“What stories does your body tell?” This was the writing prompt that arrived in my inbox yesterday morning.
Which story will open up what I need?
Quite honestly, I had no idea where to begin. Which story would free me? Which story would show me qualities I have hidden or unleash old beliefs that no longer serve me?
Should I tell the story of my knees that never cease to remind me of how I abused them when I was young and used to run for miles? Or the one about my right leg, which often buckled underneath me whenever I’d walk by those ever-present, enthusiastic groups of men in Italy?
Should I talk from my hips and the way I used to tone down their Colombian-ness for fear of what might happen if I swayed a bit too freely? Or should I speak about my delicate feet, which flirt with gorgeous high-heeled shoes in shoe stores, only for my knees and low back to remind me to put the shoes back on the shelves.
Every joint, every ache, every breath, every tension, every sensation, every shape tells a story. Some of the stories are fleeting and light, full of hope and possibility. Some of them are longer-lived and hold our deeper life.
Mine is a tale of a 4-inch swathe of tissue under my left rib cage that tugs at me greedily. I have a slight wrinkle there, and it is often where I hold my breath when life feels too big.
I contract the wrinkle further, and I feel an old story of worry. My worry is generous, and I could attach it to almost every aspect of my life. I can worry about place, people, future, love, health, age and so on. It’s a story on a loop.
I decide to go into the worry. To worry for worry’s sake. To feel how my body moves if I completely become worry. And then I feel my belly and what feels like an ocean-full of energy. It is deep. It is moving. It is unpredictable.
My shoulders and hips are on the edge. Do they contract or do they let go? The old story says, contract, control, behave. So what if I don’t? What will I meet?
For now, I follow the old story. I feel my knees weaken, and my legs become like that of a 6-year old – small. They hold a body that keeps trying to become smaller and less visible. I am afraid.
And then I start to move. I first move according to the worry, but there’s new energy now opening up from my belly. I feel the heart ache of things gone wrong, like a wave, and it comes with an inner heat and a liquidy flow. This opens the movements of my torso. My arms find new range out to my sides and over my head. My spine twists and bends and spirals around. My neck lets go. Energy rushes up to my head. I feel the ground under my feet.
Finally, my breath opens freely into my ribs. I feel spacious. And the habit, the old tug of worry has let go. I not only see options, I feel them. I can go back and check in reality to see what, if anything, truly needs tending to. I can now let this spaciousness guide me.
Our bodies hold all of our stories and the richness of who we are.
It can be daunting at times, to go deeper and explore those, which no longer serve us; the ones we hold in place with contraction, stiffness and unchanging shapes.
As you open your body beyond the story, you may meet old hurts, past humiliations, lingering fears. As you continue to let go and let these past experiences flow through you, you may also meet parts of yourself that are unrehearsed and less known – your sensuality, desire, longing, passion, vulnerability, clarity, precision, unpredictability and more.
Beyond and underneath the old stories, we meet our richness.
So what story does your body wish to tell? Will you write it? Will you explore it? Will you move with it? I’d love to hear what you discover.