This has been a hailstorm year in Northern Colorado: my much-beloved perennials have been stripped, torn and battered three times so far, and it’s only the first week of “official” summer! What astonishes me, though, is how quickly the plants recover. How can it be that Wednesday morning’s flattened carnage can spring back into full, luxuriant health by Saturday afternoon? Despite the scarred, stripped foliage, the still-bare stems, new leaves spring up and drenched buds bloom. Each time, I don’t believe it’ll happen… and each time, it does.
So if plants can do this, why don’t our bodies respond the same way? As a healing practitioner, I’d love to be able to guarantee each client that, after they’ve cleared out the “hail damage” from past traumas and swept up the inner debris of old unfinished business, the physical damage to the body will swiftly and magically repair itself. And frequently it does: as many of you know, I wouldn’t be here today writing this if my physical heart had not responded, in hours, to the clearing of my emotional heartbreak story. But all too often, it seems, an illness can creep up on a person and become so firmly established that the body can’t spring back even after we’ve cleared out the root causes sitting in cell memory.
There are certainly lots of outer reasons why our bodies can have a rough time responding to inner healing work. We’re all well aware of most of them: deteriorating quality of the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink; increasing levels of stress-inducing inputs and interactions; ever greater demands to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources… But isn’t there a way we can tip the scales more in our body’s favor? Yes, we can do deep work to clear out cellularly held emotional causes and limiting beliefs. But after that clearing, how can we give our bodies a better chance to spring back? And once healed, how can we do more to ensure we stay healthy? How can we know what the body wants and needs from us?
We in the Western world have inherited a mandate to “live from the neck up.” Our chock-full schedules, our history, our culture have all insisted that success depends on using our bodies without listening to them or attending to more than their most basic survival needs. Even worse, for centuries or perhaps millennia most Westerners who desired to “follow spirit” or “care for the soul” were instructed to ignore the body’s needs and signals, shut down or battle its instincts and desires, and grit their teeth while “rising above” its aches and illnesses.
As a result, even the most enlightened among us have anesthetized ourselves so thoroughly that very, very few messages from below the neck even arrive in our conscious awareness. The information bridge between mind and body has mostly shut down. By and large, it now takes the two-by-four of dire physical pain or near-total breakdown of a major body system to get our attention. And by then, the body’s state may be so chaotic, its calls for help so overwhelming in their catastrophic intensity, that even knowing where to start is a hugely daunting task. The field of physical healing has become a battleground where we are far too busy “fighting disease” to spare much thought for loving and nurturing our beleaguered body back into wholeness. And even when wholistic, alternative healing methodologies are added to the equation, it often seems we are riding to the body’s rescue far too late and with far too little real information…
How, then, can we—so identified with our conscious mind—connect with the body fully enough to learn what will help the body be resourceful and resilient? How can we help it both resist and recover from life’s hailstorms?
These days we know that going “inside” to find and clear the root causes of dis-ease is a vital part of physical healing. Through deep-healing modalities like Journeywork we can now update our body’s programming, revise what we are “saying” to the body. We can tell our cells it’s time to let go of old junk, and inform them they are now free to return to the original healthy patterns stored in their DNA. That’s certainly a great start. But do we then turn away, ears closed to the body’s messages back to us? Does the traffic across this re-established mind-body bridge flow in only one direction?
What if we could tune in to this physical form before it starts to contort in pain or shut down in despair? Can vital information flow both ways across our bridge to the body so we can enter into a real, two-way communication with our physical form? And if so, how? How can we receive our body’s early warnings, hear its suggestions, understand its true needs and preferences? And how can we discover, right now, whether our mind and our body are actually at peace with each other, merged in a truly loving collaboration, or headed for calamitous divorce?
The body, busily processing its two billion bits of incoming data per second, has a lot to teach the mind. Here’s a way to begin the dialogue.
