Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Trust My Body's Divine Connection

 If anything is sacred, the human body is.
~Walt Whitman

To be able to experience the Divine One moving in and through me in everyday life, has been a journey of many years. I remember feeling it as a young girl while sitting in church, walking through my grandmother’s garden, or lying beneath the stars at camp. It was a deep knowing that “surely God is in this place,” as the song goes. That Spirit was all around me, radiating through stained-glass windows, flowers, or constellations and, at the same time, within me, experienced through my body, if I would allow myself to feel it.

As a woman on pilgrimage into her truest self, I can’t help but wonder what happened along the way. Where did do we as women lose that divine connection we may have felt through our bodies as young women? Likely, it happens in early adolescence when we became overtly conscious of our physical selves. In our preteen years, we begin to doubt, even distrust, our bodies. Bellies and breasts are changing. We are being transformed into someone else without our conscious involvement or permission. Is it a wonder that at this formative period of our lives we begin to develop suspicion about our bodies?

Combine this self-doubt with societal and religious implications that our bodies are bad (a source of temptation), inferior (the “weaker sex”), and flawed (in need of improvement), and we have a good case for amnesia, forgetting our body as a conduit to the Divine. For centuries now, we’ve internalized these messages, so it is not surprising that most women truly dislike and mistrust their bodies.

From adolescence on, it seems, our bodies are not our friends: They are enemies we wage war against through diets, radical exercise programs, cosmetic enhancement, even surgery. We may believe that our bodies betray us again and again. They do not look or behave like we think they should: They gain weight; miscarry or are infertile; cyclically rage (PMS/menopause); sag, fall out, fall apart through aging; become chronically sick or ravaged with disease—all without our having a say in the matter. Who can trust a “friend” who acts like that? 

Knowing this, what a stretch of the imagination it is for us to conceive of our bodies as sacred! To believe they are magnificent containers created by the Divine to house our souls on earth. And, perhaps, even more important than this, that our bodies are a direct means of communication with our Source. 

Yet it is only through our bodies that we can have a truly intimate relationship with the Holy. Our mind, which can conceive of "God" through thought, is housed within our brain. Our senses—sight, hearing, and smell—provide the stuff of which our thoughts and feelingsabout the world are made. Our sense of touch, along with internal body responses—heartbeat and breath— attune us to the world outside of our bodies, alerting us there is something of significance there. Our lips give voice to this experience. Our hands and feet creatively express our understanding of this experience. Our bodies, therefore, are the ultimate vehicle through which we communicate with the Divine. This vessel, this body, is a sacred conduit for the flow of Spirit.

Jay Michaelson (author of God in Your Body) says that our greatest spiritual achievement on a personal level is not to transcend the body (as some spiritual systems would advocate), but to fully embrace it, to join the body and spirit together so we are, at last, whole human beings, not fragmented versions of ourselves. I agree ...

The journey into our truest selves is dependent upon our ability to realize that our bodies are sacred. For a number of years now, I've been living out the 2nd Transformational Truth in Your Truest Self: I Trust My Body's Divine Connection. I am healing my body issues and embracing this vessel as a wise guide more and more each day. I am learning to listen to it, honor its wisdom, and follow its lead. How about you?

Where are you on this journey to reclaiming your body as sacred? 

And/or how do you experience the Divine through the vehicle of your body?
I am eager to hear ...

I'll go first!

And be sure to make a comment today or tomorrow to win—yes!—another copy of Your Truest Self. I am giving one away right now. Remember, it's birthday time and I'm giving away books all month.

And congratulations to  Kel (Leaping Kangaroo) and Lisa (She Who Is Honoring Her Sparkle) who won a copy of YTS from last week's post. Hooray for you! Enjoy with my blessings.


Photo of "Festival Dancers"by Thomas J. Abercrombie.


Jan said...

