| Carolyn Lesmeister |
Our bodies tell our stories.
Old or young, large or small, wrinkled or taut; stretch-marked or scarred, they say something about who we are and what we’ve experienced.
Even more than physical characteristics that we may or may not be able to control, what we do with our bodies communicates powerful messages not only to the people around us, but also to our very own selves.
Have you ever paid attention to how you respond physically to different emotions? Anger might make your fists clench without realizing it. Stress might cause your shoulders to creep up toward your ears. Joy might lead you to throw you head back with laughter. Relief might take your shoulders back down.
Our bodies, our minds, and our souls are intricately connected, and communication between them does not flow in only one direction; instead, the different parts of our being are in constant conversation with one another, and shifts in one area can bring about changes in another.
In her TEDtalk, Amy Cuddy shares the results of a fascinating study which documents some examples of this. Researchers found that by changing one’s physical position, a person could alter her or his attitude and confidence level. Standing in “power poses” in which people assume stances that take up a lot of space increased people’s confidence in themselves and their abilities. This is powerful knowledge that can give people who don’t feel like they are good/smart/strong enough the ability to “fake it ‘til they make it.” As Cuddy concludes, “Our bodies can change our minds.”
Wise people in cultures around the world have intuitively known this, and so dancing, movement, and particular physical positions have often been a part of important rituals. They can even help people cope with despair. In her preface to Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, Alice Walker wrote, “I just didn’t know how basic [dancing] is to maintaining balance. That Africans are always dancing (in their ceremonies and rituals) shows an awareness of this ... Though we have encountered our share of grief and troubles on this earth, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat. No small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.”
How often are we attentive to these complex connections between our bodies, minds, and souls? What might happen if rather than try to reason everything out with the power of our thoughts, we instead started with our physical selves and used their innate wisdom to guide us through an exploration – and possible transformation – of our deeply held beliefs and emotions?
If you are interested in experimenting with such a process, join folks from WAYfinding and Community of the Living Spirit in August for a series called, “Embodying Our Souls.” Each session will work with a set of themes which may seem dichotomous at first but which may – with a deeper engagement – be more intricately connected than we realize.
We will gather in the evening - most likely outdoors! - with the exact time and location TBA based on what works for the people who sign up.
Please RSVP to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org