Issue 38 – September 2008
The Language Of The Body
Judith Tamar Stone
Our illnesses, injuries and pain conditions can be both our greatest challenge and a profound opportunity for discovery and growth. Everything in our life can be affected by our pain and illness from our relationships to our jobs, family, friends and finances. Working the edge of our illness, pain condition, or injury offers us a bridge to look at all the areas of our life enabling us to see where the roots of imbalance lie.
Within each of us there is a reservoir of information. The Body Dialogue Process taps into this reserve and creates the opportunity for conscious communication with the overall voice of the body and the many selves / parts which support the bodies miraculous functioning. Hearing and appreciating the body’s own knowledge base is essential in supporting a healthy relationship with our bodies. In addition, this process inspires the development of an intimate friendship with our body. Imagine having the kind of relationship with your body that you have with your significant other or best friend, a connection based on mutual respect, effective communication and pleasure in each other’s company. This possibility exists.
The Body Dialogue Process is a profound communication experience inspired by The Voice Dialogue Process and my personal experience with a physically disabling illness. The Process offers a unique opportunity to bridge the chasm between mind and body, offering the body and its numerous selves the unifying experience of voice.
The body and its many selves, want to be heard and acknowledged for the significant role it serves in our overall well-being. Keep in mind that the body has one of the greatest jobs of all and yet is often the least appreciated or recognized. We forget that all the selves function in and through the container of the body. Without the body there would be no selves. It is our challenge and opportunity to bridge this gap.
There are fascinating themes that are elicited through The Body Dialogue Process. One essential motif is that pain and illness are a cry for help and not a punishment. This often occurs before the body actually breaks down into illness or a significant pain condition giving us fair warning through subtle signs and signals. This may vary from aches and pains, twitches and tension to colds, flu’s or minor bumps and bruises.
While working with a client that came in one day with an acidic stomach, he shared with me how this was not an uncommon occurrence in his life. In giving voice to his stomach we were able to find out that his stomach had become part of an information feedback system and would start to burn when he wasn’t expressing what was really going on with him. Upon tracking some examples in his life, he got the validity of what his stomach was sharing. In a short amount of time he was able to turn the pattern around by more consciously reflecting his emotional reality in the moment.
The Psychology of Selves reflects that what we disown we attract to ourselves. For example, a person who is overly responsible and refuses to take a break may attract quite a few seemingly irresponsible or lazy people into their life. The overly responsible person is most likely irritated by these people, but “lazy” people may actually be embodying an important message that the overly responsible person needs to hear – ‘it’s ok to take a break!” These same kinds of messages can also come to us on an internal level from the body.
For example, an overly camped-up or driven body will often attempt to get our attention. It does this by creating tension, headaches, colds, flu’s or even something more dramatic in an attempt to slow us down or even stop us. If we don’t read the subtle cues, we are setting up the body to have to call out or even scream to get our attention. Unfortunately, most of the time the body’s communication falls upon deaf ears. In fact, it was this very situation that became my discovery process for the Body Dialogue Process. While, ironically enough, working at a Health Maintenance Organization, my head and body were not functioning as one unified system. The part of me that claimed to know what was best for my “health” set up a daily routine of using the stairwell to the cafeteria for exercise.
What the part didn’t factor in was the high heels shoes on my feet. The many nights of rather intense muscle cramping in my legs was not a great enough sign to get my attention.
Eventually it took the development of a disabling condition, diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis, to get my attention. And get my attention it did. In addition to the number of both traditional and non-traditional modalities that I explored, I had to relearn how to actually live in my own body. It was necessary for me to literally learn how to sit, stand, walk and lift a glass in as conscious and connected a way as possible to avoid pain. This illness brought me fully into my body and into my life work. I’m grateful for the result, but the path of illness or pain is absolutely not a path I would ever recommend. This is why I am so devoted to promoting this consciousness process of learning to listen to and understand the language of the body.
What is possible for us once we are in a conscious relationship with our body is to eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired and do exercise or movement because our body wants to. We often eat when and what our Inner Child wants over that which the body, i.e. stomach, colon needs. A sweet tooth belongs to the Inner Child not the body. The body tends to choose protein over sugar for energy. The body doesn’t eat for the emotional reasons that the child does. The body wants to sleep or rest when it is tired not drink coffee or artificially create a second wind. The body likes to exercise because it feels good not just because the mind or the critic says we should.
The body has its own thoughts and feelings. It knows when it wants protein and not just vegetables. It knows when it wants to walk instead of run or stay home and rest on the sofa over going out. All we have to do is learn the language, wants and needs of our own bodies and respond. The result is a container / temple that feels honored and respected. This is often reflected in greater health and stamina.
The Body Dialogue Process additionally serves to identify a “map of the inner selves.” This map reflects the related patterning between specific selves that may be perpetuating the potential for injury and illness. This map offers a creative approach to tracking inner patterns of undue stress or tension that could over time lead to a compromised relationship with our bodies, such as illness or pain. In speaking with the body there is often an overriding self that is taking action or making decisions that are not and needs of the body.
By identifying and giving voice to these selves the body is supported. Some of the famous overriders are The Pusher, The Thinker, The Perfectionist, The Critic, etc. Overriders create the opportunity to find balance between the stronger parts of themselves and what has been disowned on the other side. The potential in doing this work is to support an overall balance of the inner system.
As with any other sub personality, the body and its numerous selves thrive on being communicated with as a meaningful member of our inner family. Establishing this line of connection with the body offers us the opportunity to take a proactive role as cocreators of our life. The Body Dialogue Process empowers us with a sense of choice, as opposed to the wear and tear of constant troubleshooting.
The body is a delegation of miraculous parts, each with their own unique personality, opinions and perspectives. Our mission should we decide to accept it, is to learn to listen.