Dear Heidi: connecting with body

Keeping the Peace asks:

“After a massage I feel very connected with my body. Is there anything I can do in between massages to maintain that connection?”

Dear Keeping the Peace,

I love that there are people like you in the world, people who want to feel connected to their bodies.

Connection is about relationship, and since it’s hard to relate to something or someone we don’t notice, that’s where I’ll invite you to start: by noticing.

Practice, whenever and however you can, turning toward, listening, and paying attention to your body.

“But Heidi,” you might be saying, “it’s easy to notice my body when I’m getting a massage, but things are stressful and life is busy off the massage table… Also, I am very easily distracted… And my body often is a source of stress…”

I hear you, Keeping the Peace, and it is exactly there, where you are, that I invite you to start:

Let stress, let discomfort, let disharmony and all the ways those express as tightness and pain in your body be what taps you on the shoulder to notice.

Practically speaking, how to connect with your body

In real life, in the real world, it might play out like this:

The next time you feel that knot creep into your shoulder, that pain settle into your butt, or that ache into your foot, use it as the reminder to turn toward your body and wonder:

How am I?

Let those words hang there for a few beats. Give them a breath, or two, or four.

How am I?

Notice. Don’t hurry to answer. Let the words linger around you like a cartoon bubble.

How am I?

Let your words (or whatever words or way you choose to come in contact with your body) be a soft invitation. You aren’t demanding an answer, you are inviting contact, and waiting and noticing what comes.

How am I?

Notice. There are so many ways to answer that question. The first answer that comes may be wordy, like a kid telling a convoluted story.

How am I?

Notice. Allow your body to answer. Maybe at first it seems like nothing comes or maybe what comes is something very very shy. Notice. And from a place of calm curiosity, watch.

How am I?

Sense down your middle. Invite your throat area, your chest area, your belly area to answer.

How am I?

Keep wondering, keep sensing, keep listening.

Remember your heartfelt intention to connect. You want to know this thing, this collection of cells, this mystery of being — however *you* think of it — that you call “your body.”

Be the space in(to) which your body can answer

Allow your body to tell you whatever, however it is. And keep listening.

The more you listen, the more you will hear. The more you hear, the more you will connect. I promise.

Channel your massage therapist’s table or your massage therapist’s office, if that helps. Channel your very own dear self while receiving a massage. Recall how your breathing, when you are receiving a massage, settles into calm. Be the calm into which anything your body wants to tell you can speak or in some other way be known. Be that calm.

Notice and listen. I think you will be amazed. I always am.

Several years ago I went through a bout of insomnia. Ugh. I kept waking up way before the rest of the world and, try as I might, just couldn’t fall back asleep. Finally it came to me to practice doing onto myself what I do for my clients: to listen, to be with, exactly as it is, whatever might be going on. Those sleepless wee hours of the morning became the tap on my shoulder to stop and listen to my body. I wrote this list-poem during one of those nights:

It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to smooth things out.
It’s hard to listen, to let discomfort be.
It’s hard to listen, to pull up a chair and keep company.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to have an agenda.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to steer things back to before.
It’s hard to listen, to feel it just like it is.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to pretty it up. Or make it worse than it is.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to tell you what to do.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to assume I know what you mean.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easy to jump to conclusions.
It’s hard to listen, it’s hard to realize I don’t know shit.
It’s hard to listen, to feel fragility.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to grip.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to interrupt.
It’s hard to listen, to realize the rain could wash it all away.
It’s hard to listen, and not tell things where to go.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to argue.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to explain.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to pretend.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to justify.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to advocate for the devil.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to defend.
It’s hard to listen, to know that things aren’t mine.
It’s hard to listen, to see people as capable.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to interfere.
It’s hard to listen, it’s easier to be hard.
It’s hard to listen I’m afraid.

Keep the Peace, thank you for being the very first person to “Ask Heidi.” I love your question and I love that you asked.

Heidi

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