not cry in public, we must not succumb to hunger pains, we must not show that we need love, we must not look stupid, weak, taken off guard, fat, different, angry. We are taught to manage and to dismiss and to overlook and to suppress and to fix.
What about be curious, get quiet, listen in, attend to…? You may not know the language your body speaks quite yet and it can be frustrating to understand what it is crying out for at times but stick with it, it will teach you. It really is looking out for you and has your best interest in mind…because, it is you.
One of many cultural messages I received growing up was that exercise is only for fun (like a game of tennis), for people who are overweight, or for athletes. Well, I didn't like tennis a whole lot, I wasn't overweight (but that doesn't mean I was launched into the world with a positive body image), and I didn't identify as an athlete. "Artists or sensitive people couldn't be athletes." And vice versa, of course. I remember the very first time I met and artist-athlete, I was shocked and am embarrassed to say was well into adulthood and already working with clients. We are often blind to our limiting beliefs until they hit us over the head—often the job of the body.
So, the very first time I found myself in downward dog at age of twenty two in search of something to make me feel like….not such shit…I wept. I didn't know why. And yet intuitively I did—I was struck with an overwhelming experience of having legs, of being a body, in my body, if only for a split second. Intuitively I knew I needed to live in my body and my body was trying to tell me so.
Almost 15 years later after the birth of my daughter, my life long lethargy (why I never thought to exercise) turned into a fiery rage and an electrified buzz. I wasn't in the business of child abuse. I wanted to love this little girl as she rightfully deserved. So I got my ass out there and I ran until I burned it up. I told myself, "I am not a runner and I will tell no one of this." The pressure of "oh yeah? How many miles?" was much too great as I could barely tolerate five minutes around the corner of my house for the first month, at least. I've never really graduated from a 15 minute mile, but that is not the point. The point is that this is my body. And yes, it needs to be on the go and no I will not likely be running a marathon in this life time. Life is marathon enough for me!
So, my invitation to you is to shift in your thinking about you, your 'identity' and your body. My invitation to you is to shift your relationship with your body and how you show up to it. How you show up to you! My invitation is to be more IN relationship with your body and less in relationship with all the messages you heard about your body.
I invite you to go to bed when you feel tired at the end of a long day or buy a sandwich if you haven't eaten lunch or take a walk instead of buying a coffee when it is 3 in the afternoon. I invite you to cry when you need to cry and create a safe space for a private temper tantrum when frustrated or angry. And I invite you to stop pushing through.
When I work with my clients, I am working to reintroduce them to their amazing functional body. Many people turn to therapy because they feel as though they are not functioning. Most people come feeling depressed or anxious and fear that they are defective. Sadly, they even hear this from many medical and mental health providers. Depression and anxiety are an example of the way our body speaks to us. It is the body's wise knowing that something is wrong, that something bad happened, that you were hurt and that you need attention, a certain kind of attention.
Depression and anxiety are feelings that we would want to rid ourselves of, not turn into and certainly not welcome. And yet that is exactly what we need to do. Much like you might reach for a crying child. Because this is how humans are built—this is our design. We must be attended to.
We need to learn to show up to our dark feelings and our deep pain with love, the unconditional positive regard type of love. Love that is curious and investigative not an attempt to fix it but rather to be with it, to listen to its wanting's, to listen to its needs. Sometimes I will invite a client to first image exactly what it is they long for from a parent or from a romantic/life partner. What is it that you are in search for, what kind of love? See it. And become it!
Signals your body might be giving you:
· chronic or new pain
· chronic or new illness
· social isolation or anxiety
· ruminating thoughts/busy brain
· self hate/judgment
Something's you could try:
· Take a moment to evaluate your day if it’s a new ailment
· Take some time out of your regular routine of life if it is more chronic
· Try being curious
· Notice if you are pushing and shoving, trying to fix. See if you can be witness to instead, try not fixing. Try being the love you desire.
· Notice your relationship to the ailment itself
· And notice if you are in your brain analyzing. If so, see if you can go into your breath, into your heart and into your belly. Feel into it, feel it through; show up with love and curiosity.
· See if you can try to surrender and try to have faith (this does require leaping) that you will be okay or that you are okay now that you are in the presence of love, authentic love. (keep an eye for my blog on authentic love)