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Listening Deeply to the Body

We had our fifth Awakening the Creative Spirit session on Friday and Saturday.  The focus this time was on movement led primarily by my teaching partner Betsey.  I was eager to see our group of wonderful women participating as always, but also wondered how I would do during this session since my body hasn’t been feeling very well lately.  I deal with chronic illness and it has been rearing its ugly head these last couple of weeks again.  I have dealt with this my whole adult life, and it doesn’t get any easier to confront the limitations of the body.  I have found that my initial impulse is usually to keep pushing through whatever project I am doing, but over the years I keep pushing for less and less time.  Now I catch myself almost within a few days if I am aware enough.  The Awakening session was a gift in that it invited me to listen deeply to my body and opened up a space in which I could respond.

My response is to give myself the gift of rest when I need to, to enter into humility in the best sense of the term, meaning to live into my earthiness (from humus) and the truth of who I am with both gifts and limits.  I am reminded of a post I wrote last summer about radical self-care, a concept that deserves some more reflection and real integration into my life right now.

So I have about a dozen blog posts saved in my drafts, waiting to be brought to fullness.  I thought about finishing up one of those this evening and then thought my honesty would probably be the better post.  It feels much more vulnerable, but to acknowledge that life with all of its joys and beauty also has these times of surrender in my experience always leads to deeper wisdom about the tenderness of embodied life.  The blog posts will still be there tomorrow, as well as the many other projects clamoring for my attention, and I will have more to bring to them with another night of good rest.

Are there places in your life right now calling out for more rest and care?  How have you nurtured your body lately?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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10 Responses

  1. I did a funny little listen yesterday. Rather than pushing through until evening and the girls were in bed. I did something fun when they woke up.

    I put the oldest in the bathtub. And then the youngest and I took a shower. This was not unfair. :) The oldest is afraid of the shower!! :)

    After I was clean, I considered getting out. I did not. I sat down on the floor of the shower and talked with K and listened to K while she played with the water and bossed me around. We stayed until the water was cold. It was good for me and for her.

  2. Cheryl, what a beautiful witness, thank you for sharing that story. Yes, I think this is what redepmtion is actually all about.

    Blessings to you, Christine

  3. Christine,

    A few months ago I met a Gulf war vet who touched my life deeply around how humbly he seemed to accept his limitations, quietly saying, “Life sometimes is not what I thought it would be.” Thank you for speaking for all of us who have found our lives, on some level, not what we expected. Your words give us all permission to sit in our own realities as we also connect with compassion to you, thus connecting to the larger body of the world. A strange redemption but redemption nonetheless.

  4. Cathleen and Suz, many thanks for your words. I am so very sorry you both are dealing with something similar, but I am comforted that my words could offer some solace and encouragement to rest. I just had a lovely nap with my sweet Tune.

    Love and blessings, Christine

  5. Christine,

    Thank you for writing about your struggles with chronic illness. I am sitting on my daughter’s house (visiting her in California) with a bad flare of my fibromyalgia. I had to turn down an invitation this afternoon and am praying I can get to one hour of the band show tonight (my daughter’s boyfriend). We have only one more day together and I am not liking this limitation of mine.

    Thanks for your words on the “gift of rest.” There are some gifts in limitations…there really are…sometimes they are just harder to find. It certainly has made me more “human” and “humble.” There is a lot more “humus” in my life, for sure.

    So…I will rest. It is all I can do.

    Thank you, again. It came at just the right time…and I am anxious to know about radical self-care.

    May you take your rest, too, Christine.


  6. This is the very issue I’m wrestling with now, trying to listen to ~ but I didn’t have the words for it until I read your post. And I too appreciate your words Wendy of the Greater Body… I could say more but instead I will go and rest a bit. Thank you once again for your thymely words. Blessings and sacred rest, Cathleen

  7. Thank you Wendy, I love the image of honoring the Greater Body, really beautiful. I have learned this lesson pretty well over the years and embrace Sabbath rhythms and contemplative living wholeheartedly, and so it surprises me when I encounter my own resistance again. Makes me realize how deeply ingrained cultural messages really are. There is definitely never any stuff more important than health.

    Thanks Judie, I am deeply appreciative of your spreading the word along!

    Blessings, Christine

  8. Christine, your website is very, very nice…..spiritual and inspirational. I have sent it to a couple of friends whom I think would also enjoy it. One is a long time friend who is a Reverend. I know she will visit here.

  9. A Blessed rest Christine. I feel we honor the greater body when we honor our own body, and harm the greater body when we harm our own. So I deeply applaud your listening to your need for rest. I have learned, slowly, that the important stuff is stuff that can be let go of and it will still come back in some form anyway– in a dream, in something that reminds you, in… something. So I dont think we should ever be afraid to pull back when we need to, and that’s rather a relief I feel…

    Blessed Week : ) Wendy