I’ve always lived in my head. Since I was kid. I was a talker, a reader, a thinker. I was not an athlete. There was a serious lack of hand-eye coordination and body awareness. I couldn’t tie my shoes until I was 6 and learning to ride a bike was a long, painful process.
Some kids lived in their bodies. It all came so easily for them. The jocks, the athletes, the dancers, the gymnasts. They seemed so comfortable in their own skin. They knew where their bodies were in space at all times. They didn’t trip over their own two feet, like I did, daily. They moved with ease and grace.
They took up permanent residence in their bodies. I only visited mine from time to time, preferring to reside in my head. My noisy, active, cluttered, chattering head.
I spent a good deal of time and energy engaging, embracing and indulging that chatter. I figured it was where all of the creativity lived. But I also spent a fair amount of time, energy, and money trying to silence that chatter, do battle with it, drown it out.
When I finally tripped over my dharma and landed on a yoga mat, I found the ultimate anti-chatter weapon; my breath.
As I moved on the mat and focused on my breath moving through me, there was silence. For just a second.
I wanted more, so I practiced more. A few more seconds of chatter-free silence…
It was in those seconds of silence that I began to hear the whispers of my body. The more I moved, the quieter my head got, and the more I realized that my body had some things to say.
It started speaking to me. It told me to stop smoking. So I did. It told me run more. So I did. It told me to eat healthier. So I did.
It told me stop drinking beer… I said ‘No’. My head strongly influenced that decision. So, my body simply whispered back, ‘Daily meditation.’ (tricky bugger) And I did.
As I sat in meditation, the chatter got quieter, and the whisper grew louder. It was all because of the breath. The breath was the great equalizer. Now the mind and body were more evenly matched. I could hear them both stating their cases.
Mind: Eat another piece of chocolate. Mmmm. Sooo good.
Body: Why would you? You already had one.
Head: You work hard. Reward yourself. You deserve it. We deserve it!
Head: Have a beer or three.
Body: Why should we?
Head: To unwind, relax, de-stress. You work so hard. You should reward yourself. You deserve it. We deserve it!
Body: Who is this ‘we’ you’re talking about? Certainly you’re not talking to me and Liver? Do we deserve that?
The more connected your mind and body become, the more you start to question what it is you actually deserve.
I never bought in to the idea that I might think I was worthless, or that I was carrying around shame and thinking I didn’t deserve success. But as I tuned in to the power of my breath I began to question all of the subtle little ways that I was rewarding my head, but ignoring, and even harming my body.
I kept coming back to the question: Is this really what I deserve?
Do I deserve to disconnect? to disengage? to escape?
Maybe my head deserves to disconnect, but my body cannot afford to be disconnected for another day. My body deserves care, it deserves compassion, it deserves nourishment.
The more I sit quietly with my breath, the stronger the mind-body connection becomes. Breath by breath, my mind becomes quieter, and my body becomes more articulate.
It says ‘Treat me with kindness, and compassion. Treat me with respect, and love and great care.’
So, I’m listening to my body a lot more now. Because I deserve health. I deserve happiness. I deserve love, kindness, and compassion. I deserve peace. And I can give these things to myself.
I’m living a healthier life. I deserve to. I’ll never be an athlete. I still prefer to live in my head. And it’s still pretty messy in here. But it’s a lot less cluttered.