Now that we’ve covered four of the Big Body Myths, we’ve come to the final one ...
Body Myth 5: The Body Knows Far Less Than the Brain.
I’m continually mystified by the brilliant minds who second-guess their instinctual gut knowing.
Or their heart’s inspiration.
Or their bones’ deep clarity.
As a result, they drive themselves crazy. But they’re far from alone.
Most of us in the Western world are trained to trust our logical left brain and rational thoughts over our bodies.
Yet, a lot has changed surrounding this concept in the last couple of decades.
For instance, neuroscience has shown that the gut makes more neurotransmitters than the brain that resides in our head.
I’ve read astounding research that demonstrates howthe body registers incoming events before the mind or visual system can even see them coming.
And I know many of us remember circumstances when our body took a wise action that saved us before our mind had time to react.
Still ... Body Myth 5 remains an epidemic in our culture.
The late Emilie Conrad, my dear friend and co-teacher in 18 years of classes together blending movement, breath and sound with hands on therapeutic touch, used to say, “Admit it, Suzanne. We in the bodywork and movement fields are still out in the barn.
“The rest of academia is up in the mansion discussing the future of humanity.
“And if we’re honest, we’re still out in the barn with the animals because of our focus on the wisdom of the body.”
I say it's time to move out of the barn!
This lack of understanding of our body wisdom wreaks havoc on our health and well-being.
It robs us of our potential for happiness — as well as the inherent juiciness and joy in life.
Our bodies are well-calibrated navigational systems once we learn how to listen to and respect their assessments.
But if we disrespect our bodies and second-guess their messages ... they will go mute over time.
The loss of this wisdom leaves us vulnerable as we’re forced to negotiate life with only the signals from our brain and past experiences.
It is our present-moment sensory experience that provides the foundational data to the prefrontal area of our brain to facilitate the wisest decision-making.
Without a conscious sensory connection to the present, we’re forced to orient to the past.
Sadly, those with unresolved trauma are at an even greater disadvantage ...
Because numb, frozen, and painful places in their bodies prevent them from accessing this intelligence.
Wisdom Ignored at a Price
Cassie arrived in my office suffering with relentless shin and leg pain.
She had recently run in a marathon a few months before and in the second half of the race, her knees and shins had started to ache.
But instead of listening to her body, she plowed on.
She mistakenly believed her endorphins would take care of the problem.
Instead, it grew steadily worse.
By the time she reached the finish line, she was hobbling. And she’d been hobbling ever since.
As we worked together, it became apparent one of the reasons her legs weren’t healing was because she was “angry with my stupid body for not doing what I wanted it to do.”
She was frustrated with how her legs should be behaving. So she wasn’t giving them the rest they needed to heal.
In our session together, I gently held her shins and knees ... and tuned in.
Initially, my hands felt hot and inflamed where I touched her. So I asked Cassie what she noticed there.
She had a hard time deciphering at first.
But then she registered shock as she began feeling the heat.
I explained that when tissue is inflamed like that, no amount of willpower can heal it if you aren't prepared to work with the body’s wisdom to understand its needs.
Cassie went silent for a few minutes.
Then she shared how her Asian family lineage was one of pushing past the needs of the body in order to survive.
In her family, the body was seen as the servant to the mind.
Its sole purpose was to further the family and individual standing in their community.
Willing herself to keep pushing through was all she knew.
As I continued holding her legs, she slowly allowed herself to recognize how her family's belief system was impeding her healing process.
We dialogued with her legs. And she promised to allow them to rest and heal -- demonstrating how much she valued them.
Cassie was suddenly able to see that resting did not equal weakness.
Instead, it was a sign of intelligence — body intelligence.
Within weeks, her legs were well on their way to healing.
And with that, Body Myth 5 was dispelled.
Where Do We Go from Here?
The 5 Body Myths I've shared in the last five newsletters are alive and well in many people today.
Take a moment and consider which one may be hindering your life:
The Body Is Too Painful
The Body Is Mysterious and Dangerous
The Body Is Seductive and Leads You Astray
The Body Is Out of Control and Must Be Dominated
The Body Knows Far Less Than the Brain
Awareness is the first step in letting go and making a new choice.
It is vital to realize thatthese attitudes are not a part of our true nature.
Instead, they're adaptations, compensations, and defenses against what's occurred in our lives ... and those of our ancestors.
When we recognize them as the myths they are, new possibilities begin to open up.
And we can make new choices.
We're free to become who we are at a deeper, more authentic level ... filled with joy, ease, and all that those entail.
Life does not become a rose garden.
But it does have more resonance with who we truly are at a soul level.
Suzanne Scurlock, author of books Reclaiming Your Body and Full Body Presence and creator of the Healing From the Core® curriculum,specializes in conscious awareness and its relationship to the healing process. She’s written hundreds of articles, including numerous columns and features for Massage Magazine and Massage Today.
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