Trust your body
I have been saying that comment a lot in workshops and with clients recently. “Trust your body. It knows what is best” and of course that is the essence of Tantra: Embodiment. I would say though that while the vast majority of people we work with freely acknowledge that they live in the mind and head and begin to understand the concept of being embodied: there is a sense that they do not trust their body, that while it houses their mind and spirit it is something that is not to be listened to or acknowledged.
In my opinion though, it is the first point of contact with reality, genuine feeling and the present moment.
The body sends us signals all the time, the environment we live in, our internal physical status ( warning us when things are unpleasant or dangerous or pleasurable) what we eat, what we touch, what we smell and the pleasurable external sensations: Cold on a hot day, touch and arousal. Our mind then interprets what the body is saying and translates it so that it fits into our internal reality: Which may or may not reflect the Real (capital R) or Objective Reality if you like. We can then choose to accept or ignore what the body is saying. For example, how many times have you ignored that twinge pain and pressed ahead with a task or endeavour only to suffer a strain or ache? Or turned away from pleasurable sensations over a vague guilt or worry that they are somehow wrong or bad and regretted not having the experience later? (not necessarily sexual, but refusing that last delicious chocolate hobnob on a plate when in a group of people for fear of being judged: That is perhaps a well-known English trait)
So if the body is telling us what is Real, why do we not trust it and instead put our faith in a possibly faulty interpretation of what it is telling us? The answer to that lies in the question: it is in an aspect of our unconscious mind which is influencing our interpretation and that is our Cognitive Belief system. This isn’t going to be an anti-religious rant though as a cognitive belief system is a lot more complex than that. Beliefs are a mixture of truth, educational, cultural and parental rules and regulations, assumptions, interpretations and inferences, they are a structure of norms that are interrelated and as J.L Uso-Domenech puts it “Belief systems are the stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of Reality”. We all have a belief system and there are many positive benefits to having beliefs, however there are negative affects when those beliefs are mistaken or arise from erroneous thinking. It is an important aspect of coaching that we identify the mistaken beliefs which are negatively impacting upon us and begin the process of change. That is in itself is a topic all on its own but within the context of what I am talking about though what we believe about our body directly affects our relationship to it and there are many ways our beliefs influence us and they are both shared by and unique to individuals. As a general example, a body image conscious society will foster a belief that non-conformity to an ideal is wrong or a group prizing intellect will have influences on what we believe about our bodies and its importance in our subjective reality. In the former engendering disgust and shame and in the latter minimising or ignoring the importance of the body’s signals. In similar fashion our perception of our body as a source of sexual satisfaction is directly affected by what we believe about sex and sexual pleasure: we may both disassociate ourselves from our body on one hand or drive it to excess on the other depending on our beliefs. But generally we find discord and emotional upset when what we feel and want to feel is in conflict with what we believe, but what can we do about it?
Hot is still Hot, Cold is still Cold but our beliefs can change: To a greater or lesser extent we can change our beliefs (core beliefs being more difficult to change) but the information we receive from our bodies is the same. As our beliefs around our body changes then the perception of what it is saying to us changes: from emotional pain to pleasure, from numbness to feeling, from disgust to acceptance. When we change our belief we change our relationship between our mind and body, we trust the real and not the perception of the real. I suppose it boils down to challenging your beliefs against objective reality: or is hot still hot, cold still cold?
Workshop feedback, is very interesting to illustrate this, especially with meditations involving the body. They follow roughly similar lines:
“When I got out of my head and let my body decide, it flowed more smoothly”,
“When I stopped trying to get it right and let my body tell me when to progress in the meditation, I felt much more”
“When I felt my heart in my body and allowed myself to connect, all judgement fell away and I found myself in a place of beauty”
“When you said trust you body, I let go and I felt such release”
With individual clients in coaching, self-pleasuring or breath-work sessions and particularly with Tantra Massage, the simple act of giving themselves permission to trust and connect to their body has an immense affect that ripples throughout their life.
It is one of the reasons I say “Trust Your Body”: It is a simple affirmation delivered in a receptive state which challenges and changes your belief about your body in a subtle, gentle but powerful way. It epitomises Tantric embodiment by bringing you into contact with the Real by bringing you in contact with your physical self. Further, when your body is listened to, is understood and accepted it responds to this: sending stronger and deeper signals, changing the way you think, feel and the nature of your emotions, your self-esteem and confidence and the nature of your relationship to yourself and to others.
Mark Sutton August 2014