Body: Can you explain why you decided to force Hand and Mouth to finish that plate of food last night, even though we’d had enough to sustain us?
Mind: Well of COURSE we had to finish it. It’s not polite to leave a half-finished plate of food on the table!
Body: What do you mean it’s not polite? We were at a restaurant – they don’t care how much you eat as long as you pay the bill!
Mind: Yes, but… there were other people around. They might think we’re finicky if we don’t eat our food.
Body: Did you not notice that some of them left food on their plates?
Mind: Well I guess they’re just not as polite as we are.
Body: Or their minds actually know how to listen to their bodies! Imagine that.
Mind: No need to get snippy. I was just looking out for our best interests. After all – weren’t you sending me signals about how good it tasted?
Body: Oh yes, it tasted good, but the first few bites were good enough for enjoyment factor – you didn’t have to push right through to the end to enjoy the flavour.
Mind: You’re annoying. And hey – it was YOUR hand and mouth that were cooperating!
Body: Ummm… in case you haven’t noticed, they can’t do much without your direction.
Mind: Details, details.
Body: Maybe if you’d stopped forcing them to shovel food in at the speed of light, you would have noticed that the taste buds had dulled by the time the plate was half empty. I was TRYING to tell you it was time to stop.
Mind: Oh now you’re going to complain about how fast I eat. I can never satisfy you. I HAVE to eat fast, or She’ll catch on that you’re sending her a different message than I am and she’ll stop. That would never do.
Mind: Well… don’t you remember back when we were young and we had to pile enough food on our plates so that our hungry older brothers wouldn’t take it all? I’m just trying to protect Her from the food running out.
Body: Newsflash: we’re not young anymore. AND… in the 44years we’ve been around, we’ve never run out of food, so why would we now?
Mind: You haven’t heard of the random food-snatchers who steal food from people’s plates in restaurants?
Body: Nope, never heard of them.
Mind: Well, you’d better watch out for them next time.
Body: So, what you’re telling me is that you’re eating out of fear of the food-snatchers?
Mind: You make it sound so silly. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was to help her feel better about all the sadness in her life, maybe it was because of the spiritual void – hey, I’m just trying to help!
Body: I know that, but maybe if you listened to me, we could help her together.
Mind: I doubt it. You’re always trying to get her to do stuff that’s ridiculous and tiring.
Body: Like last night after supper when I wanted to go for a bike ride and you convinced Her to lie around in front of the TV with more food?
Mind: Yeah, like that. What was up with that? Didn’t She deserve a little down time? She’d had a hard day with whiny kids and too much work pressure!
Body: Maybe you don’t realize, but that stuff she’s trying to work through? The sadness, the spiritual void? I could help her with that. A good bike ride is more spiritual than you think.
Mind: Don’t be ridiculous. She has to work that stuff out in her MIND! That’s what I’m here for.
Body: Yeah, but you try to work it out with food and mindless TV.
Mind: Blah, blah, blah. You’re getting on my nerves.
Body: Listen to me… if you don’t wise up, life could get very difficult for both of us.
Mind: Is that a threat? What are you going to do? You can’t even make your own mouth scream without my help.
Body: Oh, I have my ways of screaming without you. You know those illnesses that your smart doctors can’t figure out?
Mind: Yeah, they’re an endless source of frustration for my mind friends.
Body: Did you ever stop to think that those might be bodies trying to be heard?
Mind: Whatever! You’re not that smart without me.
Body: You might be surprised.
Mind: Okay, I’ve had about enough of this conversation. I’m putting us to sleep so I don’t have to think of this any more.
Note: If you want to know more about the ongoing conversation between my body and my mind, I have related posts up at Blisschick and Square Peg Reflections.
Yes, it’s my birthday. It is with great relief that I say good-bye to last year and usher in a new one. Last year seemed to be the year of “refining” and in my experience, refining is rarely fun. I’m ready to move on!
The beauty of turning 44 is that you’ve reached an age where you care less and less about how silly you might look. Some day I’ll probably wear a purple dress with a red hat! 🙂 Or a Mardi Gras mask to work. (Darn – I wish I’d thought of that today!)
As a way of ushering in a new year, I want to make a new commitment to myself, and I’d like you to join me! Please raise your right and repeat with me the pledge of the Sisterhood of the Burning Bra:
As an esteemed member of the Sisterhood of the Burning Bra, I hereby commit to doing my best to do the following:
- commit to the fire the old stories that serve no other purpose but to shackle me
- listen more carefully to the wisdom of my body and honour it when it sends me signals related to hunger, fullness, rest, and movement
- not listen quite as carefully to the negative voices in my head that are usually lying to me
- giggle with glee when I feel like it
- make a confession when I have wronged someone and then believe that I am forgiven
- lean on my sisters around the circle and trust that they will offer compassion, wisdom, and courage
- let myself be guided into the place of power that the Creator makes available to me
- stand up more boldly and say “NO!” when people try to shovel unnecessary guilt on my shoulders
- wiggle my toes in the sand and be moved by the sense of touch
- honour the other sisters in the circle and offer them my giftedness
- dream really crazy big dreams
- not allow fear to hold a larger space in my life than it deserves
- wear Mardi Gras masks (or silly hats or mismatched socks) once in awhile, just for fun
- gently forgive myself for the times when I fail to live up to these commitments
- hold occasional rituals where I burn symbols of the things I want to let go of
Thank you for being in my circle! (And by the way, I welcome all brothers into the circle too! Some of you are my best allies and I don’t want to leave you out!)
