Many of us who were raised in dysfunctional families became disconnected from our bodies at an early age. We (unconsciously) did it to avoid our own feelings because they were too painful or too powerful to bear.
The idea that our minds are separate from our bodies has been lauded as a good thing in western history. We, as a race, have put much emphasis on the power of the mind and have looked upon emotions as wild, crude and untamed. We've heard it said many times: I go with my head not my heart. However the mind and the body cannot be separate if we wish to live with a sense of peace, creativity and fulfillment.
Many of us learned to close down our feelings when we were young and in some sort of trauma. As adults, we found ways of encouraging this shutdown of feelings by using mood-altering behaviors to keep the feelings away.
We may not be drinking alcohol, taking street drugs or gambling our family money away, but we may have found other, more subtle ways of keeping disconnected from our bodies and feelings. Indeed, society encourages some of these behaviors.
Take work, it is very acceptable to work every hour possible and then receive praise from peers and authority figures on a great job. Likewise, our society encourages us to be rake thin. Not eating as a way of staying in control and disconnecting from our bodies is common amongst those of us raised in dysfunctional families.
Another behavior trait is to mistake pity for love. Many of us have found that by trying to rescue other people under the guise of doing something good for society, we actually created many more problems for ourselves as we ran away from a connection to our bodies and into the arms of someone who was also disconnected from their body. Severely codependent relationships are common amongst adults who were raised in dysfunctional families.
However, in peeling off the layers of these behaviors we come to recognize there may be some positive rewards for re-connecting with our body and mind. We are getting a sense that we are disconnected or consciously unaware of our bodies almost as if we are trying to deaden the body dead to kill an emotional pain.
We also see that not only is the pain inside our bodies, but also the love. If we are not connected to our body, we miss out on all of our feelings, including feelings of freedom, joy, love, playfulness and feeling loved. If we ask ourselves: what does it feel like to feel loved? Many of us do not know how to answer that question. In order to get to the beautiful parts of our self we may need to work through the emotional pain first. The emotional pain is like the crust on the pie; we need to work through the pain before we get to the good stuff.
But this work is not as hard as we fear. Many of us are terrified that if we get in touch with the pain, we may never come out alive! However, studies show that we cannot cry for more than 15 minutes, there just isn't enough fluid in the body to create the tears. We only get what we can handle. Added to which, the rewards of healing and feeling more alive come much more quickly than we anticipated.
The following meditation is a simple way of re-connecting yourself with your body. You can record the whole meditation and play it to yourself. Do this once a day for one week.
Settle down in a comfortable, safe place lying on your bed or somewhere you won’t be disturbed…wrap up in a rug or something to make you cozy…. when you are comfortable, close your eyes… now bring your attention to your breath… and feel the rise and fall of the abdomen as your breath moves in and out…lie here for a moment and let your breath be your guide… as you breath in and out…. you may notice your mind is wandering off in thoughts…. or that you experience physical sensations in your body… simply escort your mind back to the breath and feel the breath going in ……and out…..and in….and out…. this is a meditation to be fully aware of your body …. Your experience it's not about trying to change anything. Or trying to relax …. But the intention of this meditation is to bring your awareness to the sensations in your body as you touch each part of it with your attention …. Bring your attention back to the rising and falling off your abdomen …. And get a sense of the sensation of the rise and the sensation of the fall as your breath moves in and out of your body …. And bring your attention now to your feet and ankles and wrap them up in a ball of light …. And feel the connectedness between the ankles and the balls of your feet …. Now focus your attention on your toes …. and imagine your attention is a magic wand …. go in and out of all ten toes feeling the sensation of each toe as you touch it with your attention …. now draw your attention to the balls of the feet …. and then bring your attention down to the heels …. Now wrap your attention around your ankles …. Feel the lightness around the whole of your foot and ankle …. let your attention linger on the sensation that surrounds your feet and ankles …. And when you are ready, bring your attention to your calves and your shins and allow your awareness to expand through the whole of the lower part of your leg …. Swirling around the top of the ankles …. And up to the top part of your lower leg…. let your awareness stay with your whole lower leg …. notice the sensation you feel …. accept the sensation because there’s no need to change anything …. Continue up your body when you're ready …. Move on to your knees …. And your pelvic area …. And your hips …. And your lower back and abdomen and your upper back and chest …. Then your neck and shoulders …. And now your upper arms …. Your lower arms …. Your hands and your head …. Your mouth …. Your nose …. And cheeks …. And eyes, and crown of the head becoming aware of all sensations and anything you may be resisting …. Just bring your awareness into that more than anywhere else using the breath …. You can dissolve any tension using the breath …. By flushing the whole body with your full awareness starting from the crown of the head …. With the in breath take your attention all the way down to your feet with your out breath bring your attention from your feet all the way back up to the top of your head…. rest here until you are ready to open your eyes.