Our magnificent body can feel like a battle zone. Caught in the cross hairs of inner conflict, the body can experience dueling messages about how to be.
Messages like wanting to feel good, but getting fed junk, wanting to look good, but being deprived of exercise (or getting way more exercise than it needs). Wanting to feel energized but getting pushed beyond its limits.
For the trauma survivor and person struggling with addiction, this can be so true, because in the course of wrestling with these painful conditions, we can unknowingly loose touch with our body, how it feels, what it wants, what it knows.
When we loose touch in these ways, it can open the doorway to pushing our body beyond its very real limits, when we’re just trying to cope with life.
What can wake us up to this kind of body neglect is either complete exhaustion or, heaven forbid, a stress related illness.
What can come along with this sort of body neglect is the sense of inner confusion, feeling grounded. Now we’re not anchored. We’re not connected to our self anymore because we’ve lost touch with our body and its inherent wisdom.
Now I know this sounds like crazy talk to suggest the body has a wisdom of its own. We’re not taught to think about the body in this way. But I humbly submit that it does.
How can we connect to the body again? In the same way we’d listen attentively to someone we care about.
One way of listening attentively to our body is through Yoga. A gentle and subjective approach to Yoga that is, which helps us to slow down the restless monkey mind and connect with the felt experience of our body. A style of Yoga that enables us to tune in, listen, and yield to what we hear from the inside out.
Here’s a simple practice to do right now to experiment with this notion:
Allow yourself to find a comfy place to sit down. Either on the floor in a cross legged position, or in a chair with the feet planted against the floor. Perhaps covering your body with a blanket if you’d like, but finding your way into a comfortable seated position, one that makes sense to your body. The hands can rest naturally in your lap.
Then, allow your eyes to close. Turn your attention inward to the movement of the breath in your body, as it rises on the flow of the inhalation and falls on the flow of the exhalation. Do this for at least 10 full breaths (1 breath = inhalation + exhalation), until things quiet down inside.
Then, as the breath rises and falls, allow yourself to begin to notice any sensations moving through your body. Notice how the body feels here from the inside out. If you were to gently move your body from side to side, allow yourself to tune in to where the movement is emerging in the body and to notice any sensations that you feel. What’s happening here?
Does it feel as if you need to adjust the body to come into an even more comfortable position? Consider listening to what you hear. Yield to this prompting. What’s happening now?
If you were to gently drop one shoulder a little closer to the earth, and then the other, allow yourself to tune in to where the movement is arising in the body and to any sensations that you feel. What’s happening here?
Does it feel as if you need to adjust the body and come into an even more comfortable position? Consider listening to what you hear. Yield to this prompting. What’s happening now?
Rest here for a moment. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling here.
Listening, attending, and yielding, 3 forgotten ways of coming back into connection with the body and its inherent intelligence. When we do, we not only raise awareness of our body, but we re-connect and deepen our connection. This allows us to cultivate trust in our self again, and over time, a little something called peace.
With the sense of disconnect being a core experience of trauma and addiction, listening, attending and yielding become welcome allies as we embrace the body and its wisdom along the journey back home to our self.