Your Body: Temple or Junk Drawer?


I've been playing around with the 'body-as-home' analogy, seeing how far I can stretch it.

We live in our bodies. (Well, most of us.) And, while we don't always follow through here, we have a pretty good sense that it needs continual upkeep if we wanna live in it comfortably for a long time.

We also have a fairly good idea of what proper maintenance is: regular water intake, fresh air, exercise, healthy food. But fewer of us are aware that we use our bodies as emotional dumping grounds. The junk drawers that hold the odds and ends we just don't want to deal with at the moment.

You know ... those slights we thought we blew off. Those hurts and stressors and traumas both real and imagined that we shoved under, or 'got over'. The fears we're not facing, the inner conflicts we're not owning up to, the voices we're not expressing -  they're all stashed in the various pockets and crannies and hiding places and junk drawers of our physical beings.

Domestic management goddess, Marla Cilley (aka: Flylady) has helped many thousands of people rescue their homes from utter chaos. She knows better than anyone that this is not a one shot deal... it requires vigilance and daily maintenance to keep an orderly and peaceful house. (Heck, even she gets the home/body analogy, as evidenced by her book,Body Clutter!)

One of her tips involves managing the hot spots (Fire Drills!)... those surfaces in our homes that just magnetically seem to collect crap: the nightstand, the countertop, the table in the hallway, the chair in the bedroom.

These areas are referred to as hot spots, because like a carelessly tossed match, once one thing is left there, it quickly becomes a raging fire... a surface re-buried under a pile that spreads to the rest of the house. Back to chaos.

Our bodies are no different.

Say some small un-dealt-with stressor causes a tension in your shoulder. No big. Maybe even hardly noticeable.

Then you wake one morning with a crick in your neck. Going about your day, probably with more reinforcing triggers, you have to manipulate your body in some kind of odd way to accommodate the stiff neck, now causing tension in your low back.

Still not enough crisis to address it directly, some time goes by and you develop digestive troubles, or painful menstrual cramps. But you don't put it together that restricted back muscles can create a ripple effect in the connective tissue in the low abdomen which can impede internal organ function. So, if and when this gets bad enough, you finally seek help and quite possibly medication... all because of some unreleased tension stuck in your shoulder.

An overly dramatic and simplistic scenario? Perhaps.

But I think it's safe to say that we do have chronic areas of tension. Our junk drawers. (How many times have I heard you say, "I keep all of my tension here....") I do it too. And it occurred to me yesterday that this may never change.

It becomes habit, and it requires constant awareness to empty out and release those places before it becomes chronic pain as well as a spreading wildfire.

I was noticing my left shoulder yesterday, and how it actually wasn't hurting or tense. How free and open and relaxed it felt. And odd. :) But I knew it was only a matter of time. (Hence the inspiration for this post.)

And here's another obvious thing: it's not the shoulder's fault, any more than it's the junk drawer's fault.

It's the crap (clutter) that we keep laying on it. Regular clutter-reduction and awareness is the key ... another self-evident maintenance tip from Flylady. And me.

(How, you may ask, do I reduce the clutter that causes chronic tension? Oh my, well, regular bodywork that addresses both emotions and body can help. I would also recommend mindfulness meditation, and other such 'story-releasing' techniques, like Michael Brown's book,  "The Presence Process", or Byron Katie's "Loving What Is" for starters. Or talk therapy, if that's your thing. PS: Both books mentioned here are affiliate links)


(In the Chester County, Pennsylvania area and looking to learn more about shiatsu? Register now for my Hands-On Intro to Shiatsu class, January 25th at Creative Healing Arts in West Chester.)