And taught me a lesson in embodiment.
By ADINA LAKSER
I had an unexpected hole in my body and then it was gone. Yes, a story of magic. But not from a far and distant land or an incredible fairy tale. This is the story of magic in the here and now, in my very own body.
Due to unexpected complications after a simple breast reduction surgery, I developed wound dehiscence and ended up with a hole at the base of my left breast. From the outside it didn’t look too deep, but on the inside it tunnelled in various directions. Essentially, it was a deep, dark cavern. Not what you want for a breast.
Yes, I did need help from a daily wound care nurse. Yes, I did need help in the form of antibiotics. But, for the most part, I healed because my body knew what to do. It grew tissue – cell by cell, layer by layer, month by month – until the hole was no longer there. My body did that. Just my regular, old body.
Since I am able bodied, privileged and healthy, I take my body for granted, like so many of us do. It does what I need it to do and, mostly, we plug along in a committed, but fairly silent, relationship. Nothing like being rocked out of complacency to really and truly appreciate the body’s infinite power.
It’s such a cliché: a health issue can teach us to appreciate our bodies more, but there’s good reason that cliché is so ubiquitous. Through this process, I was reminded of how critical it is to be in be in communication with my body and of how much wisdom is stored in my cells. During the months of healing, when I did check in with my body, two strong messages came to me.
I am so tired
Our society is addicted to productivity.
We think productivity increases our value as a human.
And we want to be valued and loved.
So…we become addicted to productivity.
being still is an act of courage.
– Danielle Laporte
Oh, I can go on at length about how much I love doing nothing and how I don’t want or need to be occupied all of the time. But during my healing, when I had all these restrictions on my activity, when I couldn’t vacuum, carry groceries or go to the gym, I bristled like I was in a cage. Suddenly, my anxiety was at sky-high levels and I lay on the couch feeling so helpless and vulnerable. After a few weeks, I was still climbing the walls (figuratively, I wasn’t allowed to do that either).
By four weeks, I was asking for help. I went grocery shopping with friends, hired a cleaner and let go of the total nonessentials. By six weeks, I started to realize how exhausted I had been for so long. I had been running myself ragged for years with the responsibilities of home, life, relationships, children, pets, personal development and more. By the time I was healed, I started to worry I would not be able to hack regular life anymore.
Our bodies usually let us know when we need rest, movement, touch and space. They are great barometers of our emotional, physical and spiritual needs. However, they are also super troopers and will push through if we don’t listen. If we can get through the buzz of shoulds, musts and the societal pressure to be busy all the time, we can listen to the warning signs long before burnout and exhaustion sets in.
I am here
Given my professional, intellectual, spiritual and physical love for sex, you’d think I wouldn’t get so caught up in my head and become so distant from my body. But, it happens. It happens often to many of us. We may carve out time in our day to do yoga, go to the gym or truly enjoy the taste of a good meal, but most of the time we operate in a state of thinking and doing that doesn’t really vibe into our bodies.
That’s one thing I love about sex; you can’t do it without the body. However, it puts unfair pressure on sex if that’s the only time we live in our bodies. For one, we might not really crave sex if we live in a state of thinking and distance ourselves from our bodies. As well, it can be especially difficult to enjoy sex and sensation if we are out of practice. So, while sex is a truly wonderful opportunity to appreciate our bodies, it might work better if we have other embodied experiences.
In her powerful book, Women, Food and Desire, Alexandra Jamieson shares stories of women’s struggles to be connected to their bodies. One woman talks about her journey to being more embodied:
The hardest part about being on that Pilates mat those first few weeks was really learning to trust my body again. I felt my ex-husband’s rejection in every cell of my body, and it was showing up in my nagging back. Lauren encouraged me to close my eyes when she gave instructions, so I could locate within my body what she was asking me to do….I started to be able to connect and appreciate separate groups of muscles….I started to feel alive again, in juicy, even sexy ways.
There are many ways to become more embodied, including focusing on breath, exercise (formal or informal), massage, touch, yoga, stretching, visualization, masturbation, mirror work and dance. The process can be done incrementally. Every second spent in communication with the body can help you feel more grounded, confident and sensual.
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I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, or if you’d like to find out how working with me can help you connect more with the gifts your body has to offer.