Probably one of the subtler forms of “checking out” most folks do is in thinking about their bodies, rather than experiencing the present moment sensations in their bodies. For most folks the body is a minefield; overwhelming sensations, memories, numbness, deadness, and invisible parts all make experiencing the body fraught with danger. But the body is also where we experience pleasure, joy, lightness, depth, tenderness, love, and inspiration. Since our systems are doing their best to keep us alive sacrificing pleasure to, hopefully, avoid those overwhelming uncomfortable sensations is a no-brainer. But a major shadow side develops when we must dissociate, for our own psychic safety, from our bodies.
This shadow, often manifested as addictions, can manifest in so many ways. Compulsive drug and alcohol use, and process addictions of all sorts (getting high off a behavior) become the super charged ways to get through the dissociation and feel some form of pleasure (because we need pleasure!). But because this is a compulsive strategy, which for many ultimately begins to feel out of control, the depth of the pleasure is missed and more substance or behavior becomes necessary.
When one can fully experience the pleasure of their body by feeling the present moment longings and satisfaction in sex and intimacy, or the yumminess all foods, or experiencing joyful movement, then this shadow is moving to the light. In the light of mindfulness and attention so much comes alive, there is the possibility that deep healing of shame can begin and an embodied pleasure, rather than the disembodied pleasure of addiction, can manifest.
Begin this practice simply, and with attention. Decades of body avoidance, or body punishment usually isn’t remedied all at once. What helps seems to be a combo of daily consistent body check-ins, some form of regular self-pleasure practice (i.e. joyful movement, yummy pleasurable food, mindful masturbation), deep relational/trauma work with a helping professional, and a big dose of grace!
We live in a society obsessed with pleasure, and yet such little attention is given to actually feeling it. Many of us were taught to be cut off from our bodies so we need more things, substances, or behaviors to feel the same satisfaction. A satisfaction which is our birthright that springs from our own beings, and is available in the present moment. So give it a try! Experiment with eating what you want, move in pleasurable ways (not for weight loss or maintenance), experiment with masturbation without porn or fantasy, take a bath instead of a shower, practice self-massage, so many things are available! Your body will tell you what it wants and you just might end up in your body in a full and satisfying way that will change your life.
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg