Speaking With the Body – Empathy for Our Cells – December 2012
I am a participant in a group. The room is unexpectedly filled with people from different parts and years of my life, and I feel torn by conflicting longings to connect, to respond, and to integrate with all of my old friends, and there’s no physical way to carry out all the requests I am making of myself. And so I have a stomach ache. It is a gnawing feeling of yucky stuckness, and while it could be from eating less-than-healthy-food, the social stress that I am experiencing, and the brakes that stress applies to my digestive system, give me another level of discomfort.
What if I were to imagine this discomfort as emotions making themselves felt? What might they be? Are there longings from my deepest self that lie behind these emotions? If so, then I would guess that I am feeling horror, shame and dismay, because I value responsiveness, acknowledgment and every person mattering. My body relaxes a bit. And here I find a false belief that it is my responsibility to assure everyone I care about that they matter. How exhausting! What if others need space, privacy, and choice? Even writing this right now, working through this, a little bubble of delight is arising in me at the thought of others having their own desires, their own lives and their own choices about movement and relationship, and not being my responsibility. Ahhh – laying down the burden. My stomach is letting go and I am more able to digest my dinner. The ache is receding.
Surprisingly, in every felt experience of stress there is an opening in the brain, a neuroplastic opportunity, so to speak. One in which, if our anxiousness is noticed in the body, and resonance is received, we might be transformed. The miracle of being human is that when our bodies are alive with sensations and we bring them into our awareness, we are always available for healing.
The physical processes of our bodies have their own life and their own mysteries of imbalance and balance, dis-ease and health, but they can always be supported, on a cellular basis, on an organ basis, on a systems basis, and as the entirety of body, by empathy and resonance.