Here's the simple fact of life that I have learned to be very true: the ultimate cause of suffering is our disconnectedness from ourselves.
I was reminded of this fact when listening to Dr Kim Deramo's interview the other day. Something she said remained in the air after the broadcast, flickering like a little butterfly around me:
Be in your body.
Funny that we should be reminded of something so obvious. Where else would we be other than in the bodies we were born in?
The truth is that we are anywhere but. We are educated to live our lives without paying much attention to how it feels to be us. The result of this is that we are constantly checking things out instead of tuning into our bodies, as we should. Interesting things always seem to happen out there, while in here it is mostly boring.
The one who looks outside, dreams but the one who looks inside, awakens, said Carl Jung and it tells a lot about our culture how absurd this sounds.
As soon as we feel something, whether an emotion or sensation, we start wondering whether whatever it is we are feeling has the right to be felt or whether it should be medicated numb.
When my marriage hit the rocks, me and my now wasband did what people often do in that situation. We decided to seek external help and went to see a marriage counsellor, because that's what you do, right?
It turned out to be waste of both time and money. My husband refused to address his real issue (that he didn't want anything to do with his old slipper of a wife anymore) and I could not address my real issue because I did not know what it was. I was so disconnected from myself, that the therapist had to constantly remind me of the need to talk about me instead of everybody else. I could not. I also did not want to. I wanted to save my marriage, never-mind myself.
I cannot believe how lost I was. I had become invisible in my own eyes. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was surprised to see the reflection of a person, not a slipper, there. Who this person was, I had no idea. If I had bumped into myself on the street, I would have walked past me without taking any notice.
I had become a no-body.
And I know I am not the only one. We live in a No-bodies' world.
Oddly enough, the No-bodies world is also a Look At Me- world. Why we much concern ourselves more with how we look than how we feel, is beyond me. Can the selfie obsession be explained by the fact that we are desperately trying to become visible, not so much in other people's eyes than in our own?
Our feelings are our compass. The same goes with our bodily sensations. They tell us what is going on in our lives. But here´s the thing: when our feelings go unnoticed for long enough, we start getting physical symptoms. Our system apparently gets frustrated if no one listens to its messages and it shifts its gears.
Living beside oneself is really tiring because it is so unnatural. With tiredness come all sorts of ailments, from cardio-vascular problems to allergies and even cancer. Underneath all this runs the dark vein of depression, sadness and misery.
Dr. Deramo, who used to suffer from panic attacks when she was young, says that "when life gets tough, we need to stay more present." We need to get mindful. We have heard this before, right? But what does it really mean?
It can mean any number of things but in the core of mindfulness is pure being. We are not human doings, we are human beings. We are not thinking creatures that feel. We are feeling creatures that think, as Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroscientist who had the stroke and then the insight, has said.
When we focus on being, we cannot help noticing that being always feels like something. There are sensations in our body. There are feelings. Never mind what these sensations and feelings are called. Not everything needs to have a name and it is just as well because our bodies communicate without words. When an emotion arises, we will know what it means, if we just resist the temptation to label it. We have a way of inner knowing and there is no woo-woo in this.
For an extrovert such as myself, learning the art of "introversy" has been a challenge. Through trial and error however, I have eventually learned that I really have no choice. Running around searching for solutions for my never-ending problems has never worked for me. Instead of solutions, I have found countless possibilities. Instead of clarity, I have found confusion. The only way I have ever been able to make any sense to my situation, is by sitting in stillness, listening to my body. Listening to my mind has turned out to be as useless as listening to a popcorn popper. My body, on the other hand, is different: it is wise. It knows stuff. And it is patiently asking for attention.
I am not a no-body anymore but I still have to remind myself to pay attention to my temple of spirit. Whenever an emotion or sensation rises, I stop what I am doing. I close my eyes and ask what I need to know. The answers never come in words. They come in silent knowing but seldom right away. My body seems to have a timing of its own. There is no rush. There is always time. Or rather, things are not measured in time at all, because, as far as bodies are concerned, there is only one tense: the magical Now. Getting there is easy enough. Just close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and let the stillness show you the way.