Treat Your Body As Your Beloved
Recently, I have been really going deeper into the practice of relating to my somatic experience as it arises. Somatic experience is simply what you feel in your body without describing it in words. Everyone is capable of doing this. We were born doing this. If you want to try now, just scan your body and notice the primary sensations in your body without labelling them. You may notice your mind wanting to categorise and analyse, and that is fine, but know that you have the capacity to relate to your experience in this primal, innocent way. If you want a technical word for this practice, you could call it ‘interoception’.
This practice is so simple, but please don’t be misled by its simplicity. It is also the most profound healing practice, when properly understood and correctly applied. It is commonly used in the treatment of trauma. See these books here and here as good examples.
As I have delved deeper into this practice, I have been really appreciating the miracle that is the human body. Just to consider the fact that we evolved from a single-celled organism – and that are bodies are essentially these intricate, walking memory boxes, holding such deep intelligence from our evolutionary past.
Just think about goosebumps. Goosebumps! I am a big fan of goosebumps! When I sense goosebumps and a sort of warm exhilaration of my skin that signals them, I can be pretty sure that there is some incredibly rich information coming from the outside world. This is especially true when I am interacting with someone, for example in therapy or coaching. When I notice my skin tingling, it is almost always a sign that we (client and myself) are on the edge of a big transformation, an epiphany, a moment of deep healing and vulmerability.
So my current practice – which I want to share with you – connects this somatic experiencing with the Sufi idea of the human relationship with the divine as being comparable to that between a Lover and his/her Beloved. When a sensation or feeling comes up in your body, see if you can relate to this somatic wisdom as though it were a really, deeply caring, unconditionally loving figure giving you vital information – like a precious gift. This practice is to be used for both ‘pleasant’ and ‘unpleasant’ feelings.
If you feel some anxious feelings in your body for example, bring your attention to the primary somatic experience, beyond labels. And once you have established this level of connection, take a moment to honour and appreciate and listen to the Beloved – let the Beloved speak to you in this way, through these sensations that are arising in your body.
I hope this practice helps you find peace and empowerment as much as it has me and the people I support.
I leave you with this from Sufi poet Rumi:
Because the Beloved wants to know,
unseen things become manifest.
Hiding is the hidden purpose of creation.