Life can often feel mundane. We are stressed by to-do lists miles long and as soon as we cross a few items off more get added. Life can even feel burdensome or confusing. We think we are on the right track to making things efficient, getting into a routine, and then something gets in the way and we become sidetracked. Our schedule can feel like a game of tetris, but somehow we manage. Let’s not even think about what happens when we are injured, sick, or in pain. As the viral video clip from a few years ago so clearly stated, Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!
This is a life of denying the body until we feel its convenient or sometimes until we have no other choice. We work out to make ourselves look certain way, practice yoga to be more flexible, eat healthy to lose weight, but the body only cooperates for a short while and then we repeat the cycle of failure, giving up, starting over. We say its about will power or motivation, but the body doesn’t really work this way and this is the mystery to unravel.
Our bodies don’t need to be controlled. It is not an inconvenience or a nuisance. In fact it is begging for us to listen to the amazing things it has to tell us. When we feel our bodies aren’t as they ‘should’ be we try everything to bend our bodies to our will.
This is life lived from the outside in.
It works, but never for very long and I am here to say there is a better way.
We must ask ourselves the following question:
How do we move from the inside out?
In search of this answer almost unknowingly I have been slowly crafting a response to this. My career and personal life have been careening toward a more embodied perspective on how to truly live in the world from the inside out. How does our body move? How does our mind influence our bodies and vice versa. How can we live more authentic lives? How can we love compassionately, grow, and live with joy and ease? What makes me come alive and how can I use my answer to this question to help others do the same? I have begun to find some answers I feel are useful. I don’t know that I’ll ever figure it all out, but the last few years have opened the doorway to greater understanding of the world around me, how to be my best self and how to share this with others.
Many of the people and experiences that have brought me here seem coincidental, but I now prefer to describe these moments of clarity and transformation as the light bulb switching on after many little moments of flickering. Its as if I have seen bits and pieces of larger tapestry, one that only revealed itself in one brilliant burst of illumination. The more moments of clarity, the more my museum of learning grows in its collection of masterpieces. One such moment happened a few weeks ago when I had the deeply moving experiencing of participating in a 6 day integral anatomy human cadaver dissection led by Gil Hedley. Gil is not only a gift to the study integral anatomy, he is a phenomenal human being and makes the world just that much brighter for being in it. I stood alongside 40+other Somanauts as Gil affectionately refers to those of us who have had the pleasure of exploring inner space with him, and we journeyed together in that mysterious of places known as the human form.
The experience of dissection was one filled with anticipation, wonderment, discovery, fascination, and most of all curiosity. I won’t go into detail about the specifics as I know many folks who upon finding out I was going to attend the dissection told me sarcastically to enjoy myself. Not everyone is into this kind of thing. I know that my wonderment at the prospect of exploring the body from the inside and seeing the amazing connections, the artifacts of life, the residue of the vibration of a lifetime of thoughts, actions, movements and experiences is lost on some. Its challenging for many people to get past the idea of bodily fluids, viscera, and human meat as it were. For me however, this is all part of the amazing canvas upon which life paints itself. In my professional life, I help people connect their minds and bodies to move well and feel good, helping to live the best life they can. I have many tools in my toolbox, but the most useful of all of these is the willingness to go deep within myself and explore what universal truths are evident when I make the effort to take a closer look.
I learned, rediscovered, and reframed so much in those 6 days. I renewed my appreciation for the power of human touch and its role in healing, well being, mood, and homesostasis. I was able to support and be supported by others in fear. I touched once again the deepest parts of my self confidence and even glimpsed the more shadowy places a few times. I was confronted with feeling like a beginner, amongst some folks with so much more experience than me with a scalpel and a hemostat. I was able to touch with my hands that which I have only ever seen or visualized. The psoas up close is pretty breathtaking. The brain is even more confounding. I was amazed at how sturdy and strong the fascial connections are everywhere in the body. I held the heart in my hands. I truly spent time just being with my own body, exploring what I saw on the table and appreciating even more what it means to be alive, in this very moment. Working in a spiritually supportive environment made this experience more than a scientific exploration. We cried, and sat with others as they cried. We all spent time talking about death, about loss, but also about birth, about growth. We found our voices in the now voiceless. We saw ourselves in the mirror that is our fellow man and woman.
I often have opened my yoga classes with a theme based on the heart. Since we have cardiac tissue that suffuses every part of us, capillaries and blood cells that exchange oxygen to every cell in our bodies, we are heart from head to toe. There is no where in our body that our heart isn’t, on both a literal and more esoteric level. So no matter what you do, if you do it with this in mind, you are doing it with you whole heart. Whole hearted-ness, therefore, is a deep sense of connection, a continuity. And if you are all heart, so is everyone you come in contact with who has a body. This is truly seeing and loving your fellow human. Of the six cadaver forms, a few had larger hearts, likely from some pathology, but they were more alike than they were different. Though no two bodies were the same, there were so many similarities. The one thing they all shared, that we too share, is the truth of a story only they will ever truly know. The body tells a few chapters of this story and I am grateful to those 6 who chose to leave their manuscript for us to read.
This experience of diving deep into the body has left me with even more questions, but most of all it has inspired me to create. One way I have been able to funnel this inspired energy is in guiding myself and others to spend some time exploring their own bodies. I invite you to try as well. Its pretty easy actually. Pick a body part, a hand or a foot are the easiest ones to start with. Take it in fully. Really spend some time encountering it, much like an infant might. Move it around, touch it, feel it. What shapes, colors, and textures do you see. What is interesting about it. What does it remind you of outside of your body. What interesting things can you do with it. What is cool or fun about it. What make soy laugh about it. Heck, if you can get your foot to your mouth, what does it taste like. As children we did this, and we never cared about whether it was on our to-do list, or if it would bring us one step closer to some goal or responsibility. We were truly alive and observed this life with our whole selves. Let yourself be activated by this same primordial energy. Spend a moment truly absorbing, without judgement or preference, but simply connecting to a truth that has a meaning bigger than we have any right to assume we know.
May we all live from our whole hearts in all we do, this is the takeaway from my week of climbing into the body. This is the key to living from the inside out, or at least the beginning to an answer to my above questions. I look forward to seeking more, but this one seems to be one I can build on.
Life from the inside out requires us to examine our mere existence and align with what is. Its a different way of seeing. We must slow down, appreciate the miraculous nature of what it means to live, in a body, during this time. We must see one another as miraculous beings an appreciate the similarities, yet honor the uniqueness as well.
Won’t come you come exploring with me?