“What is your truth? Ask your heart, your back, your bones, and your dreams. Listen to that truth with your whole body. Understand that this truth will destroy no one, and that you’re too old to be sent to your room.” ~John Lee, Writing from the Body
When I was in graduate school at Antioch University Los Angeles, I focused on the art and craft of poetry writing. And more specifically, I focused on women poets who wrote about the body — and I wrote many, many poems of the body myself. (I like to call these poems PoBods, as in, “I wrote a juicy PoBod today and I hope it will be published!” Okay, maybe not.)
In any case, what drew me to writing about the body is the same powerful epiphany that led me on my path to becoming a bodywork practitioner: the body is wise! The brain can be cluttered, confused, overwhelmed, and it can even trick us. Don’t get me wrong, I love the brain and all its mysterious wonder. I am fascinated by how we store information and how we respond to stimuli–and I am in awe of its power. A thought can relax the whole body. A thought can cause a panic attack. A thought can trigger a whole-body response!
The body, though, doesn’t trick us. It can’t. It just responds, reacts, feels. It gives us information that we don’t need to understand with our logical minds. We feel goosebumps, our feet ache, our heart pounds. These are clues to how we are doing. These are cues for us to pay attention, to listen deeply, and to ask our bodies, “What do you have to tell me?”
Every part of your body is wise (not only your brain). Your spleen is wise, your fingers are wise, your sternum is wise, and even your pores are wise! The sensations and emotions we hold in our bodies give us important information. We often think we need to look outside of ourselves for wisdom. I believe we hold most of it — at least the wisdom about ourselves. Yes, there are gurus and wise men and women to guide and inspire us, but your body is your gateway to your knowing yourself fully and deeply.
And when we write with attention to our bodies and from our bodies, we discover wisdom and insights that can change our lives.
Take out your journal or a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Then close your eyes. Scan your body from head to toe, just noticing without judgement. What areas feel tight, sore, or achy? What areas feel warm and open? What areas feel hollow, vacant? Just notice and take note. Then open your eyes and begin to write from one of those places that you noticed — and write in the perspective of that place. For instance, if your heart feels like it was burning, write as if you are the heart feeling the burning. Describe all that you feel and notice, and then ask yourself, as the heart, “what do I need?” See what your heart has to say.
Try This, Part Two
Drop in to one of my “Healing Through Writing” groups on Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30pm at my home business in the Roosevelt District. Bring yourself as you are with your journal and cozy up next to my fireplace with a cup of tea for some body-based writing. Each session will be different, but have a similar approach to writing as a healing process and the body as a wise temple we have full access to if we learn to listen.
No long-term commitment needed. Show up on a day that works for you. An RSVP prior to your coming would be lovely so I know how many people to expect (email firstname.lastname@example.org). $10 donation requested, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Our first writing group will be on Wednesday, March 28. For more details, click here.