Empowerment happens when we inhabit our bodies.
My mentor Jack Kornfield in his podcast “the wisdom hour” shares the story of a man that lived 10 metres away from his body. In all honesty that was me a few years back. The only thing I sensed in my body, was my back aches, my headaches, hunger, anger, and fatigue.
Sitting through my body scan meditation, was torture. Every part I connected with, felt numb, numb, and number. I have to say, I asked myself if this practice of meditation was like the slimming tablet that promises miracles and delivers disappointment.
After a while, I decided that I don’t want to torture myself any longer and let’s accept defeat. Mindfulness practice 1, Amel 0.
One thing I knew for sure, is that I loved dancing, and I always use to say; “I come to life when I dance”, but I never made a big deal of that statement or even crossed my mind to see what it meant.
However, my relationship with the body changed when I attended a retreat in Zimbabwe. If you know anything about African cultures and people, you will know that people love to dance, and they have a song for every emotion, mind state, and season of the year.
There I was taking part in various dances evoking the four seasons. The movements were slow, intense, sharp, and upbeat. With every dance, I witnessed my inner state shifting, from being open to being calm to being emotional, to being activated. I could feel the changes at a cellular level. I was in awe.
It was such a profound experience, that it started me on a journey to better understand the body, how it communicates, its various functions, and more importantly, how to connect to my body to inform my journey of growth and aliveness.
For the last five years, I have been finding out about the power of movement, sound, sight, and smell in healing self and in regulating. I started to notice the settle shifts within my body which revealed more about the stuckness I experienced in life in general, and yet I was completely oblivious to.
I started seeing my re-activeness to situations and certain people were no longer there and almost dissolving. I started moving away from using negative words to describe my sensations, which led me to be more contemplative and curious when new sensations showed up and was patient to unravel what it meant in due course.
By paying attention to the felt senses within me, I started noticing my own rhythm and its slowness and my need for more space in my life to integrate.
I realized that I was living in a continuous imbalance between outer reach and inner reach. I wasn’t in harmony and honoring myself and my need for space.
Lately, I find myself reminded of a phrase my dad uses to describe the changes that happen within us humans, to describe what happens when we start paying attention: “First comes a nudge, then a movement, then the word, then the context”.
If I was to look at my life experiences, in every situation or experience, there was always a nudge within, that led me to take a particular action or sometimes not (movement), which led to a meaning I made about the situation(words) and created the context I found myself in.
So, when I started paying attention inwardly to my felt sense (bodily sensations), I started to feel more re-aligned and in harmony with my actions, choices, and decisions I make. Now I rely on the wisdom of my body to orient my action and regulate my being.
I have also been helping my clients to integrate small practices into their daily life, which helps them connect and find that inner alignment.
One thing I always invite my client to is; to find a practice that gives them joy, bring a sense of aliveness, and just pay attention to what this particular practice evokes for them, or help them tap into. Once they connect to that felt sense, I invite them to sense where this evoked state resides in their body, just pay attention to what is happening within the body as they bring it forward, how it extends, and where it beginnings. I invite them to be curious for just 02min and do that regularly and see what shifts emerge.
Try it for yourself and see what shows up for you. I know that connecting to my five senses and realizing that sound and movement are my strongest gates of knowledge, helped me feel more resourced.