Mind / body
The mind-body connection is something that used to leave me baffled.
Now, rather than baffle, it blows me away. The way our mind and body dance together, each one impacting the other so intricately.
When I began to develop chronic fatigue in 2008, the mind-body connection was a term thrown around by people in relation to the healing process I would be embarking upon. It was something I supposedly needed to discover and explore…something that would apparently come to me as I began to heal.
But it wasn’t like I didn’t have a mind-body connection, I just had one that consisted of abuse and neglect—something I regularly experienced and witnessed as a kid. My connection involved my mind yelling demands and criticisms at my body, and my body trying desperately to perform.
What felt like rebellions from my body would quickly follow. I’d end up energetically and emotionally empty. I now see these rebellions were simply moments when my body was telling me she could no longer be ignored. She was fucking knackered and couldn’t trek on in the way we had been anymore.
Coffee and a critical tone just wouldn’t cut it.
I was beginning to listen to my body—I couldn’t not—but what I was hearing was a language I couldn’t yet speak. One of gentleness, love, and support.
I was terrified.
I was terrified of what my body was saying it needed, and I was terrified of just how awful I felt. I was terrified by the fact that what I knew as my body was rapidly disappearing.
And I refused to accept it.
I desperately searched for the energetic, vibrant, and booming-with-sporting-promise girl I had always been, but I could only ever hold onto her for a brief moment. A deeper hatred for myself began to develop—one born out of frustration, fear and disgust.
My body and my mind continued in opposite directions along the Highway of Disconnect, whizzing back and forth, throwing U-turns and having frequent head-on collisions.
I could literally feel the mind-body blockage I had. It was in my neck. I was a head and a body, with a neck that tried to mediate but instead just joined with knots of discomfort.
Any attempt at connection—yoga, meditation, body therapy—became unbearably stressful. It shone a light on these knots and my inner chaos. Mustering up a desire to be in my body was pretty impossible too—why the FUCK would I want to be IN my body when my body felt like crap?
Eventually though, the blockage in my neck did begin to slightly shift, and the introduction to a totally different mind-body connection headed my way. Cranio-sacral therapy, mindfulness, somatic experiencing therapy, Scaravelli yoga, herbalism and time, were—and continue to be—the main helping hands.
The sense of feeling blocked certainly hasn’t disappeared, but it feels overwhelmingly different. It has reduced enough for love letters to be passed through, from my head to my toes. Things feel more fluid, and I feel more whole. When I feel like a wandering head away from its roots, it just takes breath to bring me home.
I can listen to the body beneath the brain. I ask sensations or symptoms what they’re here to tell me. I try to notice where my feelings are in my body rather than letting them take the reigns in my mind. I give them—the feelings and sensations—permission to move if they want to.
My breath is my Home Base that I regularly head to for time-out. I have discovered that the key to unlocking my chest of self-compassion within is rather than run the other direction, sit in my body when things feel like crap and are uncomfortable.
I witness instead of being all consumed.
I have a beautiful cushion inside of myself where I can do this. Sure, a lot of the time it feels like I’m sitting butt-naked in the middle of a hailstorm, or I AM the hailstorm, but something is very different from how it used to be.
Being mindful and being in my body is becoming second nature.
I am still a full-time student in the class of my body’s language, and I hope I always will be. But I also hope the lessons get a little easier…
While chronic fatigue is a label I often use to describe what’s happening, or to tell the story of where I’ve travelled from, I don’t like it. I don’t see myself as ill, and I never have. I see myself as someone with a body who’s just working a few things out, and who—underneath this—is booming with health and promise.
I am learning to trust that my body knows what she’s doing.
I am listening.
Originally published on elephant journal.