For a couple of related posts, check out my guest posts at Square Peg Reflections and at Blisschick. I’m delighted to have been welcomed into their spaces on this special day!
The last couple of months – what with the surgery, the near loss of my beloved, and the trip to a wisdom-filled conference in Chicago stuck in the middle – have included some deep spiritual growth that surprised me and that I’m just now finding the time to process. Most of it has taken me on a different journey than I would have expected.
It’s a journey into my own body.
It’s a journey that includes learning to listen to the secrets my body wants to tell me.
Last night, in my art journal, I painted a picture of my body along with the words “my body is my temple where I meet God”. I’m learning, bit by bit, what those words mean.
Whenever you embark on a spiritual journey, it seems that the wisdom you need for that journey shows up just when you need it.
A few weeks ago, I found a book that must have been in my suitcase for several months but I have no memory of putting it there. Writing begins with the Breath, by Laraine Herring. I started reading it when Marcel was in the hospital, thinking it would be a diversion that would help me plunge into much needed sleep when my mind was busy taking me down roads I didn’t want to go. It was a diversion, but it was also much more closely linked to what I was going through than I expected. The wisdom in it, in fact, helped me share, with tender vulnerability, the story in this post.
There is so much in that book that spoke to me, but the passage that drew me in the most was where the author talks about her own personal story of “leaving her body behind and living in her brain”. That was an “a-ha” moment for me, because it speaks so clearly to my own history. I have always lent more credence to my brain than my body and rarely have I treated my body as anything more than a neglected vehicle to get my brain where it needs to be.
Like every other woman I know, there’s a lot of baggage that I carry around when it comes to my body. I hadn’t really recognized, though (until I read Laraine’s story) how much I was missing in my spiritual journey and my art, writing, and living by not listening to, trusting, and loving my body more.
After that book was done, I picked up Women, Food and God – mostly on a whim on a trip to Costco, never imagining that it was the perfect follow-up book to Writing Begins with the Breath. Wow. Talk about wisdom about the body and the way we interact with it! Reading the book, I felt like Geneen Roth was holding my hand, looking deep into my eyes, and saying “you know this body you’ve been gifted with? Stop treating it like an encumbrance. Start loving it and listening to it like you would a trusted friend. Start believing in it.”
It was like a kick in the pants and a gentle invitation, all at the same time.
Last week, just before we went on our mini-vacation, I started internalizing some of the wisdom those books offered. I am developing new “body practices” that are slowly teaching me what it means to listen to the secrets my body wants to tell me. One of them involves speaking gently to my body – treating it like I would a wise and trusted friend – and saying each morning “dear body – what can I do for you today? What movement do you want? What food do you need to replenish you?” And then before each meal, I say “please, dear body, tell me what you need and when you’ve had enough.”
It’s amazing what your body tells you when you take the time to listen! I’m re-learning how to hear the cues of “hunger” and “fullness” and not simply eat when it’s time to eat or when the food looks good. I’m remarkably satisfied when I’ve eaten what I need.
Geneen Roth talks about how the mind lies to you but the body never does. I’m learning the truth of that statement. My mind tells me silly lies like “if you don’t eat that piece of cake, you’ll never taste sweetness again” or “you really need to finish that plate of food because an empty plate is next to godliness”. My body, on the other hand, tells me “that’s just enough food to give me energy to get through the day. You can stop now.” I’m practicing shutting down the brain and letting the body speak.
Wouldn’t you know it – a third book showed up to carry me one step further. One wouldn’t expect a book called Life’s Companion – Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice to have anything to do with the body, but… surprise, surprise… it has a whole chapter called “The Guidance of the Body”!
Which brings me back to what I put in my art journal last night – my body as my temple. “You cannot revere the body as a temple at the same time that you despise it. You cannot divide the body between extremes of asceticism or indulgence and expect to understand its role as a spiritual vessel. In this conflicted atmosphere we learn to live in our minds or our bodies, but not to live in the body/mind.” (Christina Baldwin)
What lessons have I learned so far?
- This temple needs a little TLC to make it a more welcoming place for the Spirit to reside.
- When I listen closely, my body tells me what it needs.
- Treating my body with respect is spiritual, not hedonistic.
- Some of the voices in my brain are not worth listening to. Careful discernment tells me which ones those are.
- My body is much more content and filled with more energy when I listen to the cues of “hungry”, “full”, “move”, and “rest”.
- When my body is healthy, I am more able to offer up my giftedness in acts of service.
After painting in my art journal last night, I took it one step further and painted a henna on my stomache. It was truly lovely moment – honouring my body in the presence of its Creator.