Messy Intro to New Series! Or What I’ve Learned This Week – Body 101


I have been trying to figure out how to integrate blogging more into this new, crazy school experience. I feel like I am learning so much and working on things from so many different angles and I also feel like I should use all of that somehow! Because… well, I don’t know exactly why. Because I really love this blog, because I feel like it helps me look at things from new angles. Because I like feeling like there are people out there who want to read about my thrilling life. Probably there are lots of reasons, some better than others but the long and the short of it is that I am giving myself extra homework.

So! This is the introduction of a new series and we’ll see how it goes. There may or may not be another new series intro on Wednesday but let’s just take it one step at a time. My weekend series will be about what I’ve learned. And in trying to think how to frame this, because “what I’ve learned this week” is just a huge topic and hard to narrow down, I decided that at least for this quarter, I’d like to try to break it up by Body, Mind and Emotions. Sometimes I may have an entry for all three, sometimes maybe only one or two. We’ll see how it goes, I reserve the right to experiment and try something else if it doesn’t work. But these are my current thoughts.

With that in mind, I’m starting off with body, because it’s been on my  mind a lot lately. I’ve been taking this Awareness in the Body class, which focuses on somatics and the idea of being more present in your body. It encourages us to focus on how we feel and where we feel it, which is really a struggle and a different way of viewing the world to me. I spent a lot of my life really disconnected from my body. For a long time I used to joke that I wished I could just be a brain in a jar, which was only kind-of a joke. I didn’t feel like I owned my skin, I didn’t feel like I had a right to it. There were a lot of abuse issues tied up in that, of course. I felt like I had been used a great deal and like the best defense was sometimes just to give it away before things were taken, or to try to disconnect enough that it didn’t matter if something was.

However, I am starting to come to a really different place with how I feel about my body and this class has really focused my attention on it in a lot of ways. I’ve started working very hard on not judging feelings but just observing them. Where do I feel them? What does it actually feel like to be angry, happy, sad, etc? Where do I feel those things? What do I like, what do I not like? I feel more present with myself and more able to be accepting of it. I am more conscious of my breathing, more aware of how I sit and how I stand. Not even in judgment so much as wondering, am I comfortable? Am I listening to what my body actually wants to do? Why or why not? If I want to sit or move differently, what is stopping me from doing that?

One thing I found myself wondering about and thinking on was an exercise we did last week. Our teacher had us stand still in the room, then begin to move as we wanted to, then eventually find a resting place that felt good to us. I struggle to stand perfectly still, that’s always been an issue for me. If I’m standing I’m usually swaying from side to side. When I was standing still, I felt insecure, unsafe, uncertain. When I could move back and forth I felt more stable and more comfortable. Eventually, when I came to a resting place, it was sitting on the floor, legs crossed, with my back firmly up against the wall. This was comfortable but it also felt safe to me. Others in the class mentioned their final spot feeling secure or safe. It made me think a lot about our teacher discussing how we were all animals, how we needed to listen to those instincts. How safe is it for an animal to stand perfectly still in open space? Is it safer for them to be moving? Is it safer for them to be able to have their back to something, to see around them? It’s not a perfect analogy, of course. I suspect an animal might not want to be trapped, which is the problem with having your back to something. But it did feel a bit like it tapped something of those feelings.

To be honest, some of it is a little silly seeming to me (some of what I just typed may have seemed a little silly to some of you, I realize). A lot of the work seems to rely on spiritual assumptions that I don’t hold. I’m finding that I am extremely resistant to feeling like I’m being pushed in any kind of spiritual direction, and also I feel like sometimes it really takes away from the legitimacy of what I feel like they’re doing. In spite of that, I feel like I’m making huge progress in an area that was previously almost a complete blind spot for me, so I’m really excited to see what’s next.


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