anywhere but here

(I wrote this back in 2010 for a blog by Bridget Pilloud called, "Viola".. who can now be found on Intuitive Bridge. As I think the idea is still relevant, I thought I'd rescue it from Internet Oblivion and repost it here. Enjoy!)

Yeah, I'm a bodyworker. Shiatsu to be exact. So, theoretically I should know a thing or two about being present in the body.

But I'm learning all the time what this really means.

For example, I recently taught a class to couples on Valentine's Day on how to give each other a basic whole body shiatsu treatment. Seemed straightforward enough, until I started contemplating the all different types of touch there are and the multitude of intentions behind them.

And how I learned in shiatsu school the seemingly obvious fact that we develop our first relationship with touch while being in the womb, surrounded by the constant pressure of amniotic fluid. I was taught that bodywork can be reminiscent of this primal touch, and how intrinsically it's tied in with the experience of having our needs met.

Not to mention that our first experiences as newborns and being physically handled - gingerly, confidently, lovingly, resentfully, sparsely - determines not only how we relate to touch, but how we relate to others, and how we accept our OWN bodies.

Some informal studying of the chakra system has also shown me that the development of our first and second chakras occurs from the womb to two years of age. Our sense of groundedness, safety, security, self-worthiness and capacity for self-nurturance are formed during this time.

Depending on how we are treated - how our bodies are treated - this will determine how safe we feel in our own skin.

Unfortunately for many of us, our early childhood experiences can be likened to a war, or at least a battle of wills, between well-meaning adults and tiny vulnerable beings with needs.

And too many of us, as a result, found greater safety in our minds than in our bodies.

From arbitrary feeding schedules, to being left to cry ourselves to sleep, to substituting machinery for loving arms, to expressions of disgust toward our bodily functions, and even, tragically, to outright physical abuse, we learn that our own feelings and bodily sensations are not to be trusted, instead retreating into the comfort of imagination and logic.

If our own parents couldn't love and respect our physical beings, then surely there must be something wrong with them.

The war wages on throughout childhood: "Sit still. Stand up straight. Don't touch yourself. Stop crying. You don't mean that! Eat this. Don't eat that. You're eating what? Stop crying. Suck it up. Where are you? Daydreaming again? PAY ATTENTION!!"

Even into adulthood: "You're supposed to look/feel/think like this. You're too emotional. Your pain is all in your head. How can you think your illness is emotionally related? You're not qualified! Here take this pill...."

Okay, rant over.

But the point is, the dissection of mind and heart and soul from body begins very early on. Being fully present with deep connection to sensations of feelings moving through us becomes too much to bear, too deeply associated with discomfort, disapproval, disgust and fear.

Bridget wrote a lovely post about starting with self-touch as a simple affirmation of self-approval, self-acceptance and self-love.

Our bodies really ARE amazing! They house us, they carry our souls around. They communicate so beautifully with other bodies in ways that our minds never could. They take on all of our emotional garbage until we screw up the courage to process it, or until they simply cannot take anymore. They speak to us continuously about what they need.

And they never EVER lie to us.

It can be terrifying to move back in and listen to the stories. But it's where we belong. To inhabit only the attic while the rest of the house lays in vacant silence is to live half a life.

It's time to come home. Loving touch is a good place to start.