The Huddle #12: Sweet Child O' Mine
I love to think of my mind, body and spirit as one happy family. Everyone working together, everyone on the same page. Easy. Simple. I like to picture it as a family on a road trip singing along to their favorite jam. But if you’ve been on a family road, or any road trip - you know that is just NOT how it goes.
Picture this: You’re driving, while the person in the passenger seat is trying to pull up directions but the GPS keeps freezing. The person in the back seat is on their phone, totally absorbed in their own bubble. At some point, the one in the passenger seat who’s been trying to navigate gets agitated and starts getting defensive. You tell them to calm down so you can focus on the road. The person in the backseat joins the fray and suddenly, everyone is screaming.
Congratulations. You just had a panic attack. Because so often your mind is the one trying to drive your life forward - its job is to be rational, and get you safely from A to B. Your spirit is supposed to be the navigator - providing guidance & direction - but, the reality is sometimes there’s poor connection, and your spirit just can't get the signals it needs to help your mind out. Your body ends up in the backseat, along for the ride, largely being ignored.
Our way of digesting information is not a streamlined process. We like to think that as long as we can mentally process something, our body will drop in line. But our bodies are often wiser than our brains.
Butterflies in the belly, goosebumps on our arms - those are easier to notice and seen as valid. But when it’s something that builds up over time, it’s harder to identify what’s happening in my body as a sign of the world around it. Headaches, stomach pains, back pain, night sweats, insomnia, forgetfulness- all potential signs that we are trying to process something BIG.
I remember the first time I got called “spacey”. I was in the fifth grade, around the time my parents were separating. In high school, the spacey narrative got etched deeper into my identity as shit started hitting the fan in my personal life. I was forgetful, fatigued, and started being late to EVERYTHING. My nightmares and insomnia worsened, and I started sleepwalking. Once, I woke up in the shower with no idea how I had gotten there.
Often times our bodies are processing something bigger than we have the time or energy for - fear, grief, anger - so it can be incredibly useful to tune in to what it’s telling you. Having a daily conversation with your body - whether a quick check in (OK. My heart is racing… what would soothe me right now?) or a longer discussion, such as a body scan meditation - can be incredibly helpful to reset, and get the whole show back on the road.
Our bodies are the most important resource we have for processing information. Plus, they keep us alive, so that’s cool too. Here’s one trick my teacher, Erin Gilmore, taught me recently:
When you come to a simple decision, such as "Do I want to stay in a power lunge, or go into Warrior 3?”, notice where you feel that decision being made in your body. Is it your gut? Your chest? Your hips? Later, when you come to a question that feels a little murky, you can return to this place and find some clarity.
Take care of your body, sweet child o’ mine.