Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just Do This

Very little grows on a jagged rock. Crumble and become ground so wildflowers will come up where you are. you have been stony for too long.
     Whether or not you have a child you can probably picture how a toddler will repeatedly chant "mom mom mom mom" when it wants your attention and usually the minute the desired attention is received the child relaxes just a bit. Your body is a lot like this chanting toddler in that it really does want your attention. When our necks get tight or our low back spasms perhaps we can consider that this may be your body yelling "mom mom mom mom ." and just perhaps instead of numbing or ignoring we can listen for a moment to the wisdom of our body. It has a lot to say.

      This morning I got to work with a fairly new client for the third time and from the first session I could tell that intellectually she trusted me, but her body did not. When a body has been abused or repeatedly bullied it often adopts a posture of self protection that may include a surface tension, a hard alertness, a clenched jaw, sometimes clenched fists and buttocks, this is body is protecting against an expected blow. And so often the blows are body receives are not from another person. So the first few times I worked with this person we just did really gentle stuff and while I prioritized paying super close attention to her body I also gave her some cues to apply compassionate awareness to her body as well. Today was the first time her body trusted me and it was an amazing moment of softening and exhaling. I wanted to share this story not to brag about what a great therapist I am, but because this scenario is way too common these days because our bodies don't trust us. We have been bullying them  I don't mean you have been hitting yourself, it is more subtle, Making your body hunch over a computer for hours without standing is a kind of bullying. Working out until you throw up is another.
      And with the "just do it" culture, the "kicking my own ass" mentality and the "suck it up" messages we give to our bodies why should they trust us? Would you trust a bully? And why is it that we can be so gentle and compassionate with others but when it comes to our own bodies we turn a deaf ear? It is time to stop all the self bullying that has bloomed under the umbrella of busyness and excessive work. The challenge is that we do live in an excessively loud world and our bodies voice is very much a whisper. Often we don't listen to our body until it just stops, either by passing out or sustaining injury. And then only sometimes do we listen but mostly we try to alleviate the symptoms. Well, this habit of self bullying and turning a deaf ear to our body is a learned pattern and any learned pattern can be unlearned. It is not a quick or easy journey but would you rather the alternative, bullying your body all the way to the grave? I know this is strong language, but like people who speak up for abused animals, I feel the call to speak up for your body. it deserves better.

     So, where to start? A good place is just by sitting perhaps for 3-5 minutes a day and observing your bodies sensations. Pretty soon you will discover that you are a sea of ever shifting sensation and that your aches and pains are not solid or permanent. This raising of awareness itself helps to soften your body, but the attention you pay to the body must contain both the elements of friendliness and curiosity. When we are curious and friendly towards our body it senses that awareness and relaxes. Perhaps you could take it a step further and begin to notice how emotion affects your body. What energetic and muscular sensations accompany joy or sadness, anger or fear? Have you ever noticed that when you get close to someone you trust your shoulders soften and when we are suspicious of someone our chest tightens? Our body had a thousand messages for us, but they are quiet and we have to listen. The more you listen the more wisdom you will glean and the more effectively you will abide in yourself. Your soul is not encased in a vehicle to be run but rather in a soft, warm, smart animal that deserves our loving attention. So, where to start is by sitting quietly and listening and when to start is today. Won't you join me on this journey home? How does your body feel in this moment? You are not alone in this body disassociation and you are not alone on the journey home.