Andrena Woodhams

Give our bodies a break

Feet on books

Across the road from where I am staying in London, just behind the Chelsea Town Hall, is an iconic sports center. Having done my fifty laps in the pool, I was watching the people in the gym. I spent a few minutes watching everyone rowing, running, and lifting weights. Every single person was plugged into the news with their earplugs on, or was climbing stairs to nowhere, heads raised, watching television monitors blasting images of war.

Oh those poor bodies, I thought.

 

We are too hard on our bodies

The modern world is designed to encourage us to live in our minds—even when we are working out. Western culture has taught us to see the body as a tool to manipulate at will. We feed our bodies the wrong food, stuff it with medications, live stressful lifestyles, and only really notice the body once something goes wrong. If you were like me, I didn’t give my body a passing thought except to try to change it, improve it, make it look like I thought it was supposed to look, rather than how it is. No one was more adept to living in my mind than me. I was so unconscious about this fact that a teacher of mine, once I began to make the journey into the body, greeted me with, “Welcome to your feet!”

I’ve been doing my journey of embodiment for over 20 years, so the idea isn’t strange to me, but I know it is to many people. I’m in my body, most people think. Right? No, you’re not. If you are feeling anxiety, discomfort, can’t sleep, worrying about the future or berating yourself for things you ought to have done or do, that’s a good indication that you are in head.

Living in the body is a life-changer

Paradoxically, although your body feels heavier, you feel more solid. That’s because you are more solid. You are more present. My greatest teacher, Lorraine, calls this resting within yourself. When your awareness descends deeper into body, you begin to surrender into, rather than force yourself, upon the world. And that gives you so many benefits I can’t even fit them all on this blog. Second-guessing disappears. So does anxiety. You don’t need to figure things out, because you know that you are doing the best thing you can do in the moment. And no, it doesn’t mean you are being passive. It’s the opposite. When the time comes to react and make a plan, you will.

For years I thought that if I wasn’t accompanying my thoughts bouncing around my skull, I wasn’t DOING IT RIGHT. I had no idea that when I relaxed and let myself go, a world would open up within me. One that aligned with the bigger picture (bigger picture? I didn’t even know what that meant, and if you don’t, no prob, I’ll explain it in another blog, promise) When you are embodied, you begin to access your innate wisdom. Gain perspective. Live in a sense of awe and gratitude for being alive. It means living a life of purpose and possibilities. All you need to do is get out of the way.

Touch the Ground
And that’s the tricky part. This isn’t something you can force to happen. It happens in baby steps. So here’s a tip that helps me every morning. When I sit up in bed, I put my feet on the floor and don’t immediately stand up. Instead, I focus on feeling the carpet underneath the soles of my feet. Often, I don’t even know I have feet and I’m dying to go to the bathroom so I stand up anyway, but others, when I’m in a little more Zenlike, I close my eyes and feel-my-feet. The sensation of softness from the carpet. The weight of my instep. My toes when I wiggle them. Sometimes, the undersides of my feet get warm, which means that I am in them. And that is a good thing. Because my feet are my connection to the earth, and there is no better place to be than that.

If you’re wanting to make a deeper introduction to your feet, join me on one of my SHE morning rituals in London. Just sign up on the website and I’ll be sending out the dates shortly.