Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Returning After A Long Absence

(Image taken from organicsoul.com)

What do we do to begin a relationship with our body when we don't remember ever having one?
I was talking with a client about this tonight as we scanned his past for any memories of when things felt really good in his body. Through struggles with weight and illness, he couldn't think of even one moment. In fact, he could recognize that much of his life and even childhood, his head had been filled with obsessive thoughts about food, his weight and how he was being perceived by others.

Sometimes are best moments in our bodies are ones we can't even remember, before the judgment and self-consciousness set in. One client recounts tearing around in the fields behind her childhood home, climbing trees and pretending she was enacting a live tv show about a kid living on her own in the wild. She fiercely loved her body and all it did for her. But for many of us, even our earliest memories may be tainted with the comments of others, including peers and parents, or a sense that we were the wrong size, shape, weight.

How do we find our way back to our bodies when we can't even remember what it felt like to feel good in them?

We start right now to find our way back in.

If we accept that we are all in a relationship with our bodies all the time, then even this unconscious, blocked out place we've come to with our bodies is a relationship of sorts. It's just not a very good one. It needs more of your consciousness and attention. It's grown some cobwebs.

We find our way back in by doing just that: stepping in. One of the first exercises I give to clients in my Love Your Body work is to spend 5 minutes 2-3 times a week simply committing to sitting, closing their eyes, and feeling all the sensations in their bodies.

In order for a relationship to begin, we have to take a first step and just show up. That's all. What does it feel like when you step into your body? What feelings are there? Aches or pains?

When your mind begins to wander in this exercise (and it probably will), commit to returning to the body like you would a good friend after the conversation has turned back to you. Keep inquiring, stay curious: what is my body feeling right now? How is it communicating? What's it like to be here together?

Somewhere in the process, simply say to your body, 'I'm here,' and see if you notice a response. Your body may have been waiting a very long time to feel that sense of presence from you, to even feel you care.

Because where else do we begin when we've been absent from someone or something for a long time? We have no other choice but to start exactly where we are, and to begin to establish trust by being present. We have to be patient for this process and know that it won't happen overnight. But slowly over time we begin to trust again: the self and the body, finding their way toward each other.

Spend a few minutes atleast twice this week stepping into your body, an open observer and a committed and returning friend. What do you notice? Does your body begin to bend back toward you, like a long lost partner? Can you feel the difference in its responsiveness when you show up with an open, caring and listening heart to the world it has held for you, all this time?

We can't move into the next steps in a body relationship--listening, trusting, forgiving--until we've started with this very simple one. To reconnect, we have to begin by returning, consistently, and without protest or excuses, to inhabiting our own skin, to get curious about what's there and build trust by staying--or coming back as often as we remember. I believe our bodies are just waiting for us to do so.

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