I’ve been really struck these past weeks, by how important the body connection is in the kind of work I do.
It’s incredibly powerful to watch the sheer relief, the healing release, the growth, and the sense of empowerment people experience, when they are supported to reconnect and ‘come home’ to their bodies.
For me it’s is the missing link in a lot of personal growth, healing or spiritual work. It’s those ‘icky’ parts of being human that we’d oftern rather bypass. Yet it’s also the royal road, signposting us back home to our authentic selves. And a door to depths of our consciousness we can’t even imagine exist, waiting to be discovered.
It’s so poignant and lovely to witness people start to develop a sense of curiosity and wonderment about their bodies, and a more intimate and kind dialogue with themselves, where before there was a sense of disconnect, mistrust or fear. – Fear of actually sensing the potentially overwhelming feelings and sensations coming from down inside.
When we are supported to stay curious and befriend uncomfortable sensations, they can actually become a sort of superpower. They are in fact a vital compas in our lives, instantly letting us know when something is off-kilter and we need to course-correct. They can point us home to the parts of us that need healing and tender care. And the more we practice listening to the signals from within, the less we get lost in the external noise, and the more we live in alignment with our true selves.
It becomes easier to say the uncomfortable thing that needs to be said, and to act from a place of integrity and sovereignty, when we are reconnected with our bodies and emotions – not just living from our heads.
So many of the answers we seek ‘out there’, are truly there inside, just waiting for us to acknowledge them. And actually, it’s often something very simple that our body needs us to say or do, and not actually as scary as we may have thought.
You can build a much stronger sense of self-trust, for example simply by listening to your body’s cues, and consistently acting on them so that your needs are met throughout the day. And if it’s not always convenient to do so, at least acknowledging your needs to yourself in the moment, and promising that you’ll meet them as soon as is possible or practical.
For me this is also what true ‘Intuition’ is: it’s when we’re listening in equal measure to our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, and acting in alignment with all three. It’s incorporating our heads, hearts and body awareness as the foundation forhow we live our lives.
Inconvenient truths inside…
But the problem is, often the truth that lies inside, our gut feelings and intuitions, the tensing and clenching around certain topics or people or places… are inconvenient or scary to acknowledge. So we cut off from our bodies to avoid that inner knowing, and having to take it into account.
This is because our emotions and body signals often clash with our ego-mind’s ideas about who we think we are, how we ‘should’ act, or what we think we need to be feeling. And also because emotions can be scary and overwhelming to ‘simply sense’ or allow to move through you, if you’ve never been supported to properly do that when you were little. This can also be related to past traumas, where we cut off signals from the body and parts of our conscious awareness, our in order to survive what would otherwise be unbearable.
Reconnecting with feelings and sensations may give us the ‘inconvenient’ signals that we’re in the wrong relationship or job, that our addictions and behaviours are no longer workging for us, and that changes will need to be made. Truths may need to be told. And those things are all scary.
So it’s not surpising that, along with all the tech distractions, we are very invested in NOT connecting with all the stuff that’s going on in our bodies.
And it’s also not suprising how this can sadly lead us WAY off track into very inauthentic living, overriding our true needs, feeling unable to say what’s true for us, and staying on in jobs or relationships that are unfulfilling or cause terrible suffering. Or worse still, that really breach our personal boundaries in serious ways. The price people pay for being disconnected from their inner knowing is often way too high.
Why we disconnect from our bodies and emotions.
Part of the reason we get so disconnected from our bodies, is because as children our inner needs often clashed with what our parents or early caregivers needed us to be or do.
We are so utterly dependent on others for our basic needs as little ones, that we will literally do anything to ensure they stay connected with us, feed us, soothe us, etc.
This includes overriding our organic impulses, our emotions, our expressions, if they are not met with approval. Or if our parents were overwhelmed or anxious or distracted, we learned to adapt by ‘abandoning’ and repressing our true inner needs, or censoring our expression, to do whatever would keep things somewhat stable around us.
And if we weren’t supported to feel the full spectrum of emotions – including anger, hatred, envy, and all the ‘unpopular’ ones (because many of our early caregivers weren’t supported to feel those either!), then we repress these feelings and disown them as adults. Our past experiences become imprinted into our present-day body shapes, and patterns of tension, expressing phsycially whatever did not feel safe to say or feel back then.
Missing out on the cues and wisdom within
In staying disconnected from our bodies, we miss out on SO much important information about what we genuinely want or need, and how to live a life that’s more aligned with who we really are.
Most of us have the ‘head’ part covered – rare is the person who complains that they don’t have enough thoughts! We live in a sort of dictatorship of the thinking mind (- I will spare you a rant here about the post-Descartes mind-body split, and its legacy of suffering). Therefore, people usually require more support around emotional awareness and connecting with body sensations, and the important messages these carry.
A lump in your throat, for example, or a twisting or clenching sensation in the stomach, can be a signal that you’re not comfortable with something that’s being said or done to you, or there’s something you really need to say or do yourself. Try noticing what’s happening in your body, for example, next time you get a any sense that you’re uncomfortable around certain people. See where exactly inside you that information is coming from.
Another example is when a movement or body sensation arises for a client during a session, and sometimes even totally contradicts what they are saying or thinking. Being curious about this usually leads us to uncovering an unconscious truth that is wanting to be acknowledged, and can point the way to the next step on their journey.
A tension in your chest or belly that comes up in certain situations, may actually be telling you that you’re being seriously undermined at work or disrespected in a certain context. Yet we consistently push away and repress these strong signals from our awareness. It’s amazing how often we miss out on these seemingly simple cues from within. Often through fear of conflict, change or taking action.
The journey home: staying curious, and befriending it all
That is much of the work of many of us end up doing as adults: recovering our sense of connection with our bodies, be it through coaching or therapy, embodied meditation, dance and movement practices, or simply weaving a mindful awareness of our feelings and sensations into our daily lives.
This kind of work often requires trust, support, proper pacing, and an understanding of developmental trauma and the nervous system, to ensure people don’t go way past their comfort zone and address it in the appropriate context, and to make sure the new awareness builds strongly and is properly integrated.
But often it is quite simple, and in fact happens very naturally and organically, with the right support, openness and curiosity. And by developing patience and kindness for ourselves.
The magic and gifts of full-spectrum living
Living from this more balanced integration of mind / heart / body is not only a vital foundation for living more authentically: it offers us a much more enriching, full-spectrum experience of what it is to be a human incarnate.
We get to really experience the world more fully, not just think about it, but really feel it. And it enables us to access a deeper knowing and consciousness within, that goes way beyond the thinking mind.
When we can be supported to feel the scary feelings, we can then also fully soak up the sensory delights, feel all the pleasurable emotions and delicious sensations our bodies are capable of. ~ That makes it all worthwhile.
For me it is such beautiful and gratifying work to be involved in, be it as a coach or therapist, or in my own ongoing personal process of self-knoweldge, growth and authentic living.
I will always remember my awe at hearing a colleague describe her delicious, whole-bodied sensory experience of a sunset, and how her life was so enriched by having developed such strong embodied awareness, when I interviewed her for my thesis on body-oriented therapy during my training.
The path of embodiment has been a fundamental aspect of my own healing and evolution, and continues to expand my consciousness. And I am so grateful I now get to accompany others on their own incredible journey of discovery, and befriending the rich worlds of their emotions and bodies, to uncover the gifts and gems that lie within.