Think about your last meal. Were you actually there, at the table, tasting your food, feeling its texture as you chewed and swallowed? Or were you in your mind, mentally lining up the next thing on your to-do list, composing an email, worrying about an argument with your spouse, or counting calories and grams of fat? Anytime you’re doing anything but focusing on your food during meals, youíre in your mind. And even though the entire act of chewing, swallowing, digesting and assimilating food occurs in the physical being, weíre rarely around when it happens.
What does it mean to be ďin your body,Ē and why is it so hard to do? I have spent much of my life in a formal meditation practice that teaches us to be present, embodied and in the moment, and sometimes itís still hard. Sometimes, being in the body just isnít as interesting as being in the mind. Itís quieter. Thereís less noise, no drama. The mind is cunning, clever and persuasive, and tells a fabulous tale.
We also feel like weíre more in control in the mind. We can spin our take on situations, weave stories that makes us feel comfortable and safe. And, if you have a body that was ridiculed, neglected, mishandled or otherwise harmed in childhood, in your body is a hard place to be. If your early physical sensations were unpleasant or painful, getting the hell out of your body made way more sense than sticking around to feel. When that happens, it can take time to come back.
Especially to the soft, squishy, most vulnerable middle of itóthe belly. But when it comes to eating, thatís where the actionís at. Many traditional spiritual practices emphasize the hara, the area three fingersí width below the navel, thatís often described as the energetic center of the self. No accident that itís also the digestive center of the body.
But we donít hang around in our soft, squishy centers, or the body in general. We spend most of our lives in our minds; we crash around in our arms and legs, then fling our torsos into bed at the end of the day, with little experience of what those body parts have felt through the day.
Next: 5 ways to get back in your body