a mind of its own
Many moons ago now, I began exploring self-care practices and getting professional support for the residual stored survival stress from childhood trauma with every fibre of my…brain. I remember saying “I want to be well”. So, I analyzed, took courses, read books, set goals, reframed distorted thoughts, researched the latest techniques and implemented as many as I could.
When I eventually considered my body at all by starting a yoga practice, it was because it was the next logical step. Also, an ER doctor suggested it after my late night visit to one of his many curtained offices. He told me that my heart was strong but it wouldn’t stay that way unless I changed my relationship with stress. His off-the-cuff suggestion was waved over me with his hand like a magic wand as he said “take up yoga or something”.
With over a decade of yoga practice under my belt, I can see that it has only been that last few years where my practice wasn’t coming from a place of analysis, setting goals, research and the latest techniques. This isn’t just about yoga. All my movements, my daily habits, my relationships, and my life’s work has been approached with the same “top down” approach. Supported by our nervous system, our bodily sensations are responsible for picking up on 80% of the data in our environment and our brain is responsible for the other 20%.
There’s a long religion-infused history of how we came to dismiss our bodies as sinful and unworthy of our attention. Even though many religious communities would claim that “the body is a temple” to be treasured, that admonition is always paired with the fact that the body-temple belongs to a higher power so it’s like being urged to keep your house clean for visitors.
If my sensations are inputting 80% of my environmental data, the least I could do is invite my body to the “I want to be well” party. This has meant conversations with my body about “what is it that you need to be well?”. No books, no experts, no professional analysis. Just a daily listening practice.
- Noticing my stomach gurgling uncomfortably after eating a plate of raw veggies. Taking note that, while the experts would suggest lots of veggies, all raw and in that quantity was not what was best for my body.
- Noticing my face getting flushed when in conversation with my partner. Taking note that I was choosing anger, and preparing my attack, as I took his words and filtered them through my own shame story.
- Noticing a fluttering in my chest and dry mouth as I begin a movement practice. Taking note that the biological sensations in movement can mimic sensations of anxiety so I add a grounding and soothing practice for support.
My body has a mind of its own and, when I listen, there’s a real sense that it has my back.
If you’re interested in wanting to learn more about how you can be well, why not tune into your body, the expert that is sending you messages through sensation each minute of your day?