We tend to give great importance to our minds, investing a lot of energy in interpreting and explaining whatever is happening, thinking and discussing what people said and what it meant. We look for justifications of why things happened, we try to find solutions, we know a lot. We think about and design our self-image, our identity. We jump into virtual experiences of social interactions.
Often it seems as though our bodies have become something separate, inconvenient, and related to either as a tool or as an image, important only through how they look. Bodies are something we are supposed to rise above; our minds are higher. Bodies are places with strange sensations that get in our way: the shakiness and butterflies in your belly when you’re nervous. The headache when you’re stressed and afraid you wont manage. The heat and fast-beating heart when you’re angry. The sinking feeling when you realise you did something wrong. The uncomfortable, squirmy sensation that you can’t trust someone. The back pain after you worked for many hours and were too absorbed to notice.
Despite our great advances, we are still bodies, and this is not a bad thing. We experience the world through the body: excitement, sadness, anger, fear, pain, and physical needs. We experience these things physically, and they really take place on a physiological level, in terms of hormones, the nervous system, levels of muscle tension, organ function, etc. Often though, we react against the sensations that are there, because we find them uncomfortable, for example being afraid or hurt. We unconsciously use various strategies to avoid really experiencing those things. Even when we’re not reacting against something, often we’re ignoring our physical needs, like the need to move and use our muscles, rather than sit for 8 hours a day in front of the computer.
Learning to get in touch with our bodies instead of being outside or above them is a great source of power. Through my personal fitness training sessions, I teach my clients to gain a joy in moving and experiencing the confidence and power and raised energy levels that come with having more strength and higher fitness levels. Through my Grinberg Method sessions, I use touch and description to teach my clients to gain more attention to the body, reducing the split away into our inner worlds where we over-think and analyse. This doesn’t mean thinking less; it means that thinking comes from all of you rather than just from one aspect, and so from a place of much more energy and with much greater clarity, space and focus. In the end, it means being more alive.
When you experience the world with greater body attention, it might mean noticing or acknowledging that you’re shaky and afraid, and realising that this just means you care about something or that you don’t know what will happen. It doesn’t mean that you are weak. This can then inform, not take away from your ability to think. You can include that in your experience and still be confident; it’s not a contradiction. It could mean noticing that you’re angry, and rather than instinctively trying to keep this shut in or pushed down, to actually experience it, and then decide what to do about it. This can enable you to feel more clearly what you want and what you don’t want. These are just a few examples.
Our bodies tend to start calling for our attention anyway, even if we are too busy thinking to notice them: the back pain, fatigue, headaches, tension, menstrual pain, belly aches, irritable bowel, skin conditions, old injuries…. Maybe it’s time to take a new approach.