How often do you feel like your body is a separate entity, an entity that you don’t really have a relationship with? It’s as though you’re complete strangers inhabiting the same space. I think of Nicole Krauss’s description of a broken relationship in her novel Great House: “We were two people locked in our antigravity suits who happened to be orbiting around the same pieces of his mother’s old furniture. And then he drifted off, through some loophole in our apartment, to an unreachable part of the cosmos.”
How long does it take you to realize that there’s an ache, a tension, inside your body? Many of us don’t notice the ache or the tension until it’s significant and screaming at us.
How often do you feel disconnected from your emotions? Maybe you don’t know what you’re feeling. Maybe you don’t realize you’re frustrated until the anger is so fierce, you think you’ll explode. Maybe you don’t realize the hurt until it feels like it’s piercing through your heart.
This is understandable. After all, there are so many things that require our attention on a daily basis. And frequently we forget the biggest one: ourselves. Or maybe we don’t exactly forget. Maybe we think we’re just not that important.
I was recently reminded of an excellent strategy for reconnecting to our bodies and for reconnecting to ourselves. It’s a body scan, which certified life coach Kate Swoboda talks about in her thoughtful, compassionate book The Courage Habit: How to accept your fears, release the past and live your courageous life.
Swoboda suggests setting a timer for 5 minutes, and starting at your feet, asking them: “Hey, what’s up today? No pressure. Just curious.” If those words don’t resonate with you, her clients have used these other questions: “What would you like me to know?” or “What feels true?”
Then move on to your knees, and ask your question. Then do the same for your thighs, pelvis, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck and forehead.
I love the lightness and flexibility of this approach, which makes it especially accessible. The key is to be curious. Simply notice and sit with whatever comes up (without trying to change it).
Swoboda also features other valuable suggestions for tuning in, such as:
- asking different parts of your body the question, “What do you need?”
- dancing to your favorite music (which might differ from day to day)
- stretching your body
- practicing yoga (and finding the style you like best because there are soooo many)
- running (because running is difficult Swoboda’s brain stops chattering and she’s able to fully focus on her body and breath)
- walking or hiking, coming back to your breath and observing what’s happening inside your body.
It’s totally normal to feel disconnected from our bodies, from ourselves. It’s natural for things to wax and wane, to push and pull, to tighten and to loosen. Which is why it’s important to have tools you can turn to, tools that resonate with you.
Even taking just 5 minutes to essentially talk to your body, to have a conversation (driven by pure curiosity), not only helps you to reconnect, but helps you to start rebuilding your relationship. A relationship founded on kindness and respect.