My awkward, stumbling search for faith is no secret. I write often of the way I trudge through my days, alternating with lightning speed and cloudy confusion between certainty and doubt. There are times, though, when the idea floating up in my mind seems to be echoed by external messages in a way that can’t be an accident. I was thinking yesterday of the ways that my spirit manifests through my physical body, and then I read three things that convinced me this inquiry was something to dwell on. I started a book that I already know is going to change my life (and I don’t say that lightly): Devotion, Dani Shapiro’s new memoir. And I read posts by two of my beloved blogfriends, Ronna and Julie.
They all seemed to be speaking about what I’d been thinking about. There is something that is true deep down in your body: listen to it. Okay. Perhaps I should believe that my attention is being drawn, like my eyes to shook foil, to this theme for a reason.
Dani Shapiro describes how the word please “seemed to emerge from some deep and hollow cavern” inside of herself. Please, as in: please help me to understand. This is so familiar to me. Often the word that I hear over and over is just that: please. please, please, please. She then shares her view that the startling moments of clarity come at random times, and that “those insights are already fully formed – they are literally inside our bodies, if only we know where to look.”
Ronna writes about “this deep, before-time wisdom that I know-that-I-know-that-I-know that I have; that … all women have.” And Julie speaks of the energy of the Great Mother, and of how she “first became conscious of Her presence a number of years ago. It felt as if someone was pulling me down, way down into my body, into the depths of the darkness that the descent illuminates.” Julie mentions that she initially resisted this pull into her innermost physicality because it contradicted all the years of spiritual teachings about “transcendence” and “Light.”
There is something here. It’s not fully formed yet in my head, but there is something about the wisdom of the body, the story in the pulse, the truth in the marrow of our bones. It’s more than just the way we – certainly I – can sometimes know things in a visceral way. It is more than the cyclical nature of the female body, the ways that we spiral through circles and seasons, ebbing and flowing and waxing and waning in a way much less directly linear than either the world or, maybe, the male body. It’s more than the ways the state of my spirit manifests in my physical well-being, specifically how my lack of boundaries results (I believe) in my being sick far more often than I’d like. I am permeable, porous to the outside world, letting in both good and bad influences far too easily.
What is this something? What is this that I’m sensing, to which I’m being guided gently to by the words of the world? I don’t know. Something about the ways that our spirit communicates through our bodies. Something about a knowledge that is on the flip side of reason, beyond logic, to a place where all there is is belief. Something soaked in blood, in tears, in milk. Something that might – maybe? – be showing me the way towards faith, towards meaning, towards the things, both maddeningly abstract and all-important, that I ache for most powerfully.
I can think of so many examples of this thing – this energy? this truth? – animate in my life. The way my physical self slept ten hours a night through my senior year in high school, hibernating through a lonely and sad winter the way an animal might. The way some vibrating core of power I didn’t know I had, exhausted but ferocious, propelled me through Grace’s delivery. The way my body shrank into a husk of itself within weeks of that delivery as my depression drove me to try to hide, escape, vanish. The way my dear friend Taylor always used to talk about people being “in their bodies” as shorthand for being present, engaged, conscious.
I don’t have a clear conclusion yet, only a newfound conviction to listen to the messages that I know throb in my bloodstream. There is more there than the simple beat of my heart. It occurs to me (just now!) that this could be merely another expression of instinct and intuition, the same internal choir I’ve been struggling so mightily to tune into. So when this trio of women whose writing I respect all seemed to speak about the same thing, they are the universe speaking to me: yes, this is a worthy effort. The answers you seek are already there: you just need to know where to look and how to listen.
16 thoughts on “Something true deep in your body”
Great post Lindsey. I often struggle to find the answers I’m looking for and I find that if I just quiet myself, quiet my head, then I find what I need, sitting right in front of me. There’s always so much noise to deal with that I usually look beyond what is waiting patiently for me to see.
I’ve missed visiting your site… been in the throws of too much sickness here at my place! So happy to be back!
Great post! I also think that some people are more absorbent, intuitive, sponge-like than others, even within genders.
I think writers are, by nature, incredibly porus and open to what’s around them. So already, by choosing to be a writer, you’ve listened to your body quite well!
Thanks for sharing some other great writers with us. I’ll be checking them out!
