July 22, 2019 Andrea Wright

Who’s listening?

Here’s what happened today.

Disclaimer: This is not a post that is attempting to give answers or leave a tidy pile of information as a take home.

I dropped my car to the garage and decided to walk back the scenic route which has more green spaces on the way back home. For those who know Bath, I pass through the Hedgemead Park, a beautiful Victorian park cut along a hillside built in the late 1900’s. It’s hot and I’m sweating. For a moment I suddenly feel a light pulling, maybe enough to say an ache low in my abdomen. Hmm, I wonder? I’m not alarmed, but notice it and wonder what it is, why has it arrived, will it develop into something persistent? You know as you do when some unexplained sensations arrive in your body.

As I enter the park, the canopy of trees offers their shade. I’m welcomed by it as I notice my deep intake of air and long sighing exhale as the dark canopy covers me. After a few steps feeling this welcome coolness, I notice the sensation in my abdomen has largely disappeared. I continue walking and it doesn’t emerge again.

I sat later in Victoria Park and thought about that experience. I wondered about our individual experience, in particular sensations arising in the body. They’re generally thought of as isolated, individualised and self-contained. They belong to me. So here’s a thing, what if these responses were shared in some way, part of a conversation with the world, the environment? What if they were questions being asked or answers being given and how might that change our response to the original sensations?

I thought of Heidegger a 20th century German philosopher who spoke about human interconnectivity as ‘being-in-the-world’, a notion that we are entrenched and in a dynamic exchange with the world around us that shapes us as much as we shape it. And too Thich Nhat Hahn, the Buddhist philosopher and activist who wrote about ‘inter-being’, where we consider all beings, human and non-human having sentience and a responsive capacity in some way.

The notion of interconnectivity is not new. But imagining my experience as not being just ‘mine’ but part of a wider conversation with the world opened up the possibility of thinking differently about how my body expresses itself; that it may not only be something ‘wrong’ or a ‘problem’. This wider perspective was helpful as I wonder how listening and experiencing our bodies in different ways might support how we manage ourselves from day to day.

I had to smile to myself at the thought of my abdomen having a good old chat with the shade of the tree!

What ways do you listen to or with your body that are supportive to you?

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