What’s it like to be you in the world?

“What’s it like to be you in the world?”
 
I ask this of people who come to Heidi’s Table for the first time. Probably, they and I have just met. They have made an appointment so I know their name and phone number and email address, and by now they’ve taken off their shoes and coat, but more than that? Not much.
 
“What’s it like to be you in the world?”
 
I didn’t used to ask this. I used to dive right into the nitty and the gritty of allergies and injuries, of accidents and surgeries, of illnesses and medications… It’s not that these things aren’t important (and I will still ask about them before I work with someone’s body) but now I have those questions wait. First things first.
 
“What’s it like to be you in the world?”
 
People seem surprised when they hear this. There is no automatic answer. I’ve not asked them where they are from. I’ve not asked them what they do. What I have done is made a space for them to stop and notice themselves.
 
What’s it like to be me in the world…
 
Oftentimes I watch them pause. And wonder. The question mark has turned into an elipsis… This delights me. They are checking in with the ultimate (if still just potential) expert and friend of themselves: them! (Or he! Or she! Or whatever pronoun they use to refer to their dear own self). The benefits of their session have certainly begun.
 
I allow for a beat or two after my question and then I might say a bit more: “help me understand what your body does a lot of, what happens when you’re ‘stressed out’… Sometimes people tell me what they do for work, for play, but please answer however you think will help me understand what it’s like to be you.” And then they do. And invariably I feel honored to have been allowed to hear what it’s like to be them.
 
Sometimes, later in the day, maybe as I’m falling asleep, something a first time-client has said will come back into my awareness. Maybe I’ll remember that thing they said first. Or the way they held their shoulder. Or the way they finally sighed on the table when their mind slowed down. Sometimes I have the sense that everything I hear and observe during my interaction with clients and their bodies lives in a kind of pocket somewhere in the vicinity of my heart. It’s warm and it’s soft and it hums, this pocket… something about intimacy, something about connection, something about the privilege of having gotten to be there, and all of it something to do with this being human, in a body, in this our crazy and amazing world.
 

What’s it like to be you in the world?

2 Responses to What’s it like to be you in the world?

  1. Bonnie says:

    Thank you for this!
    So important for us to see each other as people in this world and not just bodies or emotions or aches and pains. Thank you!

  2. This is beautiful, Heidi! Thank you.

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