Summer

Returning Home To My Body

I want to get back inside my body. Like most people today, I am usually looking at my phone, a TV, book, my computer. Even in the moments when I’m not, my mind is likely projecting into the future, planning my to-do list for the next day or making note of upcoming meetings or birthdays etc. Where is my body in all of this? The place I actually live, the machine I use to accomplish all of the daily tasks and take in the unending stream of information I am constantly saturating it with? Where indeed.

On my bi-weekly trips to the osteopath I am given a piece of paper with a human body drawn onto it and asked to mark the places where I am having pain that day. I’ve realized that when doing this, it is often the only time within the two week space between visits that I’ve actually paused to consider how my body is feeling. I mean, yes, I know my lower back has been stiff in the mornings and the right side of my neck still hurts, but otherwise I’ve kept myself so busy that I have completely disregarded my body. I’ve all but ignored it away. How does my body feel? Well, I have no idea.

This state I function from, this autopilot, leads to so many bad habits. Overeating, not getting up and moving, poor sleep, and the most tragic of all…the inability to be present for the important moments. The scary part is that I’ve made a decent effort to “Be Here Now” for the better part of twenty years, so I can only imagine how a lot of other people are walking around. Are we a zombie nation? Consumed by technology and content to be plugged in 99% of the time?

The way I’ve been trying to re-inhabit my body in the last two days is by bringing my attention to sensation. Feeling my feet on the ground, the weight in my legs as I walk, the air filling my lungs when I take a deep breath, tight muscles when I get up from a chair, dry skin, tiredness behind my eyes, heat in the palm of my hands. Just connecting with the breath and the sensations of the body is enough to pull me out of whatever device trance I was in. Next, I focus in on the sounds around me. My son playing in his room, the dog lying at my feet snoring, the buzzing sound of the refrigerator. Then smells, and everything I see around me. The big one though for most of us would probably be taste. How many times a week do you eat while working, or driving or watching TV or any number of things? Do you really taste your food? Are you enjoying it? How do you know when you’re satisfied as opposed to stuffed? By re entering the physical body and actually inhabiting your fleshy home, you start to fine tune what you want and need. You come back to yourself.

For me, this is the key to being present. It was also the thing I have been overlooking the whole time. I am always saying to myself to enjoy the moment, to fully engage myself. I don’t bring my phone to the dinner table or text while driving, I like to look at someone when I speak to them. As I said above, I have been working on this being present thing for a long time. Where I have been going wrong is that I am trying to be present while still coming from my mind instead of my body. Working from the mind is excellent for watching a movie or studying a book, but for true 3D presence and immersion you need to be firmly rooted and grounded in your body. I believe we used to be able to switch from mind presence to body presence easily before TV, personal computers and smartphones. We weren’t so challenged to lay down a book and move from the halls of our mind to the limbs of our human being. Today though, when we spend the bulk of our time focused on a device, we have retrained ourselves to default into a mind state when truly I think we function better from a body state.

All of this to say that I’m pretty excited by this new venture. It’s such an easy concept and only slightly challenging to implement. Like anything, you just have to want to do it.

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