I've been binge-listening to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, master cantadora, curandera and Jungian psychoanalyst. Whenever I need a Wise Woman injection, I sit at her knee and wrap my shoulders in her warm voice and soul-truth stories... via Audible, anyway.
In The Joyous Body, Clarissa writes that the body stores memories. It tucks away history, experience and imprint, as I've witnessed time and again over years working with women's bodies:
how a sudden adolescent growth spurt or blossoming bosom marks itself in the hunched curve of a shoulder...
or an unforgotten betrayal holds the lips flat-lined...
or how a stifled sensual emergence, squelched by a moment's careless word or look, freezes the hips into a fixed, unmoving undercarriage.
The body's untold stories shape how we carry ourselves and whether we open ourselves to new experiences - or, unwittingly, block the opportunities we so fervently desire.
The body, with its unspoken beliefs absorbed over a lifetime, trumps conscious thought every time. And all too often, girls and women believe that they and their scars are invisible. But our bodies are like satellite dishes, transmitting and receiving information at a depth and scope we rarely acknowledge.
So - people see us, whether we like it or not. Their bodies' stories respond to our bodies' stories. So you may say that you seek your legendary love... while the set of your jaw says: "Stay away."
Or you may want greater intimacy with your beloved... while a hard glint around your eyes says "Men have disappointed me so many times. Don't even bother trying."
Some of the key work clients and I do together is around these unspoken messages, implementing simple body strategies with startling results:
A.M. struggled to connect with her ideal mate, even though she belonged to several online dating sites. A single recommendation shifted her entire approach. She met her dream guy within weeks and watched amazed as men started coming out of the woodwork to flirt with her. I was touched when she told me later, "Working with you changed my life."
We may as well OWN the stories our bodies are telling - because they tell them whether we want them to or not. The question is:
What stories do you want your body to tell? What stories is she telling right now?
I learned about my own body's unspoken stories firsthand when I was training for my first national bellydance competition.
My coach David and I had been working together for months in preparation. He'd pointed out ways I was holding back in my dance. As a longtime instructor, I maintained precise control. I had even unconsciously trained myself to dance just a hair ahead of the music - so that when my students followed, they would be right on time. We were trying to loosen the grip my teacher self had on my artist self.
One session changed my dance forever. David and I had been working on opening up my shimmy, the joyous vibration through the hips characteristic of belly dance. "Can I ask you... a personal question?" he asked quietly.
We were Skyping, he in San Diego, me in suburban Chicagoland. Surprised, I nodded wordlessly.
"Was your husband... controlling?" he asked, tentatively.
Suddenly the tears flooded, a sure sign of a truth landing, and I had to step away. While David agonized that he may have just lost one of his prized students, I quietly shuddered with sobs off-screen.
Yes, actually. My first husband had me on lockdown, fiercely jealous. But underneath and before that, my mother had terrorized my childhood with fits of violent rage. Her tight rein and controlling manner had perfectly prepared me to accept the same in my first marriage.
The tears continued when I realized that where I'd forgiven and released both my mom and my ex, my body had internalized and still carried the message: This body... uncontained... unrestrained, is "too much," "out of control," shameful. Both my ex-husband and mother had humiliated and punished me for my sensuous body, my dangerous attractiveness. I could convince neither that I was loyal and honorable. I was called a whore long before I lost my virginity.
I had learned a tightrope, tight-hipped walk born of fear and shame, so customary it felt like home.
I wiped my eyes, returned to the screen and David heaved a sigh of relief.
A tension I didn't even know existed, had unclenched. A dam had broken. My hips rocked and pistoned with a vigor and freedom I had never achieved in 10 years of practice. Hot damn, I could put an eye out with that shimmy! And it only took a moment's watershed realization to free them.
I unleashed energy I hadn't realized was bound.
I went on to bring home a trophy in that competition, unheard-of for a first-time participant.
Where might your body be holding back the floodgates, or equally important subtle shift, storing a memory that may predate language itself?
What untapped, sensual energy lays buried, bound, locked away? And what outcomes lay on the other side of it for you?
For me, in this instance, it resulted in a breakthrough in my freedom of movement (integral to my career as a dancer) and a deeper groundedness in my body - ultimately winning me a national award.
I want to hear from you in the comments below. What stories might your body house? Have you ever had a similar experience? Or do you suspect that you're operating at a fraction of your energy capability?
Seeing the breakthroughs my clients were having in live retreats and workshops, and seeing my own transformations, I now offer virtual Irresistible Feminine Presence breakthrough sessions - a 1-on-1 analysis of the unspoken stories your body tells before you've said a word. Curious? Click here to learn more. Or if you have questions::Let's chat!
Love your scars.
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