Bridging the Mind-Body Gap
Part One: Body Survey
Begin this survey by taking three long, slow, deep breaths. After reading each question, let your eyes close, take one more long, slow breath, and then let the answers emerge from the body via your feeling-sense. Open your eyes and quickly write down the information you received. Take a breath to clear your inner space, then move on to the next question.
Is there any area in my body right now where I’m feeling tightness, achiness or discomfort? List any such areas.
Are there any other areas that often feel this way? List them.
Is there any area in my body right now that is in pain? List any areas.
Are there any other areas that are often in pain? List them.
Have I been diagnosed with a disease, deficiency, infection or inflammation? If so, what organs, systems or body parts are involved? List the condition and where it is showing up in the body.
Are there any other illnesses that habitually show up in my body? List them.
Are there any other undiagnosed symptoms of bodily unease showing up in my life (rashes, fever, nausea, weakness, fatigue, headaches, etc.)? List them.
Are there any parts of my body I feel uneasy about or angry with? List them.
Select the one area of the body that seems to be “speaking” most loudly to you, or the one symptom, disease or condition that is currently creating the most distress. (If you have none, hooray! Save this exercise, though. Hailstorms do happen!)
Part Two: At the Sacred Fire
Closing your eyes and taking three long, deep breaths, imagine yourself sitting beside the sacred fire of Life itself. Invite the disease, infection, pain, or distressed area of the body to show up on the other side of the fire. Then tell it:
I am sorry I haven’t been listening. I want to hear what you have to say. Thank you for showing up here in my inner world. What is your message to me?
Take another breath and relax into listening. If the body part or condition were to respond to you, what do you sense it is saying? If you don’t receive a full answer immediately, try one or more of these questions:
What pain or disharmony you are trying to bring to my attention?
What unfinished business do you represent?
Is there old pain or an old belief or decision I need to let go of?
Is there a decision I need to make or an action I need to take?
What healing action would you like me to take?
Thank the illness, discomfort or body part and offer it loving energy. Take three more long, deep breaths; with each out-breath, send love down into the body. Feel any barriers between body and mind loosening, melting, dissolving in love and appreciation. Let go of any “push” to make the body respond a certain way, or make the illness leave… simply focus on harmony, oneness, a clearer and deeper communication with the physical aspect of you. Open the eyes when ready and go on to Part Three.
Part Three: Take Action as Necessary
Your next steps will depend on the information you received:
If there’s an indication of unfinished business from the past, you may wish to make an agreement with the body that you will do some inner work to find and clear it. Set a date. Can you promise to do some “hailstorm cleanup” within three days? A week?
If there’s a conscious or unconscious belief creating separation and disharmony between mind and body, ask your body what the belief is. Does that belief or old decision serve you today? If the answer is “no,” are you ready to update that old programming? Envision yourself clearing it out of the body, mind, heart. What would be a healthier belief or commitment to action?
If there’s a choice to make or outer action steps to take, would you be willing to commit to making that decision or beginning to take those steps within three days? A week? A month? Make sure you intend to keep the commitment, so the body doesn’t have to “remind” you!
Part Four: Repeat When Needed
What if you’ve taken your action step(s), but the body is still clamoring for more attention? You may wish to review your Part One lists, choose another item and repeat Part Two as many times as feels necessary. Or just invite your body to the Sacred Fire for further conversation on your original topic.
Your body will learn to speak to you more clearly as you keep practicing listening. I’ve found that once the body gets the message that you are willing to turn inward and pay attention, it will teach you to tune in to its subtler signals. You’ll notice twinges or unease or departures from your healthy norms far more quickly; you’ll start tuning into the energy flows through your body and what they tell you; and you’ll develop a “gut” awareness of just what resources the body needs right now. And then you discover that you've built not only a two-way communication bridge, but a true foundation for a healthy, loving relationship with this astonishing, hail-defying, resilient, self-repairing physical body. Long may you bloom!