[Note: this is Day 4 of a 10-Day Self-Care Expedition. I am examining my relationship with food and movement. You are welcome to join in as well through committing to your own self-care practice, commenting, and/or silently supporting.]
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m actually one day ahead of everyone in this expedition. I started a day early so the daily post would be waiting for you. I’m not really getting up, writing and posting at 6 in the morning. 😉 Ok, onward!
Today it seems as if I’m failing at every aspect of this expedition.
I started off the day with 3 cups of black tea.
Not a bad thing in and of itself. Sometimes my body actually enjoys the feeling of caffeine.
However, now it is mid-afternoon and I feel distracted, anxious, and overwhelmed. I haven’t taken even a moment to slow down and check in.
And, it’s raining.
That only matters because I’m wearing jeans and I don’t want to a) get them wet going for a walk; or b) change into something else. The pressure-resistance pattern is beginning to rear up in a big way.
So, here I am again, about to put my insights from yesterday into effect.
What does my body want in *this* moment?
I take one breath. Now another.
I invite my awareness to begin sinking, sinking, sinking… Sinking down out of my busy busy floating head and into my body. My eyes begin to feel slightly heavy, my vision softens. Yes, even as I’m typing.
I notice this kind of electric feeling running down my legs, this sense of blankness throughout my chest and torso. Tension at the base of my skull.
There is this overall sense of mild-moderate panic running through my body. But, since I’m not feeling super connected to my body right now, it is more of this ‘impression’ vs something I can put into concrete sensation-based language.
Ah. Somehow acknowledging that allows me to take a deeper breath.
And now, I am more present within my body.
There is this gripping sensation in my solar plexus, pressure in my throat, a sense of dullness or heaviness through my stomach.
As I begin to become more aware of what is happening in my body, some of the tension at the base of my skull begins to drain down my neck and to melt away. Nice. I like that.
Now, I’m able to feel how exhausted I feel.
That’s right! I barely slept last night. Just tossed and turned. And, other than a couple of hours with a client, I’ve been mostly working on the computer all day. Not fun. Not nourishing. At least not today.
What might feel nourishing now?
Wow. Even this question brings up discomfort… a dull ache spreading through my chest that whispers ‘Another decision? Just let me rest. Please.’
This ache brings with it sadness. Sadness coupled with the understanding that I’ve once again just pushed through the day without any regard for the needs of my body.
I remember how I didn’t eat (caffeine only) until after 1pm and how very shaky I was feeling by that time. And then, when I did eat, I was super rushed and immediately jumped right back onto the computer afterward.
No wonder my body just wants to rest.
What might feel restful?
More sadness and again, the aching through my chest, less dull and more acute this time.
I sit with it, allowing it to be there, and as it gradually dissolves, I have this sense of more ease and spaciousness throughout my chest. I take another, even deeper, breath.
This is what my body wants right now. This is what she needs. She needs me. Just me. No activity, no food. Just me.
So, this is where Day 4 finds me.
Finally remembering to pause, to slow down, to check in with my body and to listen for her preferences.
Today, I tried very hard to do things *my* way.
It didn’t feel good.
It feels so much better to be here, now, the most connected I have been to my body all day.
I feel relieved and somehow more enlivened even though what is coming up is, again, this ache, this sadness, this grief, for not having listened sooner.
For within this sadness, there is also joy. The joy of homecoming. The joy of once again coming home to my body and to a more true, a more still and connected, experience of myself.
We are entering the midlands of our 10-day expedition. The initial wave of excitement and insights brought on the by the start of the expedition may be beginning to wane.
For me, the midlands are often the hardest part of the expedition and also where the real work is done. The real work of continuing to show up, to remember, and to stick to our commitments. And, of course, the real work of being gentle and kind with ourselves when we don’t show up, remember, or stick to our commitments. 🙂
How does Day 4 find you? What are you noticing? What is emerging for you as you venture deeper into this expedition?
Emma McCreary says
* I don’t want to do the “eat healthy when dieting” thing anymore. I want to practice sustainable eating in a permanent way, so I can feel permanently good. And the thing is, I know exactly how to do it, so it’s actually not hard. It just took overcoming the hurdle of, “I’m being good to myself by letting myself eat treats whenever I want” and realizing I’m actually being better to myself by eating real food and moderating the “treats”.
