• Lijing Cobb

The body story

Yesterday during a creative workout session my body told me a story. Before we got started it told me to listen. Every step of the way it moved it reminded me to feel. It got all the way to the ground, gradually it went up to touch the sky, and retraced its steps to come all the way back down to the ground. The front of the body was in focus, then the back, then the side; the top of the body said something eloquent while the rest kept quiet but in attention, and then it gave away the limelight. When one part of the body quivered and couldn't go on, the rest came to the rescue and helped. When a good effort was put forth by the whole, it took the time to rest and smile before going again. When it was time to finish the story, it thanked me for listening, and encouraged me to continue my day in the same vein.

My body told me to be gentle, kind, and mindful. Know where I am in every moment, and pay attention to that moment. Each moment is pregnant with meaning, and if I listen carefully, that moment naturally leads to the next, where another world unfurls. There is no need to think. All I need to do is to follow where I'm led.

My body told me that I have all I need to tell my story. I take on what I can with what I have. I have the choice of setting off fireworks or explosives. I can paint rainbows or swamps. I choose to smell the rose or be pricked by the thorn. I can eat my apple when it's freshly picked, or let it rot and throw it in the trash. I have the power to create, nurture, and thrive; I can also ignore, damage, and destroy.

Perhaps you've heard of the term "body awareness," or even a fancy word, "proprioception," referring to our awareness of the body in space while it is in motion. When we walk in our own bedroom and bump into the corner of the bed and hurt ourselves, that is us not being terribly aware of where our body is in the space of the unmoving bedroom. When we go to high-five someone but miss their hand completely, that's our (or your partner's) proprioception misfiring in that very moment. When we see someone doing a pistol squat in a video and try to do it ourselves but fall on our butt, that's mostly because they've done it a thousand times and we've done it once, but our body awareness did not stop us in time before the inevitable fall.

For me, body awareness is more than that. It is to notice that we are hunching our shoulders because we just heard some unwelcome news. It is to feel the frown on our face when we see a mess on the floor. It is to be aware that we are dragging our feet at the end of a long and exhausting day.

And it is the willingness to change all of that.

In other words, body and mental awareness are inextricably intertwined. The body reacts to experiences viscerally and sends our brain constant messages. It is up to our brain to decide whether to take the body seriously and do something about it. The more we take our body seriously, the more actions occur with good intentions, the better we are at not bumping into our own bed, high-fiving someone, and stopping ourselves from falling on our butts while pistol-squatting.

And more importantly, we will un-hunch our shoulders and tell ourselves that we have the power to take on a challenge. We will wipe the frown from our face and find the source of the mess and find out the story. We will lighten our steps at the end of the long day and say to ourselves with confidence, I did the best I can.

So, my friends, what story is your body telling you today?

The pedal my feet rest on refused to move up from the ground when I had both my hands facing forward. My body told me that if I moved one of my hands back and turned the hand backward, the pedal would come up. I did that, and the pedal rose.

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