Let’s talk about our bodies, shall we?July 24, 2014 | 13 Comments
This morning I’ve been emailing with some people who run an outfit called Earth Strength. Without even knowing what it is, doesn’t that sound great? They are based in Tarifa, Spain and offer courses on, well, being outside, actually. You run, jump, swim, climb—not in a gym and not with special equipment and not to lose weight or anything like that. Rather it is an experience of being back in your body with joy, just like you may have experienced as a child. The people who run it are mindfulness practitioners and their teaching is based in breath and awareness. We’re talking about the possibility of me co-teaching something with them next year, which would be awesome.
My interest in doing this is personal. “Outside” is not my natural habitat. I am very solitary. I am a city girl. I was raised in a city and have never lived anywhere but a city. (I remember once going on a solitary retreat in a cabin in the mountains in Colorado. It was off the grid—no internet, no phone, no nada. At the time I lived in New York City. I told the man who drove me there that I was scared and he looked at me like I was mad. “New York is where you should be afraid, not here,” he said. I guess it’s all what you’re used to.) My husband often jokes with me about this. He’ll say things like, “You know if we go to visit _____ they’re going to want to spend time outside,” or “Do you really feel like going to the movies because to get there you’ll have to go outside.” Then we laugh. But sometimes I am actually deterred.
My life is about the movement of the mind, not about the movement of the body. As a meditator, you too are cultivating and deepening the grace with which your mind moves. It is easy to forget about the body and its wish to move. Instead of joy, I often move my body with a kind of grim determination to “get in shape” or increase bone density. I mean, getting in shape and avoiding osteoporosis are great things. But one has to believe that the body would like a little more than this, sex and dancing notwithstanding. I would like to remember the feeling of freedom in the body that I had as a child. There is no reason that is not possible. So my interest in co-teaching with the Earth Strength guys is piqued.
In addition to feeling kind of sludgy in my body, there is another factor that makes me even more interested in going to Spain and jumping around OUTSIDE.
A long time ago,I was in a very bad accident. (You may have heard me mention this before.) When I say bad, I really mean it. I was hit by a drunk driver late one night and almost died. I was in the hospital for a long time and it took me a good two years to recover. I still feel the residual impact including an ongoing sense of fearfulness in my body. I can sense it as a kind of holding back, a strange sense of not quite feeling like I can locate myself in space, and a super-delicate “startle response” which is common to survivors of trauma. Those of you who have had similar experiences of trauma to the body will know exactly what I mean, but even if you haven’t, you have likely had other versions of trauma and may relate. I would like to work with this fear more directly and I don’t think I can do it on my own. Jumping around outside may be just what the great doctor in the sky ordered. I look forward to this adventure and hope it will come to pass.
I wish I could end this email by saying something bright and cheerful like: And so don’t forget to move around a bit after you meditate!! Get out there and smell the roses!! But it is not that simple. Just like recovering a connection to your mind, recovering a connection to your body is something that we make room for rather than something we can put on our to-do list. I guess a place to start, as always, is with what is. Just notice. Notice what it feels like when you sit down and when you stand up. Notice how your body lies in bed to sleep and how it feels about walking up the stairs. Just notice. And then see what happens next. I will be right there with you.
Comments? Where is your body and are you able to treat it kindly?
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