Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Connecting to Our Bodies As a Spiritual Practice?

See full size image
Okay, the thing is--the more I keep exploring how to reconnect to my body and teach other people about it, the more I realize how significant this work is, on so many levels. We are a culture addicted to multi-tasking, blackberries and to-do lists. We live mostly in our heads and many of us are going a mile-a-minute. Heck, I don't even know if that's considered FAST anymore?!

As we begin to pay attention to our bodies--how we feel about them, what they need, what they might be saying to us--we actually get called to be slower, more conscious and more deliberate. If we're hungry we might eat. If we're tired, we could take a nap. If we're restless we might exercise. Most of the time we have no idea that any of these things are true, or which is which. In our multi-tasking world our tasks all get mushed together!

Reconnecting to the body asks us to be more precise and more present. What a hassle! you argue.
No, it's a gift. I'm beginning to think that this is what we have bodies for, that there's something simple, profound and even spiritual about beginning to reconnect.

If we think of our bodies as living, breathing things instead of objects to be controlled, our whole worldview changes. Something softens. We become more alive to our senses and our moment-to-moment awarenesses. Trust me, it's a really natural high.

I encourage you, no matter what you're struggling with--whether it's a health issue or a weight issue or just general discomfort and judgment around your body: take a minute. Slow down. Listen. Think of your body as if it were a person you're relating to and see how it feels right now. Get curious about whether or not it needs or wants anything from you. What would it mean if you listened?

I spent years dieting, running around, trying to 'do' all the things I thought I was supposed to do to lose weight. I (I'm not kidding) went to the gym three hours a day, tried all kinds of diets and fasts and ended up miserable and no skinnier. Somewhere in all of that I realized I had completely stopped listening to or loving my body. I had stepped out altogether and was trying to run my body like a well-organized to-do list.

What didn't work was that I didn't sleep when I was tired, didn't eat when I was hungry. I had no idea when any of these things were even going on. When I started to listen, I actually did things that were in sync with my body. If I listened, sometimes what I most wanted when I reached for a cookie was a good cry. Or a nap. Or a chance to reach out to a friend.

As I started to listen, I started to lose weight: not because I was trying but because I was at peace and in alignment with the moment. I didn't need, literally, to carry any extra baggage around. I was totally present to right now.
I'm no genius, but it makes sense. And it can make sense for you too.

As I run my weight loss groups and workshops for people with health issues (bodymindguide.com) I realize more and more that the gift of the problems we have with our bodies--yes, I said 'gift'-- is that they actually call us into relationship, into the now, into listening to what's really going on. That's a spiritual path of the highest order, whether we like it or not. Consider yourself a body monk. And start listening. As you get called into the present moment where your body lives, your whole life just might change.