What does it mean to be ‘in my body’?
February 09th. 2014
Does it feel a bit odd to even ask this question? Not to mind come up with an answer?
We inhabit a body in this earthly experience that we call ‘Life’.
From our conception through to our birth and all the way to our death we are housed in a body.
If someone asks us where do we live we answer by our locality or town, or perhaps the style of accomodation. But really at the most basic level, we live in our body. After that we can add in place and postcode, state and nation if we wish.
The average lifespan in the developed world is approximately 75 years. If we are lucky and avoid accident and serious illness then we have the opportunity to get to know our body well. Intimately, inside and out.
If we spend so much time in our heads being busy, planning and organising the millions of details that make up a human lifetime, what time have we to attend to simply being in our body? Feeling what is going on in the vast makeup of our magnificent body. Do we even fully realise how amazing our body is?
And even if we have some sense of the awesome creation that we inhabit, do we even know how to truly attend to this splendid carcass of ourselves?
When ill health visits, it generally tends to express itself in our body. Somewhere in our cells, something goes wrong and causes us symptoms of pain, inflammation, tension, discomfort.
Over time if these symtoms build to create more lasting sensations, we may attend a physician to diagnose and treat the problem.
Are we treating the body or the symptom that the body is throwing up?
If we could listen to our body perhaps we might hear the reason for the symptoms, the ache or the twinge or the growth or the stiffness.
And even in good health, when our body is working well and everthing is in full flow. Do we listen to it and appreciate it, do we acknowledge how fantastically well we are?
Some people are especially good at tuning in to the body. They often end up making their living out of this skill, drawn to and in touch with the rhythm and flow of the body. It comes easily, there is no real ‘learning’ of their skill. Intuitively they touch, heal and rejuvenate the bodies they come in contact with.
These people often use words like ‘energy’ and ‘harmony’, but it is not a book-learned vocabulary. It rings true from experience and from being ‘in-touch’ – another expression which is literally of connection to the body.
Sometimes I think it does no harm at all to fake it a little along the way. While we are learning this new skill of being ‘in touch’.
It isn’t falseness, it’s just testing the waters of what doesn’t come quite so naturally or easily to some of us.
The hope is that as I become tuned in and connect with experiences in my own body, then I too will feel what ‘energy’ feels like, will know when my body needs rest, needs excercise, needs help, needs fun.
An interesting article on this subject prompted these musings. A subject that is close to my surface, ‘skin deep’ as it were. (You see how many ‘body wise’ phrases pepper our vocabulary?).
In this week’s Guardian ‘Weekend’ magazine, the writer and campaigner, Eve Ensler, writer of the renowned and globally perfomed, ‘The Vagina Monologues’, is interviewed by esteemed journalist, Decca Aitkenhead.
In the course of the interview, Aitkenhead goes from cyncically appraising Ensler and her life’s work, to dropping all her preconceived ideas about her subject and wholeheartedly connecting with her on the very topic of ‘being in one’s body’. In a short space of time she finds that Ensler cuts straight to the essential point and is an empathetic and compelling support in the journalist’s own difficulties in relating to anything outside of her own head and her job. Having had to face her own ailing body and finally pay it some attention Ensler compels her interviewer to address her own raison d’etre with the question, How much are you living to prove yourself?’
It is a question we could all ask ourselves.
And if we don’t like our answer, perhaps turning in to our own body and learning to listen to it and how to love it and care for it can help us.