When I first began to befriend my body it was lot like in that poem by the unrepeatable poet Nayyirah Waheed:
“Apologize to your body, maybe that’s where healing begins.”
I could not really find words, so a hand would find its way to my heart, or to my neck, or to my cheeks, and I would whisper “I am sorry”. I would weep, sometimes for hours, until my skin would soften enough to make home for more of me.
I was just telling my small Transformation group yesterday that this reconciliation process was not a one time shot, and at first I was rather clumsy and unprepared. I would say I am sorry, then answer in tears. Like a two way conversation where one person could speak and the other was non-verbal.
Most of what our body holds, in its exquisite self-awareness, is in fact implicit. So no wonder words did not come for a very very long time.
Eventually I was able to observe and name states and emotions with more clarity and granularity. As my ability to stay with them improved and my capacity to not run away increased, appropriate language emerged. I could ask more invitational questions, and wait and see how the soma responded. Little by little, an inner conversational ecology developed. Those early questions are in numberless journals and doodle books, but they also became a part of the shared exploration with my students.
We use them in sessions, but also for self-reflection between sessions.
I hope these help you in a significant way. May you befriend yourself in ways that amaze you, soften you and bless you.
How to start:
- Just as in a guided mindfulness practice, find a quiet place to rest. Let tension gently leave your body by relaxing your shoulders and neck and allowing the breath to drop and widen.
- Take some time to quiet your thought life. Be present to your surroundings – both inside and out, and rest your attention in the short silent pauses between the thoughts. As thoughts come, let them float away, and return to the space between them. Once your mind is quieter, move on.
- Ask one of the questions below.
- Sit quietly and wait for an answer to emerge: you may get a physical sensation, hear a specific meaning or insight, become aware of a movement, an image or even a sound-bite. There is always an inner knowing that is waiting to be consulted. As you get your answers, see if something else is needed. Your body may communicate how you can best take care of it. You may feel the impulse to journal or record your conversation.
- If you feel like you are not getting into the flow of a conversation despite being curious and open, ask yourself what sounds like the most caring answer you would like to hear? If a wise and caring friend was talking to you, what would they say?
Here are some starter questions: