Tune in to the Wisdom of your Body
Guest article with Ashlie Woods of Wildhearted
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came at a very pivotal time in my life. I was straddling the fence of my marriage, an almost 10 year relationship, and I was really struggling to make a decision about which way to go.
I was doing everything I knew to do at the time to find clarity. I was taking classes, I was seeing a counselor, I was talking to trusted friends and really, I was looking in the only place that I knew to look – my head. It seemed if I searched hard enough I could find the right answer.
I was wrestling with what I thought I should do, what other people expected me to do and all the various consequences involved with such a weighty decision.
You’ve heard the expression hot mess? That’s precisely what I felt like at the time!
Then a trusted mentor encouraged me to:
Notice what it feels like in your body when you tell the truth.
Although I had never considered consulting my body before, I trusted her and took her advice to heart. I began paying close attention and I discovered a very distinct way that the truth felt for me. Let me be clear, when I say the truth, I don’t mean some big universal, ultimate truth. I simply mean my truth. I found that when I spoke the truth I felt deeply rooted in my feet and simultaneously light in my chest. Speaking my truth settled the restlessness in my body with a calm certainty.
Like a compass that reliably points north, our bodies can guide us to what is true.
Around this same time, I began doing energy work with a local healer. And I had one of those profound experiences that moves you from hopeful skeptic to unquestionable believer.
She held a tuning fork in one hand as the other hand hovered above the center of my body. I lie there, somewhat apprehensive yet hopeful. She instructed me to repeat after her… spirals and anti-spirals of my mother’s confusion are now released from my Medtronic cube.
As the words came out of my mouth, I experienced a vortex of energy being sucked up from the center of my body – so palpable and undeniably strong – that my body shook and I immediately burst into laughter. When I started laughing, she started laughing and quickly we fell into a fit of contagious laughter that continued and continued until it was finally spent and there was an evident new spaciousness in my body.
The story of our life is stored in our body.
As people committed to transformational work, we know the power of stories. And we know that when stories are causing us suffering we can rewrite, reframe and retell them. That alone can be incredibly powerful. But replacing an old story with a new story doesn’t make you free. Stories live in your body as energy. Releasing that trapped energy, transmuting it from your body and reprogramming yourself with a new experience is the ultimate pathway to freedom.
You can create a possibility, in your head and with your words, but if you don’t experience the possibility as an embodied truth, it has no staying power. It’ll be here one minute and gone the next.
Darla’s brilliant coaching encourages you to create a new experience for yourself and it’s for this very reason. Without the new experience, the possibility can’t live in the body and be sustained.
Why is creating change so hard?
We’re wired for survival. We have an entire system designed to protect us and keep life predictable. Whenever we get close to stepping out of our comfort zone and making a change we must contend with a host of programming that is designed to keep us the same.
As we inch toward creating a new experience for ourselves, our bodies are going to fight like hell to keep us safe. Your fight or flight response is going to kick in, stress hormones are going to flood your body, your focus of attention is going to narrow so that other possibilities disappear. Survival mode will be in full effect.
This whole process is going to happen whether you want it to or not. Experiencing this process with awareness can be the difference between backing down in fear or stepping forward with courage.
Your ability to be with the discomfort that arises in your body when you start taking new actions is directly correlated to your ability to be free.
If you cannot be with the discomfort you experience you cannot get to the other side. And the other side is freedom, choice, creativity and possibility. The other side is your fullest, most self-expressed life!
Your body is a Divine instrument and your partner in transformation.
Calibrating the instrument of your body and expanding your somatic capacity will allow you to:
- Discover your own true north so that it can guide you in moments of uncertainty.
- Release old stories and their influence from your energetic field.
- Embody new possibilities in a way that has you taking new actions with ease.
- Regulate your nervous system and go beyond the fear that would normally stop you.
A few practices to help you calibrate:
Notice what it feels like in your body when you tell the truth.
- Begin where it’s easy and low risk like choosing what you’ll wear today.
- Pick something out of your closet to wear and notice how your body responds. Observe without judgement or adding any story.
- Pick something different out of your closet and notice what, if anything, changes in your body as you hold this item.
- Continue this exercise until you hold something that feels true. Make note of your own experience by observing your breath, your posture and the sensations in your body.
Let your body take you on a walk.
- You can do this exercise anywhere (inside or outside) as long as you have a little space to move around.
- Begin by feeling your feet firmly against the ground.
- Take a few mindful breaths into your heart space and relax your shoulders.
- Ask your body which way it wants to go and wait for an impulse to arise.
- Follow the impulse.
- If nothing feels clear, make a move anyway and notice how that feels.
- You can always start in one direction and if it doesn’t feel true, change direction and see what happens.
- Pause at any moment to recenter with your feet planted solidly on the ground and wait for the impulse to move you.
Be assured there is no wrong way to do these exercises. You cannot possibly mess them up. Relate to them more like an experiment and approach them with as much curiosity and openness as possible.
Expanding your vocabulary can also support your somatic growth and development and enable you to express more of the nuances of your experience. I’ve included a list of descriptors to support you here.
Depending on your current level of development you might find the practices to be challenging. It’s like going to the gym for the first time and your muscles are weak. That’s perfectly ok. Just like any muscle, your strength will build over time as long as you consistently practice. Remember to be patient and gentle with yourself and just keep showing up to lift the weight.
Ashlie Woods, Founder of Wildhearted, Certified Integral Coach, International retreat leader, travel enthusiast, meditation practitioner, devoted dancer and photographer.
Ashlie believes you are infinitely powerful and inherently creative. Her work is about you knowing that truth in the most undeniable of ways so that you can embody it in every area of your life.
Ashlie’s journey to freedom began over a decade ago when she attended a weekend workshop and discovered that she wasn’t broken. That life-changing moment propelled her along an endless path of self-love and authentic living.
In the decade since, she’s come to know the wholeness of who she is, to trust her intuition for guidance and to believe that she is worthy of what she most desire.
She believes there is nothing sweeter or more liberating than loving yourself exactly the way that you are.
Ashlie’s free gift for RAGR readers is “The Language of the Body” – GET YOURS HERE!
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