Breaking Open


I think a lot about the body. More to the point, I spend a lot of time with my body, and with the bodies of others exploring what they need. What it is that we cannot do without. And what it is that we should learn to do without.

What both fascinates, and yes at times greatly frustrates me, are the signs and symptoms of a body out of balance. Mine or another’s. What it does when it’s sick or things hurt. All of the ways that the body conveys to us each and every day, what is working, and what is not.

In other words, the language of our very own body.

To be clear, this is a language. As a matter of fact, before we could talk, this was our very first, and only, language. It is not the same (although they do overlap) as the language of the mind. More to the point, we often get into trouble with the body because we allow the conditioned rational mind with all of its bodily hangups to run the show when it comes to what we’re experiencing: Yuch, what’s that? I don’t like this. That’s gross. I’m afraid. Make it stop. What if it never goes away? Make it go away. I hate you. I’m not listening. Shut up. I don’t want to know.

Sound familiar?

But what if the symptoms of your body are essential and vital information? And what if learning what message was being sent was a way into something beyond what you could even imagine?

I have this very experience over and over again in my life. Something comes up in the body that I’m not comfortable with, or that I flat out don’t want. Anger, frustration, and fear arise. But when the tantrum of the resistance to what is happening blows over, the feeling of injustice and despair passed, an inner surrender sweeps in. And always, always, some gift appears.

Beyond any of the specifics of what I am dealing with, and whether or not what is there goes away,  I am made whole again. The feelings of being at odds with myself vanish. Which is why I honor the language my body speaks. Even when I hate what it is saying.

Try this: In a quiet moment (for me it’s in bed or in my morning practice) let yourself recognize something in your body that doesn’t feel good. Put your hands there, and for a few breaths, just be with it. No forcing. No fixing. No looking for an answer.

When you feel more settled, ask yourself, “What do you want me to know?”

Pause and wait without reaching out for the answer. Sometimes I get a memory, a song, or a flash of something I once read, or something someone once told me that is somehow related. Sometimes nothing comes. Or it shows up later in the day. No matter.

What always tells me though that I’m onto something is when I burst out crying. Or am deeply moved somehow. This used to freak me out. Now I know that whenever something breaks open, in the “brokenness,” I am made whole again. Exactly where I always wanted to be.

So how could I ever vilify how it is that the body gets me there?