The 3 Most Important Things You Need to Know About Your Body When You Are Trying to Change.
When it comes to our bodies, we can run but we can’t hide.
I am sure it is not breaking news to read that our minds and bodies are intimately connected. That being said, I would like to offer a more fleshed out version of what this really means and how this knowledge can help as we go about trying to make changes in our lives.
Through the experiences of my own mind-body breakdowns and my work helping others heal theirs, I have come to see our mind and body as being on the same continuum. This continuum is consciousness itself and since the mind and body are both manifestations of consciousness, they are always reflecting back to us the current state of our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. We get to “know ourselves” through the thoughts we think, the emotions we feel, and the physical sensations we have (or don’t allow ourselves to have) in our bodies.
Here are a few things to know about this connection and in particular your body’s role in it as you go about trying to make changes in your life.
Rule #1: Our Bodies Know Everything.
Our bodies play an especially important role in the process of change because they are the vessel we use to experience life. Since the body, is in fact, “the chosen” vehicle evolutionarily and spiritually speaking in which we are able to have experiences, you can then begin to imagine how important this vehicle really is. Unfortunately through society (particularly Western) and through our upbringings and traumatic experiences we have, which by nature propel us to leave our bodies to find safety, we learn to minimize the importance of this vehicle and in the most extreme case, completely leave it.
It is our body that allows us to experience consciousness itself and the physical world in which we live. It allows us to feel, to taste, to touch, to smell, to see, to hear all of which can provide us with great pleasure. It is our bodies that translate the experience of connection or disconnection between ourselves and others and allow us to have the magical experience of deeply loving and connecting with another human being. It is our bodies that cue us both to impending danger and to the intuitive stirrings of our heart. The gift of being alive and conscious is that we can experience the world through all of our senses and go deep into connection. However, the challenge of having such an extraordinary gift is that our bodies also allow us to feel pain. But, sometimes painful experiences are just too unbearable to have, to be felt, and to be truly embodied.
To embody an experience is to have and register an experience on all levels—emotionally, mentally, and physically. When we are embodied, we feel alive. When we flee an emotional experience because it’s too painful to feel in the body (as is especially the case in trauma), we become disembodied. When we become disembodied, we start to experience uncomfortable emotional and physical symptoms. We feel lost, empty and bored. We feel the opposite of alive. And so here enlies, the first major point: Our bodies are our unconscious mind. Whatever we are not dealing with or running from, our bodies will carry despite our minds’ attempt to flee it. What our conscious mind doesn’t want to know, our bodies will make known. Our bodies know everything.
Rule #2: Our Bodies Resist Change.
Our bodies which are so knowledgeable on the one hand, constantly giving us clues as to how to wake up are on the other, extremely stubborn and here’s why. Our bodies are first and foremost concerned with survival. This means the first item on our body’s agenda is to feel safe and in control before it ventures out into exploring new territory. Another way of saying this is our bodies want to have a command over the experiences that flow in and out of it and so our bodies rely on a certain ways of knowing itself in order to feel in command. Because this sense of safety and control is a priority, the body becomes addicted to certain predictable feeling states because this is how the body literally “knows itself”. A body that doesn’t know itself at all becomes completely disconnected from the mind and the result is a psychotic breakdown.
Here’s a less extreme example: If for years you (and your body) are used to feeling a chronic state of guilt and unconsciously connect this state with feeling loved because this was what you learned growing up, then your body will feel at home with this state, something it physically registers hormonally, neurologically, chemically, and even genetically. Now imagine, as you go about trying to change this state. You decide, “I am going to take care of myself for once. I am going to go after my dreams and call in an experience that will teach me what it feels like to be loved without strings attached or conditions.”
These statements, in and of itself, are different vibrationally (i.e, chemically, hormonally, neurologically, genetically and so your body literally addicted to a different physiological state panics! In other words, it is used to getting it’s neuro-chemical-hormonal-genetic fix of guilt and when it doesn’t get that, it freaks out, experiences withdrawal symptoms, and on a very basic level doesn’t feel safe. This is why changing is so hard.
Changing is a full body experience.
In order to change a pattern (patterns are always emotionally imprinted through the above neuro-chemical-hormonal-genetic cocktail), the body has to experience a new vibrational and emotional experience compelling enough to clear out the old vibration. This of course happens bit by bit. The clearing out is a process, one in which your body over time adjusts. Simple ways of introducing a new vibrational energy/emotional charge greater than what already exists is by introducing your body to new experiences like meditating (body scans are great to see where emotions may be trapped in your body), talking your feelings out if you don’t typically, exercising to work through your emotions, and just having new experiences in general. You can introduce new energy by doing the smallest of things: taking a different route to work, starting your morning with meditation first instead of breakfast, trying out that sculpture class you’ve been wanting to try out for years, doing ANYTHING different than your typical way. All these strategies not only introduce new energy but they can become anchors as your body shifts to a new state.
Rule #3: Our Creative Energy Gets Tied Up in Our Body
Our creative energy (a.k.a. life force energy) gets tied up in our bodies through physical symptoms, mental health issues, dysfunctional belief systems, unhealthy behavior patterns, and rigid defense mechanisms to name just a few. Another way of saying this is that our creative energy gets tied up in the unresolved issues of our past because our body still living there is operating in survival mode believing the danger that once was still exists. By danger I mean anything ranging from extreme abuse to something as seemingly minor as being taught it’s not safe and acceptable to express a particular emotion like anger, for example.
So the energy that is needed to create, the same energy that is our life force, gets used instead to maintain a sense of safety and control. Our lives go into survival mode (a.k.a., on auto-pilot) instead of creation mode.
The process of change entails transforming this tied up, low vibrational energy into pure energy so we can create and live consciously from a place of presence instead of a place of fear routed in old patterns from the past. It sounds easy but here’s the catch. As mentioned in the prior section, as we start to loosen up old, tied up energy, things start to feel chaotic. Think about it, imagine for years on end having a big portion of energy tied up in your body somewhere, where it’s not moving around much and either stagnating or causing your body feel like a volcano about to explode. When you start to release this energy or as this energy starts to become detached from old belief systems or bodily symptoms, it becomes free energy, excited energy to say the least simply because it’s free and ready to run wild again.
Your body doesn’t quite know yet what do with it when this happens. But it’s exactly in this realm of chaos that new beginnings occur. It’s when you break your bonds from old ways of thinking, that new potentialities emerge. It’s in the disturbance, in the discomfort that a new you is born. As so as this new you is being born, here’s where it’s helpful to find your anchors through connection to the people you love, through doing things you love, through meditating, through writing, and through simply knowing that this beautiful chaos you are experiencing is a beautiful birth about to be born and that part of this beautiful experience is not knowing yet what it will all look like.