From your very first day in your first job at the corporate office, you learn how to bring your mental capacity to work, and leave your emotions and bodily needs at the door. You progressively lose touch with your body and your emotions – because who you are is insignificant and what you produce is paramount. Numbness sets in and by the time you have earned a seat at the boardroom table, you have most likely mastered the art of living as though you’re cut off from the neck down.
The majority of work these days is knowledge work. Workers think; they deal with words and figures, have logical, structured conversations, and use technology. Your mind becomes very well developed and your thinking patterns adapt to the assumptions and agreements that exist within the structures in which you work.
Internally you use your thoughts as a survival strategy. You chant the ‘mind over matter’ mantra, whether you consciously chose this survival strategy or not. Your mind now commands everything.
“We sleep only when we have finished working, not because we are tired.
We eat only when its convenient, not when we are hungry.
We forget to move, to stretch, to know when and how to let go.
We hold our breath when we are thinking.”
You also learn to behave appropriately, detecting the subtle, unspoken rules that weave together the culture in which you operate. You seek rewards; acceptance, belonging, promotion and you do our best to avoid exclusion, betrayal, loss of status and ridicule.
The game becomes an elaborate version of ‘hide-and-seek’, where you try to ‘read’ others without letting yourself be truly seen. You fear showing your vulnerability or being found wanting. You learn extreme control of body functions, fine muscle movements of the face, ever-willing, outwardly cooperative, friendly, but inscrutable.
You have advanced communications skills, learning to read people’s eye movements to detect what they are really saying, and to consciously deliver non-verbal signals to others in order to influence their perceptions of you, so that they cannot access what you are really saying.
Foods, stimulants and sedatives are used to compensate for the energy and mood swings associated with the imbalance of living in this cut-off way, alienated from your body’s internal regulation system. These self-medicating habits in turn can produce symptoms of their own.
After years of suppressing emotions and the body’s natural requirements, you have soldiered on through many versions of the common cold and may have now developed symptoms of chronic disease – in the organs, muscles, digestive tract and nervous system.
The numbness means you can no longer feel what’s going on inside, and so you visit doctors and specialists, eventually you may have surgery or other extreme treatments.
Emotionally you are ‘going through the motions’ as the numbness infiltrates your intimate relationships as well. You may seek solace in self-medication, or another partner.
Return to body
A health crisis, accident or career derailment is often the harbinger of change.
The need for ‘radical self-care’ is present and it starts with the realization that it is essential to now remember the body.
While recuperating from illness or a near-fatality, we begin to assess our lives and to process some of the pain we have been hiding and carrying. This can take time. A visit to a health retreat presents an opportunity for some deeper introspection and natural cleansing. The pathway to body-mind-soul integration is laid out and the journey has begun. For many people this is a turning point towards a new, integrates future. For others, it is a brief respite before they return to the old ways.
It is up to you when you choose to embark on this journey to wholeness.
If you are not sleeping, and maybe using excessive exercise, caffeine or alcohol , recognise that your body is in a state of constant stress and you will feel worse after the initial rush of feeling (momentarily) better.
If you recognise that now is time to choose to reclaim your relationship with your body, start simply with a conversation.
In this conversation you will return, like a prodigal daughter, to the body that has been your faithful servant all these years, carrying out all of your vital functions with incredible, impeccable intelligence and precision – day in and day out, even while you were sleeping.
Even through all the times you have been ignoring it, even hating or abusing it, your body has served you.
Take the opportunity to ask what your body needs from you and learn to receive the guidance she gives you. Create a new relationship with your body, and reconnect her with your head. You will have the opportunity to ask what she needs from you and learn to receive her guidance. You can learn how to enter into a new relationship with your body, based on love and respect.
Join Sue at her next workshop