I had the following conversation with my 9-year-old last week while walking home from school. As is often the case, my conversation with her helped me understand some of the struggles adults face as they reunite with their bodies.
“Mom, I did my show-and-tell in Japanese today.”
“Oh yeah? How did it go?”
“It went great! I just practiced what I was going to say over and over in my head all day. So it was easy once I got up there.”
“Perfect! Nice work, Honey. I’m glad it went so well. What you did is similar to the mental practice we were talking about for your circus audition.”
“But Mom, that is So.Much.Harder!”
“Ah. Yeah. It is, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, because I have to actually imagine my toes pointing and stuff.”
“Right. It’s harder because it involves connecting your mind to more of your body.”
“Totally! That is WAY HARDER!”
This conversation with my daughter highlighted what I currently think is one of the largest hurdles faced by the people I work with. Sometimes I refer to it as word addiction: people often want everything explained in words. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked to explain what I do in words. And not just any words; I am being asked for words that can communicate individualized work in a way that will be universally impactful.
“Could you write a blog on that?”
“You have GOT to write a book!”
“You need a TedTalk!”
Let me be clear: when it comes to individualized care, sometimes the words are helpful and sometimes they really aren’t!
While I’m delighted whenever I hear people express their desire that I make this work more accessible, identifying the actual tasks that could help me fulfill that desire leaves me befuddled. Fortunately, as children do so well, my daughter drove me to a point of clarity.
In the personal, individualized work of connecting one unique mind to its body and that body to its mind, the task of providing words that will truly speak to a universal audience—and not simply promote further mental masturbation—seems, frankly, laughable.
To match minds with ideas (as words do so well) is not my aim. In fact, my body usually wants to run when it feels someone using words that don’t feel grounded in an experiential reality. What I have uncovered for myself in that is it feels disrespectful to the work. So, when I consider the possibility of explaining this in words, I ask myself, “Why would I want to create more fodder for the Mental Playground when my work is really about bringing people back into their bodies?”
I know we live in a world dominated by visual expression. I know that people want words to explain things. So, why wouldn’t they also want words and images to take them into their body? The desire makes sense. I’m just not convinced it’s the best methodology.
I wasn’t taught through words—I was taught through my body. I was given practices. I was challenged by methods of relaxation. I was taught to struggle and find calm. I was taught to bring my awareness to the nooks and crannies of my body despite the time and resources necessary. I was taught to speak my mind. I was taught to feel and express both pain and pleasure in whatever form arose.
There was very little explaining; the explanations came later in the form of awareness that bubbled up from deep within me, from a space people name so many things: Intuition, The Divine, The Sacred. Call it what you will. I don’t need a name. For me, it is a feeling. Regardless of what we call this place these awarenesses bubble up from, the wisdom impacts us in a way that pure concepts simply can’t. This is what I call embodied wisdom and it comes from within. You can’t get embodied wisdom by memorizing a bunch of words, especially if they’re someone else’s words.
As my daughter memorized the words she wrote to make her presentation, she hit far fewer roadblocks than she did when she attempted to visualize herself doing her circus act. That’s because the latter requires her to dynamically engage her mind with more parts of her body. The same thing occurs when we work to connect ourselves with the infinite wisdom each of our bodies holds. The words can take us only so far.
And so I ask myself, “Are there any words that will accomplish this task for every individual on this planet?” At this point, from the position of sitting in my body while engaging the question with my mind, the answer is, “No.”