Body and Mind: Where Is The Healing Found?
Ten years ago I realised that I was deeply unhappy. The depth of pain was shrouded by time, the folds of the unconscious mind and, it turns out, by a very disturbed posture.
For about seven years I ‘worked’ only on my mind and found no solice, relief or healing. Three years ago I dropped the focus on my mind, realising that the circular nature of the effort to unpick the past in this way was not working. I began to focus instead on my body.
Previously I had been physically healthy, fit and strong. I used to manage ski resorts and was snowboarding for six hours a day. The past two years has been a journey of great difficulty as I have slowly unwound my body and one by one muscles have come back to life which have not worked for thirty years.
My pelvis was twisted. My right hip was twisted. The gluteus medius on the left and the gluteus maximus and psoas on the right did not function at all. My upper body, twisted by the pelvis, twisted back on itself and collapsing the right lung into a small part of my lower chest. This twisting also meant I could control my right leg, even though half the muscles were ‘missing’ others in my abdomen and lower back took over. My pelvic floor stood idly by and watched all this going on. Few of the back muscles of my body on the right side worked, not least the trapezius. Many other muscles in my body overworked. My neck and head, in a final twist, has been locked into an incredibly painful position to counterbalance the rest of my body and the twisting forces in these major mucscle groups.
I have learned I was raped as an infant and that has been the cause of my deep unhappiness and physical problems. I learned to walk in this twisted way that evolved to avoid the pain of the rape. I also learned to look normal despite this and so that I would be left alone.
Unfortunately, too normal, especially for the medical doctors. They, being fooled by my apparant straightness, could not detect what my body was doing, even though they could identify many muscles not functioning. I am being a little generous. The doctors are fundamentally ignorant about the body and it’s ability to compensate – in short they are fooled by their own expertise.
The other significant consequence, as anyone with a little knowledge of the body could tell you, was on my hieght. At the age of thirty eight I have increased in hieght by over two inches in two years. When my body finally straightens up fully I am about six foot and one inch. My full adult hieght, all my adult life, was five feet and ten and one quarter of an inch.
Some psychologists and therapists would tell me that my inner child was doing all this. The truth is that habits of body and mind were formed to avoid the pain in my body and the pain of the memories. As I have unwound the habits of body, the mind too has found release. The Buddha taught all about this over two thousand years ago. He taught that five Skandhas (or “heaps”) of habits dictated who we were. The first habits in the heap are the habits of body. These must be undone for the other habits, of mind, to be laid bare and worked upon.
So the answer to the question posed in the title of this piece is that healing is found first in the body. And as the body unwinds the mind follows naturally. The healing has to be complete, body and mind, or bodymind as I prefer to use for it’s indispensible merging of the two.
And if you find yourself deeply unhappy, what should you do? Learn to walk really slowly – it is called walking meditation – and pay attention to your body. Memory is a function of the bodymind, not just the mind. You will get to the root of it if you start with the ground and that is the body in this case.