Updated: Nov 2
“The body remembers what the mind forgets.
Forgets, you say? Oh, no, no, never. No way. Locked away. Maybe to resurface someday, when the moment seems safe enough to allow what was held at bay to return.”
- WVPoetryGirl’s poem.
We reside in the body, we breathe through the body, we feel through the body, and the body remembers how it felt every single moment whether the moment was ecstatic or horrifying.
How does this happen?
The moment we come into contact with an object (this object can be anything — a flower, a bus, a pastry, a friend, a partner, a vacation, etc.), our attention goes to it. As soon as our attention goes to it, the body processes it in the form of body sensations. Based on our learned experiences from the past, the mind discriminates these body sensations as either pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. Depending on the kind of discrimination, a feeling of the respective category arises (pleasant sensations may invite feelings of happiness, joy, & the like, while unpleasant sensations may bring in feelings of sadness, fear, etc.). Based on how we feel, we then act. We act either only in the mind — as a thought, or act in words — through verbal communication, or act by physically doing something.
Of course, most of us don’t slow down enough to see this process — we see something, & get excited or nervous or angry, without really understanding what about it brought out this excitement or nervousness or anger.
What do I do with this information?
Once we understand how this process works, we can clearly see how events that happen in our lives first and foremost are received by the body. Unfortunately, the way most people live their lives today, they’re mostly always in the above neck part of their body — all in the head! And so there’s a disconnection with the body. This leads to an inability to process what happens in day-to-day life. As this disconnect grows it begins manifesting in different unwanted ways in the form of various mental & physical imbalances which then lead to what we usually call a "disease".
Rumi says, "The wound is the place where the light enters you." And so if there is a wound you are aware of - instead of being averse to it, or ashamed of it, or angry at it, or depressed by it - maybe try looking at it as is. See what body sensations arise with it, what these sensations make us feel, what emotions and memories surround it. As we re-connect with our bodies, our bodies will begin to lead us to where healing is needed. As this connection to the body re-establishes we'll find greater alignment between the mind, emotions, and the body. This alignment will lead to clarity which will allow for an ease, and a sense of safety, a sense of "its' okay, I'm okay" will begin to emerge. The hurt, the heartbreak, the loss, the trauma of the past will begin to integrate as it is seen with patience & compassion in a safe holding space.
Bessel Van Der Kolk, the best selling trauma research author, says, “Trauma affects the entire human organism — body, mind, and brain. In PTSD the body continues to defend against a threat that belongs to the past.” However, here's the truth, all of us are hurting - some from visible trauma that they can pin down in time, others from invisible trauma that is hard to point at. And at the same time, some of us have better resources to deal with the pain, some don't yet.
*Contact-Attention-Discrimination-Feeling-Intention (Action) is a model from Buddha's teachings.
**Meditation & yogic practices that enable us to observe the body & the mind can be helpful in reconnecting & aligning the mind, emotions, & body.
***At times, even if just for a while, it's beneficial to have someone support you through the initial phases of the journey as you get a hang of it :)
P.S. If you're keen to explore the intersection of food, body image, identity, & society through the base of fasting you might find this course interesting: Fasting into Truths of Body, Mind, & the World.