Our Bodies Our Teachers
As a young girl, I was one of the first in my age group to reach adult height. I awkwardly knocked my ankles with my beloved clogs until they started to bleed. Asthmatic and shy, I learned to stay quiet and try not to draw too much attention to myself. In my early teens I owned my sense of alienation, inside and out, by embracing the brooding aesthetic of what might now be called Emo. I wore only black for a year straight. I continued to express my inner philosophical exploration of identity through my appearance into my late teens by wearing punk hair styles and eccentric fashion. It wasn’t until I found my creative self-expression through writing and later through yoga that I was able to step away from the very external expression of my internal exploration to a more personal one.
Through the struggle of trying to understand what it meant to be a woman, a ‘free spirit’ brought up in a very conservative religious household, from asthmatic to athletic, from sheltered to worldly, from fearful to adventurous, my body has always been a powerful teacher as I struggled to find comfort in my skin. At times I even felt numb and disconnected. I explored what it meant to be a woman and embrace my sexuality and sensuality as a source of empowerment, instead of a source of political defiance, or shame and confusion. It took learning under a powerful medicine women who saw me from my soul potential, to learn that my emotions, powerful intuition and messages from my higher self, were not something that were meant to be pushed aside or to be labeled as too sensitive or even crazy. These were my powers. This was my body, higher mind and spirit’s methods of communicating my truth, these were my teachers and guides.
It’s a constant practice with many layers of understanding but I try to keep these teachings and my connection to my inner guidance system. At times I doubt myself but from that space of self doubt I am usually met by anxiety or depression, sure signs that I am acting counter to the will of my true self.
The practice of mindfully listening and honoring the messages of our bodies, emotions and intuition are an important, even necessary communication system that we must follow in order to find fulfillment and personal growth. If you ignore this innate guidance system, you will never feel peaceful within yourself. No matter how closely you follow an externally imposed life path, no matter how sensible it may seem or how much it promises success, it will never feel fulfilling if you ignore your inner guidance system.
We start the practice by listening to our bodies. Take note of physical imbalances such as, allergies, lack of or over active energy, appetite, or sex drive. Become aware of how you register other peoples’ energy in your body. Notice where you feel your emotions, such as anger, agitation, depression, anxiety. Act on impulses such as the need to sleep more, spend more time outdoors, give in to healthy food cravings. Follow your gut feelings, even if they don’t make sense. Honor and trust your emotions.
If you are used to following the lead of others or letting external expectations or fear, be your guides, this practice will feel a bit overwhelming at first. Our internal guidance system is powerful once we start to take note of it and following your own path can seem daunting because there is not prescribed way to live an authentic life. But once you begin you will know that there is no other way to honestly navigate this life.
Yoga is a wonderful place to activate the awareness of this internal guidance system. While we move and breathe we honor what our unique bodies teach us. We were all born to our specific bodies because they are the exact vehicle we need to transcend the challenges and experience the lessons that will help us achieve the greatest versions of our selves. I always say, wishing for someone else’s body is like desiring someone else’s karma, you don’t know what’s it’s like to be in their shoes and why would you want to. You are perfect in your physical manifestation of the divine. Your body, your vehicle for self-exploration on the earth was custom designed for the specific needs of your soul. Get to know your inner guidance system, listen to it and you will find the greatest guide and friend you will ever need.