The Body Cannot Lie

Did you know that your body cannot lie?  If you don't know what I mean, then observe a guileless child when you ask them if something they've just told you is the truth. 

"J, did you brush your teeth?" I asked (again). 

My little man's lips pursed and his nose crinkled and his shoulders raised up high.  His eyes averted mine and he took several loud, deep breaths before responding with a stilted, "yes, I did." 

I love that the body cannot lie.  We big people have whetted and polished tools over many years that enable us to silence the truths that the body speaks.  All addictions are some manifestation of this suppressed voice.  We silence it with drugs (both legal and illegal) and alcohol.  We shove it down into the depths of our bowels with food.  We spend our money and depend at times on our money to distract us (temporarily).  We create drama around people and situations, create stories about why we're right and they're wrong - all in the interest of shutting out what we don't want to feel. 

I know what it's like to deny the body its truth.  To allow the mind to create narratives in order to avoid certain, painful, truths.  For many people this manifests in a state of detachment from our emotions, or an over-sentimentality and emotionality that comes out over the smallest things having nothing to do with what we're avoiding. What is happening in our minds, and what is happening in our bodies can become grossly out of synch.

This is what we learn to do in meditation - we learn to connect with our embodied experience.  That means, the experience we're having OUTSIDE the incessant flurry of thoughts that are generated about our experience - This is good. This is bad.  This person is awful.  This moment is awful, etc. We drop our attention out of our heads and hang out for a while in the body.  Doing this is a fascinating experiment that you have to experience for yourself - though I'll explore the idea in more depth in another post. 

I once observed that when my daughter is bored, she stomps around the house, flailing her arms, and with her head tilted back a little, makes these moany, kind of whiny sounds. For her, boredom is a totally embodied experience. This was before she had words, which likely meant that she did not yet have the ability to formulate thoughts about her experience, she just felt it and then moved on. And I realized, that's EXACTLY how I felt when bored, but for me it just remained this unrealized mass that usually came out as a funky mood. I promised myself that the next time, I was going to try putting my whole body into the experience and see what happens!  I was going to connect with the experience of being bored. 

Are you curious to know what happens when you do that?  Next time you feel agitated, try this:  sit down comfortably somewhere, relax as much as possible, and close your eyes.  You may notice how agitated the body feels and you may want to just get up and distract yourself again.  That's ok - see if you can stay with it.  Now, focus on the full inhale and exhale of 3 breaths.  Make them as steady and as deep as you can (but don't stress about it).  Follow the breath as it enters your nose, travels down into the lungs, and the mechanics breathing cause the belly to rise and fall.  Follow it as it rolls out again.  Once you're finished reflect on what you experienced? 

Were you still bored in those moments?

"I know you didn't brush your teeth," I told J.  He took a deep breath and stomped his foot.  "Do you know how I know?", I asked him. 

"How?"

"Your body.  It can't lie.  And that's a good thing - it means your head and your body are still working together. It means they're still in synch."

He didn't get it and he didn't care.  But I do.