Body of Truth
Richard Moss makes an interesting distinction between feelings and emotions. Feelings, he says, are spontaneous reactions to our experience of life, registered in the body. Emotions are generated by the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves, as we react to life.
As I sit with this distinction, it's clear to me: Feelings rarely lie. Emotions routinely do.
If I want to know how I truly feel about something, I need to listen to my body, which for me is easier said than done, since I tend to navigate with words, and my body rarely speaks English.
There are many ways to listen to the body. Psychologist Eugene Gendlin wrote about a technique for accessing our deep truth in a book he titled, Focusing. Lately, I've been experimenting again with a version of the focusing technique, in which I picture a person or a situation and gently ask within: "How do I feel about this?" or "What do I want to do about this?" Sometimes, I receive the felt sense of an answer. I name that felt sense and, if it resonates as truth with the body, I feel a shift inside, a relaxing, a sigh of yes, usually somewhere in the area around my solar plexus.
At other times, perhaps more often, there will be a stillness inside with no sense of an answer. I attend to the stillness and gently offer multiple choice options: Naming a few feelings or possible courses of action – going slowly, careful not to rush the body. When I name something that's really true for me or right for me, I experience the shift, that felt sense of "yes".
I'm still a bit rusty with this. It doesn't work perfectly all the time. Sometimes, I suspect, I'm not ready to trust this knowing or this way of knowing. Sometimes, the mind and old habits insist on running the show.
So, I'm invited to persist – patient with myself and a deepening friendship with my body. I'm invited to see the easy flow this quiet listening brings to the navigation of life. I'm invited to relax and to remember:
The body tells the truth.