Learning to Love
Your Body

Paula M. Reeves


Most of us yearn for an in-depth intimate relationship. Deep within each of us there is an undeniable longing to love and be loved. Scientists tell us this longing is inscribed in our DNA. We are, they say, social beings destined to seek community and relationship. Then why is it that all too often we turn a deaf ear and an indifferent heart toward a love relationship that is as close as breath and equally as life sustaining? Daily each and every one of us is being courted by a profoundly wise and protective lover. That lover is your body. Your body is not only communicative but you can learn to listen and understand the messages. Daily, awake or sleeping, your body's intelligence is speaking to you, coaxing you, urging you to listen to the cellular wisdom that has been lovingly guiding you since your conception. Moment by moment you are being led and taught in a myriad of ways through the somatic language of your matter by your symptoms, your embodied intuitions, your gut instinct, your heart's yearning, your belly full or your cold chill, how intimately you are relating to others, and they, to you. Now on the cusp of a new millennium, filled with the anticipation of change and promise, we speak of soul, seek to be more soulful, retreat in order to awaken soul, while forgetting that our body is soul's finest emissary, capable of speaking more eloquently and honestly of soul's presence than any poet, teacher or scientist dare. To be consciously embodied begins with learning to love the state you are in, to love your body as deeply and respectfully as you wish to be loved, and to listen intuitively to each lesson this relationship offers.

Our brain does not govern who we are or what we become. There is an older and much wiser energy directing life and life's purposes known as the essential self, as the soul. Every cell in your body responds energetically to your relationship to your soul. If you wish to summon this precious ally take a moment and reflect upon your body's version of soul talk, your embodied intuition. These are the wise and bone honest on-going communiques you receive constantly from your viscera, your spontaneous movements, your inexplicable yet instinctual urges, and your symptoms. Body intuition is always metaphoric but never obscure. Embodied intuition gives us a clear assessment of the true state of our being. For example, take a moment and turn your attention toward the part of your body you most dislike. It may be a minor flaw or it may be a central feature. Now listen to what your body has to teach you about your relationship to yourself. Allow yourself to feel the indifference or intensity of feeling you have for this rejected part of your body. Intensify the feeling and then pretend you are nothing but this part of yourself. Become your heavy thighs or your aging chin or your sagging stomach. Feel the quality of this energy, the way your posture changes, your attitude toward yourself and even life shifts. This is a gateway to knowing your true nature more intimately than you have ever dared.

All that we yearn to be or suspect we are capable of gets hidden away, disguised by the limitations and self-criticism we imagine this terrible flaw represents. Unconsciously we ask the rejected part of our body to carry the illusion that we are less than we are truly capable of being. If you will ask yourself how your life might change if you love this part of your body instead, if you listen to what it can teach you, your life will change. All the energy invested in this charade will be freed for you to use in behalf of self-love and self-confidence. Then, every time you find yourself thinking the old thoughts, assuming the old attitudes about your flaw, accept this as an invitation to embodied love a signal from your essential self that you are using this diversion to avoid your destiny. Respect the reminder to love yourself and step into life, not away from it.

Discovering that what you thought was a weakness is really an unexplored spiritual strength is profoundly freeing. There is an intuitive wisdom expressed by our body that is by its very existence healing because it turns us toward our truth. Listening to the rejected part of your body can be baffling at first. The insights and messages you receive come unbidden and often defy logical explanation. Yet you will feel the truth of each insight in your bones. The same thing will occur when you listen to what a symptom can teach you, or a spontaneous movement, or even a hunch.

In my book, "Women's Intuition: Unlocking the Wisdom of the Body," I give many examples of this. Evangeline hated her heavy thighs and large belly. Her sense of despair each time she looked in the mirror cast a pall over each day. Then Evangeline agreed to become nothing but this hated energy and let the energy move her as she reflected upon how she felt. What she discovered turned her life around. Embedded deep within her unconscious was her shame about her Polish ancestry. When she talked to her belly she learned she was overeating to avoid this pain. It was only with the tough work of learning to love her belly and thighs that she began to appreciate the strength of her thighs and how they contribute to the fine athlete she has become. Today she speaks reverently about all the years she spent trying so hard to deny who she truly is and how much it means to her to love the body that ancestry has given her. What would it mean to you to believe, really believe, that your body expresses the wisdom hidden in your dreams, harbors your deepest desires and holds sacred your most profound yearnings always?

Who am I, really?, we ask. What is this life all about? Often, suppressed tears or an aching heart accompany the questions. Your body, your matter, which cannot lie, is constantly re-enacting the authentic undisguised conditions of your yearning to know your essential self. Your soul directs you toward answers and a deepening of consciousness about your personal relationship to the truths of your being. Stand perfectly still, go inward and ask, What truly matters most to me? For you see, when you do not ask this of yourself then that which matters most to you becomes the matter with you. So go ahead. Ask. Dare to listen to your answer. Learn to trust the wisdom and the rippling intuitions from your body. Fall in love with your own sweet matter. Re-sacralize your body, have a love affair with your soul.

Paula Reeves, Ph.D., is a workshop leader in the fields of psychology and psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the biochemical relationship between the mind and the body. She also is a therapist in private practice. She has given presentations to, among others, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine.