There is a big difference between “doing” things to your body, and “being in” your body. Between imposing something on it, and listening to it. Between buying things marketed to you, and honoring real bodily needs in simple and natural ways.
We are at so very many crossroads in our world right now. Not the least of which being, how it is that we are going to be in these bodies of ours. How we will care for them. What we will put in them. What we believe we need to be well. And it’s all playing out in a world where billions and billions of dollars are being spent to convince us that we need all kinds of stuff and interventions in order to be well.
But if we could step back and see beyond our own fears and insecurities (the very same ones, by the way, being exploited by marketers to leave us uncertain and confused about what to do), these bodies of ours and what they have to say would lead us to exactly what we most need. This can be hard to believe, never mind trust, in the midst of being bombarded with messages that tell us someone else has the answer. Maybe it’s the ad that directs you to “ask your doctor,” or the last weight loss program you will ever need. Maybe it’s the newest app promising you instant health, or a line of engineered foods claiming to be healthy while being the answer to climate change.
Whatever is being sold, the message is always the same: We know what to do, you don’t, do as we say.
I realize this can be a very intense thing to hear. Offensive even. None of us wants to believe that something else is in charge of us or the decisions we make when it comes to our lives. Or maybe, we feel sheepish reading that because we do want someone else in charge of how we live. None of this is conscious of course, but it drives our behavior nonetheless.
Why it might matter to you to dig a little deeper beneath the surface when it comes to what you do and do not do in terms of your body, is because we are actually talking about so much more than your body alone. For to choose to learn to listen to your own body, is to choose to learn how to listen to yourself. And to listen to yourself is to be connected with your very own soul; who you are and why you are here. From this perspective, what happens to your body is a matter of great importance.
Interestingly enough, to reclaim what we have lost in this regard is to enter into the unknown. The very place that evokes the fears that drive us into the arms of promises being made to us by others around our bodies and health. Not knowing what your body needs or what to do is the place to begin the reclamation of who you are and what you most need. Not as a neurotic place to hang out as you obsess over Internet searches, but as a sacred starting place.
For it is in the not knowing, in the dropping of the preconceived ideas, marketing ploys and the conditioning of our past and of the culture, that we come to know what is real, and what is true. In other words, though we have been taught to believe that to not know what is going in our bodies is dangerous and therefore something to be afraid of, what if the unknown places are the entry point into the very mystery of your own body and soul?
The very place you need access to in order to navigate life in a body.
A favorite practice of mine these days is to say daily to myself, “I have no idea what to do right now, but I’m open,” when it comes to something going on in my body. This simple, but courageous statement, serves as the antidote to the compulsion to go for the quick fix, the “guaranteed” answer or the submission to the fears, always the fears, that circulate when the body is doing something we don’t understand.
To not know, is to ultimately allow the body to just be as it is. This becomes the essential beginning place where at some point, the unknown becomes the known. And because this known is born out of the direct experience of your very own body and what it is saying and wanting, you are gifted with far more than you could ever receive from another’s version of you and what is going on.