* I actually do have choice about the messages I’ve received from our culture about how I should relate to my body. That was a new realization. I had to really get down into how impossible it felt to reject them in order to actually shift that. I had to deeply validate the part of myself that felt it had completely no choice but to base the value of my body on its appearance related to beauty standards…in order for that part to relax and realize that actually there are other options. It feels like completely new territory, in a way, but also in another way it feels like returning to something that is natural and good. Like this distorted lens was lifted and I can see myself clearly. I can see the goodness in my body that has nothing to do with its appearance.
* Which is leading to this subtle feeling of actually being able to access some of that “I want to eat good food because it actually feels good”. It’s like feeling bad from eating bad food matched my feeling of “my body is bad because it’s not good enough by cultural standards”. It fit that mindset. But the mindset of “my body is good because it just is” is more matched to a state of wanting to eat good food because my body is good and it feels good to be healthy. It’s like the sugar habit went along with the shame-state of feeling bad about my body. Maybe also part of the pain I always felt that I was trying to cope with using sugar was this fundamental shame around my physicality. In any case, I feel all of this re-integration happening around these areas, and this new state of body-goodness feels happy and relaxed.
* All of this turned out to be about healing my inner 12-year-old…which makes sense, as that is the age around which all the body issues start becoming important, and the “I don’t care whatever” attitude with which I was eating is a very teenager-feeling attitude.
* I always thought “accepting my body” meant “giving up on changing these things I reject about myself”. I’m a pretty driven person, so that was just not really going to fly. But what I’m realizing now is that “accepting my body” is a much deeper shift, of healing this fundamental split caused in me by these cultural messages about our bodies being bad. I had to heal this fundamental body-shame. And then acceptance was a natural result of that healing. In fact I don’t have to accept anything, I just have to stop rejecting my body on a fundamental level. When I was finally able to stop looking at my body through the evaluation lens of our culture, and look at myself in the mirror through my own eyes, I didn’t actually have a problem with my body at all. But wow did that take a lot to get to–hours of journalling and crying and investigating triggers.
* Writing all the above, I’m putting together that this Fundamental Body Shame that is part of our culture is part of the same disconnect that is the way we treat the Earth, the way we treat women, the way we oppress people, etc. It’s all connected. What does it do to an embodied being to reject its own body? Of course we can barely feel our connection to the Earth or each other. We are rejecting our bodies while living in them. I guess these thoughts are all thoughts I’ve had before, but what I have now is an actual experience of what the alternative is–what it feels like to not reject my body. It’s quite nice. 🙂
Gratitude…this is very powerful work. 🙂
OH! And of course this relates just perfectly to the Divination we did around Home and the Earth Priestess stuff too. Yay!
Oh and I think this Fundamental Body Shame is also something men suffer from — it just shows up differently. But if you think about the training men get about emotions and suppressing their feelings–well, feelings are exactly what your body does, all the time. It’s a feeling machine. To reject feeling, and feel ashamed of feelings, is also to reject the body at a fundamental level. We all get that mind/body split, men just get it more around certain feelings, the vulnerable ones. But we are all trained to reject the body, “mind over matter”, “no pain no gain”. It’s fundamental to our culture.
And if you think about “rugged individualism”, that is a rejection of community and caring. So basically, we are taught to reject everything good and healthy that we are naturally designed to do and be and want. What a crazy culture! Good thing we are creating/rediscovering a better one. Sheesh. 🙂
Larisa Noonan says
I’m finding your words/process so very inspiring, Emma! Thank you for sharing with such depth. Here are a couple of gems that spoke very clearly to me:
“…Like this distorted lens was lifted and I can see myself clearly. I can see the goodness in my body that has nothing to do with its appearance.”
“I always thought “accepting my body” meant “giving up on changing these things I reject about myself”.” — Wow. There’s a lot here for me too. I’m going to spend some time with this one.
I want to continue pulling out pieces that really speak to me…however, it is all speaking to me! So, for now, thank you, thank you for being here and sharing in this way.