I wrote yesterday about my recent goals epiphany: I need to put myself first, seeking out both adventure and nurturing, and not worry so much about whether my art is a good enough career. This epiphany came about in part because I realized I don’t listen to my body enough. Just as my inner critic has more of a hold on my mind than it should, so too does my mind control more of my whole being than it ought to. We’re all equal parts body, mind, and spirit, right? My usual breakdown goes more like this: mind 75%, spirit 20%, body 5% — and that’s only if I’ve been doing yoga lately!
I’ve known for a long time that I ignore my body when I’m hunched at the computer, but over the weekend I realized it’s not only then that it’s neglected. On Sunday morning, I was out in the beautiful sunshine, taking a walk on the trails, when it suddenly struck me that I wasn’t feeling my body at all. I breathed and moved my limbs automatically, without enjoyment; meanwhile, my brain was full of thoughts (mostly meandering, floaty ones). Even though I was “exercising,” I wasn’t conscious of what I was feeling in my physical being. So I started taking deeper breaths and bringing consciousness to my limbs and my core. It felt foreign.
People you’d think of as New-Agey — yogis, massage therapists, and such — are always saying that we hold our life experiences in our bodies. I really believe that science will someday find this to be true. I know that in my body, every time I feel anxiety or pressure or exhaustion, it translates into tightness and discomfort, and an evening of laughter or massage isn’t enough to cancel out that physical negativity. And I know for sure that traumatic experiences store themselves deep in my body; the tension created by Tisha’s death still has yet to dissipate.
We can process much of our lives with our conscious minds, which are very good at thoughtful analysis, and with our unconscious too, which creates linkages and generates ideas the conscious mind overlooks. But unless the mind is also talking to the body, there will always be some processing that’s getting left out. I wonder if turning off my brain lets my body do a little more of its share. I suspect it does, and that’s why I’ve experienced so many more revelations about myself lately — for once I’ve let myself take a break and just breathe for a while. Maybe this is my body’s wisdom emerging, now that I’m listening, to tell me what to do. I’ll try to give it more opportunities to speak.
On that note, this evening I did Jason Crandell’s half-hour sidebending practice at YogaJournal.com, and it was amazing. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re new to yoga; in that case, you might want to try this gentle, 20-minute seated practice.
Hmm, if only there were a workshop about listening to and loving your body. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and words! You are an inspiration.
I am waiting for your next workshop! 🙂 I hope the recent ones have gone wonderfully. You’re an inspiration always, and thank you for reading. 🙂
I agree with the the insights you share with us here. I know that the body stores the emotions it experiences deep inside itself, and some of us have greater conscious access to them than others who may need to dig around their psyches to figure out what ails them.
I remember something Alec Baldwin said in an interview sometime in the nineties. He was talking about sense memory and acting, and he said that before a really emotional scene, he asks the director if everything is in place. Are the lights right, and the sound? Is everyone in place? He can go there, he will go there, but he’s not going to do it over and over again, because it’s not healthy. Sometimes I think I learn almost as much about human nature from interviews and biographies with artists, as I do from the books and articles of psychology professionals.
I hope you get to talk about Tisha as much as you need to in your life away from the blog. I’ve done much better with these kinds of experiences when I knew I didn’t have to hold it in because no one wanted to hear it. We process these deep emotions by communicating and feeling truly heard, and if we don’t for whatever reason, the body holds on to the thing we can’t share. I know you’re right about the body’s wisdom. I’ve got to start listening harder to mine, too.
Ré, I love reading artist interviews and bios too. The Baldwin anecdote you share makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t thought about it that way before — not going there over and over again because it’s not healthy — but that seems like a very wise outlook.
I do feel like my sadness for Tisha is in a decent place right now. I’m very thankful I have people to talk it over with, as well as a space here on this blog where I can let it out when I feel I need to.
For the past couple of days I have tried listening to my body at bedtime, when I’m trying to fall asleep, and that alone has eased a lot of the stiffness I usually wake up with!
My own understanding of this is quite simple: body and mind are one. Actually body is mind formed. Which is why tension in the mind manifests as tension in the body. (Have you lovely ladies seen the movie “What the Bleep….”? It explores this very well.) Body/mind are tools, or a vehicle if you will, that is given to us to navigate this world. It is not me, but it is mine to use. However, out of ignorance, we have allowed the mind to take over and shape our whole experience, as Lisa has discovered. So, if I am not body or mind, who am I? What am I? Why am I? These are the questions we are here in this world to explore.
I was mesmerized by that movie when I saw it a few years ago. I remember an experiment on water that blew my mind! I need to see it again. Thanks for reminding me of it!
I haven’t seen the movie; it sounds interesting!
You’ve reminded me of a meditation prompt I really like. I’d forgotten about it. I learned it from Sally Kempton at a workshop in LA a few years ago. We closed our eyes and Sally asked us to think about this: “Without words, what am I? Without thoughts, without fears, without memories, without emotions, who am I?” These questions have really helped me get into a state of not being distracted so much by my mind. I should work with them again. 🙂
[…] body image; self-loathing and obsessing over my weight are things from my past. But as I recognized earlier this year, I tend not to listen to my body, which can’t be healthy. So even though it meant cancelling […]