This is one of a series of posts written during my retreat at Harbin Hot Springs last week.
I’m at Harbin Hot Springs on a much needed retreat with my dear friend, Mojo Mentor, and Green Goddess Tricia Barrett, and Tricia said (in the most loving way possible), “Lissa, you don’t spend much time in your body, do you?”
Of course I spend time in my body! I mean, I walk around in it every day. I eat into it. I pee and poop from it. My husband and I have sex with it. But I know that’s not what she means. I know she means that I don’t really inhabit it fully- and she’s right. I tend to live in my mind, which is a happy, lively, energizing place to be. My whole life has trained me to live in my mind.
Living In My Mind
Certainly, medical school claims to be about the body, but you don’t succeed in becoming a doctor by living in your body. You get through the agony of medical education by denying the body- overcoming the body, even- by living in your mind. Mind over matter, right? You ignore your body when it pleas for food in the midst of a 12-hour surgery. When your body tells you it wants to sleep, you tell it to shut up- you have work to do. When your body cries in pain as you’re leaning over a split open belly cavity to hold a retractor during surgery, you reprimand it for being so weak. The surgeon’s credo affirms this attitude- Eat when you can, sleep when you can, have sex when you can, and don’t fuck with the pancreas. But nowhere in there does it say, “Be in your body.” No. When you’re a doctor, bodies are a nuisance. Ah…the irony. I certainly became a master at denying mine.
Learning To Inhabit My Body
So here I am, after nearly two decades of living in my mind, learning to reinhabit my body. I’m starting slow. Today, I rested in a warm mineral bath, noticing the tiny bubbles that collected on my skin and made me feel like I was swimming in champagne. I felt the stretch in my muscles as I eased into various asanas during my yoga practice. I felt my stomach gurgle after I ate a meal. I noticed the tension in my shoulders from spending the last few months leaned over a computer, writing a book.
Then I tried to inhabit my body in more advanced ways. I tuned into the energy within me and felt the tingles in my fingers as I practiced the Reiki exercises Mojo Mentor Alice Langholt taught me. I tried channeling my chi, starting from my perineum, moving my life force all the way up the back of my spine and all the way down the front of my body. I slowed down- and I felt.
Feeling It All
This can be tough. When you inhabit your body, you’re more likely to feel everything- the full spectrum of pain. Muscles may ache. Emotional stuff may bubble forth. When you start to live in your body, you feel it all more intensely. But you get to feel more joy too, more zest, more passion, more LIFE. I’m just starting to get that.
Tricia is helping me with exercises to help ground me. She's putting down grounding cords when she notices me flying around the astral planes. She gifted me with this beautiful retreat to Harbin. And she said that when I was dancing last night, I was in my body and it was a beautiful thing to behold. If only I can figure out how to stay here!
What about you Pinkies? Are you good at staying in your body or do you escape the confines of your earthly life by living in your head? Do you have any great tips to share with those of us who are just learning to do this? Fill us in and share your experiences.
Learning to live in my skin (and thanking Tricia for all her guidance),
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