Lindsey, This is such a powerful piece. Laced throughout your words, and in the spaces in between, the Goddess smiles.
Three phrases lit my body up like a full moon over water:
“…to which I’m being guided gently…”,
“Something soaked in blood, in tears, in milk.”
“…something…I ache for most powerfully.
You ARE being guided and you are aching for this what is guiding you. It’s a beautiful dance and I hear that you’ve said, “Yes”, to dancing with It.
Lindsey, what I love about this post is that you haven’t got it all figured out just yet. But you’re working through it. Processing. your mind is moving, and thus, your inner being is stirring. And as Julie said, you’re dancing with it. You’re listening…just keep doing that…
These words: “The answers you seek are already there: you just need to know where to look and how to listen.” I am so happy these are the last words that I read. I was planning to write these exact words in my comment. But now I don’t have to.
Let go of your mind for a moment, Lindsey, and look around at what is there–inside and out–and you may find peace, if only for the shortest of moments, but it is there, within you and without you.
Lindsey, what an amazing post. As a teenager, I was always on a quest through all sorts of religions and movements, trying to find my place. And then one day I just heard this little voice inside of me that directed me back to what I had been born. I then realized that it had been there all along, walking beside me all the days of my life, inside me and around me, and all I had to do was look with my spiritual eyes to be able to see what was clearly visible.
Thank you for reminding me of this. It’s just what I needed to read today.
This is lovely. Both elusive and tangible. I believe that our finest wisdom is “the wisdom of the body.” We simply haven’t always tuned into it.
When we do, we may not have words to articulate that knowing, but perhaps that’s just as well, as long as we recognize it is a knowledge we should abide by.
Beautiful post. Ronna’s words are deep and full of wisdom.
I believe so much that there is “more.” There is an energy. That our bodies, our spirits, our instincts, are all part of the Universe. I just don’t know yet how to settle into that, how to let it be, how to let myself be. I think I listen pretty well, to the Universe, to its messages. But sometimes I choose to ignore what it says or shrug it off.
When someone dear to me was experiencing terrible insomnia, he was advised to scan his body each night after getting into bed, to look for hidden tension. He was amazed – just as I was during my few rounds with guided meditation – at the stuck spots we all have in our bodies. You are (characteristically) wise to acknowledge the truths that we all carry within ourselves. I join you in looking for the ways to connect with that knowledge.
Lindsey, I firmly believe that listening to our bodies will help us lead more happy, productive lives. (Not that I do this.) The mind-body connection can provide us with insight into slowing down or speeding up. For example, right after birth your body will tell you when you are doing too much.
You, my friend, have a gift with words.
First: I feel like I always say the same thing when I comment here: beautiful, amazing, true, profound, brilliant and shining light. No less true with these words. Perhaps even more so.
Second: I am humbled and honored to be included in even a small part of what is shaping your faith, your thought, your life, you. Thank you.
Third: Whether this quest, this hunger, is one of finding faith or finding self, I do not know. I wonder, increasingly, if they are one in the same – especially for women. Faith is wild, untamable, and impossible to completely capture. If it were anything other, it would not be worth our pursuit. And I think women are the same in their truest selves: wild, untamable, and impossible to completely capture. If we were anything other, we would not be worth others’ or our own pursuit. You embody this pursuit, Lindsey – of faith, of self, of wildness. And you are so worth it!
Fourth: The words of a wise and wild woman – Clara Pinkola Estes ~ “Our experience of her within and without are the proofs. Our thousands and millions of encounters with her intra-psychically through our night dreams and day thoughts, through our yearnings and inspirations, these are the verifications. The fact that we are bereft in her absence, that we long and yearn when we are separated from her; these are the manifestations that she has passed this way…”
Indeed, faith has passed your way, Lindsey – but has hardly passed you by.
I am grateful to see it in you.
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I am so very, very glad I found your blog. You echo so many of my own thoughts and questions. It’s such a physical sigh of relief when I encounter another questioner, when I recognize a fellow seeker. Your words give me chills.
Lindsay, this so speaks to me. I too am stumbling-bumbling along in “faith” (quotations, because I’m not sure what I mean) and find deep resonates with both Ronna and Julie’s work. And now, having discovered you, yours as well. Thanks!
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