Eating food was – for a long stretch – equivalent to swallowing razor blades and expecting a positive outcome. When something so vital began to backfire with chronic pain, it became a losing battle trying to keep any weight on Body’s bones. To soothe her internal rotting and ravages, the doctors decided to have her fast for test after test after unhelpful, expensive test… I guess they thought the solution to unexplained weight loss was to eliminate calories altogether.
Per the doctor’s orders, uninterrupted panels of fluorescent lights soon illuminated most of my early twenties. Each bulb sneered mockingly at me while I lay face down, warring with nausea that threatened to release years of trauma in that MRI machine, until finally they found… nothing. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Translated: “We don’t know what is wrong with you, but your insides want to be on your outside. This most likely won’t actually kill you, but most foods will make you feel like you’re about to die. Best of luck.”
Body was stuck on this skipping record of mystery illness for years: unexplained weight loss, maddening brain fog, unbearable nausea, and a nasty habit of bloating on an empty stomach. And the longer Body remained the casualty in this story, the more life rapidly drained out of Soul. Turns out, when we lose complete control of Body, Soul becomes chained – harmed.
It’s been five years, thirty diets, and a few therapists later, and Body has leveled out… then teetered the other way. Funny, how it doesn’t matter what state she’s in – frail and withering or strong and plumping – I’m mad at her.
She doesn’t look like she “should.”
She’s not predictable.
She’s messy and needy.
She requires intentional care and attention through meditation and soulful rest and deep connection, because she knows. She knows she is the temporary host for Soul, and she is so damn eager to be a good host. She lives into her role so earnestly that she can be incredibly inconvenient, shutting down until Mind can still long enough for Soul to have some room to thrive. But, when she’s given voice, she also holds a miraculous superpower: to uncover coveted rest and release long-held trauma and usher in the balance we’re often searching for. She’s our gentle guide, nudging us to breathe life into Soul once again.
Is Body wiser than Mind?
Does she hold all the mysteries Mind has spent years trying to “know?”
Is it her power that society is so afraid of, why men and legislation keep trying to stifle her?
Body is so patient, quietly carrying a few of life’s essential secrets, just waiting for us to pause long enough for her to gift them to us. It’s almost as if our Maker tried to help us out by creating us with a kind guide already built into our DNA, and – as the story goes – Mind got too rowdy and distracted, and we’ve forgotten how to listen entirely. But she’s still with us, forever our gracious host, whispering gently: this here, it’s too much; practice saying no; it’s time to let go now; this is the moment to rise up and push back; right now is a great time for a guilt-free nap; pause what you’re doing, grab a glass of water, and go sit in the sunshine.
Rather than taking up a full-time residence in Mind – the root of division between human beings right now – could our power lie in returning to Body? Through countercultural rest that restores life to Soul? Through tangible lament that unleashes long-held tears and invites communal grief? Through diligent protests when what’s unjust is pressing in on us again? Through rowdy meals around a long table where people get to discover a glimpse of home? Through funky dance moves that express our own uninhibited joy?
If we are wild enough to brave a long-awaited reunion with Body, she might even whisper one of her best-kept secrets, the one she’s been itching to tell: Our liberation flows from the communion of Body, Mind, and Soul. The trio was created to dance together, to move in synchrony, and when they fall back in step, we find ourselves at home in the most beautiful choreography. And once our own feet begin to move to the soundtrack of our own liberation, we can’t help but show those around us the steps, welcoming a diverse and rowdy crew into the dance.
*This piece was originally published in issue 02 of Wild Honey, Rylie’s semi-regular newsletter. To get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox, you can sign up here.