But What If Our Bodies DO Matter?

I’m sitting in my recliner at home on a Wednesday evening. My phone rings. That’s rare (it’s usually a buzz from a text or a ding from a Polo). I glance at the number. It’s unknown.

But I recognize the area code. It’s one I’d love to hear voices from. My heart beats a little faster.

I click Accept.

I say, Hello? I hear chaos in the background. Young voices. Home noises. My heart is now in a full sprint. I sit up taller in my chair.

Again I say, Hello?

I see Jeff out of the corner of my eye, passing through to another room, but he halts. He’s looking at me. He can tell something is happening, just by observing my body language.

Which Is More Important?

Somewhere along the way I picked up a message that it’s only the soul that matters. The invisible insides. That my body is just the turtle shell that carries around my soul, of no particular importance on its own except as transportation to take me from here to there.

And to hear through. To see through. To touch through. To smell through. To taste through. To think through. To feel through. To love through.

This is quite significant.

The older I get, the more I understand that the body is important. And that I need to live more embodied. Not to craft a chiseled body nor mimic a model’s face nor bear an ideal weight. But to appreciate all the amazing things my body does for me on a daily basis—even if imperfectly—since the moment I was conceived.

But how do we live more embodied?

Blur the Lines

We can begin by appreciating the wisdom of our body.

Hillary McBride, PhD says this in her new book, Practices for Embodied Living: Experiencing the Wisdom of Your Body:

“There is more wisdom in the hands holding this book, than in the pages of the book the hands are holding.”

That’s a good start.

McBride goes further…

“As I continued to experiment with different ways of being in my body, my sense of self continued to change.

The once clear line between who I believed myself to be (my mind) and the object that housed my self (my body) began to blur.

I started to see that everything that happened to my body happened to me; nothing happened to me that didn’t also permeate the experience of being in my body. I was becoming my body, and it was making me more of myself.”

Our bodies do much more than just carry around our minds.

“A body is not just a thing you have; it is who you are.”

Practices for Embodied Living

It is in our bodies that “we experience loneliness, social rejection, illness, and death. Bodies are here, even when we don’t want to be here.”

McBride writes that we learn to experience ourselves as a body through three pathways:

  • MENTAL: the stories we think and perpetuate about bodies
  • SOCIAL: the social landscape around us
  • PHYSICAL: the physical experiences we have

In Practices for Embodied Living, she gives us activities to try with our bodies, stories to open us up to embodiment, ways to help our bodies and minds become better friends.

They are simple things, such us:

“Imagine that your nondominant hand is your thinking self and that your dominant hand is your sensing, bodily self. Try holding them side by side, noticing how the distance feels. When you’re ready, experiment with bringing them closer together, clasping your hands and interweaving your fingers.

What do your thoughts long to hear from your sensing body? What does your bodily self long to hear from your thinking self?

But they are important things.

“Complete the following sentences:
It makes me feel loved when a friend . . .’ (try doing that for yourself)
‘I long to hear from those I love that I . . .’ (try saying this to yourself)”

Bodies Can Release Our Trauma

When we are in stressful situations, feeling out of control, it’s not just our minds that are disturbed: our bodies absorb the trauma.

When I heard the yet-unidentified voices on the other end of my phone call that Wednesday night, in a split-second my body went into full alert mode.

But only a moment later, the now-familiar caller was talking to me: “Hi, Lisa! How are you?” I knew who it was. Now I recognized her children’s voices in the background.

My heart rate started slowing. I glanced up at Jeff and mouthed, “It’s Victoria.”

She and I had a lovely conversation. I was glad she called. She made me smile and laugh.

But as soon as we hung up, without even thinking about it, I collapsed in my chair and cried. Because for the briefest of seconds in that liminal space before I’d identified the caller, I had thought it might be another person I hadn’t heard from in awhile, someone I was longing to hear from.

And it hadn’t been them.

My body, doing its best to take care of me, was now draining out the trauma through my eyes in the form of tears. I let them come. And eventually go. I took several deep breaths. I stood up. I walked around.

Yes, our bodies are much more than just vehicles to move us from room to room, from meal to meal, from birth to death. Our bodies are here FOR us, on our side—in ordinary and extraordinary ways.

Even though I don’t always say it or even think it, I am amazed by my body, both the pleasurable and the painful parts. I am more than a body, yet my body does matter.

My body is me. And I am my body.

Do you have a good relationship with your body? I’m still working on the relationship with mine. Share in the comments.

Read More:

My thanks to Netgalley for the review
copy of Practices for Embodied Living

10 thoughts on “But What If Our Bodies DO Matter?

  1. Martha J Orlando

    Being in touch with our bodies is so important in order to live our lives fully, Lisa. Since I now struggle with balance issues, I’m more aware than ever about what I can and cannot do anymore. I’m adjusting!
    Sounds like an interesting read.

  2. Debbie Wilson

    Lisa you reminded me of Ps. 139. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. As the Psalmist wrote, I know it full well. Yet I think it is easy to ignore or elevate it. Enjoyed your thoughts on how it connects with the soul.

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I know only too well now with a bodily health condition for going on nearly four years, that how I perceive this affects my mind, spirit, and emotions. We are embodied creatures, and Christ became incarnate, forever dignifying our bodies. Lisa, I soooo highly recommend this book to you that I won on your blog: You’re Only Human by theologian Kelly Capic. I love his biblical take on this. https://www.amazon.com/Youre-Only-Human-Limits-Reflect/dp/1587435101/ref=sr_1_2?crid=35A3GFG5NXLM1&keywords=kelly+capic&qid=1706291155&sprefix=kelly+capic%2Caps%2C103&sr=8-2

  4. Tea With Jennifer

    Awww, I completely understand Lisa! Yes, we don’t make the connection soon enough that our body, mind & spirit are intimately intertwined.

    I’m living the consequences now of pushing all three (body, mind & spirit) through horendous traumas in my life thinking I’d be okay. Thinking, God has this (which He did but He also wanted me to rest in Him instead of pushing through!). Now chronic illness has forced me to see this & be far wiser…

    Our mind’s & body’s do retain a memory of every trauma we go through & if we don’t take care of both, one day either or both will say that’s enough! We really do need to see our body’s as a Temple of the Holy Spirit & treat it as such.
    Blessings, Jennifer

    1. Corinne Rodrigues

      Me too! I was hoping and praying! Hugs, Lisa.
      Thank you for turning this into a post that can teach us so much about ourselves. It’s not for nothing that Scripture refers to our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit. ♥

  5. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    I am grieving with you that this was not the call you longed for. But your beautiful reflections on embodiment bring up such important lessons — when we are grounded in our own body we also feel, paradoxically, connected with one another. It’s our minds that keep us separate.

    I am working on the relationship with my body. Self-acceptance did not come easily. I’ve learned the most from the developmentally disabled individuals I work with, who accept themselves just as they are, and me too. Our bodies can become part of a larger Body when we practice that.

  6. Paula

    When I first started reading my heart sped up because I thought it was the other person too. I get what you’re saying here. And those quotes had me pausing to reflect.
    visiting today from Crazy Little Love Birds #27,28&29

  7. Jean Wise

    I am slowly learning to listen to my body instead of ignoring its voice. I loved the quote you shared:“A body is not just a thing you have; it is who you are.” and this whole info about how our bodies hold onto trauma. So true. Thanks for such an interesting post today!

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