I write this from a beautiful location on the Baltic Sea, where I will be for a few days. Every year we, a group of 10 women, gather here to cherish the temple of our soul. This means to give space and time to our physical existence.
In our busy lifestyles, we often forget that we even have a body. We rush from here to there and from there to here and forget that it is thanks to our body that we are able to do that. Muscles, tissue, skeleton and all of the different internal organs form a system that keeps us not only alive, but also moves and maintains us.
Our thoughts shape our bodies. Of course we are genetically prepositioned, but we also shape our bodies with our thoughts and emotions. We pull up our shoulders when we are afraid. We push our pelvis forward to take more place or we push it backward so that we feel protected in the basin area. We hold our head up high as if we want to have a better view, or we keep our head down, especially when we feel guilty. If we do this for years, our body learns to keep it this way.
During our days here on the Baltic Sea, we bring all of our attention to the body. This is an annual privilege that I feel I owe my body. With the assistance of a Breath- and Body-therapist, we feel our feet again. While walking, we feel the heels, the sole and the toes. When we walk we sense in a mindful way where in the body we are tense and blocked. We feel how our spine has adjusted over the years to our habits and thoughts, and where we feel pain. We direct the attention to places between the ribs or to the tension in the calves or a pain in the liver. We do it here at the seaside, because we would not have time for that in our daily lives. Here we don’t do anything else but to bring our attention to all areas of the body.
Again and again, I realize that I pull up my shoulders when I concentrate. Without my everyday duties, I can concentrate totally on the tensions and on releasing it. I stand in the room and let the shoulders drop, let my head drop and relax the belly. It is wonderfully relaxing to let go of tension and sense the emotions that follow. Some of us feel joy, others anger or sadness. We sense it and observe it, without expressing it. Each year we take the time to give our bodies the attention it deserves. I tell myself after the week that I will continue this way every day. But as soon as work takes over this project dissipates. And yet, I remind myself as often as I can to pay attention to the body.
While you are reading this article now do you feel your body? How does it feel? Where are you tense?
Drop your shoulders, or let your head or abdomen, whichever you need, relax and hang freely. You will see how you like this state of relaxation and how it gives you the sensation of clearing your head. Just drop your shoulders and you will feel a difference inside of you.
Some call the body the temple of our soul. My friend and teacher Joy Messick used to call the body our “space-suit”. We slide into it at our birth and we leave it behind at our death. In the meantime we take life’s ride in it through space. Whatever metaphor you like to give to the body, fact is that it hosts all of our thoughts and feelings, our sensations and emotions. Without the body we would not be alive. The body does what it has to do, day in and day out. It is such a wonderful system that knows how to function all by itself. When you want to walk, your legs just move. Don’t you think it deserve some gratitude and acknowledgment? How often do you thank your body for doing all of the work for you?
Our body tells us when we are out of balance, then we get sick or we feel pain. Pain and diseases indicate that we are alive. When we fly too high with our thoughts, it is pain that brings us back into the body. Of course we have to go to a specialist for advice when the body has come completely out of balance. That is a topic for another article. Today, I speak of pain and tension, with which we live daily, but unconsciously. And I write about honoring our temple. Therefore I would like to invite you to take some minutes to pay attention to your body right now: How do you sit? How do you hold your head? What do your feet do?
Some suggestions for the days to come:
- Walk in a slower pace and feel yourself.
- Massage areas that hurt.
- Be aware of your posture when sitting and writing.
- Be aware of your physicality.
We are physical beings! Without a body, no laughter, no crying, no love and no sex; without a body there is no life!