I have helped heal myself in many ways from various life traumas through developing a practice of reconnecting to the natural world daily, through therapy, through spiritual seeking and nutrition.
But the single most lasting, recurring struggle for me has been my sense of being in body, embodied. I have written about this in the past in different forms (Apology to My Body).
Each time this sense comes up, it’s like a background, low-level static itchiness from the inside out that is separate from how I experience mental anxiety. Like an inability to fully be at home where my home is, and like I should consider escaping. Intellectually, I have connected this to four years of wearing a stiff, plastic back brace in high school, because every time I meditate on it to seek an answer, the “dis-comfort” is felt around the torso.
Emotionally, it has impacted my life in similar ways to people who have experienced far more severe body trauma or abusive childhoods. (Since I experienced neither but have been drawn to people who have, this has confounded my quest to heal myself and constantly wonder why? how?). This body sense has recurred for 3-1/2 decades and I believe now in hindsight may be a root of many actions I took – moving 30 times in a decade, difficulty with intimate relationships, and confining my life’s work to a desk chair, to name a few. I began to wonder whether physical confinement coinciding with brain development during teen years left me with a sense of a “phantom” experience of my own core body, as people with prosthetic limbs describe for a limb that is not there.
During my Compassion Diet this month, I worked with replacing judgments about body with compassion statements about acceptance. And I recorded a guided meditation for myself that spontaneously arose where a thin wire of golden light emanates from the base of the spine (some will immediately recognize this as the root chakra) and winds itself around my torso up to my shoulders like a cocoon. The light has tensile strength of spider thread, and it is just as flexible, free flowing. It feels like a cocoon of safety and nourishment. When I feel into that meditation, it is healing, and I suspect a similar type of visualization might be healing for anyone with any area of body discomfort.
During a month focused on nourishing the body with optimized nutrition, mental and spiritual tools, I encountered the helpful book, In Touch, below at precisely the right moment. I highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with a chronic disconnect or discomfort in their own skin. I love how the practices throughout each chapter are called “experiments,” and the personal stories of both author and clients are powerful lessons for a wide range of experiences.
To be honest, I have not completely finished the book yet, but one teaching I find especially helpful is “Four Stages of Groundedness: No ground (I am not in my body), foreground (I am in my body), background (my body is in me), and homeground (everything is my body).” (page 110). This has helped me have greater appreciation for when my awareness is flipping between any of these states.
A fantastic film I “accidentally” discovered with many favorite teachers (even the ladybug makes an appearance), and it dovetails my work of learning ease in the body. The documentary provided a revelation about the paid work I do when I watched Marina Abramovic‘s stunning exhibition of “presence” at MOMA. I recognized for the first time a clue about my sacred purpose in 25 years of transcribing people’s spoken word. Rather than not being the purpose I would have chosen for myself or somehow a less than desirable profession, it is in fact sacred because I listen with 100% presence, experiencing emotions of speakers while capturing their words. I have sat nearly motionless 8-10 hours at a time in a chair keyboarding daily for 25 years and have been spared physical injury of repetitive syndrome. That feels like a near miracle or supported by the sacred. Anyway, enjoy the film if you can on Netflix.