Last week, we talked about people feeling in their body and offered a definition of body as interconnected process, interacting with the environment, sharing wisdom with us all the time. We talked about our bodily process of experiencing the world, the environment in which we live and how we describe that. We gave some common examples. The stomach tied in knots. The queasy feeling in the abdomen. The tightness in the chest. The clenching in the throat. Now, what happens when we don’t feel in our body? When there is no stomach tied in knots? Does this mean that there is something wrong with us? Or that our definition of body as process isn’t holding up?
Not at all. Because the life process that is body is not necessarily felt by the individual in the physical body, we don’t have to feel physical destinations or associate a feeling with a physical thing such as “a knot in my stomach.”
For some of us, we experience our bodies simply through an inner knowing. Our experiencing will lead us to say, “I have an inner knowing.” “I just know it.” “It feels right.” We have a sense of something and whether something fits because it feels right. What we don’t have is a subtle somatic experience. We are still sensing without bodily destinations and things we can describe.
In my personal experience when something is tenuous, not quite formed, or afraid of coming forward, I feel and know it is there but don’t have a place or name for it. Over time, as it develops it may feel like it is just there, in that space outside my head or beyond my shoulder, but not in any way associated with head or shoulder. Interestingly, it gives me information all along the way from the time when I just sense something to the time when I sense something over there. I don’t have to experience it as “a knot in the stomach” to listen to what it wants to tell me.
Another example of someone who doesn’t sense things in his body is someone very close to me who is a mathematician. He’ll say, “I don’t feel anything in my body,” but he’s a keen listener and will often say, I just know this; it feels right.” He’s very accustomed to thinking precisely, abstractly and intuitively; it’s in his training, so it makes sense that his bodily experiencing is abstract without place names like “stomach” and things like “knots.”
It isn’t how felt senses manifest themselves, it is whether we listen and how we listen. If we don’t listen with distance, connection, and respect or we don’t listen at all we won’t get a sense of how it is for us right now.
I invite you to sense how you, yourself, experience the body as interconnected process, interacting with the environment, and sharing wisdom. Listen and share how it is for you right now.