The sensation I have in my body that affirms my divine connection is this: A warm, syrupy shower of love, starting from the crown of my head, running down my skin, coursing through my veins. A divine wash. An emotional response begins and tears may come. A deep sense of peace moves in. This is how I know I am plugged into Spirit. I now trust this process and trust my body. :-)

Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

Like what you wrote in your post, I have had my struggles with loving my body. Most of my struggles were the side effect of a very painful past. That said, somewhere along in my spiritual journey, it hit me that I needed to make peace with my body in order to fully heal and move forward.

When my mother passed away from cancer, it made me realize that emotions do impact the body and if you are not at peace emotionally, your body will suffer as a result. When I saw that, I realized that the mere fact I can walk and take care of myself without any physical assistance from another person is a HUGE blessing. Ever since then, I have come to love and treat my body better than I did before.

Anonymous said...

"Our greatest spiritual achievement on a personal level is not to transcend the body (as some spiritual systems would advocate), but to fully embrace it", yes!!
I took dance classes all the way through my childhood, and had to learn the hard way as an adult and stopped dancing how essential this was for me...although my preferred forms of movement have changed over the years, when I don't have this outlet, it's not good...I recently started taking yoga classes in a studio again, after using DVDs at home for awhile, and that group connection is so powerful the picture BTW.

Jan said...

You are so wise to notice how the emotions affect the body and how healing one heals the other. And, as you say, caring for another who has lost health is a powerful incentive to take good care of us. I am so glad to hear that you are consciously caring for yourself body, mind and spirit. It is quite the journey!

Yes, isn't this a great thought? How perceptive that you realize that body movement is very impt for your total well-being. Yoga (which I have always loved, by the way) seems to offer the perfect blend of ease for body, mind and spirit. It has brought great healing in my life, too. Ancient Hindu wisdom rocks....:-)

mermaid said...

In retreat, and in life, I kept coming across the stiffness in my midback, shoulders, and neck. It's a story unfolding, but it started with a series of car accidents and the belief that I was not safe. As I work with fear and guilt and stuck energy, I feel myself more fluid and alive like a true mermaid:)

Mani said...

I find today's blog "I Trust My Body's Divine Connection" quite interesting. I could always relate to the numerous beautiful female Goddesses that are worshipped for the wisdom, power and nurturing aspects back home in India. On a practical level, the traditional colourful clothing
(eg:Sari)gracefully accentuates the female form of any size or shape. I just hope that all the women folk all over the world realise how beautiful they are in being such divine instruments of love and light.

Joy said...

Wow, this is a big one for me. I have always sensed the Divine within, but a painful past allowed doubts and discouragement to crep in. Has been a journey to heal that. I believe fully in the mind/body connection and I believe the Spirit resides within so I've been trying to remind mindful and pay careful attention to my body; treating it with utmost respect. I connect with God in nature, so I know my body is healthy, strong, alive, and pretty much capable of doing my mind needs to catch up:) I definitely find a direct corelation between my yoga practice, my spirit, and the rest of my life.

Cheryl Wright said...

I am in the early stages of making peace with my body. Despite my best efforts, it seems to be collapsing.

It didn't take me completely by surprise but the seemingly sudden sag and spread cause my self-confidence to wane.

I have made some strides and use positive self-talk to yank me from the jaws of depression.

~ Serenity Seeker ~

Wilma Ham said...

I too have been denying my body the gratitude it deserves in younger years.
I just never thought to marvel about it.
Now that I do marvel at most things, it only makes sense to include my body in enjoying my life.
I love water and water will let me enjoy my body best. Floating in on the surf when body surfing, having a shower with hot rain water, bobbing on the waves when snorkling are all wonderful ways to connect with my body.
I am also grateful to no longer feel uncomfortable about how I look, I am far more accepting in that area as well and that makes me feel I am finally getting to look beyond into the love that we are and to see what really counts.
I am grateful for that as well.

Julie G said...

I have lived in a northern climate all my life. My body is covered form head to toe for about 9 months out of the year. I regret to say that I have let my body go for some time now. (out of sight-out of mind).
I still have a difficult time making a Divine connection through my body. I don't see it as sacred. My mind tells me it's sacred, my mind tells me that my body is a temple of the Spirit, but my body does not respond.
I am still working on this Truth, Jan, please help.

