The body always leads us home . . . if we can simply learn to trust sensation and stay with it long enough for it to reveal appropriate action, movement, insight, or feeling. – Pat Ogden
Have you ever had the experience of knowing something has happened, or is happening, without concrete proof? Consider a time where you may have had a gut instinct or an intuitive feeling. Many people can relate to the experience of feeling as though there was somebody behind them, then turn around, and behold…someone is there! Yikes, gasp of surprise, right? This can be an unsettling experience for many people if they have had life experiences that take them away from their innate capacity to know without intellectualizing or having hard data.
Your body is a complex group of systems that work together on a subconscious level. The roots of it all begin in your cerebellum and brain stem, commonly referred to as the “reptilian brain”. Some people have referred to the cerebellum as a “super computer” or a “brain within a brain”. It processes more information than the conscious part of our brains can interpret, which is why our bodies play such an important role in informing our experiences. Almost every cell in our bodies is hard-wired to our cerebellum and brain stem. Knowing this, it makes sense that our bodies can be a significant guide if we just learn to listen.
The sensations we experience are harbingers of wisdom and messengers of our past. Eugene O’Neill stated, “there is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again – now.” Learning to settle, trust, and listen to the narrative of our bodies is a way to gain confidence in our body’s natural ability to not just survive, but thrive. It is a means of building powerful resources to create safety. Once we have a well-established sense of safety through the development of internal resources, we can begin to explore where we have been and what was needed during times when life’s circumstances were not what was needed. We have the capacity to identify the narratives that were developed during early stages of life in order to make sense of our world at that time. From that understanding, we can begin to explore, identify, clarify, repair, and internalize narratives that more closely mirror our authentic “best” selves. When we learn to live our actualized selves more authentically, our fear of judgement diminishes, we also tend to connect more deeply and confidently with ourselves as well as those around us. People often report connecting with play and spontaneous joy more readily.
So how do I start, you might ask? There are many ways to begin connecting with your body today:
- Increase participation in present moment activities such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, or guided imagery.
- Seek a therapist who is trained in body centered psychotherapy.
- Spend more time outside intentionally focusing on what is happening in the world around you.
- Immerse yourself in what is happening here and now by engaging your sense of smell ¾your oldest and most powerful sense. Yes, honestly, smell the soil, the leaves, that tree! Take time to stop and smell the flowers.
Whenever your mind begins to race or your emotions start to rise, stop and intentionally notice your surroundings. Tell yourself “I am here.” Look for and identify each color of the rainbow…ROYGBIV, right? Then, take the time to stay with the sensations inside of your body ¾what they are doing, want to do, or want you to know…slowly. That’s the name of the game. If you can slow down and listen, your body’s answers may surprise and inform you.