If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. ~ Jack Kornfield
How are you?
How’s your body? The one that’s dangling beneath your head?
You may need to stop a moment and find out, drop in, take a breath, let it out slowly, do a little scan. That sounds like a lot but really, it doesn’t take long. I just took 2 slow deep breaths and timed it : 30 seconds.
It’s always surprising how quickly and easily we can connect when we remember to do it.
Our bodies are here with us, all the time, waiting, waiting, waiting and also invisible in a way until we remember to look and then *POOF* they appear.
We all have them, or should I say, we all ARE them, bodies with brains and minds and personalities, different shapes and sizes but really, all fundamentally the same.
I did a compassionate body scan meditation in class a few weeks ago and it was so moving, like being introduced to the people who make my life possible, who grew my food, built my house, my car, paved the roads, invented plumbing, electricity, my tweezers.
All these body parts–our feet and legs and arms and hands and torso and shoulders and head and neck doing what they do so we can do what we do, all the organs and systems continuously circulating, clearing out, repairing, sloughing, filtering, replenishing, healing, monitoring, without coffee breaks or vacations or getting fed up and walking off the job.
It’s incredible, right?
We’re sort of walking miracles.
And I don’t know that we’re really nice enough to them, taking the time to get to know them, welcome them, make room for them, listen to them, give them what they need. We’re often reluctant or even resentful caretakers, as if we opened the door one day to find this body on our doorstep. We crane our head up and down the street, looking for whomever dropped it there. Oh, great, we say, bending down to drag it back inside. Now I have to take care of this damn thing.
But what if we saw our bodies as our lifelong companions, our partners, here to keep us company, be part of our team, like having a helper with you all the time that you can check in with, ask to dash in the other room and figure out where a weird sound is coming from–Hey, what is that?
We can do that with our bodies. We can say, Hey, what is that I’m feeling? What do I need? Food? Water? Rest? Beauty? Do I need to laugh, run, cry, dance, stretch, get something off my chest?
Something else begins to happen when we remember to check in with our bodies.
The other day I was doing a shoulder stand and my top flopped down over my face and when I pushed it aside, I was staring directly at my belly, just the big old bowl of it round and warm and overhead like a skin moon and you know what flashed through me? Affection.
It was such a lovely moment. Such a lovely thing to feel, this friendly response to greeting a part of me that I have often judged as too something or not enoughsomething.
Hello, belly, I said, and patted it.
In the past I may have ignored it or pushed my shirt back over it or felt startled, like where did THAT come from? Or doubled down (in my head) on ways to make it smaller or firmer or DIFFERENT somehow. It was so good to see it and not just let it be there but to feel a flush of warmth and then carry on with my yoga.
This friendliness begins to bloom when we partner with our bodies, a tenderness like what we feel with a very dear friend, a friend we adore even though they don’t have their shit together 100% of the time, a friend we accept even though they might drive you crazy from time to time, a friend we admire and champion even if we don’t necessarily love everything they love or want the very same things they want.
There’s a lot of room in how we feel about a dear friend. There’s history and care, hilarious stories, tender things you know about their past. We enjoy them, want the best for them, think about them when they’re going through a rough or scary patch. We see things in them, remind them of who they already are, who they sometimes forget themselves to be.
Let’s give that room to ourselves.
I mean, after all, we’ve been with ourselves a long time (from the very start, I’d wager). We have a long history, hilarious stories, we know some very tender things about our past. Can’t we also then, check in from time to time to see how we’re doing? How we’re feeling (what we’re feeling?), ask ourselves what we might need and then, possibly, give it to ourselves?
Here’s a good place to start.
But, look, it doesn’t have to be a whole thing.
Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, your body, Dear << Test First Name >>, is right there with you, never shaming you or dissing you or giving you attitude. It’s innocent and open-faced, game and happy to be included.
Put a hand on your heart, your arm, your belly.
Take a breath.
Feel your body standing/sitting/resting/moving there.
How does it feel? What does it need?