Kel said...

yippeeee [claps hands with glee]

it is so nice to have a 'win'
thankyou Jan

I look forward to reading more about this topic in your book, as it's an area in which I'm facing enormous challenges right now

in answer to your question: one way I experience the Divine connection through the vehicle of my body is through painting and dancing prayers - where mind and words are left behind - and movement, colour and music blend into a sacred moment

whimsical mystic said...

This is a process for me, as with most women I know. Funny, it often seems that we begin to appreciate our physical form only after "society" no longer values it...being free from the pressure to be "pretty" is wonderful!

I sometimes find myself re-connecting with my body in the shower. I will take advantage of the physical connection of loofah to skin to speak gratitude and blessing to each part of my body that has served me so well and often with little thanks or appreciation over the years. I will thank each part as I scrub and by the end of the shower am overcome by gratitude and affection for this aging house for my soul.

Jan said...

Such a profound awareness that you can identify what (in your body) keeps you from embracing your truest self -- and that you can work with that to connect, embrace, flow (like a beautiful sea creature). Beautiful!

Welcome! You express my highest hope for us--that we all embrace our essence, our innate loveliness. Yes, the sari is such a potent (and lovely) reminder of our feminine form. I wonder...what goddesses you resonate with. Hmmmm....Many women come into their own power when they come upon stories (archetypes) of godddess energy (as you know).

This is a very big leg of the journey, isn't it? Healing the rift between body and spirit? I am so heartened to hear that you find yourself doing this healing work. Yes, nature is a great curative, as are so many body practices—yoga, feldenkrais, sacred dance, etc.

Holistic healing modalities can help too...(massage, craniosacral, reiki), Massage, actually, was one of the first that really allowed me to drop down into and begin to heal much woundedness about my body. I highly recommend it to all women.

Serenity Seeker,
Yes, noticing our aging can do this. It does set us back a pace until we can recoup and begin to embrace ourselves as we are in this moment. In a world culture that celebrates youthfulness this is quite the challenge. I do believe affirmations help. Body practices which soothe and send messages of love to the body. (Rubbing our belly, for ex. if its paunch disturbs us, speaking with it lovingly...) This a big journey and sometimes we just have to begin by making peace with one part of our body at a time.

I love that you send messages of gratitude to your body! A marvelous practice and form of self-healing. Are you familiar with Louise Hay's work "Loving Your Body"? Uses beautiful affirmations to heal and embrace. I am so drawn to your image of floating in water--it just feels healing!

Awareness is half the battle as you know. Then prayerful intention. When we open our mind up to healing something (and we are sincere and ready), the Universe (God) can begin to work with us, bringing us into alignment with people and resources that help us heal. I really believe this. I think you are on that path. Just step by step; surrendering to our divine unfolding.

Bodywork does really help, as I stated above. So massage? Dance? Yoga? Anything that begins to stir up (memory) of what is trapped in the body. And, as you know, patience with self is key...xo

Congratulations, Kel. I am so glad that you will receive this. Hopefully the book will help with this issue and facilitate more healing. :-)

As I said before, movement, such as you are doing, is so powerful. It really does allow us to experience our body in a different way--with freedom.

One time I really went out on a limb with this and signed up for a program with a psychotherapist. At one point we were blindfolded and trance dance music was put on. We were invited to dance for over 30 minutes in this way. It was a pure act of letting go and trust. Transformative, especially because I am NOT a dancer; quite uncoordinated, in fact. (Of course, she kept a watchful eye on us so we didn't smash into each other. LOL!)

Sandi Delia said...

Hi everyone,

This topic of living the truth of relating to my body as sacred is so much of what I write on in my blog. How synchronistic!

Several years ago, I started experiencing the Divine through my body - I would sense energy flowing through the crown chakra or when my angel wings flutter to tell me something is true. When I am obsessed about my body not being good enough, this internal guidance system just shuts down. But when I concentrate more on how wonderful my body is, my body's GPS goes into high gear. It is so much fun to connect with myself this way.

