Are You Connected with Your Body?

Body-Awareness

[Ed. Note: This is another stellar guest piece from Amanda!]

I was once stellar at sitting still. Even as a kid, I had no problem sitting in a desk for lengthy periods. I knew when it was time for my body to be silent and for my brain to do the work. Gold Star for Amanda.

Now? My major has ruined me. As a graduating senior in the Department of Modern Dance, I can’t sit still. I can’t find the off switch anymore. Why? Because my major has fundamentally challenged and changed how I experience and value my physical presence in this world.

Think about it like this: How often have you really felt your body today? What did the floor feel like when you pulled your feet out from under the covers this morning? Did your hamstrings start to tingle as you walked to class or to work? If you hugged someone today, how did that person’s body feel? Tense? Grateful?

If you’re like me, answering those questions can be somewhat difficult. Paying attention to our bodies is challenging in a sit/stay kind of world. In the university system, we buy into the values of this world because our degrees (and the jobs we’re all crossing our fingers to get) depend on it. The ability to turn off our bodily awareness and focus on a textbook or a computer screen has immense value in our classrooms and in our workplaces.  

But what if we reintroduced ourselves to our own bodies? What if we recognized them not just as containers for our brains but as permeable, intelligent, and powerful? I’m talking about more than going to the gym and “eating right.” This paradigm shift is about a daily practice of intimate attention, care, and love.

This kind of connection to our physicality has incredible implications beyond the individual. This connection completely redefines what it means to “stand up” for what we believe in. When we connect to our bodies, we are better equipped to recognize and resist pressures of the university or workplace culture to overcommit and overwork. We are better able to tune out airbrushed and hypersexualized images of women in the media and tune in to the choices that are healthy for our unique bodies. When we connect our bodies, we are better prepared to approach conflict with authenticity, openness, and empathy.

If this sounds a little too lofty and New-Age-y, remember that it’s really quite simple. It starts here. It starts with really feeling this breath. It starts with acknowledging tension in your body and encouraging it to release. It starts with feeling the expanse of your skin, alive against the world around you. It starts with acknowledging and connecting to the power and potential that resides just under that surface.

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