One of the pitfalls of my work as a writer, researcher, journalist, and strategist is that it encourages me, perhaps even requires me, to reside in my own head. Lately it has felt that I’ve been in my head for so long that it has started to feel too heavy and disconnected from my body. I have become a walking head that happens to do yoga three times a week. At home our routines all lean towards the head-favouring activities. My husband and I read, discuss the news, share interesting articles with each other and so on, but we rarely dance or sing together and almost never draw, whether together or separately. And the older my children get, the less frequently they do activities that are anchored in their bodies – singing, making music, dancing, drawing or painting – things they used to love doing when they were younger.
So to re-set the balance and reconnect with my body, I went on a weekend-long yoga retreat: a Nourish retreat organised by Melissa Colon and Rachael Haylock from Breath Body Earth. As I had hoped, this issue of mind vs body soon came to the fore and I was inspired to hear Rachael speak about the false binary separation we have created between the mind/our thoughts and the heart/our feelings, tracing it back to Descartes who declared the supremacy of the mind in his famous insight: “I think, therefore I am”. No one observes that “I feel, therefore I am”, but this statement is as true as Descartes’. Our emotions, our intuition reside in our bodies but all too often we have dissociated from them, and do not listen to them, to the great detriment of our health and wellbeing. As a somatic therapist, Rachael focuses on helping people reconnect with their bodies as guides to identifying and working through stored traumas.
Our minds, thoughts, bodies, and emotions are designed to be in unity and when they are not, we feel dislodged or lost or uneasy in ourselves. “The longest journey you will ever take is from your head to your heart”, Rachael observed gently. As soft as this observation was, it hit me hard with its depth and urgency. I felt a true longing to reside in my heart, to listen to my body, even if I need to be aided by a little notebook to capture some thoughts in the process. I understood there and then how critical it is for me to meditate. In that moment I became determined to turn meditation into a daily routine that is no less important than drinking water, eating and interacting with loved ones. I often wonder how much better the world would be if we all meditated 20 minutes a day…Would you try it?