In the early 1600s, René Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician, separated the mind from the body. In his writing, the mind was elevated to be in control of the body and the body was looked at as a vehicle to serve the mind.
The mind/body split that prevailed subsequent to his writing created a lot of conflict in the philosophical and religious communities. The trickle down effect eventually created problems for all of us.
If we look at ourselves as whole, our mind and our body are aspects of the whole, unable to function on their own. They are entirely interdependent making up the oneness of who we are.
Happily, the second half of the 1900s (the 1960s and 1970s) brought a resurgence of interest in holism. Because the body as a source of wisdom had been ignored, denegrated, or forgotten, the body became a focus of attention. Many books and courses taught us about reading nonverbal cues. Some went overboard and taught that a particular posture meant only one thing. For instance, if you want to convey that you are an open person, you should sit with your legs uncrossed, your arms open and uncrossed. The result: people sat like statues with their bodies tight, their musculature closed, but the body posture open.
This practice is about reclaiming the wisdom of your body.
Before we can trust the wisdom of our body, we have to become aware of it and then understand what it is telling us. Some signals are fairly easy or, at least, were easy when you were a baby. If an infant who nurses feels hunger pains and the mother is present, the baby will look at her breasts, attempt to move toward her breasts, and will make small sounds of desire. If these tiny communications are not heeded by the caretaker, the baby will finally start to cry.
Those children who were brought up with messages from Dr. Spock learned quickly that no one would come, even if they cried violently. The baby did not know that the mother was doing her best to be a good mother and listen to Dr. Spock's advice, which admonished her to feed the baby at anything other than a 4 hour interval.
That is only one small example of the kind of behaviors that taught our grandparents, our parents, and ourselves to not listen to our bodies.
When a bodily sensation arises, notice it. Rather than attempt to hold onto it or push it away, simply notice it.
Then, get curious. Begin to ask yourself the following kinds of questions. Note the answers that arise without judging them. Regarding this sensory experience:
As you engage in this practice, it is most important to open yourself to whatever emerges. If judgment arises, notice it and let it go, imagining that it takes wing and flies away.
Thank your unconscious for giving you gifts. Treat each thought, feeling, and/or sensory awareness as if it is a gift from beyond, opening doors to the storehouses of gems inside you. Remember that when something has been locked away for a long time, it doesn't always look shiny and beautiful at first. It must be dusted off so you can see and know its true value.
The more you focus your attention on your body, the more you will start to notice.
The more you notice without judgment, the more you will get.
As you let yourself free associate after noticing the sensations—without going into shame or blame regardless of what emerges—you will find great wisdom in your body.
Write notes about your discoveries and your associations. For right now, it does not matter if the associations make sense to you. As you treat your unconscious with curiosity and loving kindness, more will be revealed to you.
Enjoy, and please write about anything that is of interest to you in the blog or send me a private email.