In my professional healing and wellness work, I use body-based modalities. But what do we mean when we say body? Do we share a common definition? Experience tells us that we do not.
To some the body is just a thing, “an object in a world of objects.” (Cornell, 2005, p. 221) It is that physical structure, the bones, flesh, and organs. Others acknowledge that the body is alive; it has processes, but it is not all of us. They acknowledge that the body breathes, taking in air containing oxygen and exhaling air containing carbon dioxide; that cells divide and create new cells through meiosis and mitosis; that cells and organs make new substances from other substances through chemical reactions; and that sensory information from the environment is captured and transmitted to the brain where it is assembled into an experience or a situation. But, they maintain the mind, the Self, memory, emotions, knowledge and wisdom is somehow separate from the body.
At the same time, most of us would acknowledge that we have experienced a bodily sensation that carries with it meaning. We say things like, “I had a gut feeling this would work out.” Or, ,”I had a gut feeling to stay away from that.” Or, ” My stomach is tied in knots; I’m so worried.” No one asks, “How did the gut know?” “How did the stomach know about worry?” By which mechanism does the gut and stomach have this knowledge?
When questioned the response might be, “It’s just a saying.” But is it? We’ve felt something. The stomach tied in knots. The queasy feeling in the abdomen. The tightness in the chest. The clenching in the throat. We have felt it. Then we let it go.
Something in the consciousness of our culture keeps us from talking about something so natural. Perhaps because the process is not analytical or rational, we shy away. And yet, we acknowledge these feelings in our everyday communication, “Something in my gut told me to call you.” And, we make good use of what they tells us.
This is our body talking; not in a physical but in a subtle way, delicately yet precisely. This body, this interconnected process, interacting with the environment, has wisdom that it shares with us all the time. We can learn to pay attention to it in a special way so that we can fully partake of what it has to share.
When we pay attention with focused yet open awareness, moment to moment, and non-judgmentally, we are in Presence. When we are present the whole of us, the whole the body, can sense what wants our attention now. We make contact; we say hello. We listen and acknowledge from that neutral but compassionate Presence. We feel a body sensation, sense an emotional quality or mood, see imagery, and connect to a story. By doing so, by entering into this respectful relationship with our body, we can heal, grow, and receive that life-forward energy that allows us to achieve that which we desire.
Reference: The Radical Acceptance of Everything by Ann Weiser Cornell
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Venus de Milo, The Louvre, Jastrow 2007