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Once we commit to making positive physical changes, several helpful concepts support our intentions. The first concept concerns respecting and communicating with each aspect of the body we are conscious of judging negatively. When we find ourselves grasping the flesh of the upper arm, or belly, or some other body area as we make a critical comment, it is helpful to think of this physical part as coming forward for peace making. I say this because every specific part we reject about our flesh serves in some way to increase feelings of safety. This may sound counter-intuitive, especially when we are convinced that it is wrong or bad to be “fat,” or “lazy,” or even ill. However, when we reject even the tiniest part of the Self, we are in some way doing our very best to prevent similar rejection from others. Many of us learn self criticism as young children and then make our way in the world repeating this criticism as a way of short circuiting those we feel might criticize us in similar fashion. Tapping can help us to resolve our fear of criticism from others and at the same time, support us in making the long and winding journey from head to heart.
When I was volunteering at the Native Centre in Kitchener, Ontario, I felt privileged to sit in on several meetings held to focalize a Traditional Pow Wow, a gathering intended to bring Native communities together to celebrate North America’s oldest cultures and the communities that have been under siege since the first European invasions began more than 500 years ago. At the time, I was familiar with teachers meetings, most of which were hierarchical. Briefly, these education meetings took the form of a subservient group listening while the power group issued and clarified expectations. These meetings left those being “talked at” frustratingly disempowered and without a stake in outcomes. My Native teachers, on the other hand, conducted meetings employing a Talking Stick, a tool ensuring each person the time to express any suggestions and concerns that might help to create a successful community gathering.
When I spoke with one of the Elders present regarding this egalitarian approach to participation, she explained that the process only worked if The People had made the journey from head to heart. As soon as she said this, I felt something vital shunt into place in my chest. The educational meetings I attended were dominated by the intellect. By contrast, the Native gatherings allowed people to speak from the heart with kindness, compassion, and wisdom generated by the group process. Since no one wanted to control the process, trust in one another and the purpose of their gathering manifested in creative approaches to tangled logistical challenges.
Speaking from the Heart to the Body
Those of us raised in the dominant culture here in the west cannot help but have an intellect dependence. Because of western culture’s emphasis on reason, we have heard enough criticism to last a lifetime by the time we reach adulthood. If we focus on physical criticism we can recite entire litanies of self abuse: my nose is too big, my hair too thin, my legs too short, my breasts too small (or large). Mary Pipher (learn more about the author of Reviving Ophelia at http://www.marypipher.net/index.html) has called our preoccupation with appearance “Lookism” and eloquently describes with compassion how devastating it can be for young people to feel reduced to body parts.
When we move from our intellect into our hearts, we begin to feel the reality of the Self as a series of interwoven, very intelligent and loving parts whose main function is to authentically express our uniqueness in the world. Addressing the body with loving respect helps to defuse the tension caused by intellectual criticism. Seeing ourselves as beautiful, wise, and caring, regardless of our particular constellation of body parts, ensures we will relate to our physical selves respectfully. Once we consciously address our concerns with heart energy, we have begun the exciting work of parsing the emotions we have done our best to escape through our relationship with food. Tapping supports us throughout this process, especially when we meet resistance in the form of the “yes but” inner critic. Tapping through the points on the feelings we have serves to acknowledge these feelings respectfully. Tapping can be seen as a love letter to these feelings, and our expression of love helps us to move into a more unified sense of Self.
The “This is Like That” Game
When I first began to make the journey from my head to my heart, I became aware of how much of the time my relationship with food served to help me avoid certain feelings. Over the years, I’ve played on both sides of the food court, starving myself when I feared I was not good enough and overeating when I felt trapped in a situation I felt helpless to change. Learning to play the “this is like that” game helped me to make my physical reality my own. Let me explain.
During a bath during the earliest stages of my head-to-heart journey, I looked down at my naked body and was struck by how my over eating had given me a pregnant look. In the past, this recognition would trigger a stream of disgust and rejection but this time I Immediately thought, “oh, I’m pregnant with myself. From the looks of my belly I’m about six months pregnant, and so I have three months to consciously complete the process.” This realization came with a feeling of conviction wrapped in great tenderness and almost immediately I began to weep.
The Give-Away Eagle
Over the next weeks, I learned to see my belly through a variety of lenses, but by far the most startling and helpful was as a twenty-pound turkey. My experience with Native communities had immersed me in Native wisdom stories, one of which centred on the Turkey as the Give-Away Eagle. Because food was often an issue in early Native communities, finding a being that so readily offered itself up to feed The People, not only with its flesh, but also with its feathers for ceremony and its movements for dance, the Turkey became a powerful Animal Totem.
In seeing my belly as this generous being, I became able to look at all the times I ate without consciousness as acts of generosity made to keep me feeling safe. In the next three months I wrote in my journal each morning, remembering cookie binges after frightening encounters, and acknowledging the habit of eating when stressed by family and work challenges. By the end of my three month writing process, my belly was significantly smaller, my energy far more coherent, and my relationship with my physical Self far more loving and curious. Had I had Tapping back then, I believe my process would have been even more fruitful and rewarding.
Acknowledging the Body’s Intelligence and Wisdom
Now, when I find myself reaching for food that I know will boost my blood pressure or fog my brain, I put my hands on my belly and thank my ever-present intelligent gut – my personal connection to the Give-Away Eagle – for the wisdom to see myself as a whole, worthy creature. As with the Turkey, each human body’s stories bear many gifts to support physical wellness and spiritual growth.
As we bathe, dress, or in any way move into gentle awareness of our feelings regarding our physical bodies, may we hear our stories and our personal store of wisdom. Never doubt for a moment that with a little attention and tapping. we can complete the journey from head to heart. As we do, our eating patterns and choices will transform into a celebration of nourishment and love for our generous planet, and our bodies will become our most loving story telling partners.
Until next time
Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, email@example.com, 802-533-9277
Jane is a Learning Coach specializing in neutralizing cultural age, gender, and race constructs to support learners of every age. To engage her coaching services, please contact Jane by phone (802) 533-9277 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put Coaching Query in the subject line.