What does it mean to inhabit the whole of me? To consider my body as something more than just a practical means of moving my brain around ... to let go of the notion that the body is an enemy or at the very least a deviant force that must be subdued, controlled and contained. What would it feel like to shift my attention to what I appreciate about my physicality rather than dwell upon the parts that seem to be cranky, creaky and uncooperative?
This week's Inner Excavate-along focuses upon the body and the lessons it has to share with us. Interestingly, the first week of Summer SouLodge has us examining our voice. Thinking about these two perspectives, I realize that my body contains the scars of my mistaken attitudes and beliefs about myself and that all along my body has been trying to speak to me.
As a child I can remember feeling at odds with my body. It kept growing when all I wanted was to remain invisible and hidden. Of course I was the one betraying my body by feeding it a steady diet of junk food ... sweets to try and sweeten my life but which resulted in folds of flab around my girlish tummy. My protective layer only made me a larger target for ridicule and self-loathing.
I felt shame at my inability to control my appetite but it was my body's fault, right? Eventually I waged full on warfare, denying the needs of my body and my budding female-self through an eating disorder. I - my willpower, my ego self - could exercise complete control. Of course the end result was total enslavement of body and mind; somehow I escaped but only now realize really it was my body that told me "I don't want to live my life like this."
At times I have cared for, nurtured and celebrated my being-ness through yoga, exercise, cooking, and gardening. I have also viewed my body as something that has turned on me: denying me what I wanted most of all; becoming ill, injured, creaky, achy, and tired at all the wrong moments; and now in perimenopause as something unpredictable and at the very least, difficult and demanding.
But all along my body has been trying to have a conversation with me. If my knees could talk, they would tell me that I lock them when I stand, thus sealing myself off from outside support as if that were the only way I can stand and be seen. What my knees are trying to tell me through a vocabulary of aches and pains is that I need to soften and relax, open and accept support from others, from Life. To bend my knees, to kneel and pray, is to feel their stiffness and in doing so recognize the unfamiliarity of taking time to just be present, receptive and accepting of who I am in this moment and the totality of my experience.
Even the craziness of hormones running amok is a reminder that I need to take time to tend to all my needs - spiritual, emotional and physical. My body's need to slow down, rest more, receive gentle, stretching exercise is important for my total well-being. I cannot be present for my family if I am exhausted. I cannot hear the whisperings of my soul if I am rushing about in compulsive busyness. If nothing else, this phase in the life of my body is teaching me to welcome change as an opportunity for new beginnings.
The body speaks in a subtle language which requires space and time to be received and integrated. What my body is saying is this: consider not what is no longer possible, but what is possible. What feels like joy to bone, muscle, skin and soul? Cultivate that. Rather than thrashing through life, divided into opposing camps of body and mind, unite and then slip into your life with all of the senses open, with arms wide open, and a heart ready to receive.
My body, my knees, are telling to stand firmly in this moment and to be present for my life. Feet on the ground, open to the energy of earth and the inspiration of sky, I connect with life as it unfolds within me and around me. What I am is not just a brain being ferried about by a body, but a body that brings the wisdom of the heart out into the world. This is the voice I wish to strengthen. This is the voice I need to heed.
This is how I want to experience life: my whole being awake, alive and in love.