A love letter to my bodyAug 10, 2022
“You showed me that you have suffered from the wear and tear of all that constant searching and seeking. You told me with your bones, your lungs, your mind. Every cell of you started to tell me their story.”
By Fiona MacKenzie
I’m sorry we had fallen out of touch.
As you know, until two and a half years ago, I was in an extremely demanding job, mentally and physically, and when I had time off, I only wanted to sleep or run away. When I ran, I was always seeking something out there to make me feel ‘better’, but I didn’t know where to find it.
My instinct, when I need to re-charge my batteries, and re-invent myself, is always to take a physical journey, to be outside my normal world. I have travelled far and wide: climbed big mountains; dived deep seas. But then, in 2019, I found a way to live where I want to be, and so I came home to rest, in every sense: to stop and take a long, deep breath.
I turned my gaze to you
From looking always outward, I turned the gaze to me – to you, in fact. You are my best friend, who has always been with me, wherever I travelled, and however I was feeling. Just lately, you have had to show me that you have suffered from the wear and tear of all that constant searching and seeking, all those physical challenges and tests. You told me with your bones, your lungs, your mind. Every cell of you started to tell me their story.
This started to happen during a period when we were locked-down together, when I had more time to spend slowing things down, paying attention, looking for things I hadn’t noticed before, or for a long time. Instead of thinking I should be the one to decide how to treat you, you started to show me how you were really feeling.
Then, by a stroke of luck, I met a fellow traveller who had already found their way home and was willing to share how they made the most of that experience. I started to listen, I admit, with a little skepticism, as I wondered how such a personal approach and experience could be shared. I was prepared to gently withdraw from the association if I felt it did not serve you to be part of any kind of ‘method’ which might not fit your needs – I had realised how much I wanted the best for you, and to let you know how much you mean to me.
Breath, spine and release
Firstly, this fellow traveller suggested you rested, on the ground, on the Earth. There was time to recognise how much you needed this, before anything else was possible. You really, really needed to rest. You thanked me after every session, you slept better that night, you began to feel like something different was happening this time, and you realised you trusted that, and how important that trust was. It was so simple: breath, spine and release were all that were needed.
[*Movingness is organized in movement series – Earth, Gecko, Dolphin, Tiger, Anatomy, and Wild Goose. Editor’s note.]
Feeling your trust, I approached the next ideas tentatively – the introduction of the limbs in the animal movements of Gecko. I had known for years that I overdid the use of the strength in my limbs – using their power to push and pull you into yoga poses. So, I was wary of these moves, with hands under shoulders, and I adapted them for you to try to isolate the movement in the spine. So, to avoid using my arms, in ‘Fish’ and ‘Snake’ I rested my hands in the small of my back; or lengthened my arms over my head. This worked for me, and the variations were warmly supported by my mentor, and so the trust in them and in myself increased.
You didn’t want to move on too quickly
When we played with rolling and arching in the Dolphin series, you really enjoyed it, but also used these hip-rotating movements to tell me that all was not well in my right (natural) hip joint. The movement in different planes also led to you telling me that you had really, really liked it on the ground in Earth and Gecko, and would like to spend more time there!
It was good that you told me that you did not want to move on too quickly – that you always wanted to start at the beginning, with those low, supported movements, whatever else might follow in the session.
In Dolphin theory we looked at human evolution, and how cognitive and physical evolution were not in synch – this explained a lot! It helped me understand things like anxiety better, since we were originally not the most dominant animal in the food chain. That has helped my acceptance of both my own reactions to stress, and other peoples’.
Softening your spine
You liked the introduction of body psychology in the Tiger series – the ability to recognise your power, and how to choose when you might use it…or not. By now, my interoceptive ability must have been increasing, because I recognised that you preferred the feeling of potential power rather than the actual realisation of it.
The soft, relaxed tiger psychology helped me feel more gentle again, because I also could feel my power reserves were there if you needed them. I took this as a strong lesson in looking for balance in my mind and body – and for pausing to consider how much input was required in both thought and movement. The concepts of ‘yield’ and ‘push’ and of ‘No!/Yes! emotional input into movement was also very balancing and empowering for you, I could feel.
You told me how much you love the feeling of the relaxed spine, supported by the limbs and ‘soft spine’; and the gentle rocking of the hip and shoulder girdles, moved by soft paws. The playfulness of lazily stretching and rolling took you back to the ground again, where you feel most relaxed. The mammalian imagery perhaps helped you to feel a strong affinity with this series.
Finding relaxed power
Initially, the Anatomy series made you feel a little sad, as you could historically recognise a ‘frozen torso’ in yourself. But during the course this had already started to change: I had become very aware that you needed time and care to function at your best: your hips always needed gently warmed-up before any movement; you could move much more from your spine; and you could recognise when you were falling back into bad habits – and, most importantly, tell me!
In the Anatomy series, you were invited to find the same opening of your fascia you had found on the floor while standing on two feet – a challenge! The concept of relaxed power that you found so compelling in Tiger really helped you here. The importance of anchoring the fascia with strong feet, so that the rest of you can fully engage, was obvious. From that strong but flexible base, the whole body could find pliable propulsion and balance. Now that you could feel this body-wide mesh of support when upright, movement in any direction, using whatever level of energy you desired, was possible – and how incredibly versatile this made you feel! This confidence makes further investigation even more exciting.
Flying home for summer
Flying home for summer, like Wild Geese, at the end of this safari, we invited the brain to re-join our bodies, after asking it to sit out for a little while, while you re-found yourself. The functions and tendencies of the right and left sides were brought into the Movingness realm. Movement become tuned to energy – what we can take from the cosmos, as well as what we can create in you. You told me that your own energy was very low, and I tried to help you take it from other sources, but it was not always enough. You reminded me of your need to rest and re-charge. I re-visited the Earth series a lot at this time – and so the cycle begins again, and I know you hope it will roll around forever now – like a gently moving roundabout, that you can hop and off at whatever point you choose.
From my body to yours
To finish, dear body, thank you for teaching me so much these last 9 months. Thanks for your loyalty, your willingness, your wisdom. I appreciate it and value it more than ever before.
You have inspired me to try to show this to other bodies, to see if they can benefit too.
I have begun to introduce this in my yoga teaching, and feel myself moving toward increasing this, until I offer it most of the time, because I feel it has been so beneficial for our own relationship. I hope we can help others to feel the same. Those I have taught so far have felt small breakthroughs almost immediately – in relaxation; in body awareness; and in developing the confidence to explore the movements further, in some cases independently.
I am hoping the community that I have become part of will continue to support each other with experiences and insights, and that there might be further sharing with others, since I feel this is now an essential part of life, for you as my body, and for me as a whole being.
I love you, dear body.
Fiona Mairi MacKenzie is a Scaravelli-inspired yoga teacher living in beautiful Perthshire, Scotland. She completed the Movingness course in 2022 and is now incorporating it into her classes. This text was her final assignment at the end of the Movingness training.
You can connect with Fiona here
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