Great topic, Jan!
Angel Wings (Sandi)

Caroline said...

I have been out of touch here... When going through my Reiki training I was very in touch with my body...aligning my chakras daily and being very present. I have lost touch with this part of myself lately. This is a good wake up call. Thank you! XOXO

Laura Hegfield said...

This is a fabulous post. I have battled against my body in the past (when I was a much younger woman). As the years moved forward I learned to love and understand the sacredness of my body through yoga,dance,meditation and prayer. Over the past 10 year and now in particular I am learning daily to hold disappointment in the functioning of my body because of MS and compassion for the failings of my body and awe for this truly sacred vessel that not only contains my soul but allows me to interact with God's glorious Creation each and every day. I think for me it is possible to experience all of these feelings without disharmony. It's a matter of integrating and accepting that all of these things are true for me in this moment...and that's really ok.

btw I love Jay Michaelson's book, I've used it often when teaching yoga to teens.


Anonymous said...

One of the most helpful sources I discovered that provided me with a different perspective on myself as a woman was the book Captivating, by Stefi Eldridge, co-authored by her husband. One chapter in particular describes women as being similar to God's placing a cherry on top of all of creation.

I'm also working more on becoming Whole and embracing all of me, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the lovable. Without judgement.

Jan said...

Whimsical Mystic,
Thank you for this sharing of how you are nurturing and supporting your body in such a lovely way. The shower story just makes me sigh with happiness. :-) Aging can result in unconditional acceptance of our body, as you say. Lovely....

Angel Wings,
Your explanation of how you experience the Divine through your body is wonderful. What a gift! May you always honor those angel flutters. :-)

I am sorry to hear about this disconnect of late. But we do all go through these times. I refer to the "good times" as being "plugged in to God" but there are plenty of times when we are not, esp. in terms of our bodies. We struggle with more than celebrate them. May the days ahead bring you ease...(So cool that you are a Reiki gal, I didn't know. :-)

Welcome! You are a wise teacher to us all...about acceptance of and love for our body even though it could be perceived as "failing" us because of illness. I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with MS. Your stance is proud, beautiful and to be admired. Yes, despite all that our bodies might go through, they still house our souls, enabling us to experience the Divine in amazing ways. Thank you. May you be at peace today.

Thank for this great lead on a resource. I love the idea of women being the cherry on top of creation. We are divine, aren't we?!! Your commitment to wholeness is so touching to read. May this leg of your journey be blessed. So happy you are here sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jan, you have NO idea how touching this post was to me. It was like diving into a warm pool and swimming and swimming and swimming. My family had a brush with the unknown when we thought that my husband was having a heart attack. Thankfully, o so thankfully it wasn't and tests show his heart to be in perfect condition. This post is like manna to me right now. So thank you.
Still Water (Dawn)

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

WOW! Again, everyone's comments/experiences just resonate so powerfully with me. Loving thoughts to each of you!
I used to absolutely love my body. I'd danced ballet until my teens and my body was fit, cute, shapely, tanned. It could do almost anything! I loved (too much) the attention that it drew. The last 10 years, due to fibromyalgia, spondylolisthesis and auto-immune conditions, I have allowed it to deteriorate to the point that I lack confidence, I hide, I don't go out salsa dancing anymore (one partner told me I was too hard to turn because of my weight), I decline invitations to parties. I am working on daily exercise and a healthy diet and have lost some weight with much more to go. I am determined to gain back the confidence that I had through the healthiest body I can have.
Massage - love it! I've had some incredible releases (once, a tiny dragon flew out of my left hip, a place where we hold a lot of emotion).
Yoga - love it! I was taking 3 classes a week and had to reduce to 2 for now due to unemployment. I do a little each morning to help with the fibro.

How do I experience the Divine through my body? I believe we serve as God's arms and hands and legs on this earth. In church recently, a woman next to me was crying and I felt an opening in my crown chakra, then a further opening and lightness in my heart and I just reached over and put my arms around her. Her mother had died that morning. I am God's servant, the Divine's tool in physical form.