Many of us have been taught to relate to our bodies as something that needs to operate at peak capacity, whose kinks and stucknesses need a quick fix so that we can get back to our productivities.
Neocolonial capitalist structures create mythology and cultural stories that bodies are machines that work and produce in order to profit. These are structures we are trying to survive within, even as we seek to divest from and unlearn their mythologies.
How do you relate to your body before, during, and after movement practices? How do you relate to your physical structure during daily routines?
In the so-called wellness world, I notice a pattern that in seeking to be trauma-informed we talk a lot about nervous systems. I am not immune from or outside of this phenomenon. What I notice in myself is that reducing our bodies and stories and personalities down to nervous system science counts as seeing ourselves as machines – easily understandable, following a clear logic, and therefore can be ‘fixed’ to meet some kind of standard. The implications of that underlying way of seeing bodies are huge. To be clear, I will continue to talk about nervous systems – it’s beautiful and deeply helpful science. It’s not about denying science, it’s about expanding to hold multiple truths at once.
What happens when everything is explainable? Did you leave space for the mystery? For stories, for magic, for spirit, for emergence?
There is a whole microbiome on the surface of your skin. And another one in your gut. Connective tissue connects feet to organs, brain structures to postural muscles.
Bodies spiral and fractal and flow. Bodies compost and ferment and alchemize.
Bones are sturdy, mineral, creators.
Muscles are powerhouses, fire, pliable.
Organs are complex systems practicing transformation.
Nerves are electric zaps.
Blood is rivers of thick aliveness.
Bodies feel and express and love.
Bodies pattern and learn and expand. they carry our stories, intergenerational and moment to moment.
It is not just a thing to train to get you through your day. It is you and it is magical and wise.
Your body is not a machine. Your body is poetry. Your kinks are something to celebrate and indulge. Your pain points are portals to entire universes. Your capacities as they are today are sweet and tender and spiritual.
what are you unlearning?
I’m unlearning self-exploitation. I’m unlearning pushing past my boundaries and capacities. I’m unlearning the need to justify desires and needs and boundaries. I’m unlearning the idea that my pain will go away if I’m in perfect alignment. I’m releasing the idea of purity and perfection. I’m unlearning the desire to control my feelings. I’m unlearning the grind. I’m releasing the possibility that I would ever fully understand myself. I’m unlearning my body as separate from me.
what are you learning? what are you practicing?
I’m learning to contain multitudes. I’m learning to trust the seasons of my days, weeks, months, and years. I’m practicing finding myself right. I’m practicing holding everything in complexity and context.
i’m learning to trust subtle signals. I’m practicing holding questions with a sacred pause in between asking and finding an answer. I’m practicing naming desires and boundaries just for the sake of agency. I’m practicing honesty and learning to see truth as fierce loving relationship. I’m learning to be alive is to hold mystery. I’m practicing touching the awe in all of it.
How do you make space to prioritize the experience, expression, and wisdom of your embodied self?
citations / resources
west philly and via zoom
holding space to prioritize the wisdom of the body