Where do you feel it in your body?

Feb 22, 2023

“When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their beauty, their poetry and their expressiveness. Our very habit of treating the body as a machine, whose muscles are like pulleys and its organs engines, forces its poetry underground, so that we experience the body as an instrument and see its poetics only in illness.”- From Thomas Moore-  “Care of the Soul”

I love this quote from Thomas Moore about the “poetry” of the body.  With poetry when you pay close attention, you listen closer than normal and you hear something deeper than the words. It requires a real slowing down to do this. 

I had a client who was in a bad accident. She had been holding the muscles in her back tight for months since her accident.  When we paid attention to what those muscles were saying it was something like: “ it's going to happen again so I had better get ready.” Her mind had let go of  her hypervigilance but her muscles had not. She had to thank her muscles for taking good care of her during the accident and tell them that she was safe now and then they could relax. 

This paying close attention to your body is still new to me (as an old Norwegian :)  I have been ignoring any signal I was getting from my body for years.  If you don't think about it it can’t cause you any problems right? :)  When I slow down enough I realize I have felt this tightness in my shoulders since my 30s.  I get a massage and it loosens up for a while and then something happens the next day and it pulls tight again. What if instead I was to listen to it like poetry until it taught something to me about myself and my way of seeing the world?  I think what I hear is the need to fix the big unfixable problems of people I care for.   I have been carrying the weight of many people’s stories on my shoulders.  Why do I carry that?  It's tiring. Maybe there is some way to let go of that?  Maybe there is an option?

When it comes to listening to the body I always have two questions. 1) “where do you feel it in your body? “and 2) “if it could talk, what would it say?” They are useful questions to focus past the surface to what is really driving things. Unconscious or preconscious thoughts and feelings linger just below the level of awareness and can be heard this way. Maybe that part of the body has heard your mind say I'm not good enough,  I’m weak, or I’m in danger  and has decided to hold on until the danger has passed?  But just maybe you are safe now? Maybe now is time to let go?  Why don’t you listen? You might be surprised by the poetry.