Listening to the Body: A Meditation

Listening to the Body is an Art.

The body is capable of speaking very loud.
The body can yell in ALL CAPS.
But, it’s also quite secretive and subtle.

In fact, a healthy body has little need for alarm bells and rarely has to yell. A healthy body prefers to speak softly, in an esoteric language, inviting us into intimacy with it’s ways.

“Been thinking about secrecy quite a bit lately, particularly the role secrecy plays in life. Secrecy dwells in shadows even when the intention behind the secret is completely positive. Fascinating.

I’m realizing – – at least in my own life – – that secrets are just like everything else in that they have a side that wants to be seen, that wants to come into the light. If the secret was completely in shadow, I wouldn’t know it was there at all. It would be a secret even to me. There’s a lot in the unconscious, of course, that is exactly so… secrets held, completely unaware.

But the secrets that I know of, that I consciously hold in darkness, sometimes forcing to stay in darkness, even those that should remain in darkness for the benefit of all, I can feel a little something in them that wants to come out into the open, and that this longing to be seen is a part of the natural order of things. Perhaps this tugging towards light is part of what keeps the universe in balance, keeps it from tipping over and plunging into complete darkness.”

I wrote the (above) note in January while creating “The Secret Life of the Body: Mudras“,  a course that uses yoga’s Hasta Mudra (hand gesture) system to tap into the more subtle layers of the body.I created The Secret Life of the Body to help people learn to listen to their body’s language just as closely as they listen for subtext hidden in the words of the people that matter most— those they love, work with, are governed by.

We don’t just HEAR the people dearest to us. We listen, feel into and even become their words, gestures, the look in their eyes, their pheromones. When we WANT to listen , we can do so on many levels.

Until it’s last breath, the body tries to send us messages about what’s going on deep down.

Most people live their entire life and never get to know their body beyond the acquaintance level. Most don’t realize they have the option to listen to their body at all.

Body sensation. The rich, infinite range of body sensation. Myriad forms of pain– biting, shooting, pinching, aching, radiating, electric, static, sharp, dull, flashing, shifting– just to name a few.

Many forms of pleasure– ecstatic, warm, soft, joyous, relaxing, expanding, invigorating, orgasmic– just to name a few. All kinds of neutral sensations that words can’t even begin to capture.

We’re familiar with these sensations, but, if they had a VOLUME KNOB, we’d lower their levels a lot of the time.

I believe the most articulate and eloquent speaker is still not nearly as articulate as the body. Words are clunky, manmade. We can only utter one word at a time.

The body’s language might seem crude in comparison to our spoken language. Or….

Perhaps WE are the crude ones, tragically ignorant of the magical vessel we live in and have been gifted.

The body is literally DIEING to be heard. We have made the body’s language secret from ourselves with drugs, consumerism, conflict, media, sedentary lifestyle.

We numb our ability to help our body help itself. All our bodies really need from us is that we don’t gum up it’s self-healing systems.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m a yogi. I KNOW THIS ALREADY. Tina is PREACHING TO THE CHIOR.”

Maybe so, Or maybe the choir has nodded off during church.

The mind-body world staggers along in its own kind of numbness.

We listen to the body to learn handstand, to tone our abs.

We drink green smoothies and wear sunscreen.

These are the right things to do, but this level of self-care can’t be called listening.

And if our wrists scream in pain as we hold our first few seconds of handstand, do we stop, or do we “move through it” because, HEY, we’ve ALMOST NAILED handstand and nothing is going to stop us.

That pain is a warning. Yet, we wish it away. And for what?

Google this —–> “How to do handstand”.

A host of Experts tell you what to do with your hands, muscles, bones and how they all relate to gravity. Not much instruction beyond the level of gross body anatomy. What about our nervous system, breath and hormones?

Do you know what your hormones do in handstand? Neither do I! Why hasn’t anyone looked into it? Maybe because almost no one is asking.

And don’t you think how you feel on the deepest level has an impact on whether you can balance upside down?

Most yogis say that handstand is one of the LEAST spiritual poses. Yet, it’s still infinitely mysterious.

Why do we cling to the surface? How much more time do we have to learn the secrets our bodies want to share with us?

That note on Secrecy that started this email? You can find it and the accompanying photo (a self-portrait) on my Instagram.) 

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